Friday, March 20, 2009

The annual pilgrimage to the Far North

Can't imagine why I am writing this as no one will want to read about three old buggers catching nothing whilst all and sundry are catching fish wholesale all around.

This was my tenth Houhora One Base having missed only last year since 1999. There were some things the same and some different. 'Smooth Torquer' from Kawhia (they caught a marlin this year - very good as it is a long time between drinks for them) was still our neighbour at the Houhora Heads campsite as were the retired couple from Whangarei with the quad and the small Stabi. The Servo was giving away chocolate fish instead of watermelons. The numbers were down bigtime. It still knows how to blow dogs off chains when it feels like it and it still lets you get few days fishing in. Kaitaia still does not rival Milan as a shopping destination and there is still crap cellphone reception in the Far North (although it is not as bad as East Cape - at least there is a bit).

No, I like going to Houhora in mid March - it is like a comfy pair of slippers. I am no longer fired up by the competition side of things (vide supra ad nauseam) but I like being up there for a few days. I like being abused by Paul Batten as I get on the boat and as I get off. It would not be the same coming ashore in the evening with a 0-0-0 and not being told you are useless. The truth is often hard to take. I like having a brief (mainly) yarn with people I haven't seen since last year. The place would not be the same without the three men in a boat from the Bay of Plenty. I was much amused to see they brought a fourth this year - to make up a fourball at golf I was told. Hard case blokes these who don't mind a cold beer on a hot day.

I am an old bugger and I find change hard to deal with and so despite the tourney being reduced to four days I was going to fish the Saturday anyway 'cos that's wot I do. It also looked as Saturday was going to be the best day weather wise by the length of the straight. Thus I arrived on Friday afternoon to find Boulder sorting out more rods than Tazee has in his shop. So I added eight more to help him along. Driver Paul wasn't arriving until Saturday arvo and so Bouldie and I decided to have a go at this silly string nonsense.

We had worked out the mechanics of running lures and hookless lures in our heads and we just had to see if it would work in practice. A calm day was essential for our first foray into this we thought. I think we were right. Before we culd get all this sorted we had to go and catch a bait. Dead bait we thought because it would be easier for starters. All we could manage was a blue maomao; not blue maomaos - just the one. Well its may not be a koheru but it's a fish isn't it? She'll be right.

Right. Port teaser. What's missing in this picture?

We are fishing with Boulder, don't forget, so our teaser reels are top class. Big F. off Avet loaded with 130lb braid on a bent Unibutt. No messing about here. Line up to a roller troller at the lower halyard anchor point and out to a hookless Cleopatra skirted 'Rocket'. Big splashy lure that will stay on the surface.

Next rod is a TLD 25 spooled 15kg with a hooked Enki to LR.

Then the Tiagra 16 loaded with 10kg and a rigged maomao - well it's all we've got, innit - all ready to be thrown at something.

Continuing anticlockwise we have Boulder's Stella 20000 loaded with a jig (this is getting weirder and weirder) also to be thrown at things.

Something I understand next, a Piper on a 15kg to a TLD 30 at SR

And finally Boulder, smoking, smiling (all normal) and guarding an Avet T Rex running a very big articulated hookless Roddy Kona head without a hook (not normal)

Well we started dragging this lot around off Cape Karikari and it was a bit like walking down Queen Street with your flies undone. I'm sure everyone was looking and giggling. The lures ran like lures. The teasers made a hell of a kerfuffle on the surface (Boulder reckoned the Kona head looked like the fountain on Marine Parade in Napier). I practiced throwing the maomao at the teasers and got OK at it. Whether I could do it when in headless chicken mode was yet to be seen.

Right we're ready. Fish comes into the gear, he lights up, looks pretty, we say 'Look there's a marlin', stroke our chins and decide to wind the teasers up to the outriggers , clear the lures, then throw something attached to a line at the marlin. Or do we throw things then wind? Or do we shout at each other? Or do we both throw things (me the increasingly unappetizing dead fish and Bouldie the purple jig) at the same marlin at the same time as we haven't worked out who does what when. Who drives and where does he go? I don't think either of us really know what needs doing let alone in what order and who does what. She'll be right. Oh no she won't. We haven't got a clue.

All this remains academic as we fail to find a fish. But still, baby steps. The mechanics of running teasers seemed to work. I think we need at least two more pairs of arms and legs. Work in progress.

This was Saturday and we failed to find a fish. Come Wednesday and we still hadn't found a fish. Everyone else had but not us. We Weaseled, we thought, we asked questions, we went where people who caught fish went, we went where we thought we should go and found the top catching boat there, we went to good places and saw birds working and felt pleased with ourselves, we went close (100m off Karikari close) and we went wide (1000m outside the Garden Patch wide), we fished green water, we fished the best cobalt blue, we fished warm water, we fished Frostie the Snowman water. Still no bloody fish. We rang our 'unclean' bell as boats all around us hooked up. Driver Paul drove, Boulder and I made suggestions, some polite and some not. Still no fish.

Not strictly true we did catch fish. There was the blue maomao, a 2kg albie, two coke bottle skippies (the free sample coke bottle size), the world's smallest kingfish and a mahimahi. We looked up the comp weight limit for mahimahi. 4kg. This (taken on shotgun - bloody shotgun- on the Unicorn that last accounted for a 96kg stripey) would have done well to go 400gms. And there were marlin being caught all around us.

Oh and we bought things, I bought a new battery for the Jeep ('cos I had to) and a new pair of Crocs (this was on the 40 knot day) and Boulder bought a battery for his car key so he now has remote central locking (come to think of it I think I paid for that) and a another new rod. Well Kieron Olsen was there, and he was in our caravan for a couple of hours and the rod was red, and had a bent butt and was spiral wrapped and it was windy and what was Boulder supposed to do, tell him to take it away?

And still we caught no marloons whilst all around us were hooking up. Batten is right, I'm useless.

Not the point of course. I had a great time in the best possible company and I don't care if I'm useless.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bring on the chainsaws

I have several hundred trees on my property. They are mine. I own them. I have paid for them. I owe nothing to anyone for them, not to a bank and especially not to a council or the government.

I own a chainsaw. It is also mine. It is also paid for.

If I wish to introduce the latter to the former it is my decision and no one else's. That apparently is not now the case. I say apparently as it has not altered my behaviour around chainsaws or trees one iota. If I want to cut a tree down on my property I will do so and anyone who thinks differently can obtain some sexual gratification as they leave the building.

It was, therefore, with some delight that I read yesterday that one of the Government's sorely needed amendment to the RMA is to de-deify the common or garden tree. The blanket protection that every weed tree now enjoys is to be removed. And not before bloody time either. Any person who has pohutakawa roots uprooting the floor of his house (as is happening to my ex next door neightbour) will now be able to reach for the Husqvarna and sort the problem out in a sea of noise and 2 stroke. He will no longer have to get the 'permission' of some plonker down at council - which will probably be declined if their track record on these matters is anything to go by. He will no longer have to 'consult' an arborist - paid for by me.

Commonsense has prevailed. But how is this being welcomed by the weird beards whose days of ruling the country are now mercifully at an end? They are of course mortified. The end of the world is nigh (next Thursday looking favorite) Armageddon is just around the corner. We are bring warned that Titirangi and Langholm (nests of stupid plonkers if ever there was) will be turned into lunar landscapes by the end of the month. Developers are this very moment shipping in plane loads of Agent Orange. Napalm is suddenly very popular at Fletcher Construction. Every schoolchild is to be issued with a chainsaw.

Idiots. The proposed entirely sensible placing of trees into their proper station in life does not mean you have to waste every tree you come across. It just means that the current totally stupid blanket rules on every damned tree in the land which places it above your first born child in terms of importance are deservedly consigned to the rubbish bin of history.

I am a great believer that nothing is wholly right or wholly wrong. The last Government did not do everything wrong - very nearly but not quite. The current mob are not going to do everything right but they haven't stuffed up too much yet.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sir Obald

Has a certain je ne sais qoi about it, does it not?

Only a few short months ago our lives were ruled by the colourless commies. We all had to be equal. We got medals for turning up. We were not allowed to be better than anybody at anything. They stopped short of Castro's idea of paying neurosurgeons the same as taxi drivers, but only just. It was not an impossible flight of fancy that all those wearing glasses would be shipped off to (aural) rehabilitation camps as they could be seen as intellectuals.

How does an honours system sit with all this? Not at all. How does a titular honours system fit in? Well, even more not at all. If you decide someone is worthy of singling out for praise you make it even worse by calling them 'Sir' something. What to do? Even they decided that getting rid of the honours system altogether was a step too far, at least in the first instance. It was decided that those who were to be reluctantly honoured should be given an honour that was meaningless and had a silly complicated title that no one could remember and meant nothing. Thus Colin Meads became not Sir Pinetree but a Most Distinguished Companion of the Order of New Zealand (I think) . He would still thump you if you disagreed with him but you would not get thumped by a bloke bestriding the battlements in a ermine trimmed cape.

What does this totally unrememberable appellation mean? Nothing. You can be a companion of something animate - like your best mate, a maiden aunt or a goat. You cannot be a companion to a virtual object. You cannot take the plane to Wellington as the companion of Newton's Second Law of Motion or Parkinson's disease. You can be the companion to Mrs Smith at number 27 who has Parkinson's disease, of course. Thus you could not be a Companion of an Order of Merit as it is not something that physically exists. This suited the Mao jacketed ones perfectly. Dish out something meaningless and people will not object when it is removed completely.

This, of course, is just bollocks. People should be rewarded for doing well. Good grief they even enjoy it. This starts from getting a gold star in Primary School and extends right through to Sir Mick Jagger who gets an award for still being alive.

I am delighted that the current Pragmatic Government has got rid of all this equality bollocks and we are to have titular honours again. It is even retrospective so those who the mealy mouthed witch denied their proper gong can get it back. Miserable bloody woman. How heartening it is to see all the changes she wrought in our lives without any mandate whatsoever being rolled back one by one.

Privy Council next, please.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

ACC is broken

Well of course it is. Take any enterprise and give it to a government monopoly and then make everyone use it and what do you expect. No competition and tenured workers is a sure fire recipe for disaster. The tales of waste and abuse in ACC are legion. If only ten percent of them are true we are being taken for a ride.

My wife tripped over in the garden , fell and broke her wrist a few years ago. Painful and a bloody nuisance. A policeman (or my then 16 year old daughter) could have made the diagnosis without recourse to Dr Roentgren's invention but we repaired to the hospital in the approved fashion. We required some analgesia, an Xray, a reduction and another Xray. In that order. What we got was an ACC form upfront well before the analgesia. It was (is) a culture. The ACC came before common humanity. I was puzzled at the time that this domestic incident even came within ACC's purview. But it did and no further progress through the 'system' was possible until I had filled in the form. The patient couldn't do this because she had broken her wrist, remember. What would have happened if I had not been able to play scribe I shudder to think. I got the impression if had filled in the demographics along the lines of F. Christmas, North Pole we would have been OK but not filling it was a non starter. Having declined all financial recompense (my wife was not working for money at the time) I thought the matter closed.

About six weeks later we received a 'phone call at 1900hrs asking if ACC could provide any home help as they were sure the high dusting had been neglected for a while. Common courtesy precluded me from telling them to get some sexual gratification as they left the building. What are we doing employing someone on time and a half or double time phoning to offer services that people almost certainly don't need for starters? A trivial story but with absolute veracity. There are billions of other stories for which I cannot vouch for detailing even greater profligate waste of my money.

Billions. I am not the first to point out that billion is the new million. Numbers associated with anything financial these days are followed by a quantity of noughts I didn't know it was possible to put after anything. ACC apparently has liabilities in the $200 billion dollar range (that's $200,000,000,000.00 I think) but has assets only half that. You don't have to be Adam Smith to know that is not going to fly. We are then told 'If this was a normal business it would be bankrupt'. No shit, Sherlock. And here in lies the problem. Why is it not a normal business? That is what insurance is, a business. It is not a business because it has morphed into welfare agency. There are businesses milking it as the cash cow it has become. The physiotherapy industry is whining this morning because it can see the farmer opening the gate prior to the herd leaving the milking shed.

Those who oversaw the transformation of ACC from an insurer to a welfare bottomless pit, the previous Labour government, are crying foul as they would . David Parker is bleating that ACC is the best system in the world and should not be tampered with. Here is a prime example of someone so blinded by ideology that he cannot see that the emperor is wearing no clothes. Wake up, David, ACC is a lemon. It is a business basket case. The Goof whines that he thinks that the figures are being made to look worse than they really are and we are being 'softened up' for the privatisation of the Corporation.

Well Phil, I am as soft as the softest comfy cushion. I need no more tenderising. Just bloody do it. Give me some choice. The choice for starters as to which parts of my life I chose to insure. Everyone has to pay ACC levies for damned everything. A worker in a florist pays levies in case she is savaged by a geranium or inhales potting compost. A construction worker insuring against being sconed by a hod of bricks is fair enough but an accountant paying for protection against a calculator? If said number cruncher wants to keep the abacus at bay then let him chose to pay for it. Get over it Goof your compulsion, totalitarian way of leading our lives for us is over. It ended on the second Saturday of last November.

ACC is broken. Of course it is. To put Humpty back together again we need to make a bloody great omelette.