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Archive for August, 2011

Happy Feet’ the emperor penguin found on a beach north of Wellington full of sand, is being taken south to colder waters to be set free today. One of the colleagues at work mentioned that today, and the woman next to her said snidely “Yeah, how much did that care cost?”. Colleague said he was cute. Another piped up “So what?”. Yet another said “There’s a lot to be said for letting nature take its course”. What let the penguin die a slow death just because it costs money to help it? What sort of attitude is that? Why are humans more important than animals? (We ARE animals.) Where is the compassion for another living being? Their attitude seems to be – let the bastards die. If you can’t eat them, what’s the use of them? Callous!

To the person who said “let nature take its course”, how about sticking to that viewpoint when it comes to humans? Why waste money on taking care of anyone, especially if they’re past their use-by date or are criminals. Let them all rot and perish because it costs too much. “I’m alright, Jack, nothing to do with me” is their selfish attitude. Need I say that one of the above was a devout Christian? It’s a Christian doctrine that believes that animals (and nature) only exist to be of use to humans and it’s the cause of today’s devastation of the natural world. There’s no compassion. Give me Buddhists any day that hold all life sacred. Why shouldn’t an animal of any kind have the same right to life that humans do?

The above Christian went on to say that trying to save beached whales was a waste of time and asked colleague if she’d spend hours in freezing water trying to save one. “Yes” she said. Up to now, I’d been quietly fuming, but I piped up and said I would too. Then they equated it with a cow floating down the river in a flood and would we swim out to save it. These people have no ****ing idea.

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I have no faith in GPs. They’ve been next to useless the few times I feel forced to go. I avoid them if at all possible. I go to a medical centre where basically all the doctors are South African and they come and go so I haven’t had just the one GP for any length of time. I’ve been to various different ones. Many of them just don’t listen. There seem to be three types at this particular medical centre: the friendly, helpful ones who explain everything; the ones who grunt and never smile; and the ones who smile at you patronisingly as if you’re special (as in retarded). I’ve come across just two of the first lot (who sadly have left), several of the second lot and a couple of the last. Last night I got one of the latter and he was, on a scale of uselessness, about a 6 (0 being completely useless and 10 close to helpful), treating me for one complaint and having no idea about the other.

A run-down of the useless doctors in my life – not all at the above medical centre:

I went in and said I thought I had a bladder infection. The doc gave me a prescription for antibiotics without even testing the urine.

I went in with bruising to my whole foot after hitting the side of it quite hard on a wall (accidentally, of course). I was told I had a contusion and sent on my way.

I had problems passing motions. I was told I had constipation. When I said I still had problems even though the stools were soft, he ignored me. This experience was a repeat of a woman doctor who had the personality of a gnat. Considering my mother died of bowel cancer, I asked for tests. They came back to me saying I basically had to have full-time diarrhoea to be eligible. So much for the “national bowel screening” they keep going on about. I treated myself for piles and the motions were easier.

I had severe back ache for two weeks (and continued going to work, I might add – unlike some slackers who go home at the slightest twinge). I was told it was due to the constipation.

As a child I had excema and later in life I had dermatitis. I was never sent for skin tests. Nope, they just wrote a prescription for steroids and sent me on my way.

I asked a medic to check out a spot I was worried about but he took a look and said it’d probably go away.

I’ve had soreness in my muscle in my upper left arm for 7 weeks. The doc yesterday had no idea what it could be and said wait to see if it gets better. I’d been waiting 7 weeks already. I wondered if a bad foot massage which gave me a bruise (reflexology) had anything to do with it but of course he would’ve thought I was completely mad to think of a connection.

I had a condition for a while which required medication which was prescribed to me for years. According to my research it should only be prescribed for short periods of time. When I felt dizzy and nauseous after the latest batch I stopped taking them.

My hair was falling out and I expressed concern.  The doc commented that a few women seem to have lost their hair lately and said it was probably my age.

The family doctor was a quack who, I felt, contributed to my mother’s early death by his incompetencies.

All these useless bastards just treat the symptoms without getting to the root of a problem. I half expected the doctor yesterday to offer me a prescription for pain killers (which many of them do).

Nor do I trust hospitals. I hear so many horror stories, supposedly due to short-staffedness but actually due to incompetency by ill-trained staff. You’re more likely to come out of a hospital worse than when you went in, if you come out at all. They’re only good for emergency surgery and only if you get a surgeon who knows what the hell they’re doing and doesn’t leave tools and towels inside you when they stitch you up again.

Bugger ‘em.

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The weekend that whizzed

Well that weekend shot by so quickly I didn’t feel that I’d got a chance to relax.

On Saturday I had just had breakfast and transferred some photos from camera to computer when daughter got up and said she wanted to get to a craft material sale in town which closed at midday. So into town we went and looked around all the bits and pieces. Daughter has an interest as she sometimes makes random little soft toys of her own creation. She’s looking at expanding and selling some through craft fairs. One of her classmates was there selling stuff and let her have a couple of pieces of material.

On to Flight Centre in the Plaza to finally pick up my refund – the shuttle in Coolangatta didn’t pick us up so I had to pay for a taxi to take us to the airport. We both hate the Plaza and were in and out, only stopping briefly to price Xbox 360s. Ours has carked it and it doesn’t seem worth paying $150 or so to get it fixed only to have it break again. A new game that daughter really wants is coming out in November so there’s a bit of time yet. Trouble is, I was hoping to replace my snail-like laptop or get a new mobile phone. My savings just seems to go on replacing stuff I already had, dammit.

Returned a DVD, another disappointing one, and didn’t bother to get out any more. Stopped by the bulk bin place to buy our free range eggs and bacon, then home. The best part of the day was gone and I wasn’t certain what to do with the rest. I think I read a book? We ate the leftovers of a stew I’d made and then daughter headed into town to spend time with friends and boyfriend. I spent much of the evening re-organising photos into files and touching some up on Photoshop. The night disappeared.

Sunday morning I belatedly pruned what few roses I had and did some weeding. Washed clothes and dishes and declared war on the ants. I sprayed with a water/white vinegar mix and then sprayed the rosemary plant outside with soapy water. The bastards are everywhere. Vacuumed as well, then sat in the sun for a bit to read another chapter of The Silmarilion. I had forgotten that Galadriel was Arwen’s grandmother (as I rechecked the family trees at the back).

Then something extraordinary happened – I baked. Daughter had been asking me lately to make ‘weetbix squares’ which is a recipe given to me years ago by a woman in a Tai Chi class (who has since died). It’s one of those recipes that doesn’t require a special trip to buy ingredients and where you mix everything together and stick it in the oven – very easy and foolproof. [ I had forgotten to measure the ‘butter’ (margarine) or cream it with sugar before adding the sultanas but it all turned out fine.] A couple of people at work today nearly fell off their chairs when I told them as I always declare “I don’t do baking”. I do bake – about once every two years.

Before I knew it the sun had gone. We had soup. I watched Top Gear and Craig Potton’s Wild Coasts and that it was it – the weekend gone.

I wish I had more leave to take some time off work. It’s getting rather boring. I basically have just one thing to do at the moment – once that’s gone I’m really superfluous. A colleague is heading to Sydney – how I envy her. I have to make a serious effort to declutter and do up the house a bit. I can’t bear the thought of living where I am for the rest of my life or working in this place for years on end. Seriously depressing outlook….

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I live in an area where it doesn’t snow in winter.  Some claim that it snowed in the city in the 70s.  I’ve lived here most of my life and although the snow got low on the hills, it didn’t snow in the city – certainly where we lived.  A few years ago it snowed for about 30 seconds but that was it.  For the past two years we’ve not even had light snow on the hills.

So it was a surprise (although we’d been warned, but I had to see it to believe it) when we woke up on Monday morning to see some light snow covering the garage roof and outdoor furniture.  The hills nearby:

There was more evidence of overnight snow on the way to work but then I didn’t give it a second thought.  The forecast,  however, was for more snow and by 4.30 that afternoon we were delighted to see that it was snowing.  I took this photo from my workplace:

It began to collect on trees, shrubs and cars in earnest so the boss sent the two of us left in the office home, since we lived further afield.

I walked out into the falling snow which was delightful.  I’d only ever been in falling snow three times before in my life – once in Germany, once in North Wales and once on Mt Ruapehu.  A lot of people were smiling and taking pictures.

In the photos it looks more like sleet but it was falling softly in big swirling flakes.  I had a grin on my face the whole way to the car.  My car was covered.  I got in and wiped away the snow.

I drove slowly home, marvelling at the whiteness all around.

I was quite disappointed to see that the village where I live didn’t have much snow at all.  I almost felt like turning around and going back into town.  Daughter decided to head up the hill so I went with her.

Lots of other people had the same idea and near the top of the hill we stopped where others had and took a few photos.

It was starting to get a bit dark and treacherous so I recommended we head back home (she was the driver).  We did, only stopping briefly on the way down to take more photos.

All very exciting.  There was a bit of snow around the house the next morning and still a chunk on the car left over from the snow at work.

On the way to work several people had pulled over at one corner overlooking the white hills.  I was late for work, but I pulled over as well.  I got out to take photos and that encouraged others to get out of their cars – they’d just been sitting in their cars looking.  A woman smiled and chatted to me.  Funny how such events makes everyone happy and friendly.

Of course, everyone at work was talking about the snow and had posted their snow pictures up on Facebook.  People from Britain and Europe thought we were all mad.  But we were excited simply because this never happens in this region.  To see snow one usually had to go to the South Island or head to the National Park – both miles away.

Well, that was it, we thought.  The forecast was the possibility of sleet in the evening.  Nothing exciting.  I went to dance class, which was an hour earlier than normal then headed home.  As I got closer to home the beginning of rain turned into sleet.  It was freezing.  I told daughter there was sleet and a bit later we looked out the window to see it had turned into snow.  And it kept snowing.

I felt a bit sorry for daughter’s succulents (but they’ve survived).

The trees along the driveway:

Daughter and I decided to go for a wander down the street – the road was covered in snow.  It was a winter wonderland – so magical.  Unfortunately the camera couldn’t capture it.  It was too dark not to use flash and you lose the background then.  We returned to the warm house, but daughter decided to make a snowman in the back yard.  It was actually a well-endowed snowwoman:

Up until now Jasmine was very unsure of this strange stuff falling from the sky.  She avoided walking on it and sheltered under the eaves of the house when she went out.  But somehow we managed to get her to run across the thick snow and she must’ve decided it wasn’t so bad.  She followed daughter outside and began to play with the snowballs that daughter threw towards her.

I captured one being thrown at her.

She loved it!

It was still snowing when I headed to bed about 11pm.  In the morning we discovered a broken branch on a slender tree which couldn’t handle the weight of the snow.

I took one more photo on the way to work that morning, knowing it’d be the last we’d see of the magical white stuff.

It’s all gone now.

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The weekend

I had quite a pleasant weekend, all on my own. Daughter is in Rotorua for the NZ Professional Photographer’s conference. She had two prints entered in the student category of the competition part of it and won a bronze. She was so rapt. Funny thing is, she dreamed she won a bronze a few days before leaving. She’s back tomorrow and is all inspired after seeing the amazing images put up by other photographers.

Talking of photography I woke up yesterday morning and saw that the sun was shining. I made a spur of the moment decision to go out and take photos of the region for our own work-related conference which will be here next year. Photos are required by the end of the month and daughter was going to get onto it but is obviously otherwise engaged. So I decided to see what I could get. I headed up to the wind farm and took a few shots. It was very windy and cold up there and the clouds were a dark grey. Out of several shots I chose one to submit. Then I headed to the local domain and wandered round and took a few. Lastly, I headed into town to the city park and took a couple more by the river. I think I took about 40-50 photos overall but only submitted about 15, enhancing them with Photoshop (only to get them looking more like what I actually saw, than what turned up on the computer screen).  Two photos below which I didn’t submit.

After taking photos I headed into town to rent some DVDs as there is nothing to watch on TV. I searched among new and recent releases for “The King’s Speech” but found it in the general collection – obviously it’s been out on DVD for a while! I also got the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie trilogy. I hope it won’t be too disappointing after reading the books. Lastly I got a Dylan Moran movie.

I then bought half a dozen imported beers and supplies for making a pizza. It’s not often I get inspired to buy alcohol after reading a novel! (The novel mentioned the great taste of Czech beer, so I had to try it out!)

Once home, I had a delicious lunch of free-range bacon and egg – they tasted divine! I was at a bit of a loss after surveying the photos I’d taken and decided to ring up my friend down the valley to see if she were home. I headed down to her place. We caught up over a glass of wine and I showed her photos of my overseas trip which she enjoyed, having travelled a fair bit in the region herself. It brought back memories for her but she missed the smells (of the food especially).

Back home to make pizza and eat the whole thing with my beers while watching “The King’s Speech”. It was all very pleasant and relaxing after the stressful time at work lately.

Back to work today and I was feeling quite good until a colleague kept talking to me about “the situation” and it got me all riled again. I hate this atmosphere.

Tonight I’m making a casserole – haven’t done so in ages. Daughter, the cook, doesn’t tend to make stews and casseroles. There should be more than enough to feed us both tomorrow when she’s back (and she won’t feel like cooking). I plan on making some mulled wine tomorrow night too (bought the supplies as well yesterday). So looking forward to another lovely meal and drinks over another movie. I like having such small things to look forward to. Makes up for the shit elsewhere…

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We had chosen to return to KL by bus because it was cheap (only $30 each for a 5 hour trip) and because we thought it would be good to see some Malaysian countryside.  The bus itself was comfortable – there was plenty of legroom and you could put the seat back and a footrest up AND the seat had a massager in it – rather nice.  The curtains were a strange touch (we saw several buses with similar curtains).

The journey to the border was quick and before we knew it we’d crossed the causeway and were back in Malaysia.

Malaysia on the left, Singapore on the right.

Unfortunately I was wrong about seeing Malaysian countryside.  Things  had changed radically since my trip to Malaysia 20-odd years ago.  For the whole journey we were on a multi-laned highway surrounded by palm oil trees as far as the eye could see …

I could have cried at the criminality of it.  I knew Indonesia was a major exporter of palm oil but  hadn’t realised that Malaysia was number two.  A tour guide had told us that in exchange for the palm oil, Russia had given Malaysia fighter jets (no money exchanged) and had also offered Malaysians involvement in their space programme.  The tour guide was very proud of the fact.  I overheard one other guide one day telling a tourist that palm oil was very beneficial, etc, etc.  Money talks.  They don’t give a shit about the lost flora and fauna, gone forever – their heritage and uniqueness destroyed.

When it wasn’t palm oil trees, it was ugly new apartment buildings…

interspersed with sundry large buildings, which were at least prettier than the ugly large warehousey retail outlets that get built these days.

I have no idea what the above building is but you can see the Middle-Eastern influence.  Perhaps it was a more “upmarket” apartment building.  (It’s a wonder the bird has anywhere to live.)

There were numerous tolls along the highways.

We approached KL…

I guess people have got to live somewhere…

We got dropped off outside Berjaya Times Square just one street across from our hotel.  KL is NOT a pedestrian friendly city.  Cars rule.  Apparently the government’s aim is for everyone to be able to afford a car and they can have long-term loans to achieve that so one person-one car.  Horrible.  Anyway, after hauling bags up and down an overbridge then jostling through people, cars, bikes down side streets, we finally came to our hotel street and walked down and checked in.  Daughter was quite pissed off at the whole thing, but it would have been quicker than hailing a taxi for the short trip.

Our room didn’t have a view of the towers this time, but of some hideous apartments and the pool below.

We had used it once, just as we’d used the Singapore hotel pool once.  I tend not to like swimming when there are kids or a lot of people in the pool.

For the next two days, we took the monorail and subway to reach different parts of KL, shopping both in the big malls and markets.

Both monorail and subway were very cheap and easy to  use.

The monorail station at the end of our hotel street.

One of the subway stations.

Sliding doors prevent anyone going on the track and they open only when the train doors open.

We took both to get to Central Market, an admittedly touristy part with shops selling all sorts of things, some very nice.

This blurry picture shows just one of the shops.

I browsed the clothing, with belly dancing in mind, as there were some lovely items, but unfortunately the vast majority of it didn’t have any price tags.  Once you ask, they try to get you to buy.  One I did look at was horrendously overpriced so I didn’t bother.  There was another fish spa in the building for the equivalent of about $2 each.  It wasn’t hygienic but what the hell.  The fish were bigger than the last spa we’d had and it felt different.  This time it was very ticklish.  I preferred the smaller fish in Singapore.

At least not all the old buildings had been pulled down to make way for mega-malls.

We also visited the Petronas twin towers.

There was a mall at the bottom, naturally.  For some reason you were not permitted to take photos indoors apart from this central section.  I don’t know why – the rest you could see was just the usual shops and foodcourt, etc.  (I must say the bookshops at these malls were huge and comprehensive.)

We visited the towers on our last night.

I realised too late that I hadn’t taken any photos of the locals, particularly the many women in burqas (with beautiful eyes).  I’m not very good at taking sneaky photos of people – I can’t just aim the camera directly at them.  Oh well.  You can see one below by the fountain behind the Petronas towers.

It’s Arab money that is responsible for the destruction of much of old KL – buying up land and destroying whatever’s there (so said one of the tour guides).  Certainly there were many women in burqas accompanying their fat husbands in t-shirts and jandals.  The Malay muslim women just wear head scarves.

You can probably tell I was not enamoured of Kuala Lumpur as a city, of what it’s become.  It was an experience we enjoyed, however, and daughter had never been to a Muslim country before and appreciated the differences.  However, I do prefer the cleaner, safer, more pedestrian-friendly, beautiful Singapore.  Of course, I haven’t seen the eastern side of Malaysia which apparently is very different but I’m not sure I want to.

Anyway, we left very early the next morning to catch our flight back to New Zealand (KL to Christchurch).  The flight was long and tedious with two screaming toddlers on board.  We arrived in Christchurch close to 11pm local time and stayed in the airport hotel ready to fly to Wellington the next day.

The flight was short but pleasant with lovely views over the Kaikoura ranges.

Overall a wonderful trip.  We had great weather with only two brief rainfalls (including a thunderstorm).  Food and transport was dirt cheap and I’d do it all again.  Younger daughter was very jealous.

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So Nissan Presea gone, the poor thing.  It was reliable and adequate enough before the engine seized, even though it was crap on hills.

In with the “new” Toyota.  Older than I wanted and a little more expensive than I’d planned but it’s tidy with lower k’s and is economical.  It was the best value I could find in the short time I had to look.  A car is essential where I live.

I like it though.  As I said before, it’s got character.

Also out is my crappy old MP3 player.  I was browsing Dick Smith for phones, actually, not seriously intending to buy one but just looking.  On the way out I saw an iPod shuffle for $91 and made a note.  Then I headed across to Norman Ross and saw iPod shuffles there for $70.  Not one to pass up a bargain I bought the last one and luckily it wasn’t pink.  That’s almost as much as I paid for my crappy old 512 mb MP3 player, which I hated.  I feel like I’m stepping cautiously into the 21st century with it.  Strange but true.

Didn’t get round to culling more books.  I saw an interesting article today about what to do with books when you move.  I think I’d get rid of the majority of books and keep the best-loved or useful ones but I’m still not enamoured of ebooks.  They’re just not the same.  Interesting comments below the article too.

Well, a brief post about nothing much.  That’s the content of my life really – nothing much…

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