Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm really not sure....... I feel about this. The dim mists of time receeding ever rapidly into the even dimmer mists of time? Thankful she is still alive?

Grace Slick is 70 today

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Slack blogger - enforced (sort of)

I spoke to friend of mine yesterday on the electric telephone concerning matters of rural machinery. This subject may yet merit a post by itself. He mentioned that he had just checked this blog to look for updates over the last couple of weeks to find there were none. I don't associate with dullards.

Do I make excuses for this? Of course not. I will write as and when I see fit and as well as being very busy on returning from the Northern Hemisphere both at work and at home I have for the first time in my life suffered from an acute back strain.

Have there been things that have stirred the interest? Well sort of. The ACC business. I know what I would do and it is basically make ACC live up to its name and no more. This is the problem. It would appear to have morphed from being an insurance scheme into an arm of the welfare system - as if that hydra needed any more tentacles. A nonagenarian who apparently was the principal author of the scheme in the dim mists of time stuck his head above the parapet and said that when he was doing a spot of chin stroking an arm of the welfare state was what he intended. If this is so (and he didn't appear to have the memory loss people of his age are sometimes afflicted with) he needs a good old fashioned six of the best, trousers down. The changes being proposed are bad in only one regard in that they don't seem to go far enough. An excess to stop trivial claims should be instigated tomorrow. And sod the whining from the victims of society - their time expired a year ago. Screening rights for the Rugby World Cup.? Who gives a rat's arse. It is all going to be on Sky anyway. I can't wait to see an increase in the car crushers traffic - Nissan Skylines are a blot on the landscape. Not much else amuses.

Backache. My attitude to people with acute back ache had been for years that there was nothing going on that couldn't be treated with a couple of harden up pills and a cup of tea. Well, I have to say that this stance has softened a little - but I fully expect it to return when I am completely symptom free which I have pencilled in for tomorrow afternoon. My acute discomfort was bought about not by a sudden catastrophic episode but by an afternoon of tree felling and lifting of resulting lumber into a trailer. After this not world shattering exertion the evening found me a little uncomfortable. I came to leap out of bed full of the joys of spring (sic) the following morning and I couldn't. Never known anything like it. I could not sit up in bed. Really very unpleasant pain In the corset region precluded bending at the waist at all. I rolled onto the floor and struggled to an upright posture with the aid of the nightstand and things got a bit better.

I soon found that any activity that could be accomplished lying flat or standing upright was easy. But anything that involved even five degrees of flexion at the waist was impossible. The pain from para vertebral spasm is bloody awful. I struggle through work taking harden up pills (they don't work) and COX2 inhibitors (about as much use as a chocolate teapot). I get Mrs O to apply Votaren Emugel as advertised in those dreadful infomercials that screen between Andrew Saville and Jim Hickey. This muck is also as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. I struggle through a day off just lying in bed feeling useless - which I was - but had to return for a day's toil in the fields the next day. Here things started getting a whole better when one of my minders suggested I get serious with the analgesia. I knew she was right. My views on painkillers are that if the proffered pill didn't start its life as a poppy I'm not interested. So a few days on a chemically unrelated but equally efficacious mate to morphine saw me turn the corner.

You know things are getting a whole lot better when you don't wish for velcro on your shoes and are reaching for the tramadol for its buzz as opposed to its analgesia. We are over all this now and golf looms for the weekend - as long as it doesn't rain.

So as I am feeling better and the agony of this time last week fades into the mists of time I have only one thing to say to anyone who comes up to me and says 'I can't do that 'cos me back hurts'.

Harden the f*** up.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Where's my share?

I am in Dairy Flat half an hour north of Auckland. It is nearly the end of the first week of October. And it's bloody freezing. Snow in October. Cars stranded on the Napier-Taupo Highway. Lambs dying wholesale. The ground so bloody wet that I couldn't run the tractor if I wanted to venture out into the cold so to do.

I run two four litre cars, a farm bike and a 42HP diesel tractor. I have barn full of fossil fuel wasting power tools; chainsaws, chippers, hedge trimmers - the works. I run a lathe, a pedestal drill and a bandsaw. I go fishing on a boat with two 600HP Ivecos. I have just flown to Europe and back. I use electricity like there is no tomorrow. I just don't care - I leave all my computers and TVs (deliberate and truthful use of plurals) running on standby. I have the spa pool always at 40°C just in case I need a dip after a long afternoon of agricultural toil. I have three phase power to my barn - just in case (I'm not sure in case of what - I might need to do a bit of smelting some day, I suppose). I'm typing this with a couple of lights on when I really only need the one. And I have a bloody fan heater running. I also need to have the electric blanket warming the bed so I can run there as soon as possible and jump in without an irrevocable shock to my body temperature homeostasis.

As you can see I'm doing my bit to wreck the planet - and proud of it.

So where is my share of global warming? I want it and I want it now.

Friday, October 2, 2009


On the last leg home now and I’m very glad to be so doing. Been away for three and a half weeks and that is quite enough holiday. I’ve heaps to do at home. There’s all that grass to be cut enabling me to help wreck the planet burning gallons of diesel. And four stroke. And two stroke. Bliss. I’ve got to learn how to mill using a lathe. There’s Snow Leopard to get trained and I even am not facing the prospect of work on Monday with dread. Looking forward to it is not really quite on the money, but it is close.

Am I looking forward to returning to the Land of the Long White We Don’t Quite Get It Right? Hell, yes. I hear that Sue Bradford has been burnt at the stake in my absence as befits one of her ilk, so what possible reason could there be for not going home. I also see that the now not so new gummint had a rush of commonsense and got rid of the sub-clause in the new cell phone regulations that precluded using your iPhone in the car as an iPod or turn-by-turn navigation aid, so it is getting better all the time.

My conclusions after a couple of weeks in the UK was that it qualified for about five out of ten, so what of Malaysia? Scores much higher I think. They have blisteringly fast broadband for openers.

If SIngapore is Asia for beginners then Butterworth, Malaysia, is the real deal. This is not the land of the Lexus or gold chromed Mercedes. This is the working man’s Asia. He gets around in a pair of 50c jandals, a Honda 50cc motorbike bought from Boon Siew if he’s sold enough noodles that week or a Proton Wira if he is relay on the up. This is the Asia that never stops because everyone is working so bloody hard as they have to. To stop is to starve because there is no bloody benefit to fall back on. You stop working if you are seriously old and who looks after you then? The State? Of course not. Your children do just as you looked after them when they couldn't do it for themselves.

This is the Asia of superb food. Food that is as cheap as chips but never is chips. Sure there are McDonald's, BurgerKing and KFC and other rubbish but why would you eat such crap when you can buy a plate of char koay teow for NZ$1.20? Why gorge yourself on a Party Bucket of fried oestrogen riddled chook when you can splash out on more Black Pepper Crab than you can eat for NZ$5? I would be perfectly happy eating asian food from standard Malaysian restaurants, coffee shops or food centres for the rest of my days.

And these roadside vendors wouldn’t pass a single OSH type regulation you put one in front of them. I reckon half of them wouldn’t be able to read any OSH type regulation you put in front of them. Does this matter? Do droves of their their customers get sick because they haven’t been to a food safety class? Do they buggery. Are there mass outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting in the kampongs because they wash their ten year old plastic plates in a bowl of cold water containing no detergent at the side of the road? I don’t think so. Does their custom drop away because their service is in general atrocious by the standards of western restaurants? Do people stay away in droves because the stalls have no Maitre D and the waiters are barefoot and wear threadbare T shirts? I’ll let you work it out for yourselves.

Just dining in a Malaysian foodstall gives you more than a hint as to why all the safety bollocks and regulations in general that surround so much of our life in the ‘civilised’ West is just so wrong. Make up a whole load of useless regulations and then employ armies of brainless state Jobsworths to police them and you are asking to have the whole lot ignored. Sensible pragmatic people, like Mr Ordinary Denizen of Butterworth, does just that. Sheeple the likes of who inhabit Britain, New Zealand and other developed countries seem to regard it as a mark of their progress that they follow all this stuff to the letter.

If Mr Butterworth wants to build an extension on his house, he does. He doesn’t bother with resource consent or permission from any council, he just employs some builder type bloke and gets on with it. Builder type bloke will not be certified in anything (let alone building stuff). The extension will likely look disgusting and appear as if it was designed by a nine year old with a Lego set (because it probably was) but it mainly won’t fall down. The extra electricity it needs that has been nicked from his neighbour with a pair of jumper leads will flow as well as the official stuff - mostly. During the construction of said building works no worker will wear either a safety helmet or a bloody fluoro jacket (I haven’t seen one of these horrors for nearly a week). All chippies will likely be shod in a pair of jandals and there will be no safety notices on the wire fences around the construction site; fences that won’t be there anyway because they are a useless bureaucratic nonsense. And no one will die. If the house owner is dissatisfied with the work carried out he doesn’t go to a ‘Board’ to lodge a complaint. He just doesn’t pay the builder bloke. Or thumps him. Or both. A much better way of sorting things out.

There are other bits of the West that Mr Butterworth is just ignoring. In their attempt to ape the big countries (spare me) there are gummint run campaigns extolling the virtues of being green and reducing your ‘carbon footprint’. Now just think about this. This a place where they are trying to stop supermarkets giving out plastic bags to save the environment and over the road the local motosikal repairman is pouring his waste oil into the storm drains. This is the country that has probably razed more natural forest in order to plant palm oil than any other country on the planet.

And they are trying to do the safety thing. Recently a law was passed insisting that back seat passengers in a car must wear seat belts. Same country where half the old Bedford trucks on the road have no doors - or seat belts. I think you are supposed to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Some do, some don’t. No one seems to care. And I don’t think it is quite written into the motorcycling bit of the Statute Book that you are allowed to have three or four people on said form of motorized transport.

If you have laws you must police them. Pretty basic stuff. All Police cars have stickers on the back saying in four languages ‘Don’t Bribe Me’. But Mr Pragmatic of Butterworth has a way around this as well; as usual he ignorers it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not coming out in favour of wholesale bribery and corruption (and I’m aware of some pretty staggering stuff that occurred in this part of the world not that long ago - the protagonist came to a very sticky and permanent end)) but a pragmatic $10 at the side of the road does it for me when the alternative is $170 and thirty demerit points. I’d even go for a stern talking to.

The West never used to be like like the crap society I saw in Britain ten days ago. It wasn’t like that even when I left thirty years ago. Please don’t let real Asia go down the same path. Their way works. It may not be ‘right’ according to our sanitized view of what is right but millions think it is OK. I find it gratifying that there are still people in the world who don’t run off to a complaints tribunal if their builder stuffs up; they just kick the snot out of him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

United Kingdom? No thanks

Well we are now well out of Britain and sitting in the steaming heat of Penang. To be precise I’m sitting in air conditioning with the added boost of a ceiling fan until I can get the relative humidity down below 80%. The heat I can stand but the humidity is really the killer. I can’t imagine how I lived in this part of the world for so many years. But more of South East Asia later. I’ve had time to have a think about the longest continual time I’ve spent in London since finally leaving there in 1982.

I could no more go back to live in the United Kingdom than live on Venus. There are now sixty one million people in Britain and I reckon about half of them are on the M6 on a Friday afternoon. There eight lanes of motorway around Manchester and they still have gridlock for no apparent reason other than there are too many bloody cars on the road. And we won’t even start on the world’s largest car park the M25. We were planning avoiding this transport armageddon whilst still two hundred miles from it on our trip back to London. The fact that there are too many cars on Britain’s roads is, of course, a reflection that there are too many bloody people there full stop. And there seems no way of stopping it. Any citizen of the latest unheard of country to join the European Union apparently has the right of residence and every other right he can think of in the UK and the country is just flooded with people. There are just too many of them.

We’ve had a preliminary go at the damned surveillance cameras but after a couple of weeks they really started to get up my nose. I really don’t need this

Or his mate not twenty feet away:

every where I go.

Theses two were taken as I waited on Winchester station for the 10.07 to Waterloo. WInchester, as we are all aware is vying with Afghanistan as the world centre of terrorist training and general bearded and turbanned badness. Once the 10.07 arrives we settle into our seat and start reading the Metro, the free newspaper that is left on newspaper stands on every railway station in the environs of London until the five minutes it takes to read it has passed and it is dumped on a train seat. The paper is rubbish but the price is right. Glance up from the Metro and what do we see in the middle of the carriage roof?

Our old friend the camera placed for ‘my safety’.

Get off at Clapham Junction to change trains and we have this:

More information about cameras and a not so subtle reminder as to why they are there. We never turn ‘em off and if we find anything on the footage we can beat you with we bloody well will. Above the camera notice you will see, conveniently placed in the same location so as I don’t have to waste a picture snapping it, another thing that the UK has caught big time. I thought New Zealand had a bad attack of Safety Natzism. But we haven’t finished with cameras yet. I get to my destination, all presumably recorded on a hard drive some where, and I get into New Malden High Street and although I intended intended walking the mile or so home, I couldn’t help but glance at the bus stop on my way past.

They have gone past filming the citizenry doing nothing in a covert manner, they are now proud of it and are shouting about their exploits from the roof tops. I’ll be bound there’s a nerdy sort of a bloke sitting in an underground bunker fuming behind his Coke bottle glasses that the coverage of London buses with his cameras has only reached 80%. A pox on the lot of them, I really don’t want to live with all that sort of crap all around me.

The nice government looking after you at every turn. New Zealand had nine years of Helengrad to foist the state upon us. The UK has had twelve years of Blair and his successor Gordon Brown (who is about as popular as a cup of cold sick - and that is with his own supporters) to bend the British people to its similar ways. They appear to have escaped the lesbian and gay undertones we made a specialty du maison, but the result of the overall process is there for all to see.

All the pictures in this post were taken over the course of just a couple of hours whilst traveling from Winchester to New Malden, a couple of harmless and unremarkable towns in Southern England. If I had been more conscientious (?anal) and spent a couple of weeks taking pictures of intrusions of the State into the great unwashed’s lives I could have filled my hard disk and bored the pants off all. I hope I’ve given a flavour of the surveillance and we shall now move onto the central obsession with damned safety.

We’ve already seen the notice on Clapham Junction station advising us that if we don’t want to get bowled by 160 tonnes of suburban train (and remember there is the occasional unfortunate soul who does want to do this) you should stand away from the edge of the platform. No shit, Sherlock. They have even painted a yellow line on the platform to indicate to the slow learners where the edge might be.

I was unable to see a sign that asked people to be careful when walking in a straight line on the flat but the sign above was on a perfectly ordinary set of stairs leading away from the very dangerous platform we have just left. For God’s sake who needs a bloody sign advising caution on every set of stairs; these stairs of course have a yellow line painted on the edge of each tread to aid the dullards who can’t find the edge of anything. Stop it. I know how to use a set of stairs and they are not dangerous. Stairs have been around for centuries and they are not up there with the black death as a cause of whole civilizations coming to a sticky end. They are stairs and that is about it.

Safety has Britain in its grip. In just the sixteen days that I was in the UK Boy Scouts were banned from carrying pocket knives. Whittling is now a lost art and joins adventure playgrounds as a harmless pursuit that is closed off to the youth of Britain. There was also a bit of legislation passed that requires everyone who takes kids that aren’t their own anywhere in their car on a regular basis to have a police check. I am entirely serious. If you are on the roster to take the under-11s to soccer on a Saturday you are now assumed to be a kiddy fiddler until Plod has run through what ever he runs through and gives you an official sustificate to say that you are not. They estimate that this will affect upwards of 1.6 million people and the machinery to enforce it is already in place. Get that, already in place - before the law was introduced. Good communist stuff that. Speaking of which there are schemes where you can get financial reward for dobbing in your neighbours/relatives for something. I forget what the something was but it might have been carrying knives. They seem obsessed with the notion that everyone under the age of thirty wanders the streets with a switchblade secreted about their person.

The whole surveillance/safety/information thing appears to me to be a continuum. Each bit merges seamlessly into the next and it all appears to be leading to a state control of everything. They certainly are big on grabbing your money, if you have any, to finance all this. There are lots of people paying a top rate of tax of 50 pence in the pound (and a lot who should be who aren’t, if they have any sense) and a party at its Annual Conference (the Liberal Democrats I think) proposed, in all seriousness, a ‘Mansion Tax’ on those who have the temerity to live in houses worth over a million quid. I can assure you that a mill doesn’t buy you much, certainly not in London, and a ‘Mansion’ would hardly describe a lot of the dross that would set you back a million big ones.

I don’t know whether Britain’s seemingly total acceptance of anthropogenic global warming crap is a left wing media trick as you could hardly call The Sun a left wing rag and half the country have that as their only source of printed news input. However in the whole time I was there I heard nothing or nobody telling the real story. Nowhere was there anyone walking around pointing out that the emperor was stark naked. I suppose I didn’t listen to any talkback radio (I was on me hols for enjoument not to torture myself) or read any relevant UK blogs but it just seems a done deal that Bugatti Veyrons are the source of all men’s woes. Everything in the supermarkets is touted as ‘reducing your carbon footprint’ or if you buy this pound of sprouts you are ‘doing your bit to save the planet’. It is nauseating in the extreme. But the Great British Unwashed seems as happy with this bullshit as he is with having his every movement recorded on a hard disk somewhere.

Hand in glove with saving the world whilst doing the weekly grocery shopping you are assured on every aisle that what you are about to purchase comes from ‘sustainable’ sources and is ‘ethically produced’. Sustainable presumably means that if you plant the field with the same seeds again next year you will get more spuds. Ethically produced has me beat. The workers making your sneakers at US$1 a fortnight aren’t spoken to in a stern voice or looked at in a disrespectful manner? Bollocks the whole lot of it.

Of course there are bits of the UK that are still delightful. One of my mates lives in a chocolate box lid village in Hampshire that hasn't changed in centuries. Ticks all the boxes. Next door neighbour has a thatched roof (you wouldn’t want one of those though as the insurance premiums are astronomical being as they are so dangerous - high fire risk, you see), there is a village pub (very nice indeed), a church with a graveyard just crying for someone to sit in and compose an eulogy and a village store where you can buy smoked trout caught in the local river. I wonder if living in such an idyll would completely compensate for having to drive out into the overcrowded, overtaxed, surveillance ridden, safety nuts and ethically produced real world. I suspect it wouldn’t.

No, the Britain of today is a vastly different place to the Britain I left nearly thirty years ago. This is, of course, not unexpected. But I reckon the change is 99% bad and they can keep it. I’ll use the UK as place to go on golf tours with the best mates a bloke could have.

A final image from the trip from Winchester to New Malden just a week ago.

It is Autumn in the UK and leaves fall from the trees. Not too complicated, I trust? The fruits also fall from the horse chestnuts. Conkers. This is taken not ten feet from a bus stop that is outside a boys school. What is remarkable about this? The remarkable thing is that they are still there, lying on the ground. When I was a boy they wouldn’t even get to the ground. You threw sticks up into the tree to knock them down. And here in the age of the video game conkers are lying around outside a boys school unloved and unwanted. I saw many fine specimens that would make sixers easy, even without resorting to the oven or vinegar.

Britain is a sorry place when conkers go ungathered.