Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Abducted by Aliens

Congratulations on following through on what has to be my most body grabbing headline yet. Alien inspired and with good reason I was borrowed by an alien ship and crew two nights ago. I have to admit it was all natural enough. My episode was spurred on by a bout of furious gardening. Weed whackers appear to attract alien space ships. I think that the high spinning revolutions coupled with the whisking noise acts as a spaceship and alien aphrodisiac.

After a couple of hours of battling assorted weeds and foliage I was greeted by some oddly attired gentlemen who appeared to hover above the ground. "Can we have a moment of your time?" they asked politely and although usually I would give trespassers a short shift I was looking for a diversion and gladly took up the chance to ditch the weed whacker. With a loud hum and appropriate orientation manipulation I was transported to my current home.

I have had complete sensory deprivation since the involuntary allocation of my mass to this dimension. This has given me plenty of time to think and to date my proudest achievement is the successful transmogrification of absolute nothing into a compatible wireless space for my iPhone to attach to the internet so I could write this blog.

Since finding the internet I have also found the time to find the perfect refreshment for an extended period of otherworldliness. I also rustled up a glass and some granite to place Beer Lao upon. I will wait and drink things out.



I hope to update you soon with my health and apropriate personal information. I have nought much else to say except I wish you a happy New Year and remember if you keep reading this blog you will be fine.

Friday, 26 December 2008

The Great EFTPOS at pump conspiracy

With the weight of humanity sitting squarely upon my shoulders sometimes I have need to side step human contact. Enacting an electronic transaction at the time of refuelling my rocket ship helps me to save time between missions and maintain valuable button pressing abilities.

However I have noticed that these services are rarely working. Exploratory questioning has proved pointless. Then it dawned upon me. Petrol salesmen want you to come inside the shop, pick up a newspaper, a coffee, 6 bottles of V, a bouquet of flowers, some confectionery and pay for petrol. Scandalous. I am at a loss on how I will resolve this unfavourable predicament. I think I shall write a letter!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

CAT & HOUSE

It appears that one of my more recent hypothesis has born fruit. I do work best flat on my back. My laptop seems to act as a thought conductor of some merit when nestled on my knees. The road to landing flat on my back has been a treacherous path and it was only after the cessation of Christmas shopping and the delightful dawning of an unencumbered future which allowed me to lie thus. Even now I peer to the left and right cautiously because I am not alone.......

Daily I am left wondering what a boon of good fortune allows me to lead the life I lead. Current circumstance has left me in charge of a rather large pool, property and associated condiments but I have a foil, in the form of an overly fluffy, pugnacious and altogether abstract Cat. Caesar is his name but he seems to be more closely related to a circus troupe and spends his days, catapulting, flying, scratching, hounding and destroying sections the foreseeable horizon. To his credit on the rare occasions that he sleeps, he does lie as a Roman would on a curule chair. I am convinced the Cat is possessed or the result of a magic spell gone wrong. I just can not think of 10 personalities that could accurately sum up the person inside.

-An intrepid cardboard box base jumper
-An interior re designer
-An interior demolisher
-A garden weed eater
-Carpet re texturing service
-Kitchen hand
-Bed ridden sloth
-Personal room sized whirlwind
-Rubbish collector and re distributor

Cats are great things to live with. I think.

Count down

Things move in cycles. Chains, tyres and pedals. Given that it is also three months from the second volume of a rather large adventure beginning I also find myself in the same position I was in April of last year. A feeling of limbo, apprehension and building excitement.

In case you had not been reading, listening or particularly coherent we will be leaving New Zealand again in March to travel to the old world. Once there we will find passage on a super yacht or similar vessel and sail the sublime Mediterranean.

Last week I unwillingly took my first steps towards this goal by having to nuke my EEE-PC. Purged and clean it sits waiting for new tales to tell. This morning I downloaded a talking French phrase book for my wifes iPhone. I suspect our rudimentary Hello and Thank You vocabulary which served us well in South East Asia might need to be expanded upon.

Two weeks ago we donated our camera to some random good souls of Auckland. I am not sure what purpose this serves but it will be nice to get a new camera. Maybe one with expanded video capacity as video is all the rage with the kids these days.

Excellent.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Ancient Art of the Recap

I have become paralysed with the debilitating illness which afflicts mass media at this time of the year. An overwhelming desire to recap, reconstitute and regurgitate the years events in lists of ten. Sit tight. Cover your eyes. More news after the break.

Friday, 12 December 2008

A Tale of Beer

What an interesting couple of days. Yesterday I attempted an online teleconference with the irrepressible Dave Moore who is returning from a tour of duty in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Technical difficulties prevented a true audio and visual teleconference but with the wonders of the modern digital world we live in he was able to confirm his homecoming next week with typed word.

Dave Moore served as a gracious host in our visit to Chiang Mai. His command of traditional and not so traditional customs ensured that we were doing things that are not typically done by tourists. In fact many of the things we did are not normally done by people of sound mind, body and blood alcohol levels but it was still important research; sterling, gripping and slightly hair raising all at the same time.

Eventually the conversation meandered towards Dave returning and he asked if there was anything I would like for him to bring me back from that part of the world. Short of a portable elephant or a return ticket back to Chiang Mai I was at loss for what he could bring but.......

Last night I dreamed of Beer Lao and its amazing abilities.

Beer Lao imparts:

-The vitamin producing affects of sunshine
-Tightens your cheeks into a smile
-Slows your walking speed by 30%
-Increases your standard deviation deviations and latent deviate
-A higher probability of buying singlets

I love Beer Lao. So does everyone who has ever drunk it.

Imagine my surprise when this morning I discovered I had been added by this person on Facebook.


What are the chances? More puzzling is that you can not actually buy Beer Lao in Thailand to my knowledge but please excuse my geographical and dream state licenses. One is hideously expired and I fell asleep getting the other one.

All of this in turn prompted a subsequent conversion with my resident PHD in alcohol procurement and consumption. Within 5 minutes he informed me of where I can buy Beer Lao in New Zealand.

Thank Buddha.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Cheers for the Chairs

Let it be known I am quite taken with the chairs at my place of work. I could be viewing things through a post employment haze or they could in fact be quite special. I will let you decide.

The seats are finished in a sumptuous black waffle fabric. Gleaming chrome adjustment hinges are found in handy spots. They even have retractable instructions for people who might have trouble with security cards. The more functional aspects of the chairs are coated in a matt grey. I particularly like the mesh back rest. It reminds me of my pack. They are also incredibly comfortable to rest upon. Deceptively strong and agile I can push one easily across the room loaded with a computer monitor.

I have included some photos of the chairs that dot my work for your visual stimulation. In the background you might notice a shot of my pack because I love it so.

check it out



I need instructions



Here they are



I do believe I have reached a new level of blogging.

I am thinking of renaming my blog a Mish Mash of Mundane Impedimenta. What do you think?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Never lose a security card again! Read this now!

One of my current tasks is the maintenance and tender love of a somewhat antiquated security card system. It is a bit of a special case but it does do its job quite well (just like me). What people at my company have trouble with is holding onto security cards. Believe it or not there are people out there that I would not trust to hold onto anything. There are two types of repeat offenders.
  1. I left my card in my toaster/trousers/car/ash tray. Can I have a card to use for today?
  2. I have lost my card. I do not know where it is but I have lost it. Please help me I can not go to the toilet any more and I think I am about to explode.
Believe it or not but I am quite accustomed to losing things. Just last week I lost my wallet and that was quite a caper. I am yet to lose my security card however and I am sure I will not. The reason for this……

I have a routine and a plan.

Firstly with some great engineering I have managed to attach my security card to my car keys. I have left the woven strap attached and if the mood takes my fancy I can swing my keys around my head like a modern day sling. When I sit at my desk I plug my USB stick into the front my computer. The USB port acts as a holster for my deadly weapon.

Secondly when I to go to and from work I attach my set of keys to the inside of my bag. This simple procedure means I always know where my keys are and therefore my security card.

Thirdly I am in charge of the whole security card system. If I was to lose my card I would simply issue myself a new one.

There you have it. A fool proof method with a dash of madness. If you follow my lead you will never lose a security card again. If you do, please be nice to the person who gives you a new one. It could be me.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Excuses and Solutions

A short time ago I wrote myself a set of goals for whilst I was traveling. These goals were simple enough and easy to attain but given that I am not traveling anymore they seem a bit at odds with my current circumstances.

A typical day whilst traveling and being unemployed went something like this.

-Wake up
-Go for a leisurely walk
-Eat breakfast
-Write about something interesting I saw the day before
-Spend the day adventuring
-Sleep and repeat

I have been trying my best to find a way to incorporate writing into my new routine but it appears regimented order is not my cup of tea. Given the vacant stares I encounter every morning on the bus I can only guess that the bus companies of Auckland are using powerful imagination suppression routines to stupefy the patrons. The motives for this are sinister. Obviously more people would be flying to work or riding lion drawn chariots if the bus companies were not so scared of losing customers.

It could be a matter of ergonomics. Whilst traveling I did most of my writing on my back with my laptop perched upon my knees. My current computer situation is back bending work more akin to potato picking than earnest typing. Then there is a curious lack of blog access at my current work, a trifling annoyance and one I can not immediately remedy.

Strangely enough, I have had some success delving into the more commercial aspects of a modern day scribe. Whilst I am not at liberty to discuss these projects they are exciting all the same and I look forward to sharing my completed works when they are finished.

What ever the case I shall be furrowing my brow when I can and lying on my back a bit more, just not on the bus.

Think about the Bees

In case you didn’t know one of my more guilty pleasures is listening to National radio. I was pained to learn during the panel last week of the plight of the common bee. Wild bees are facing an uncertain future given the spread of parasites and other environmental dangers. It is estimated that if bees were to die out human life would follow 5 years later. The next time you sit down for dinner take a good look at everything that is not meat or grain. If it has a colour chances are bees are responsible for its growth at some point. Some more food for thought. Money is a human invention. Bees are not.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Double O %$#$

I must first share the impetus to write this tale. Recently I reacquainted myself with an interesting chap who had told me how he dressed up in his Mondays best and strolled around Queen street for a couple of hours pretending he was a lawyer. This appealed to my inner child and for the past two weeks I have fabricated a rich and luscious spy alter personality. This may or may not have coincided with the New Zealand release of a 007 movie. The key visual element of this saga may have conceded a passing resemblance to myself.

Infiltrating the nucleus of Auckland city. I have wandered the streets noticing key infrastructure. Internet cafes, bars and thai restaurants have been diligently transcribed to my incredibly advanced didactic memory. I have sat amongst the drone bees. I have dodged news paper vendors. Ran the pedestrian gauntlet. I have danced through raindrops and merrily draughted buses as I vaulted road crossings. A million imaginary super spy foes have been lost, taunted, shot, maimed and dressed up in womens clothing to good measure.

But today it all came crashing down when I realised in my haste to mount and ride a bus I had left my precious falsified identity wallet on a park bench. This huge oversight caused much consternation on my ride home. My mission was in tatters. Various huge entities had to be told of my huge expense cards would have to be suspended. World share markets plunged on this news. My ride home was a pained and aggressive interrogation of my bag. What was worse was the foreboding dread I was feeling knowing I would have to report to my partner in spying what I had done. I was a dead man.......

Using some of my finely honed corporate communication skills learned in the last two weeks. I vocalised a quick knock up press release to my partner. I was not to blame. It would be ok. I had taken nessasary precautions.......

And I waited......

And then it came.

News of my wallet being handed into a government department who is sympathethic to my cause.

I knew there was a reason I had those business cards made.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Patent Pending. Missadventures in Missed Inventions

Regular mass transit has turned self regulated motor vehicle transport into a novelty for me. Funnily enough I still find the time to think of ways to improve the experience. During a long trip to Tauranga last Saturday I was taken back by the antics of other drivers on the open road. Rudimentary statistical sampling would indicate that one in ten drivers is positively mad, insane or has a death wish. This got me thinking, how I could fix this malady?

Then I remembered something that I had read. Providing quality feedback is a great way to invoke positive change. If you hadn't read that before you have just now. Traditional driver feed back is not elegant or effective. Hand gesticulations and the horn do not improve peoples driving. They can in fact make people drive worse.

Then I thought… Wouldn't it be great if you could send short sentences to other drivers for immediate cohesive digestion? Here are few choice phrases that would be good to send to people.

-You appear to have your foot stuck to your accelerator.
-You appear to not know your left lane from your right lane
-Please get your eyes tested. I do not think you can see the yellow lines.
-I know that your wife is going to have a baby. That is the only logical excuse for you to be driving so fast. But dead people have problems in the delivery room.
-Nice car. Shame you can not drive.
-Please stop driving. Given the amount of smoke your car is belching it might be about to explode.

Feel free to add more as comments.

These messages could be matched, cross referenced and delivered to the car owners mobile phone from the licence plate. It would be nice if the messages were played through the recipient's car stereo. Good driving could be rewarded in similar ways but who wants to say something nice to a random person? I did until I started driving again.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

How not to steal a car

Join me as I recant a bumbling tale of ineptitude. Some people are not destined for crime. My wife’s sister is one of them. I have sat on this story for a few weeks now and I have been through a variety of emotions, grief, denial, pity and anger. It is only now that I can write with a cool head and purge myself of the considerable heart break that has racked my soul.

Once upon a time before a rather large adventure Prince Charming and his beautiful princess left their horse and cart at the Kings castle before they flew on the wings of birds to Thailand.

Whilst they were away the Princesses evil sister miss appropriated the horse and cart with out permission. She removed its delightful upfm decals. She emptied the horses food baskets. But she made one critical mistake.........

She left a receipt with her name on it inside the cart!

Now for those of you who are not following my artistic license.

We left our car in storage with my wife’s dad. When we returned home.

Our car was missing its UPFM stickers
It had no fuel
It had no water in the radiator
It had a receipt inside it with my wife’s sisters name on it.

She had had the blatant arrogance to fool family into thinking she had asked us to use our car and she was stupid enough to leave incriminating evidence behind. When confronted with this she did the internet equivalent of batting her eyelids.

Probably not a super criminal. I am probably not being nice. I also did not have any younger siblings to pick on so am making up for lost time. Claire you just got owned.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Free Advice

Whilst I do not condone violence or military coups I have this to say to the people who are unable to leave Thailand because of current protest action and uncertainty.

You are onto a good thing. Tell your work/family/friends that you are going to head home when things quieten down. With a bit of luck you will be stuck in Thailand until after Christmas. Woe is you.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Monday

I wrote this on Monday. To correctly timestamp yourself please imagine yourself as me this Monday past entering work for the first time in a few months.

Today marks an auspicious occasion. It is my triumphant return to regular employment. I celebrated long and hard this morning on the express bus into the city. An incredible journey marked by a wet and windswept horizon and punctuated by the shrill dinging of bells and transferal of passengers.

I have not worked in the central city of Auckland before. I hope there will be plenty to write about. At first glance it appears people commuting are not a very talkative bunch. They are not a particularly expressive lot either. I did get a half strained grimace infused with the beginnings of a smile from one lady passenger after I helpfully indicated there were seats free up the back where the cool people sit.

I am working in an interesting building. It has a lounge area downstairs with a few chocolate brown leather lounge suites. It is here that I will do my morning writing. The security man seems to be a writer as well. I can only see the beginnings of a head behind his desk and he only gives the slightest of nods to suggest he has preformed a biochemical and metal scans with his eyes. His head being tilted down shows he is clearly writing furiously. Actually I have seen his face now, he is hiding a horrendous beard. He has got carried away with movember and is clearly embarrassed by it.

A cleaner is vacuuming the tiled floor. He is a large man and would make a better security man than the bearded fellow. His vacuum cleaner is impressive and it is not hard to imagine it making an efficient tool to repel bun runners, hawkers and lounging loiterers like myself. I have made contact with the cleaner. Like all good boys I helpfully lifted my bags and feet so he could work his magic.

Up the elevator I am humbled by the nice little things my new work does. We have free fruit to eat every day. My team plays morning word games on a white board. We also have our starsigns read out to us by a nominated member. These may seem a trifle superfluous but they are things I respect. It does not take much to make places of work a lot better.

Would you beleive one of my first tasks was to call the concierge downstairs? Be careful of who you write about. You might have to talk to them. Which reminds me I must write something about Beyoncé.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Today

Yesterday I wrote a fantastic piece describing my incredible first day of public transport, the amazing building I work in and the fresh commencement of a regular job.

Today was less eventful. I had the solitary joy of zig zagging the streets during my lunch break and dodging various nefarious coupon pushers.

It was on my return home that there was a rather large altercation with a spurned passenger. Underneath the bass of my head phones I could hear the chap describing being almost run over by the previous express bus and a wide selection of choice cuss words. The passenger continued his tirade for a period of 4-5 minutes before he stormed onto the bus and announced loudly that he would be speaking with its owners. It was thoroughly humorous and annoying at the same time. The truly strange thing was that I found myself wondering what it would be like to run over someone like that in a bus.

Probably pretty choice.

Friday, 21 November 2008

A useful tool

In case you had not noticed I am a devout geek and technology enthusiast. Periodically I come across things that make my life easier and I feel obligated to tell as many people as possible. Unfortunately there are not many people within yelling range at the moment so I am left with the slightly impersonal INTERNET to share my excitement.

Please note this information is for people chained to the Microsoft way of life.

Windows has a curious way of managing installed programs. It gets really strange when programs are not uninstalled correctly or are damaged. Windows can think software still remains even when you have deleted files, attacked the registry, sworn and made aggravated gesticulations at your screen. I know this because it is exactly what I was doing about two hours ago.

Fear yea not, I have found a fantastic tool which takes care of things so you do not need to. Using this tool should free you from ever having to read and follow a lengthy uninstall guide.

The tool is called Revo uninstaller and it is a breeze to use. Strangely enough it does not come with an installer. Poetic justice, the best kind.


If that all sounds a bit hardcore for your computing tastes. I would like to add you will look and sound incredibly smart when you suggest it to your designated family computer expert the next time they visit. Just try it.

A Morning in Pictures

An extended period of traveling has transformed me into a keen walker. This morning was a particularly incredible morning for wandering the suburbs of Auckland. I suspect the luxury of not working makes walking more enjoyable otherwise there would be more people traipsing the streets. Still I hope we can keep up our morning walks. If anything else it is nice to feel like a pseudo tourist carrying a camera and pausing every five minutes to take a photo.







Timaru is a nice spot for a morning walk to be honest. Whilst it loses points for a lack of volcanoes it does have a charm of its own.









It also has a statue of Robbie Burns. Robbie Burns shares my birthday and has an impressive proliferation of statues throughout the western world. An admirable and talented rogue.



Tourism New Zealand and the new minister of tourism John Key please take notice of the surge of incoming tourism numbers following this blog entry. Whilst I do not feel like I should have to do the prime minister's job. I have experience at being the top dog and will always pitch in when there is some bullshit to be said.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Job Found

As of Monday my work less existence comes to an end. The all consuming finding employment turnstile has spun its last turn. To be bluntly honest finding a job after a three month hiatus has been hard work. Compounding the difficulty has been an earnest attempt to re acquaint myself with good friends and family, expand my ever increasing repertoire of formidable party tricks and become more beautiful each day.

At one of my interviews yesterday I was told that the New Zealand job market is as tough as it was in 1987 and 1991. Therefore I do have some tips that might help earnest job hunters in a trying market.

-Follow up every application with a phone call
-Trust your gut
-Do not get bullied into interviews by pushy consultants
-Clean your shoes, teeth and vocabulary
-When being interviewed by two people make a joke about getting both barrels at the start of the interview
-Hypnotize do not antagonize

So hooray for me. Please leave congratulatory comments. Click the Google ads as well for good measure.

PS

The second part of the Litany of Scams trilogy has hit travelfish. You can find it here....

http://www.travelfish.org/feature/131

The Month of Scorpio

Every year my wife and I lumber through the month of Sun in Scorpio. We start off bright eyed and with shiny tails but by the end of it we are sad broken beasts lumbering to put our shoes on, bemoaning sunlight and finding it hard to chew food.

Of course our ailments are largely self inflicted but this preemptive partying leaves us out of sorts well before the silly season. We barely got through this year and neither of us was working full time. So whilst the pain is still fresh in our minds I would like to pen some reminders for both my wife and I and any one else who finds this time of the year hard.

-Drink and pretend to drink spirits. It is very hard to simulate beer and wine drinking
-Take cat naps(tell the party you are finding them boring if need be)
-Find jobs for yourself to do which involve both of your hands and not drinking
-Do not listen to Katie Cullum at all costs
-Decide the next weekends social engagements on a Monday or Tuesday night
-Be very wary of befriending Scorpios they can be hazardous for your health


Now can someone remind me to read this next October?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Broke and Beautiful

Hello readers. I am still in the slings and arrows of vocational warfare. Updates are therefore still infrequent, however I have happened upon an interesting theory.....


It appears the longer I have been unemployed the more beautiful I have become. Who would have thought? I did.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Congratulations Karyn and Jarra

It is not every day that people get married. Actually people get married every day. It just is not every day that truly awesome, incredible, close friends and studious readers of this blog get married. I had wanted to write something suitably awesome, incredible and friendly for every body to read.

Buckle up, we are now in first gear. I have known Jarra and Karyn for many moons. An interesting fusion, I swear they can elevate the blood pressure and heart rates of people with little effort. This is done by simply walking into a room, or walking out of one as the case may be.

I say fusion because, bereft of a geiger counter or similar device I suspect that in combination the two of them emit low levels of radiation. Completely safe levels of course and the legal union of the couple should lower insurance premiums for the rest of us.

I jest in earnest because that is what I find myself doing in their company. My wit has sharpened considerably for knowing them and although it may pain acquaintances you will not find a better whetstone to rub your brain across. I would wager that it would also not be healthy to find a better whetstone because you would not want your freshly sharpened brain to fall out of your skull.

Again today they shall be married. I have been given the honor of being part of Jarra's support team. I have been given the task of 'moral support'. So today I shall do my best to offer sagely moral support and forget all of the immoral support I have been privy to.

A better couple you will not find getting married who are also readers of this blog. Of this I am certain. So raise your glasses if you are having problems reading...

Congratulations guys you are a splendid couple and I am very proud to know you!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

On Green Tea

Two minutes ago I was sitting sipping on a cup of green tea. A curious brew, but one of the healthiest addictions I managed to acquire whilst traveling; green tea provides a few useful side effects including.

-Get caffeine without the coffee
-Weight loss
-Increased fat oxidization whilst exercising
-An increased need to tell the world about how wonderful green tea is(obviously)

Green tea unfortunately does take a bit of getting used to. I needed three months of careful tasting to gain an affinity towards it. My advice for potential green tea drinkers is to buy it by the bag in its loose form. It is easy enough to throw some in a cup and make up hot tinctures which could knock the pants of a well bearded druid.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Joy

I know I scared away both my readership and myself yesterday by proclaiming a blog breather whilst I search for the job of jobs. However I thought I would take a quick break to toot my horn enthusiastically. My Litany of Scams article has been reworked and split into three parts to be syndicated on the ever wise and omnipotent Travelfish over the next three weeks.

A small but still significant victory, I can not remember the last time some of my writing was published without my sometimes over exuberant clicking finger. A cause for celebration to be sure. Today has gone down in history and it is not even lunchtime.

You can re read a litany of scams here on Travelfish.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

AFB

The pressing nature of finding employment is weighing heavily on my mind at the moment. I am actually finding writing here a wee bit hard. My horoscope gleefully informed me yesterday that this is my week of the year career wise.

As you move into one of your most important professional weeks of the year, you’re greeted by a sense of confidence that may seem to come from nowhere, especially if you've doubted yourself. With Mars, planet of passion, drive and ambition, due to leave your career sector in the weekend, this is your last week for giving your professional situation everything you've got. If there ever was a time you needed to believe in yourself, this is it.

So please excuse me whilst I focus......

This sh0uld be interesting.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Spring Break Followup

Having had a bit of time free over the last couple of days I have completed my movie editing of the spring break archives. A triumph of technology and content. I think I have done an admirable job with the footage and main stars limited acting experience.

This movie has all the more impact if you were actually at the event. For obvious reasons I actually had to delay the release so it did not coincide with the U.S presidential election. Needless to say if you were there and I did not drool, stand on or otherwise annoy you consider yourself lucky. I would also like to apologize retroactively for any slights inflicted as they were unintended. Thankfully in what has become a reoccurring theme most of the physical damage was done to my feet.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Timaru

Nestled gently between the two luminous breasts of Dunedin and Christchurch, Timaru serves up a saucy and sexy slice of provincial New Zealand. Requiring a sabbatical from the twelve tasks of job hunting in Auckland town. I headed South in search of ambrosia, lodgings and fresh spells for my book.

Timaru turns out to be a pretty good place to stay. The locals are laid back to the point of falling over. At least I imagine they are falling over because that is the only logical explanation for the curious lack of human beings. The local doozers have done an incredibly industrious job of creating the town and surrounding landscapes.

Earlier feeling suitably otherworldly. I scarfed up and dulled my glowing visage sufficiently to blend in with the pristine panorama and seek sustenance with our genial hosts. The air was both bracing and gently ex foliating. It appears to have cryogenic properties keeping the blood at safer temperatures and viscosities.

Dinner was a delight and at the end the master of our house informed the waiter that I would be taking away my coffee along with restaurant cup and saucer. This is par for the course in Timaru it appears. A truly magnanimous decision and one beguilingly befitting for an out of town wizard like me.

SOGPS

Gather close for two sides of a story. A mild affliction that seems all the more valid after a few thousand kilometers. Perhaps you can empathize with me, perhaps you are a SOGPS.

Significant Other Global Positioning System or SOGPS is a curious transcendental state that afflicts me whenever I get in a car to drive anywhere with my significant other. A sometimes gentle, sometimes firm voice coerces me towards my destination. Soliciting advice on traffic conditions and alternate routes, it evens helps me to park.

Strangely enough when you are in a foreign country, driving on a scooter the SOGPS seems to go silent. In fact I thought my SOGPS was broken. Imagine my surprise upon entering a car after returning home my SOGPS awoke from its slumber. I cursed in several languages and even wondered out loud how things would be if our situations were reversed. My significant other took the bait. I smiled, content in my ability to remain silent even under torture. Sadly it was only a few minutes into our trip when I found myself giving the same infuriating advice. I am not sure what witchcraft exists in modern motor vehicles but it is surely illegal.

I can not see a way out, short of gagging the significant other whilst driving. I have given this some more thought and I am sure a straight jacket would also be needed to shut down dangerous hand signals. I then thought it is probably not wise to drive someone gagged and bound on the open road. But that is just me, it seemed to work OK for the Egyptian hearse drivers.

Site News

Tomorrow we head South towards a large cold snap. It is my hope that this shock therapy will provide me with the impetus I am after. At the very least our SOGPS should be disabled in Timaru.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Dear Universe

It has been a while since I wrote you last, in fact I do not think I have written to you at all. But to be fair, you have not written to me either. I thought it was high time we opened an honest channel for communication.

I have not asked for much during my time within you. I have been a grateful steward of my body and instance of this dimension. However I am becoming a bit bored with the intermission between chapters of the rather large adventure. Obviously I am in the commercial break and need to fund my next chapter but the very mechanics of finding suitable employment is a strange beast.

I actually gave this letter a bit of thought last Friday and returned home to a job email that sounded exciting and thought we had connected without recorded correspondence. Alas it appears you were teasing me. I can think of far worthier people for you to play with. May I suggest George Bush will be looking for a job soon and is far more deserving of pranks.

So universe. The planet is in your court. It is your turn to play a card. I await a sign, preferably not one like this.

Found...

I learned during my first epoch what strange times I live in. What else could explain a bowling ball appearing in my underground thinking den ten years ago?

It was yesterday morning that I felt a large dose of deja vue. Please examine the following picture and join my confusion.



At first I thought aliens had left me with a super hero suit and fuel for saving the universe. Perhaps they have?

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Gainfully Unemployed

The relentless lobotomy that is being unemployed is wearing thin. For a day in the life of a non traveling freelance writer enjoy my diary of today.

5:15am Phone alarm awakes us from slumber.
5:20am Prepare daily vitamins and coffee.
5:30am Get in car to drive wife to temporary job.
5:31am Get in Father in laws car to move it because it is blocking our car.
5:33am Start driving car to town.
5:35am Wife starts complaining of a smell, could be dog shit.
5:36am I get out of car and preform a disparate shuffle to remove imagined dog shit from my shoes.
5:38am Wife remarks it may not have been dog shit and in fact my morning breath.
5:39am I muse quietly on how tender my ego is before 6 in the morning.
6:00am I drop my Wife off at her job.
6:30am I attend the gym. Gyms are a lot less fun when you left your portable sound system in Thailand
7:10am After a brief breakfast I start packing our stuff for a move to Albany.
7:15am Father in law comments on Max the dog greeting him with a fart this morning from her cage.
8:00am I apply for a couple of jobs. I wish to follow one up but the phone number is in Australia. I am not fond of calling Australians. They should call me.
10:00am I move all of our stuff bar some food to our new temporary residence in Albany.
11:00am I return to K9Heaven to be greeted as honey by father in law.
11:15am I begin to write furiously about what an obtuse day I have had so far.
11:30am I pimp my menial skills out to a good friend. He seems interested, perhaps even pity.
12:15pm I applied for another job and am feeling hungry. Who would have guessed not working is hard work?
12:22pm I have learned that someone has flagged my blog url as offensive or spam on facebook. Without right of reply or recourse I am suitably aggrieved and am dangerously frustrated.
12:45pm I make and eat a lunch which suits the occasion.

-Two slices of vogels bread toasted
-Tomato Relish
-200 grams of Tomato and Basil tuna (low fat)

1:15pm I make haste to the gym where Pete the trainer is going to attack a part of my body. Today it is the core...
1:30pm Had a great time, chatting, breathing deeply and laughing at the gym. My point of failure is when I start to laugh at myself. Thankfully Pete was forewarned and did not take this as an excuse to hurt me more. Core very sore. Pete runs an Awesome ab class and thinks I should join. Maybe he needs more laughs in his class?
2:25pm Decided to attack a pile of weeds obscuring the cobblestones of our new residence with a kitchen broom. The kitchen broom proved largely ineffectual but I made up for this with over zealous sweeping
2:30pm I am stuffed.
3:10pm I applied for a job as one of Santa's helpers in the north pole. Unfortunately due to global warming and the economic crisis Santa has outsourced his factory to China and the salary is not very attractive. Dangnabbit!
3:45pm I receive an email from Australia informing me that other candidates were more suited to the job(They lied and I did not). The bright side is that it saved me a phone call.
3:55pm In a fit of cleanliness I tear apart several of my large storage boxes and find a couple of rainy day things that you put away for rainy days. Shame it is not raining.
4:35pm Received delivery of video footage from Spring Break. Now to further my movie ambitions.
5:06pm Movies are busily converting. I am astounded at the amount of mistakes I have made today in this blog. I am not very good at live blogging. Never book me for a funeral.
5:35pm Time to go and collect the Wife. Wait till she asks what I did today!
7:00pm After collecting my Wife and dinner. My Wife collapses in a fit reading my days antics. Not a bad day of no work!



More to come as it happens. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

An Exercise in Futile Stupidity

What better way to blow off some steam than to wax lyrical about a multinational billing system that has gone to the dogs.

About a month before left New Zealand on the first chapter of the ratherlargeadventure experience we had various loose ends to tie off. One of these loose ends was a power bill. Being a fan of dealing with all customer service representatives in writing I elected to use email for correspondence.

-I arranged for a final reading
-Payed the final reading
-Asked for any further accounts to be sent by email

(I have records of all of these interactions because I use gmail and I never delete an email. There is no need)

At this juncture it is probably prudent on my behalf to explain I had been a happy customer for over 6 years at the very same power company and have never had a billing problem.

Anyway fast forward to our return to New Zealand. Whilst visiting our good friends Segway Phil & Katie we opened a very terse letter explaining that our account had been overdue for over a month and they would be passing our details onto a debt collection agency.

I immediately seized the moment and began a ping pong interaction with the company explaining that I never received a final email statement, am happy to pay the outstanding amount but would rather not deal with a debt collection agency.

The power company are still adamant that they sent an email account to me. This is where I put my size 11 feet firmly to the ground and asked for final email statement transcript & proof. This request was due fully received and allocated to the IT team. Being a somewhat passionate IT person I know that restoring backup from tapes can be a lengthy process. It should not however take over a week unless the record is not on the tape or the backup system is not working.

I sent a nice email explaining that it had been a week since this request. I have a feeling that you are not going to find a non existing email record and here are my credit card details so you can charge my account correctly and get the debt collectors out of the equation. I also mentioned that we are going to need to reconnect our power at some point(RATHER LARGE HINT).

But still bureaucracy prevails, the multinational is hell bent taking an untenable position. I wait a response with gritted teeth. I would say "you wouldn't read about it" but you just did.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

UPFM Spring Break META Review

Main Entry: meta
Part of Speech: adj
Definition: self-referential; referring to itself or its characteristics, esp. as a parody; about
Example: That book is so meta.
Etymology: meta 'beyond'

As boldly promised on Friday here is my review of the final UPFM Spring Break for the year. After some careful social engineering we coerced my wife's brother into conveying us safely to Spring Break. The weather had been a mixed bag earlier and it was with some relief that the sun surfaced and remained with us for the duration.

It is at this point(the second paragraph) I have quite a large confession to make. It appears the cooler climate, good music, familiar faces and BBQ sausages make gin and tonic far more potent than is healthy. My Vietnamese hat also seemed to enhance gin and tonic to ridiculous levels. Sadly I do not remember anything from about 2pm till 7pm. This where I have to add some serious meta to this review.

With careful considered questioning and invasive memory interrogation I have managed to put together a highlights reel which should contain enough mirth and information to tide you over until the next time I feel like venturing into public.

-The pool was fabulously warm. It was so warm I did not leave the pool until well after the music stopped. If you read my last point you will find this is a slight miss truth
-The surrounding pool rocks baffled the sound so sufficiently that I do not remember any of the music after I entered the pool.
-Vietnamese conical hats act as impressive buoyancy devices. The string attached round the hat helped me splutter to life when the water encroached on my breathing.
-There was a curiously strange Canadian who was playing shark with the good ladies of the pool. At some point I stood on him and then bemoaned large tracts of skin that had detached from my toes. I do not know if he was a close relation of a sucker fish, but I bet he feels like a sucker.
-At 4pm I attempted to reach out to another galaxy using the time honoured back on the ground limbs in the air method of intergalactic incommunicado. Someone recorded a movie of this and I shall upload it when I stop feeling so incredibly stupid.

In summary, it was a fantastic party and I would not have missed it for the world. Why is it then, that I feel like I missed it?

Additional Resources

http://www.upfm.dj

http://www.nzrave.com


Footnote: Some of the feedback attained from writing this article has been brain damaging. I have since found solace in the wise words of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.

Friday, 24 October 2008

A Twice Bitten Tongue is Half as Shy

It has been exactly one week since our return to New Zealand. The week has been an interesting one of celebrations, shivers, dogs, wind, rain, sun, grass, roadkill and accumulated things that make New Zealand uniquely New Zealand.

Yesterday I traipsed off merrily to a job interview which in itself was fine. On my drive back to our temporary residence I encountered a traffic snarl up of such a sufficient magnitude that I literally shuddered in my seat. I started to wish I was on a scooter, could yell farang and mount a handily exposed footpath all in quick succession. I then began pining for a sea of tuk tuks and was trying to imagine a ten tuk tuk pile up. Hopefully these thoughts will subside, I do not want to be dodging imaginary Elephant dung.

A returned traveler is constantly juggling stories and desperately trying to remember which stories have previously been told to whom and when. Traveling emboldens a person with the latent ability to segue from any topic in conversation back to accumulated traveling experiences. An added complication for me is having written regularly about our travels I feel at odds re reciting stories even though I do love the sound of my own voice. Hence it is sometimes wise to bite ones tongue and just let things seep out even it is just through your sun tan.

I would like to take a moment to comment positively on the reserve bank lowering the official cash interest rate in the week following my return to New Zealand. Petrol prices have also eased noticeably. It is small things like this that will make even more of the general population appreciative of my steady calming personality and the glittering trail of stardust which I leave in my wake.

Furthermore I would like to announce to the esteemed and earnest listeners of UPFM who are attending Spring Break this weekend I will be in the assembled crowd and answering questions about my travels. I shall also be distilling the experience for a wordy review at some point next week. Be wary and or strangely enamored by chaps wearing Vietnamese hats.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

A Tornado in the Sheets

Shame on you for coming here expecting a saucy sordid tale. I shall leave those to other lesser publications. This blog entry is about my mildly odd sleeping habits which now only seem more odd after spending a few months in beds of differing efficacy.

Let me describe my prerequisites for a good nights sleep and you can be the judge. Perhaps you are more odd. Please share with a comment or two. It could make me feel positively normal.

First things first. I must have something covering me whilst I am asleep. I require at least one layer of something to soothe my skin. During my wilder and considerably younger days at computer lan parties I have used curtains and floor liberated carpet to keep me warm and away from prying eyes.

To moderate my temperature I must have at least one foot exposed to the outside air. It does not matter if it is zero degrees Celsius or 35 degrees. To achieve this I must detach sheets, duvets and blankets from the bottom and my side of the bed.

After sleeping for an hour or so I start to rotate in an anticlockwise direction. This in turn removes the last vestiges of a made up bed and leaves my wife waking up shivering lying beside a slow moving tornado.

Short of strapping myself into a single bed I do not have a solution for this problem. Perhaps I am just a male.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Dog Tale One

If I remember correctly Max was the first member of my Wife's extended family who laid paws upon me. She is an Australian Kelpie so has the distinction of not only being incredibly smart but also has a slightly roguish personality. So roguish in fact to this day she still takes the opportunity to lay paws upon me and make me feel like one of the dogs at every opportunity.

Max announced the start of her interview today with a series of low throbbing growls. Her growls grew in volume and throatiness until she was allowed inside. After jumping about and racing around frantically she ensconced herself on a couch. At this point I felt it opportune to take a nice photo of Max.

Unfortunately dogs and Max in particular do not make for willing photo candidates. Max managed to evade most of my clumsy attempts to snap her.


After this photo she promptly fell asleep and our interview ended. She began to snore contentedly and I felt cheated but at least not dirty(her paws are clean).

I have since learned that Max acts as an exclusive dog hairstylist grooming the whiskers of an Australian terrier Sky that also makes k9heaven home. Max also is the informal boss of all the surrounding area, if you had not guessed so all ready.

Dogs, probably not the smartest thing to interview, but only if you are the interviewer.

Back in the Future

Given the obvious time zone advantage New Zealand has, locating yourself here allows you to say you are living in the future. Whilst there is a distinct lack of robots, flying cars and a zero crime rate I am proud to write some things remain positively advanced after a stint in the SEA.

-Exposed telephone exchanges, power cabinets and haphazard wiring are strangely absent.
-The chewing gum wars of the early 90's have left supermarket shelves with only 10 possible varieties.
-All doorways are made to accommodate people larger than 5ft tall.
-Impressive round the year climate control means spa pools are always usable even in summer.
-The same radiation enhancing atmosphere that I lambasted last week does make for some fabulously blue vistas.

photo taken from inside a spa pool upside down using my nose as a tripod

In fact it does seem to be getting warmer here or maybe I am just getting cooler.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

In the laps of the Dogs

Fond as I am of clever wordplay and other dashing habits never a truer title was typed at 1:30 in the morning. We have landed back in New Zealand and have struck down an anchor at the most salubrious K9 Heaven.

An exclusive lodging for our four legged friends, K9 Heaven offers dogs a fantastic retreat from the rigors of urban life and time out from over exuberant owners. It offers us a brief respite before finding employment, provisions, medical supplies, letters of marque and other such necessities for ocean going adventures with piracy on the rise.

For the foreseeable future I shall brandish and bandy my usual banter with insights into some of the resident and regular canines of heaven. It is a dogs life after all.

Friday, 17 October 2008

An unconventional and somewhat lengthy iPhone Fix

Before we left New Zealand we purchased a first generation iPhone for my wife. It had a fair price of $100 New Zealand dollars but the process to get it working on a New Zealand network had stopped the WIFI component from working correctly. This was a pain as the data plans are quite steep and we had downgrade her account to a prepaid one for travel.

We soon learned that the iPhone had a temperamental battery and needed daily charging. International roaming stopped after we entered Laos and we left it off for a month or so. On returning to Thailand we found that the battery had started working again correctly. Imagine our surprise when turning the iPhone on here that the WIFI has returned from a lengthy absence.

There is a probably a scientific reason for the battery and WIFI learning to work again.

-I suspect the battery needed an extended off time to forget bad charging behavior.
-The changing of mobile networks multiple times seemed to reset the default WIFI settings.

A more abstract reason is,

-The battery needed to spend some time reconditioning itself in warmer temperatures
-The WIFI needed to scale numerous high Wats to increase its potency and remember its core function. Communicating on behalf of a higher being.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Kia Ora New Zealand

Right. We fly back to New Zealand tonight. I have a list of demands for the good country of New Zealand to make my stay as enjoyable as my journeys through South East Asia.

-25-30 degree heat
-Sun that does not cause radiation sickness
-$10 hotels & guest houses
-Happy hours that last all day
-More monks
-More incense
-Countdown timers at traffic lights
-The immediate replacement of all Holden and Ford cars with scooters
-More repetition in language. Why say it once when you can say it twice? Same Same, Cheap Cheap, Slow Slow, Sweet Sweet.
-More jumbled up language
-More smiles
-The broadcasting of all local news in a language that I can not understand

That should do it for a couple of months. I will revise my demands after some time on the ground and my head out of the clouds.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The First Elephant off the Rank

On Monday we took a one day excursion of the surrounds of Chiang Mai.

The day included,

-An Elephant trek
-A visit to a hill tribe village
-A walk and waterfall
-Lunch
-A bamboo raft ride

Unfortunately my digital camera capitulated during our Elephant trek. I have since revived it but since the Elephants were undoubtedly the highlight of the day my photos and video footage will only serve to punctuate the fun we had with them.

Our Elephant was the first one waiting in line to pick up passengers. Being somewhat naive in the ways of Elephants we thought our Elephant was a diligent and hard worker.


We soon learned that our Elephant was the hungriest and thirstiest Elephant of the herd. There were two banana stops on our ride. Our Elephant had an uncanny ability to gauge the exact amount of bananas we had left. She could also splash us with water when we did not supply with her with a steady stream of bananas. When we ran out of bananas she would start extorting bananas from other Elephants and passengers.




We learned an Asian Elephant requires about 250 kilos of vegetation and up to 60 gallons of water a day to keep on the road. However they make for an easy ride when they are not eating and are sure footed over a wide variety of terrain.


A nice touch was when we dismounted our Elephant and I lost my Vietnamese hat. It is a conical shape and landed point facing up. The following elephant was clever enough to pick it up by her trunk and pass it to me.

In closing, Elephants are a great way to see the jungle just remember to pack plenty of bananas and hold onto your hat.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Method Writing

One of my personal bug bears is reading about actors who pride themselves on method acting. As hard as becoming a drunk or sleeping in a coffin to research a role sounds some poor writer went broke living in a bar or worked at a funeral home to write the script the actor is reading from.

On Friday night I was commissioned to write the tale of one mans turbulent and sometimes torrid times in Thailand. This meant sinking into the depths of Chiang Mai and stepping outside my ever expanding comfort zone to give me first hand research.

It started innocently enough, six beers were purchased from an ever available 7-11 and we visited the subject for some harmless observation. It would have been incredibly harmless except for the candidates uncanny ability to induce fits of laughter and take us from one outlandish situation to another.

At one point we were subjected to a sound track of the wiggles and then the bold claim of an intended kamikaze. The kamikaze we learned was the stripping of ones shirt, commandeering a neighbours apartment and then a horizontal repell around a balcony into another appartment whos owner had lost his key.

From here we left the appartment to visit the ominously named Van. The trip itself was not without event. Sadly tuk tuks were in short supply but with some guile we gained passage on the back of a utility vehice. The Van is actually a fully functional transformer but instead of transforming into a useless human like figure the van transforms into a bar.

The Van

After nearly starting an international incident between New Zealand and Ireland we headed off to a more traditional night spot, Spicies. Spicies is a rich canvass to draw from. It is where all of the bar girls go after they finish work. It is also where most tourists and some of the truly desperate and depraved hang out. I affectionally branded the depraved as the Walrus. Spicies proudly adorned its entrance with this sign.



Unfortunately the music was sadly lacking along with the lady boys. My muse made like a pied piper and lead us off to the jovially named Lucky Bar. Lucky Bar is the last bar open. It is full of lady boys and it has incredible music. Unfortunately by this point our group had start to dissipate. We decided to eat an early breakfast it was 6am by this point.

Breakfast was novel in that I was proudly adopted as a husband by a nice chap who proceeded to massage me during my whole meal. Massage does improve ones digestion but sadly the vocal adulation caused me to laugh overly much with my mouth full.

My husband adopter

Method writing; it is harder than you think.

String Theory

Over Thursday night I learned of a couple of distressing things.

-A good school friend, Gary Farr has been diagnosed with a blood disorder and is undergoing chemotherapy for treatment.
-The Dalai Lama had been hospitalised with gallstones.

The best thing to do was to locate the highest point of worship and make offerings to Buddha. Doi Suthep sits northwest of Chiang Mai. The road is very good it even has barriers which were a novelty after some of the roads we have encountered traveling. It took us about 20 minutes to reach the top with quick stop off at a waterfall.



Looking back at Chiang Mai from about half way

Upon reaching Don Suthep there is a mountain of stairs to climb.

Steeper than they look

After this physical pilgrimage it is nice to remove your footwear and take in the sights and sounds of a very special place. The views are stunning as are the various shrines and artifacts.







Under reconstruction

View of Chiang Mai from the very top

The absolute highlight was entering a temple and getting on you knees to receive a blessing from a monk. My knees are sadly not cut out for extended periods of worship but a nice touch is getting a cotton wrist band and a splashing of holy water accompanied with chanting. The wrist band is to be left on for two weeks and the wearer will receive good luck for the duration and after. It was during this time I thought of Gary and The Dalai Lama.

We left Don Suthep with our spirits buoyed. It had just began to spit rain as we descended. We commented on this jokingly as we were lucky it had not rained earlier. The rain increased in volume until it was bucketing down with such ferocity that we had to pause and reflect on the impressive luck Buddha was raining down upon us.

I have since learned that the Dalia Lama is out of hospital. I am not sure how Gary is but hopefully he can read this at some point.

And that my dear readership is advanced string theory.