Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I am going to review another cafe this Sunday!

I shall visit a cafe in the Te Atatu  area this Sunday. Which one will it be? Find out on Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kissing cousins and the nephews

Just in case you think I am about to launch into some sordid little expose on an unsuspecting family, then stop right there. I don’t do that! I am referring to the relationship between ‘Old Limey’ and Uncle Sam, with a little bit about the propensity of the nephews and nieces, (Australia and New Zealand) thrown into the mix. It still adds up to some pretty crazy reading though.
I guess I am really following on from my previous blogs on the subject of the USA’s and Britain’s position as ‘savours of the world.’ I am a bit concerned that some sort of action around the nuclearization of Iran is going to play out. Of course there is also Syria, luring in the background too, but I suspect that eventually (after a lot more bloodshed of innocent civilians) the incumbent regime will fall.
What are we faced with? ---some sort of military pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities?  Will it be the USA ably assisted by Britain? Perhaps--- Just look at the way both powers are maximizing their strategic resources in the Gulf. We can also be sure that the Israeli’s are watching the situation and planning a response.
I hope that none of the above eventuates. NO one can win, but that leaves the unanswered question about Iran’s intentions. I doubt that any country wants to see Iran in possession of a nuclear capacity. Even its neighbours would be nervous at the prospects of such a possibility. If the fears of most of the ‘thinking world,’ actually occur, the region could become a cauldron of radioactive clouds.
If diplomacy fails, we all suffer. The implications for the world are too horrible to think about--- but that we must all do. Russia and China must realize that they will also be part of the ‘fall-out.’ Both countries are now locked into the larger picture and their present posturing only encourages the regime in Iran to follow through on its plans. It is time for these two nations to forget about their positioning to regain or grow their influence with the ‘rogue nations’ and come aboard with world opinion. We must stop the proliferation of these nasty weapons (along with their biological cousins) or face a future that returns us to the past.
I don’t blame the USA and Britain (and their lackey relatives) for the positions they take. The rest of the world keeps their arses up and faces well and truly in the sand. We all have to speak with one voice.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do you have to choose between God and the Devil?

Provocative? Good---then hit back—say something. Call me names--- I’m a big boy! (It’s true).
This one is pointed right at the situation my friends in the USA face. When I look at the candidates the Republicans face, I really feel for them. Where the hell do these people come from? ‘Middle America’ and the ‘Good Old Boys must be drinking up large in an effort to throw some clarity into their decision making processes. Lets look at some of the choices you have.
It seems that for two of the characters (maybe more) religion plays an important part of their make-up. Romney’s faith is probably a ‘sticking point’ for many Republicans. I don’t think it is the same as the position Kennedy was in when he became President. Somehow Catholicism doesn’t scare people quite so much as the spectre of a Mormon President. I know a lot of your commentators are not putting it as bluntly as me, but I wish I was a fly on the wall in some of the bars across America--- I bet there are some hard-assed assessments, flowing as freely as a well-topped beer.
That’s OK though, because you have plenty of other wonderful candidates to choose from--- or do you? Mr Santorum is something else---- what? He also springs from the Bible-Belt. I wonder what his stance is for ‘Evolution.’ Listening to some of the crackpot comments he has made in the last few weeks, makes one wonder who he represents. His vision for the USA is quite scary.
The stance the above candidates take on issues like abortion, gays in the military, marriage, single parents, just to name a few, leaves one thinking that any progress the more liberal politicians have battled for over the last few decades is seriously at risk of being unravelled.
The other two candidates, Gingrich and Paul, may not be as ‘out there’ in their positions, but seriously, is the USA going to elect and ‘oldie’ or a ‘has been?’ OOOH --- I can hear you say. What would a Kiwi know about American politics?  Hheheheheheh--- (Sounds maniacal eh). Enough to say   that Obama must be laughing all the way back to refurbishing the White House.  
On ‘paper,’ I believe that the American system of government is the best in the world. It is an incredible model that many nations around the world have tried to copy, but fallen well short of achieving even a murky image of the real thing. It’s a pity that the ‘paper’ version doesn’t flow through into the reality of everyday life. I think many Americans don’t even bother to vote or take part in a way that portrays---OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vietnam, Afganistan, Iraq---Iran?

Do we ever learn? BY ‘we’ I mean the old Colonial’ powers and the USA, and by the inclusion of our relationships (trade and historical) it always manages to get NZ involved in some way. The Soviet Union learnt the hard way, by getting its nose poked when it had its little adventure in Afghanistan. France may have learnt in Algeria and Vietnam and Great Britain in Afghanistan in the late 19th Century.
There are few examples of a major power winning when they attempted to invade or ‘protect tier interests, from list of countries at the start of my blog. Perhaps the Brits came closest in the Malayan emergency in the early 50’s.
But still, we see action in the Middle East. I am sure we all understand the link between oil and strategic issues like free access to shipping lanes. Little has changed in the years since WW2.
We used to follow Britain---‘where you go we follow.’ That lasted right up to the Falkland’s war in the 80’s. We may not have sent troops, but we freed up a British ship so that it could support the war effort in the South Atlantic--- what is that--- support by proxy?
The USA came to our aid in WW2 when there was a very real danger that Japan would venture far enough south and we have linked our fate to that of the new Super-Power ever since. Vietnam followed Korea and along with our contributions to United Nations causes, we have been in most scraps, led by the USA.
Some would say that ‘trade interests’ and the fear of been left alone have been strong pulls to jump on the USA lead quest to keep the world a ‘safe place.’
Has it worked? Is there any country where peace reigns as result of these interventions? As I have said in my previous blog in this issue, it is the poor who pay and the rich who gain. Of course there are lots of examples of Ivy-League graduates who have given their lives, but in the same proportions? --- I doubt it.
I am so sad to keep seeing that young soldiers from the USA led coalition forces are paying the price; with their blood and their horrible injuries; then to return to civilian life unable to follow their dreams. ‘Small-town USA and Britain have paid the price.
This is not a rave against the people of the USA (and others). It is a plea. Once again I say--- GET OUT! You can’t do anything right. If it’s not burning sacred books, it’s bombing innocent civilians and villages.
Look at Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a resurgence of anti-American sentiment. Do they really want you there? (And NZ Special Forces?).
Now, there is the threat of Iran. That really scares me. It is going beyond ‘Sabre-rattling.’ The prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons and a jittery Israel really throws a massive hammer into the works. Is that the background to what compares to the position Europe was in with the rise of Nazi Germany?
This is where my argument for the USA to back-off comes apart. I admit it. Nothing is ever simple. I very much doubt that there will be any energy on the part of the Euro-zone (except maybe Britain) to enter into another fray, this time with Iran.
Add a bit of the irrationality of extremist clerical states and the picture is even more uncertain. I bet the ‘Armageddon brigade,’ is having a field day and the manufacturers of cardboard for the inevitable signs stating that ‘the end is nigh,’ are doing really well.
In summary, I still say, pull back as much as you can USA--- you can’t do it on your own. To my Russian friends--- I feel for you. There are deep issues that you are facing. I hope your elections later in the week, are free of corruption and manipulation. I would have thought you have seen enough of extremism. You don’t need a new Tsar or rampant Stalinist visitation.
China? --- Well—you have a lot of catch-up, but you too need to come on board and not just oppose everything that the USA represents. You are now well and truly ensconced in the real world of the new world order.
Ain’t it all one big f---p

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Onehunga does it again--another great cafe-CAFETRAN

Yes, another great café on Onehunga main street. We are quite spoilt for choice in this lovely old suburb. Did you know that in the early days (especially at the time of the ‘Land Wars.’) Onehunga rivalled the Port of Auckland, mainly because it was closer to Australia, in a direct line from the Manukau Heads. Therein we can see the reason for its gradual demise as the ‘premier port.’ The Manukau Bar and its treacherous, shifting channels claimed many ships and hundreds of lives; the Orpheus wreck being the most notorious.
Despite this tragic history, Onehunga has undergone something of a revival in recent years. Yes, there were various attempts to draw in the shoppers; perhaps the one that most of us remember as a dismal failure was the partially covered ‘mall’ experience. I don’t know why it didn’t work, but it just felt seedy and the shops gradually left the main street.
When the giant Dressmart arrived, even more shops left, leaving the main drag to be filled with numerous Two Dollar shops. Thankfully, things have changed. Queen Street and the newer complex seem to have worked out a comfortable balance and they now merge gracefully at the fringes. The cafes that have sprung up in the last five years and the resurrection of the rail service all add up to a really buzzy feeling. I look forward to seeing how new ventures and the return of some mainstream shops works out.
Now---- to my visit to one of the newer cafes. It is always a difficult decision, trying to choose which café to have breakfast or brunch. (I wonder if you are noticing the dubious link between this blog and my ‘Fat Bugger’ series). We have been to CafeTran before, so I thought in light of the fact that I have blogged one of the others, it’s only fair that I start blogging some of the others.  (I will get to them all eventually).
CafeTran is on the right hand side of Queen Street, going towards the bridge at the far end of the mall. Parking is OK, it is even possible to park quite near, or go for the car parks in the back streets.
The staff made us feel welcome as we picked up the menu. We didn’t need it, because two choices almost sprang out at us from the blackboard menu. We ordered immediately but then struck a problem--- the Electronic Transfer Machine, wasn’t working. I had cash (unusual for me) but there were two banks within twenty or so metres, so it shouldn’t have been a problem, judging by the few empty tables (both in an out) it had not stopped others from finding a solution either).
WE didn’t have to wait long for our meals and the coffees arrived even sooner. I must say that the waiter ‘played’ with us by saying to my sister, ‘Here is your bunny.’ I was confused (surprise surprise). I looked dumbly at my sister. Her face broke out into a smile. My coffee wasn’t a bunny—it was a teddy bear. Check out the picture and you will see what I mean.
I was halfway through my ‘teddy bear,’ when my food arrived. I had ordered fish and chips with a salad. Forget about the normal fare one might expect from a café. It was beautifully presented. The generous, single piece of fish was placed artfully upon just the right amount of chips that I can only describe as being way above the soggy versions one can experience elsewhere. The salad that accompanied the dish contained a range of fresh-looking (no brown edges on this salad) leaves, with a very light dressing. Two little dishes of sauce and mayonnaise completed the presentation. I had the distinct feeling that I needed to ignore the ‘guilt-trip’ that so often goes along with the above dish.
My sister had order an ‘Asian Omelette. She sent back the toast (we had forgotten to tell them that she could only eat Gluten-free bread) and cut into the omelette. It was packed full of deliscio0us offerings, including, coriander, spring onions, peppers and a little chilli. She was more than satisfied with the omission of the toast.
Overall, we were very satisfied with the food. It is a noisy and busy café, so don’t go there if you want a quiet conversation, but then why would you go to an empty café--- what does that tell you?
Well done CafeTran. It will be hard walking past you to the other great cafes in Onehunga.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fat Bugger ---part 4

How have I been going?  I am not going to give you a list of all the bad things I have eaten. I am sure you have all seen the list in the NZ Herald of all of the foods that are ‘said to be bad for people trying to lose weight.’ What do I make of it?
I have to say it is a bit like the ‘Tui’s’ Advertisement. For those of you who haven’t got a clue what I am talking about, suffice it to say that NZ is a bit like the PC (Political Correctness) capital of the world. Just imagine a bunch of young Kiwi blokes and some scantily clad young ladies. Put that mix into an advert for beer and chuck in a bit of ‘harmless’ imagery, some laughable scenarios (Oh, damn---just Google Tui TV Ads and maybe it will come up and you will get the picture). The debate in NZ (it’s all over the talkback radio shows at the moment) has created quite a discussion. On one side you get the Feminists who talk out ‘sexualizing young women,’ and on the other, and I suspect it is the vast majority, who say that ‘what’s wrong with a bit of harmless fun. I shall leave you to make-up your own mind.
The ‘great food debate,’ about all the foods we shouldn’t eat, especially fatties like me--- well it has taken on a similar theme. The debate ranges from the—‘OMG--- the ‘food Nazis are back, telling us how to live our lives.’ The list came from some researchers at Otago University, one of our excellent tertiary institutions in NZ. To be fair---there isn’t anything unusual on the list and it should be seen as a guideline, but then again; the researches just don’t get it. How many diets (Damn—I said I wasn’t going to use that word) are internally flawed, simply by the fact that they restrict certain foods, or ban them altogether. Don’t they understand human nature? What does the ‘body’ do if it is deprived of a favourite food---- IT REBELS, and no amount of pontificating about ‘being strong’ or getting real will make a difference.
Many of my friends and colleagues, get on the ‘YO YO train.’ Isn’t that a bit pointless? The weight goes back on and then some. Denying a ‘treat’ can only lead to an eventual blow-out and all of the guilt that entails. The end result? --- We give up again until the next round. This list just feeds into that scenario.
So it’s back to the simple; ‘you have to burn more than what you put in.’ So, it’s balance and getting as much exercise as you can. Do what I did--- get a dog. At least I have stopped putting weight on and I am definitely fitter and have more energy. Am I losing weight? I don’t really know, because I only weigh myself once every three months at the doctors and once he has chased me around his office, trying to get me on the scales---- well I shall tell you after the next visit in about two and a half months. Now a ‘to make you feel better at someone else’s expense story’. Aren’t I an evil bugger?
I was sitting down at the little beach near where I live. A tiny Nissan pulled up. There were two people in the car, one in the front (the driver), and one in the back seat. A little lady jumped out of the back and waited patiently for her friend. What was only seconds, but felt like an eternity, passed as the lady driver ‘poured, stretched, and struggled to escape from the driver’s seat. I have no idea what possessed her to drive such a tiny little car. I had mixed feelings, ranging from sadness at her plight and yes, a bit of---‘at least I ain’t that big, eh?’ She looked incredibly uncomfortable and I can only imagine what health problems were lurking in her huge body. I could hear her strained breathing from about five metres away. It made me think----‘I must get on top of this.’
I looked at my lunch. Oh, I had forgotten to tell you that I had been to a bakery on the way to the beach and about the ‘food from the list,’ I had brought, stemming from some sort of rebellious thoughts I had been harbouring all day. I had discarded the idea of fruit juice and settled for a ‘sugar-free’ option, but I had purchased a meat pie (that’s a real Australasian icon, folks in the USA and elsewhere) and a high calorie chocolate slice, much like an American Brownie. (Yes that’s what we call it here--- is that PC in the USA? ---LOL).
I consumed the puffy-pastried pie, savouring every last morsel, while the marauding seagulls looked greedily on. Suddenly, the lady looked my way and at the slice, poised at the entrance to my mouth, hovering just out of reach of my salivating tongue. Her gaze shifted to the gulls, seemingly daring me to throw it at them. I may have been in the car, but she could tell that I was but a smaller version of her. I smiled and threw the remains of the slice at the birds, feeling little better that I had only consumed a miniscule portion.
Wouldn’t you know it---? the bloody seagulls, took a peck and then ignored it--- surely they hadn’t read the article in the Herald? The lady smiled and it seemed that we understood one another. We both have a battle on our hands. Looking back in the rear vision mirror as I drove away, the gulls were still ignoring the now melting slice. Maybe the rats would eat it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sometimes I wonder why the USA-----

Sometimes I wonder why the USA gets itself into these stupid overseas ‘adventures.’ You know the ones I mean--- like, Vietnam in the 60’s and early 70’s and the current escapade in Afghanistan. Of course they are not alone--- they have dragged in quite a few ‘friend’s, including the Eurozone countries and the ANZACS.
To be blunt, I guess we do it curry favour, for trade and possibly some imagined future protection; we think we will need at some stage. Long gone are the days when we could call on Mother England and I doubt that our burgeoning relationship with China is going to deliver in that area.
So why is it that the good old USA acts as the world’s ‘policeman?’ Who gains? We all know the military/industrial sector gains, purely from a financial perspective and that is a mainstay of the American economy. We also understand that access to oil has long been a driving force for foreign policy. But is there something else?
The USA has been influential on the world stage for many decades, possibly even before WW2, and for a while after the demise of the Cold War and the dissolution of the old Soviet Union, it has had the stage to itself. Now, however, it watches the rear view mirror as China slowly but surely gains ground. Then there are a raft of emerging nations (Brazil, India) playing catch-up, at the expense of the old colonial European-zone nations.
But the USA still sees itself as the dominant nation. My question is--- who pays for this self-delusion? The answer is simple--- not the banks, or the other big companies, because you can be sure that they will have ‘hedged’ themselves against huge losses.
It is of course the common and should I say it--- the ordinary citizen. To stretch the point a little further, it is the young guys and women who make up the vast majority of the armed forces, who face being bombed, shot at, vilified and God knows what else, who hold the torch for the politicians and the untouchable wealthy. We have seen it all before in the 19th Century, when the arms manufacturers, managed to make huge profits, no matter which country they hailed from.
I would like to think, that at some stage, the USA will get the message and start looking after its wonderful people in a very different way, and stop trying to fight unwinnable wars. I’m not saying that a return to ‘Isolationism’ is the answer--- but take a hard look at yourself USA--- and get out and vote so that you don’t have presidents who only represent about a third of the eligible voters. Would the world fall apart if you pulled back a bit? Who says that you have to ‘contain the Taliban’ because you are standing up for human rights or some other spurious excuse?
I am sure many of you will say that my little tirade is nothing more than the naive words of someone who doesn’t see the whole picture. Perhaps I just don’t see a scorpion under every rock. I do however see too many graves with the USA military insignia proudly displayed--- for what?  You decide.
Perhaps I am also saying---‘go well--- go in peace’ and maybe, ‘let the buggers sort out their own problems,’ because unless the likes of China, India, and Russia are behind you, you are on a hiding to nothing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Yes---- Once I have the ISBN number for my next book--- I am going to stick it on here--- crazy?---- Probably. But, what have I got to lose? Maybe a publisher will pick-up on it.
So what is this 'new book?

'TALK TO ME,' is a tongue-in-cheek' 'taking the piss,' swipe at the talkback industry. It stars ME as the talk-back host and yes, my dog features too. What happens when my 'walking friends discover a body down at the Onehunga Lagoon and then a  'caller' tuunts me on the air with all sorts of challenges and then does the most outlandish, nasty  thing he could do to me---- HE BLOODY KIDNAPS MY DOG! (DOGNAPS?)
Who is behind this cruel act?

Watch out for the blog--- won't be too long.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I love Crown Lynn

If you think I have just divulged the ‘love of my life’ you are only partly correct. If you have no idea what, who, whatever Crown Lynn is then you have a choice--- you can learn by feasting your eyes on my blog or you can skip it, but I suggest you choose the former.
Most Kiwis over the age of forty will have come into contact with CL (Forgive me for the shortcut) and have no doubt compared it to the cheap crockery that now poses as ‘dinner ware.’  How many times have you dropped a piece of CL and been amazed that it didn’t break? How many of you have cursed at the nasty imports that chip as soon as they ‘touch’ another dish in your dishwasher?
Have you caught on now what I am talking about? Even my slightly older friends in parts of the USA know CL. You used to import it in the hazy past, before it became a victim of ---‘lets buy the cheaper crap’.
Crown Lynn is and was a New Zealand icon, employing about 1400 workers and artisans before its demise in the late 80’s. There would be very few homes in NZ that didn’t have at least few a pieces of CL. It featured as wedding gifts, Xmas presents and as a common everyday purchase. Many Aucklanders used to visit the factory shop to buy the ‘seconds.’
The CL storey has been written about in several books and in trade magazines. Where did it all begin? Like many successful companies, CL had a humble beginning as a manufacturer of field tiles, insulation units and various other products. After an amalgamation with neighbouring ventures, CL was born, along with its ‘made in New Zealand,’ logo. WW2 gave it a boost and the ‘protective era’ of the post war period added further impetus.
CL was innovative and its ‘specials department’ (possibly not the exact title) was responsible for thousands of examples that have now become very collectable. At one stage, CL was the largest producer of domestic wares in the Southern Hemisphere.
AS time has gone on, many Kiwis have a soft spot in their hearts for CL products. You can still see many examples, displayed proudly in china cabinets or shelves in thousands of homes. Furthermore, it is not hard to find CL still in use. Take me for example. I ridded myself of most of the imports (apart from English China of course) and now if I have a large gathering (and for everyday use) I serve my offerings on CL or Temuka (that, my friends is another wonderful story).
Now that I have started this quest to re-tell the CL storey, I hope I have piqued your interest and prodded your feelings of nostalgia.
The bad quality picture features some of the less common examples form the late 50’s and early 60’s.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fat Bugger---part 2

What--- no comments?  What’s wrong with you lot? I don’t care if you parade a whole raft of clichés or put-downs, just say something. I won’t insult you even if you take a totally opposite position to mine.
OK, I’ve got that out of my system, so I can proceed. I did sleep on my blogs and wondered what the hell I would write for the follow-up to my last blog. I kind of left it hanging and had thrown out a personal challenge to myself. I put it out there that I have had a range of experiences and tried quite a few ‘DIETS.’ Right, I shall try not to use that word again.
I told some friends (who don’t read my blogs) what I am attempting. Out came the same old, same old pearls of wisdom. I felt like screaming---‘BUT I HAVE F---TRIED THAT!’
‘Well you just didn’t stick to it then did you,’ someone said. That’s true--- I find it hard to stay on track. You know how it goes. For a few weeks or months, everything goes well, and the weight slips away, 'never to return.' What I have noticed is that the more ‘strict or restrictive the regime, (see--- I didn’t use the D word) the more likely one (me) is to build up a craving for something ‘naughty.’ There are pathways that allow a certain amount of treating, but at some stage the---‘well one won’t hurt will it,’ and before you can say, ‘I’ll be back on the wagon tomorrow.’
Now, I am speaking for myself. I shouldn’t put my crap on you. My failings don’t have to be yours, but if you are honest--- well--- you fill in the rest. The fact is that I have a ‘sweet tooth’ and a ‘taste' for savouries. Take this in a new direction and---- yes--- I am a foodie. I love to read about it, watch TV and go to as many food shows as the budget allows. Add my propensity to buy the ‘latest gadget’ and fill cupboards and storage areas with the aforementioned devises, some never to be used, or left forgotten, only to be rediscovered and resurrected, probably because a new TV food show has  caught my attention.
I think to myself---‘is this my downfall--- this OBSESSION with things ‘gastronomic?’ Perhaps I need to say that I also love cooking for others. I may not do it on quite the scale as I used to, when it wasn’t unusual to have more than 10 at a dinner party. God only knows how things would have been if I had had a formal dining room. Now the gatherings are more modest--- maybe 4-8 at the most, except for special occasions (like when my blog hits 5000). I have many happy memories of these fun and noisy events, accompanied of course by lots of wine--- that too has assumed a more modest appearance. There is nothing to regret about all of this, other than the fact that most doctors would say that I have had my share of the ‘good-life.’ The bottom-line is that I want to collect my pension (Damn it--- I will still call it that--- because it’s easier to type than ‘superannuation.’) Are my new friends in the USA getting my drift? I don’t think you are that different to NZ and the ‘Fatness debate’ is alive and well there.
OK--- I have only moved a little in this blog. That’s because I am gathering my thoughts and trying to get a theme, or some ‘self-discovery’ going. I am not a scientist so I rely on my reading, media and observations about what hasn’t worked for myself and the battles of people I know who charge at the chocolate covered windmill.
How have I gone this week?  Hehehe--- you will have to wait until the week ends eh. I shall try not to lie about what I have eaten.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Here we go again--- FAT BUGGER---Part 1

I went to see my doctor today for my usual three monthly check-up. When you hit a certain age and carry weight like you are collecting for Oxfam (Oooh--- bad analogy!)   you have to have these appointments. At one stage I used to joke with the doctor about making retirement age. He thinks he can manage that as long as I continue my ‘stringent’ management programme. (He assures me that he doesn’t read blogs, so I am safe from his wrath, unless one of you buggers tells him.
I’m a big bloke----OK?! Those of you who knew me when I attended Teachers training College in Epsom way back in the late 60’s and early 70’s would know my nickname was ‘TWIGGY.’ Bloody hell, I was SKINNY. I only weighed about 65KGS and almost had abs. Go on--- beg me to put up a picture. I won’t unless I get at least ten comments. I didn’t get ‘fat’ until I hit the big five O.  After that magic age, gravity and kilos combined to change my profile.
I tried heaps of diets—you name it I either considered it or tried it.  Did they achieve their verbose claims? Yes they did, for a while that is. I achieved amazing results. I threw away my ‘big’ clothes (Hell--- they would be my skinny ones now!) and bathed in the glorious comments form friends and family. ‘OH--- you look great, Neil. How did you do it?’
For every attempt, I lasted at most about six months, before something took over to subvert my regime. I can’t quite put my finger on it. If I could, maybe I would be rich and have millions of followers. I can just see it----

Yeah right—dream on boyo. It did not work out that way.
It wasn’t too far into my 50’s that I received the news that Mr Type Two Diabetes was my new companion. ‘Ah,’ you say. ‘Now you’ll get your shit together.’ You reckon? I suppose I did for a while. I knew from experience that GYMs DON’T WORK FOR ME. Oh well there was always another diet or mantra. You know the ones, ranging from the “F” Plan to more scientifically based Low GI diets or ‘Lifestyles.’ But once again--- the missing link, the “X” factor. I hadn’t found it.
Of course I was never alone ion these desperate endeavours. There was always a friend, who wanted to walk alongside me and most of them ended up on the Yo Yo treadmill. Sometimes it was fun. I remember going to Weight Watchers’ weigh ins, jumping on the scales (Of course, only after a visit to the toilet) and then feeling really good when I lost weight. What did I (we) do then? We went to a café for breakfast of course!
I can just hear some of the less than complimentary comments. ‘You lack willpower,’ or ‘you cheat.’ (No--- I just ate too much). The result was always the same. I fell of the wagon. Therein lays a clue to my demise—something akin to what an alcoholic feels. What am I really saying--- that food is an addiction? Well it bloody well is--- to a degree. Yes I hear that---‘there is no bad food--- just the way we eat it.’ Or---‘too much of a good thing.’ Maybe Granma knew best---- portion size---- Another cliché? Yes and no.
Sometimes friends have said---‘You could write a book about weight loss. Nah---- but I will write some more blogs about what I am doing now---- that I have been refused lone of those State Funded operations---- I’M TOO OLD!’ THEY SAID, and I’m not about to spend $17,000 to $20,000. Besides--- I will make yet another attempt, but I have been well-informed that it is nigh on impossible to loose weight by diet and lifestyle alone, and NOT put it back on again, once you hit 40.
Good--- I hope many of you disagree and try to tell me I am wrong wrong wrong. Cool---if that stimulates some of you to get off your f----- oops--- you get the picture.
Catch ya later, after I’ve slept on my ‘self-given’ challenge.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

DIJATC part 3--- settling for less?

It may be one year or four, but the day is coming when you won’t get that nice automatic deposit in your bank account. It is going to be replaced by this fractional pittance. Imagine receiving less than a third of what you are used too and in some cases the situation is much worse.
All of a sudden, those bills, including rates, insurance, medical insurance, Sky TV, water, power, telephone, computer; not to mention everyday necessities like----- yes food. Whereas once the budget almost balanced, now it is going to become a nightmare. Something has to give.
As I said before, there are those amongst you who have made plans, so you can stop reading and just go and have a gin or a coffee and watch Coronation Street. Good on ya!
So what are the rest of us going to do? Perhaps we will start by making a list of all of our outgoings. Don’t forget to have a ‘contingency’ category--- you k now one for those little (or big bills) that seem to arrive a regular intervals--- ones that we didn’t bargain for. We have all heard stories about single income families and those on minimum wages. Well--- all of a sudden, we have joined the club.
Firstly, goodbye Sky and the computer contract--- it’s all ‘prepay from now on or ‘Freeview. It’s a pity that the Government is axing some of the channels, or they become harder to get (like Stratos). Forget about medical insurance--- it was becoming more expensive each year anyway.
Leaving lights on, using the dryer and sitting in front of the heat pump (on hot days) will need to be revisited. But cut as you will--- it won’t be enough, so what else can go. I’m beginning to feel like one of those passengers on sailing ships in old black and white movies who had to jettison anything not tied down, in order to get away from pirates.
What can we do to lighten the food bill? OK--- if you have any land at all--- how about growing some veggies and fruit. Isn’t that what our grandparents did on their quarter acre sections? I have fond memories of the garden my dad had along with lots of fruit trees. And MUM--- well she bottled, pickled, made jam and used the freezer (much bigger than the pathetic little box passing for a fridge/freezer in my place).
Holidays----- yeah maybe, if you have somewhere cheap or free to stay and can still drive and maintain your car. Gold Card, if it’s still with us will be fine for those of us lucky enough to live in a city with reasonable public transport.
Don’t let my words get you down. That’s the last thing I am trying to do. If there is time--- like more than a few years, shove away everything you can, either with Kiwi Saver or Bonus Bonds. I have been amazed at how quickly they accumulate. Just forget they are there and perhaps you will hit the ‘day’ and see a little nest egg awaiting your inspection.
I think the key is to start now. Trim the Sky, go to a cheaper plan for your internet, plant your veggies and shop cooperatively. There are heaps of websites out there offering advice. Just Google ‘getting by when I am retired,’ or play around with those words. If our grandparents could make do with less, by being creative, then we too can meet the challenge. Start a ‘forum’ here and lets see what comes up. I’m sure there are lots of ideas about getting by with less, so DIJATC doesn’t have to scare the pants off us. We’re Kiwis and Kiwis can! (Sorry Barack--- Mr President--- Sir).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

For all of you DIJATCs (Part 2)

If you want to know what DIJATC means, go back to my blog that preceded this. ‘Bugger!’ you may say--- but come on, I need to get my hit rate up. I was talking to family and friends yesterday and I told them that once my blogs reach 2000 hits I (and that’s not so far away) we shall have a really nice dinner with expensive wine. I reckon a $40 plus bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir will do the trick. For my lovely USA friends (who made blog history for me yesterday by outnumbering my Kiwi hits for the day). Mmmm--- that will be a subject of a whole new thread in future blogs.
Right, back to the reason for this blog. Like many others in the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation, retirement is just around the corner. Of course, I won’t be stopping work. My observations have led me to believe that ‘Counsellors’ (NZ spelling) have quite a long shelf-life, if they look after themselves. Hopefully, I will belong to that lucky group. Time will tell.
Either way, I will assume that it is best to ‘prepare now.’ I do not have a massive inheritance and I have not been a canny Scottish person, re my savings. True, I have made a few allowances, but it wouldn’t take more than a glance at my financial preparedness to see what camp I am in. Like many of ‘cohort, I need to get real. So here’s my plan. Laugh, cry, chuck in a bit of condescension and be judgmental if you wish, or surprise yourself by the admission, that you too face such a dilemma.
Lets pretend that we have about three years to retirement and that we only have very modest (or no) savings. SCARRY EH! But for many of the generation behind us, the situation is even worse, if they haven’t taken up the ‘Kiwi Saver,’ option. (God only knows what it’s like for you folks in the USA who haven’t made plans).
Are you ready to take stock? Look at your current spending habits. How much are you really spending on café outings or wine and gourmet food. It’s fine now, while you are still earning. Oops, I’m sounding like I have switched from focussing on myself and putting it all back on you. Well, if I do that, just assume that I am also talking about ‘me.’ Maybe all of those twats that ring me up (usually at dinner time, trying to sell me stuff--- bloody useless stuff, will realize that they are wasting their time). I doubt it, somehow. I bet there are many areas of our spending genre that far exceed our ‘needs.’ We have made our ‘wants’ transition into the absolute minimal ‘needs’ in order to sustain our very existence. I guess it has been a gradual process.
The simple fact is, that we will not be able to sustain this way of living. I think that this realization is going to be my new mantra. (Actually, I have never had one!). Where do I (we) start? The days of ‘Go West  young man,’ don’t ring true anymore. For you in the USA, the west no longer holds the same promise and for us in NZ, well Australia may well be facing the same dilemma.
What I am going to say is not new or revolutionary, it is just a simple stamen of the obvious---we are going to have to settle for less. SO------DIJATC really is a call to action. Hehehhe--- next blog--- let me get my thoughts together and have a few more ‘Flat Whites.’  It’s OK--- for those who don’t know, Aussies and Kiwis know that it is not some sort of racist term--- it is the coffee style we both love as countries and no proud Aussie or Kiwi would be without it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

For all of you---DIJATCs

Just in case you are wondering what DIJATC means--- well--- here goes--- “Damn, it’s just around the corner.’
I am of course referring to all of you ‘Damn, it’s just around the corner’ people. I’m one if you count three and a half years as being close to retirement. So, I’m giving away my age. Who cares--- I’m long past any of those feelings that giving away personal details, somehow makes one more vulnerable. The only vulnerability that goes with aging is the extended list of prescription drugs. Anyway--- haven’t you heard the latest research about aging? Yes, we may have more aches and pains, but apparently at 65. Our vocabulary is at its best. Ain’t that just creamy!
Just think of all the bullshit we can espouse, under the actual guise of possibly knowing a thing or two. So, bare with, bear with. As Miranda’s Mum says. If you don’t know who Miranda is, then stop reading now—OK?
Right--- I’ve got your attention and lost those who wouldn’t have a clue. For the elitist survivors, now lets put my proposition. If you are a DIJATC, you have more than likely pondered your near future; one without the number of noughts on the end of your weekly earnings. Actually they may well be in the form of a pension or ‘superannuation, plus a few extras if you are lucky. I think I belong to the last of the ‘lucky generation.’ Soon the generous largess with which the State bequeaths us in our final years will be diminishing in an alarming manner. Imagine retiring at 68 or even older and not being able to collect what you have paid for all of your working (or non-working) life. Never mind worrying about whether the ‘Gold Card’ will still be available; that’s the least of your worries.
The fact is that if you haven’t made allowances for the impending income implosion, then you (we) are in deep doggie poo). It is so easy to forget about that way out and beyond time when one has to adjust to a more stringent financial swamp. Yip--- it will be ‘sink or swim’ in the unknown sludge of that future.
So what can my lot do as we ponder the inevitable? I guess we are divided into several groups. There are the ones, through hard work, luck, inheritance, Scottish-like canny savings and I hate to say it, less than honest dealings in the darker side of life and possibly variations of all of the above. Then there are those who haven’t given a thought to their twilight years and have just got on with life, having fun and taking every opportunity to buy the latest gadget to take the ‘special deals’ on an overseas holiday, fully knowing that they were stretching their ability to actually pay for those ‘needs.’
I don’t want to give too much away about myself, other than to say that I feel like I can relate to bits of all of the above scenarios. I cannot get away from that DIJATC feeling though, so having laid the foundation for a very important discussion forum, I invite you to comment on my musings--- Hehehe--- but you will have to wait until my next blog. Don’t you hate it, when I do that?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Patience my friends

Thanks for being so patient with me. I am working on getting a new website and finalizing my relationship with my publisher. It has been a steep learning curve and one that I wish I did not have to take. Buit I don't have an agent (yet) to do all this for me. The only writing I am doing at the moment is my blogs.
Thanks God, I have a good day job eh.
Use me email adress if you wish to contact me direct, either for books or to communicate.