Sunday, 24 May 2009

Diary: Hikoi this, Hikoi that

NZ Herald:

The Aucklander:

I raced down to the meeting point (at the bottom of Queen Street, CBD (where the Downtown fountain used to be). I was worried that I had missed the event but I was reassured when I saw the Tino Rangatiratanga flag being carried down Queen St.

I navigated my way past traffic, police people, police cars, idle construction workers, hikoi watchers. I found a nice quiet spot just by the traffic intersection, and almost where the fountain used to be (except it has been demolished, and paved, and at that moment very very full of motivated hikoi attendees).

The sky was clouded, dull silver, and portentous. The crowd sprouted umbrellas, and some green balloons floated above our heads. The raucus chants, slogans, songs and chatter was interspersed with the thudding of the helicopters overhead. It was sorta quiet around me as I had inadvertently sidled up to a deaf group.

I couldn't twiddle my thumbs as my right hand was preoccupied managing my umbrella. I waited. And waited. And waited. 12 noon was the start of the actual walk up Queen Street. I spotted Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand. I waited. The start was unpretentious (from my view). Something happened. There was movement. I could walk forward. I walked forward.

The group stopped and started. And stopped and started. Like a traffic jam, but without cars. And no complaints. With loudhailers.

Most people around me wanted "Maori seats!" and wanted them "Now!".

I did get to talk to a fellow (from the North Shore) who believed the whole Super City gig was an asset grab by Central Auckland mayor John Banks ex-National MP and Rodney Hide MP of the ACT stripe.

A Maori lady was concerned about the lack of detail for the poorer income districts.

Fiona Jack was spotted. And Brett Graham. There were many other people whom I couldn't name by sight.

I walked, and walked, and walked in fits and starts until until I finally finally reached the Town Hall and was greeted with a speech and song.

But then I had to leave the crowd so that I could get back to the office in the time I had for my lunch break.

p.s. World Towel Day 25 May - Do you know where your towel is?

[edited 26 May 09]

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Diary: 23 May 2009

I had a grand time with our spurious expedition to the Hamilton Gardens.

We set off at midday after a late breakfast, and toddled off on State Highway 1. It was a luverly sunny day for a nice long drive. Blue blue sky. Scudding clouds. Chill winds, which is why the car windows were firmly shut.

The car was looked after at the first Service Centre (properly petrolled and windscreen-wiped), whereupon we decided we deserved looking after too. With my usual decision-making skills, I avoided the processed chocolate biscuits and msg'd junk food. It was a wrench but what can I do, if the companies make fake foods? I convinced myself it was much better to scoff genuine 100% sugar and mint flavours. I'd forgotten Minties can take out your teeth.

Proceedin' along --
-- we had forgotten the cassette tapes of "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" and the radio reception wasn't up to much. Husband tossed out the word 'Eragon' which prompted the start of the Alphabet Game.

The rules of the game are simple: the first letter of the subsequent word has to be the last letter of the preceding word. For example,
1. Eragon,
2. nuzzle,
3. effervescent,
4. tumescent,
5. the,
6. et cetera...

You get the idea.

Standard word-play rules apply - where the word is not recognised by all players, the user must provide spelling and/or definition and/or example of use; repetition and derivation is discouraged (not illegal, but certainly frowned on).

It is approximately two hours travelling time on State Highway 1 from Auckland to Hamilton. The game paused when we reached Hamilton.

My memory being lacking, we meandered through the central city area of Hamilton before we located a sign ("A sign! A sign!") indicating the general direction of the Hamilton Gardens. And it was a good and accurate sign.

The ambience of the Gardens was welcoming as always. So open. So fresh. The kauri rickets in the carpark are growing nicely, providing more shade than they did the previous year.

So this was the end of the 2hr trip. The public commode was a most alluring sight. Upon entry, I noted the multitude of water residue (in the form of 'wet') on the toilet seat, and walls of the wide, single room. Did I mention the season is Winter? And the toilet had much airflow betwixt the fresh air outside and any meagre chance of warmth inside. This endeavour promised to be fraught, even as my memory delivered imagery of self-cleaning public toilets.

Needless to say, when I heard an unexpected rumbling noise emanating from the walls, I vacated the room promptly regardless of unfinished business.

The Visitor Centre was very friendly and helpful. The desk lady informed us of the new Te Parapara Maori garden

Husband and I glanced at the garden map we acquired, refreshed our memory of the layout, and put our best foot forward. We found the start of the entrance to the Maori garden. And I convinced him to take the path least travelled, which led us to a deadend in the Italian garden. Nice view. After a u-turn, we were in the right spot again. The Te Parapara website is a lot more impressive than the garden I saw, so I recommend reading the webpage then visiting the land.

After our mutual bewildered experience of Te Parapara, we sauntered into the Perfume garden (which I can't locate on their webpage) but it must have been the wrong season as I only smelt fresh air (and very refreshing it was too). We sauntered out.

Taking the unpaved track, we found the sign to the Sustainable Backyard Garden.

I convinced husband to detour through the Kitchen Garden so that I could recognise supermarket plants au natural. I can spot spinach, rhubarb; he can spot carrot, raspberry. Who knew oats look like grass?

Husband gently reminded me of my interest in sustainability. By a fortuitous coincidence, we were standing by one of the entrances to the Sustainable Backyard Garden. Chicken Tractor, worm farm, compost, water chestnuts, sprightly fantail, comfrey were some of the highlights there. Thoroughly educational.




My thirst of knowledge slaked momentarily, we bethought to nourish ourselves at the Garden Café. What better way to complete this visit than tea and cake by the lake?

'Twas a cold and windy wait for tea. My cake became a memory, as did my half sandwich. Husband staunchly held out for his cuppa before deigning to enjoy his portion of cake. Tea duly arrived, and it was much appreciated. Luverly biiig pot. Which is all I could say really. Taste-wise, not so much.

Everyone concerned was now much more cheerful, and warmer for the hot beverage. I continued to take pleasure in viewing the olive trees as the sun shone through the leaves.

Oh, the warm afterglow of consumption and repleteness...priceless.

And the visit wouldn't be satisfying without an attempt to inspect the turtles of the lake.

I posited the turtles were in hibernation. Then we exited the Gardens. I admired the bush full of small dark-pink flowers. At a guess I'd call it a Manuka. Wikipedia reckons the manuka blossoms are white varying to pink. So I'm uncertain of the name of the plant. But it sure is purty.

The navigation back to Auckland was very easy; all signs point to home. I'd almost feel Hamilton didn't want Aucklanders to stay.

Two hours more of the Alphabet Game; we ended at "Rome" in our carpark. I am pleased to say that we still have more words in our combined vocabulary to continue the game.

"Eragon" was on tv tonight.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

No benefits to marriage. Except being married.

I'm married. Congratulate me. Because there are no financial breaks for being married. At least not currently in the New Zealand tax system.

If I had a couple of kids under 18 years old, I could qualify for "Working for Families Tax Credits"; I would be part of a family!

But no, I am only a worker bee married to another worker bee. We don't qualify for any special status at all.

In fact, because we have a joint bank account, the account is taxed at the main incomer earner's
tax-rate: 33%. And, the annual statement of earnings from the bank has this higher tax-rate. Which means I'm confuzzled about what my earnings are because before 1 April 2009 I was on 33% tax-rate but there's been changes and now I'm at 21% (I think).

I could be eligible for
Independent Earner Tax Credit...iffen I figure out how the taxing of joint bank account works. I may be better off being single.

But no, I love husband. And I'm married for life, not for financial tax breaks.

Curiously enough, one of the main topics that come up during a search on the topic is Family Trusts. Some cursory research suggests it costs a few thousand dollars each year to maintain the trust -- so you gotta have money to save you money.
[edited 20 May 09]

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Diary: May 16, 2009

Last night I had quite a lovely time visiting my sister. We (husband and I) arrived, et some cookies and bread bits with dip, and chatted about this and that. Someone reminded tha' group we still had dinner and birthday cake to fit in. A lot of nobbit interesting but you had to be there. The cookies and bread and dip were very delicious...we sorta pigged out.

Then she suggested games, which I wasn't up to but husband said "Munchkin". Eh well as the visit was to celebrate his birthday just been, I acceeded to his request.

An' we started play at 6. -Ish. Small-end stuff as we open doors an' pick what-not. Small fry as allies insisted on treasure for their assistance; this sorta bargain was refused many times.

It carried thru' dinner, then American Idol (as we denigrated the American choice of one of the last pair of competitors).

MK: I'm going to write a letter to the American people!

SA: Yeah that'd be great! "I don't care about Guantanamo, but you voted for the wrong Idol guy and now I'm mad!"

I like Simon Cowell -- dam' honest guy, a real straight-talker. Calls a spade a spade when it's deserved, and not afraid to call a spade a shovel when it's needed.

Munchkin carried on after American Idol.

Stuff happened. Battles were almost won, but mostly lost by those players Level 8 or higher. Many times.

As a Thief class, I had much fun stealing items but mostly getting whacked and losing levels as a consequence. My best steal was the Kneepads of Allure(tm) however my most accomplished theft was Spiked Codpiece(tm).

M'sister won, and it was a magnificent victory -- if only because we were at the end of the deck and night and patience and alertness.

Close of game is recorded at 12.20am.

Then husband and I came home and conked into bed. ObBedtime reading: Order of the Stick (husband got the series to date as a birthday present from moi).

Friday, 15 May 2009

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's Super City!

One of my many concerns about the proposed plans is the lack of detail. Currently it looks as if some senior executive sat around with his cronies on a Friday lunch, waved his hands in the air to describe an outcome, and said "Make it so"(tm). With less panache than Captain Picard. And a similar discrepency in subordinate capability.

Why do I think the National government proposed plans lack detail?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

News: May 1-12, 2009

May 12, 2009

Ape escapes!...nevermind.

An orangutan escaped from a zoo
And this caused a great hullabaloo
The place closed down,
Few people frowned
As the ape soon returned to her zoo.

May 1, 2009
Dancing Snowball

If you want to be cheered for a bit
Follow the link above to a skit
One dancing Snowball
With music an' all;
Now I feel worn out just watching it.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday dear solo-adventure
Happy Birthday to me!