Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kiwi Rail--- it must stay alive and well

Here we go again, there is a strong possibility that yet another section of our rail system will be closed and we all know that it is very rare for such actions to be reversed; the Onehunga connection being a happy exception.
Now that the Government and Kiwi Rail are considering closing the very important link between the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne is crazy and incredibly short-sighted. Haven’t the events of the last few weeks, where Gisborne was virtually cut off by road, made it abundantly clear that we must keep this vital link.
Think of all of the traffic that will travel on the roads, increasing the danger to motorists and the environment. The people of Poverty Bay and the East Coast have made their feelings clear--- keep the rail. It is an investment in their province and the future.
We have seen many other links cut; the link between Taumaranui and Stratford being an example. I know it would cost a huge amount to fix the dilapidated line, but given the rising costs of fossil fuels, both in monetary and environmental terms, should we not take a stand for the future? Saving money now, often equates to spending far more in the future.
The argument that Rail must make a profit is a spurious one.  We know that to make a profit from any form of transport in NZ is always going to be a stretch at best. We must pay the social cost if necessary----a form of a social subsidy. Why build more roads and burn more fuel when we can continue to electrify what out early hard-working settlers entrusted to us---- not to sell or close, but to keep for the benefit of all.  The money spent is not lost if measured in that wider sense.

James Cameron

I just heard that James Cameron, with films like Titanic and many others behind him, is heading to NZ, not for a holiday but to live. He is reported to have New Zealand citizenship in his sights.
Usually I have said that it is not right that the rich can buy their way into our beautiful country, but in his case, I have flipped my thoughts. I say come--- bring your talent and ideas and get together if you wish with that NZ icon, Peter Jackson. Somehow I think you can only add to the talents and wealth of NZ. I can’t wait to see the wonderful films you will make here and provide jobs for NZers.
Your ‘green’ credentials also bode well for wherever you settle. If it is true that you have the Featherstone area as a place you may settle, then that is good too.
Welcome to NZ. You have much to contribute.

I am about to blog the first chapter of 'Talk To Me.'

It has been a long time coming and I may edit it from time to time. Go to the blog and enjoy. 'Talk To Me' is a very tongue in cheek' story about the talk back radio--- I totally deny and knowledge of industry.

Would you spy on your kids?

I see there is some new technology out that allows you to ‘spy’ on what your kids are doing with their phones. I listened to some of the comments people made when they rang in to the TV station. One that got me was that—‘how would we feel if the kids spied on us?’ Doesn’t that beg the question as to who is the parent here? However we must look a little deeper than the emotive stuff.
Perhaps a more salient question would be--- what are the kids using their phones for? Are they just talking to their friends, chatting about the vast array of interests they have? Working on a daily basis with the said kids lets me into their world and get to see the results of some of their ‘conversations.’
The communication is not face-to-face; meaning that they are able to interact in a far less caring manner. I know they are not alone in ‘dumping’ their friends without feeling the result; there is plenty of evidence to suggest that their adult counterparts are getting with the programme too.  They are also about to start a new ‘relationship’ without even seeing their new friend. Gone are the days of writing letters for many weeks, before deciding to meet. There is a sense of ‘instant everything,’ in the world of teenage interactions. It is all too easy to connect and to disconnect, with very little in the middle re relationship building. By relationship, in teenage terms, such a state is anything from a few days to--- well whatever.
Today’s cell phones are far more than means of talking and texting. There are too many functions for me to name, never mind understanding or using. The result is that our kids have a secret world that if we only knew, we would probably throw away the little monsters--- no the phones, not the kids.
Now we hear that there is a way of spying on the kids. Great---- isn’t that like reading your kids diary in the days when they used to be able to write cohesive sentences? That brought up questions of trust between teenager and parent. It was always risky delving into the world of your teenagers’ ‘thoughts’ as they expressed themselves in diary form. I suspect that we are predominantly talking about the girls here; unfortunately we have never discovered the ‘auto turn-on’ to engage the boys in literary matters.
Are you going to be brave enough to enter this espionage world; that is if you are able to manage to stay more than a step ahead of your ‘techno-savvy teenager? Are you up for what you read or see? Are you going to over react when you see something that is way beyond your carefully negotiated or imposed boundaries? There is a plethora of minefields out there and there is a way of avoiding them.
Teenagers always have and always will be’ different’ animals, and the only way to come anywhere near understanding them is to give them that special gift---- time and talking to them. If you haven’t and make excuses that you are too busy, then you will miss the signals. I know it is hard to understand the grunts that pass for communication with teenagers, but giving in because it’s all too much will lead to them finding solace even more in the latest techy fad.
Who said it was going to be easy watching your much loved cute, kind, loving boy or girl trans morph into this moody, argumentative being? Hell--- if they didn’t press your buttons and challenge you at every step, they would be even more vulnerable in this crazy new world. They are going to make mistakes; what’s so new about that? I think it is the instant manner in which they make them and the secretive way in which they are able to achieve this. Try to stay in touch with them. Leave the ‘door’ open and if you are lucky--- they may knock. One last point--- they may even become reasonable again----eventually, so think carefully about spying on them.

Cloud choppers

Today I played tourist--- I took a Tiki tour to Raglan, a small seaside village to the West of Hamilton city. My plan was to visit a colleague who was staying there for three days--- taking a well-earned rest. After walking Perdy down at the usual place I left my house about 9am, hoping to make Raglan sometime around 11am.
For a while I listened to ‘talk back radio,’ but I soon got sick of the topic they were ringing in about---can hardly remember now what it was. I turned the dial to the Concert Programme, a classical music station and was soon lost in the voice of a mezzo-soprano woman from Texas. Just before I turned down Highway 39 my phone buzzed me to let me know that a message had come in. It was my friend, letting me know that another couple were joining us at 1.30.
I realized that I had more than two hours to kill, so I headed off down the main highway to Hamilton where I thought I might pass some time in the huge new shopping complex called ‘The Base.’ I strolled around, thinking that at least I was getting g some exercise. Now it was time to exercise my credit card. I noticed a Kathmandu store, a NZ owned company selling medium to high end quality outdoor gear. My beach walking friends had told me that they made (well like everything, it is made in Asia, probably China) an excellent all-weather jacket, that was lightweight and water-proof, using a material called Gorex.
The sales assistant was knowledgeable and didn’t push. He was disappointed that the largest jacket (XL2) didn’t quite fit. It was on sale too. The material wasn’t Gorex anyway, but a close approximation.
 Next door was another shop selling similar products. I had never heard of Mountain Design, but that shouldn’t surprise you, because I usually shop at lower end stores. (Shush--- don’t tell anyone--- they sell my size) I was in luck—their jacket felt good. And just fit and it was Gorex fabric and also on sale---- So much for competition eh.
I walked out feeling good and had a cup of coffee (double shot, Flat White) before driving through the centre of this prosperous city. I still had some time to kill, so I skirted the southern edge of the city and finally joined the road to Raglan with about twenty minutes to our meeting time. I drove carefully, because the road is very windy in places, but the views were spectacular as I crossed a large range. On the other side a smaller range hid Ragland from view, but on the top of the hills, ghostly figures chopped at the clouds. It was a wind farm; a fascinating nature-friendly sight and one that was more than capable of powering the little town of Raglan and then some.
The 'wind choppers' are on the hills.

I left the wind farm in my rear mirror, intending to take a picture from the viewing sight on the way back. Raglan filled the horizon a few minutes later and I pulled up in an empty car park that displayed a sign informing me of the one hour limit. My mind briefly touched on the programme from the night before where a ‘wheel-clamping’ company had been featured, using unfair and probably illegal practices. Someone had successfully taken them to court and won. Better not happen to me, I thought.
My friend texted me to say that we should meet at the ‘Four Square’ shop. I was right outside it, and there she was. We still had another twenty minutes before our friends joined us, so we stepped into the hundred plus year old iconic hotel close by. It is a popular pub, for locals and visitors. I am sure it could tell many fine and possibly sultry stories. I had a house wine, not half filled like you get in the cities; no--- it was filled to the brim. None of that, ‘you need space for it to breath, bullshit.’
Our friends arrived and for the next two hours we stayed there--- choosing food from their menu—a combination of ‘old-fashioned fare and more trendy Mediterranean choices. I was most impressed by the platter that our friends chose. I went for chips, salad and Groper (we call it Hapuka). The time just flew as we chatted and laughed. If nearby customers heard us, they may have blushed, but then again, they may have enjoyed listening.
The hotel was built in 1905.

By now I knew that I wasn’t going to make it home before dark, especially when my friend asked us back to her ‘get-away,’ accommodation. She had paid a lot of money for her luxurious hide-away. The pictures I have included hardly do the view justice. After a very small glass of bubbly, I said goodbye and headed back to the village and onto the journey home. I remembered to take a picture of the ‘cloud choppers’
The view of Whale Bay from the 'hide-away.'

When I arrived home, the house was in darkness and Perdy was waiting at the gate, wagging her tail so hard, it reminded me of the wind farm. Maybe I should connect a turbo to her tail. A sudden thought struck me--- OMG--- she had not had a walk. My partner had said Perdy would still get a walk, but remember--- the house was dark. I unlocked the door, knowing that I was about to be punished. Oh yes--- it had snowed inside. Perdy had scattered the contents of one of the new pillows from one end of the lounge, through to the kitchen. ‘You little bi---!’ I shouted. What did she do? She tilted her head at me as if to say----‘you should k now better than to leave me alone for that long.’
Then I remembered what one of my friends had said. There is a motel that lets you take dogs and they can stay----- maybe next time, that’s what I shall do.
What a lovely day--- Perdy cleaned the mess up---- NOT