Friday, April 29, 2011

This Morning He Was... my hair clips, checking out my books.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Mount

This is the second installment of my Easter Break.  You might want to read the first installment before starting this.

After all that eating of fish and chips and failing to dance some members of the group decided that the only course of action was to walk it all off.  Let me show you a photo of Mt Maunganui and let you come up with your own idea of where we might be walking to.

Yes.  In this picture of downtown Mt Maunganui (just across the bay from Tauranga) the most prominent feature is The Mount itself.  No argument was to be brooked - to the summit we would climb.

Please don't be mislead by my military career.  I am not a soldier - I fix planes for a living.  A couple of push-ups and a deep breath does not seriously constitute a healthy fitness regime.  (Although, lets be honest it's better than nothing at all.  I really should get fit.)  I decided to compensate for my slow progress by singing.  This would be my excuse.  "I couldn't climb fast - I needed my breath for singing!"  I hoped no one would tell me to stop.  The Agent managed to be in front the whole time - running parts - in bloody knee-high dress boots.  I swear to God, that woman is trouble!  Somewhere near the top I swapped out song for poetry.  Not because I ran out of songs (or breath) but because I felt like Sam needed a bit of congratulations for his stirling effort.  The poem was my favourite (and one of two which I can recite by heart) - Rudyard Kipling's If.

Reaching the summit made me feel as though I had earned my greasy dinner.  It was only a shame that the day was so dreary.  We'd hoped to watch the sunset from the top - and we could have if it had been sunny.

When we descended again to the base it was decided we would go back to the backpackers and drink and play games.  Apparently they'd all played pick-up-sticks the night before, but I had something more challenging in mind.

See my other Cthulhu blog entry here.

It's one of those games which is very tricky to get your head around, but once you've got the hang of it there's only fun to be had.  It's a comical game, and cheating is never looked down upon.  Neither is bargaining and ganging up on people.  In the words of Monty Python's Beard Salesman: "You have to haggle!"
To be honest, this was one trick Trouble (intent on world domination) didn't quite get the hang of.  In the end it didn't matter cos we'd all had too many ports & wines & glasses of evil to concentrate properly. I grew bored of always explaining the rules (it's easier when more people teach less, instead of one teaching three) and we ended up talking into the night instead.

The next morning was ANZAC Day.

For my foreign readers, ANZAC day is the day we take to remember the sacrifice of the men and women who have given their lives fighting in war.  It is not a day to glorify war - or their sacrifice, but a day to bow our heads in respect for those who fell, and to acknowledge that we must never forget the cost of war.  ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.  At the beginning of the 20th Century Australia and New Zealand fought together for His Majesties Forces, and today the word 'Anzac' is still used to portray any joint venture between these two great countries.  It no longer has to be specific to our respective armies.  But back to the present.
I had packed my dress-uniform for the ceremony and despite my inebriated evening still managed to haul my arse out of bed at about 0500 in the morning.  Trouble joined me (she made me a cup of tea and everything, I take back everything I ever said about her... !!) and when I was all uniformed-up we drove to the cenotaph.

It was raining, but the ceremony went ahead because it was never going to be otherwise.  The cenotaph was guarded by ATC cadets who conducted themselves to the credit of their squadron.  I was not in the parade (for the first time) and was very moved to see the veterans marching past for the service.

Normally the service is timed so that the Last Post, Prayers and Reveille occur as the sun rises over the ocean.  This year there was no sunrise, but the sound of waves on the beach and the sky lightning around us was still very moving and, oddly, peaceful.  We were even treated to a fly-past.

Normally I would have finished the service with a trip to the RSA to take the time to speak to veterans and friends, have a hot toddy and whatever else they might be serving behind the bar.  (Hey, it's our culture to drink, and we're drinking to the fallen.  It wouldn't be the same otherwise.)  But this day I wasn't going to know anyone else there, and Trouble wasn't too keen so we headed back to the backpackers.  At this point it was still 0645 and the building was dead quiet.  She curled up on the couch for a sleep and I watched Anzac programs on the television.  My Great Auntie Mae was on the breakfast show.  (I have just searched for videos of it on the 'net but alas, it is not to be.)

Aaand that is pretty much the end of the exciting-ness of a trip to the Mount for Easter.  The rest of the day was dreary, so was spent relaxing about the backpackers and wandering around the shops downtown.  In the afternoon Trouble and I went for a wander onto one of the little peninsulas you see in the picture I took from the summit.  We caught a movie (Suckerpunch, not that great but not too bad either.) and went to bed early.  Tuesday was the drive home and I had work in the evening so we didn't really stop to be tourists.  Maybe in the next post I will show you the LPs I bought in the second hand store.

So that's it - my Easter is all gone now and it's back to the grindstone.  Which reminds me - I have to go get ready for work.  Again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Busy Easter

I thought my Easter break was going to be quiet. I like quiet. I like spending all morning in bed - sometimes just lying there listening to music and sometimes with the laptop surfing the net.
I like curling up on the couch & reading a book, or fiddling around with one of my many (never-to-be-finished) projects.
Ginge was going to be working on his jet engines. So we made a plan.  He would strip down one of the engines and I would do SFA, occasionally popping into the garage to harass him with the camera like only the best of paparazzi can.
Then I invited the Agent of Trouble over for dinner and TV/Movies on Thursday night, and suddenly my weekend was filling up faster than I knew how to handle.  Trouble was heading down to The Mount on Friday morning with some friends and had to leave my place before 9am.  But what about the pancakes I had promised for breakfast?  There went my first sleep-in.  (This is my own fault, because I insist on letting the batter set for an hour before cooking.)
Trouble managed to get away in reasonably good time - but not without extracting a promise from me that I'd join her down at The Mount on Sunday. I spent the rest of the day taking photos of the engines.

Photos like this.

At some point I got into conversation with my friend Nick, whether over text or voice I cannot remember now.  I agreed to go have some beers with him and other of his geek-type friends on Saturday.  Boy, my weekend was starting to fill up!  Nick wanted beers starting at about 3pm, but that was too late for me because I was going in to work at 4pm to see the plane in.
Oh yeah, did I mention my plane was coming back?  The one in Texas?  The one which had me sent to the 'States for five months of training and abject misery (misery levels may be exaggerated)? The one which is about two years overdue?  Well she was.  And she did.  There is photographic evidence of this, but due to the security implications I am not permitted to put them up on the internet.  You still believe me though, right?

I got my quiet night that Friday, and a sleep in on Saturday so I was feeling pretty good when it came time to pick up Nick and take him out to lunch instead of the afternoon beers.  Nick is one of my greatest friends.  We can talk about geeky stuff or serious stuff, about jokes and misery, and about life as well.  He has so much wisdom and experience I always feel like I learn something after spending time with him.  This time was no exception, but unfortunately the content of our conversation is not any of your business.  I will tell you though that he had the steak and I had the venison pot pie.  Both were delicious.

I made it back in time to get to work for the arrival of the Mighty P3-K2 (Shiver to the souls of yer boots, me hearties, fer thar be a fine sight!) and although I wasn't rostered on to be at work I did a pretty good job of making it look like I was.  It's all in the overalls you wear!
It was pretty exciting, really, and there will be a formal welcome ceremony next week as well as an official Maori and (I assume) Christian blessing placed on the plane. Until then we're cleaning her up since she hasn't been treated with much love these last four or five years.  Again - I'm not allowed to put photos up!
That night I couldn't sleep.  I was pretty excited about heading down to The Mount and discovering what The Agent of Trouble was up to.

Although rain was forecast for pretty much the entire country I had an easy time of it driving down the island, and when I turned up at the backpackers I learned that Trouble and her friends were at the beach so thither also went I.  The beaches of Mt Maunganui are what my flatmate Ginge calls 'real' beaches.  They have golden sand and surfable surf.  There was no requirement to swim between the flags.
This day it wasn't perfect.  There were plenty of people around but not many in the water.  The sand felt a bit grey and the clouds threatened to cry about it.  Shortly after I arrived it was decided we would go into Tauranga in search of food and then on to the Jazz Festival.

We had Fush & Chups.

There was plenty of laughter.

There were lots of Greedy Gulls.

We even tried to join in the dancing at the Jazz Festival, but without a lot of success.

There's more to come, but unfortunately the wheels of the world continue to turn and I must get ready for work.  Keep your eyes peeled and your screens refreshed for the second installment coming soon to an internet near you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


& Racism.  It's kinda wierd, the way our language and our society works.  Words which are tabboo to some of us, yet promote brotherhood between others.

Comedian songwriter Tim Minchin says it best:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Whereabouts of Walter

Even though my Mum and various other family members read my blog from time to time, I am going to share a little bedroom secret with you.  I am now, regularly, sharing my bedroom with someone.  He has strong, tanned legs; has excellent reach; is mysterious and likes to surprise me; he is very talented; and doesn't take up too much space.  His name is Walter.

Although he does spend every night in my room with me, Walter is an unpredictable friend and only likes to show himself on his terms.  In fact he is so elusive that I am starting a new series for my blog and this is the first installation.  Whenever I am treated to a sight of him in all his glory I will try to capture a snap and share it with you.  Join with me in the delight of the discovery of...

The Whereabouts of Walter!

Sighting the First: - On the bedsheets

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Controversial Billboards - I love them!

My friend just sent me a text with an amusing photo attached.  Despite the three menu screens and no small amount of finger trouble I went through to get to the picture I found myself chuckling at the image.  It was of a billboard outside of (and especially for) the St Matthew In The City Progressive Anglican Church.  I have downloaded it onto my computer and uploaded it onto the internet so that you, too, may enjoy the humour.*

Upon my reply to the friend about the style of the billboard he replied that the joke posted there last week was a good one too.  After sharing the picture with my flatmate and his sister we proceeded to use the fancy interwebs to find out if there had been many more.  Turns out there had:

(enlarge to read the small print on this one)

Unfortunately this last one was a bit too much for some devout believers. They were incensed with the idea that Joseph and Mary might be portrayed as being in bed together (!!). Well that's my take of the hatin' that followed. Maybe I have the wrong end of the stick. Either way, while most of the city chuckled and agreed, some felt the need to respond in a different way. Kiwis might remember the public outcry:

I seeing all these photos on the internet reminded me that I often pass by this very billboard - perhaps once a week or so.  I'll be paying more attention now which I think is their aim.  So: "Well done St Matthew in the city."


* Since posting this the billboard has made it into the NZ Herald newspaper. (Again.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

No Bowlers Beyond the Foul Line Please

The ground crew in Perth was split into two shifts, imaginatively named Shift One and Shift Two.  I personally preferred the more McDonald's oriented substitution of 'shift' to 'crew,' but such a wild and dangerous idea had no chance.
Some of you are by now aware of the up-and-down nature of my workload while in Perth and are of course insanely jealous of my perfect job.  I'd just like to point out that I'm not allowed to talk about the details of the hard part of my trip which does mean that this blog rather lends itself to promoting the Air Force as a holiday on full pay.

This just in - I have been listening to a Beatles album while writing this and a song came on called You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) which has disturbed me slightly, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing, anymore.

Right.. Air Force.. Full pay.. where was I?  Okay:
Ahem.  To further the illusion that I do nothing for a living I am going to share with you some pictures from one of the few nights when both Shift One and Two had no work on.
Someone decided to go Ten Pin Bowling.  In situations like this it is never a good idea to plan.  To plan and organise an outing runs the very serious risk of losing people rather than collecting them.  The more time someone has to think of something else they'd rather be doing the more likely your evening jaunt will fall on its haunches before it reaches the start line.  My evening of Ten Pin Bowling got off the ground when there was a knock at my door:
"Yes?"   (inquired the beautiful damsel)
"Coming bowling?" (asked the handsome fellow)
"Ten pin or lawn?"  (clarified the lovely lady)
"Ten pin.  Almost everyone's coming."  (informed the informative male of attractive disposition)
"No reason not to, gimme five mins to get changed."  (agreed the agreeable and equally attractive person of female disposition)
"Sweet, meet downstairs in ten" (continued the leafy tree with tentacles.) 
(just making sure you're reading everything).

Fifteen minutes later and we were making our way to the vans and off to the bowling.  It was an exciting drive, to say the least, and to add a little more I'll state here and now that I'm glad we were in a country with the same road rules as us.  (As opposed to, say, America.)  (Or Germany.)

The problem with not planning is of course sometimes the venue isn't quite ready for you.  So was the case for us.  There was a party of some sort going on upstairs where the bowling was supposed to be happening and we weren't allowed in.  This is what the sign on the stairs told us.  People milled around aimlessly like slightly concerned sheep in front of an open gate without anything definitive happening.  I raced upstairs to find out what was happening.  I found out that for some reason, the sign on the stairs had told the truth.  When this information was passed to the flock, it was decided we'd wait out the hour and a half to the end of the party by going down the stairs and into the pool hall.  To be honest I thought signalled the end of the bowling idea.  Usually I like a good game of pool but this night I just wasn't feeling it.  Instead I decided to ruin everyone else's experience by trying to take 'artsy' photos of the action.  But I didn't have my Good Camera, just my point-and-shoot.  The P.A.S. (which I sometimes think of as my P.O.S) has its advantages and fitting into a handbag is one of them, hence its presence at the pool hall.  But it doesn't have the focus or the speed I love so much in my Canon EOS 500D D-SLR.

Of course after a few beers and ciders and a couple rounds each we made our way upstairs to the bowling.  The energy and enjoyment was about the same, generally, and we took up the usual two lanes.  I don't usually play so well as to be in the top three in this game, but I'm not usually working hard to keep out of the bottom two either and tonight I was having a bad night.  Not as bad as Kerry though.  We ended up giving him the kiddies' aide.

We finished our practice round (I came 2nd-to-last) and while playing through our competition round someone finally pointed out a suspicious looking hole in the wall (?) in front of us:


I wonder how that got there?

I ended the competition round neither last nor second-to-last, but no better than that.  Ole-Mel-The-Games-Shark did pretty well despite telling us how terrible she is at bowling and how this is the second time she'd ever played it.  I regret teaching her to use the arrows laid down in the wood at the start of the lane because boy did she kick my arse.  This was a very similar situation to how "I'm no good at pool" and "how do you play Last Card/Gin/Hearts/Threes/Sevens?" All of which she excelled at brilliantly.  We finally got her with 500.  Turns out she's not such a team player ;-)  ... OMG, Soz Mel LOL !!*

But hey, fun was had by all and it was great to get the whole team together in one go - even if it did mean many a drunken question trying to discover which female body part I loved to perv at more.  Not that I made it difficult for them, the poor, sweet, predictable boys that they are! ;-)

(this part)

* That, I pray to God, is the only time you'll see me using OMG or LOL.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The title here is a little strange, I know.  But it's reference to a family joke.

Anyway, while hanging around waiting for our flight out of Australia we came across a mutant moth.  I say mutuant because surely a moth that large can't fly?  Maybe that's why it died.

Richie took a photo of me holding it.  So when I get that off him I'll put that picture up too!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Legend of ... The Double!

The Legend:
I'd heard about it before.  KFC likes to advertise this as a low-carb burger.  When they realised they weren't fooling anyone about any supposed health benefits they just made it a challenge.  Are you man enough?

That's right baby, two chicken fillets surrounding two slices of cheese and delicious greasy bacon.  With sauce of course.  There's no better way to clog your arteries.  (Except maybe a Big Mac from Texas)

Of course as soon as we saw this advertisement in a bus shelter we absolutely had to prove that we were all man enough.  So a few days seven of us set forth on a mission to man-up.  Actually, six of us set forth on a mission to man-up, and one air crew tagged along because "he had coupons." Typical.  He didn't even order The Double Burger.

The Reality:
Exactly as advertised.
Two chicken fillets, cheese, bacon and tasty sauce.  Poor Melanie couldn't make it all the way through hers.  I wish I had realised - I would have finished it off for her.

It was just as well we walked the 700m to get there, cos we needed the walk back just to get our blood flowing through our veins again.   MMMmmmm.  Manly-Double-Burger.

But... what does it mean?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bikes Around - Issue 03

Ducati (help me out, someone?)
HTC Touch Pro2 Smartphone

Ducati 999
HTC Touch Pro2 Smartphone

Honda RCV (?)
HTC Touch Pro2 Smartphone

Harley Davidson V-Rod - Thanks Doug!
HTC Touch Pro2 Smartphone
(possibly not a real Harley)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Super Mamika

Sacha Goldberger decided to cheer up his sad and lonely grandma by dressing her up and creating a photo shoot for her. She's now a hit sensation with thousands of online followers. Read more about it (and see heaps of kick-arse photos) here.

The Count

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Call of Cthulhu... Dice

Monstrous, unknown, beyond evil, mind-shattering, tentacled madness wrapped in warped insanity.
The Last King Has Come.

I haven't read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, but I've read enough to want to read more.  Preferably in the middle of the day.  With people around.  Sane ones.  With tranquilizers.  The Call of Cthulhu - read it.  (For the unbelievably low price of just your sanity.)

And now, and in colour, Cthulhu Dice!

"Cthulhu Dice lets you drive your rivals mad . . . very, very quickly. Players take turns rolling the big, beautiful, custom 12-sided die, embossed with tentacles, Elder Signs, and more. Destroy your opponents' sanity! Better yet, steal it. But watch out for Cthulhu – when he comes up, he takes sanity from everyone! 18 glass Sanity marbles are included. Lose all your marbles and you're mad. The last sane cultist wins . . . unless everyone goes mad together. Then Cthulhu wins!"

Although Cthulhu (and Lovecraft in general) is all mind-shattering, terrifying concepts & stories, the games we play with them are actually light-hearted and fun.  We enjoy an evening of CoC as a break from the stronger, more serious games which we play, and if anyone is interested I can arrange an evening of Munchkin - Call of Cthulhu which adds another dynamic and a lot more fun. 

(It's a card game.)