Friday, July 31, 2009

If Anyone Can, A Kiwi Can!

NZ mountain parrot, or KeaEvery New Zealander knows about keas - our cheeky mountain parrots – but their namesake is a global community: KEA, or Kiwi Expats Abroad.
More than 750,000 New Zealanders live overseas...that's 16% of our population, a quarter of all our highly skilled workers! While some see this as a huge skills drain, others regard it as a unique competitive advantage for the country.
Since its inception in 2001 by the legendary 'Warehouse' founder Stephen Tindall, KEA has helped business people connect with and leverage the knowledge and contacts of talented New Zealanders around the world. It now has 25,000 members, with membership growing at over 20% per year.
Imagine KEA as an enormous global Old Boys Network, with tentacles reaching into 178 countries. For a business seeking overseas commercial or professional contacts, KEA could be damn useful.
And furthermore, you're working with ex-pats on the same wavelength: thinking kiwi, talking kiwi, doing it the kiwi way...what could be better?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bush Birthday

Kate Bush, from her 2nd.album (1978) LionheartBirthday greetings to the woman who lusted for Heathcliff – the Man with the Child in His Eyes - who Ran Up That Hill, chased by the Hounds of Love ("It's in the trees! It's coming!"), while dressed as a Babooshka... clicked yet?
Yes, that ethereal waif who stunned the musical world with Wuthering Heights back in 1978 is 51 today. English singer/songwriter Kate Bush's eclectic style has made her one of England's most successful solo female performers of the past 30 years. Kate, 2007
While NZ radioplay was generally limited to her earlier bigger hits (causing many to muse “Whatever happened to...?”), back home all of her albums hit the UK Top Ten. She's often cited as a major influence on the careers of many artists worldwide. In 2002, her songwriting ability was recognised with an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, and she's also been nominated for three Grammy Awards.
To illustrate her diversity, here're some video links to: Wuthering Heights, Running Up That Hill (the 12” mix), Babooshka, King Of The Mountain and, from the Elton John tribute album, try her reggae take of Rocket Man.

Monday, July 27, 2009

In Praise Of Apostrophes

In my early days, I found apostrophes confusing and their usage deeply frustrating.
The dear ol' nuns must have prayed hard for my grammatical redemption because one day it all just clicked: I morphed into a grammar Nazi who'd return emails with errors highlighted, and howl derisively at signs advertising VIDEO'S.
Over the years I've been urged to "let it go" - generally by those without as firm a grip on punctuation skills. I thought that was just part of New Zealand's sad and inexorable slide into the mire of the world's worst language butchery: when the weather is described as "foin und moild in Wullintun" (that's "fine and mild in Wellington"!), you know you're in heartland New Zulin. And when shops have SALE'S, how illiterate we must appear to the rest of the world.
But wait: we are not alone! Thi's erroneou's use of apostrophe's ha's become a planet-wide pandemic! (OMG! Another pandemic!!) It seem's there's not only a global glitch in the correct use of apostrophe's but also comma's, colon's and virtually any punctuation mark's' that could help turn a string of word's into a fluent sentence.
On-line, you'll find The Apostrophe Protection Society and Apostrophe Abuse bemoaning the maltreatment of the beloved apostrophe.
In this texting age, I wonder if the demise of ALL punctuation is imminent. Those who've suggested I "let it go" also tried to persuade me this was normal linguistic evolution, and queried whether I wanted to be righteously correct but all alone on a desert island amid an ocean of 'linguistically modified' people.
My answer? Ye's!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bridget Jones Strikes Again!

Renee looks good with a bit of extra meat on her! A third Bridget Jones movie is in the pipeline!
Renee Zellweger does it all again, slipping into "oh, those panties" to stumble through her search for love. Production begins late 2010, and she's ready to slap on 28lbs (2 stone)/12kg to play the Chardonnay-swilling PR girl once more.
In the plot there's supposed to be a baby and no christening - Shock! Horror! Probe! And what about Mr.Darcy? If he's there, then so too must be Daniel Cleaver! The Colin Firth/Hugh Grant characters clash so well together.
Zellweger's talked about bringing Bridget Jones out of retirement before, but the idea of deliberately piling on the pounds put her off the idea, especially as all the specialists talk about the long-term dangers of packing on that much weight in such a short time...mind you, Renee's smoking may cause even more damage!
PS: 24 Oct.2009 - Noooooooo!!! Zellweger says: "WHAT sequel?" She reckons she knows nothing about a third Bridget Jones movie, even though every single movie gossip tabloid is trumpeting that #3 is already in pre-production! Watch this space...yes, you too, Renee!
PS: 13 Aug.2011 - Ok, THIS time it IS confirmed!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yowsy-Yowsy, Brother, I Has Arrived!

FINALLY!!! I'm there! At last I've received the sort of email that others have got in the past...but never me. Until now. Today I feel recognised by the world at large, a player on the global stage, across the situation, stepping up to the plate, on the map - so to speak, as it were, per se, as such, to coin a phrase, but not to speak in cliches, far be it from me. I am now the recipient of a Nigerian scam email (though this one's supposedly from South Africa):
I am a member of the contract award committee and 14 project allocation manager, of the Department of Minerals and Natural Resources in South Africa.
I am in search of an agent to be assist us in the transfer of USD11.5M from overdue contract payment and subsequent investment in properties in your country.
You will be required to:
(1) Assist in the transfer of the said funds
(2) Advise on lucrative areas for investment
(3) Assist us in purchase of properties.
If you decide to render your service to us in this regard, 20% of the total sum of USD11.5M will be for given to you as a reward of your cooperation.
Thank you and God bless, as I waiting in anticipation of your full co-operation.

Yours Faithfully, Mr. Ken Maluga.

I laugh at these grammatically-incorrect tossers who think we're stupid enough to fall for this...AND YET PEOPLE STILL DO!!! Seriously, if you have any doubts, check the Consumer Affairs website and hey, let's be careful out there...for a laugh, check out Dumb Scams which illustrates the many variations of Nigerian Scams around!

Monday, July 20, 2009

40 Years On...Where's My Flying Car??!!

Apollo 11 insigniaWritten in a child's hand inside the cover of a pocket-sized New Testament, given to me by the Gideons on July 20 1969, is an inscription to remind me forever that it was the day Neil Armstrong took one giant leap for mankind onto the moon. The Intrepid Three
Over the previous months I'd been swept along by the mission build-up, clipping glossy pictures out of the Weekly News centre lift-out, and displaying them as an ongoing project on the classroom wall.
I still recall watching that first fuzzy-looking step on our family's first television, bought by Dad especially for the event. Down here on Terra Firma, we had no knowledge of how close the entire operation came to a disastrous end...we just watched in awe! Buzz Aldrin steppin' out!
It's sad that after all the effort, all the cost (in lives as well as dollars), there is still a vocal few claiming it was a big conspiracy, and no amount of proof or debate will silence these. Then there's the often-raised question of the actual value of the space programme: a recent The Jetsonsarticle in the Canadian Press looked at this very issue.
All I know is that, for a lad who'd been raised in the exciting Space Race years - with unfulfilled promises of flying Jetsons cars awaiting me in adulthood - this was the next best thing...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Car Cookery...?

In these tough recessional times, many folk are trying to stretch their $$$$$ further...but is this going a bit too far?
Recently I found a site detailing how to bake cookies in your car!
We all know how hot a car's interior can get, when sitting in the sun for hours. Some bright spark has thought to utilise this free heat for baking! All you need: •hot car •reflective sun shade •baking tray •favourite cookie recipe •time
Step 1: Park your car facing the sun. Place your reflective sun shade flat along the dashboard, shiny side up. Roll up the windows and close the door.
Step 2: Prepare your favourite biscuit/cookie recipe and place mixture on a baking tray as usual. Take the tray to the car (by now you should get a nice blast of hot air when you open the doors). Place baking tray on top of the reflective sun shade, making sure the cookies do not touch the windscreen or slid over the edges of the baking tray. Close the car.
Step 3: Check your cookies after an hour or so to see if they are done (do that quickly so you don't lose all the heat). Once cooled, you can enjoy fresh baking without any power used! And the next day, enjoy that fresh baked cookie smell in your car on the drive to work!
PS: 29 July 2009 - I've heard from a guy in America who did this successfully. Baking a tray of cookies took him about 2½ hours, the end-product had slightly crispy edges with a delicious soft centre, pale in colour because of the different cooking method...but he wished he'd made more because his tasters finished them off very quickly!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

DANGER! DANGER, Will Robinson!

the robot from Lost In Space (60s TV series)I'm posting this, with a sense of relief... knowing that my computer is "clean" again (hopefully)! But only an hour ago, a message leapt up onto my screen, screaming that I'd been infected by Trojan.Win32.Agent.azsy. The warning message was from Personal Antivirus and looked just like the warning pages from many of the anti-virus systems available.
BEWARE!! Personal Antivirus IS the virus!
It's an infection from Russia, urging you to download their product to remove the trojan...and by doing that, you give Personal Antivirus access to God knows what! Also while you're contemplating the end of your computer as you know it, another warning will raise the pressure level, warning of infection by W32.Ackantta.B@mm which is supposedly a worm from Malaysia. Nope, it's the same Russian crap again!
Not wanting to purchase a remedy on-line (thus giving the virus my credit card details!), I was able to remove Personal Antivirus by downloading SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition. So far, so good...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rev It Up!

Hamilton V8sSome Hamiltonians, fined $1500 for viewing the V8 street-races from their rooftops, are angrily claiming the fines are unfair and solely a council revenue-generator. Racing wouldn't be complete without the V8 Girls!
They said during the races, they were blocked in and unable to move their cars for days. If anything, they feel the council owes them money! But the Hamilton City Council says it takes health and safety very seriously. It claims it went to great lengths before the V8s to warn people what they could/couldn't do under the Building Act.
So on one hand are issues like: people on roofs; people viewing an event without paying; people falling off roofs (didn't happen); people throwing things off roofsrooftop parties onto the track (didn't happen); roofs collapsing (didn't happen)...
On the other hand: freedom of association on private property; races inconveniencing residents; no visit by Health & Safety during the event, but fines issued three months later; revenue raking for Council-supported event?...
The time delay is 'interesting', given the races were in April and yet the fines were only sent out in July.
Is this another example of public servants forgetting they serve the public?
PS: 13 July 2009 - After a huge public outcry and media mudslinging, Hamilton's mayor - who claims he knew nothing about the fines - sought legal advice. The legal beagles said the Council did not have a leg to stand on (or even a roof to sit on). The fines have all been dropped!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hogging The Headlines #2: Swine Flu Vaccine Update

A Swine Flu vaccine is being fast-tracked, for commercial availability tres soon. Pharmaceutical giant Baxter says it has patented technology that cuts the usual vaccine development time in half, to about 13 weeks instead of 26.
While this may seem great news for those extremely concerned about contracting Swine Flu, we should be quite cautious about this “cure-all”. With such pressure on drug companies to produce a 'magic bullet' within a very tight timeframe, it is surely impossible to test the product to the rigorous levels normally adhered to. So, should compulsory vaccinations be imposed, we may find ourselves being the 'crash test dummies' for an unproven drug.
The last Swine Flu threat was in the mid-70s and, in America, it resulted in a massive vaccine campaign. But within a few months, $US1.3 billion of claims were filed by victims who had suffered paralysis from the experimental vaccine. Several hundred people developed crippling Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after their injections. Even healthy 20-year-olds ended up as paraplegics. The vaccine was also blamed for 25 deaths. Meanwhile, the deadly Swine Flu pandemic itself NEVER materialised.
When a vaccine is developed in a mere 13 weeks, you can be virtually assured it has not had the time to be tested in clinical trials to determine safety and effectiveness.
You may want to find out what your rights are, should any public health legislation require you and your children to be vaccinated.
And, as mentioned in my previous Swine Flu posting, maintain normal health precautions, and keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with.
Read my next Swine Flu update: 03 Sept.2009.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bottoms Up!

The Beer Store logo Some people stumble over things when they're drinking alcohol... today I stumbled over an alcohol site while completely sober!
It's for a New Zealand company, The Beer Store, an on-line shop for specialty beers, with over 350 beers in-stock from 20+ different countries.
What caught my eye was the option to purchase not a dozen of this, or a 6-pack of that...but mixed packs - either compiled by "The Beer Store" or your own good self. So you can put together a gift box containing all the recipient's favourite brews from around the world, or browse the stock list for flavours you've never tried before...and be a little adventurous!
Hmmm, wonder if I'll get commission for this plug...? I'm happy to accept a mixed case of Rolling Rock and Molson, thanx!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

DOC Kicks Rat Arse!! News At 6...

native rats raiding a nestThe Department of Conservation (DOC) has begun aerial bait drops on the two Hauraki Gulf islands of Rangitoto and Motutapu.
The aim is to wipe out pests such as rats, feral cats, rabbits and stoats (following the successful eradication of possums and wallabies). This will create a sanctuary for native species such as kiwi, takahe and tuatara, and also protect the world's largest pohutukawa forest on Rangitoto.
You can link here to DOC's pest control and restoration plans for these islands (have a good look around the DOC site: it's informative and well laid-out).
As none of us have had the opportunity to fully enjoy New Zealand's wonderful bush and birdlife as it was before European impact, it's exciting to think this restoration may bring that ideal to our doorstep within a decade...

Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf