Monday, June 30, 2014

Luxembourg---talk to me!

What’s happening, Luxembourg? I see you are racing up the charts re hitting my blog. At first, I thought it was just coincidental, but now I can see that you are consistently either second, third and sometimes top of the daily hits. How did you find my blog and what are you finding interesting, that keeps you coming back for more? It is quite difficult getting people to contribute re the ‘comments’ section of my blog, so if you find that’s ‘not quite your thing’ then just email me at and give me some feedback.
Oh hell, I hope I haven’t driven you away! Time will tell. Have you purchased a copy of Roskill yet? Or perhaps you have downloaded one from Amazon at my website,  directly from the Amazon link---
That invite goes to all my readers and to all the people you are hopefully passing the links onto. Roskill is now with, my publicist. Yes, I am tired of trying to push things on my own. There comes a time when you just have to bite the bullet and get professional help; the sort of help that knows the industry---yeah and the kind that costs yet more money. Let’s say I am most thankful that I have a good ‘day job,’ because the constant dripping way of funds means diverting money from other aspects of my life---like eating! Just joking: You would probably know by now that ‘such luxuries as the former are not big on my agenda since having the bariatric surgery 14 months ago, but of course those savings there were more than balanced by the need for a new wardrobe!
Now, having managed to get that bit in about the BS (No----not Bullshit!)---Bariatric surgery (the Mother of all Operations and processes to lose weight!) I can once again thank the person(s) in Luxembourg who now read my blogs (and book?)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More new readers for my blogs! Welcome.

I was suprised this mornign to see three more new countries added to the list of those reading my blogs. They include Luxembourge, Latvia, Singapore and the Netherlands. I am not sure what sparked this, but long may it continue. For those new readers go to the link to donwload the Kindle version  of my book, ROSKILL.  You can of course buy the hard copy fomr Amazon by accessing it via my website too. 
If you want a good read about an issue affecting every country, then Roskill is for you.
Happy reading.
Neil Coleman

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Roskill is now with a 'publicist.'

Watch this space. I expect some action after all the good work done for me by the group who made Roskill 'better.' Along with media releases, distribution efforts and going a conference, finally, I am not on my own. Go to my site for downloading and ordering Roskill.   Spread the link!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dogs galore on a 'stay at home morning.'

Today was going to be a nice long walk with two dogs and friends to Kakamatua Inlet. We were then going to the Huia Café for a late breakfast. Well, things didn't quite turn out like that. The 'wheel of fate' intervened in a not unpleasant manner.
My sister had arrived, all wrapped up and ready to go, although by that time we had decided that maybe the weather out west may concur to force us into a change of plans. The change most definitely happened but not quite in the way you would expect.
Our friend arrived with her pooch, Milo, much to Perdy's delight----shenanigans ahead folks! However once through the gate and inside where the usual doggie greetings took place; you know, the personal sniffing and unabashed sticking of noses in places that humans usually avoid! We heard the sound of whimpering at the gate---a stranger had appeared---the canine type. Upon investigation we observed a forlorn looking Fox Terrier, complete with lead, urging us to let 'him' in to join the fun.
It was pretty obvious that he had followed out friend down the drive, but where on  earth had he come from? We did not know of any such dog in the near vicinity. I took him by his lead and he meekly followed me back up the drive. No anxious owner prowling  the street. I took him back into the warm house and rang the number on his collar and the Council, much to their credit quickly linked us up with the owner, who informed is that she had left "Mason" tied up safely up at home a few streets away, but he had 'broken free' to explore the world. She was amazed that he had come so far, on a very busy road.
The doggie mum asked if we could keep him with us until she could get away from work, which was quite a distance away. The hour turned into two hours but in the meantime this lovely dog made himself at home and being an older dog than the two 'crazies' at out place, he managed to put-up with the antics, which included a great deal of pseudo-humping amongst the sniffing and frolicking that Jack Russells and Milo type dogs do!
Part of the original plan was to take the two dogs for a walk/run, terrorize walkers type morning followed by a nice brunch at a café. It was becoming increasingly obvious that the latter was not going to happen. We decided to cook up a café style breakfast so on went the bacon, mushrooms stuffed with soft cheese, scrambled eggs and grilled tomatoes with toast. Yeah I know---I am not able to eat all that, but take away the toast and lessen my meal size and I do pretty dammed well and NO----I have not put on an ounce of weight since reaching my 'new me' size.
Of course the dogs partook of the bits and pieces that 'feel on the floor.' Lets say---Mason had settled in as if he had known us for ages. Being an older dog, he seemed to know the score when 'visiting'--hey he might want to come back!
Finally, the owner of Mason arrived at the gate. My sister had given up on the walk and gone home. Mason's mum was friendly and very appreciative of our efforts to keep her boy safe. Indeed she made that very clear by giving us a nice box of goodies. That was not expected. I think that 'real doggie owners,' look after the pooches of others, when things aren't going well. Wouldn't it be nice if that was the case for some of the kids out there!
We said our goodbyes and I offered the sanctuary and fun of my place any time Mason wanted to visit, preferably by the more accepted means---with his MUM.
It all ended well and Perdy and I headed for our beloved Onehunga Bay. I wonder what else is in store for us this weekend, eh Perdy!

Perdy, Milo and 'visitor,' Mason.

What goes around comes around...yum. The unexpected reward.

My struggle with cannabis!

I bet that header got some of you who know me well wondering if you had me all wrong. OK---it was just to get your attention, so now I shall describe the 'battle within', in terms that reflect my real thoughts, garnered over many years as a school counsellor.
Ask any teacher what the effects on learning are for young people who do more than 'dabble' in the world of cannabis (and other substances) and how their lives can take a turn from which they never fully recover. Ask any 'long-term user' of cannabis if they would have taken the same pathway if they could 'go back.' I expect to see some strong denials to my postulations, and I think I know from whence they will come!
My thoughts are driven primarily for the young people who I work with. I am not going to worry about the arguments you old buggers use, expressing your freedom of choice and all the arguments that go along with the 'medical use of this possibly useful drug.' As far as I am concerned, you have made your bed, so go sleep in it and yes, I want to see the use of cannabis re medical reasons legalised, researched and acted upon.
Having said that, I am sure the befuddled minds of those wishing nothing more than to be able to wile away their days, sucking on some lovingly rolled  joint, and complaining that they can't get work because of some 'dastardly cruel employment rules that curtail one's right to work in jobs that require clear herds.' Deal with it dudes! Yes, I include any 'substance' re the former statement.
My concern is always going to be for the young people and how the legalization of cannabis will affect them. The situation in any school is such that at any one time, you can take it as fact that there will be significant numbers of students who are attending class in a 'stoned' state. Sure, for some of them, it may not cause problems to the learning of others, especially if they are in that 'zoned out' state of equilibrium that is more one of 'quiet contemplation,' rather than the buzzy problematic place that does challenge the learning environment.
These students in the problematic state, 'steal' the educational chances for other students, taking unnecessarily from the efforts of already hard-pressed teachers, to instil something that looks like 'learning' for teenagers. That is the teachers job---to help kids to learn and anything that takes away form this task is problematic for the future of our young people----and the nation.
There is little doubt that students who use cannabis regularly (and some would say intermittedly) figure far more highly in the makeup of those who drop out of school or who leave with few qualifications. I know there are exceptions to that statement and hopefully those of you who say that 'I'm just fine---nothing about cannabis use has affected me'---you should have stopped reading this by now and gone and had another joint!)
There is also a great deal of research that points to the links between young people using cannabis and impaired mental health; some to the degree that their useful lives re the workforce an d other life opportunities, is effectively damaged to the point that they become disconnected to society and economically disadvantaged, to say nothing of the possibility of becoming part of a darker world that involves crime. Of course I am not saying that to take 'dope' is propelling young people into an 'underworld!' Well-----maybe not, but possibly, YES.
My argument is based around the premise that the teenage years are critical in the development of all aspect of a person's life and that many of the 'things they do,' can influence the subsequent direction of their lives. That is a taken. For those who succumb to any substance, particularly cannabis, but also the 'newbies' on the block, plus the ones that have existed for generations, there are going to be problems. Most of us find a 'balance,' but for some, this period is a time of danger. Yes, we have to mitigate against this danger, even if that treads on the 'aspirations to express freedom,' for those us, well and truly beyond our teenage years. Lets have that freedom, but please----put in some real effort to nurture our precious young people---our future!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hyundai I.20---is it better than my trusty Gezt? Do I change over?

About two years ago I had my Hyundai accent (2000 model) serviced and they gave me a courtesy car for the day. It was a Hyundai 2010 Gezt. By the time I handed it back after collecting my serviced ‘old car,’ I just had to buy the damn thing. It was a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need,’ but nevertheless I went ahead and ‘did’ it. There were no regrets as the little slightly less powered Gezt has been a delight to drive and very reliable. Now 123,000 kilometres later, it is still going a treat.
Today, I dropped the Gezt off for servicing and the y gave me new I.20. I didn’t expect much difference and from what I had read, that seemed to be a good place to start. I did learn from a bit of research that the new I.20 has a five star safety rating, something very important these days and it was reported to be a little bit peppier and more miserly on the gas than my current car.
OK, I picked it up and the controls were much the same. It had that ‘new car’ smell that we all like and once on the motorway it purred along, just a tad quieter than my older car. I did not speed, just in case the guys at the workshop are reading this! Perhaps it is a tiny bit perkier; do I put that down to it being a new car or is it a bit more sophisticated?
My overall rating; one that would inform me as to whether I do a change over in about a year’s time when I propose to buy my first ever ‘new’ car----maybe yes, but possibly not. If I can, I think I could go for the I30 or new Accent. That little it of extra room (although I think the new I.20 may even be slightly bigger than the one I have at present.) and obvious power difference, may swing the day, but price considerations will need to be seriously looked at---come the day. Would I be satisfied if I had to settle for the I.20?  Yes I would, but I may also consider a Suzuki Swift Sports model too---now that has some guts!
In the meantime, it’s going to be back to my trusty Gezt, this afternoon, when I drop the gleaming white I.20 back to its home.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Egypt's shame---who is silent over this attack on freedom of the press? Is there a 'bigger target?'

The people of Egypt poured into eh streets during the Egyptian Spring, their hearts full of hope for a better future, one in which they could express themselves and be free from state sponsored tyranny. We saw the demise of the Mubarak regime, then this was followed by an elected Government, comprised mainly of the Muslim Brotherhood. It seemed that this Government was going down the same road as its predecessor, so the people came out onto the streets again, only this time the army intervened and it looked for a while that stability and at least a 'nod' towards freedom was going to be achieved.
Alas, this did not happen and now we have the spectre of a Government at war with its people and basic human rights being consigned to the rubbish bins of lost dreams. We also see an attack on the freedom of journalists to report the news, and their subsequent arrest and court appearances. Of course such practices are not limited to Egypt. One only has to look at Turkey to see the same actions, on  the part of the state.
The Aljazeera journalists who have been sentenced to a seven year prison term under the pretext that they were supporting the Muslim Brotherhood is shear rubbish and that the Government is 'leaving it to the judiciary,' only exemplifies the fact that the judiciary has got things very wrong.
The USA suspended military aid for a while but then we hear that they have released the half billion dollars while at the same time, criticising Egypt for its actions. Other western countries and some Asian, have made their positions clear. What is not so obvious are the voices of discontent from other major nations, including most of Africa, China and of course Russia, because they too have policies that detract from the freedom of the press.
The UN has been critical of Egypt as has the EU, but not the afore mentioned countries. OK, we can see the reason for that---they do not allow or value freedom of the press, but the family of nations who do---should unite and pressure Egypt and hold back on giving aid: humanitarian, military or any form of cultural exchange, until Egypt releases the journalists. It would be naïve of me to assume that Egypt will make any real changes to improving the freedom of reporting the news, but at least we can influence the fate of the 'three.'
To be consistent, we need to extend sanctions on all countries who flout that most basic of freedoms relating to the press, but that is not going to happen because economic concerns overrule human rights in the bigger picture.
In writing this blog I am acutely aware of the double standards re the issues I have raised. Basic human rights are trodden on in most of the world and little is done to bring that to an end.
THUS---this is a very strange blog in that the writer is almost saying that he is uncomfortable with his stance---Egypt is an easy target because that country has little influence on the world economy, apart from its strategic position in the Middle-East.
Let therefore the anger that is being fired at Egypt, take a wider target and let the fight for freedom of the right to report the news be expanded along with the far bigger issues of poverty and----get the picture? There are many battles to be won, so we find targets that are more accessible and easier to hit! Egypt---you are the target of choice at the moment.

Become a follower.

Follow your dreams, follow a recipe and many other forms of 'following' are possible. Become a follower of my blogs and you will get an automatic notification when I post a blog. You already know the many issues I write about and that is not about to stop. I need followers in order to take on the big 'boys and girls' in the world of writing and publishing. Sure, this is also all about getting my books 'out there.' I amke no apology for that stance, because if I did, it would be tantamount to shooting myslef in the fott--SO   you know what to do----become a follower and boost my posts and help me to actually make some sales. Things are happening for me and I am happpy to share my journey in the 'school of hard knocks' re the self-publishing experiment.

Self-publishing--a tale of the 'F's'

Anyone who has ever self-published a book would know that the process is one fraught with the ‘F’ words: namely feeling ‘fascinated and frustrated.’ No doubt a few other F words would have been uttered too from time to time, unless one has a hold on permanent sanity!
I have found that I have learned a great deal in the last four years, from that time when I first looked over the entrance to the Manukau harbour and out of the blue decided to write a book, a fictional account of the events surrounding the wrecking of the Orpheus, in 1863. That book was written; indeed it began a few days later. It became a massive book and I have still to do the final ‘bits’ to enable me to publish it, but it keeps getting out back.
‘Fascinating’ as that process has been, something always comes up to prevent me from jumping off the deep end and spending huge amounts of money to get the book ‘right.’ There is the second ‘F.’ I have been constantly ‘Frustrated’ buy the effort involved, the expense, the mistakes, the stupidity and naivety involved when one tries to do it on your own. So many factors intervened to stop me from getting my current books out there. There were issues with the agents I used at the beginning to help me get published. I won’t go into those now, but they were costly for little or no return.
It was only when I made contact with ‘professionals,’ that things began to change. It is paramount that you bring aboard a ‘good’ editor, a book designer and go the extra mile to have a creative cover along with many proofreading stages. There is nothing worse than thinking you have got the book ‘just right,’ only to find yet another plethora of errors, some only tiny ones, but they all add up to the overall enjoyment on the part of the reader. One also needs a publicist and a person who does digital stuff and now I have all of those people. They are all excel in their particular area of expertise.
That has been done now for ROSKILL, but not for the other two books, so they will go back to the ‘drawing board,’ if I decide that I want to sink yet more money into the project. That is debatable for me at this stage.
Now, looking back, it feels like something is about to happen. Roskill is on Amazon and is available as a hard-copy version or as a download onto Kindle or other reading AP. Indeed of you buy the hard-copy, you get a free download. I shall keep pushing the book and will attend various functions to help get it out there. Hopefully having the publicist on board will help to move things too.
Are you considering self-publishing? You may have much more success than me, because you do the homework first. It will cost money and unless you are one of the lucky few who manage to get a publishing ‘house’ on board, then be prepared for a long journey. I do wish you all the success in your venture.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

South Auckland bashing again, or is it much wider?

Forget for a moment about the terrible events in Syria, Iraq and other ‘trouble spots’ that dominate our news every day. I am not belittling the importance of those ‘world-stage’ events; I am merely saying---take a closer look at New Zealand, the land where we like to think everything is OK; that opportunity abounds and that poverty doesn’t exists when compared to those images we have become immune to from the afore mentioned countries.
Every so often we are reminded that New Zealand has an ‘underside;’ one that we don’t like to talk about until it becomes so bad, or it forces itself onto our news outlets, be they social media or the old fashioned newspapers and TV!
Take for example the stabbing of an eleven year old boy and the violence between two groups of ‘kids’ just down the road. We express shock and horror, but anyone working with ‘kids’ in various capacities, indeed teachers in schools, are not surprised. Most of those working with our teenagers, go home at night and if they can, get on with their own lives. The rest of ‘us,’ see the headlines, watch the news and wonder at what is happening, but unless it is close to home, we just put it down to ‘things that happen to someone else, in another suburb;’ you know, one of those that get all the publicity.
Let’s look at ‘what’ is happening and perhaps why? No one has all the answers but there have been some pretty obvious explanations, ones that we have known about for many years. Politicians use these ‘facts’ for their own purposes, groups working with ‘at risk kids,’ manipulate figures in order to garner funding; the list goes on! So do the issues that lead to the events we have just witnessed. Listen to the talkbacks and you will hear another perspective, the one that is out there on the streets in our suburbs and towns. That it seems to be concentrated ion certain areas of our larger cities is not surprising. It comes down to a numbers explanation.
If you concentrate the poorest of our people into large areas, then the problems are going to be compounded. I am not making excuses for illegal or bad behaviours, or bad parenting, all of which have been blamed for what we are witnessing. Those labels exists as facts in many communities; it is that sheer numbers that make living is areas of poverty, high unemployment, drug and alcohol overuse/abuse, violence and crime all coming together that leads to what is essentially a breakdown in society. Small-town NZ also has these issues, but on a much smaller scale, hence the lack of media focus on them.
That South Auckland (there, I have named it) is once again in e the headlines, is a culmination of the failing of our nation to address the issues described. That they exists in South Auckland is a fact that cannot be ignored. WE even have the possibility of an organization that has worked with families and young people for 17 years, is now considering closing, because the director is not willing to put her ‘workers at risk’ is shocking. There should be no fingers pointed at her. Her group has ‘hit the wall.’ To continue in her work, she must be supported in ways that keep her workers and the young people she is trying to help, safe.
It is election year and no doubt we are going to hear ‘policies,’ claims, counter-claims and hot air. If the solutions require money the electorate may respond with—‘it’s not our problem’ and things will continue to worsen. We have to accept that—‘we all live in NZ and that no one group can make changes on their won. Until we all accept that ‘brining up kids’ is a responsibility that cannot just be left to parents, then the slide will continue. Yes, I can hear the clarion cries from those who do not have kids, or from families who through good parenting and luck, combined with possessing the resources needed to care for their kids adequately, saying that it ‘is not my problem.’
The fact is that when things go wrong, it affects us all. We can all be victims of the robberies, assaults, the drug/alcohol driven crimes that creep into the city centres and ‘better suburbs. We cannot keep our heads in the sand.
Wake-up New Zealand! We need to make sure that families are have healthy housing, that parents get the support they need; not when it is almost too late, but right at the time when their children are conceived. Once again, I hear the usual ‘accusations’ of the need for would-be parents to face up to their responsibilities and yes, that is true, but we must add into ‘landscape’ the collective responsibilities we have to support one another.  Ignoring or blaming others is only going to lead to an even more segmented, divided society and that can only lead to much worse than we are already witnessing.
It is election year. Talk to the aspiring candidates and parties. Try to sort through the ‘political babble.’ That will take time, the very thing that is partly at the bottom of the ills I have described. The two most important things we can give our kids are ‘love and time.’ Whatever is getting in the way of that, is at the very root of our situation.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Egypt---what have you got to gain by the manner in which you suppress freedom of the press?

The actions of the Egyptian court system re the sentencing of three Aljazeera reporters is tantamount to that of a ‘failing state,’ trying to justify the suppression of freedom, in all its forms. Yes, we all know about the Government led by ex-President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and how he too was going down the path of curtailing the freedom of those opposed to his increasingly despotic rule, but the army general who replaced him is little better.
What is behind this ‘over-reaction to the Aljazeera journalists? Why does he or the state institutions he leads, react in such an overbearing manner? Is this just a diversion to take the attention away from other more sinister policies the new Government (Questionably elected) proposes to foist on the ever-suffering Egyptian people?
Questions and more questions: It seems that just a short time ago, the streets of Cairo were ringing with hope, after the ‘Egyptian Spring,’ when ordinary people ‘came out’ to force the former dictator from office. Now it all seems to have been a terrible waste of time; with one corrupt old man replaced by successors, who also have an agenda to push their particular ideology (Morsi) or desire to gain power, no matter what the cost re the Egyptian people wanting to have a real say.
Egypt is yet another Middle-Eastern country that has undergone so-called revolutions, only then to have the ‘hope’ swept away into the mists of corruption and greed; and holding power at all costs regimes, forced upon them. The region is a massive ‘lake of discontent,’ exemplified by leaders who go to war on large sections of their populace. At one end we have the extreme situation of Syria, which is at war with itself, and at the other (although, any would say ‘extreme’ in a different style) Israel, which also segments it population, using walls and soldiers to ‘keep the peace.’
Egypt cannot expect the aid, support and understanding by taking the actions we have seen over the last 2 years. World opinion (although there is the usual silence from the likes of Russia and China!) is united in the responses to the news we heard today about the three journalists. That the USA has just released a military aid package to Egypt is particularly worrying. Are these arms going to be used to supress yet more of the freedoms that Egyptians thought they had won all those months ago? Hope has been replaced by a sense of doom in this once proud and historically rich country. What will we remember Egypt for, in the immediate future?—not a lot that we value, that is for sure!
It is not too late, Mr President---intervene and start the process of ‘dialogue’ with your own people!

Sunday, June 22, 2014 Click on it!

Yes--click on the above link to download your Kindle (or other reading Ap) of ROSKILL. If you want to read an authentic New Zealand story that so easilly could be in 'your town, your city,' and above all---in YOUR family. What would you do if your partner put your relationship, your family and your finances at risk, because he/she could not resist the 'pull' of an illicit drug. IN this case the demon is 'P' as we call it in NZ, but you may call it something esle, like 'Ice.'
My story is one that represents the dark side of life but it is also a message of 'hope.'
Please review the book, after you have read it and pass on the link to it to your circles and friends. Get in touch with me if you want re 'bulk deals' for the prinited, version.   for the direct link to Amazon download.

Hate speach has transformed into hate attacks in Russia, but there is a NZ link!

Last night I watched a programme on TV---‘Sunday,’ and it left me feeling very sad. That feeling deepened when I read about an event in NZ that fell not the same category as the situation described in Russia, the difference been that in Russia, the ‘State’ has encouraged such abhorrent behaviours.
I am talking about the manner in which Putin and his Government has acted in ways that ‘allow’ attacks on gay, Bi and transgender people. NO, they do not tell people to identify gay people in the social media or to actually attack people; sometimes hunting in packs to torture, humiliate and even kill their victims. What Putin has done by his ‘announcements’ and lack of response to these vicious and cruel attacks is to justify the behaviours of these ‘haters’ who go out of their way to entrap, capture and ‘deal to’ gay people in Russia. Even those who fight against this terrible state of affairs in Russia are in danger, of losing their jobs and to be harassed by the groups doing this.
The police do nothing and politicians rarely speak out, such is the ‘control’ that Putin now holds over the Russian populace. His cynical stance re the Olympics should have fired warning shots to those seeking a change in attitude. His macho behaviours where he seeks to endear himself to the Russian people does nothing to quell the actions of those nasty haters. Indeed, the signal he is giving is nothing short of a ‘primitive signal’ to those who wish to act in this low and unlawful manner.
Russia has a long history of excluding minorities and this is just a modern day extension of that sad history. Yes, there many who feel angry about this issue, but they fear to speak out, such is the climate in Putin’s Russia. If Russia wants to claim a label as a ‘civilized’ nation then it needs to take a serious look at itself, starting at the top, because in essence, leaders lead and others take note of their words and actions and translate that understanding into their behaviours---this time into a situation that warrants world-wide action. It seems that Russia is determined to return to the old days when it hid behind an iron curtain—now they have let an immoral leader hold sway and for those who disagree or who are ‘different from his ideal of whom a Russian should be---there is little hope.
A few days ago, we saw the same sad behaviours, enacted upon a transgender person, in New Zealand. That should serve as a warning to us all, that we are not exempt from such despicable acts. The difference is of course, that the huge majority of our politicians do not feel bound to the words and actions of our leaders. For that I am thankful, but we must remain vigilant and expose any behaviours that put a group at risk.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Luxembourg---nice to see you reading my blogs! Share my site please!

I love to see new members reading my blogs. I wish that would translate into book sales for ROSKILL. Help me to make that happen my reader(s) in Luxembourg. Just click on like for my site and share it with our friends. If you buy ROSKILL from my website and blog,  as a hard copy, you get a free download onto your Kindle or reading AP. Self-publishing is a thankless task and it is very hard to break into the world of professional book seeling, so doing it on my own is incredibly time-consuming and a matter of building a blog-read space. Having come this far on my journey, means that I am not giving up.
If you are curious about life in New Zealand, including the darker life stories, then read my books. I am of course a positively happy person who believes in the 'hope' that story-telling can invoke. Thank you, Luxembourg.

Pukeko Heaven for a Jack Russell--on a leash!

I spent the day ion Hamilton, the home of the England loss to NZ as thus giving us a clean sweep of the Rugby test series. NO, I didn't go the 'sold-out'' act; it was more about the family, siblings and a dear cousin. We took the two dogs and did our usual thing; cooking up a great feed. We did a 'repeat' of a recipe using schnitzel coated in herbed breadcrumbs with a second cooking using the grill with mustard and cheese. I only ate a small portion, even giving Perdy some.
 Between courses (yes, we had a gluten-free sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and whipped cream) we took a quick trip to the lake in the m idle of Hamilton, where it is possibly to walk right around the edge on a lovely path, but today we decided to walk 20 minutes one way and then turn back.
From the moment Perdy jumped out of the car, thank God, on a leash, she noticed that there was an abundance of Pukeko and other water-birds. Her face ;lit up as she begged me to let her go!----yeah  right, Miss Perdy--you want me to get arrested by the Hamiltonian law enforcement agents--I mean my fellow dog walkers here looked a bit sideways at the black and white Taliban member!  Not on---girlfriend!
I swear that Perdy felt like she weighed in at about three times her 7-5 kilos! She jumped and pulled and did her best to break away to attack the 'blue water rats----- birdie versions.' She was pissed of---who the hell was I to keep her away from a sight that she had never before set her eyes upon. Those cheeky birds damn well knew that Perdy couldn't get to them and they squawked their distain at the 'terrorist' in their near midst.
 For the entire walk, Perdy did not give up her struggle to 'get at her enemies.' How dare 'me,' someone who is supposed to love he, torture her with such a 'negation of her freedom to move.' Hell, is that not a basic doggie right under special 'United nations regulations?'
NO amount of explanation could convince Perdy that I was doing this for her. Did she not see that the Pukekos she saw, were just the 'vanguard' of the army of birds, egging her on, in the knowledge that just beyond her sight, there awaited hundreds of 'others' ready to flap their way and peck her into a place she would not like---death! Those birds are fierce; determined to defend their territory and families and one Jack Russell, no matter how big her ego, was not going to make a dent in their empire!
OH well, Perdy---another time, another day---you will be back!---with 'reinforcements! The score today?----Hamilton Pukeko Empire'---- 1---Perdy nil. Such is the life of a frustrated Jack Russell. No doubt she will re-live the battle in her dreams, moaning and twitching as she usually does after a 'plentiful day.'
'Perdy---leave Britney and her Pukeko friends  alone!'
'Perdy---don't you know these Waikato Pukekos are vicious bitches!'
Peace has settled upon the lake. Cousin Barbara and I try to hide from the pukekos, but guess who is not convinced!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday night--time to cook---slowly!

I have time tonight to cook something ---good for me and something g to be savoured. NO need to rush--no need to worry about doing anything but--indulge myself. Pre-bariatric surgery days that would have meant a huge greasy meal of takeaways and then the accompanying feelings of guilt and yet more weight on my 'shouldn't be fat frame!' I was born little and didn't get fat until well into my 40s.
Now that I have achieved  a weight that even the surgeon didn't think I would arrive at---well---it's a matter of maintaining my 'new me.' This is an example of what I can eat now (15 months post-surgery), especially when I take the time to 'prepare' a meal. Damn, I love Friday nights. Can't ya feel a song coming on?
About a month or so ago I brought a whole fillet roast. It was about 800gms and cost around NZ$20. Expensive you say. NO---not at all---because I had the nice Aussie Butcher guys at Mt Roskill slice it into about 14 pieces of succulent eye-fillet steak. For me, that is 14 meals. Now work out the cost of a meal for me--cheap eh.
Tonight I took a few pieces of the free-flowed frozen steak and let them defrost in a small plastic bag with a mixture of soy, chilli and balsamic vinegar. While that was happening, I opened a bottle of Chardonnay and prepared a sauce. I sliced two red onions and let them gently fry in some oil and then added a handful of raisins, some more chilly flakes and some of the chardonnay. I let it all caramelize then added parsley. I added my small steaks and let them simmer--sounds a bit like a stew but its more like brazing, I think. The steak became tender, because I let it do its thing for about 30 minutes on a low heat.
I don't bother with rice, or potatoes very much now--I seem to have changed and if I feel like the latter--I have them--but just a bit. I am so happy that I have broken the habit of carb-loading!
The result of my patience and two glasses of wine? Pure heaven. The sauce and the meltingly beautiful steak is made for a king---or queen--take your pick. Once again, for me it is a case of 'less is more.' I left the rest for my partner---NO---I wont be tempted to have 'seconds,' because I have some ice-cream for later. Yes I can! God---I love Friday nights.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

John Key's 'smartness' is about to backfire---big time!

Watching the smug face of John Key as he contemplated a 'moral' victory over David Cunliffe and the 'leaked letter affair' is enough to make one throw up. The image of him prancing around Washington, making the most of his photo opportunities, and listening to his predictions that he has much more to come on David Cunliffe, led many to believe that he was about to administer the 'coup de grace' for his opponent's career. Things are not quite so simple Mr Key.
IT seems that you are part of a nasty plot and a scheme to withhold information about the whole sorry affair that your MPs were also involved in. I am not saying that the 'letters' that most MPs write for their constituents are all above recrimination, but your holier than thou announcements are nothing short of gutter politics. Yes, I know that Labour is equally capable of following the same path.
WE the voters are sick of the stupidity from all sectors of the political spectrum  that treat us like fools. Maybe we are---for allowing you your second term, but at the time, I guess we didn't know you WE will not make that mistake again. This time, the people of NZ are going to have the opportunity to see the 'real you.' It is not a pretty sight.
 David---step up to the mark and continue to offer policies, not the inane behaviours of the 'soon to be former PM!' Once again, I say---'what goes around, comes around!'

Smoke gets in your eyes---and lungs and clothes--tell us something new!

What an incredible revelation—smoke gets into the lungs of those people unlucky enough to be sitting near an open window at cares where nearby smokers puff away on their drug of self-destruction! The NZ Herald reported this latest piece of research that probably cost a mint (not the sort you suck, although we are all ‘suckers’ if we pretend shock and horror!) and was simply stating the obvious.
I now that smokers get a pretty hard time but you cannot get away from the fact that their second hand smoke is still affecting many people, ranging from the kids trapped in cars with ‘smoking’ parents (I dean hear many say---‘but we don’t do that’---yeah right, like we don’t use cell phones in our cars while we are driving either!) to the cafes and other public areas prone to ‘drift-poison.’
How many times have you sat outside at a café or just inside and been subject that sickly, cloying and very annoying pollutant? Maybe you have been tempted to say something, but you don’t because you don’t want to get into an argument with someone who has probably subjected others to their diatribe about personal freedom and that if you don’t like then move on!
Excuse me, after all the research about second hand smoking and how it can be worse than the inhalants from the actual smoke,’ then how the hell can they justify their imposition on the safety of---US! Such relations are typical and no amount of postulating on the part of smokers and the industry that ‘kills them’ can take away the fact that it is time to stand against this once and for all. Ban the damn things from anywhere where people gather.
I am sick of having to move from a window, or from an outside table at a café in summer, simply because a smoker has ensconced themselves not too far away. Sure there are many of ‘them’ who do their very best to lessen the effect of their habit on us. You know the body language, where you observe them sort of twisting away as if their ‘drifting crap’ will somehow move away in a different direction. It doesn’t work folks. Go and find somewhere else to have your hit, preferably in your home (oops you don’t smoke at home because it stinks---OH----nice thought!)
We have come a long way over the years, in the quest to make more areas of our lives healthier places and we have placed more responsibility on those who indulge in smoking to either’ kick the habit’ or lessen the ramifications it has on others. Are we now at the stage where we move to the next level, in line with ‘governments’ plans to make NZ smoke free by the year----what?
In the meantime, we will continue to make allowances for those who insist on blowing their second hand poison in our direction or we will start making noises in order to get the message across, if legislators don’t step-up to the mark---NOW. Maybe a few strongly worded T-shirts with a ‘clean-air’ message, prominently displayed, might be a good start but then again, that may put us at risk too. The smokers may chase us if their lungs are up to it!

Honey, I blew up my Sheffield Soup Maker! Why---read on.

When I was younger, a friend labelled me in a very descriptive manner. He called me 'rip shit and bust.' What a terrible insult you say. Well no---actually he was quite accurate. You see, I have a propensity to buy things and just switch them on without reading the instructions and 'warning signs.'
Let me explain a modem day version of this former self.
I am a sucker for buying things from 'As Seen ON TV,' or from many of the online shops. I purchase clothing and whatever takes my fancy, especially when they have massive discounts. Now, you all know how much I still love cooking, even after my Bariatric surgery, after which I lost 45 kilos and have maintained that loss quite successfully. This blog is NOT about that journey; well not directly that is.
I recently acquired a Sheffield Soup Maker and from what I can see online, at a very good price---NZ$69. The same product is quite a bit dearer on other sites. My site was Off the Back. I have brought other Sheffield products and they have been fine, so why not I thought, having watched (or not!) the video, I decided that the delicious soups and smoothies were right up my alley.
For a couple of weeks I have made wonderful healthy soups and taken them to work, often sharing them with whoever wants to try my made-up recipes. You can get soups in about 30 minutes in a no fuss way and it is easy to clean. This is beginning to sound like an advert, but this is also where no one would want me advertising their products--not after what I have managed to do!
Tonight I grabbed some of my mate Doug's leftover wonderful greens, chucked them in the soup maker and emptied a can of lentils into the mix along with a teaspoon of low-salt stock powder. I put a tablespoon of water  and turned it on.
I watched the news and about 15 minutes later I heard the sound of the whirling blades as they smoothed  the soup into a deliciously smelling delight. Ya reckon? All of a sudden the house was plunged into darkness. Bloody hell---was this an attack by aliens or had a freak storm launched itself upon a relaxed Auckland? NO---- none of the above!
We stumbled around, searching for the latest acquisition from Off The Back. Yes I had just received an 'emergency light' that could be cranked to provide light via a mini dynamo. Its also does lots of other things, but you can wait for another blog to hear about that. Needless to say, I couldn't find it in the dark, so we used the light from the cell phone as a torch and sought out the power board whereupon we turned the switches on that had flicked off. I immediately KNEW what had triggered the outage, because we checked to see if the neighbours lights were on. Yes they were, so it had to be what I had done.
It was my Soup Maker! How did I known this? Well I turned it back on---twice----you guessed it---the feckin power went out again. I cast my brains back to the sound that I had thought was a bit suspicious when the soup was cooking. It had whined away for far longer than it should and at a decibel that was not like the other times when I had made soup. I KNEW what I had done. I had not put enough water in and sure enough, the motor had burnt out! It was not Mr Sheffield's fault--- no it was me ignoring the instructions that I had NOT read properly. If Mrs Brown (Of Mrs Brown's Boys fame) read this she would not say---'That's nice!'
She would call me a feckin idiot and slap me stupid. Rip shit and bust for sure!
Am I pissed of at Sheffield?---hell no. I have already ordered my new one, Expensive lesson, and  soup will be back on the menu, sometime next week. The buggered one---it's already on its way to the recycler! I do not intend to use the guarantee because that would be dishonest. I have many more tales of equally pertinent events that explain the name my friend gave way back when my hair was thicker. But---they can wait.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Labour---you only have a few days to sort this out! Do it!

The ‘Nats’ must be in JK Heaven, with this latest silliness from Labour. Sure the ‘event’ took place 11 years ago, and David C is correct in claiming he has no memory of the letter—hell he claims to have signed off thousands of the damned things! What he should have done once the media were onto this desperate attempt by National to ‘soil’ Labour’s image, because the very same thing was been done to them, was to investigate and come clean—so that at least we are not left this cloying feeling that things are not quite right.
Now, Labour you need to get back on track, double quick, or face ever decreasing support in the run-up to the elections.
New Zealand needs you to present a viable alternative to this Government that will no doubt come back at us and sell anything left of value (is there anything?) and cuts the public spending in all directions, leaving those who have suffered under their regime, even more on the back foot, further increasing the already large gap between those who are ‘surviving and those who have given up.’
This week is crucial---get your act together, Labour while is still a glimmer of hope!
And National---remember---‘what goes around, comes around!

'The big bang theory' is about to take centre stage in Auckland!

Many Aucklanders are reporting being woken by a series of loud bangs, some of which were ’felt’ as much as heard. This, in the early hours of Thursday morning and the incidents were noticed over quite a large area. I guess we can expect a range of explanations ranging from the mild and merely curious in origin to the all-out whacky-backy infused contributions, citing alien invasion to some sort of catastrophic event.
I can’t wait to hear the reports as they come in. We will get the usual ‘it’s not us,’ from the air force, but then again, as they are virtually non-existent (oops that is sensitive information and now my phone will be tapped by the GSCB or whatever the feck they call themselves!) don’t expect too much from them.
Next the doomsayers will thrive as they seek spiritual explanations, aimed at making the rest of us ‘toe the line,’ as we prepare for Armageddon! Watch out for the bearded, scruffily undressed sign- toting and barefooted individuals hogging the footpaths. Don’t forget to drop a coin in their hats.
Of course, we will get some sane explanations and they will be way beyond my capacity to second guess what they will be, not being a scientist of repute or any other designation. Will they pose the question of some sort of major earth-shaking event or will they tend towards the more mundane; like multiple claps of big thunder. I never imagined the ‘clap’ as being quite so significant, but the ‘end of worlders’ will say it is God punishing us for our sins, because collectively we have mounted quite a list!
OK, let’s all go about our day in a clam manner and remember---‘those who seek shall find the answers; ion the clouds, in their minds or the expression of some fool who has feck all else to do! (Mmm---I think me knoweth a response for that last little tit-bit!)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Million dollar coffees, but do we really need a 'degree' to get one!?

I was amused and a little confused to read that an American university is offering a degree for being a barista! Is a 3 to four year qualification really that necessary to make a good cup of coffee? OK, it probably is in the USA given that they still insist on that terrible drip type coffee that NZ got rid of years ago in favour of quality flat whites and espressos.
One wonders how they would fill in the time needed to attain the degree. Will they spend months on the ‘country of origin’ for the beans, attend countless tasting sessions,  resulting in an allergic reaction every time they taste coffee once they have their ‘papers?’ Will they need eyes tests to recognise the perfect colouration of the exact ‘look’ of the ‘real thing?’
I am not denigrating the work and skills of a good barista, but is this not one step too far? It does make one wonder just what next the ‘qualification stakes’ will demand. I am sure you can come up with a few; like polishing your car, or furniture removal; all much needed occupations, but---a degree---some on-----get real!
Yes, after writing this blog, I shall still be able to look my favourite baristas at Eden Coffee in Mt Eden---right in the eye, in the knowledge that they make fabulous coffee, probably leant on the spot with the odd ‘refresher’ course thrown in for quality control.
Ok --please smile and don’t take my post too seriously or you may need a degree in the ‘recognising of posts that take the piss.’

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What's in the fridge---time for a healthy and cheap dinner.

My food friend Doug, who has had the same operation as me (Bariatric surgery) has  anew lease on life; so much so that his garden is once again abundant and overflowing with 'good things.' There is no way he can consume the treasures he grows, even if he invites people for dinner every night and hey---a guys gotta have some down-time-alone eh.
Get the picture yet? Yes---correct---I came home yesterday and there, hanging on the fence was a gab of home grown delights; some young kale, lettuce and rosemary. Blessed are you, Doug!
Tonight when I arrived home after the usual walk with Perdy, down at the 'Bay,' I decided to cook up a healthy treat using some of Doug's generosity and whatever I could find in the fridge. I found three flat mushrooms, and a pottle of soft tofu. Cool---the 'use by date' is several days away, so---whoopee--it's chuck in, whatever and there will be enough for dinner and lunch tomorrow.
 I add some oil to a frypan and biff in the cut mushrooms and garlic, then add the tofu with some stock power and paprika with a little sweet soy sauce.  Then I added some pepper and chilly  flakes. After a few minutes I add the cut up kale and let the whole lot simmer with the lid on for about ten minutes. I turn the cooker off and let it sit.
Yummy and oh so dammed healthy; you wouldn't know it. Go try and if it doesn't take your fancy, try any combination of your favourite 'condiments.' The amount I made would have fed  about four people if you had it on rice. I tend to go really light now on the carbs, but you don't have to.


China 'spreads its influence into the South Pacific! How--by reading blogs and books!

Go China. You have overhauled Germany again and really reaching out to us in NZ and to me in particular. Keep it up and soon you will have the UK in your sights. Download my book from

ISIL--the new force in the Middle East? What to do!

The people of Iraq and nearby states are faced with a stark choice, if the reports of the mass slaughter of former Iraqi army personnel are correct. That these soldiers can be lined up and murdered after surrendering, should pose a warning to the citizens of Iraq; just what will happen when these ‘insurgents’ gain more power and influence? They are reportedly on the outskirts of Bagdad and some large cities have fallen to them, with little resistance coming from the army.
We are belatedly hearing reports of resistance from the Kurds, who have indeed taken back some territory in the North and of the mass signing up of citizens to join the Iraqi army. It seems that it is either doing that or face an uncertain future with the ‘rebels’ calling themselves the ISIL. If the latter do manage to take control of Bagdad, the writing from the walls of the region will become a sad truth and the ramifications for regions far flung will be felt soon, most notably in the price we all pay for our ‘gas.’
It is this that drives the possibility of a response from the USA and its partners, not some deeply felt humanitarian reasoning that is often quoted as justification for an ‘intervention.’ We even have the most unlikely possibility of Iran supporting the USA in an effort to stop the spread of the ideology and influence of the ISIL forces. Who would have believed that such an ‘unholy union’ would be on the cards, given the difficult history between those two nations? It should come as no surprise though if one looks back at the history of the region as a whole and how the various nations came into being and the underlying religious, power and economic forces that play into alliances.
Iraq is at a crossroads. It either settles internal differences between the two main groups and come to a real power-sharing arrangement, of face a downward spiral whereby the ISIL forces take over and we witness a pariah state that will make anything we have seen from the likes of the ‘Butcher of Damascus’ or the regime of former leader or Iraq---the one who gave reason for the USA and its allies to invade a decade ago, look like a non-event. Has this all been for nothing? In the meantime, the borders of Iraq will leak misery as those trying to escape to a more peaceful life flee the advancing ISIL forces.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dinner at my place and a 'green' solution to doing the dishes--in every sense!

I shall be celebrating the opening of my new office soon and no doubt there will be a few 'ceremonies;' ones that will satisfy many faiths and belief systems. This will culminate in a 'fun-food' day and I shall display my latest addition to my staff re 'doing the wash-up. Of course you can help, if you can get on down to your knees--no for praying, but feel free. I believe in 'saving the planet' from nasty chemicals and using too much water. Still wanna come to dinner? Hey, Perdy---I told you to wear your apron---that's not good enough, doing the dishes in the raw!' Oh well, they are clean though.
Perdy, the clean and green washing machine! 'Did I do well Daddy?'

Friday, June 13, 2014

Congratulations, you have won a $2000 prize! Here we go again.

Isn't it wonderful when you hear those magic words? It's even better when you have forgotten that you had actually entered a competition, until the lovely lady on the end of the phone, who addresses you by name, reminds you of the online survey, one of many that you had completed lately, has borne fruit.
Well that happened yesterday and she got me when I was tired so I let her continue; after all, I didn't want to be rude. Hell she had taken time out of her busy day to be nice to me and actually do something for me. Isn't the world wonderful at times. She continues to wax lyrical about my luck and that the prize was about $2000 worth of grocery vouchers at a well known supermarket. Now, to put things into perspective, I often tell people that they should never believe that you get something for nothing! out the window with that sage advice as she continues to pretend that she knows me well; in a sense she does, but more about that soon.
She has a lovely British tone to her voice, a quality that seemed to trap me; perhaps it was the sheer enthusiasm or way she had of making me believe that I had to respond by listening without interrupting, something exceedingly hard for me to maintain.
Suddenly the call took on a new direction. It seemed that the focus of winning a prize shifted to one whereby I 'could' win the prize. There were conditions. Why the feck didn't I tell  her I wasn't interested in the following offer? She asked me what life insurance I had. I meekly told her and she suggested that her company could do better and all I had to do was to meet with a representative of her company and see if they could do better. I told her that at my age, I wasn't interested in increasing my cover I had on my life and that indeed I had reached a stage where I should be cutting everyday expenses, in the run up to retirement in the future. No one wants to spend more than their income after all.
That was no problem she assured me and wouldn't it be better to even save a few dollars a week by changing provider. OK, she had well and truly worn me down. I was hungry and just wanted her to ---well you know---F----off! I let her arrange for a colleague to visit me the following Thursday to present me with an offer and finally she 'let me go.'
When I put the phone down I was left with this feeling that I had been thoroughly mauled by a great white shark of the insurance industry. How the hell did I let that happen!?
That night I kept thinking about what 'I had allowed.' How dare her talk me into something that I now consider to be entirely frivolous. I don't want or need to change companies.
Today that feeling increased and I decided to take action. The pushy lady had left me cell phone number of the 'agent' who was going to visit me on the Thursday. I texted him and said that I was no longer interested. he has not replied. If he comes, I shall let my Jack Russell entertain him outside the gate and inquire why he did not respond to my text. If the 'lovely lady' rings I shall inform her that I have several 'modalities with which I use when dealing with salespeople who contact me 'cold.' I would label my first response as Code One and would maintain a professional politeness. If she persists, I shall lift the level, warning her the next level would be one which involved forceful language. Finally if the hint is not taken, I shall resort to 'gutter language and by that stage it could well be necessary for her to call the police because, well--- such words are quite creatively impossible to follow through on if biology is brought into the area under discussion.
All this could have been avoided if I had not persisted in filling in those damn online surveys. They are not a tool in which you are helping yourself, by winning prizes. They are merely a tool by which information about you is gathered in order to come back at you to sell 'products' at a later stage, so from now on, if I fill in a survey I am going to 'have fun,' declaring all sorts of income levels and affiliations with groups that could well attract the attention of spy agencies, world wide and possibly have me banned from many institutions!


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Iraqi army melts away in the face of the Jihadists.

After years of being propped up by the USA and receiving extensive training and equipment, the Iraqi army has simply vanished as the Jihadists take over a second major city. What does tis say about what Iraq's people want and how deeply the Jihadists have penetrated Iraqi society? Does it mean that the medieval preaching's of the Taliban-type 'psychos' have taken root to the point that any alternative tis no longer a viable scenario? Are the Iraqi people so war-weary that they and their institutions have simply given up on any prospect of peace, democracy and a Government free of corruption? How much influence have the actions of the USA and its allies had on this terrible outcome?
We all know who suffers most--- the weakest in this society; the women, children and elderly. While the politicians involve themselves in 'tribal' and semi-religious quarrels and the greed for 'power,' the ordinary citizens seek peace in lands elsewhere. Now we have the prospect of the USA bombing the jihadists back to the sans form whence they came, with the inevitable 'collateral' that goes along with any military response. THERE ARE NO WINNERS in this diabolical battlefield that is Iraq. 

Iraq and the 'failed US policy.' When will they ever learn?

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the US’s policy of intervening (in its own interests) in various countries in the unstable area that is the Middle-East, has failed spectacularly. The USA has always underestimated the strength of these jihadist groups; especially re the sudden success of those forces about to take over Iraq. The quick-fire fall of several major cities to that group is a prime example of quickly the tables can turn in this region.
 After years of occupation and so-called pacification of Iraq, then the withdrawal of American (and its allies) troops from the country, the Government forces are in disarray. We even have the ‘spectre or Iranian troops moving across the border of Iraq in an attempt to push the tide back. Who would have thought that Iran and the USA would have ever been on the same page vis-à-vis Iraq? It is a strange world when two nations, with diametrically opposed polices could be overcome and an agreement reached, so quickly. Maybe forces other than those existing at surface level are operating here. History is full of such examples (the alliance between the former Soviet Union and the West during WW2, being an example).
 When the chips are down and National interests are threatened, common ground can be found that transcends other differences. That is what we are about to see, because one thing is for sure, the USA will ‘go back in’ to Iraq, in one form or another and the ‘wheel will turn another circle,’ using spurious excuses in order to justify yet more bloodshed. Perhaps the West and Iran should desist and let forces take their natural direction. At some stage the Iraqi people will work through their differences and come to a logical conclusion, that continual warfare between its various groups will never form a peace-loving state. Yes, that will happen when we prove the world is ‘flat.’

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Iraq---another 'failed USA policy.'

Two more cities have fallen to the ‘extremist or fundamentalist Islamic forces,’ reinforcing the failure of the American led invasion of Iraq. We are now faced with the ‘unravelling’ of a nation as those forces that oppose the Iraqi Government become stronger, not just in that country but in several other failed nations in the Middle-East.
When is the USA going to learn that its ‘armed forces’ are not enough on their own to stabilize a country. When did the intervention on the part of the USA and its ‘friends’ leave behind a fully functioning and successful regime in place? It just doesn’t happen, because the USA and others fail to realise that  ‘their’ ideals’ about what constitutes a ’democracy’ do not fit in most other countries where they try to impose their will. Let’s face it, it is more about big power rivalry than it is for a real humane considerations for what is perceived to be happening in the recipient of USA’s ‘generosity.’
Iraq is heading the way of Somalia and perhaps Libya. If there is no united, international agreement, one that takes into account the situation on the ‘ground,’ in the likes of Iraq, Syria and the list goes on----then interventions are doomed to failure. If we take out the ‘oil and strategic importance of these nations, would anyone even bother to ‘help out’ the regimes that are often little better than the ones opposing them. Add in the ‘religious fanaticism, and what are we left with?  A situation that cannot be resolved by the actions of one power. Unless Russia, the EU, the UN and China are speaking as one, then failure will continue to be the ‘main player.’ Even then, when one is faced with a collection of disparate groups, many believing that their reward lies in Heaven, then that is a hard foe to ‘conquer.’

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Japan says it will start whaling again---just plain old-fashioned arrogance!

What is it about some nations, whereby they feel they can flout ‘International Law’ and ignore the opinions of the vast majority of nations? In this case I am talking about Japan’s arrogant response to the ruling that they stop all whaling, be it for ‘Scientific research,’ or for other ‘cultural reasons.’ OK, I can almost go along with a small indigenous population that has traditionally relied on the ‘harvesting’ of a few whales, because they rely on such practices and have done so for millennium, but Japan is not in that category; indeed the practice is probably only part of a diminishing part of their population at best.
When the UN forbad Japan to continue with this abhorrent practice, Japan looked like they were going to comply with the request, but there were many of us who knew deep down that this ‘proud’ and rich nation would find a way of resurrecting their ‘hunting season.’
Now we hear their Prime Minister, Abe, saying that it is probably going to be all on again. If he is just putting up a kite to see if it flies, then we need to cut the string before it takes wings. The international community must make it clear that we will not accept this. The British have often been labelled as being ‘stiff upper lipped,’ re their actions in the past, but Japan takes this to a whole new level. It seems that they see the rest of the world telling them what to do, is something that they cannot and will not stomach. Of course there are others out there who also react in this manner, and do their thing; take the USA and Russia, for example, so they are not alone.
We must all pressure our governments to send a very strong message to Japan. We know that the various ‘protests groups’ will ramp up their opposition and it will be ‘game on’ in that very dangerous way, that we have seen over the years in those frigid and perilous seas down at the Antarctic.
Japan, if you wish to be seen as a modern and progressive nation, as part of the international community, then ;listen to the many voices who find what you are about to do----so very wrong. Maybe the only message you will hear is one based on world-wide boycotting of the things you sell to us!

Thirteen year old 'allegedly' murders shop owner. What's going so wrong?

This morning we awoke in Auckland to hear of yet another death of a dairy owner, highlighting the dangers that small traders face from time to time. It is usually criminals looking for quick cash and the occasional young person seeking other items, including smokes and whatever else they can grab. There is a strong possibility that a young person, just 13 years of age with a 12 year old accomplice, has shocked the Henderson community, after having endured the deaths of three other residents in nearby suburbs in the past month. That the alleged perpetrators o this latest crime are so young causes us to wonder just where we are going as a society.
This crime has many victims; the major ones being the shop owner and is family, but also the young lives destroyed by the actions they inflicted upon their victims. How is it that young people feel that they can enter a property and callously carry out their deeds, God alone knows for what reason? Surely not for the small gains that result. Let’s face it; apart from some cash and a few grocery items, smokes and confectionary---what’s to gain?
The thinking or lack of it speaks much for how we are bringing up our children. If they had not been caught (which would be unusual in NZ) what else would they have gone on enact upon their communities? Their parents will also be grieving for the imminent loss of their children into a system that will not necessarily change their offspring. Some wold say it is too late for these kids, if it is proven that they are responsible for this latest crime. The damage has already been done. I am sure that many will be looking at the homes these young people come from, but do not be surprised if the answers are not found there, but more in the wider community, where we all need to take responsibility to look after one another. Sure, if there is found to be a lacking in parental responsibility, then the ‘words will flow’ in the media, including this ‘platform,’ but we need to be careful in this time of grief and confusion, before we label, accuse and cast our nets wider.
Let’s look at what we as a society are doing, that result is so many criminal acts. Is it the perceived and real poverty of a large section of our communities or is it simply bad choices, learnt from those older and by the images we portray on our screens and other media. Either way, the difference between right and wrong is a fact that cannot be veered away from and those who cross the line, ultimately must step up or take responsibility. NO 12 or 13 year old, ‘known’ to the police should be in a position whereby they feel they can commit such terrible acts upon anyone in society.
I am sure the debate is going to become murky and all-inclusive’ in the responses we are about to hear; on out airwaves, newspapers and social media. Let us step back and see the bigger picture, but at the same time do whatever it takes to turn the lives around for the two ‘alleged’ perpetrators of this heinous crime. Last night was a stormy and sad time in Auckland for both man-made and natural events! THINK--- NZ!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Brazil---your time has come, but are you ready?

Brazil is about to take centre stage as the World Cup for the ‘beautiful game’ takes hold of ----everything. It has been a difficult run-up to the opening and there are still issues re the readiness of some of the stadiums. There are also many political problems; around crime, housing and transport and the overall safety of the tourists who are descending upon this giant in South America.
 No doubt most Brazilians are very proud of the efforts their country has made to host this momentous event, but there are those who are feeling left out and ignored; namely the poor and the underpaid who have taken action ns to improve their lot. Whether this will impact on the smooth running of the games, and not cause embarrassment or even endanger aspects of the Cup, is yet to be seen. For sure there have been heavy actions on the part of the police as they try to minimise any actions various groups may take, to get their point across. There is no doubt that Brazil is an emerging giant and economic powerhouse, but it has still to achieve an answer to the old problem that many countries have---addressing the gap between the rich and powerless.
I wish Brazil well and hope that they can enjoy and celebrate the games; working towards a more equal society. But, those in power, not just political, are not known for giving up their privileged positions.  Who’s going to win? Hopefully everyone!

Haunted house? What to do if you buy a home and then find someone has suicided there.

Often life throws a curve ball at us and sometimes in quite unexpected ways. Take for example, the case of the couple who brought a house in good faith, only to find the home to be depressing and ‘dark,’ once they moved in. They became depressed and put the home on the market again and at the time of sale were told by a neighbour that there had been a suicide before they had brought it. The new owners found out and were upset and also sold the home on. The agents were subsequently taken to account and although they paid no compensation, it was found that they should have made prospective buyers aware of the ‘issues.
This is a hard one. Fault seems to be the wrong word and divulging information may well have had an effect on the price or even contribute to a non-sale for many buyers, however for some, it may have been down to some sort of ‘spiritual cleansing,’ and that may have been enough. I can only say that for myself, I would like to have been made aware and then taken things from there. Whether that would have translated into a lower price, I do not know.
This issue must arise a great deal in markets where the homes are hundreds of years old; take in Europe for example. How do they deal with the situation? Is a ‘blessing’ by a priest or other spiritual leader, enough? For sure, as New Zealand comes ‘of age,’ this vexing issue will arise again. Given that, maybe we need to have the discussion and find a way forward that satisfies all eventualities. To be given the choice as to what to do, very much depends on having the correct information about a property. After all, if a property is flood-prone, we are at least aware and can adjust our actions accordingly. Te be warned is to be prepared and be able to make appropriate decisions.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Landlords are not all money-hungry-greedy Ba------! There are two sides to any coin.

In my distant past, I rented flats and various residents, before I was able to scrape together a deposit for my own home. Sometimes I wonder why I bothered, given the drain that paying off a mortgage is on one's finances, especially if you live in Auckland. Some have said that you are actually better off renting; by figures I have seen of up to about $150 a week. Of course there are many variables and reasons for choosing either pathway.
My perspective is one that does not blame landlords for gouging; that is on the vast majority of cases, or that of exemplifying those tenants who damage properties and then run off leaving debt and terrible messes, as seen in the NZ Herald today. Those tenants are lowlifes, representing the extreme, whilst the instance of the landlord trying to rent a studio apartment with a toilet in the kitchen, shows the other side of the 'balance.' Take away the extremes and you are left with a more reasonable picture and possibly the facts of being either a landlord or a tenant.
Increasingly, people in Auckland are having to consider renting as the only viable option and it is re this scenario that we need to look at broadening the options. New Zealand is not the only country facing this dilemma; where buying a home is beyond the means of most. In Switzerland it has long been the norm, whereby leasing on a long term basis, where the lessee has more choices re the tenancy and can sell on  the remaining term of the lease if sh/e needs to move on. This makes renting/leasing more affordable and provides that certainty that so often lacks when a landlord in NZ decides to up the price or wants to maximise his or her investment and the tenant has to move on, sometimes after a very short term.
We have known that stability re housing is an important factor for families trying to establish a long-term base for their children. The flow-on effects for the education and the health of children are extremely important for the family as a whole and healthy functioning unit.
Take away the extremes we have witnessed of late and look to extending our choices re housing our families and individuals and perhaps we can achieve a more hopeful position. How much the State or local governments have a responsibility in this conundrum, is also a question that needs to be addressed.
Historically, New Zealand has been strong when it comes to Governments taking a lead in the area, so perhaps they too can extend their options re long term leasing, renting, and even becoming involved in 'partnership deals,' where various ownership percentages are the norm. Having a 'stake' in the form of partial ownership can be a strong incentive to 'look after a property,' in most cases, that is. There will always be those who are less responsible and when we see those extremes, be they from the perspective of the 'greedy landlord' or 'tenant from hell,'----well, we will need to have other answers for them. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Where are you taking me,'boss' (yeah right) she said.

Well me dear Perdy; yesterday was indeed one whereby you travelled far and had many adventures, but today shall be a little more 'refined' and less expansive, so search as you may via yonder window, try to keep things in perspective. Before I wrote these words of, shall; we say---intrepidiation when you give that look, I thought a quick trip to the park on the lower levels of Mt Eden, in a garden that lacks the presence of Adam and Eve, I thought that everything would go---calmly. Silly, silly me!
Yes you had a nice little romp amongst the grasses and trees and you played for a while with the Miniature Pincher; yes all that before you found the scent of whatever the hell it was that took your attention from any command that I presumed to issue.
Yes, you found a hole in the ground, just off the pathway and no amount of persuasion from me, could cause you to desist from your search. After all, is not such a passion bred into your genes. I had little hope of persuading you to come back with me, so that I could go on 'my' adventure, without you for the day. It was as if you knew, my little Jack Russell, that you would have to stay behind at home, searching the horizon of our little hideaway and keep people away from the realms that you most definitely see as your own. Oh well, you didn't get the rat, but methinks that next time we visit that garden on the hill, you will remember. As that  General Macarthur once said, 'we will be back!'
'Protect' your realm, little one!

Where's that bloody rat!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Germany hits my blog big time, suddenly surpassing China---but for how long!?

Strange things are happening to my blog. Just when I thought China had swooped up the charts, Germany comes out of the blue and makes a move. Hey guys, I hope you are downloading my book, ROSKILL.   Go to 

It's great to see your most esteemed leader tyring to get Putin and the new leader of Ukraine to 'speak' to one another. My God, that picture looked almost funny---like 'two naughty boys caught picking their noses!'

'What goes around, comes around'--a strange take on that old saying.

I think I got my butt kicked today, by forces beyond my understanding. My first take on the experience was perhaps a little over the top but the consequences may be a lesson in humility.
On the way home from Orewa Beach today; where I had taken Perdy for a run, I decided to extend her pleasure and go down to the Bay, our beloved Onehunga Bay, home to the 'Dog lovers of the said Bay.'
Perdy showed no sign of being tired after her northerly jaunt. She bounced out of the car and chased the ball that I had biffed onto the sand. DAMN, I didn't see the dog, owned by a gentleman who has little control over the said beast; that is if it decided that a ball thrown somewhere in its vicinity  belongs to 'HIM.'
Too late---he pounced on the orange ball and sat in the water. I sat down calmly at first and looked to see if his beloved owner would retrieve the bright ball. Silly me. He ignored us. I got off by butt and approached him, remembering the last occasion when this had happened and knowing that I was about to lose about half an hour of time to the whims of this silly dog and 'unusually dispositional' owner.'
'Could you please retrieve my ball?' I pleaded in a voice that oozed a possible distain towards his selfish dog.
'I will call him,' he replied.
Yeah right, I thought. Now began the saga I had experienced and witnessed for other hapless owners of balls that the dog 'liked.'
Eventually the guy also got off his butt and went to his car where he retrieved a red ball, that he assured me would entice his dog to drop my ball. NO SUCH LUCK! The dog continued to mash the orange ball in his mouth and when the guy threw his red  and yes, inferior ball, his dog ignored it. Why the hell would he give up my quality orange ball?
'Can you not just take the dammed ball from him?' I inquired in a tone that he possibly took offence at.
'Oh no,' he replied, 'That would make him angry. I don't want to upset him.'
WTF, I thought. It's a bloody dog, not a kid with 'issues.'
Perdy, in the meantime watched patiently and just wandered around, sending me the odd look that said, 'It's OK Daddy.'
NO---it's not good enough I thought. This guy has no control over his dog. Hell, one of the first things I did with Perdy when she was young was to make sure she didn't bite. To achieve that I made sure she was OK with me taking things from her mouth, even food. She learned well, but I guess, to be fair, she is a Jack Russell and not a huge German Sheppard!
Thirty minutes passed and my mood slowly soured and started to border on the 'angry.'
Finally the dog dropped the ball and it rolled under the picnic table where his owner was sitting. I yelled--'Hold that dog!'
In as much as my movement could be called a 'run,' that is what I attempted to emulate. I retrieved my orange ball and moved off quickly and called out---'please learn to control your dog,' and headed towards the far end of the park. A prickly sensation coursed down my spine. Had I been unnecessarily cruel to the guy?
A few minutes later I came across one of my friends with her darling Finn, one of Perdy's 'best friends forever. I recounted my story to her and she assured me that I was NOT being unreasonable re my response to the owner of the ball thief. By now the sky was clouding over a little more and my sense of unease increased. I threw the just retrieved ball and 'walked on,' leaving Perdy to chase after it. Silly me---that was my last sight of that ball. It disappeared into the cosmos that is Onehunga bay. No amount of searching and retracing our steps brought that ball back.
I was being punished for my mean and nasty reaction to a simple lost ball and being a little impolite to the owner of the large German Shepard. After all, it was only a ball! Is it true then--'What goes around comes around,' or is Onehunga bay the centre of a 'spiritual learning.' Maybe I should buy a blue ball then! But, most definitely I shall stay well clear of the big German Sheppard and his quietly spoken daddy.
Please give me our ball back, 'nice doggie!'