Saturday, April 14, 2012

Are some US companies finally seeing the light---re gun laws?

Dare I hope that the ‘murder' of Trayvon Martin may not have been in vain? Dare I hope that more Americans will wake up each day and question the widely held belief that gun ownership is sacrosanct? Would it be possible that some large companies see themselves taking a different stance on the ‘holy grail' of gun ownership?
Of course I am being cynical in making that last statement---it can only be about perceptions; namely that by discontinuing their support for the NRL, they are more concerned about future profits rather than taking a truly genuine position that ‘guns are bad,’ especially under the current laws.
It is looking like the ramifications of the death of Trayvon have reached the boardrooms of American business. That it has taken so long, after numerous examples of singular and mass killings, is sad in itself. For years there has been a groundswell of opinion against changing the gun laws. The inner sanctums of a vast array of organizations; comprising business, governmental and interest groups have long held out against any real change.
They quote their constitutional rights, while the killing continues. If it is true that businesses like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Intuit, have all dropped their membership of the American Legislative Exchange Council, then dare we hope that the tide is finally turning?
Don’t pack up your placards just yet, because the opposition to changing the gun laws is entrenched   throughout American society. Any real movement will need to gather the support of the majority of politicians, both at state and federal level. It will take brave men and women, strongly supported by their electorates to challenge what has been taken as a God given right for centuries. The world is watching.

Manuka first and now Kanuka--aint that sweet!

No doubt many of you have heard of the medical benefits of NZ Manuka honey. Research has shown this wonderful natural product to be useful in the treatment of many conditions; some claiming that it is even effective for treating skin cancer. I believe that it has been also used in New Zealand hospitals for treating bed sores amongst other uses.
Of course we are not talking about the ordinary shop brought stuff here; it is the higher numbered Hort.-Research number you are looking for--- the higher the better---like over 20. Be careful though, as there are some charlatans out there claiming that their honey has these benefits, but the product is not from NZ.
Now we have another honey receiving plaudits for its healing qualities-----Kanuka honey, sourced mainly from the Bay Of Plenty region. Professor Shaun Holt is about to embark on some major research to back up his claims about Kanuka honey.  He says that Kanuka honey has similar qualities to Manuka honey but at the higher end in its effectiveness. It is used for treating skin conditions and also an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and it helps to kill bacteria.
He warns that people should only apply medical-grade honey to their skin, or they risk ‘a nasty reaction.’ So he is not advocating going to your local supermarket and buying Manuka or Kanuka honey and then applying it to the skin. Those honeys are for your toast. Get your medical-grade honey from your pharmacist.
New Zealand stands to gain from the continuing research and the sales of the ever increasing number of honey products—all natural; and thus appealing to the huge overseas market, just waiting to be tapped. It is a win-win situation. We gain and the world gets a natural product, capable of healing a wide range of conditions.
‘I’m still gonna have it on my toast, even if it is a bit expensive.

CHECK OUT THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS FOR 'The River Always Flows' and 'Talk To Me.'

The second chapters for 'Talk To Me' and 'The River Always Flows'---

Mke sure you read the first chapters for both of these books--- sorry if you have to sort through all my blogs to find them--- and don't forget to contact me 'direction re 'The River Always Flows.'

Chapter 2 of 'The River Always Flows.

      ‘Jesus, Tania--- you know that get them going. Shit--- we don’t wanna be here long but if you keep doing that, we wil never get out of here.’  I looked at my little sister. I don’t think it had quite hit her yet. I think she believed that Mum was coming back through the front door of the house where we were staying. Sure the couple who were looking after us did their best to make us feel at home, but it just wasn’t home. Tania may have only been eight, but she knew how to get me going.
      ‘I didn’t ask to come here! I want Mum.’ Her little face seemed to crumple up like a piece of old paper. For a while I thought she looked a lot older. I tried to calm her down.
      ‘Tania----- I reckon you know what’s happened. We’re gonna have to get on with it eh? We have to get ready for the funeral. Come on. Let’s give her a good send off.’  My words didn’t hit the spot, not in the way I had hoped anyway.
      ‘But what’s gonna happen to us then? Won’t Dad come back and get us or Grandma?’ Her voice had a pleading quality, one that I had no hope of answering without making matters worse. I could hear the couple getting ready to take us in their bedroom down the hall.
      ‘The social worker said that they are trying to find Granma in Aussie, but the last address wasn’t right. You know that Mum and Dad weren’t talking to them.’ Tania’s eyes were glistening with tears. I think she was just about all cried out. I had to be strong for her.
      ‘But can’t we go there and look for her Tom?’
      ‘I wish we could Tania, but I’m not old enough to get passports and get the money too. We gotta stay here for a while. I promise that one day we will find grandma.’ I crossed my fingers like Mum had taught me when I was younger, when I knew I was telling a porky. We were interrupted by a knock on the bedroom door. The couple had let us share the room--- just as well because I don’t think that Tania would have slept if she was away from me.
      ‘Tania--- Tom--- are you ready yet?’ Mrs Carver said as she entered the room. She cast her glance over us, satisfied that we were almost ready. ‘That’s a nice dress dear. Did you get it for birthday?’
      Tania stopped her fussing around and looked at me, as if I was going to answer for her. ‘It’s okay Tania--- just answer,’ I said.
     ‘Mum gave it to me last Christmas,’ she said in a tiny voice and then burst into tears. Mrs Carver came right into the room and put her arms around my sobbing sister. After a few seconds, Tania’s sobs diminished, apart from the occasional hiccup sound.
     ‘Let it out honey. I know it’s not fare when you lose your mum, especially at your age.’ I know the lady meant it, because she and her husband had been really kind to both of us.
      ‘But I want to go home--- to our house,’ Tania said. I thought she was going to start her wailing again so I told her what I thought would settle her down.
      ‘Tania, you know what I told you last night. We were only renting the house and the landlord wants it back. We couldn’t live there alone anyway.’
      ‘You are very mature for your age Tom,’ Mrs Carver said as she let Tania out of her arms. Tania didn’t attempt to move away. She looked washed out and there was a look of hopelessness in her eyes.  ‘How about we go to the funeral and we talk about what happens later eh?’
      Tania sneaked a look at me to see if I was going along with Mrs Carvers’ suggestion. I knew the lady was right so I nodded.
      ‘Okay, but I mean it---- I want us to go home. Dad will come back I’m sure.’ I didn’t have the heart to break the news that things were never going to be the same for us, so I just kept quiet and pretended to tie my laces again.
      ‘Right ----- that’s settled then,’ Mrs Carver said, relief showing on her face. ‘How about you come out to the car when you are ready and we can head off to the church. It was a command rather than a question, so I stood up and checked that Tania was following as I left the bedroom. A few minutes later we drove out onto the main road towards town. The traffic was light and five minutes later Mr Carver parked the car outside the church. There were only about six cars there, and I suspected that most of those were to do with the running of the funeral, an ugly black Hurst amongst them.
      Tania had been unusually quiet during the short drive to the church. As we pulled up a few meters away from the Hurst he said, ‘Is Mummy in there---- in that box?’ Mrs Carver hesitated before answering.
‘Yes she is dear. We’ll just go into the church shall we and then they can start.’
‘Oh--- okay then. Can we sit at the front so we can say goodbye to her properly?’ ’ I was surprised at the change in her mood, but knowing her from past ‘difficulties’, I knew that things could swing around like a puppy mid-flight in a game.
      I helped Tania out of the car. Before I could stop her she rushed into eh church. We followed her and even I was shocked at the emptiness of the place. Mr and Mrs Carver approached me from behind and I felt a hand on my shoulder. ‘How about we sit in the front row? I know you’re sad about there being no friends here to send your mum off.’
      I must admit that I hadn’t thought about it before then, but now as I surveyed the empty church I felt tears welling up, threatening to overflow onto the floor. I knew that we hadn’t really made friends in the district. Mum and Dad had always kept to themselves.  Uncles, aunts and cousins, all lived in other towns and cities or in Aussie, like my grandmother, so we were quite alone. Now, when we faced Mum’s funeral, it really hit me that Tania and I were the only family members. Tania must have had a similar realization, because once again she set up a wailing that bounced off the hard surfaces of the little church walls. I attempted to calm her.
      ‘Come and sit down Tania and Tom,’ a man dressed in a Minister’s garb said quietly. His voice had an immediate effect on Tania. Once again she flipped her mood. She slowly moved towards the front pews and sat, quickly followed by the Carvers and me.
      The sound of the Hurst being opened and the coffin being placed on a trolley could be clearly heard from the front where we were sitting. I turned around and was surprised to that only two men pushed the ungainly trolley down the aisle. I had always imagined about six people bringing the coffin in for a funeral. I turned to Mrs Carver but she must have anticipated my question.
      ‘They carry the casket out later dear ,but today we don’t have enough people to help, so we’ll mange won’t we?’
      ‘I am sure I can help with that,’ a voice said from behind us. We all turned. A middle-aged man with long scruffy hair had just sat in the pew behind us... ‘I’m your mum; s cousin from down the line---- Mick’s the name.
      His eyes were steely blue, reminding me of a guy in a horror movie I had seen a few weeks ago on Television. A shiver snaked down my spine. I didn’t remember Mum ever talking about a cousin called Mick. But there was something else about him. Those eyes twinkled and made me want to know more about him. Now was not the time.
     After the coffin was suitable placed the minister addressed us. My mind retreated to somewhere else. I’m buggered if I remember what he said but all of a sudden the three men, including Mick were taking the coffin back to the Hurst. Mrs Carver told us that we were going straight back to their house where she had a nice meal in the crockpot. She whispered something into Micks ear as he slowly accompanied Mum’s coffin back to the Hurst. He nodded and they disappeared out the front of the church.
       ‘Aren’t we gonna burry Mum?’ Tania asked. She didn’t seem too upset----yet.
      ‘No dear---- it’s all been arranged. They are taking your Mum to the crematorium and then she can go to heaven.’ My sister wasn’t stupid. Maybe it would have been better to have told her something more like the truth.
      Tania stomped her feet, so hard that I thought she might injure herself. ‘I want to see where they put her!’ She ran out through the door, just as the Hurst started to pull out of the car park. Tania didn’t stop. She tore out through the entrance and we could hear her screaming, ‘Mummy---Mummy!’
A shadowy figure whisked past me and followed, narrowing the gap between my fleeing sister, finally catching up with her. He swept her off her feet, just in time, as a car veered away from them, nearly colliding. The driver shouted abuse and carried on down the road, passing the Hurst and accelerating away. Mick brought Tania back to us, set her down and winked at me.
      ‘Thanks----Uncl----Mick,’ I said.
      ‘Just call me Mick--- that’s fine. Now young lady, you don’t want to be running on that busy road---what with all those crazy drivers around, you could have been bowled over.’
      Tania actually looked a little guilty. She looked up at Mick, unsure how to respond. Finally she said, ‘Where’s Mummy going?’
      Mick didn’t beat about the bush like the rest of us had. ‘Look princess---you know that when people die that they have to be buried or cremated--- you know what cremated is?’
      Tania shook her head, looking up at Mick towering above her. ‘No---do they put cream on her?’
      Mick kept a straight face while looked away, just about busting. I think it was the first time I had smiled all day. Mrs Carver took the opportunity to bring a bit of order to the proceedings. ‘No dear--- some people like to be burnt when they die and then they have a little headstone or plaque in a place they loved. Perhaps that’s what we will do in a few months when you are feeling better.’
      ‘But I’m not sick----does it hurt--? I suppose it doesn’t eh, cause you don’t feel anything when you’re dead---right?’
      ‘That’s right little one,’ Mick said. You’re a big girl; now so you understand.
      ‘My names Tania --- not little one or princess,’ Tania replied. ‘What are we gonna do now?’
      ‘We’re all going back home now--- you too mick. I think you may want to get to know your young relatives.’
      ‘I was hoping you’d say that. I’ll bring my missus too, if that’s okay.

Chapter 2--'Talk To Me.'


   ‘Right Garry--- lets not have the shenanigans today eh?’
    ‘Oh God—does she ever let off--- I’ve just walked in the door. It’s bad enough that I have to look at the cow. Damn, it wasn’t like this with Fran. We got on just fine. She intervened rarely and I have to say, appropriately, but this woman--- well--- I don’t know what her problem is--- she seems to want to control every moment that I’m on air.
    ‘Now look Garry--- we don’t have to fight. I’m just doing my job. We’re supposed to be a team you know.’
    That tone--- it drives me nuts.  ‘No—you look Jean. You’re supposed to encourage the smooth flow of my show and comment when needed, but that’s it--- when needed. Got the picture? You talk too much and I’m bloody sick of hearing your voice in the middle of my chats. It interrupts my chain of thought. You don’t understand the subtleties of talk back. If people get upset by what I say--- that adds to the appeal. That’s why people listen--- it’s a bloody show!’  Ooops--- I’m shouting. Good—her face looks red—maybe she will get it.
    ‘You’re so wrong Garry. Yes it’s a show, but it is an informative one, where people get to discuss their views in a safe and rationale way.’
    ‘Give me a break Jean. What the fuck are you on?’
    Please don’t use that language to me Garry. I won’t take it.’
    ‘Then get the fuck off my back you silly cow.’
    ‘You’ve gone too far Garry. I am going to take this to the manager. You haven’t heard the last of this. Now – please get to your place--- the programme starts in a few minutes.’
    ‘Show--- Jean--- it’s a show. Programme my arse.’
   ‘Damn--- I think I have gone too far this time--- but she gets me going. Oh well—it’s not the first time the boss has needed to see me. I better get the latest ratings--- that usually shuts him up.  Two minutes to go--- better get in. I set myself up--- I have my favourite chair--- fits me like a glove, but speaking of gloves--- they are off if she speaks to me like that again.
    ‘Garry---we have breaking news---- stand by please.’
    She said please--- Oh my God. ‘Ah---- OK Jean.’ Mmmm—that’s wasn’t so hard.
    ‘Good morning everyone. Hey we have breaking news--- be back to you in a few minutes.’
    ‘A body has been found at the lagoon near the old port. Police report that a group of walkers and their dogs found the body hidden in a flax bush. One of the dogs alerted its owner, who immediately called the police. The identity is unknown at this stage. Police are not saying at this stage if foul play is involved. The ladies who were walking are unavailable at this stage for comment. Victim support is talking to them.’
    ‘OK Garry--- you’re on.’
    ‘Wait Jean--- that’s the ladies I walk with after work--- give me a moment please?’
    Shit--- I wonder if that was Cecelia or Marge—maybe it was Shirley. Hell--- they must be pretty messed up. Better text them.
    ‘Garry--- you look terrible--- are you OK?’
    ‘Can you play some music---ah---I think I know those ladies--- that’s where I walk.’
    ‘Just take your time Garry—I will play a back-up interview we have been meaning to air for quite some time--- mind you it may generate a bit of traffic too--- it’s about an unsolved murder--- you know--- that girl who disappeared last year--- the ten year old?
    ‘Yes I remember that--- thanks Jean.’  She is being nice to me.
    I texted Cecelia.  ‘Was dat yu hu found body?’  I waited a minute then—‘yip--- bloody awful—talkin to vikt suprt.’  I sent back----‘R u going back there later?’  She said---‘see ya then—bring a bottle--- joke’ I said---‘Right—bye—back on air..’ I sat for a few minutes thinking.  Shit, those poor ladies. I know they’re pretty tough but that’s terrible. I hope they didn’t know the dead person.
    ‘Garry--- are you OK to continue? The interview has nearly finished.’
    Where’s the tone?  I’m not sure I can cope with this. The light came on.
    ‘Talk to me people. Yet another murder in our fair city. At least it’s not a kid this time.
    ‘Bad tastes Garry’
    The bitch is back--- Oh well--- I knew it wouldn’t last.
    ‘Bad news--- the real bad thing is that I walk in that park. Makes you feel unsafe I reckon. We have John on line one. Hi John—how’s your day?’ 
    ‘Morning Garry. I suppose they’ll catch the bugger and give him a few years so he can come back and do it all again. I’m so sick of----‘
    ‘We all are John--- but lets catch him—or is it a her?’
    ‘Course it’s a man. Women don’t do that. Anyway—is the body a man or a woman?’
    ‘Wait John--- something’s just coming through.’
    Police have just announced that the body found in the lagoon was that of a male aged in his early twenties. From all appearances, the body was dumped but shows no signs of injury. The police are interviewing several women who regularly walk in that area. Victim Support is also talking to the women. As yet, the victim has not been identified. The police are appealing for anyone who may have been in the vicinity of the lagoon late last night to contact the following number.
    ‘Still there John?
    ‘Yes-----I bet it’s gang related---a deal gone wrong.’
    ‘Don’t you think we should wait John--- you know—until we know more?’
    ‘They should all be lined up against the wall and shot--- or stick them on an island and let the buggers kill one another.’
    Right--- thanks John.  That was John’s take folks. Let’s have a commercial break.
    I looked across at Jean, behind the glass. She sits alongside a receptionist. They love to save space and money. God--- they’re so damn penny pinching. I would have thought with the great ratings we achieve that they’d be raking in the money. Perhaps she feels a bit cramped. She smiles, in that supercilious way that I am sure she has cultivated since she came here. It seems to say---‘just remember Garry--- I’m your boss,’ and ‘you need me.’
    ‘Ready for the next call Garry?’
    ‘I nod and turn away, looking at the clock on the side-wall.
    ‘Todd—how’s your morning going?’
    ‘Better than yours is gonna be Garry.’  What a God-damned awful voice, I thought. It’s one of those that you can’t get out of your mind.
    ‘And why would that be Todd?’
    ‘I killed him Garry--- right by where you walk every day.’
    ‘What---this isn’t something to be joking about Todd—someone is dead.’
    ‘Just think Garry. It could have been you and that little black and white dog you walk with.’
    ‘Keep him on Garry.’ Jeans face looked ashen. That smile was well and truly gone. I felt a sudden chill course down my back.
    ‘You think you’re so smart eh---- you and your lady friends. I bet they’re shitting themselves now, cause I know they listen to you on their headphones if they’re walking.’
    He’s been watching me. I don’t believe him, but he knows I walk with Spot and the ladies. Pull yourself together boy.
    ‘So you know I walk my dog there. What’s that prove Todd--- if that’s your real name.’
    ‘Keep him on Garry--we are on to the police and they are trying to check out where he’s ringing from--- hang in there.’  She had a desperate tone in her voice, quite unlike anything I had ever heard before--- even when I swear at her.
    ‘Todd---- this is all a bit hard to believe. Heaps of people know where I walk. God--- it’s even on my blog.’  Don’t lose it. He’s full of crap.
    ‘Don’t bother to try and trace me producer person. You really think I’m so stupid as to ring from my own phone. I just broke into a house--- they got nice stuff here too. I’ll take that gold antique clock when I leave--- better go—catch ya.’
    I’m sure I’m sweating now—its dripping down my back. I doubt the guys for real, but still--- I’m getting an uncomfortable feeling about this.
    ‘Garry—they got the address—but I bet he’s long gone. You did well. I think you better call it a day. Jim here’s gonna take over the rest of your shift.’
    ‘‘Thanks Jean.’ My God—the lady’s got a heart.’
    ‘‘The police are here Garry. They would like to talk to you before you disappear.’
    Bugger--- that’s all I need. Picking Spot up and going for an early walk sounds like a much better idea. They better be here soon, otherwise they can see me down at the lagoon—I bet the ladies will want to catch up with me too. ‘I’ll drink some of that crap coffee they try to make out as top-shelf.
    ‘Garry Thompson’? ----- Detective Sam Hunter. I won’t take up much of your time. Pity we didn’t get to that guy in time. It wasn’t far from here actually—but he had gone, with his goodies and I suspect that the car he used was stolen too.’
    ‘What---- you got all that already?’ I thought I’d be nice to them. You never know if this all turns out to be true.’
    ‘It’s looking pretty much that he knows a lot, even if he didn’t kill the guy. His knowledge of you and your mates walking must be taken seriously. I would stay away from the lagoon if I was you though.’
    ‘Fat chance detective--- I think I am more sacred of my dog not walking than that creep.’ Shit did I really say that? ‘I doubt that the ladies I walk with will be put off too.’
    ‘Look Garry--- we can’t be putting a watch tag on you--- it’s your risk.’
    ‘Fine with me Sam. Now, how can I help you? No doubt the lady behind the glass can let you hear the caller--- we keep the recordings for quite a while.’
    ‘Did he sound familiar to you Garry? More often than not, these people are known to the victim--- well you’re not a victim--- yet.’
    ‘You trying to scare me Sam--- well it’s working but I’m still going down there—just as soon as I pick up my monster.’  I really don’t feel like I sound.
    ‘Suit yourself Garry, but here’s my card, if you notice anything or anyone, should I say.’
    ‘Oh--- right. I’ll be off then.’
    ‘Just one more thing Garry. The dead guy was pretty messed up. We’re dealing with something pretty bad here and we don’t have a clue as to who it is. When I came in here, I heard from headquarters, that there is absolutely nothing on the deceased that points us in any direction. We know who he is now. He lives at a half-way house--- he seems or seemed harmless to anyone--- wouldn’t hurt a fly from what I can gather---- so be careful.’
    ‘Will do Sam,’ I said confidently----not.

My blogs are officially banned in Australia

Could it possibly be true, that even though I have expressed my love for Australia, with our shared history on and in so many fields, that Australians have been forbidden to read my blogs?
The evidence is clear there for all to see. Their parliament met the other day to discuss a private members bill, seeking to block my blogs. With all the blocking going on, I have been unable to reply in a way in which I can put my case.
Of course ot get to the truth, Australians will need to read my blogs but here we are in this difficult time in our history--- the poor buggers are denied the truth. However, they have forgotten the fight column.
Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of Kiwis living in the land of OZ, some of them have even become Kwassies, just waiting ofr the chance to pounce. I hear that they are about to launch a counter-strike, revealing the existence of my blogs. Then, the real truth will come out and my blogs will receive the status they deserve.
Then, and only then, will I receive feedback. I have big shoulders and I can assure my coussies that the reading of my blogs will not result in a new exodus of Kiwis to your sanded beaches.
Check me out, when you visit our shores and maybe I shall give you one of my recipes for apple crumble. I can even share some humble pie with you.
Now, get on the phone and have that private members bill thrown out--- for good. You need my blogs to lift your spirits. I promise that I will read yours, so it may come down to a question of--- of I show you mine, will you show me yours?


For those readers outside of NZ and Aussie, you will possibly be a little confounded by my title. Let’s put you straight even though I am risking the special Trans-Tasman relationship. I am of course talking about the more than eighty years in which Australia has banned the import of our superior NZ apples.
The stigmata goes back a long way--- there was once a possible issue about NZ apples having some sort bug that could  potentially affect Aussie apples. Over the years NZ has done much to alleviate these unfounded fears. We have used our scientists to try using fact and research--- all to no avail.
Aussie apple growers, especially the Tasmanian ones have trotted out spurious counter-fact and succeeded in banning our apples.
NZ finally took the Australians to an international court and naturally, NZ won and the ban was reluctantly lifted. Did that shut the farmers up? ---- Of course not. Can you ever think of a time when Australians happily bowed down to anything Kiwi? Let’s face it--- when it looks like NZ is about to drop one on the Aussies, they have been known to send a low-ball at us.
What is so sad is that by denying entry to NZ apples, the Aussies have had to settle for a less than satisfying home-grown product. They are really frightened that the plethora of choice and the sheer tastiness of NZ apples is the bigger threat by far--- not some imaginary bug.
When NZ apples are freely available in Aussie, watch this space.  We are going to hear their rapturous cries of delight as the juices drip down their happy faces, from this side of the ditch. We will be most satisfied to supply an ever increasing tonnage of our very best, even if it means that we have less for ourselves. Don’t worry--- we are not a selfish people here in NZ; we are delighted to share this long withheld secret to our coussies--- hey what’s family for?