17 December, 2009

Oh, for Christ's sake!

Oh boy, have a bunch of Catholics and Family first NZ got their collective knickers in a twist over this bill board.
In a country where in shops otherwise amply supplied with Christmas decorations it is near impossible to buy a Nativity set, the secretary managed to find just 2 after looking through 3 shopping centres and 2 malls, both missing shepherds.
You would think that they would be happy that this is causing so much comment while reminding the ignorant who Christ is.
To add to the irony that bill board was put up by and outside St Matthew's-in-the-City, a large Anglican church in central Auckland.
As for the Atheists and Agnostics - some people really do need to research some of "non-religious" Christmas customs that many of them hold dear.
I dear say some will lose their fondness of Santa Claus aka the fourth century Bishop of Myra, candy canes, decorated trees, wreaths etc as a result.

At long, bloody, last.

The subject of one of the most bitter planning rows in the 20-year history of North Shore City opens for business today.
But its decade in the making brings benefits to users of the new Birkenhead library and civic centre.

After 6 years (5 years longer than predicted) the library is back in the centre of Highbury and finally open.

Why the heck is a library still important or even necessary in the age of the internet? Particularly in a area where computer ownership and internet access is high?

... because when the old library closed, the foot traffic in the CBD fell and shopowners could not wait for us to come back to the centre," said Mr Chamberlain.
"Also, we have positioned our libraries to be the heart of the community - a focal point to meet and greet. It used to be the post office, but now that's gone there is hardly anywhere like that. People go to libraries for reasons not all to do with books."

That says it all.

18 November, 2009

Intruder Alert!

Now I knew that after the deaths of my former house mates, Minnie and Smudge, that eventually I would be presented with a small fuzzball for a "companion".

I didn't expect what arrived last weekend.

Given the problems I have had with the Fluff Monster next door and conversations I have over heard I was lead to believe that whatever newcomer arrived would be small and wouldn't have a tail as wide as my head.

I came inside on Saturday afternoon and came face to face with .... a pale grey and white thing as big as I am, somewhat heavier and a whole heap fluffier.

A Fluff Monster in other words, called Bobby of all things.

Worse still he talks.

A lot.

Possibly even more than I do which is saying something.

He has already failed to understand one basic point;

Sidekicks need to be able to be side kicked!

I wonder if he will get the message if I cannonball him?

12 November, 2009

Please enter username and password

reasonably safeguard your User Name and Password;
not allow someone to observe you entering your User Name and Password;
not disclose or allow your User Name or Password to become known to anyone else (including family or those in apparent authority such as the Police, or ####Financial Services staff);
not write them down, record or store them anywhere in written or electronic form, including in a file on your computer or in any password saving facility .
reasonably safeguard your User Name and Password;
choose a User Name and Password that are unique and not the same as or similar to User Names or Passwords used for any other services you may use, including non financial services.
If you believe for any reason that your User Name and/or Password could be known by someone else, or if you discover any unauthorised use of your User Name and/or Password has taken place, you must change your User Name and/or Password immediately, then call us ...

On the face of it all that sounds very reasonable - for a store credit card.

The problem is that near identical conditions apply for the power bill, the phone bill, the gas bill, internet banking, trademe, email, MSN, SMF, Pet forum, Knitter's forum, Blogger, online magazine subscriptions, job seeking websites, any big company who lists vacancies on their own websites, NZ Herald "have you say", the local library, photobucket, every single online shopping site... the list goes on.

Not all of them require both upper and lower case and not all of them require a number or two in the user name or the password. All of them however are very clear on one point. DO NOT WRITE DOWN YOUR PASSWORD OR USER NAME.

That is all very fine and dandy but if you use different names and passwords as you are supposed to how the hell to you remember them all?
There are 18 in that list for a start.

Even doubling up and using the same password for several sites doesn't help when several sites helpfully allocate a user name for you. You still have to remember which password goes with what.

Then there is the joint account problem. Do you give your partner access to your online magazine subsciption? If it was a paper copy you would just pass it over or leave it on the coffee table.

How about internet banking for joint accounts, does your partner need their own log in?

What triggered this rant?

The Secretary needs to pay the phone bill. The account is in He Who Earns name and he set up the account. She can't remember the username or password because she didn't set them. He doesn't pay the bills so he can't remember them either. Better still she can't fix the matter via phone during office hours because it is his account and he is too busy working to hang around on hold to sort it out.

06 November, 2009

The death of Guy Fawkes night

Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.
A stick and a stake for King James’ sake!
Holla, boys, Holla, make the town ring;
Holla, boys, Holla, boys, God save the King.
Is it the recession?

Is it the PC banning of rockets, double happies and the like?

Is it the injuries and out of control fires of Guy Fawkes past?

Is it the PC restrictions on the sale of fireworks and the idiots they are aimed at?

Is it all of the above or something else that is seeing the slow demise of the celebration of a failed 17th Century treason attempt?

Down here at the bottom of the world you could be forgiven for blaming the weather. Late spring, dry bush and fire are not a good mix after all. However this isn't just happening here but in the UK as well. Home of the very Parliament that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up.

I only know what stopped Guy Fawkes in my back yard.

The noise.

It is easy to put my rabbit friends in a room with the curtains drawn the and light on to cover up the flashes. Not so easy to muffle the screams and bangs. The screams and bangs get louder every year. They even bother me. Given that we hear mortar and gunfire from the range across the harbour about 1km away that is saying something.
If modern fireworks were quieter no doubt we would still buy a few to let off . They are rather pretty.

Last night I retired to the lounge with Cinnamon Bun, Mystery and Mr Biscuit confined to carriers and Inky hopping around trying to chase me, just as I have done in Guy Fawkes past.

Just as I will no doubt for the next couple of nights - until the neighbours run out of fire power.

If last night was anything to go by they will run out sooner than usual.

05 November, 2009

Driveways vs Kids

Yet another child is fatally skittled in a driveway by her father.

The very next day another is hit but survives.

Is a child worth less than the price of a fence beside your driveway and a gate at the bottom?

No matter how hard you try you can't watch a toddler every second of every day.

When a car is being backed up the drive is not a good time to discover that not only has the rug rat given you the slip and that when given a head start it can run faster than you as well.

How much do you value your child?

A fence is bound to be cheaper than a funeral.

30 October, 2009

Ok, who turned out the lights?

Some fork lift driver lifting a container near Otahuhu apparently.

That was all that was needed to knock out the power supply to not just a small part of Super Auckland but much of Waitakere and all of North Shore, Kaipara and Northland.

Not a huge deal given the time of day (8am to 10am) but it would have been if it lasted longer.

My secretary decided to weed the garden instead of using the powerless washing machine.

Subsequently I spent the time catching low flying buttercups and attempting to murder pansies (of the plant variety).

Still I have to wonder about the logic in supplying such a large area with just one power line and no power stations.

Does this sort of thing ever happen to Wellington?

Update: I stand corrected, there are two lines carrying electricity north. The other one was out for maintenance :S

28 October, 2009

The goverment giveth and taketh away again

Remember those tax cuts we got last year?

ACC levies are rising and not by a small amount.
After over 100 years of classes at low cost for all who wanted to learn community education is being discontinued.
Contrabutions to the Super Fund have been suspended - for 10 years.

I think I have just figured out where the money for those tax cuts came from.

03 October, 2009

Catching the surf - Tsunami style

Just as well the wave turned out not to live up to expectations.

It sort of happened like this:
Doooo Doooo Dit Dit Doooo Doooo Dit Dit Doooo Doooo Dit Dit

What is that alarm?
Why is it getting louder?
Is that on this side of the harbour?

Waitakere City Council was on the ball - it turns out that was the tsunami siren warning alert signal.

Of course not living in Waitakere City meant it took half an hour of web site searching to find that out. Something the secretary didn't do until the next day.

That could have been a bit of the problem considering Civil Defence was advicing people to stay 35m above sea level or 1km inland.

We're neither.

Still that was better than North Shore City Council.

Apparently you have to sign up to receive a phone/email alert if you think your property may be in a danger zone for tsunami.

The secretary didn't know that, she does now after wondering why there were no warnings from our own council even as the "stand down" sounded from across the harbour.

As it happened I didn't get my paws wet, with sea water anyway but not as a result of any advanced warning from our local authorities.

Thank god for radio and breakfast TV.

10 September, 2009

Firstly I can confirm that contrary to popular rumour I do not have skin cancer. My ears and eyes have just been suffering from sunburn and that fluff monster next door.

The vet has confirmed that.

Yes, I have been to the V.E.T.

Now I don't really have a problem with the vet. I do have a problem with the dog in the waiting room on occasion but not with the vet himself. Well, except for that sunscreen, antibiotic paste, eye drops and flea treatment he just forced on me.

What I don't like is the trip to the Vet.

Who decided that we cats must travel in those small cages? Who decided that we had to go in those horrible metal boxes called cars?

Until I get an answer I will continue to sound like a fire engine on the way to a fire when ever I am forced to endure caging and metal box transport!

P.S. Good luck getting those eye drops in.

21 August, 2009

Err... Don't the police have enough to do?

A District Court judge has questioned why three intellectually disabled Timaru men have been brought before the court, charged with minor assaults.
Mark David Irving, 50, Lance Peter Hayward, 29, and Scott Francis Murray, 31, who are all under the care of South Canterbury's Idea Services, appeared in the Timaru District Court this week.
Judge Phil Moran questioned why they had been brought into the criminal justice procedure, and described it as "very sad and distasteful".
While the summary of facts was not read it is understood the assaults were minor, such as one knocking off the glasses of their caregiver.
Murray has also been charged with intentional damage after breaking crockery plates belonging to Idea Services.
Defence counsel Christie O'Driscoll, who was acting for Murray, was unable to take instructions from him and asked for a remand without plea.
All three men were remanded at large until October 13 for a report which will assess whether or not they are fit to make a plea.


Next question: Why haven't Ideal Services trained their caregivers on how to deal with stroppy "clients"?

Perhaps they all need to sit down and watch The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show.

19 June, 2009

Resession beating tips

OK, I want to expand some of the ideas here:http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10579265

Just a couple of things that need to be expanded on.

28. Put all items on your credit card and get rewards points.
Do this ONLY if you can pay the card off every month without fail and try to keep a money back stop so you can switch back to using cash if you start to struggle.

15. Save on electricity – use extra blankets.
And/or hotties, or bed socks, an obliging cat can be of help here too. A length of polar fleece makes a good lightweight blanket, check out shops like Ike's Emporium for cheap fabric. Sometimes a couple of metres of 150cm polar fleece can be bought for only $20-$30. It doesn't fray.

20. Stay warm.
Warm places that cost you nix are malls (leave the money at home) and libraries.

32. Stop buying Lotto tickets.
Seriously $6/week = $312/year. When was the last time you won that much on lotto?
If you want a flutter by a ticket or two in one draw a month. Two tickets in the same drawn is better odds that one ticket in two draws.
Don't bother buying power ball. The odds of winning any prize are the same as a normal ticket and the odds of winning a power ball prize are 8 times poorer. The odds of winning a prize in a big prize draw or jackpot are not better than normal either.

21. Carpool or bus.
Do the sums on this one. If you are going to carpool you will save money so long as you or your passengers chip in a share of the petrol money.
If you are going to sell/get rid of the car yes, this will save money.
Travelling by bus won't necessarily save money if you keep the car so compare only the running costs. If you are paying for parking going by bus is cheaper otherwise possibly not. Consider driving part way then getting on a bus for the last stage to save money on parking in the city.

26. Repair your clothes instead of buying new ones.
You don't even need a sewing machine although it is quicker if you have one and know how to use it. Even getting a broken zip replaced professionally can be cheaper than a new pair of trousers. A stitch in time still saves nine so don't procrastinate over sewing jobs and do them before washing the item.

Some tips of my own
If you have to pay separately for rubbish collection like we do here, reduce what you throw out with the weekly rubbish. Remember you can put some rubbish on the fire. Put that polystyrene packing under the house for the inorganic collection.

Compost heaps are free, you don't need a bin to contain it if you don't mind the site of a heap and the cat will take care of any rats (yum :P).
Cheaper than buying $5 bags of compost to grow veggies in.

Keep an eye on those op shops.
Not just for clothing either. All sort from things from jigsaw puzzles to old pots and knitting needles and patterns and plants can be got for less than $5. Sometimes less that $1. The ancient pressure cooker we have was bought for $2 and cooks a packet of kidney beans in 45 minutes. Much cheaper than tinned beans. Great for soup as well.
Just chuck the bones in my direction for serious licking when you are done.

03 June, 2009

I am being lazy

That is why I have been silent for over a fortnight.

Nice work when you can get it.

Half the family, the two legged females, took off for a weekend involving back packs, sleeping bags, raincoats, food and three bottles of kerosene to somewhere without power, fire place, or running water reachable only by a boat plus hiking.

They came back towing an empty gas bottle on a handcart and muttering about not enough kerosene. It seems that both the kerosene for the heater and the gas ran out at the same time so no hot water bottle or hot water and they forgot to pack the coffee.

A whole weekend without coffee.

Thank goodness the one of the neighbouring baches had some to share.

I had to spend the whole weekend cooped up with a posse of 8 year old boys so I don't know what those wussy two legged females were complaining about.

Next time take me and tell DOC I am rodent eradication. Far more eco friendly than whatever they had to disconnect the water tanks and close the islands to drop.

15 May, 2009

Does National want to win Mt Albert?

Given some of their candidates comments I have to wonder.

The new motorway is a hot topic in Mt Albert, feelings on the subject are running high and the NIMBYs are frothing in force so I guess Melissa Lee could be forgiven for saying she was all for the tunnel option.

Pity her party had other ideas.

The residents of Mt Albert are less than happy about the prospect of their suburb being cut in half so in the heat of a community meeting and obviously trying to find a positive side to the big road in a trench Ms Lee makes the comment that the new motorway will help stop the criminals from South Auckland from running rampant in Mt Albert.

Pity about the RNZ journo who got it on tape.

While all the frothing is going on I can't help noting a few points.

  1. A glance at the local paper seems to show that the worst crimes locally do seem to be committed by low lives from South Auckland, either that or they are the ones that get caught.
  2. I don't think the motorway with stop these criminals. I think it is more likely to aid them. That quartet that did the Dukes of Hazard off Beach Haven wharf proved that not only do they have just enough IQ to use an off ramp, even when being blocked by Police but when off the motorway their ability to navigate is highly suspect hence the their escape south being stopped by the Waitemata Harbour.
  3. The motorway my benefit the Auckland region as a whole but it is of little benefit and great inconvenience to Mt Albert.

OK, Mt Albert, thanks to former local MP Helen Clark, was a Labour safe seat.

National could have had a good shot at winning it given how blue Auckland turned last election.

Instead National have just handed it back to Labour on a platter.

07 May, 2009

Are the banks now playing chicken?

Ok, the OCR was lowered again last week. It is now down to 2.5%.

The banks have ...

...done nothing.

Not even the floating rates have dropped.

Now either the banks are playing some sort of game or the Reserve Bank has lost its ability to affect interest rates.

One of those prospects could be very worrying.

I wouldn't like to be in Bill English's shoes right now. Maybe that is why Trevor Mallard is now on the Government's front bench.

It is duck season after all.

Perhaps National is hoping to distract Labour into building a maimai on the opposition benches instead of aiming their guns at the Budget due out in just over 3 weeks.

01 May, 2009

Caption Please

The kids thought this was hilarious. They get told off for lying in the armchairs like this.
I think it is a classic reason not to leave the camera lying around at 4am in the morning.

I was asleep, OK?

How green is your Kiwifruit again?

I was puzzled by this item here about a study into carbon footprints published in 2006.

"The study estimated that flying 1kg of kiwifruit from New Zealand to Europe causes 5kg of carbon to be discharged into the atmosphere.
But Zespri, which exports 60 per cent of its overseas kiwifruit produce to Europe, challenged the veracity of the study because its fruit all goes to Britain by ship."

On the face of it that seems laughable except that the British took it seriously.

What an opportunity to come up with some correct figures - for advertising purposes of course.
So they did:

"Yesterday, it released the results of its own research - commissioned in 2007 - assessing its carbon footprint across each part of the supply chain.
The study, undertaken by Landcare Research and funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, showed shipping accounted for the most carbon emissions for all European exports at 41 per cent.

Consumer consumption and disposal made up 22 per cent, orchard operations were 17 per cent, packhouse and coolstore processes account for 11 per cent of total emissions and repacking and retailer were 9 per cent."

Hang on - so what were those total carbon emissions per kilo again?

For whom it may concern: How about comparing apples, sorry, Kiwifruit with Kiwifruit.

29 April, 2009

It's just the 'flu

Some people are really getting their knickers in a twist about this.

It is just a new strain of flu - that is all.

If you are healthy the flu doesn't kill. The deaths are caused by secondary infections like Pneumonia.

The media seems to be having a real beat up over this. I guess they desperately needed something new to obsess about.

The credit crunch is getting pretty boring after several months in the spotlight.

17 April, 2009

Who stole our voice


Worth reading.

I particularly like this bit:

"That is a region of 1.4 million people controlled by 20 councillors and a mayor. Explain that in democratic terms? We can’t.

Mr Key and Mr Hide might as well have set fire to the money the commission cost, though that appears not to matter since neither man can say what cost savings their proposal will bring.

Mr Hide claims to have consulted the region’s mayors. He has not. Auckland’s mayor John Banks does not represent the region – yet.

North Shore’s Andrew Williams even goes so far as to accuse him of misleading the people of Auckland.
Mayors are asking to be told what is going on, which seems far from unreasonable.

Manukau’s Len Brown, rightly, has called the government’s proposal a travesty for local democracy because it strips away the local voice.

The commission produced an 800-page report with 100 recommendations. If its work was irrelevant, as seems evident, the process must be open to question.

The government’s proposal is an insult to Auckland, an insult to North Shore, an insult to Manukau, Waitakere, Rodney, Papakura and Franklin – and worse, it is an insult to democracy.

There is no doubt Auckland can benefit from a new model – just not this one."

There was a nice little bit in the Herald saying that, "Putting Rodney Hide in charge was a kin to putting a shark in charge of a snapper going down the gurgler." The quote, purportedly from Shane Jones, Labour's spokesman for Local government, appears to have been removed now.

What concerns me about this super city idea.

What concerns me the most about this super city idea is that we could well end up with more representation at central government level than we have a local government level. Count the number of electorates within the super city boundaries (14) and add in the list MPs based here as well and you will see what I mean. Remember we are to get only 20 councilors.

Then there is the levels of bureaucracy.

Sure by amalgamating the 8 councils you may be able to reduce the number of e.g. town planners down to say, 5, but then you have to put someone in charge to co-ordinate them. Same goes for billing departments. Yes there will be fewer Indians needed but the sheer combined numbers of those left mean there will be more Chiefs needed. The irony is that some of this duplication has only come about because the government insisted on the ratepayers being billed separately for regional rates rather than continue with the levy incorporated in the local rate bill.
I honestly don't see how there will be any cost savings at all - quite the opposite is more likely as this juggernaut will become self propelling with no limitations on how much it can suck up in the way of rates.

The situation will likely be worse than at present.

As for removing duplication - many services are already shared across current council boundaries.
E.g. dog control is covered by one body and one pound for Rodney and North Shore combined. Recycled rubbish collection occurs in Waitakere one week and North Shore the next, both cities use the same rules, same bins and the same collection company on the same contract.

Yes, the Auckland region seems to have an over supply of small to medium council owned venues and not much in the way of really large ones.

Is this really a problem?

Just how many cars to we want traveling long distances on roads limited by geography?
Just how far is reasonable to expect people to travel to venues? 10km, 20km, 50km?
I haven't mentioned public transport because covering many of these distances would require people to change buses or trains.
That is a major drawback. Plus many of these already existing venues don't have good links to public transport. Nor are they all council owned for that matter.

Now there is a no-brainier than needs fixing - but we don't need a super city to do so?

I think not.

Funny how this sort of thing always comes back to transport - that is Auckland's major problem. It has little to do with our local council structure and a lot to do with the central government and the currently toothless (courtesy of central government) ARC.

08 April, 2009

How to move to Auckland

Shift to a home somewhere between Wellsford and Mercer and wait.

Seriously this is how my secretary has wound up living in two cities in the last twenty years without moving house. Now it looks like we will be changing cities again without moving house.

Any word on that big hack saw, concrete cutter and back hoe I would like to borrow?

Letter to Camping Kid

8 Apr. 09
Dear Camping Kid,

I have been haranguing your Mum and Dad... alright, I have been howling at anyone who will listen, to write this down to send to you.

Firstly I would like to state that I have most definitely not been pining away on your bed awaiting your return. If you thought I was going to you are sorely mistaken besides, the pile of clothing on top of it make such actions a little risky.

I had a disturbing encounter with a cat that shall remain nameless on the weekend. It had the nerve to chase me inside through the cat door at speed. I am refusing to discuss the matter further. My ears aren’t that much worse for wear.

Mystery has learnt a new trick. Three days running now, when it is time for her to go back to her hutch she has put herself in the yellow carrier without the need for any chasing or picking up. Your Dad just goes out on to the deck and she hops over to the carrier and in she goes. Smart Bunny.

Inky however is not that happy at the moment. It seems that Mr Biscuit was getting a bit rambunctious and had to be put in a separate carrier to visit Mainly Music. That was all well and good but he refused to poke his head out for the first group so Inky got thoroughly petted. Inky found this a little scary so when your Mum put them back in the quiet room she hauled Mr B out and put him back in the orange carrier with Inky.

You know about Biscuit’s one track mind don’t you.

Now take a guess what the naughty little boy was up to when the door of the room was opened to give another small child a peek? Yup, he was on top and going at it like a Black and Decker drill. Like I said, Inky is not amused. Just as well he has been fixed.
He did redeem himself by being very cute and letting the second group of small children pet him and they aren’t quite as gentle as the first group even it they are quieter. Inky was much happier with the second group.

Cinnamon is being her usual refined self, she has been sleeping with her head in the den and her bottom sticking out so maybe she is sulking. Either that or she wants the wind up her bum and not her ears.

Dory has declined to be my dinner and is now doing that fish mouth thing at me from the main tank with Patch. Who said goldfish are thick? I am sure those two know I can’t get to them so delight in pulling faces at me.

Dusty bird is still heckling me from on high and Flossy just cheaps as I go passed. Neither will discuss lunch – my lunch that is. They’ll keep.

Well I guess that is all unless you want me give you my opinion on how we are moving to Auckland without moving house or having any say in the matter...mmm...better not get me started.

Bbbbrrrrreeeewwww for now,

01 April, 2009

H-bomb dropped at Petre

The eighth letter of the alphabet is causing all sorts of strife down there.

The local yokels of the Pakeha variety are adamant, they want no H in their town, sorry, city.

The Maori however want the H that was stolen before 1854 returned.

The council says NO!

The Geographic Board says YES!

The businesses say NO it will cost us lots of money!

The Health Board quietly changed to using an H some years ago.

There is some serious frothing at the mouth going on.

What is the big deal? Put the dratted H in next time the stationery gets ordered and in 10 years you will wonder what the fuss was about.

Surly the good folk of Whanganui (Wanganui) should be worrying about other things like river pollution, gangs and that other troublesome letter, P.

31 March, 2009

Auckland is about to be shafted

The proposal is:
...and the reality...
Better still it looks like it is going to be rammed down our throats without so much as a referendum.

27 March, 2009

Will there be One Auckland?

The report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Auckland Governance, to be made public today, will recommend a focus on stronger regional government.

I may need to borrow the following:
  • A back hoe
  • A concrete cutter, and
  • A very large hack saw

If my efforts with these don't work Northlanders may have to consider quarrying or making bricks for a Hadrian type wall near Wellsford.

The residents of the Waikato and places further south may be considering a channel development right about now. To run from the Waikato river at Tuakau to the Firth of Thames.

25 March, 2009

I'm a cat alone, an only cat

The Bag Lady aka Queen Smudge, of Old cat's guide to scaring your human fame, at the grand age of 19 years 5 months and 2 days ran out of lives on Monday.

She had been in poor health for a while, years in fact but by Sunday she was so frail that a strong breeze could have blown her over. By Monday morning no breeze was needed like many times before off to the vet she went. This time she really did come home in a box. Cheapest trip in a long time I understand.

In case you missed it The Smudge was not my favourite flatmate. In fact the bossy britches was my least favourite flatmate.

My humans of course are very upset but not surprised.

In less than 3 weeks I have gone from having 2 feline flatmates to none.

I think I can handle the extra attention and I love the lack of competition but I have spotted a down side.

It has to do with the neighbours, the feline neighbour to be exact.

Now I have been beating up this wimp of a ball of fluff for months- no problem. Minnie and Smudge would often come out and watch my prowess as I knocked the soprano ponce for six.

Last night however he didn't turn tail and run quite as quickly as usual. It took *shudder* human intervention to make him slink back over the fence.

Could it be he was more scared of my elderly flatmates than he was of me?

It could be very worrying.

20 March, 2009

Life in the fly lane

It is going to be noisy this weekend.

All week we have be treated to allsorts of aircraft doing strange things over head, usually in groups.

I've been sat up the road watching with my kitten*.

This weekend's airshow at Whenuapai looks like being a few notches above the usual.


*My kitten is not my biological offspring. I adopted him as a baby, that is why he has two legs and no tail.

13 March, 2009

So much for the price of fish in Chapman St

A Morrinsville family is about to lose its home of almost 20 years.

Housing New Zealand wants the family out. But the family is refusing to leave, claiming it's being vilified because of gang connections.

The Pairama family have lived at 1 Chapman Street for 18 years. Miriam Pairama's mother was the lease holder since the lease holder from 1988 until she died of cancer last year.

Housing New Zealand are refusing to transfer the lease into Miriam's name.

"Four times she tried to have the tenancy changed but they turned her down, three times she tried to buy the house and they turned her down, and when she got really sick, well I tried and they turned it down," says Miriam. Housing New Zealand says they've offered the family two other homes to live in which have been turned down. They say the family can't continue to live at Chapman Street because they don't deserve to after intimidating and abusing neighbours and noisy partying.

Miriam claims it is because her brother Lester is in a gang: "As far as I look it it's because my family are gang members and what's that got to do with the price of fish?"
full story

Are there people out there who do want gang members for neighbours?
Could it be something to do with the intimidation, abuse and noisy parties that seem to follow gang members around like a bad smell?
Or is it that the neighbours fear that the low IQ could be contagious.

What has that got to do with the price of fish? Everything and nothing.
The reason for this eviction is no mystery to your average law abiding citizen.

04 March, 2009

One good cat down

13 June, 2007

I am not amused
How about
this little piece of idiocy from Whangarei.Only 2 cats per household.I protest!Mind you it could be a good opportunity to get rid of that cowardly bully of a Minnie cat or that senile old bag of bones called Smudge..........and as for that ginger next door.........

I am eating those words today. Yesterday one of my flatmates, Minnie cat, my favourite boxing bag with a nasty left hook, very unexpectedly passed away, and not necessarily from old age even though she was 15.

At a guess a fur ball was to blame or heart failure.

I have tried taking my frustrations, gently, on Smudge but she is so old and frail I haven't the heart.

Now I will have to work harder at avoiding being a lap cat and mousing at the compost bins.

I am getting called constantly by the kids. Responding was Minnie's job.

I miss you already you stocky grey tag-a-long.

26 February, 2009

Living frugally

Elser fed two people for a week on $50, the amount she would normally spend on a "couple of nights' take-away food"....
...How did it go?
I bought cheaper brands of everything, used leftovers, wasted nothing, plundered the cupboards and garden, and spent more time than I have shopping around. We didn't starve, in fact we ate reasonably well, but it was very tight. If I replaced the stores we would be over budget.
New-season apples and end-of-season plums are about $1 each; why is in-season fruit so expensive? Why are snack foods high in salt and sugar cheaper than carrots?
Household expenditure for a couple with two dependent children averages $218.30 a week. There is not a lot leeway in that for meat, milk or cheese, let alone chickpeas and rice. Hopefully, the two children like water, bruised fruit and homegrown silverbeet.

Read the whole article here.

Now this household is no stranger to living frugally and does a better job than the writer of this column. Basically because we have had more practice at it.

Still it does raise some interesting questions:

Why are snack foods, of the salt and fat kind cheaper than carrots?
Why is in season produce not necessarily cheaper than stored, imported or, horror of horrors, processed?
Why have the cheaper 'house' brands been vanishing off the shelves? -not because they are out of stock either.
Why is flour suddenly more expensive, weight for weight, than sugar? You can substitute sugar but not flour.
Where has all the cheap meat gone? There are whole cuts like belly flap and tongue that just are not in the butchers, even lamb's fry and pig's heads are hard to find. It can't all be going into cat food. Have you seen the price of soup bones lately? or neck chops, or bacon bones?

I do feel sorry for vegetable growers, every man and his dog round here now has a veggie patch of some description. Some have gone to the extent of filling what were formally flower beds with veggies as well.

There could well be whole families turning vegan this year and not for any querky idologal reasons either.

23 February, 2009

Copywipes - The black out begins

Yes, this white cat thinks she could do better than the idiots who wrote this.

Internet service provider must have policy for terminating accounts of repeat infringers
“(1) An Internet service provider must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances, of the account with that Internet service provider of a repeat infringer.
“(2) In subsection (1), repeat infringer means a person who repeatedly infringes the copyright in a work by using 1 or more of the Internet services of the Internet service provider to do a restricted act without the consent of the copyright owner.
“92B Internet service provider liability if user infringes copyright
“(1) This section applies if a person (A) infringes the copyright in a work by using 1 or more of the Internet services of an Internet service provider to do a restricted act without the consent of the copyright owner.
“(2) Merely because A uses the Internet services of the Internet service provider in infringing the copyright, the Internet service provider, without more,—
“(a) does not infringe the copyright in the work:
“(b) must not be taken to have authorised A’s infringement of copyright in the work:
“(c) subject to subsection (3), must not be subject to any civil remedy or criminal sanction.
“(3) However, nothing in this section limits the right of the copyright owner to injunctive relief in relation to A’s infringement or any infringement by the Internet service provider.
“(4) In subsections (1) and (2), Internet services means the services referred to in the definition of Internet service provider in section 2(1).
“92C Internet service provider liability for storing infringing material
“(1) This section applies if—
“(a) an Internet service provider stores material provided by a user of the service; and
“(b) the material infringes copyright in a work (other than as a result of any modification by the Internet service provider).
“(2) The Internet service provider does not infringe copyright in the work by storing the material unless—
“(a) the Internet service provider—
“(i) knows or has reason to believe that the material infringes copyright in the work; and
“(ii) does not, as soon as possible after becoming aware of the infringing material, delete the material or prevent access to it; or
“(b) the user of the service who provided the material is acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, the Internet service provider.
“(3) A court, in determining whether, for the purposes of subsection (2), an Internet service provider knows or has reason to believe that material infringes copyright in a work, must take account of all relevant matters, including whether the Internet service provider has received a notice of infringement in relation to the infringement.
“(4) An Internet service provider who deletes a user’s material or prevents access to it because the Internet service provider knows or has reason to believe that it infringes copyright in a work must, as soon as possible, give notice to the user that the material has been deleted or access to it prevented.
“(5) Nothing in this section limits the right of the copyright owner to injunctive relief in relation to a user’s infringement or any infringement by the Internet service provider.
“92D Requirements for notice of infringement
A notice referred to in section 92C(3) must—
“(a) contain the information prescribed by regulations made under this Act; and
“(b) be signed by the copyright owner or the copyright owner’s duly authorised agent.
“92E Internet service provider does not infringe copyright by caching infringing material
“(1) An Internet service provider does not infringe copyright in a work by caching material if the Internet service provider—
“(a) does not modify the material; and
“(b) complies with any conditions imposed by the copyright owner of the material for access to that material; and
“(c) does not interfere with the lawful use of technology to obtain data on the use of the material; and
“(d) updates the material in accordance with reasonable industry practice.
“(2) However, an Internet service provider does infringe copyright in a work by caching material if the Internet service provider does not delete the material or prevent access to it by users as soon as possible after the Internet service provider became aware that—
“(a) the material has been deleted from its original source; or
“(b) access to the material at its original source has been prevented; or
“(c) a court has ordered that the material be deleted from its original source or that access to the material at its original source be prevented.
“(3) Nothing in this section limits the right of the copyright owner to injunctive relief in relation to a user’s infringement or any infringement by the Internet service provider.
“(4) In this section,—
“cache means the storage of material by an Internet service provider that is—
“(a) controlled through an automated process; and
“(b) temporary; and
“(c) for the sole purpose of enabling the Internet service provider to transmit the material more efficiently to other users of the service on their request
“original source means the source from which the Internet service provider copied the material that is cached.”

18 February, 2009

Copywrong Song

If you are wondering about all the blackouts it is in response to section 92A of the copyright act due to be passed into law on 28th February.

It's an over response to illegal downloading, piracy in other words.

You download in breech of copyright and your ISP cuts you off, in theory.

The problem is that not only will it target those downloading music and videos willy nilly but threatens to cut of Internet service to libraries, universities and any place that allows public Internet access.

Anybody who copies a newspaper article onto a group or blog for discussion purposes will also be in breech of this new law. Anybody who has been involved in such discussions knows that just posting a link in seldom enough. The articles get pulled from news sites too fast.

More than one MSN Group found the plug being pulled over copyright breeches. This legislation threatens to do more than that.

There is currently a fine line between freedom of speech and copyright infringement. Section 92A doesn't just clarify it. It tramples right over it an grinds freedom of speech into the mud.

16 February, 2009

Respite Care

If you have never had to try and claim this count yourself lucky.

It seems that the standard form signed by "support carer" aka the duty manager of a very professionally run city council school holiday program at a council owned venue accompanied by the itemised booking invoice and an eftpos receipt is not acceptable. Even when the GST number is on the claim form along with all the contact details.

I guess it is back up to the Sports Centre to try and get an "acceptable" receipt preferable signed by the same duty manager that signed the form.

When was the last time you got a computer printed receipt that was signed?
Not even the doctor routinely does that any more.

I wouldn't be bothering if it wasn't a couple of hundred dollars worth of care that the Ministry of Health wasn't going to be paying out on.

Here is the real irony.

Another claim for care (different dates) from the same organisation lodged at the same time with the same type of eftpos reciept and invoice has been paid out.

Get your act together Ministry of Health!

10 February, 2009

Ozzie Burns

Or rather his daughter Victoria Burns.

Sadly not something to joke about.

03 February, 2009

What are Progressive Enterprises up to?

That is the company that own Foodtown, Countdown, Woolworths and a couple of other minor supermarket chains.

As I understood it Foodtown and Woolworths were the full service supermarkets with the bigger product range and prices that reflexed that. Higher prices in other words. Competition for New World.

Countdown was the budget edition, direct competition for Pak'n'Save.

Until recently that is.

Locally we have noticed something odd with the prices at Countdown. First we thought it was inflation, the wet winter and the credit crunch. Then we thought perhaps they were using the recent revamping of the local Countdown (the planning of which sucked by the way) as a excuse to increase prices.

The prices weren't jumping just a few percent however. Things like wafer biscuits when from 99c to $1.29, a 30% price rise. Bread, the cheap stuff, when from $1.09 to $1.19 to $1.45. The cheapest house brand vanished and specials started to look like anything but specials - until we saw the new inflated normal price. Tinned fruit for under a dollar? Not any more.

A chance visit to Foodtown has shed a little light on the mystery. Milk and bread at Foodtown is the same price along with quite a list of other items.

Anybody know what is going on?

I have been absent for a while

It's a side effect of the kids hogging the computer.

All fixed as of tomorrow.

One of the good points of the education system.

15 January, 2009

Super size Auckland

Now I have stated my opinion of this idea before here and here.

Now the Herald says that Auckland will be one huge city with a super mayor from next year.

You heard me. One city stretching for Wellsford to Pukekohe, population 1.4 million.

Now the Herald may well have jumped the gun on this but now they are saying that their readers think it is a good idea.

It does have some merit but this kitty's first impulse is to take to the harbour bridge with a hack saw.

Auckland City in its current nearly 20 year old incarnation still hasn't sorted out the infrastructure problems it had 20 years ago. Where as North Shore, Manukau and Waitakere have largely sorted out the problems they inherited and are working on the ones that have developed since. Rodney hasn't fully recovered from being a basket case a few years back and Papakura and Franklin are still mostly rural.

The question is not whether this is the best solution for Auckland but how keen the rest of the country are on having a big tail to wag a small dog.

13 January, 2009

Save us from idiot farmers

Just another drowning - a 3 year old girl and her little brother wander away from their home. Their mother realises they are gone and finds them - in the farm effluent pond not far from the house. She got both out but it was too late for the little girl. read more

Just another inattentive mother?

Not in this case. Mothers with morning sickness are allowed time off to throw up. Mothers are allowed toilet breaks too, believe it or not.

Unfenced pond? Well yes and no, it was fenced, sort of. It wasn't in the same paddock as the house but it was a normal farm fence and the gate was normally left open.

The problem in this case is that the house was unfenced. The farmer (the employer, not the parent) hadn't gotten round to it.

Now I have yet to hear of a farmer's wife that would put up with having an unfenced house. A fence is essential for keeping the kids in and the stock out.

Now there is talk of legislation all because of a farmer who promised a fence in a contract with his share milker but didn't get around to it.

Blame the wet winter or calving if you like - the farmer does. The point is that now one child is dead and another is still at risk because of a job left undone for months.

An unfenced farm dwelling is an accident waiting to happen.

And happen it did.

07 January, 2009

Appointment, please, but not on Tuesday

Patient 'no-shows' a waste, say doctors

Thousands of operations and specialist appointments are cancelled every year because patients fail to show up, district health board figures show.
Senior doctors say patients who cancel on the day or simply fail to arrive are a huge drain on the cash-short public system.
But they have stopped short of calling for fines or sending errant patients to the back of waiting lists, which would add expensive layers of bureaucracy and put lives at risk.
Instead, health boards are looking at innovative ways of ensuring patients turn up, such as allowing them to book their own appointments.
more here

Well duh!

It is more than time district health boards looked at this from the patients perspective.

The reality for the patient is they have be referred. They don't know when or even if they will get an appointment. It could be next week, it could be next year despite the rhetoric of waiting lists being capped at 4 months.

When the appointment finally arrives the patient is expected drop everything to attend, regardless of the amount of notice given. Sometimes this is only days. My friend, WOF guy, even had a call from the hospital asking why he hadn't confirm he would be at the booked appointment when he hadn't yet received the letter informing him of it. The letter finally arrived the day before the appointment time.

When middle child received her last specialist appointment, not only did she have to miss one of her rare, much enjoyed school swimming lessons (quite a disruption even for a high functioning Autistic) but my secretary had to arrange cover for the volunteer job she was booked to do that day to take her. Any other day of the week would have been more convenient. Even better would have been a date and time nearly 12 months earlier when the specialist check was due.

Reality is that patients have lives and it is unrealistic to expect people to drop everything just because they are waiting for an appointment from the public health system.

05 January, 2009

Dance of the Summer Sunscreen

I'll start by stating the obvious.

I am a white cat.
I am a very white cat.
I am whiter than freshly fallen snow.

OK, since I live in the 'winter less' north I have never seen or met snow so I will put it another way.

I am so white that at night under Auckland's light polluted skies I attract moths.

I am seriously, luminescently white.

That is my problem. That and the depleted ozone layer.

I get sun burnt, on my ears to be exact.

Now the vet has this sunscreen that is supposed to be put on my ears and nose
It is a thick greasy titanium- zinc ointment specially formulated for cows and horses.

I hate it.

I've gotten very good at avoiding it. I recognise the tube on sight. Sunscreen application time looks like a scene from an old British comedy Benny Hill. Ending with me heading over the fence with four people and a tube of sunscreen and camcorder in tow.

Cue: Yakety Sax.

My only saving grace is so far I have avoided getting caught (in a halfway decent shot that is) on video and have thus escaped the ignominy of youtube fame.

Mostly I have learned to keep my head out of the sun but sometimes I like do a little baking and get caught out.

The problem with that is that healing sunburn gets itchy and sometimes I can't resist scratching.
Like I did yesterday.

Scratched sunburn bleeds, which leads to people noticing, which in turn leads to this morning's ambush - with sunscreen.

I was just settling down for a short snooze on a warm lap when I was grabbed and had this runny stuff slathered all over my newly scabbed ears at a thickness only the manufacturer would be happy with.

I am not a happy kitty!

Curse you ozone hole!