vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))
I don't usually do political posts, but I did like this word cloud created from an online poll of NZers asking for a word to sum up the orange waste of skin I call Shitler (I refuse to dignify it with its name).

(Results are again from a UMR online SAYit poll of n=1000 nationally representative New Zealanders conducted between the 28th March and 11th April 2017. The margin of error for a 50% with 95% confidence is +/- 3.1%.)

OK, it's a small sample, but yay for NZers not following the global trend towards fascism. OK, there are a few supporters there like my appallingly right-wing sister, but the majority are pretty damned clear-sighted. Let's hope it's reflected in our September elections.
vilakins: (loose cannon)
The floods after Cyclone Debbie are appalling, a 1-in-500-years event leaving the entire town of Edgecumbe under water and a lot of the work done on the Kaikoura roads munted by landslides. The weather in this country NEEDS TO GO HOME.

But this made me laugh: a guy caught trying to drive his motorised picnic table up a hill in Dunedin (about an hour south of here). His lawyer said that "he has ceased associating with the type of people involved in operating motorised picnic tables while under the influence of alcohol", but the last line is a killer.
vilakins: (holiday vila)
We're off for our first holiday away from home in three years tomorrow. Greg was given two free nights in a lake-front hotel in Queenstown along with flights and a rental car for being 10 years at his company, so we're basing our holiday around that. After that it's a night in Christchurch (staying with Greg's mother who has Alzheimer's so that'll be hard going) and an early start the next day to catch the wonderful Coastal Pacific to Picton. A ferry will then take us to Wellington because, sigh, Greg has to work there on Friday while I meander about the city, probably spending most of the day at the Te Papa national museum.

So not a particularly restful holiday, and I'm a bit nervous about driving around the Queenstown area as tourists who can't handle the roads in the area have been having or causing fatal crashes there recently. One of Greg's colleagues who was there a couple of weeks ago (on the same deal) said tourists kept stopping in the middle of the road to take photos. :-( We plan to visit the Clyde dam (probably not a tourist attraction, I hope) because I like dams and bridges and all large engineering projects and maybe Alexandra which might be dicier as it's a pretty place overseas visitors might go for. Plus there's a steamboat trip on the lake. :-D

I'm just sorry we won't be in Christchurch long enough to see the new cheetah cubs at Orana Park, but hey.

We have to put the cats in the cattery in an hour or so which always upsets me. It's the worst part of going away and the best part of coming back.

vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))
A naive soul posted this question on Reddit. The answers are hilarious and, um, mostly untrue; I spent half an hour laughing like a maniac at them. Brilliant, wonderful stuff, and it'll give you a good idea of our sense of humour, culture, and what those childhood summer holidays were like.

This totally made my day.
vilakins: (eep)
There's been a strong earthquake centred in Cook Strait which has shaken Wellington pretty badly and done some damage. A cluster of quakes have hit in the last few days but this one is the strongest so far. A bit of a worry after Christchurch.

Wellington is a lovely and very liveable city. When I lived there though I experienced quite a few quakes, and that was the main reason I decided to come to Auckland when I got back from overseas. Let's just hope the dormant volcano field doesn't fire up.
vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)

Greg is in Christchurch yet again so I can't watch the latest DW or OUaT because he likes them too. He went down last week to arrange buying his mother a house with the money she got from the government for her Red Zone house which will be demolished, and this week he's helping to move her in. She lived in the old house (built new for her) for over 50 years, Greg was born from it as the almost-youngest of 6 children, and she really didn't want to go. They're going to try to set up all her furniture the same way, and will take her curtains and even some of her garden to the new place.

I'm a bit envious, really. It's only 10 years old and has double glazing! That's really rare here; it'll be so easy and cheap to cool and heat. I'm sure that she'll be very happy there once she's settled in. OK, the River Avon (yep!) isn't just over the street, but a park is, and she'll have neighbours; she was about the only person left in her old suburb.

He comes back on my birthday which means an early-morning trip to the airport, but not as early as yesterday (Sunday) - 5am! In the meantime I already have my present: a Kindle Paperwhite. :-D At last I'll be able to read all the books the library doesn't have.

Other good things:

  • I found (and bought) Quorn in New World supermarkets. Until recently you couldn't get it here at all.
  • I think the organic shop near work sells kale - something else you can't normally buy as they feed it to stock. Why? What about us, eh?
  • Mighty Ape (the local version of ThinkGeek) has Farscape graphic novels and I now possess three of them. Yeah, long after everyone else.
  • I'm driving Greg's new (to him) hybrid Insight while he's away and it's an absolute delight.
  • I can finally catch up on Leverage and other shows (not many) that Greg doesn't like.

vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))

Two bills passed into law in NZ this week, to my amazement considering our National (conservative) government.

Same-sex marriage is now law, passed by an good majority (77 to 44) since MPs were free to vote as they wished. Apparently Australian couples are already booking wedding trips here.

And at last we have Mondayisation of two of our holidays, Waitangi and ANZAC days, so that if they happen to fall on a weekend, people get Monday off. As votes were by party, this one was a much more narrow margin, miserly National being outvoted by the other parties.

vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))

Yes, Marmageddon (as they named it) is over! Marmite returned to the supermarket shelved last night and went on sale today - [personal profile] daiseechain, rejoice! Countdown offered a free jar to anyone who spent more than $50 there today, but we had a large almost full jar when production stopped over a year ago and still have some left. I thought I'd let the deprived addicts at it.

I've actually managed to write a trope story but haven't posted it yet because I'm so terribly behind and haven't yet done the Pasifika or the funnel-headed cat one. I'm finding it hard enough just staying up with reading, let alone commenting and actually posting. I've even thought up a couple more; I'll have to get them down and also make a start on the [community profile] unconventionalcourtship one. [worries]

Thank you everyone for the kind comments about the accident. You guys are great! The car has been written off (so sad; it was a great car) but Greg's planning on getting a newer one, probably a Jazz (a Fit in the US). Some people asked about the old guy who was driving the vintage Cadillac. He was still in the ambulance when we left because his blood pressure was up, but he wasn't injured, just shocked (as were we). He rang Greg up this week and was terribly apologetic. The Caddy was a 1979 model he had 'classic car insurance' for meaning that it was only meant to be driven occasionally and he usually only took it out on weekends and to car shows. He almost didn't last Saturday because of the rain; I wish he'd decided not to. As I had also suspected, it was a left-hand drive car which would have made it even harder in those conditions when it fish-tailed (since we drive on the left here). Greg was very kind and said to him not to worry about it, things sometimes just go wrong. Ah well, if it hadn't been us he'd hit with that solid car, it might have been worse for someone else, who knows.

vilakins: Vila in cold-weather clothes looking unhappy (weather)

I just got back from a day out to find that some of you lovely people were worried about me because I haven't posted since the tornado that ripped through West Auckland. It hadn't occurred to me that anyone would be, but I do apologise for not posting earlier. I was busy yesterday and too tired to post in the evening, and then we were away today.

The tornado was one of the more destructive ones, killing three (workmen crushed by the wall they were sheltering by), injuring 27, and making 250 homeless; the SPCA has gone into the cordoned-off area to find pets left behind in the panic to get out and reunite them with owners. West Auckland is the usual place hit by tornadoes for some reason. All we experienced over here in east Auckland was sudden bouts of torrential tropical rain, one of which soaked me to the skin from the thighs down despite my huge umbrella in a just few minutes while walking one block from my car to work--that rain bounces--and the power being out for a few hours.

After all that, it's been a stunningly gorgeous summer weekend. Yesterday I put up the tree of light (not that it actually has any lights what with the shortest night approaching) with the usual glass planets, stars, and the Liberator, and cooked the stodgiest batch of latkes I've ever made. I blame Greg for saying I should add more matzo meal. Eating those things was probably what made me so tired I staggered off to bed early. :-P

Today since it was so nice again we decided to got to Waitomo Caves to see the glow-worms as Greg had never been there and I'd bought two half-price vouchers. This meant that I drove two hours there and two back so yeah, I'm tired once again. On the way down we passed a convertible with a Santa and very unseasonal snowman in the back seat; Greg took photos with his phone. Silently floating on the river through the glow-worm caves was as magical as when I went with my mother and made me think of dwarves and Gollum and adventures.

What else? Oh yes, we took Jasmin and Ashley to the vet for their annual check-up and inoculation. Jasmin has put on 400g though she's still slim and sleek, and Ashley is still only 3kg. They're both in excellent nick though so she's just a small cat; the vet remarked that their fur is beautiful and in really good condition. He was really taken with them both. :-)

Anyway, hugs to you for worrying about me; sorry I didn't post earlier.

vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has its première tonight and opens for the public Wednesday 12 December at midnight. We have tickets! Yes--for midnight! [is excited] And awww, today's Herald had a poster of Martin Freeman looking very anxious and Vila-like. [loves] There was a photo of the main cast and I noticed Sylvester McCoy was in there; he plays Radagast the Brown.

Wellington is calling itself Middle of Middle Earth as Greg found when he went there last week. On the plane they had the Hobbit-style safety video and also Hobbit-related trivia questions. Of course Gollum is fishing in the airport. When Greg got back, he said he'd also seen Mount Doom from the plane, meaning Tongariro, and it erupted the next day.

vilakins: (eep)

Tomorrow (the 26th) at 9:26am the whole country is meant to do The Big Shakeout to practise for an earthquake. The slogan is "drop, cover, and hold": get down, crawl underneath a piece of furniture, cover your head, and hold on to the furniture. I won't be at work, but if I were I wouldn't be able to resist singing Duck and Cover, the 50s song by Bert the Turtle which was meant to make people think they had a chance in a nuclear war. I originally came across this scary little gem in the film The Atomic Cafe which is blackly funny and worth a watch if you come across it.

Earthquakes are easier to survive, but we don't actually have anything to go under at home, both our tables being glass-topped and a potential source of very sharp glittering daggers, our bed having wooden slats that probably aren't roof-bearing, the spare beds too low to get under, and this computer desk has shelves that would stop me getting in very far. Eh, if a Big One happens, I'll cower in a doorway and cling to the jamb, which is what I used to do in Wellington when a worrying one hit.


4 Aug 2012 08:20 pm
vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))

I got my hair cut today and on my way home I was behind Lucy Lawless in her car with the custom "1 XENA 1 Warrior Princess" numberplate. She was going to one of my local supermarkets which is odd because she doesn't live in this part of town.

We now have three gold medals which puts us 12th on the official medal table and ahead of Australia to their enormous chagrin; apparently at least one TV channel over there doesn't show us in the standings. We're first on the alternative table by population. :-)

The annual Food Show is on and we'll be going tomorrow (Sunday) first thing; it gets incredibly crowded after an hour or so but I like to see and try new products.

And it's not raining! I really like winter when it's fine and dry.

Our boarder is still with us. I should point out that she does pay board (hence the term), provides her own bedlinen and towels, and does her own laundry (at home in the weekend) but I can't see her finding a flat in a hurry, especially since her mother said one she liked was too expensive when it was standard for Auckland. I'm betting she'll still be here in summer. :-( She isn't a lot of trouble in terms of housework but people who aren't introverts (like her chatty mother) don't understand how stressful it is not to have your house to yourself. I do enjoy the weekends and the chance to do what I like and schlep around in old clothes but they aren't long enough.

Ooh, and I just saw the DW trailer on TV. They said "coming soon" which may mean that we'll see it shortly after the UK. Cool!

vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))

Axle grease of a certain flavour
There is this black axle-grease stuff called Marmite that we like to eat (sparingly in my case) on toast or bread and it's different from the Marmite they have in the UK. Unfortunately. Because the only factory that made it is in Christchurch and has been closed because of earthquake damage. It will be months before they set up elsewhere and this news sparked off a panicked run on Marmite. Luckily we have an almost-full jar so I didn't bother. Telling people to eat Vegemite instead however doesn't cut it. It's a whole other flavour.

Weathery weather
It's autumn equinox though we never really got a summer this year; it seems like we went from spring straight to autumn, and this week has felt like winter. It's not cold but it's wet, grey, dark, and depressing, a preview of the long months of gloom unrelieved by any bright spots that is our winter. There are of course the usual floods and our house is leaking again. Sigh. It was surprisingly lovely last week though. I think that was summer (and I will post about Thursday tomorrow).

What new things has Vilakins been watching? My sister was saying how funny Modern Family is so we tuned in and caught one character telling another that "I could care less" meant he did in fact care a little. YES! Then they got onto the whole "literally" thing. YES! YES! We were in! We've been eating that program up at one or two a night. I adore Gloria, Manny, and Cameron to bits. My sister was right: it's a very funny show despite the title which had put me off. I do take exception to the "modern" though as each of the three family units has at least one child which seems pretty traditional to me.

We also started watching New Girl which recently started here. I like it; let's hope they keep it up. But what will they call it next season?

There was also the first ep of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency which I loved. It had some great lines, the only one of which I can think of right now is "You stabbed my chair!"

vilakins: (joy)

A power company here has been running a series of ads in their "same power, different attitude" campaign in which despots, pols and generally bad people are depicted as AU versions of themselves in a better, kinder world.

The first one I saw was a peacenik Nixon with afro on the local bus stop, and I have to say it worked: I was intrigued as I drive by, enough to find out who the company was. Over this year they've also done:

And this one which made me laugh out loud with delight when I saw it.

(click for big version)

Of course they've been told to cease and desist by Lucasfilm. Pity. Do they know about this rather similar free postcard from Europe though?

vilakins: (candles)

I haven't posted much lately. I've been feeling a bit tired, probably a combination of extremely changeable weather (hot, cold, wet, dry--sometimes all in one day like today), learning a new job, end-of-year rush to get things finished at work before we close down for two weeks, various social outings.

There are various things I've been meaning to post about and just haven't got round to, so here's a brief catch-up.

Various recent things )

I will just add: LJ, what the hell were you thinking? Is the whole idea of customer service completely alien to you?

Oh and Hanukkah sameach to those who celebrate it! [has eaten three doughnuts tonight]

vilakins: Comic-style Vila with a gun and annoyed expression (cross)

It appears that NZ Post no longer delivers parcels. This is the second time in a month they've left a card at my door to say that I have to pick up a parcel at the depot--and their hours are the very friendly 6am to noon. They also say that any parcel uncollected after a week gets returned to the sender.

WTH? The whole idea of a postal service is, I'd have thought, to you know, actually deliver the stuff. They're going to get a rollicking from me tomorrow morning, I tell ya. It's enough to put me right off ordering clothes etc online, my preferred method of shopping. I'd have had the thing delivered to work but they're closing down for two weeks on Friday and I didn't want to risk it.

vilakins: (hurley)

In the news today: a seal pup wandered into a home via the cat door and made itself at home on the couch, not at all fazed by the resident cats and dog. The house owner thought she was hallucinating and called in a neighbour who, yes, says the words in the subject header. Here's the article complete with seven photos. Eventually the DOC (Department of Conservation) put the little guy in a net and a box but that didn't stop him; he escaped into the front seat and turned the radio on. Maybe he hoped he was on the news.

vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (brian the spider)

If you don't like insects, just pass on by, nothing to see here.

Wetas are what Weta Workshop is named after, and I rather like them. I had a pet one as a kid and fed it on apples and buried it in the garden in an old chocolate box when it died.

A couple of years ago I posted about a dead weta one of the cats brought in (scroll to the last picture). That was a normal-sized one like the one I had but this is a wetapunga, a giant weta from Little Barrier Island. Apparently it's the biggest insect on the planet (the species, not that particular one); they weigh in up to 72g, as much as a sparrow. It's apparently an example of something called island gigantism, and the genus name, Deinacrida, is Greek for terrible grasshopper which amuses me. The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the insect world.

The icon BTW is of Brian the Spider from Blake's 7, a much bigger kettle of fish eggs which probably should have been called Brianette.

vilakins: (oh bum)

I've been reading and commenting but not posting because I've been getting into a new job (which is still interesting and fun!) and when I get home I only have time to catch up with my flists before Greg gets home and it's dinner and TV/DVD time.

Then yesterday I worked 13 hours in the general election as an issuing officer which is a fun if long day and a nice little addition to the bank account. We had to issue for two electorates as I was working in a polling place on the border of my electorate (Tamaki, a died-in-the-wool National one) and our team finished the vote counting for Tamaki quickly and accurately one hour after closing. However the other team, Maungakiekie, were 10 votes out on their reconciliation and had to recount while we waited around being bored and tired so we could help clean up when they'd finished. And after all that the election returned National. Sigh. Labour had such a good platform; I can't understand why people didn't go for it in greater numbers. The Greens did well though which is pleasing; pity they and Labour together don't outweigh National. Why do people continue to vote for the oligarchy? OK, enough politics already.

So today I'm knackered and not feeling much like trying to catch up on [ profile] picowrimo but I may force myself to. I should also post photos and various other things I've never got round to but I just want to have a prolonged nap. I was counting on today to hit my 5k target too. [procrastinates badly by cruising Thinkgeek and loading up wishlist]

[Edit] I knew this was my only chance to reach my target before the end of the month so I steeled myself and made an effort and wrote over 800 words. I have done it! I met my target! [Rests on wilted laurels. Or wiltedly rests, whatever.]

vilakins: (office space)

It's Friday evening at last! It's been a steep learning curve (I was meant to be trained in two days when a lot more than that is needed) but I think I have it all pretty much sussed now. I still have a bad chest infection so I've been feeling pretty knackered at the end of the day, and it's embarrassing hacking away in the office. Not that I'm the only one but I think I'm the worst. I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow.

Anyway. This Rugby World Cup things that's on has resulted in different Auckland suburbs being assigned teams to support (e.g. Remuera is Scotland) and at least one car in ten flying national flags, or in our case because we have a crap flag, a black one with a silver fern on it. Several offices I've been in have different branches or departments doing the same thing in a company competition, and where I'm working that's the case too.

They went all out today at work. Examples:

  • 'Russians' were dressed as ballet dancers in white tutus (the hairy-legged men too). They were a bizarre sight lined up on the roadside buying coffees from a van mind-morning.
  • 'Australians' were in akubras (Aussie hats), some of them festoooned with corks. They also had an electric barbie in the lunch room at lunch time, frying up sausages and onions.
  • 'Canadians' were dressed as lunberjacks. If they sang the Lumberjack Song, I didn't hear it.
  • 'Japanese' were in martial art gear.
My department, meant to be Romania, just has decorations and a flag up; they say they're too busy to do anything else. They blew up far too many balloons though and the things are all over the place, collecting in rubbery drifts in corners. :-P

vilakins: (spring (kowhai))

Today has actually felt more like early summer than spring. Flowers are starting to come out in the garden, though more than a month later than usual.

And it's daylight saving tonight! I love daylight saving (unlike most Americans I know) for the extra hour of light in the evening.

Four photos )

vilakins: (spring (kowhai))

It seems to be spring at last! There are usually flowers around and the magnolias were out last month, but for me it's the weather that indicates spring: it's been fine and warm lately and it's also time to refill the automatic insect repellent squirters since I've seen a fly already. :-(

The rugby world cup starts tonight and I've seen loads of All Black and Tongan flags, and this afternoon a woman wrapped in a South African flag. I have not the slightest interest in thugby but I'll watch the opening ceremony on TV and the fireworks from a vantage point just down the road (our trees have grown too tall). Said fireworks are meant to be magnificent with pohutukawa flowers and nikau palms and other local images. I have yet to see anything as wonderful as the huge ringed Saturn I saw several years ago but tonight might be the night.

vilakins: (cricket)

The Basin Reserve is indeed filled to capacity today for the charity "fill the basin" cricket match for Christchurch. There aren't just famous cricketers there, but also actors, mayors, and a Prime Minster, John Key, who hit a four off one of Shane Warne's (very easy) balls during the break to get $100,000 for Christchurch.

Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman are umpires! How cool is that?

It's still on now, but sadly not on TV; I'd be watching otherwise.

vilakins: (summer (beach))

February was the hottest on record here, so no wonder I was sweltering. It's much nicer now, but still a degree or two hotter than normal.

Anyway, here are some lighter moments from the earthquake.

A guy called Phil has the boulder which smashed through his house on sale, all proceeds to the earthquake relief fund. "Rocky will enhance your 'indoor outdoor' flow considerably, especially if you load him in through the garage roof like we did." Ahahaha, I notice that the seller allows pick-ups. It's worth taking a look at the photos (the last one made me laugh) and the comments are extremely funny; Phil has a great sense of humour and his replies are brilliant. The bidding's at $7000 last time I looked. :-D One person was worried that Rocky might not go to a good home and I was tempted to suggest he gets micro-chipped in case he strays, but I think Phil has his hands full with the comments he has already.

A pigeon that was alive under the ruins of the Cathedral has been named Barney Rubble. If he turns out to be female, he'll be renamed Betty.

We were also amused to see that a house that lost most of its roof had an attic full of very large and healthy marijuana plants and a ventilation/watering/sun system. I hope they aren't nicked for it.

[Edit] Rocky has his own facebook which has comments just as funny as the TradeMe listing.

I also love this: You know you're from Christchurch when...

vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))

The main auction for [ profile] help_nz is now open.

I've made some offers to be bid on:
A story
A scarf
Mitts / wristwarmers
Digital art

There are links for donating on my previous post and on the comm's sidebar.

vilakins: (nikau (NZ!))

I haven't heard if there are any fandom help comms, but here are three good sites where people can donate to earthquake relief.

Worldwide NZ Government Christchurch Earthquake Appeal

SPCA Earthquake Appeal (Canterbury is the province Christchurch is in)

Red Cross

People in NZ can also text "quake" to 933 to donate $3. It might not sound much but Vodafone has a similar scheme going for its customers to donate $5 and they've raised over 2 million.

[Edit] There is indeed a comm, [ profile] help_nz. I'll post about that later today when their main auction opens.

vilakins: (nervous)

Greg's managed to either talk to or hear about everyone in his family and they're all fine (though their houses may not be). It was as I'd thought: the lack of power and cell-phone towers were why people were hard to contact.

It's not so good for others though. I heard two buses were crushed and people are still trapped in buildings. The last I heard there are 65 confirmed dead, 80% of the city is without power and a lot of people don't have water either.

vilakins: Vila with stars superimposed (Default)

There's been another big earthquake down in Christchurch, and this one happened in the middle of the day so there are deaths and casualties.

Greg hasn't managed to contact those family who were at work. He spoke to his mother though and she's without power and water and will have to move out of her home. It's probably badly damaged anyway; her neighbour's house is off its foundations. Greg's oldest sister can't contact her daughter who started work in the city recently, but we're hoping that's due to power being out. :-(

vilakins: (spring (kowhai))

I posted this in [ profile] show_me_a_world, and thought others might like to see as well.

It's spring here which might not be as obvious as on the other side of the planet because most of our trees are evergreen and don't lose their leaves. However I do have a couple of trees from Europe which have new leaves, and some very pretty spring flowers.

Six photos )

vilakins: (girl from space)

It's a blustery and occasionally wet Sunday as a storm the size of Australia passes over, which means that it's not worth going out to Ardmore for the Battle of Britain air show, dammit. They have the Warbirds (vintage war planes) there and it would have been wonderful in decent weather. We wouldn't be able to see them with the rain and low clouds. :-(

Anyway. We have local elections on across the country and there's a Jedi standing in the Waitemata and Gulf ward. "He is encouraging voters to strike back against dull, traditional candidates and support his policies. These include light sabre-based progress, the formation of a Rebel Alliance against the political clone army and light-speed local infrastructure." :-D Pity it's not my ward or I'd vote for him, but the Orakei guy saying he will fight "council stupidity" among other things will probably get my vote.

A poll on Auckland's mayoral campaign has Bob Parker way out in front, and he's not even standing. He's the mayor of Christchurch who has been so impressive after the earthquake. Auckland would be his if he wanted it, which I doubt. :-)

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