31 December, 2008

So long 2008

2008 is all but over.


Many things have happened but for some reason the thing that comes to mind the most at the moment is the price of fuel. Petrol and Diesel that is.

It has gone from record highs to being the cheapest it has been in 3 years.

One has got to wonder why and about the implications of why.

It is all to philosophical for me just now.

There are fireworks to watch.

23 December, 2008

The night before Christmas

It’s the night before Christmas,
The money is spent.
The credit card is maxed,
To hell with the rent.

The children are all confined,
To their beds behind closed doors.
Whispering of treats,
And presents galore.

Meanwhile in the lounge,
The parents madly wrap.
Sellotape this,
And quick label that.

Is there same number of gifts,
For Hannah and Ben?
Hurry and get this finished,
When suddenly, then...

From outside comes,
A stuttering roar.
The screech of tyres,
The slamming of car doors.

Who is this who disturbs,
The domestic unbliss?
The neighbours,
who else?
Santa is a myth.

Charge of the light bridage

Auckland doesn't know how to do Christmas.

New Plymouth has it's festival of lights.
Napier, Taupo and a number of other towns have lights all down the main streets
In Rotorua many of them are up all year.

What does Auckland have?
A few wind battered decorations if we are lucky

Anything flasher is provided by private companies and individuals.

North Shore has a heavily sponsored laser light show in a car park and a trio of parades. The Glenfield one isn't even in December. The Takapuna parade was replaced by a "fiesta"
Auckland can't even provide any policing or traffic control for the crowds visiting Franklin Rd where every house is be decked with lights by the owners and residents.

Whatever else you may think of them, Telecom did a nice job of the tree in Victoria Park.

Bah humbug reins supreme in council circles.

14 December, 2008

They should've gotten a cat instead

A Hastings family were forced to escape their house through a window after two dogs began fighting inside yesterday evening, police said today. more here

Dogs are dumb.
Dogs are destuctive.
Dogs are dangerous.
If you can't get your head around that why would you even consider owning one?

Cats are more intelligent and cheaper to keep.

If you can't handle that may I recommend getting a pet rabbit instead?

12 December, 2008

The PC Brigade vs Father Christmas

The 25-metre statue has been a fixture on the corner of Queen St and Victoria St during the festive season since 1998. In his prime in 1960, he was perched outside the Farmers store on Hobson St, inviting customers inside with a beckoning finger and a friendly wink. But Mr Swny said many people were not so keen on the Queen St Santa, because of his "seedy actions".
"We liked him, but people were saying that the finger ... and the winking eye was a bit seedy."

That's right the PC bridage are concerned about Santa's wink and beckoning finger.

What are they worried about?

That kids might follow the waggling finger and buy a book from the Whitcoulls store he is mounted on?

10 December, 2008

That right hand rule

If you are going straight ahead at an intersection, give way to all vehicles coming straight through from your right.
If you are turning left at an intersection, give way to vehicles coming towards you that are turning right.
If you are turning right at an intersection, give way to vehicles on your right that are turning right.

That is what we have supposed to be doing for the last 30 years.

However I have noticed one situation where nearly everyone breaks the rule.

In theory when turning left at a T junction you are supposed to give way to anyone turning right into the same street unless it is double laned.
In practice nearly everyone checks the rear vision mirror for a car heading up the tail pipe intending to go straight though, and if there is turns left regardless. Not turning blocks up the traffic and the guy waiting to turn right will wait anyway because there is a good chance that car going straight though will pull out and do just that.

If that sounds confusing you should see the traffic mess down near a popular fruit shop in Northcote. Dithering over the right hand rule blocks up the nearby roundabout regularly.

Time to consign this one to the history books and go with the international flow I think.

01 December, 2008

In case of emergancy

John writes: "Had a friend around on the weekend and while fiddling with the paper spike in my study she said they previously used them at the doctors' surgery where she works ... until an OSH inspector informed her they were a work hazard.
Later in the inspection she was asked to show him the office first-aid kit. She opened the door to a room brimming with equipment and every conceivable medical supply. But no ... six doctors, four nurses and this completely stocked room on the premises wasn't good enough for our intrepid (and slightly brainless) inspector - he wanted to see the standard little lunchbox with a couple of sticking plasters, roll of tape and a pair of scissors inside.
He refused to sign off the premises, then fortunately she remembered the emergency response kit they take to accidents and that did the trick.


This situation sounds very funny except that many of us have come across it before.

Take the camps run by the local Girls Brigade company. They always go to the same spot whose hazards don't change but every time the leader has to fill in a hazard assessment. For the girl brigade leasehold on a coast that can only be described as very rocky with no electricity, no flush toilet, no motorised transport or land vehicle access, and very limited cell phone coverage the hazards are not only numerous but include volcanic eruption and tsunami.
The leader also has gotten into trouble for not having an adult with a valid first aid certificate on site. Having a leader who is a registered nurse in her day job isn't good enough. Every girl on site having a parent present however is.

Then there is the requirement at meeting that the toilets and exits not only be pointed out but attendees have to sign a sheet saying so. I have heard the chairperson at more than one meeting identify the exit with the phase "if you can't figure out where you came in heaven help you".

It's like having to sign post an emergency exit in a building with just one door.

28 November, 2008

Who should pay for the price of water

Shall I join the crowd and have a rant about water? Minnie was kind enough to pose for me after all.

Cactus Kate is having a go at over priced bottled water and Oswald Bastable is pointing out water quality problems in Martinborough.

However I noticed that Wellington's water use and whether it should be metered is creating a bit of a storm in a tea cup.

"Two of Wellington's leaders are backing debate on a user-pays water system to reduce Wellingtonians' reckless consumption - now more than twice the national average.
Wellingtonians each use 400 litres of water a day compared with Aucklanders' 300 litres and a national average of 160 litres.
Experts say a lot of water is simply wasted watering gardens, cleaning cars, running taps or flushing toilets every time. Household water metering could reduce Wellingtonians' consumption by 100 litres a day

Water user pays in the form of metering has been in place in the Auckland region for over 30 years. The cost is not prohibitive at $1.29 per thousand litres some of which is piped in from the Waikato River. That came to $170 in the last 6 monthly bill (132 kilolitres). We know we use more water than we should. Thanks to the bill we know exactly how much we are wasting, about 83 kilolitres, and partially corrected the issue by fixing the overflowing toilet cistern and putting a timer on the teenager's showers.


27 November, 2008

Enough with the ribbons already

That's right, we recently had white ribbon day in order to stop violence against women.

I've got a better idea, how about we just stop violence. Here are eighteen reasons if we need them.

Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Dear, dear! What can the matter be?
Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Johnny's so long at the fair.
He promised to buy me a trinket to please me
And then for a smile, oh, he vowed he would tease me
He promised to buy me a bunch of blue ribbons
To tie up my bonnie brown hair.
Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Dear, dear! What can the matter be?
Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Johnny's so long at the fair.
He promised to bring me a basket of posies
A garland of lilies, a gift of red roses
A little straw hat to set off the blue ribbons
That tie up my bonnie brown hair.
Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Johnny's so long at the fair.
I am beginning to feel like Johnny, somewhat put upon.

23 November, 2008

Too much pink

Pink ribbon day started out as a good idea but now it has gone overboard. You can even get a special pink bras and pink ribbon sewing machines.

In fact just about everything aimed at women is now pink. Worse still the same ghastly shade of pastel pink.

OK, Barbie uses a different shade of pink but still - yuk!

Now you can get otherwise useful tool kits with pink rose covered hammer, pliers and screw drivers.

What gives?

They don't seem to come in blue with racing car illustrations.

Why do the marketing gurus seem to think that all of a sudden everything has to be pink to appeal to women? Have they suddenly figured out that women do use tools and may wish to have their own?

This isn't news to several women of my acquaintance.

A quick search of the kitchen junk drawer here will quickly find scissors, loose jaw pliers, needle nosed pliers, side cutters and an assortment of screw drivers all of which are older than I am and well used. None of them a matching set, let alone pink. He who earns gets in big trouble if he borrows them and leaves them in Man Zone, aka the work bench.

Speaking of which, my secretary would like a hammer for Christmas. Not a wussy little pink hammer like those found in the fore mentioned pink tool kits. They are not much good for banging in something larger than a panel pin.

She wants a real hammer. A rubber grip handle would be nice.

In any colour but pink of course.

19 November, 2008

Treat prisoners like children

Britain's Prison Service has issued guidelines telling guards to refer to their male charges by "Mr" and their surnames, to foster "decency" and "respect". Inmates should be treated, said one official, "like [we expect] our children to be treated." (Source: Daily Telegraph)

Does this mean that if the prisoners act like toddlers they can be treated like toddlers?

These days (post anti-smacking bill) that could still include:
  • Being lead around on reins.
  • Being sent to bed with no dinner.
  • Given a lolly or chocolate raisin for being good.
  • Time out/isolation for small misdemeanours.
  • Early bedtimes etc.

Of course we might need to find a race of giants to work as guards and, if we get rid of that anti-smacking law, arm them with giant wooden spoons.

Oh the possibilities.

16 November, 2008

Wine whine

I have decided to have a whine about wine. (pun intended) That is the giving of booze as gifts.

Now this is going to sound like high comedy if you like white wine, or beer for that matter. If you don't however what do you do with the stuff?

Once or twice a year he who earns money gets rewarded by a customer, boss or boss from another section for extra work well done etc. Now they have all asked or figured out that he who earns money doesn't drink beer so they give him a bottle of wine instead. For some reason it is always some form of white wine.

He who earns money doesn't drink wine either, the only alcohol he drinks is rum. Worse still, my secretary doesn't drink alcohol at all, the face she pulls if she has some is quite comical. The up chuck afterwards is not. WOF guy has the same problem and the Cat Sitter can't drink on doctors orders. Her with too many sons doesn't even drink tea and coffee and her husband is a one beer only type and so on.

Basically nobody that we normally give presents to drinks wine.

Now if it was red wine that wouldn't be too much of a problem. Red wine is wonderful at turning an ordinary stew into something wonderful. Any leftovers from such a dinner are welcome in my dish.

Sherry is good in Chinese cooking and fruit cakes. Brandy and Rum are good in fruit cakes as well.

But what does one do with white wine?

You can't sell it without a liquor licence. You can't even donate it for a raffle prize, as the local kindergarten found out when their box of chardonnay raffle resulted in a warning from on high.

Even AGMs for a local charity no longer require a number of bottles. Nobody wants to drink and drive and the rest seem to be on one glass limits.

Do you see the problem?

There are currently three bottles of apparently good wine sitting in the basement gathering dust.

So if you are part of a company or just in the habit of giving away bottles or wine or beer for that matter ask the recipient if they drink first. A couple of bottles of grape juice or a box of fancy tea may well be appreciated more.

13 November, 2008

Going Green

My secretary spent the weekend looking at Rhododendrons.

Why, I am not sure. Why she went all the way to Taranaki to do so is an even greater mystery. Especially as she bypassed the World's most livable city to do so.

I know what a Rhododendron is; it is that shocking pink flowered thing I climb on occasion. It has papery bark I don't like the feel of so I don't climb it that often.

Anyway my secretary came back all inspired and has set to ripping all the weeds out of the gardens reducing them to large areas of bare dusty dirt. Bliss when one has an itchy back and a liking for blackbirds.

The only problem is now I get chased off because I am squashing the seedlings, with the hose no less.
It seems they are planning to eat these little leafy things.

All I can say is they better not turn up in my dish.

I noticed that some of the new plants are cauliflower and broccoli.

Racing down the cabbage tree to catch white butterflies and chase the kids with them should be worth the temporary inconvenience.

11 November, 2008

And the new kingmaker is...

The election is over, woohoo.

National Party 59
Labour Party 43
Green Party 8
Mäori Party 5
Progressive 1
United Future 1
NZ First 0

The result isn't final yet but nothing seems to hang on the special votes so it may as well be. Well, unless New Zealand First pick up another 20,000 votes that is.

Just how decisive is National's victory? Not as decisive as it looks as it turns out.

It may look like they won by a few seats but if you change the result of just one electorate seat the story is very different.

If National hadn't lost Epsom. The Act party wouldn't have a single seat. They, like United Future, Progressive, Maori party and New Zealand First didn't break the 5% threshold for party seats.

NZ First got more party votes than Act but as NZ First didn't win an electorate seat ... bye bye.

United Future and Progressive didn't win enough party votes to gain an extra seat over their one electorate seat. The Maori party created an over hang by winning 2 more electorate seats than their party vote would have given them. Act was the only one that manage to get a few (in this case 4) more MPs with their party vote after winning one electorate seat - Epsom.

The result if National won in Epsom could have looked like this:

The Greens
6.43% = 9 seats (9 party, 0 electorate)
Jim Anderton's Progressive
0.93% = 1 seat (0 party, 1 electorate)
Māori Party
2.24% = 5* seats (5 electorate * overhang by 2 seats)
New Zealand Labour Party
33.77% =45 seats (21 electorate, 24 party)
New Zealand National Party
45.45%= 61 seats (42 electorate, 19 party)
United Future New Zealand
0.89%= 1 seat (1 electorate, 0 party)
New Zealand First Party
4.21%= 0 seat (0 electorate, and under the threshold)

National could form a government if backed by United Future but if United Future jumped the other way, and they have in the past, and the Maori Party backed Labour (likely) parliament would have been hung.

So our new kingmaker can only be Rodney Hide (Act) or Peter Dunne (United Future).

All hail Rodney Hide - our new kingmaker!

Isn't MMP fun.

06 November, 2008

Last pre election rant- from me anyway

Yes, I watched the last leaders debate on TVNZ last night.

I only got to see it because it was on instead of that consumer's affairs show, Fair Go.

Not that it was much of a debate. The only way it could have gotten more civilised is if Mark Sainsbury set out the bone china and served tea and biscuits.

No hard questions so no stirring answers and no effort to prompt any either.

It was all too nice for words.

I didn't see the experts ( x=unknown, spurts= drips under pressure) assessment of it all. My secretary, having already voted, turned off the box while still muttering about the lack of Fair Go. The teenager had wandered off in bordom long before the end.

Come next week with the US election now over and ours as well the frying pan will no doubt land in the fire regardless of who wins.

The credit crunch will take another bite.

A pity that will be well beyond the fix-it capabilities of Fair Go.

04 November, 2008

That Yellow Jacket

It seems a complaint was made to the Electoral Commission about Rodney Hide's yellow jacket, the one with the Act logo and slogan on the pocket, back in July.

The electoral commission only got round to acting on it yesterday.

Under the electoral finance act the jacket should have also had a authorising statement displayed.

Oh dear.
One hot water wash coming up for the Act Party.

Comedy or pure farce? I am not sure which any more.

Labour or National - is there a difference?

I watched a leader's debate on TV3 last night.

What a waste of time.

The swinging voter is still left to chose between two piles of flip-flops.

If either Labour or National had any plans on how to counter the credit crunch last night would have been the time to air them.

Instead we got silence.

Both were asked what the difference between the two parties was and why they weren't considering a super coalition since they were so alike.

Again no clear answer.

Then it came to their stand on section 59 - the anti-smacking law.

What an opportunity for some finger pointing but did it happen?

No. This must be the most unpopular piece of legislation in the last 3 years at least and both party leaders inexplicably wanted to take credit for it.

I had a strong desire to reach for a jandel from the pile of flip flops and give them both a whack with it.

The direction of the next government is going to depend on who they form a coalition with, The loony finge so to speak.

If you want to go right vote Act. If you want to go left vote Green or Progressive. Everybody else in standing in the well populated middle ground or won't make the threshold.

Cheap Petrol?

Petrol and diesel may now be down to the lowest price we have seen in 12 months but still hardly anyone is driving more than they were a couple of months ago.

A financial chill wind seems to be blowing.....

30 October, 2008

Destiny City

"Bishop" Brain Tamaki is planning to build a "city" on an 8ha plot in south Auckland for church members to live and worship in. Plans include a school and a marae. more here

I think another four lettered word beginning with C might be a more appropriate description.

This church and its leader's attitudes and opinions is has done Christianity in New Zealand a huge disservice.

28 October, 2008

Sally's guide to the minor parties

We all know which two parties will grab most of the votes. We mostly know the six other parties that have managed to either win one electorate seat or 5% of the party votes on 2005.

However there are going to be more than eight options on the ballot paper for our party vote just as there are a plethora of hoardings from groups we have never heard of.

So who are these minnows?

First up would like to be the party of choice for all the friends of Mary Jane, lovers of wacky baccy and growers of electric puha, Coromandel grass etc. Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

I have to guess what the Direct Democracy Party is standing for. Their website was down when I looked, possibly still under construction. This close to the election I have to wonder how seriously they want your vote. No connection to the old Social Credit party.

Then there is the party for all those who believe that the free market and a free society is so desirable that they have littered the local landscape with hoardings. So if the right wing is where you want us to be the LibertariaNZ party would really like your vote. They have a more in depth policy than most of these one trick ponies to prove it.

New World Order are a registered party but no website so just how new their idea of order is I have no idea. I half expected google to find an on line supermarket when I searched. They don't seem to want your vote.

Again no website that I could find for the New Zealand Pacific Party but if you are a fan of disgraced former Labour MP Taito Philip Feild and don't live in Mangere he would like you to put your tick here.

Residents Action Movement are the party that want to take GST off food. The word free makes more appearances in their short list of policies than that of the Libertarianz but in a totally different way.

Alliance have been around since 1993. I think this is what is left of the party that once included Jim Anderton's New Labour Party (Progressives) and the Green Party.

The Bill and Ben Party is this years answer to McGillicuddy Serious. A must for all Pulp Sport fans and those who want a dose of comidy.

The Family Party seem to be just what they say they are and have a list of "family friendly" policies. No obvious connection to the often strangely crackpot Families First lobby group that I have been able to find.

If you were wondering were the Christians had got to this election I have found them. The Kiwi Party doesn't seem to be as blatant about it as past christian parties, their stand supporting recreational hunting and fishing is more obvious at first look than their pro christain stand. This is the only party on this list that currently has an MP in shape of Gordon Copeland. He is standing up against Labour's Annette King in Rongotai.

The New Zealand Democratic Party for Social Credit are trying to revive their fortunes to recapture the relative success they enjoyed as Social Credit, the only minor party to consistently win one or two seats under the first pass the post electoral system.

The Republic of New Zealand Party for "Democracy the way it should be". Yes really lol. Very short on details unless you want to sit through a 9½ minute you tube clip. Thanks to my slow connection, I didn't.

Workers Party of New Zealand, communists? maybe, socialists? definitely. Possibly the polar opposite to Libertarianz.

Of course there are other parties but since, like me, they aren't registered so not on the ballot paper.

20 October, 2008

15% GST in 5 years

'15 per cent GST' danger within five years
By Audrey Young

A tax expert predicts GST could have to rise to 15 per cent within five years, to dig the country out of deficits delivered by the worsening world economy - and big election promises.
John Shewan, a specialist tax partner and chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand, said last night that GST could hit 15 per cent and the top personal tax rate increase to 45 per cent.

Here are 5 sorry 4 reasons why it won't happen
  1. 10% is 1/10, 12.5% is 1/8, 15% is 1/6.66666666666666666667 rounded. In other words a big increase in the time required to work it out.
  2. To work out GST on any inclusive item at present just divide the inclusive figure by 9, easily done in the head. When it was 10% we just had to divide by 11. If it is 15% we would have to divide by... err... 7 ... that isn't quite right ... ahhh ... pass the calculator ... and round it ... um is that close enough?
  3. GST as it stands is a very simple and inexpensive tax to implement. Adding any exceptions or increasing to a fraction of a fraction will change that very quickly!
  4. Increasing GST to non user friendly number instead of just increasing taxes elsewhere just seems like a dumb idea.

Seriously do we need any more reasons why it is a bad idea?

Here's an idea, how about knocking GST down to 10% and giving us all an income tax increase instead?

Hang on, have we been there before?

Next the 'experts' will be promoting user pays


Been there before as well.

15 October, 2008

That Leaders Debate

OK, who watched and did it help you decide who to vote for?

Normally this sort of thing is a Helen Clark cake walk but this time John Key proved he could dish it out with the best.

Not that I managed to catch all of it. The howl of protest from the living room armchair when HC commented that Physics, Biology and English poetry were not favourite subjects for today's youth drowned out just about everything said afterwards.

It seems these are high among the favourite subjects of the household teenager. I am not sure whether that means HC is out of touch or whether my teen aged flatmate is weird. Miss 13½ was watching the leaders debate after all.

Meanwhile what was Nationals policy on climate change again? - beyond the fact they believe climate change exists.

Score wise definitely a draw.

13 October, 2008

Hi De Hi campers

Hat tip to Sideswipe

For those who recall that British sitcom set in a holiday camp run by yellow coats.

Excellence has been achieved

08 October, 2008

Vandel report - can do better

At last the lure of election hoardings and school holidays has had an effect, on the hoardings in Glenfeild anyway.

The greatly airbrushed Helen with speech bubble.

grade - not achieved. Would be graded higher if we could read what it said.

The greatly airbrushed Helen has been joined by a rather crudely spray painted phallus.

grade - achieved but only just

Addition of Hitler moustache to both Helen and John on several hoardings

grade - achieved. More imagination required for a higher grade.

Jim Anderton's Sharpie drawn Hitler haircut and moustache.

grade - merit. The result is more makeover than vandalism. Jim should probably seriously consider this as a fashion statement if he isn't going to go on the Rodney Hyde style weight loss regimen. The result greatly improved his looks -and I am not being tongue in cheek. Pity about the Nazi overtones.

Oddly enough I have yet to see any alterations to most National or any Green, Act, Family First or Liberanz hoardings.
An indication of the way the votes will go perhaps?
To receive an excellence grade the alteration would have to be on a par with this little gem from 2005.

01 October, 2008

Whack a poll

Go on, relieve a few frustrations.

Winston Peters and other minor party leaders are inexplicable absent but what the hey?

Have fun.

29 September, 2008

The worm spits the dummy, thanks National and Labour

John Key and Helen Clark have decided not to take part in a TV3 leadership debate including the leaders of all the minor parties currently holding seats in Parliament.

TV3 have now decided to cancel the debate all together, deeming it pointless because according to their research only 20% of voters vote for anyone other than National or Labour.

I have to wonder just how much of a democracy Labour and National think New Zealand is.

Attention all minor party candidates - don't write yourselves off.

I know of a few electorate votes that won't be going the way of either National or Labour at present along with quite a few more party votes.

MMP rules OK.

Prize for the best political billboard goes to ...


Have a look at this and tell me if I am wrong.

Heaps better than National and Labours efforts so far.

23 September, 2008

Airbrushed reality

"One of these photos is not like the others. Three of these pics are kind of the same, but one of these images is not like the others can you tell me which before I finish this song." misquote from Sesame Street
Have you figured it out yet?
That's right, my secretary has attempted to airbrush that three year old photo of me in the top left corner. She hasn't touched the rest. Don't be too up set if you guessed it was the bottom left photo, that is the only one that I can guarantee to be completely free of any airbrushing or enhancement.
The top right photo is off a Labour Party bill board the bottom one is a slightly older but still flattering media shot ... I think.
Hard to tell really.
I have often wondered about the time machine the the National Party seems to be using to get its policies, it does seem to jump back and forth from the 80s to the 90s then back to the 70s but Labour's seems to take the cake.
They have a time machine that seems to work only on publicity photos for election campaigns.
Look at a bill board and Helen Clark seems to be even younger than she was last election.
Look at the evening news and she is older again.
Do airbrushes win more votes than promises?
That bottom left photo is me a few minutes ago. White fur is an advantage when it comes to holding ones age don't you think?

18 September, 2008

The hoardings are going up

Now that we have an election date the first hoardings are appearing.

Round here Labour has been first off the mark, hardly surprising as they were the only ones to know the election date in advance.

Still I have to wonder what the local vandals will make of the placards.

The are red (of course) with a small head shot above (tick) Labour (tick) McCracken.

How long do you think it will take for the local hooligans to add the name Phil?

12 September, 2008

Waitemata cycling

Yes, the coat hanger debate is on again.

This time it is about cycle lanes or rather, the lack of and not for the first time either. Friends have vague recollections of a mini bus service with trailer transporting cyclists across in the 70s.

The problem is that space on the Auckland Harbour bridge is, as always, at a premium. The lanes were first squeezed in the hump to make room for the movable barrier.

BTW the single hump lane in rush hours is best avoided by light vehicles in windy weather.

Now they are looking at squeezing up lanes on the nippon clippons to allow for cycling. That is the cheaper, but still not cheap, option. The other option is a suspend a cycleway come walkway beneath the vehicle deck - seriously expensive but a whole lot safer.

Decisions on this have to be made by no less than 5 separate parties!

So far :
* Auckland City: Decided in 5-3 committee vote not to support the proposal
* Auckland Region: Decided 8-4 to support it in principle, subject to an evaluation against other priorities
* North Shore City: Decided 13-0 with 2 abstentions to support in principle, subject to several conditions
* Auckland Regional Transport Authority: Yet to consider the proposal
* New Zealand Transport Agency: Yet to consider the proposal

So North Shore City supports the idea with conditions - no surprise there as that also happens to be this North Shore kitty's opinion.
Auckland City is against - the only surprise is that some voted for it.

It has long been known that Aucklanders from south of the bridge have big problems with the idea of crossing it. Seriously if you schedule a meeting anywhere on the North Shore don't expect anybody from Auckland central or South Auckland to turn up. However they are horribly offended if Shorites (North Aucklanders) fail to turn up to meetings in the city or even Manurewa.

Double standards are alive and well in land of JAFAs.

11 September, 2008

The Kingmaker lingers

Winston Peters is still hanging on.

Campbell live even had an extended program in order to cover Winston Peters' testimony to parliament's privileges committee live in the hope that something news making would fall from Peters' lips.

It didn't happen.

Peters was once a lawyer by profession after all and he has been in parliament for 30 years.

Even the BBC is now following this.

OCR ... Going Down

By a whopping half a percent. here

That is the second cut this year.

The problem is that the last rate cut of 0.25 didn't alter floating mortgage rates or creditcard rates one bit.

Will this one?

10 September, 2008

Some bunny new

Cinnamon's nose is soooooo out of joint!

Three weeks ago a friend found a lost rabbit. Since that friend knows nothing about caring for rabbits - she doesn't even have a cat - she passed this mystery bunny on to us.

No sign of Mystery's owners has been found so on the weekend (and several excapes from the indoor hutch) Cinnamon's large rabbit mansion got converted back into a pair of condos.

Mystery thinks it is great.

Cinnamon is not of the same opinion.

Cross rabbits grunt!

So if anyone has lost a brown lop eared rabbit in the Bayview/Glenfield area let me know. Otherwise it looks like she is here to stay.

09 September, 2008

What a load of smoke

So every household is going to get a one off payment to compensate for the introduction of a carbon emissions tax on electricity next year.

Probably a piffling $112 in exchange of the 10% rise to our power bills.

That won't buy much in the way of insulation or thick curtains. It won't even buy a decent clothes line let alone solar water heating or a small wind turbine.

Thanks to the Kyoto protocol we are supposed to reduce our emissions back down to 1990 levels.

That is all well and good but...... in 1990 this was a household of two, with a pair of cats, one car and a bus ticket. They had a fridge, a washing machine and a seldom used drier but no freezer, TV or computer.

These days it is a household of five with two cars, two (soon to be three) bus tickets and all of the above.

As much as she who budgets would like to cut back the energy use there are limits to what can be achieved with 2½ times more washing and showering required. The drier is still seldom used.

The real irony is this is still a household with low power usage.

If big corporates can get compensation and negotiate down the cost of their carbon taxes why can't we?

05 September, 2008

29 August, 2008

Has Winston Peters finally been hooked?

Or will he wriggle off again.

There is no doubt about it. Winston Peters is a slippery fish. He fends off answering questions so well that even very experienced journalists are left wondering how he managed to do it time and time again.

Various news media have been full of this latest tale of undeclared donations for weeks, make that months, now the SFO is involved.

Will this be the end of Peters or yet another saga with an interesting name like the wine box was.

I would post a link but they are just too numerous.

Peters would be gone last election if it weren't for the sheepeople votes. The non-thinking voters who keep voting for him in either in Tauranga (last time they didn't but Bob Clarkson isn't standing this time) or by voting New Zealand First with their party vote.

I guess we may know by lunchtime....maybe....

I wonder if New Zealand First will survive the fall out.

26 August, 2008

Stop Pay Toll

That is what the big sign above the Auckland Harbour Bridge Toll Booths from 1959 to 1984 said.

In the 1970s it cost 20c to travel north (south was free). To put that in perspective $20 worth of petrol would run a mini from the outskirts of the North Shore to Newmarket and back for 10 days.

Why did I bring up that little bit of history from my WOF guy?

National's Maurice Williamson made a bit of a gaffe over the weekend.

Well, a huge gaffe really. Here

In his opinion your average motorist would be happy to pay $3 to $5 a journey to travel on uncongested roads.

Simple maths produces the cost of $15 to $50 per week. That can not be compare to the 20c per north bound crossing i.e. $1 per week (equivalent to $1.29 per crossing or $6.45 per week today).
Is this another item on National's secret agenda in spite of John Key's rapid back peddle away from the issue or is Maurice William suffering from a bad case of foot in mouth?
With the ferry fare for crossing the harbour at $10 return or $35 for ten trips he just might be.

Smack, or rather Anti-smack

The government, in the shape of Labour of course, has steadfastly stated that a referendum on the anti-smacking legislation can not be held on election day, despite the referendum with enough signatures being delivered to Parliament some weeks ago.

Holding such a referendum on election day would be much cheaper than holding a separate poll of course. Just think of all those halls that wouldn't have to be hired twice for a start. No, the government says there isn't/wasn't time.


There was time to organise it.

I think I have spotted a secret agenda.

If you were going to vote to repeal the anti-smacking law would you then vote Labour, who enabled the bill to become law in the first place or Green, whose bill it was in the first place?

National aren't the only ones using a lot of spin.

18 August, 2008

Is big brother watching?

Censorship is an ugly word.

It has all kinds a negative connotations.

It doesn't happen here ... or does it.

Take a look at this.
It's 10:24 long if you worry about that sort of thing.

Now I am inclined to take at least some of it with a grain of salt, it does sound like a conspiracy theorists fantasy, but I have seen more than one group shut down for "breeches of copyright".

Given the nature of some of the discussions I have to wonder if that excuse was just a little convenient.

I you think I am getting paranoid ask yourself this;

Where have all the msn chat rooms gone and why?

04 August, 2008

National slip up

The Nats have stopped waiting around for an election date and started to release some policy promises. Probably as a result of Joe Bloggs starting to have trouble telling National and Labour apart.

Have a look here if you want all the waffle.

Basically more tax cuts come April, more private enterprise involvement in government projects along with a raft of smaller things like funding for certain drugs via phamac.

What they didn't count on was someone with a recording device capturing a conversation with Bill English about asset sales.

First on the chopping block to fund all these promises appears to be Kiwibank.

That is one of the two remaining New Zealand owned banks not counting the Reserve bank (the other is TSB).

Something to think about.

We've been here before.

03 August, 2008

Silly Surveys - the public transport edition

No doubt you have been subjected to at least one of those dinner time phone calls asking for 5 minutes of your time to complete a survey. My secretary was the recipient of one a while back on the subject of public transport.

Unlike many others it was short and the results were published in the AA magazine.

Spotted the bias yet?

Apparently hardly anybody would consider catching the bus, train or ferry to go to the doctor or to go shopping.

Well Duh!

The reasons why were not reported and judging by my secretaries experience where not asked.

I can give you some idea why public transport sucks for shopping and doctor visits.

First - shopping.

Once upon a time, 20 - 30 years ago, you could shop at a small local supermarket within walking distance of your home. So close that making more than one trip a week was easy. The weight of a weeks worth of milk was no problem as that was delivered to the letterbox by the milkman and his milk boys.

In slightly more rural areas a couple of decades earlier there were such things as meat vans, bread vans etc that stopped at the end of the street.

No more.

Today's hunter gatherer, the modern housewife heads to a supermarket 4-6 times bigger than that small local one (which is now a video store and pizza takeaway) 2 or 3 suburbs away.

Her weekly haul can fill 5 decent sized boxes, judging by what ends up in the kitchen every week here. Two of those boxes hold just milk and chilled/frozen food.

Carry all that on a bus - I think not.

Carry all that from the bus stop home? -yeah right! pmsl

Then there is the doctor.

We are fortunate here that the nearest doctor is quite close by. A quick 5 minute walk up the road.

Right in front of the nearest bus stop in fact.

Up is the important word.

There is a rule of thumb here - you are sick enough to have a day of work and go to the doctor if you feel like collapsing at the top of the hill- that is half way to the bus stop.

People well enough to walk to the doctor don't often have to go to one - funny that.

30 July, 2008

Is National trying to be Labour?

With the latest announcement of National now keeping the working for families tax credit as well as the promised increases in October I am beginning to wonder.

Yet another flip flop for the parliamentary jandel factory.

As for the weather.....

To put it bluntly it is soggy, very soggy. Not cat weather at all.

I don't know if this has anything to do with global warming but it has gone from being a rather nice winter to monsoon season in the last couple of weeks. The weathermen haven't even bothered to name this weeks two big storms.

As much as I would prefer to be outside visiting the neighbourhood, the grass may look green but I dislike the mud moccasin effect on my paws. I do not wish to have brown socks even if they do look fetching on my friend Cinnamon along with the matching nose and ears.

I prefer to wait it all out in front of the fire. The carbon emisson police can go to hell, or outside for that matter.

Meanwhile ponder this;

If someone invented cat gumboots would I wear them?

26 July, 2008

The election is when?

The short answer is .... dunno

It you thought that the election campaign and policy announcements have been more than a bit lack luster so far now you know why. We haven't got a date for the election yet.

By law the term of any NZ government can only last 3 years, not one day more.

Since the last date for Parliament to sit following the 2005 election was 18 November 2005 (6 weeks after the last day for the return of the writ declaring the election of electorate MPs...yawn). The current parliament will expire on 6 October 2008.

There are a few legal processes that have to take place, details here, all of which mean that the earliest possible date is 6 to 8 weeks from any day between now and 6 October.

The last possible day is 15 November 2008.

24 July, 2008

Another one going down the gurgler

The finance company meltdown claimed its 25th and biggest scalp yesterday when Hanover Finance froze repayments to 16,500 investors owed more than half a billion dollars. more...

I am starting to wonder how many finance companies there are left.

21 July, 2008

Is checking ones facts out of fashion?

First there was this report of the kidnapping of 5 year old Ma Cina. It looks to be very accurate to start with, unless you are familiar with North Shore City.
I am a North Shore kitty so my first question was not how or why but where?

Harrowglen is not a suburb.
There is a Harrowglen Drive in the suburb of Northcross but that was not mentioned in any of the reports I heard. The nearest they got was near Albany, Northcross lies between the suburbs of Fairview Heights, Oteha, Browns Bay and Torbay. That information emerged well after the time one could have been expected to spot the silver car with little Ma Cina in.

Fortunately there was a happy ending - abet 5 days later - when Ma Cina was found in a house nearby alive.

OK that misinformation may have come directly from the police reports in that case but how do you explain this?

It is just a fluff piece about the 50th anniversary of North Shore Hospital but it should be easy to get the facts completely right.

Opening a year before the Harbour Bridge, the hospital's initial bed plan included 44 maternity beds and six casualty beds.

Casualty patients were given early treatment before being ferried across the Waitemata Harbour.

At night, when the ferries had stopped running, patients needing to be transferred to Auckland had to endure a two-hour journey through Greenhithe, around the top of the harbour.

All well and good except for the patients enduring a two hour journey through Greenhithe at night.

Unless they went by ferry or private boat they would have had to swim - the Greenhithe bridge wasn't built until the mid 70s. In order to stay on dry land they would have travelled via Riverhead not Greenhithe. It still would have taken a good two hours.

Semantics I know but it makes you wonder what else is misreported.

14 July, 2008

$10 petrol? - Nah

Petrol to hit $10 a litre within a decade - report
12:25PM Friday July 11, 2008
An Australian report released today says the price of petrol could hit A$8 ($10) a litre within the next 10 years. more here

5 reasons why this won't happen:
  1. Petrol will be too expensive to buy so demand will drop. Same goes for diesel and av gas.
  2. Food transported using petrol, diesel or av gas will be too expensive for most to buy so again demand will drop, anybody with access to a patch of land will grow what they can for their own or local needs. This is starting to happen already.
  3. Just about any other form of fuel or transport will become more popular.
  4. The response of Joe Bloggs to such a rise will make the recent truckie protest look like a church picnic.
  5. Basically the country as we know it would cease to function so alternatives will be found. The alternative would be something like Zimbabwe - we don't want to go there.

1 reason why $10 petrol might happen:

Inflation - lots of inflation

08 July, 2008

Them Truckies (Labour fumbles again)

Annette King really dropped the ball this time.

Without warning the Road User Charges (RUCs) paid by all owners of diesel fueled road vehicles were put up, by 7%

For a small diesel car, it will cost $32.80 more for 10,000 km. A larger vehicle, such as a three tonne SUV, will cost an extra $49.20 per 10,000km. A typical five tonne truck will pay an additional $53.80 per 10,000 kilometres, while a 23 tonne four-axle truck can expect to pay an additional $198.

This is the first increase since 1989 so on the face of it, not too bad an ouch but add that to the ever rising cost of diesel and that the truckies thought they had an agreement that there would be some advanced warning... didn't the highways and motorways look interesting as trucks from all over pretty much blocked off the CBD by moving at 20-30km/h.

Every CBD that is, not just Auckland and Wellington.

For just 2 days organising the truckies produced this amazing spectacle with only 2 traffic tickets (for a pair of truckies who totally blocked SH2 by parking their trucks) to show for it. Well Done!

Of course it wouldn't have happened if Annette King and Co thought to increase the RUC by just 1 cent per kilometre annually over the last 5 years or over the next 5 years for that matter just like the government has done for petrol tax since the time of Rob Muldoon.

Or given the promised one month warning for that matter.

Of course last time they gave only 1½ days warning and lost $17 million worth of tax due to rushed prepurchasing of RUCs.

All that wasted diesel was last Friday's news. The price of diesel and petrol has gone up again since then.

At $1.919 per litre my earlier prediction of $2 per litre by Christmas looks a bit too optimistic now.

So will it rise to that price before the end of the month or by September?

04 July, 2008

New Zealand politicians finally discover the internet

Satire satire everywhere - there are a multitude of cheap shots at Labour including several complete web pages like this one.

National has finally noticed You tube. Of course many have been there before as well. I particularly liked this one.

The electoral finance bill is being shot to ribbons by all and sundry.

The big question is: Will the political party spin doctors be able to come up with anything as funny?

02 July, 2008

Kiwi Rail - Iconic or Ironic

Definitely 100% Pure New Zealand - satire that is.

Jim Bolger is the new chairperson of Kiwi Rail, a company that was once a government department/corporation/state owned enterprise known as NZGR, NZR and Tranzrail among other things.

Jim Bolger was also the Prime Minister of the National led government that sold the railways off to private enterprise in the first place.

Further proof that here at least reality is just bad fiction.

The icing on the cake has to be the new livery.

The top picture is the old "flying tomato" livery once used by NZR (the "fruit salad" livery was the same without the grey cab sides).

The bottom picture is the new Kiwi Rail livery.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

30 June, 2008

Coastal property values slipping

Every second year intermediate school students in Birkdale do a problem based learning exercise called Let the buyer beware
Almost without fail the year 7 and 8 students choose the property that is on volcanic rock but back from the coastline to 'purchase' rather than one on the sandstone/mudstone/clay cliff top or one right on the seafront.

A lesson the owners of these properties should have thought about more fully.

Residents of one of Auckland's most exclusive streets - including All Black coach Graham Henry - have been warned to prepare an emergency kit as unstable ground threatens their multi-million-dollar clifftop homes.

The Auckland City Council has sealed off a large part of Cliff Rd in St Heliers to repair huge cracks and reduce the risk to properties.

The street boasts panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf, but an earth movement of less than 30cm could cut utilities and significant movement would increase risk to properties.

I guess that also proves that All Black coaches really do have feet of clay

26 June, 2008

Another finance company gone belly up

I haven't commented on the continued fall of finance companies in recent months. Partly because I didn't have anything new to say on the subject but mostly because I had lost count.

Here is a list:
#24. June 25 2008. Dorchester Pacific Finance, details here
#23. June 24 2008. St Laurence
#22. June 18 2008. Dominion Finance Holdings (DFH, DFG, NSFL)
#21. June 2008 IMP Diversified Fund
#20. May 28 2008: Belgrave Finance
#19. May 18 2008: MFS Pacific Finance, re-named OPI Pacific Finance (in moratorium)
#18. May 13 2008: Cymbis New Zealand (re-named Fairview)
#17. April 15 2008 Kiwi Finance
#16. April 3 2008: Lombard Finance and Investments
#15. March 14 2008: MFS Boston (in moratorium)

#14. December 17 2007: Numeria Finance
#13. November 29 2007: Capital + Merchant Investments
#12. October 16 2007: Geneva Finance (in moratorium)
#11. October 2007: Beneficial Finance (in moratorium)
#10. October 4 2007: Clegg and Co Finance
#9. September 5 2007: Finance and Investments
#8. September 4 2007: LDC Finance Ltd
#7. August 30 2007: Five Star Consumer Finance
#6 August 29 2007: Property Finance
#5. August 21 2007: Nathans Finance
#4. July 2 2007: Bridgecorp

#3. August 2006: Western Bay
#2. June 2006: Provincial Finance.
#1. May 2006: National Finance 2000.
detailed list here

Not everybody has lost all their money, in fact most will get some and a few will get all their money back... eventually.
What is worrying is there are some well known names there.

No doubt there will still be more to come too.

25 June, 2008

Greater Auckland plan # ...what are we up to now?

Auckland 'needs mini-government'

Yesterday Mr Swney echoed the views of many in saying the current regime was fragmented, duplicated, obstructive and costly.
His vision was for a two-tier system, starting with 15 to 25 local community councils with boosted powers that would elect one member each to represent them on an all-powerful greater Auckland council led by a prime minister-style mayor they, and not the public, would elect.


Hang on a minute. Isn't that very close to what we had in before November 1989?

OK the ARA (Auckland Regional Authority) didn't have enough teeth to act as greater Auckland council but as those with long memories remember there was a lot of opposition to the pulling of several of the teeth is had to form the ARC. Of course there were more than 20 different cities, counties and boroughs back then. One source recons there were 38, I haven't been able to verify that.

I do know that North Shore City was 3 cities and 2 boroughs and has continually suffered from internal problems not only caused by the differences between needs of the Harbour ward and the Central ward but the differences between the communities who make up these wards. Devonport (formally a borough) has little in common with neighbouring Takapuna (former city) and although the suburbs of Birkenhead (another former city) do see eye to eye with Northcote (the other former borough) some it not much of the time, their concerns differ greatly from those of Glenfield (formally a ward of Takapuna). All of these places have next to nothing in common with the still rapidly growing East Coast Bays (yet another former city).

The much touted bus way is a great asset to the commuters of Albany, Sunnynook, Forrest Hill and even Takapuna but of no benefit at all to the still ferry less residents of Beach Haven or commuters stuck on the one road out of Devonport.
The relative lack of community buildings north of Sunnynook is of little interest to Birkenhead who have been putting up with a basket ball court at the local leisure centre being used as a temporary library. The old library that was both too small (and had been for 20 years) and a very leaky roof, was bulldozed. The irony of the basket ball court being only half the size of the old library hasn't been lost the bibliophiles of Birkenhead either. Nor has the difference in the amount of rates collected in the area and the amount being spent or rather, not being spent on keeping local amenities functional. Birkenhead City Library was the second only to Takapuna library on the North Shore now it shares last place with Albany.

This sort of scenario is played out time and time again over the Auckland region.

Auckland isn't a City.

It isn't even a compilation of 4 cities and 3 districts.

It is a collection of towns and villages joined only by urban sprawl and a few clogged arteries without the hot air generator that has kept Wellington functional.

23 June, 2008

Generation Y vote

It seems that generation Y bother/Y give a damn/Y not, has yet another name.

Y vote.

Politicians are not only not reaching 18-35 year olds but this generation just aren't interested anyway.

How have we managed to raise an entire generation where so many are almost completely oblivious to the fact that who is in Parliament affects not only their financial bottom line but also how they live and can raise their families?

How have we managed to convince them that their vote will change nothing and is therefore unimportant?

Is this another symptom of CWK (cotton wool kids) or even worse, PPPS (piss poor parenting syndrome)?

No doubt Labour is worried, they tend to appeal to younger voters.

This sort of ignorance doesn't stop there either. The household teenager (year 9) recently came home with the news that in a multi choice test, half of her class decided that the Minister of Finance was Helen Clark.

When told that the last Prime Minister to be Minister of Finance as well was Muldoon the general reply was:

One thing is for sure. We can't let this level of political detachment continue.

19 June, 2008

Why do we need street lights?

There weren't any street lights on around here last night.

Was it a problem? No.

Cars, or rather, car drivers could still see where they were going. Walkers didn't seem to be suffering any difficulty either, due to the full moon. Only one had a torch and they were actually talking and smiling at each other as they passed.

Maybe in the days when car head lights were pathetic street lighting was needed but those days are gone.

What about security? Surely having areas lit up deters low lifes hanging around and creating trouble.
Or does it?
Don't the local low lifes hang around the shops and bus stops because they are lit up? There weren't many around last night.

No doubt the lights out was only a temporary glitch rather than a new power/cost saving policy from the local council still...

It was a nice night last night.

18 June, 2008

Fuel tax cuts

There have been yet more calls for the government to cut GST on fuel.

The standard answer to that idea has been a simple no.

I agree.

Why? Not just for the reason that it won't make much difference in the medium or long term. Or because people spending more on fuel are spending less on other things therefore the total tax take is pretty much the same.

My rational is this: GST in New Zealand is a very simple tax to administer and comply with basically because it is applied to pretty much everything (with the exception of some secondhand goods) that isn't exported at the same flat percentage.
Compliance costs are low.
Remove it from some items and the compliance costs will sky rocket.

Take a guess who will ultimately end up paying for that.

Leave it alone and take the promised income tax cut or increased government funding on health care, law enforcement, education etc instead.

Food for the newly budget conscious

I was perusing the pages of The Aucklander the other day and I came across the food column. The first thing I noticed was that like many papers and magazines recently contained a recipe for a "budget" meal, in this case a deluxe packed lunch to serve two.

What followed certainly wasn't my definition of inexpensive.
The ingredients for this pasta and chicken dish included 2 chicken thighs and 2 courgettes and half a capsicum.

As many a housewife will be able to tell you chicken isn't cheap meat any more (pork is) and any dietitian or diabetic could also tell you that a chicken thigh is enough meat for a main meal, not a light lunch.

Then there are the courgettes.

These are not only out of season but just about as out of season as you can get given that they are a summer vegetable (early summer at that in a dry year like we just had) and it is now definitely winter. Yes you can still buy them, at $6.99/kg but the only thing green about them is the skin colour.
The capsicums at least are in abundant supply and can even be found at less than 99c each.

Vic Williams needs to be a little more realistic than optimistic when it comes to was is reasonable to spend on an everyday lunch.

Here is some more constructive food advice for the budget conscious:

  1. If a fresh fruit or vegetable costs more per kilo than budget beef mince don't buy it.
  2. The only exceptions to rule #1 are things you can buy and use is very small amounts e.g. garlic, ginger, a couple of mushrooms etc.
  3. Do a little research and buy your fruit and veg when in season and therefore less expensive.
  4. Buy only what you are going to eat before it rots. If your fridge doubles as a compost bin you are buying too much.
  5. Compare prices, shopping at your the local fruit shop or even the diary can be cheaper than the supermarket when it comes to fruit and veg, Asian ingredients and sometimes even bread. The same applies for meat at the local butchers.

13 June, 2008

Blow up dolls and Auckland traffic

What do North Shore residents do with inflatable dolls?
Reuters is sending a story around the world, claiming New Zealand drivers are using blow-up dolls to beat traffic rules.It comes, believe it or not, from a North Shore city media release.
Apparently, to get into the express lanes on the North Shore, people are packing their cars with imaginary friends, all different kinds of them. And some of them are inflatable.


I can confirm that this unlikely story is in fact true.

The Onewa Rd transit lane can be used by motorcycles, buses and any vehicle with three or more occupants. Travelling down it can shorten you journey by as much as half an hour.

My secretary favours insisting that the kids come along for the ride if we have to go down this road between 6:30am and 9am on a weekday morning. He who earns money favours leaving home early enough to avoid the start of the restrictions or by having co-workers in the car.

Carpooling isn't just about subsidising the cost of the petrol in this neck of the woods.

Methods others have tried without success include the use of the blow up dolls as mentioned above, Pink Panthers, shop mannequins and even dressed up large dogs.

I have see some of these with my own eyes from the safety of my cat carrier. (We will not mention the VET word or the incident that caused that journey).

The most successful method was a pair of teenaged boys who hired themselves out as passengers from the bus stop outside Zion Hill church and got out of the car at Lake Rd last year during the holidays. They could manage 3 or 4 trips at $5 each every morning depending on the number of drivers with money and how fast they could run back up the hill.

Of course blow up dolls etc are not the only strange things to been seen travelling down this frequently grid locked road. It is a favoured spot for aspiring mayoral candidate during local elections to wave placards while wearing wedding dresses..........here

Sometimes I really have to wonder about the wisdom of living on the 'Shore.

10 June, 2008

Fueling Stagflation

No, you are not seeing things. The fuel prices on that sign have been updated through the creative use of yellow electrical tape.
The ANZ/National Bank and the AA have been making noises along the lines that the government should be looking at removing the tax from petrol to give the local economy some respite from the continual rises in oil prices. watch video here
That was this morning.
I sent my secretary down to take the above photo - too late. The price had already jumped by 6 cents by the time she got down there.
Which illustrates why the government doesn't seem to be seriously considering reducing the petrol tax. Removing the petrol tax would give drivers a respite but for how long? 2 or 3 months? By then we will not only be no better off but have no funding for roads or to top up the consolidated fund (which is where the petrol tax money goes by the way).
That would mean no tax cuts. An election loser if ever I saw one.
Stagflation - an economic term meaning a state of inflation without corresponding increase in demand and employment.
Welcome back to the 70s.

04 June, 2008

Food and Fuel Crisis

Now I know that food is becoming more expensive.
That tinned stuff in my cat dish has gone back to being Rival Beef and Gravy rather than the much nicer Chef Oceanfish Platter.
My taste buds are protesting!
Still there is always dog tucker over at the neighbours if I ask very nicely.

There has been an alarming drop in the amount of meat scraps landing in my dish.
One of the kids is grumping about the number of stews suddenly on the menu, short on meat big on gravy. I wouldn't mind if the leftovers were landing in my dish but alas they are not.
Somebody else is using them for sandwich filling.
At this rate I am going to have to take up mousing.

Then there is the car. Warming my cold feet and bottom on the bonnet was one of my evening pleasures after it rolled down the drive late afternoon but suddenly it isn't doing that. It sits on the parking bay without moving once 4 or 5 days a week, bonnet as cold as fog (we haven't had a frost yet).

Still the fire is going most nights and there is enough room under the clothes horse for my basket with sheepskin so it can't be that bad.

There has been a sudden increase in gardening round here. Nobody has seen fit to plant a catfood tree but I figure with the number of inept gardeners and the number of people about to discover that they don't like all that silver beet and cabbage the birds are going to have plenty to eat. Which means more of them to discuss lunch with.

My lunch of course.

24 May, 2008

Budget Bribery

After months of speculation we now know the size of the carrot Labour wishes to bribe us with but in typical Cullen style we are going to have to wait for it. The money won't be in our paws for another 6 months and we will have to wait until 2011 for the last bit of the carrot.

Still it isn't a pack of chewing gum sized tax cut this time but a full block of cheese sized cut for most of us. The fact if we got it last year it would have bought nearly 2 blocks of cheese is purely coincidental and nothing to do with government policy we are told.

Insert your favourite conspiracy theory or Tui ad here.

The timing of the first of the loot is spacious enough. Even most wombles have figured out that the election happens just 1 month after that.

It's enough to make the oldies look nostalgically back to the dates when Muldoon's Budgets had them sitting on the edge of their seats watching the TV with the car keys clamped in their sweaty hands, ready to race down to the nearest petrol station and fill up the car if the petrol tax was to be increased at 8pm that night. The annual budget night ques at the local garage had to be seen to believed I am told. The speed at which they vanished the moment the clock struck 8pm bore a striking resemblance to the more resent phenomenon of a flash mob.

Speaking of petrol, it is now offical, petrol now cost $2+ a litre whatever the octane or place of puchase. Somebody has to be making a lot of money out of this.

For now we will have to tighten our belts further and wait of the October windfall and hope like hell that it all won't have to walk directly into the nearest bank by way of interest rate increase or staight to the petrol pump or supermarket for that matter.

I pity any poor sods whose fixed rate mortgage rolls over just then.

21 May, 2008

'Puter Problems

The anti-virus is soon to be unsupported.
The operating system old.
And as for the motherboard,
the processor is nearly overwhelmed.
The amount of ram is laughable,
MSN messenger updates won't load.
And as for the doddering C drive,
I'm sure there is dodgy sector in there.

So I need a new C drive,
And a shit load of new ram,
Operating system and mother board,
I just hope it all fits in the existing can.
A new anti-virus program and firewall would be nice,
a powerful video card would be grand.
Together with a new liquid crystal monitor.
Now doesn't that sound like a plan?

All that is going to cost a couple of k,
more than I have just now.
It will have to wait 'till a change in interest rates,
or she who budgets will have a cow.

So I guess I'll keep creating back ups,
Like a newly converted fanatic.
To insure against the blue screen of death,
and registry errors....
Which are all becoming a bit pedantic.

18 April, 2008

Petrol Powered Economic Sky Rocket

In early 2003 my secretary was wincing over the price of petrol. There would be no trips to pay to enter attraction while on holiday because the money set aside for that had to be used for the petrol to get there. It was $1.079/litre.

In 2006 my secretary again announced that this would be possibly be the last holiday involving long day trips using the van due to the price of petrol. It was $1.439/litre and rose to $1.48.9/litre during the week away. The $1.50/litre "barrier" was breached shortly afterwards.

Looking at those figures now her concern seems a little laughable.

Yes the "magic" $2/litre is now in sight or will be next week or next month in the main centres the way things are going. The drivers of Coromandel, National Park, Stewart Island and a few other more remote spots have already had to shell out that much.

Today in my neck of the woods 98 octane is up to $1.949 but who the heck runs their car on that? 91 octane is at $1.829. You can check it out here.

OK so at some point if you haven't already you are going to start having to use your car less.

Many are touting public transport as the way of the future and are quick to point out how using public transport instead of a car will save you money and thus makes sense or should that be cents? I have my doubts.

First of all no bus driver is going to let me, a small admittedly loud mouthed white cat on for a ride ticket or no ticket. So a car is going to be needed for trips to the vet and a few other places as well that I can think of . Nobody is going to get me on a bicycle with or without a cat carrier.

So I can reasonable assume that selling the car out right is not an option right now.
That means that some of the costs of owning a car, like warrant of fitness, registration, insurance, and some maintenance are going to remain regardless.

If you just compare the price of a bus ticket with the cost of petrol to run a small car the car wins. If you have to pay for parking that changes so the the real incentive to use the bus/train or ferry to get to work are the parking charges not the price of fuel.

I have watched this sort of discussion going on in earnest at home between she who spends money and he who earns it. She who spends pointed out the cost of hiring the parking space for he who earns was more than the price of the bus fare so he should catch the bus. He who earns came up with another solution. He started picking up a workmate who given that a weeks worth of petrol cost just over half what his bus ticket did was more than happy to pay for a tank of petrol once a fortnight. An occasion second passenger has cut the cost of the hiring the parking space as well.

The cost of using the bus just doesn't stack up against the economies of putting a passenger or two in a car which is why bus travel isn't a family friendly option for now. Trains are cheaper than buses if you live and work near a rail line with a service. Ferries are dearer still but that maybe due to a lack of subsidies.

As for bicycles - I will seriously consider that when the death and injury rate drops and a fat lady can pedal one up a hill laden with shopping. Riding a bicycle still needs fuel in the form of food, shoes, raincoats as does Shank's pony.

Of course all this may change when petrol reaches $3/litre (which at this rate will be sometime next year) or more but then so will the price of just about everything else as a result. Hello inflation!

Ultimately paying less for fuel will come down to just using less.

02 April, 2008

Promises - political enlightenment or just more toxic honey?

For the last fortnight I have be watching the flow of election promises coming from both Labour and National.
For awhile there it looked like we had only one political party the promises were so alike. Even the big news of a budget deficit didn't slow the flow of promised tax cuts which makes me wonder if our politicians were either ignoring the bad news or had spotted the Inland Revenues $600million error (in which case why wasn't it spotted earlier?).

Then at last some light relief in the shape of National promising that every person convicted by a court would have to pay a tax of $50 to fund victim costs. Did the significance of the 31 March press release escape the National Party spin doctors or did they thing that Joe Bloggs would miss the possibility that this was a hoax when this was reported in the daily papers a day later, on April Fools Day?

We really must thank that inept Coromandel bee keeper and his honey from Tutu honey dew for inadvertently providing the idea for a new metaphor to describe questionable promises coming from the Beehive.

Toxic honey indeed.

The fun part is going to be trying to detect the safe honey from the poison before voting the new bees into the Beehive.

14 March, 2008

Just where do you sit politically?

To find out just take this dandy quiz http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html.

Do you ever wonder where New Zealand's main political parties would sit on that grid?

In theory they should be evenly spread but in practice I suspect that the majority would be in the left hand side of the centrist square or the right side of liberal with the Act party all on its own the the conservative side.

The worrying part of that is that even though Labour could very well not get a majority in the next election- largely because after 9 years Joe Bloggs has had it up to the back teeth with them, most of the smaller parties happier working with Labour than with National even though National seems to be currently doing a good job of ignoring its right hand side. the only minor party currently in parliament that couldn't work with Labour is Act. The devil we know too well could be the government yet again simply because it managed to cobble together agreements with several minor parties.

Even more oddly much of the most unpopular legislation that has been put in place in the last 9 years began as electoral promises made by minor parties that Labour agreed to support in order to be the government.

All this is going to National and uphill battle to form a government. They may have to win 60 seats outright to have a snowball's chance and Labour simply doesn't have that big a hurdle.

Which narrows the choices at the ballot booth somewhat. If you don't want a Labour government you are going to have to vote National. If you don't want National but can't bring yourself to vote labour there is a wealth of choice out there.

All of which will make the next election interesting.

11 March, 2008

Emergancy call reponse times

I am in the dog's box.

OK, not literally as we don't have any creature as dumb as a dog living here but I am definitely figuratively in the dog's box.

I only wanted some attention.

My blog had not been typed up in nearly a fortnight after all.

I just resorted to my usual tactic of standing on the fax machine buttons in order to make it beep. That is all.

OK, I did keep it up for longer than usual. Well, how was I to know my secretary was asleep?

He who earns money had just kicked me off my usual spot on the bed after all.

So it was a hot night. Why should that change my sleeping arrangements?

To retaliate I stomped on the fax machine key pad.

This is something I do regularly after all.

So I took it one step further than usual and activated the hands free function. I was pretty annoyed after all.

OK, so I wasn't watching which numbers I was standing on. It 11:30pm and dark after all.

I was so surprised I couldn't speak to the nice lady who answered my call before it rang.

I didn't need fire, police or ambulance anyway so why was the lady asking me which one I wanted?

Now everybody is cross at me.

I didn't even dial 7 digits.

In fact I only dialed 1 - 3 times.

I guess we now know that the New Zealand 111 service does answer calls promptly.

Responding to calls may be a different story but they do answer quickly.

29 February, 2008

and you thought gannets were birds

moar funny pictures

My house mates haven't quite mastered getting the two leggers to wait on them.

28 February, 2008

The Northern Busway and those new tickets

I have been keeping my lip buttoned on this until now. Well there had to be a few teething problems didn't there.
Now it is time to let rip.

The Northern Busway looks mighty fine....on paper.

Of course there were going to be some grumbles, it does bypass the entire western side of North Shore where the bulk of the "working class" live so they are still battling the traffic.

Still there is the set of new tickets to benefit not only busway users but those in the south west as well.

Introducing the Northern Bus Pass Transferable Ticket, the next best thing to an integrated ticketing system (which we have been asking for for over 20 years now and is now promised for 2010). brochure here

The Northern Pass is valid on all North Shore bus services as far as Albany in the north and Greenhithe in the west. Additionally, you can use it on buses to and from Auckland City, as well as on train services between Britomart and Glen Innes, or Britomart and Newmarket, Ellerslie or Kingsland.
sounds good so far...
For the purposes of the Northern Pass, the North Shore is divided into two zones:
Upper Zone and Lower Zone.
..still with you so far...
and you can choose from the following options:
2-hour pass, all-day pass, 7 day pass or the after 9am pass
to travel in either upper and lower zone only, lower zone to city or upper and lower zone to city.

Spotted the problem yet?

No, not the price - the 2-hour pass which you can use for 2 hours from purchase is the same price as a normal stage 3 or 4 ticket.

The kicker is that you cannot use it to transfer south of the bridge.

Need to go to from Birkdale to Newton? Catch one of the 2 buses to Newmarket via Ponsonby with your usual 3 stage ticket or catch one of the multitude into Victoria St on the same 3 stage ticket then get on a Ritchies bus and buy another ticket. Your journey will cost you an extra 50c. The story is no different for passengers from Northcote or Glenfield only the bus company is (Stagecoach).

So why did they bring in this ticket anyway? Surely not just for that little minority that might like to travel from Highbury to Browns Bay on one ticket?
It was for those poor (and more numerous) folk who used to catch the bus in Sunnynook to go to Milford or Takapuna. The buses used to be numerous and it was only a 1 stage fare but no longer.
Thanks to the new busway it is now takes much longer and requires 2 or sometimes 3 different bus journeys and remember that northern pass costs the same as a 3 stage ticket so cheaper it is not.
Want to go to North Shore Hospital?
No longer do the bus routes stop right outside in the carpark. Well, Birkenhead's never did but that is beside the point.
Now you have to walk from the new Smales Farm station. That's right, it has escaped the planners that many people going to the hospital can't walk an extra 700 metres and better still many can't drive instead either for medical or parking (lack of) reasons.

The busway way itself is A- but the bus routes and ticketing have slipped to a D-.