Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Australia still bowling underarm re benefits for NZers!

Thousands of NZers contribute to the Australian economy, by working hard and paying taxes, yet these very same people do not receive benefits that most Australians are entitled to, including other nationals settling in Australia. This situation continues despite approaches (pretty weak ones in my view) from Prime Minister Key. Is the lack of response because NZ successfully took Australia to task over the question of apple imports from NZ? One does wonder.
New Zealand and Australia have very close ties, economically, culturally and on the battlefields of the world. What is it about New Zealand that leads to this unequal treatment? We offer Australian citizens a far better deal when they come to live here. Hell, if we shut up shop and all arrived on the shores of Australia the worst thing that would be the embarrassment that would ensue re the general uplifting of the average IQ of Australians. Fare go mates?--- I don't think so.
Then again, maybe NZers in Aussie should come back home and let the Australians receive new settlers from those very countries that they are trying to stop coming by boats now. Who would you prefer my Australian friends?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Post bariatirc surgery--I still love my food---here's proof!

Even though I eat very small meals, I still take a great deal of pleasure cooking and making up recipes. I love to try them on friends and family and I also always have a small portion too. Here's a recipe for a healthy chicken sausage that is steamed, wrapped in glad wrap. (that cling fill---goes by different names in other countries)

Go buy some chicken mince or chop up a boneless, skinless chicken breast until it is 'mince-like.'  I used about 250gms.
Stir-fry some onion (1) that is finely chopped with, either a few handfuls of spinach (or silver beet--Swiss chard). Throw in some garlic and ginger and any chilli sauce--I made my own. Add salt, curry powder (1 teaspoon) and any herbs you have. Just don't go too crazy with amounts but this dish should be fail safe for everyone but total TWITS)
Mix the cooked ingredients with the chicken and add an egg to bind. Then take the cling fill and place the mixed stuff into the middle and twiddle it around to make a sausage shape. I made 3 quite large sausages. Tie the ends off to prevent spillage and place in a pot or pan with boiling water. Cook gently until it is cooked through. I cooked mine for 30 minutes and that is probably too much, but I don't want you suing me for casing food poisoning!
Serve it hot or cold with your favourite sauce. Make you own up---Hell, I can't do everything for you.
The plastic wrap came off but it didn't matter. Some people may want to fry again to get that 'crispy feel.'

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Do Jack Russells actually sleep?

Don't be fooled by the picture---she is only pretending to be asleep. Even after an hours walk this morning, quickly followed by a manic run at Onehunga Bay and then an hour and a half with her friends at the same place this afternoon, she still would jump in the car for another bout. She ran, played, chased her ball and tackled the much bigger dogs

  Let sleeping dogs, especially Jack Russells, undisturbed!

in the car at the end of her THIRD outing she still argued about getting in the car. It looks like she is 'resting' now, but experience has taught me that the slightest sound will have her charging outside to check on her domain. The good thing about this of course is that I have had plenty of exercise today and that she will sleep (with an eye open) for about 8 hours or more tonight. I wish there was a way of manipulating dome of her genes for me, but then again, people who know me would dread that prospect!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Onehunga Foreshore, April 28th, 2013

Things are moving pretty fast down at the bay. Trucks and heavy machinery are dumping fill and shaping the new beaches. I hope the onset of winter doesn't slow them down too much. I take Perdy at least twice a week to examine their progress and she is becoming excited at the prospect of being bale to frolic in the waves of one of the many new beaches. Sorry, Perdy----I don't think you will be allowed off the leach there, but hell, I say if Takapuna Beach, one of NZ's premier beaches can accommodate dogs, then so too can Onehunga. Maybe it's the rich lot over there who hold some sway with the 'local community board.' Who knows?
The trucks moving fill onto the new beaches.

Field Mushrooms for sale-----fantastic---or rip off

You make your own mind up. Every year we look forward to the road-side field mushroom vendors selling this delectable delight on Campbell Road, Greenlane, Auckland. The last two years were not good; indeed, I don't remember even seeing them. This year they were back, apparently picked about 100 kilometres form the city. Just as well, because we won't be able to find the rip-off merchant who was selling them. In our haste to pay out NZ$10 for a small bag we didn't check. Once we arrived home we quickly discovered that only the top few were  beautiful. The remainder of the bag contained MUSHROOMS THAT HARDLY LIVED UP TO THE NAME, 'FIELD MUSHROOMS.' They should have contained a label that read-----'beware these mushrooms have been trampled on by many cows and were picked days ago.'  But they were picked in a field!
Oh well, I guess next time we will ask to see beneath the surface so that we don't get ripped off. I turned them into a sauce and made sure I cooked them well. Please Mr Vendor----This time you got us, but hopefully Auckland based readers will pass on the word for innocent mushroom lovers to check the contents before buying. Damn, I just love field mushrooms. Thank goodness that I only eat small portions now eh.

Damn---you can't see my pictures if you are reading the blog on Facebook or Twitter

Sorry about that, folks. If I out pictures up, like the before and after ones re surgery, then you may have to access my blog through my website and then  just follow the links. I have set it up so that you can hook into the blog via the pictures, but I am sure that you can click around and find them yourself.
www.authorneilcoleman.com    Go look!  Now, if that doesn't work, then you risk being labelled as thick as me re technology! You don't want that now, so you.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I reckon I'm about half done, baked or call it what you wish!

It's the 27th April, about 3 and a bit weeks since my operation. Everything is going well and I am looking forward to going back to work. There is a real difference now and I have so much more to look forward to. Less food bills and way less medication. I sleep amazingly well now and have much more energy. I have even reinstated my goal re one day buying a camper van and travelling in my holidays; with Perdy of course.
I still have a love of food but it seems to be healthy food now and I love entertaining my friends. I can't eat much, even if I want to. I very quickly arrive at a point where I get the message--'enough boyo, unless you want an extreme reaction.' So far that has not happened. I have turned my love of cooking into making some pretty amazing dishes and because I eat so little, I have only the best!
Since beginning the Optifast phase and post operation, I have lost about 22kgs. What's that in pounds for my USA friends-----48.5 pounds---holly hell---that sounds a lot. For the UK that is 3.4 stones.
Now the hard part---losing another 15-20 kilos. That will take time, determination and exercise. I must, because even though I am smaller, there is a great deal of weight where it shouldn't be and that is the dangerous weight around internal organs. Many people have this. Some people are skinny on the 'outside' but fat internally.
Now a few before and after pictures!
That's most of my family--me on the bottom left on Xmas day, 2012.
Me minus 22kgs (half done!)

How much did that cheap garment you are wearing cost in terms of human life?

We all love to buy cheap clothing and for the most part the clothing comes from China. Labour rates have been very cheap there and workers live and work under a low wage regime and the conditions they work under would at best be described as 'undesirable.' However, these workers would be seen as 'lucky' by those in 'third world' economies, particularly in Bangladesh. It seems that as wages and conditions slowly improve in China the West is looking to import clothing from Bangladesh, where workers put their lives at risk, by working in terrible conditions, often locked in multi-story buildings where accidents occur and people die because they cannot escape. There have been many disasters and in the latest where hundreds died must serve as a warning to those of us who delight in purchasing a bargain. The fact is that our bargains are gained at the expense of these  lowly paid workers. There are reports that many are working for as little as $US16 cents an hour. Of course the Bangladesh authorities face a dilemma; workers need to work and any job is better than none. There is no welfare support in these countries. It is a matter of 'work of you don't eat.'
There is a responsibility on the West where we need to pay more for our clothing and other products and the companies who import the cheap products also come into the picture. They make huge profits and until they take a more moral view and the bargain loving public see the wider picture, then what we have witnessed in Bangladesh will be replicated in many other poorer nations. We cannot ignore the plight of our fellow human beings. If it means that we wear something a little longer, then so be it. I know---tell that to a struggling family in NZ and it may fall on deaf ears. That issue needs to be faced within NZ, but not at the expense of the citizens of Bangladesh. Their Government needs to take a stand and force better conditions in these factories that are no more than 21st century 'work houses.' It seems that Dickens wrote in a manner that reflects an age old issue--the plight of the poor in all nations, but so much worse in others. Get a grip NZ and perhaps extend the Fair Trade concept to the clothing we wear and at the same time address poverty in NZ.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

China is now NZ's biggest export market! What will that mean for us?

The days when New Zealand saw the UK as the 'Mother 'Nation' have totally gone; consigned to the annals of history. That time in our history really went south when Great Britain failed us at Singapore in the Second World War. Yes, we still have excellent ties and cultural links with dear old England but the reality is that we are a Pacific nation with ever increasing ties to Asia, China in particular. This new reality will need to be reflected in our diplomatic relationships with the new economic giants we trade with. That is going to be difficult to 'swallow,' when some of these nations, particularly China follow policies that we have traditionally found hard to relate to namely those issues around human rights. Will we have to kow tow to China now and put aside our 'discomfort' in the name of economic survival? Yes, Australia will continue to be our ally in all sense of the word and the USA will remain in our sphere of interests. Maybe it is time for us to pursue a 'non-aligned' foreign policy stance and not get dragged into every war that our former economic masters have led us. It is a 'brave new world,' one that we must adapt to and perhaps take a less than holly ground stance about what constitutes what is 'right for us.' Scary thought eh.

Forsyth Barr Stadium drawing large crowds--Go for it Dunedin!

What a fantastic piece of news. That the so so-called 'white elephant' in Dunedin is starting to gain a solid reputation amongst many overseas (and local acts is good news for the stadium itself and for Dunedin as a whole. The FBS drew bigger crowds for two big name acts than those achieved in Australia. It is time for Dunedin to build on this success. The money that is added to the local economy and maybe a few extra jobs are most surely welcome. Let this be part, even if only a small part of a new beginning for one of our provinces that is well away from my native city, Auckland. Go for it Dunedin!

Sythentitic Cannnabis is still being sold at a shop near you---Do something becuase we can not wait any longer!

Synthetic cannabis is still being sold in a shop near you. I am feeling more and more angry that this is so. We now know that these substances are even more dangerous than the substance that it purports to copy. Our A and E wards are seeing young people in dangerous states and we are going to see more 'casualties of this  nasty 'product. Why do we have to wait until August when  a Government can 'decree' a regulation and get this crap off our shop shelves NOW!? Lets name and shame these shops and take away their right to b e in our communities. If they can not demonstrate that they do not sell SC, then let everyone know in your neighbourhood. Put the names in my 'comments' section of this blog and send it on to your friends on Face Book, Twitter and anywhere else. I strongly recommend that you do not become involved in anything illegal, and implore you to be sure that those you put up on this blog are indeed selling the SC. Get out into your communities and find out. The NZ Herald named a few shops this morning, so you can start with those. Tell them in no uncertain terms that you will not tolerate their 'community unfriendly business practices. BUT, BE careful about the accuracy of your accusations! It is time to act!

Syria---now nerve gas enters the picture.

Who is who in Syria? Which side offers the best for its people? The answer is extremely complicated. On one hand we have the despotic President and his clique and on the other a disparate group of rebels who once the battle is over will fight amongst themselves because they do not represent a majority view. What hope is there for a country when the choices are so confusing? The risk is that the winner will be the side which is best organized and that could well be a 'Taliban type' group.Tell that to the women and girls of Syria who may find that even under the present leader their position is far better, even if that did mean not having any real political say in the running of their country. Is the choice really that sinister or will some sort of consensus prevail?---I doubt it.
For the USA and other 'bystander nations,' the choice of whom to 'help' is also problematic. There is no point in hoping that the 'Islamic world' will be ale to provide an answer because they too find it  as hard to agree as does the rest of the world.  Why should the Islamic world be any different to other nation groupings? It all comes down to complex relationships and economic groupings that have always been the main influences on all world events.
Today we hear that the USA sees the latest developments around possible use by the present regime of nerve gas' against its own people as being the 'tipping point' re international intervention (read, USA involvement). That would be a crucial mistake for the USA; such an intervention will result in further complicating an already intolerable position. Has the USA not learnt from its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and the sad fact is that the USA will drag its 'lackey' friends (NZ etc.) into a hopeless venture. For once, I hope that NZ and others will resist all moves and pressure to become involved in yet another disaster.
Where does that leave Syria? Look at history!

There's got to be a better way than using schools, churches and golf clubs for building housing on.

The headline in the NZ Herald about the possibility of using large tracts of land in Auckland, currently used for schools, churches, golf clubs and some luxury large sized homes for infill housing has to be seen as extreme in the least. The 'plan' does say that such proposals are at the outer limit of meeting the needs for extra housing for the people of Auckland in the not too distant future. We shall hear the outcry from a wide cross-section of groups, ranging from 'educationalists to the rich and influential. For a start, we know that the latter group will have their day and win in court, but other groups will not fare so well under the 'proposals.'
Maybe these early 'flagging's have been put out there, just to stimulate debate. OK, bring it on, but maybe we should be looking at another more sensible solution to the ever expanding (Land and people) needs of Auckland. Do we really want to have about 50% of NZ's population in one city, leaving the remainder of NZ for tourists and animals?
Would it not be far better to finally look at serious attempts to 'grow' the rest of NZ? Most of us, of a certain age, remember attempts by various political parties in the past to implement policies for 'regional development.' Little came of them, once the party proposing them came to power. The reality was and possibly still is for NZers to choose where they live and any Government veering from that is doomed to failure.
That means it will take political courage to pressure people into choosing elsewhere to live other than Auckland and there is precious little evidence that any of our current politicians, at least those who have their noses in 'Welle-trough' to make some tough decisions. Maybe Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland could be seen in that light, but his power is limited to those things 'Auckland.'
How about making it extra attractive for newly arriving immigrants to have an incentive to live elsewhere. How about attracting entrepreneurial capital on positive terms, if it is used in the 'regions?' Maybe a tax holiday or other incentives can help. Perhaps a 'think tank' of people can come up with ideas to entice people from Auckland? I do not mean pushing beneficiaries into regional NZ although to a small extent that is happening. We need jobs in these areas that will in turn attract people out of Auckland.
The ideas proposed in the 'plan' are surely meant to stimulate discussion and for that, it is a good plan. We cannot continue to pour resources merely to chase the tail of traffic, housing and other problems besetting the Queen city.'

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Eden Coffee------a winner in my books!

Since surgery, three weeks ago I have found out that I don't enjoy the taste of wine. Now, don't get me wrong: I haven't poured a glass  of my favourite vintage; I just had a tiny sip on two occasions and both times I had this overwhelming feeling that I was drinking vinegar. Holly molly, how could this be so? Maybe I have to wait until everything settles down in my modified 'insides.' Maybe my tastes have changed. I shall wait a few more weeks before I attempt (less than a thimble full) a 'tasting again.
The same can not be said for my other much loved beverage---coffee----good coffee. I have my favourites, including, Allpress, Icoco, Columbus and a particular range of coffees that come under the names Mr Black, Green and White. That café is next to Epsom Girls Grammar on Manukau Road. I like them all.
I have discovered another 'roaster, namely Eden Irresistible Coffee at the city end of Mt Eden Road. The first time I visited this establishment I was offered their 'Soul' range of beans. I liked them and as I said in a previous blog, my family and friends said it was the best coffee I have ever served them. When I returned to the shop yesterday, I asked to go a step up re strength. There is one more step after the one I brought. I informed the friendly knowledgeable guy that I would let him know what I thought. He remembered me coming in the week before. I made a cup and low and behold--- I was blown away by the aroma and the taste. I don't know the correct terminology for describing coffee and maybe I don't need to know. What is right for me is that the stronger coffee beans were that one step better. I
I informed my surgeon  on my last visit that I was drinking coffee and he seemed OK about that. I don't know if my tastes have altered in a similar way re wine, but this time in my favour. The coffee is wonderful; and I am so happy that I am bale to enjoy it. Along with the increasing variety of foods that I can eat now, I am most satisfied with the knowledge that coffee is on my list. I shall check in a few weeks and if wine is back---it will be in much reduced quantities. I guess I can use the reasoning that coffee with the frothy milk at least contains protein, something that I must include in all of my tiny meals. Trips to Eden Coffee are going to be a regular part of my regime from now on. Their coffee has a 'Fair Trade' and organic label too and it is very reasonably priced.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's funny how one little crusket can make a differnece!

Cruskets---It almost feels like I am eating ‘normal’ food now. These cracker type biscuits are my latest addition to the growing number of foods I can eat, since my operation. I still don’t eat bread or pasta, but that won’t be for long. In the meantime I have started eating one Crusket a day. OK, that sounds pathetic, but given the ‘base’ from which I have come (hey---I said base, not basement!) that is real progress. It’s more about what I can put on top of the crusket that counts. Take today for example. I spread a thin layer of vegemite and then placed some spinach and cottage cheese on that. Finally I added a softly poached egg. It looked great and you have no idea how good it felt eating that. The difference between that meal and my past efforts? ---Well the ‘smallness’ and the healthiness are a pretty good comparison. I was easily able to manage the meal and I am still losing weight relatively easily. Damn, I didn’t take a picture. I’m off to take Perdy for a walk, even though it is raining. I dare not think about what she will get up to if I don’t!

Chad--- well I never!

What a surprise; Chad of all places. I hope you keep reading my blogs. I'd love to see more of you. I often wonder what life is like in country, surrounded as you are by the Sahara and countries that are having a bit of a biff with Islamic rebels. Hopefully you stay peaceful.

Politicians and wanna be 'copies' beware--The Civilian is on your case!

Good on you Mr Uffindell, for your 'satirical' efforts in reporting the 'news.' New Zealand has been waiting for such a momentous mouthpiece that tells us as it 'could be.' That Dear Leader,' Colin Craig, Leader of the fledgling Conservative Party, and possible 'bedfellow' for John Key and the National Party (who is so sad that his soul mate,  Banksie appears to be slipping beneath the sheets) Takes offence is a warning shot across the bows that if he ever gets into Parliament he will bore us to death. We shall all be checking out the website for The Civilian in order to keep abreast of important 'events' and to make sure our politicians are doping what we sent them to 'Play School' to do-----run the country and keep us happy. If they fail in this simple duty, then The Civilian will rip into them and expose their 'soft parts' so that 'we,' the populace will take revenge upon them at the first opportunity. Any politician not meeting the minimum standard (and that is very low) will be demoted to the role that the rest of 'us' face on a daily basis. Such is life. For those aspiring 'Play School' candidates, lighten up and smell the aroma of the coffee, drifting from the secure windows of the cafes in the building to which you wish to gain access.

PS--- NO quotes from Ben Uffindell were used in the composing of this blog.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quinoa the wonder food.

The ancient Aztecs grew Quinoa (pronounced, keen wa) in quite inhospitable areas and it was only when the Spanish conquered them that they were forced to change to the beans and squash regime. With the-emergence of this 'ancient grain' that we have seen a resurgence of Quinoa and all the wonderful benefits it brings. Quinoa has iron, many vitamins and has a good amount of 'complete' protein, making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans in particular.
It is an excellent food choice for me too, now that I am unable to eat large amounts of vegetables. I shun the eating of large amounts of animal protein so this gives choice. Quinoa can be treated like rice, couscous, pasta  and used in a salad. I use the flake form to make a quick porridge and add yogurt and stewed fruit to make a nourishing and filling breakfast.
Quinoa is readily available, not just in health shops, but even in our supermarkets. The nutty flavour can be enhanced by the addition of your favourite herbs, spices and even in sweet recipes. Google them or go buy a book. Quinoa, you really 'fit the bill' as an ancient but modern super food.

'P' lab cooker gets burned.

We often think of the victims of 'P' from on perspective; that is the damage it does to those using it and the flow-on affects to their families and others. Those ramifications are obvious and enduring.
Another aspect is also worrying. The houses or flats (even motel rooms) that have been used in the 'cooking' process is that the toxic residues do a great deal of damage and that is expensive to repair. Would you buy a property or rent one that has been used for such purposes? Would you even know?
In today's Herald we read about a 'cooker' being badly burned when the operation resulted in an explosion. Now, we the taxpayers have to fix this operons up in our public hospitals. That makes me angry, when I think about who might be put further down the list for other much needed services. NO, I am not saying that criminals should not receive help, but if there is a way of 'extracting money' from their illegal earnings, then go for it.
Now go and read my book, 'Roskill.'  My book takes a look from  teenage perspective about he damage 'P' does tour families, although the adults I the story have a strong voice too. You can purchase it form my website. www.autorneilcoleman.com
Please note. I am having Roskill  reedited and abridged so that will be available soon too. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Losing 21Kgs and having a crappy 'garage sale,' most definitely has an 'up-side.'

Yeah the garage sale (maybe you call them 'yard sales' in the USA?) was a flop, but eh SPCA gained as we gave them everything left and that was a lot.
Having lost 21Kgs since the pre-surgery and post-surgery phase (day 18 since operation now) means that I have had to look at my wardrobe. Hidden in the darkest recesses of the said  space in my house were many items that I have never worn. Do you know the ones? I brought them in the past saying--' If I lose weight they will fit me!' Of course they never did. All I did was put weight on! The said items aren't so old that they had the old currency (pre-1967!) but there were some oldies but goodies. Neither were they the 'flared' items from the 70's. Most had been brought in the last 6 years and many had their price tags on. If anything, I was surprised at the prices. Clothes are cheaper now. (Thanks, China).
I had stored some in the shed in bins and when I rescued them, I noticed a distinctly musty smell. I thought---hell I can't sell these, so I washed them. In the meantime the garage sale went ahead with its disastrous results. Now that I have hung them up and examined them more closely, I realize that I can wear half of them and the rest are not far off from decorating my 'slimmer me.' There must be at least 40 items of various sorts that I can realistically wear, now or soon. I am so glad I didn't throw them away. I don't care if they are not 'fashionable,' as anyone who knows me would not call me a 'follower of fashion.' OK, I admit it, I am a scruffy bugger and didn't usually give a stuff about what anyone thought. Bugger--what will I do now? Will I really have to 'dress up a bit? I think I am in for a few bouts of teasing when I 'return to the world of work.' Bring it on my dears! I won't be 'fashionable,' but I will be--well---less of a scruff.

Afghan interpreters are most welcome in New Zealand.

New Zealand has rightly welcomed the Afghan interpreters and their families. This signals the end of New Zealand's involvement in the tragedy that is Afghanistan. The sad fact remains that much of the good work; that is reconstruction, will become null and void once all foreign 'help' has left Afghanistan.
The interpreters did much to smooth the way for our boys and girls in uniform and put themselves at risk by doing so. If NZ had not brought them back to NZ then it would not have been long before the 'Mediaeval' Taliban would have killed them and their families.
We should now 'smooth the way' for this group in return and include them as part of us, the wider New Zealand family. Their time of  watching over their backs is at an end.
Now, my Afghan friends, wherever you settle; take advantage of everything that New Zealand offers in the form of education, health care and employment. You have earned your new start in our little country at the bottom of the earth or as we like to be called---'Middle Earth.' Just remember, we are not 'hobbits.' The Land of the Long White Cloud,' Aotearoa is now your home.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Free tickets from the USA to NZ for my garage sale tomorrow!

Get real. That's like saying that the Senate will pass all of Obama's bill re gun control from now on. Now, back to reality. I am having a garage sale and it will be tomorrow, Sunday NZ time from 8am. at 2/19 Raurenga Ave, Royal Oak. Yes, you are welcome from all over the world, but particularly, Auckland. Four households have combined at my dear friend Margaret's place. There's junk galore plus a few goodies. We are almost giving away TV's that will o longer work when the digital switch occurs, but there's about a year left and you can use a box converter if you really wanna stick with the 'old.' If they don't sell we shall give them to the SPCA. Actually, that is what we will do if people are real bastards and try to know us down too far. Our prices after all are already ridiculously low. Take for example my two 'steaming machines, They are worth about $300 all up and I shall be selling them for a tenth of that. There will be books, bric-a-brac, clothing, and an old style hair dressing thing that sits on your head, a pasta steaming set and whatever else I can get my mates to pull out of their cupboards. If things go well, I shall come back home and go completely nuts and bring heaps more stuff. Once in the grove we are unstoppable. Maybe we have some sort of mental deficiency for the prices we are charging. Anything that hasn't sold by about midday will be going down to the SPCA and the local hospice so if anyone gets mean then they can f----oops!  Come and have a look and if it looks like we are enjoying ourselves, then join in. We may be sipping hot soup!
OH, for those idiots who think they will get an early start on us---as Mrs Brown says---'you can feck off!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pirongia bound and Monty's Surprise. He has a very big----

I am not responsible for your first reaction to me header. Let's put things in perspective eh. After walking Perdy (OK, I walk, she does what jack Russells do, manic crazy whatever) I picked up Janice and we headed for Pirongia, A beautiful little village under a mountain of the same name.
Perdy behaved wonderfully and hardly barked during the two hour trip. Once released at our  friend's spacious section she returned to her crazy sate and found the hens. That was the end of her freedom. Luckily I had this long lead that screws into the ground. Sorry, Perdy. We enjoyed a lovely light lunch and I even managed to have part of this huge apple; it's much bigger than a grapefruit. That's what Monty's Surprise is and it must be one of the best apples I have ever tasted, even though I only managed a tiny portion. The picture does not do justice to the actual size, but the CD disks in the picture are about the same size. I shall most definitely plant this 'heritage' apple at my place.
Perdy managed to have a run and she was silly enough to approach the fence line of a paddock where several bulls were strutting their stuff. Let's just say that Perdy was more than happy to jump in the car. The size of the bull and their declared intention to squash her was mort than enough to have her happily retreating to the car for the trip home.  A nice day, and great to
catch up with friends.

What hope is there for Syria?

Each night we see Syria slowly descending into an ungovernable state. On one hand we have a despotic Government led by a family that battles to hold onto power at all cost; a Government that shells the homes of ordinary Syrians, who have only one wish---to live in peace and safety.
On the other hand we see a loose alliance of 'rebels,' with very different agendas, cooperating for the moment, until the regime fails. We already see signs that the divisions within the 'rebels' will play out well before they achieve a 'final' victory over the failing Syrian Government.
In the meantime, the West is supply arms to the rebels and in the words of the President,  'the very weapons provided by the West will be turned on the West in the near future.' For once the President is correct. Even a small but well organized group of fanatic Islamist rebels will win in the end. That is because they are willing to give their everything to achieve victory in the mistaken belief that they will be rewarded with a place in Heaven. Who can fight against such elemental beliefs. History tells us that well organized and tyrannical groups can win against their much more numerous enemies. Just stroll down the history of the Bolsheviks and their struggle to gain power.
The two groups, Bolsheviks and  Islamist rebels have only one thing in common; their deadly desire to win at all costs. Will Syria have to follow suit and only emerge after 70 plus years as a democratic nation where the will of the majority finally wins?
Syria is now a failed state and all that this implies. Services are breaking down and only small enclaves remain where life is lived as 'normal. The West is making a huge mistake in backing the 'rebels' simply because they do not understand the various groups that are vying for power. By meddling in this struggle we will see another Afghanistan; where life for large sections of society will be one lived as in the Dark Ages of European history. The Syrian people deserve so much more.
I believe that we will see a huge 'movement of people' across borders, which in turn will destabilize Syria's neighbours as they struggle to cope with the deluge. The ramifications for the Middle East and beyond will take generations to find a new balance.
What is most worrying is that there appears to be no easy solution; at least while on one hand we see the rise of Islamic State, who's citizens have  a 'secular heart' or on the other a continuation of a cruel and self-seeking regime. God alone knows the answer.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Post surgery energy--day 15 ---I think.

I just love my new energy. Hell, I am carrying about 20kgs less than two months ago. You want some evidence of my new state? OK then. I have just cooked some feijoas with rhubarb (no sugar now) and then a huge chicken, bacon bones and veggie soup with lots of split peas and lentils, and then my tofu dish. The first two dishes were done in the slow cooker and crock pot (There is a difference)
So you thought I would lose interest in cooking---shame on you. I have just turned it to my advantage and freezing small amounts and entertaining friends. If anything, with the new energy, I am having more visitors and I love to feed them healthy food. My plate may look sparse, but that's OK with me. Here's a recipe for my tofu and mushrooms.

Take one square of firm tofu and cut it into tiny cubes. Marinade it for a few hours in one finely chopped shallot (or onion) and  garlic and black bean sauce, chilli, ginger and some sweet soy sauce. Add about a tablespoon of any oil. Then cook some finely chopped mushrooms to a heated pan that has been lightly oiled. Add a little salt and pepper. Stir-fry the mushrooms and leave in the pan. Now in a heated pan cook the marinated tofu, in small batches. As they brown, add them to the mushrooms. When it's all done you can either have the mixture dry or make a gravy for a 'wetter' look.  Yum, even though I only eat a bit of it. You can serve it over rice and spinach. Leave out the rice for me, if you invite me over to sample your version. Rest time now, I think!

Let's get synthetic cannabis out of our corner shops by whater method it takes!

I am not saying that we should chuck a brick through the windows of any shop selling ‘synthetic cannabis’ in  New Zealand, but I am very tempted to take that action myself. The evidence has been around for quite a while that the effects of these nasty substances are dangerous and prolonged. There have even been deaths associated with these ‘products.’

That young people can ‘illegally’ attain SC is even more troubling. It may be illegal for them to so but we all know that there are ways to procure them, either directly from unscrupulous shop keepers, or through older friends and family members.

Why am I so against SC? I can hear the clarion calls from those who use the argument that tobacco and alcohol also wreak havoc on the physical and mental health of our citizens. Yes, that may be true, but why in the hell would we allow another ‘candidate to the line-up?’ The damage caused by the former is obvious and cost us billions in the negative effects.

I work with young people in a large secondary school, as a counsellor and I know that a significant number of young people regularly have access to SC and that the effects are similar to that of ‘P.’ Once started we see little of them. We already know that students who partake in regular use of Cannabis, gradually withdraw from ‘effective education.’ By that I mean, that they may be present (If we are lucky) at school, but very little learning takes place.

Now add in the possibility of a young person buying SC from the dairy on the way to school and you have a very potent mix of possibilities. If that young person even gets to school, they are unmanageable in class and therefore not only limit their chances, but they ‘steal’ the possibility of other kids learning at school. The time taken by the health and pastoral care systems is a cost on other kids. The damage that they are setting themselves up for is immeasurable.

 Just listen to the reports from various health authorities in NZ and you will able to list the effects of SC very easily. It is and will continue to be a cost on the nation.

Let’s get this stuff out of our shops. Let’s do whatever it takes and if that means pushing the boundaries, right up to giving an extremely strong message to those shops in our communities that sell this stuff, then so be it.  Yes that will drive it underground and put SC in the same category of cannabis sales. Hopefully, as parents, teachers, counsellors, youth workers and members of a community, we can therefor limit the damage done by SC and other substances.

Get out there and tell your local shops that you will not tolerate sales in your area. If they persist---then it’s over to you.


What hope now, America?

Yesterday the USA Senate rejected President Obama's initiative to take a more serious look at 'gun controls.' These proposals were hardly radical, just a tweaking to take away some of the worst aspects of the right of US citizens to have unbridled access to guns and other issues around multiple magazines etc.. Anyone sane should have been able to see that his actions were not an all out attack on their special right to bear arms. Indeed, I doubt that much would have changed, but at least it signalled  that the President wants to make the USA safer.
 It appears that the various lobby groups and the scare tactics used have influenced the Senate. This is most disturbing and as  result we can expect to see more headlines about deaths of people which are the direct result of guns being in the hands of individuals (and groups) who I wouldn't trust with a pitchfork! I know, no amount of legislation will totally protect people from the acts of criminals or those on the 'fringe.'
Combine the USA's large population and the ingrained thought processes that go along with gun ownership, the history of 'nation making,' that incorporated guns as a fulcrum, add in the criminal underclass and you have a potent mix. Now add the myths that accompanied  much of the film and entertainment industry and the resulting 'nowness' of guns in American society then you have all the ingredients for a society beset with weapons and a means of using them on one another. Unfortunately, counterbalancing responsible owners you have so many others who flout, exploit and use guns for reasons that border on psychopathic and criminal purposes. Then you have groups that stand up and politicize the ownership issue in ways that have entrenched guns as an infallible right. Time and technology have 'multiplied' the ramifications of gun ownership, leaving us with the situation we now see in the USA. Other than 'failed states,' no other country witnesses such carnage on the streets and in the homes of its people. Yes, Mr President, you have every right to be angry with your narrow-minded Senate.

Fig Tree Cafe in Ngatea

Ngatea is a little village on the way to Tauranga and the Thames area of New Zealand; that is if you divert slightly off the main road. It is one of quite a few towns and villages on the Hauraki Plains. Today I decided to visit my brother in Paeroa, another town, snuggling up to the ranges and famous (in NZ) for being the birth place of  Lemon and Paeroa, an iconic NZ soda drink.
I had breakfasted at home on Qinoa Porridge so I was feeling like a nice cup of coffee. There are several cafes in this little town of Ngatea, but we chose one, simply because it was easy to park right outside.
Enter the simply furnished Fig Tree café. The menu board was clean and clear, offering breakfast and lunch dining. All the 'usuals' were there and a few 'of the day' specials. The prices were fair and I couldn't see anything over about NZ $15 (except for the big breakfast. With my new 'regime' firmly in place, (remember, I had just had bariatric surgery two weeks ago, so big meals are out) I reluctantly limited myself to the coffee. Next time, I will have breakfast! Sometimes when I order coffee in cafes, even their small options are too much for me now, so I was delighted to see that I could chose a small tulip shaped cup. While I was waiting I visited the toilet. I don't usually comment on 'toilets,' but they are a good guide to the overall cleanliness of an establishment. I was most pleased---it was extremely clean and nicely 'decored,' for want of a better word.
ROMAN, the friendly barista.
On returning top my table , the coffee came. I noted that they use Gravity coffee and the combination of that and the skilled presentation made my visit most pleasant.
I decided to talk to the 'barista' on leaving and  he happily posed for my badly focused picture. I am bloody useless at tasking pictures sometimes. I think that Roman and his Mum (oops, not his mum, but a relative)  own the café and they should be proud of their little establishment on the way to 'points' on the Hauraki Plains. The Fig Tree is well worth the stop-off and they deserve to do well. Their simple plan seems to work: good coffee and no-nonsense food, presented in an impeccably clean environment. Well done Roman!
We went back again, this time with Perdy. Picture by Rio. 2/05/13

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are you considering Bariatric surgery?

Making the decision to go down the surgery pathway in order to lose weight is a momentous and should only be followed through after a great deal of thought and seeking out good advice. To have arrived at such a point in your life, means that you have tried everything, from failed diets right through to all of the accompanying health issues. These may include, diabetes (Type 2), high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, cholesterol issues, just to mention a few. If these 'affliction' have progressed, then you may also be facing other complications, all of which point to an early grave.
 Perhaps you have been enticed into the fitness and dieting industry which gathers in vast amounts of dollars from our pockets, only to fail yet again. You will most certainly have listened to nasty comments about your 'lack of will power' and possibly face discrimination re employment and even 'entry into' some night clubs. Thank God my age precluded me form then later.
Think of the 'unspoken words' you 'heard' as you entered a room. The one thing in your favour; especially in the USA, NZ and other Western nations--- you are fast becoming part of a significant minority. What to do then?
Most governments take the short  term view and play around with policies that may or may not address the issue of the 'fattening of their populace.' We hear talk of 'fat taxes,' and airlines wanting to charge overweight people more. We all know about the 'fast food crisis' and the looming financial drain that diabetes (Type 2) will become on our public health systems.
I support all moves that will get people to change their life styles, in order to avoid having to make the decision I did, and I strongly urge that young people are turned back to the past, re their food intake. I support  a return to eating more natural and unprocessed foods and turn away from those that have as their main ingredients, 'salt, fat and sugar.' These three culprits are the reason so many of us are fat.
But---- is Bariatric surgery' for you? Go check out the site that am benefiting so much form. No---- I did  not receive payment for writing this. Hell, I m ay even be in trouble for pushing it. But--- I can not speak highly enough of the support and professional, sensitive service I received. I know that the State pays for a small number of these procedures and that this is only for those under 50 who can display that they will benefit from the operation. Would it not be better to pay for more of this and look at the long term savings for the taxpayer. Surely a 'one-off' payment of around NZ$20,000 is a lot cheaper than the huge amount of money that will be needed to treat people on Dialysis and other expensive medical procedures?
Unfortunately, our politicians don't take the long term view.
Don't get me wrong here. I am NOT saying that Bariatric Surgery is a panacea for all people who are over weight. It is not an easy journey, but it is most certainly effective for some.
So---- go check out   the auklandweightlosssurgey site.

First Jackie Blue and now, possibly Tim Grosser!

What's happening with these high flying National MP's and in one case a Cabinet Minister? I know Labour had a few leave while in office, but two in quick succession seems to point that maybe 'the
chairs are being rearranged' on the Titanic.' From what I hear, the next two on the National list, don't do much for 'rejuvenating' Nationals 'list MPs in parliament.
John Key must be wondering who's next to 'jump ship.' Hell, at this rate he may have a complete turnover of his list MPs. I suppose he must be considering his list (and possibly electorate MPs) as now just being 'in training' for the real thing, because their tenure is becoming a 'limited time' thing.' Oh well, I guess you have to sort out your members one way or another and having part-term MP's system is as good as any. Deep down, Jonny boy is probably freaking out. That 'look' he has acquired of late, (causing some to wonder at his 'state of mind') will become a permanent part of his demeanour. Perhaps he is going to take us back to the Muldoon days, when reporters became the target for the latter's nasty attacks while the 'nation' begins to wish for an early election. The difference will be that John Key will be sober when he announces the date!

Going, going gone! Goddbye 100's and hello 90's.

No, this is not a sale unless you want to buy my 'fat.' Oohh, yuck, the very prospect dims my wits. Yes, I am happy to see it go and being in the nineties (Kilos) for the first time in about 6 years is a very satisfying place. I will now head for the 80's. The boring Optifast and enduring the operation seems very worthwhile this morning and I am surviving with my new regime quite happily. Hell, I am even going out for breakfast with my sister and Perdy. Perdy loves that because she knows that she will eat something from my already meagre 'breakfast.' She can have the bacon.
Yesterday the surgeon said I can introduce slowly, some more food options. That's great because I feel ready.
OK-----for the obligatory walk before we go and then another one later in the day after a nap.
Catch ya..

Monday, April 15, 2013

A terrible day in Boston.

The USA has it's detractors and many around the world hate the foreign Policy played out on a daily basis, 'as seen on TV,' every night. This has probably been so since the Vietnam War and possibly earlier during the onset of the 'Cold War.' Prior to that, we lapped up everything 'American'  from Coca-Cola to the movies from Hollywood.
There is no doubt that the USA is becoming a target for 'groups opposed to American policy and if they can't 'take it to them on the battlefield, simply because 'they' lack the means then they are going to take it to the heart on the USA. Such groups and I am sure you can name a few, know that by disrupting the very 'soul' of American life; that is in the cities and towns of the USA, then real damage is done, not just in the numbers of the dead and injured but in the 'threat' that such actions as we have witnessed today pose to all citizens of the USA.
We are not yet sure about who was responsible; it could have even been 'fringe groups opposed to the 'Government;' something we have seen before. 'Home-grown' terrorism is and will continue to be a threat in the USA.
If fundamentalist Islamic groups have committed this crime, not just against USA citizens, but against many other nationalities present at this august marathon race, then they will have sickened far more than Americans alone.  What is totally certain is that the people of the USA and others will not be cowered into some sort of 'giving in to such actions. Nothing other than a more resolute USA will result from this. If anything, people will line up behind their Government to defeat such actions. No matter how you view the policies of the USA, internally or abroad, few would say that 'terrorist' actions, be they home-grown of from outside, will have the effect of changing such policies. History tells us that when 'stung' the USA rebounds with renewed vigour and a sense of righteousness, to fight any threat. Unfortunately that has not always served the USA well.
Finally, we should think of those who were killed or horribly injured. Our prayers should now be with them, the innocent victims, who are no different to the majority of 'us.'

Mission Estate Wineries--- the first hint of an excellent 2013 vintage!

I love the wines from Mission Estate Wineries. I remember a few visits to the beautiful estate, with it's top class eatery and the glorious grounds.  I was wondering how their harvesting was going for 2013, given the inclement weather they are about to face. I stumbled on a Facebook entry that said that all the grapes are picked. This enticed me into making inquiries (very inpatient of me, I know) about how this years vintage might 'pan out.' I received  a quick response that simply had my 'wine tasting buds 'on full alert. I shall be checking out the vintage as soon as I am able. That may well equate to being my first 'post-surgery' experience with the 'good stuff from bottles. It will however most definitely be a case of 'less is more.' Go Mission Estate Wineries!
Read the response to my inquiries:

Hi Neil, if you insist on early hints....the vintage promises vibrant, intense Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc,
juicy, ripe HB red wines, including velvety Cabernet Sauvignon, full and round Malbec, fruit driven Merlot.
The Gewurzt and Riesling are looking aromatically stunning. Clean and crisp. Can't wait!

How about that for a promising vintage?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

5000 Phillipinos doing the work on farms in the South Island alone.

Firstly, this is not an attack on the wonderful Philippine workers who are working so hard on our farms. It is an indictment on New Zealanders who won't move their buts from the cities. They would rather collect a benefit than move house and take up a new challenge. I come from a farming background, way back in my distant past, and I know that conditions have improved a great deal since those days. For a hard working person, there is still a possibility to improve their lot by going the way of starting at the bottom. Sure, they may not get to own outright their farm, but they will make money. It takes true grit and determination. Their kids can have a lifestyle that has so many plusses.
A word of caution though. I hope that our Philippine friends are being looked after. I would hate to think that NZ would exploit these very welcome workers, as there have been reports that this has happened. We regularly hear about in other countries. I hope that there is a regular check to see that everything is above board. It is too easy to exploit workers when they work in isolation, well away from the 'eyes ' of the bodies responsible for their welfare.
In the meantime, we need to harden up as NZers and be prepared to move in order to find employment. I know that in my field, education, that teachers have to do this. Hell, we most definitely do not want everyone working ion Auckland with its debt traps and crazy traffic!

Day 13 post- surgery.

 Each day seems better. I feel like walking more and I have not lost my love for food at all; it's just the type of food and the amounts that have changed. I know, some people say that I should have been like that before. Crap to that, as I accepted that I needed a 'tool' and now that's how it feels. I am in control and know that I have helped myself by doing this and I won't be a drain on the tax payer. Hell, I hope I go out with a bang, not a long drawn out decline, afflicted by all of those things that I would have had.  Bye bye pills. OK, no one knows what hides around the corner, but at least I have avoided a few 'ambushes' that were laying in wait for me.
I had some energy today, big time (well for at least half the day) so I oven dried a few kilos of beautiful tomatoes and concentrated another lot in a pan. I will freeze the dried ones and make concentrated ice block of the others. The house smells divine, like a Mediterranean kitchen.
I will do the same again next week. I am quickly running out of freezer place. For once my adage, 'less is more' just doesn't work for me. Time for a nana nap!

Move to the country and be a farm worker--isn't that better than living on a benefit in the cities?

You have a choice---live on a benefit in the cities and get further and further into debt or go and become a farm worker; an occupation where there are many vacancies and one that apparently pays more then the average wage and has some damn good 'fringe benefits.' No one is suggesting that such a move to the country to fill these jobs will make a huge dent in the number of those receiving a benefit. The suggestion is not a panacea for the country.
How many of those on benefits would either want or be able to make such a move. If one has been brought up in the city then there are quite massive adjustments to be made and the day to day grind of 'life on the farm' is not for everybody. Those early morning starts, in all weathers is something that takes grit and determination. The physicality is not for everyone either, although technological changes have made inroads in that area. Working with just one boss can be 'telling' on a workplace relationship and the isolation from the 'draws' of the towns and cities can be quite daunting for some.
If you can get over these challenges and you have a desire to make some massive changes for you and your family (or as a single person) then maybe a move to the country is worth considering.
The bonuses? You could look forward to a better income, one that certainly exceeds even a combination of benefits, a healthier lifestyle, a school that is smaller, being part of a rural community that if you take full advantage of, can lead to a fulfilling lifestyle. Then there are the added benefits. Some farms offer cheaper accommodation with the addition of some free produce, ranging from food, firewood to state just two. You could have your own garden (keep the kids busy?) and further enhance your economic position. Is this lifestyle for you and could you make you change and take up the huge new learning experience. Let's face it, not too many of those on benefits would even consider such a move, but for those who would, every step should be taken to 'enhance' their chances to make this massive move. They should not do so thinking that everything is rosy in the rural garden. Think of the lack of 'fast internet access, the early morning starts and the grumpy bosses, (not all of them are 'nice,' or even fair) the bad weather and the relocating ramifications.
You should also consider where you are now. Is life that good at the  moment and do you have the 'drive' to start a new life. Look back in history and know that all NZers are either from another land or the descendants of those who have made the move.
Is this your chance. Think carefully!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bless the Irish

Yes, Ireland now has at least one person reading my blogs. I have been waiting for that. I was watching a programme on TV today about a guy searching out whales, dolphins and basking sharks. It looked like the Western coast and the villages were something out of a picture postcard. I would really like to visit one day.
Ireland has played a very important part in the European settlement of NZ and I suspect that we are welcoming many Irish tradespersons for the rebuild of Christchurch after the earthquake. If you are reading this, my Irish friends, then seek out advice from NZ house in London (You can put aside you old feelings about the British) so that you too can join us here in the 'shakey isles.' Ah be gone with ya----don't let those stories about the earthquakes get to you! We need you here and I'm damn sure that you would receive a real NZ Irish welcome.
Keep on reading my blogs or better still, go to my website and check out my books.

Russia, welcome back---I was wondering where you have been>

Yes, it's great to see Russia return to reading my blogs. I thought that maybe I had been a bit hard on Mr Putin. Just remember that I give the USA heaps too and also my own Government, but when good things happen I say that too. I have even been known to praise the actions of individual Cabinet Ministers in the NZ Government, like MRE Dunne for instance. I stick it too him a lot because he's a ''fence sitter'---you know, the MPs you get in coalition Governments. They dance with any partner, just to attain a share in the 'halls of power.' I'm sure you have them in Russia too. To be fare to Mr Dunne, he has been instrumental in achieving progress re the synthetic cannabis sales in corner shops in NZ. So, once again, welcome back my Russian friends and keep it up Mr Dunne. See, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Friday, April 12, 2013

I had my first Cafe style breakfast today---well maybe that's pushing it a bit---Day 9 post surgery

It's true, I had  a tiny little breakfast at a café today in Takapuna. After an energetic walk (on Perdy's part, mainly) on that beautiful kilometre long beach, where dozens of dogs cavort with their owners, we found a café. It is one that I have blogged about before and the reason we go there is because they make dogs so welcome, by providing a clean stainless steel bowl of water for the dogs.
We ordered coffees and tea and after about ten minutes the waiter came back and took our orders. We didn't mind the half hour wait because that is how long I have to wait after drinking any fluid before I eat. My companions placed their orders and I then ordered my first post-op tiny breakfast. I asked for one softly poached egg and a small grilled tomato. When our 'meals' arrived, I got stuck into my offering, slowly of course. It was delectable and the fact that I could join in was the main point of the occasion. After watching the foot traffic and other dogs, which kept  Perdy entertained, we paid the bill. Trust my sister to make the point that it was 'post-surgery' for me. I had expected to pay the full price for the 'eggs on toast with tomato on the side' option. I didn't care; as I said---- it was about 'being there.' I received a pleasant surprise--- my part of the bill was only $4---almost unbelievable. I am sure that most cafes would have 'gouged' every cent they could. Maybe I shall let my sister loose at the cash register all the time from now on.
I had my Qinoa porridge for lunch with yogurt and stewed apples with feijoas flavoured with cinnamon. Don't feel sorry for me--- I love it and it is filling and soothing. Mind you, everything is filling now, even in iddy-bit quantities!
OH, the name of the café---The Ragazzi Café in Takapuna.

Everything good about what we have built up in NZ is slowly being eroded!

I think that many people who post their opinions in various media are far more honest than the Government. For quite a few years, I have read about how the Government is eroding our rights and achievements in many fields, particularly in health and education. For health, it looks that we are headed for more and more 'private' and therefore more unattainable services for many. In education, under the guise of all sorts of 'descriptors, but really meaning 'Government' finding ways to pay out less for education, we are seeing a gradual move of resources. Bloggers, commentators and ordinary people, like you have spelt out what you think is happening. In that sense, the 'people' are far more honest than politicians, especially the Government. Why don't they say what they really plan? Simple, because if they did the outcry would be such that their tenure on the Government benches' would be unsustainable in the light of the reaction they would receive.
SO----keep up the pressure and any other Government 'in waiting'---be wary of what you promise. In this age of 'instant and easy communication, you can also expect an 'instant' response when you fall short of your 'utterings.' Perhaps you have 'plans' in that area too!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I am an MP. Thus I have achieved my goal--- you better read on!

Yes I am most definitely an MP now but I need to add a 'qualifier.' MP means 'Modified Person' in my books. Yes I have undergone a transition and reached the status of MP without even having an election or needing to join some of the 'trough dwellers' in Wellington. I do not have to build my life around the 'three year cycle' when my contract comes up for renewal. I do not have to lie and cheat and mislead in order to garner the approval of prospective voters. I do not have to be 'everybody's' man or woman in order to gain yet another three years in the sanctimonious 'corridors of power.'
I am in control of my own future as a member of the MP club and I am also open to sharing my experiences, past, present and as an unfolding future with others. There is no charge (unless you buy one of my books at www.authorneilcoleman.com) and you do not need to vote for me in order to enjoy communicating with me.
Being an MP presents many challenges, but with the support of my family and friends and then some, plus my own sense of empowerment will be enough for me to survive any future storms.
Now, what shall I wear for my 'inauguration?

If you want to read my blogs about the Bariatric surgery now you may need to join mt 'Bariaitric Support group or---

Yes, I am sure that most of you are sick of seeing my blogs about how I am feeling and what have eaten or how my bodily functions are such an important aspect to my new life. OK, if you are at all curious about where I am going with this then I shall post my ravings on my home page, Facebook, Twitter and on the groups I started---Bariatric support group. I won't repeatedly post the blogs on the other groups I belong too, so if you want to see what's going on or 'not' happening, then go to my home page to access the group. Now on to my day seven post-surgery and you may wish to stop reading.
Phew, they've gone. I know that if you are still reading about my obsession with what has been the main focus of my life, then you are genuinely interested or maybe you know someone who is considering embarking on a similar 'journey. I am completely open to being contacted directly if anyone wants a chat. Just so long as you don't expect 'expert' medical advice and just want a chat, then that's OK with me. I can only talk about what led up to my decision and how I have coped with the decision to proceed, the month long 'trial by Optifast and what has happened since. Now, if you need or wish to make that contact, go through my website and follow the links to my email address,
Day 7 post-surgery has been great. I have tried to be as active as possible, because I was told to have two to three walks of about 20 minutes each day. Being at home of course stimulates Perdy, my Jack Russell into 'preforming' until I take her out. She knows all the tricks so I can't ignore her.
I am really enjoying the porridge I make each morning from Qinoa Flakes, a product that my sister put me onto. Qinoa is a ancient seed that comes from South America and as far as I know it is one of the few that has such a high protein component.
I mix about a tablespoon and a bit with boiling water until smooth then add more to make up a mixture of about two to one of water and Qinoa. I cook it in the microwave on about 30% for around 6 minutes. By the time I finish my shower it has cooked and cooled enough for me to add my favourite home cooked mixture of feijoas (from my garden) and apples, stewed without sugar, but with the addition of some cinnamon. I then add a small dollop of unsweetened yogurt. The result is a very satisfying and easy to eat breakfast.
After breakfast it is 'walking Perdy time, down at the Onehunga Bay Reserve. While I am recuperating, I don't push it too hard. Once we return I have 'quiet time' until lunch. Today I had the mix I referred to in my previous blog. I am noticing that I have visitors each day and mostly they bring their dog, so Perdy is beginning to think that the only visitors she really likes are those who are accompanied by their canine charges. Life becomes a little crazy at these times as Perdy and her friends try to take the house apart. BY the time my friends leave, I take a nap and then muck around catching up with emails, blogs and Face book. Then it's out for another walk, before checking out dinner. That now is very easy as the freezer is full of little meals. I rest again as I have noticed that I become quite tired. I still have another week off and by then it's the school holidays. My planning has really worked out well. By the time I return to work, I shall not only be significantly lighter, but also well recovered. I am missing the kids and my mates at school, but they are keeping in touch by phone, emails and texting.  Thanks heaps guys.
One last point: My sleeping has really improved. I am most thankful for that. Heck, at this rate the next thing I shall discard (along with my medications) will be my sleep machine (CPAC--or CRAP machine as some of those close to me call it. I just call it ELLE!
Right it's time for as real coffee in my coffee machine. Yes, my life is dominated by machines of various types. I found a quality supplier of good coffee beans. That is for another blog!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I almost learned the hard way re the size of the meals in my new life!

I am doing very well on my new regime since my surgery. I have ben losing kilo a day and I think that is too much. My dietician said to get more protein into my system; mainly form lean beef, chicken fish and lamb. (Hey, what about trim pork?) Of course until next Thursday these amounts of intake have to be liquidised. Hell, that just ain't the same as eating the real unadulterated produce! Can you imagine some liquidized snapper fillet? What's the bloody difference after I have well-chewed it anyways eh? Liquidized mince?---like a meaty milkshake.
It's OK. folks. I can hack it for a few more days before I get to eat almost anything, but in smaller amounts. The amounts and getting protein into me? Well I did what I was told today and for lunch, I put a tablespoon of tinned salmon, hummus and cottage cheese on a little plate. It tasted mighty fine but you know what?---- I couldn't handle all of it. I ate slowly as required and had to leave about a third of it. I WAS BLOODY FULL TO THE MAX! A few well timed farts later and I felt good again. Maybe the weight loss will slow down. Shit, (I wish) am I complaining? Hell no.
I shall have a nana nap now and then take Perdy, my friendly manic (somewhat like the Dear Leader from North Korea!) Jack Russell down to the Onehunga Reserve Bay and let her run off her extra lunch (my leftover) with her equally Ritalin-starved friends. They are the craziest girls and boys I have ever met and I can thank them for all the new friends I have met as a result (plus a book---'Talk To Me,'----check it out on my website   www.authorneilcoleman.com) of those wonderful walks. Those friends have been so supportive and I love them all.

North Korea's 'Dear Leader' continues to speak from his posterior

The megalomaniac leader of North Korea needs to assert his rule over his impoverished country. While he lavishes scarce resources  on the military, his people starve. His latest 'positioning' is just more of the same. For some reason he thinks that his utterances will bring  the army into line (let's face it, there is no other form of effective opposition to his rule--or is he just the 'tail' that wags at the behest of the military?)
That the world get's itself in a tither over these 'events' is just what the Dear Leader wants' If he doesn't get the attention he desires in the world media, he throws his toys from the crib. Unfortunately the USA responds by bellicose statements that do nothing to ease the situation. We all know that the USA is more than capable of 'taking out' the North Korean military, both conventional and the nuclear capacity, so why respond to the endless ravings of a lunatic?
China too is becoming nervous about it's recalcitrant neighbour to say nothing of what might be going on in the Kremlin. Perhaps both nations will stand by as the USA  launches a massive 'removal' of the threat for once and all. I hope that things do not come to such a dramatic conclusion, because the main losers will be the innocent people in both the North and South of the peninsula. Tick Tock, tick tock!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Zealand is at a crossroad re how we deal with drugs in the workplace and elswhere in our society.

I want to state that I would hate to be labelled as some right-wing blogger who pontificates around issues and appear to be insensitive towards those whop partake in drugs. Firstly let me state that drugs always have and always will be part of society and that we will never eradicate them. At best we may be able to come to a place where the usage is such that society as a whole is not unduly affected. We are far from that place; indeed the flow-on affect of drug use (I include alcohol) is having a devastating affect on our young people in particular and on various statistics re health, work and general wellbeing. Those affects destroy families, business, employment and the life of our kids, who may have no say in what goes on around them.
 I am not disputing the claims that people turn to drugs for a number of reasons and that the use can become endemic within a family or other groups in our society. There may be a strong reason to 'escape' and no amount of 'Hey if I can do it, then they can,' will justify an approach that further pushes people away from 'normal' society and all that comes with being successful in NZ.
Now the hard part. I have not often agreed with Paula, the Minister in charge of benefits etc., but her move to make it harder for people to stay on drugs and still collect benefits is not entirely without merit. If there is not some 'incentive' to get off drugs and re-join society, then we can only look forward to a permanent disenfranchisement of large groups within our society. That people turn up to job interviews 'smashed' or drunk is not acceptable. We should not be expected to support these people through our welfare system to stay permanent on 'support. Unless there is a medical reason (Physical or mental health wise) then no young person should be able to sit at home, doing nothing and still expect the 'State' (us) to support them. We do not want to establish a group that will never have aspirations to support themselves. The Maori Party and Mana  (amongst other groups) have long advocated discontinuing the dependence on State hand-outs. They also want to be able to have the power and resources to break the cycle of dependence. If that means more resources going into the control of Maori, either through Treaty settlements or other methods, then so be it. After all,  Pakeha NZ has not managed to make huge improvements. That statement will rankle with a proportion of the NZ population, but I say---just look at history and make a call as to whether the schemes we have tired have worked to an extent that  social issues have lessoned.
Back to Paula Bennet 'toughening up.' As long as programmes are in place to give a 'hand up,' to address some of these that hold back groups in our society, then go for it. If an individual chooses to stay on a benefit while also refusing to make life changes (with help) then they are also choosing to marginalize themselves from society.
Of course my words will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the massive amount of resources that will be needed to break the cycles that hold back large portions of society form achieving a level of lifestyle that most of us have come to expect as our right. The areas needing this 'social investment' include, education, health, housing just for a start. Add in some of the issues around institutional racism and we will have a good start to making a better New Zealand. Unfortunately we do not have the 'pool of forward thinking' politicians who will put the future of New Zealand ahead of the 'three year cycle of getting their noses back into the political trough!

Day 6---post surgery.

How do I feel? Great, but no pain killers from today on, so it may get a little rough.
                         Fantastic, because I no longer need pills for Diabetes.
                         Good, because I have halved my blood pressure pills.
By the way, that was not my decision. I would never do that unless the 'doctors' told me to!
                         I can walk a bit more, so long as I pace myself. This too is acting under instruction.
                         I am managing the 'tiny' meals (about an egg cup and a bit full). Soups seem to be the best option, all made by myself or good friends. My freezer is overflowing with them. All food has to be liquidised so that's the way to go. Oh for a soft-boiled egg!. I also eat cottage cheese and salmon form a can. I mixed that and it looked like cat puke but tasted fine. I thinned it down with unsweetened yogurt. Yogurt is my 'friend' as it is so soothing and slips down a treat. I will begin to make my own soon.
Now, here is my recipe for an incredible chicken stock, which forms the basis for many of my soups. All I have to do is add extra protein, like lentils and various other vegetable 'protein.'

Buy some chicken carcases. (They are cheap and this reminds me of the fact that my food bill is now miniscule.) Gently simmer them with an onion cut up but not peeled, garlic, bay leaves and a carrot. Don't salt it but pepper is OK. I simmered mine for 3 hours. Let it cool. Pour into a large sieve and squeeze as much fluid as you can into the bowl below the sieve. Let that cool some more in the fridge and skim off the layer of fat. Next day the results will be a lovely jelly like stock. I use this for everything; poaching chicken, making soups and stews. Healthy, cheap and lovely.
I'm off for afresh air walk and I just heard form my dietician. She said to eat a little more and that I can have an egg every day from now on. Whoopee!


Sri Lankan refugees 'bound for New Zealand! What can we do?

The news that a boat containing more than 50 Sri Lankan refuges has made it to Perth but the real destination could be NZ is disturbing for a number of reasons.
Firstly it cannot be too long before someone organizes a boat that is actually capable of crossing the treacherous Tasman Ocean. Such a 'ship' wold of course have to be much bigger than those so far seen plying the seas around Australia. If they actually get as far as NZ, what will our immigration and Government do? Will they pack them up and send them back forcibly to their nation of origin? That's where things get a bit confusing as many may well have left their native shores many years ago and have existed in various 'camps' around the world.
This is where New Zealand has traditionally supported those in 'genuine' refugee status.' We have taken large numbers of refugees at different key point in our history. Outside those times we have taken a 'quota' from refugee camps and other areas. New Zealand has a good reputation for these actions.
Australia is in a different geographical position in that it that much closer to the 'flow' of refugees. It is that much closer to South East Asia, which has become a 'stepping stone' for those wishing to attain Australian residence. This has led to a great deal of political carnage for Australian politicians as they grapple with this ever increasing problem; the arrival of countless numbers of genuine and economic refugees. Many of them have 'jumped the queue' and  ended up illegally on Australian shores, exacerbating the position of those waiting to get into Australia legally, by going through the correct channels. Each time a boat load of 'refugees' achieves their goal, the message must be filtering through to the camps, further raising the expectations of 'would-be be' boat people.
Was it not for the Tasman Ocean, New Zealand would be in exactly the same position. I feel for our Aussie cousins who haver yet to find a human solution to this difficult issue.
New Zealand must continue to support 'legal entry' through existing programmes, but we must also resist any attempt by refugees to reach our shores in mass. We are not set up to deal with this and I suspect the first large number of refugees is going to result in a great deal of confusion and anger from New Zealanders as a whole. We need to start this discussion about a response now, because the time is nearing when our TV screens will feature a large ship, slipping into Auckland's harbour.
Unfortunately our politicians have their heads in the sand on this issue, apart from the New Zealand First Party, but the noises enemating from that source do not always address the real issues. Making a 'big noise,' generally at election time is no more than 'pissing in the wind.'

Monday, April 8, 2013

I am confused by the figures put up by Google for my blogs.

So what, you say. Does it really matter? I guess not, nut it's annoying. I like to look at the hits on my blogs and the countries that are reading my blogs. Here's an example. I check and it looks like a particular blog had a total (all time) hits of 50. I check the next day and the figure changes to 46. This happens all the time. Does that mean that the figures are 'generated' in some way but do not represent 'accurate figures? Who knows. I just wish there was a way of asking but if you have tried like I have to contact Google. it's damned hard. I have been trying to get my AdSense account renewed but it appears that they have banned me for ever. Sad, because when that happened I only had 3000 hits. Now it's over 70,000, so it's not just me missing out! I do wish they would let me contact them direct. Oh well, maybe I have to blog  with another Host. It seems that these large organizations have 'all power' and no way of reasonably interacting when things go wrong. Please MR/s Google, talk to me about my concerns and not just have some 'ready prepared' answers' that just don't cut it.

Ms Krarup continues to talk CRAP!

God help Denmark if the party that Ms Krarup ever gets a real say in Government. Fortunately Danish politics is not in such a poor state that this could happen----surely. This woman continues to talk rubbish. She says that New Zealand 'free rides' on Australia in defence matters. She uses the fact that NZ and Australia cooperate in defence arrangements and that somehow this represents something negative and demeaning for NZ. She seems to be completely ignorant of the history between NZ and Australia and the shared blood we have shed over the years. Of course Australia will always ne the 'senior partner' in any defence arrangements. NZ is not as wealthy and does not and can not spend the same amount of money on defence. She absolutely got it wrong, just as she did re her ignorant comments the other day. She has also tried to appeal to 'like-minded' bottom dwellers in NZ to justify her outburst. Luckily the Danish community here and most NZers see her for what she is--- a bigoted and failed politician with no hope of ever holding the reigns of power in her country. She will still be welcome here, despite her narrow and xenophobic vision and maybe next time, she will take the time to find out about the uniqueness of what a Powhiri represents.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Three days post surgery---why did I do this!?

If I had any doubts about my decision to embark on this journey, then all I need to do is look at the picture attached to this blog. It is a picture taken of me about two months before I underwent surgery.
If you cant see it because you are reading this on Face Book, Twitter or any other 'feed' then go to my original blog via my website  (www.authorneilcoleman.com)  and follow the links to my blogs. I don't need to say anything more about my decision.
How am I going post surgery? Mighty fine. Sure I'm sore sometimes, but I am managing to eat really healthy small liquidised meals and going for short 15 minute walks two to three times a day. I get tired, but that's OK, I am already sleeping better and for longer at night. Off to see my own doctor tomorrow and I hope to be able to drop down the dosage on my blood pressure tablets. I have already thrown away my metformin!
Me, three months before surgery. A picture can speak a thousand words!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Marie Krarup---you must be very 'popular' in Denmark, amongst other right wing racists!

I hope no New Zealander would ever travel overseas, then receive a special welcome, only to then denigrate the hosts and insult a people. I suppose it is possible because no 'nation' is exempt from having bigoted and insensitive people. The gracious hosts of the Powhiri that endured the remarks made by this Danish politician of a fringe party on the right took her insulting remarks in their stride saying that 'perhaps the process of the welcome (Powhiri)  should have been explained better.'
This ignorant women shot off her mouth with what can only be described as an uninformed diatribe against a ceremony that has its roots many centuries ago. Most New Zealanders are now familiar with it and accept the moving and very emotional 'welcome' as part of everyday life.
Unfortunately we too have our share of bigots in our wonderful; country but that does not reflect on us as a people, nor should the utterances of Ms Krarup  be used to think less of Denmark, a nation not too dissimilar to New Zealand. No doubt her words will be assigned to where they most fittingly belong---the rubbish bin!

Post-operation food---I shall make the best of it!

Hey, just because I ain't the man I used to be, stomach wise, I still love my food, albeit it in a much safer manner. I had a good nights sleep and woke up feeling ready to continue my new life. I had made quite a bit of preparation re  my 'new food intake' before the operation.
Firstly I had simmered a few chicken carcasses with some vegetables with couple of bay leaves and a teaspoon of ginger and garlic. I strained the mixture through a sieve and then continued the simmering to concentrate the flavour. After it had cooled I put it in the fridge overnight and then lifted off the fat. What was left was a thick jelly-like substance, bursting with flavour. I then froze serving size (very small of course) portions, ready for my return home. These have been wonderful as a basis for wonderful chicken broth, so unlike the hospital stuff.
I also got  friends and family to pick up some feijoas form the garden (these are a South American fruit that grows so well in New Zealand) and stewed them with some apples. That too went into the fridge and freezer, so there's my breakfasts when mixed with unsweetened yogurts. I mixed a tiny portion of wheetbix with that this morning and managed really well. Yes, I am still only eating about an eggcup full for my meals. Once the dietician gives me the go ahead for an egg, I shall be more than happy.
Today, my tummy is sore and it looks a bit bruised where the 5 holes were made for the keyhole surgery. That is normal and not worrying me too much. I shall go out for a gentle walk later with my sister and Rio. Of course Perdy's coming, but on a long leash, cause stuffed if I could catch her at the moment. I can tell she knows something is different about me, because she keeps looking at me and sits right by me. Isn't that sweet! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The operation and the hospital--and after!

I’m back and it’s done and dusted. Thank God. Yes, I did have last minute thoughts about the whole process, my reasons for embarking on this journey. I thought about what had led up to the necessity of having the gastric sleeve and it was a no brainer. Simply put----for me it was either do this or face up to the strong possibility of having along slow demise with lots of complications. I am who I am and this way is the best for me---simple---end of discussion!           

We packed my bag and headed for the hospital----the Ascot. Remember I have to pay for this (with a little help from my insurance) because the free public system says I am too old but don’t accept that by doing it they would save much more money down the line with the complications of a ‘fattening’ New Zealand population.

We arrived early, a mistake on my part. Actually they didn’t mind as they had to put me through quite a lot of questions and kept getting interrupted. I changed into a backwards facing blue gown (see the pictures) and was placed in a very comfortable bed with lots of warm bubbly stuff over me with pulsating wrappers on my legs. I relaxed into the procedure and the surgeon and anaesthetist came to see me (I think?) From the point that he put a needle into me----it all happened and I woke up in a recovery ward. I remember vaguely calling someone ‘Vladimir’ and asking to stay there because the people looked nice and friendly. God knows what else I said, but the nurses who took me to my nice little private room overlooking the racecourse had some wry smiles on their faces. They said I had asked why Perdy couldn’t stay with me.

I was visited by the surgeon once I had settled onto my bed in the room and he told me that everything went well and that I did not have a hiatus hernia. From then on for the next 36 hours it was all about getting me ready to leave. The nurses were lovely and yes, I did have my favourites. I was encouraged to get onto my feet almost immediately so I made it a habit to wander around the floor, regularly getting lost and needing direction back to my lovely room.

The operation took place at 3 pm on Thursday and I spent the rest of that day, taking medication, having my blood pressure taken every so often and having blood sugar tests. They immediately said that I know longer needed my drugs for diabetes and that the blood pressure pills will be lowered very soon.

Guess what---I was not hungry in the slightest. I heard the ladies delivering what seemed like very nice food to other rooms. I was encouraged to drink (sip) about one and a half litres of water. I managed that quite well. That night I was up a bit and had to sleep almost sitting up. I eventually got to sleep and morning came soon enough.

Friday was more of the same. Medication, injections for clotting and God knows what else. I was comfortable though. Lunch came but it was almost inedible for me. Somehow they brought a creamy chicken soup and yogurt. They said, ‘just sip what you can.’ No way could I eat that soup, but I managed a tiny bit of the yogurt without any dire results.  More medication and wandering around the floor. More smiles as I got lost yet again, but the walking did me good. They had discarded the stockings that were meant to prevent clotting and also the machine that pumped all night to inflate something wrapped around my legs. Actually, several times in the night I thought that Perdy was in bed. It felt like her little body moving against my legs, just like she does at home. Dinner was the same and they made the same mistake. Stuff that soup. I ate the yogurt.

Friday morning arrived and more of the same but the only difference was that I was due to leave. The surgeon visited again and told me how well I had done. Janice (my sister) came and after receiving my final instructions I was let lose. I had a wonderful surprise when I got home. The bedroom looked fantastic. It was clean and dusted and de-cluttered. Lovely!

Now, I am going for a walk around the mall. That is what I must do---be active within sensible parameters. Perdy will get a walk later with Rio. I can take her tomorrow.

Wow---all this in 48 hours. Things have changed eh. Now I look forward to making a speedy recovery. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and kind thoughts. Lots of love



after Optifast Lost about 12 KGS)
My legs were continually pumped to help with circulation.
There are 5 holes (just 4 visible) where they 'went in.'  Yeah In know---ugly sight!
That bed was quite good, actually.