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-.

...and another one hits the wall

MFS Boston has joined the list of defunct finance companies.
The NZ Herald reckons this is the 15th in 20 months.
I haven't checked my count yet.

The good news is the spell check is working again.

25 February, 2008

Iz tring to be a lolcat

I am not sure I have mastered the bad spelling required or posting them here for that matter, which is saying something.
HTML code problem or something.
Oh well, you can have a look at http://mine.icanhascheezburger.com/View.aspx?TVstarkitteh128483569291718750.jpg if you like and if you can figure out how to vote please do.

14 February, 2008

Blue Chip

Do we add this to the list of finance companies that have gone belly up?
It hasn't yet but 18 of its related companies have gone into liquidation. All of which seem to be solely in the business of property investment/management. It all is a bit of a mess.

I am not saying the people who invested their money or borrowed money against the equatity they had in their own homes are complete idiots but I do wonder how they didn't spot the potential shark. Was it the absence of the words Gold Coast?

That's right, from what I have seen so far this has all the hall marks of the Gold Coast property scams in the late 90's early 2000's.
I could provide you with a long list of warning signs, some of which my family have learned about the hard way, but I will keep it short and sweet.

If you want to invest in property learn about it first. Read books, look up the IRD information, talk to an accountant ( a good one's information will tally with what the IRD says) before buying and Do It Yourself just like you would if you were buying a home to live in.
Arrange your own lawyer and property management. Don't go with anybody suggested by the seller.
You can even attend one of these free property investment seminas so long as you no not even consider buying one of the properties on offer. If you hate or are suseptible to a hard sell, avoid these seminas like the plague.
If your property investment still goes pear shaped it is easier and cheaper to figure out where the blame lies and believe me it will have cost you less in the the meantime.

If arranging all this and managing an investment property sounds too hard or is too much hard work. Invest in the share market or a bank deposit instead and sleep easier at night.

12 February, 2008

Did I break the spell check?

It isn't working.
The up side is now you can see how good my spelling is without computerised assistance.
In case you are wondering that is also the down side. :-S

Auckland waterfront plan, number?

It's official! I am suffering from an attack of deja vu.

This is the latest idea. The only difference is this time it is for Queens Wharf, home of Jap imports (cars) and ripening bananas.

This time ideas include a cruise ship terminal a public park and perhaps - you guessed it- a stadium.

The cruise ship terminal isn't such a bad idea on the face of it. Sometimes cruise ships are tied up on Queens Wharf when Prince's Wharf is occupied.
That's right. Auckland already has a terminal for cruise ships. Although the public have pretty much be intimidated off Prince's Wharf since some bright spark filled it with apartments and a swanky hotel. No water view through an apartment block is there.

Then there is the park idea.
I am not sure how well used a windy water mounted park will be so all I can beg for is; please not another viaduct basin!
One row of restaurants and shops too expensive for most Aucklanders to walk past and a big shade free baking sun trap of on a square of fancy concrete is enough. One of the kids went down there on the school trip to eat their packed lunch. As a result there are now 80 odd children and a dozen adults who don't wish to visit the place ever again. Besides isn't Freeman's Bay going to be redeveloped as a park? Just how many reclamation/wharf based parks does one city need in a mile of coast line?

As for the stadium - haven't we had this argument already?

07 February, 2008

Don Brash's inflation taming plan

There be the link.

What I find so surprising is why he seems to be puzzled as to why the idea of a mortgage levy was so profoundly unpopular.

"This idea went down like a lead balloon with the public, at least in part because it the suggestion was very poorly explained. "

No, we understood it all right. It was a tax mortgaged home owners had no way of avoiding. Most dream of paying off their mortgage but few can at short notice.

At least the impact of petrol tax can be lessened or avoided by simply not using petrol. Which is why it would have to apply to all fuels, or at least diesel to be effective.

I guarantee that such a proposal is not promised or put in place by the next election.

06 February, 2008

Waitangi Day

Does it mean anything to you or has the Maori grevance brigade recked our national day.

I tried to mark the occasion by giving a speech down by the clothes line but all I got was a back rub from the secretary and bopping from that Minnie cat.

She must be maori under that grey fur.

Petrol tax instead of OCR?

Giving the Reserve Bank the power to vary petrol prices could take the heat out of the economy without raising interest rates, says former Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash. more here

Don Brash has never been my favourite person and as the leader of the National Party he flip flopped more often than a metranome, not the sort of person I wanted in charge of the country. As an economist though he knows his stuff.

It's an interesting idea. I can see that raising the price of fuel will affect the enconomy in a similar way to raising the Official Cash Rate thus interest rates without the troublesome side effect of causing a influx of foreign money (we have the highest interest rates in the developed world) and the subsequent rising of the New Zealand dollar which hurts exporters and floods the shops with cheap imports etc.

Not to sure I like the idea of the power of setting a tax being outside of the government but at least the Reserve Bank is completely government owned.

The Herald promises more tomorrow.

05 February, 2008

Surfing the debt

I couldn't get near the computer at the time but another fiance company is going belly up.
MFS Pacific Finance joins the list at 14th place since April 2006...

I have been reading Maxed Out by James Scurlock. If this guy has done his homework right and he seems to have, this is just the tip of a very big iceberg.

Surfing debt (continual refinancing and consolidating an ever increasing debt)= not a good idea.
Investing in companies who finance debt surfing = an even worse idea unless you accept that it is all going to unravel at some point and you could lose the lot when it does. Which neatly explains why these finance companies are going belly up in increasing numbers.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul only works for so long. It is time we all, including the government thought about what is going to happen when Peter wants his money back and Paul still wants paying.
Deregulating the financial and banking industry hasn't worked and keeping it deregulated won't encourage people to save while the banks can make more money out of loaning money than investing our savings.

Puts a new spin on the recent raises to credit card interest rates doesn't it.

Wind farming

The family recently got up close to one of the wind farms. That little dot in the middle at the base of that turbine is one of the kids. The blob to one side is a fully mature cabbage tree in the next paddock.
I would have personally checked this out but only I was spotted hiding in the suitcase (I am not talking to the person who tried to pack a pair of shoes on top of me).
The following conclusions have been reported to me.
  1. They are quite handsome, restful to watch and look stunning when the evening light catches them on the hill above Ashurst. A point local real estate agents are using in their patter.
  2. The noise - if you call a quiet whoosh once a second noise- is easily drowned out by a car driving past over 50m away. Similar to waves breaking on a beach.
  3. Only the dumbest of livestock would be scared by these. Sheep aren't.

Of course they only work when the wind blows.

01 February, 2008

No power today - the ghost of 1998 returns... sort of

At some point today North Island will run out of electricity apparently.

We'll be powerless....well maybe not, but we have been warned.

While the rest of the island gasps in shock for Jafas this is a bit of déjà vu. Flashback to 1998 and Queen St over half empty with footpaths festooned with cables leading to generators of all shapes and sizes in all sorts of nooks and crannies. Large upmarket hotels with flash enterances partially blocked by engine alternators because there wasn't enough room for both generator and refrigerated shipping container in the alley by the kitchens. Workers on extended leave, working from home or crammed into small suburban branches or the bosses' homes. I know a diesel mechanic who worked a lot of hours over those weeks.

The question it why is yet another power crisis happening? Didn't the suppliers and regulators see it coming?
Maintenance for New Plymouth had been planned for months if not years.
Hot dry summers do happen even if the hydro lakes don't usually run dry until winter.
Didn't it ever occur to the powers that be that the same hot dry weather that dries up South Island (and North Island for that matter) hydro lakes also warms up the low running Waikato River to the point that Huntly Power Station can no longer discharge into it without killing the river system?

Even in the Manuwatu the wind sometimes stops blowing. No wind means no electricity from the wind turbines. That is exactly what happened last Friday, my secretary saw it.

So who is to blame this time?
The suppliers?
The regulators?
All the consumers or just the greedy power hungry ones?