Thursday, 31 May 2007

Lessons in Lithuanian

Most gratifying to see that tvc hasn't been run off the road yet on the Highway of Death between Prague and Brno, although that probably has more to do with the fact that he's in Vilnius as we speak. I was just thinking of you, mate, as I monitored the excrutiatingly slow rise in my share portfolio. I've only got one share holding as a result of my insurance company turning itself into a building society about 10 years ago, only to see my 199 shares crash from NZ$25 each to about $3 back in 2003. I'm in for the long haul I thought. Now, though, I'm having to weigh up the possibility of cashing in sooner rather than later to fund these potential adoption proceedings. Hence the reference to speaking Lithuanian.

Yes, as bizarre as it seems, Lithuania seems to be the best bet for us, but at a huge financial cost. Russia would have been better, but apparently they recently cancelled the Hague Convention protocol with us. A Kiwi adoption intermediary, Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand (ICANZ - not to be confused with the world famous Institute of Chartered Accountants NZ, which required a multi-million dollar rebranding exercise), is trying to get po-rusky accreditation, but so far Vlad the Regaler hasn't issued the necessary royal decree.

I say the best bet because the other possibilities don't appear that attractive. The Chinese require you to have a clean bill of mental health (rules out 90% of the world's population for a start), the Phillipinos expect you to be a good church-going Catholic and be ready to accept a severely handicapped child, the Chileans don't put up that many children for adoption, and the Thais also use the adoption process for physical and moral cleansing purposes. The only obstacle posed by the Lithuanians on the other hand, is the requirement that you take on groups of siblings - mostly three at a time, which is fine by us. Instant Family Deluxe. And of course it helps that one of us is a co-Slav and the other is a Slavophile. And it's close to a country very near to the heart of one of us. The cost is thought to be in the range of NZ$10k-NZ$15k. Just as well then that I get paid stupid money for administering to sweet Fanny Adams.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

What a great uncle!

I became a Great Uncle on Monday evening Рliterally. That means the missus is a Great Aunt at the age of 33. This is all the result of my 19-year-old (now 20) niece getting herself knocked up by her sickness beneficiary boxing instructor who is older than I am. And you thought it was only in the Czech Republic where it was pass̩ for older men to prey on young women.

New Zealand’s Maori population is projected to increase from 14% to around 20% by 2020, and my niece is doing her bit to contribute to that population growth. The father is one-quarter Maori, so my new blood relative is one-eighth indigenous. His middle name (forgot to say it’s a nephew) is Kaia. Not sure about the translation at the moment, but the father is apparently of Ngati Whatua tribal descent. The Ngati Whatua come from the far north of the North Island and therefore don’t get on too well with the dominant South Island tribe, the Ngai Tahu. Could be some interesting times growing up, especially as Dunedin (in the cold southern South Island) is predominantly pakeha (white).

In regard to the first name, Jackson, my niece is perhaps showing an interest in the art world (Jackson Pollock) or fine wine (Jackson Bay) or then again perhaps she’s taken with the latest fashion of giving children a surname for a first name.

A few months into the pregnancy we had offered to adopt the child as our own, which would have resolved our own childlessness problems and eased the pressure on the grandparents (my brother was looking forward to early retirement in France) and the mother (she’s halfway through a nursing degree). In the end though, she decided she would keep it, which I suppose is only fair enough.

We will now focus all our own resources on adoption. Of course that’s not an easy route either, but there is somewhat more certainty involved than everything else we’ve put ourselves through so far. Adopting within NZ is impossible (very politically incorrect to give up one’s own child no matter what the circumstances), so it’ll have to be inter-country adoption. That means concentrating on one of half-a-dozen countries only, i.e. those with a Hague Convention protocol with us: Chile, Phillipines, China, Thailand, Lithuania and maybe Russia. Lots of very nasty bureaucratic obstacles involved in all this, but best to get the ball rolling asap.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Philanthropy begins in Ghana

Rather than dedicating my finite resources of sanity to the production of postcards, letters, blog posts and other forms of correspondence, I thought I might dabble in paying for the privilege of communication. This comes about from leaving my Skype status on 'Skype Me!' for a couple hours one unsuspecting day and getting the usual Chinese cyber-marketing wank and invitations to sex chat (...mmmm, sounds interesting that one). Among the unsolicited messages however, was one from 'Agnes' allegedly based in Ghana. She told me a story about how her parents had recently been killed in a traffic accident and as a result she was in desperate straits. She was no longer able to attend nursing school or even feed or clothe herself without the aid of her local pastor. Yep, it had scam written all over it, but she seemed just that bit sincere enough to elicit my sympathy. I challenged her to write me a hand-written letter describing her situation in detail, and sure enough it arrived in the post today.

So, is it enough evidence to register as genuine? We're not without an extra bob or two, and we already contribute to a few charities by direct credit on a monthly basis, but this is something different. Agnes needs US$470 to pay for her fees asap. I'm sorely tempted to fill out a postal order tomorrow, but I guess I shouldn't let my munificence get the better of me too soon. Charitable contributions aren't always reciprocated in kind. If she's truly genuine then I'd like to help her out, but I don't want to get fleeced when there are millions more in need out there. Ach, those ethical and moral dilemmas, huh? They've been a long time coming. Wait till I tell you about the efforts we're about to launch to adopt some Russian or Lithuanian children...

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Remember the Malvinas

There's been a deluge of books about the Falklands War now that it's the 25th anniversary of that pointless little conflict. I was nevertheless mightily intrigued with it at the time as a military history freak teenager, especially as those bomb-laden rickety old Vulcans began making divots in Goose Green on my 15th birthday, which must have been a Saturday because I remember drinking Drambuie at some rich kid's house somewhere in Maori Hill (the Knobsville of Dunedin in those days).

Incredible to think now that Margaret Thatcher was heading towards political oblivion after a couple very dismal years in office and that Michael Foot of all people could well have been hanging up his duffel coat at No.10 eventually. Nothing like a colonial war to perk up the population and get the jingoistic blood flowing again. But at the time, in the immortal words of the Iron Duke, "it was a damned close run thing". One or two more type-42 frigates sunk with a couple well-placed Exocets and the Brits would have turned tail and steamed back to Blighty to lick their wounds and further contemplate the continuing decline of 'Great' Britain.

But at the time we all thought the Brits were doing a fine job of kicking some Argie arse. Stories about Colonel 'H' Jones leading his troop into the muzzles of the enemies guns had us fired up, even if he was killed as a result and awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Pathetically, the New Zealand Prime Minister at the time, Robert Muldoon, lent the Brits one of our (four) frigates to free up one of their own for South Atlantic duties.

It's fascinating reading some of the accounts now, particularly from the naval perspective. One of the books recently published is by the commander of the destroyer HMS Coventry, which took three direct hits from 1,000lb bombs delivered by Skyhawks (ironically, the very same fighter aircraft that New Zealand used up until we very sensibly disbanded our airforce a few years ago), and which sunk with the loss of 19 lives in just 20 minutes (Four Weeks In May). As the commander recounts, the two Argie Skyhawks came into view at a distance of 15km after the Sea Wolf missile battery of the accompanying destroyer, HMS Broadsword, failed to fire. Apparently, the battery's software couldn't make the decision which Skyhawk to shoot down because they were flying so close together and at such similar range that it couldn't distinguish a single target. As a result the battery just closed itself down. The Antelope fired off a couple Sea Darts (1950s technology) but they strayed off into the Falklands' hills. The ship's company then lined up on the deck with any firearm they could find and tried to bring the jet aircraft down with repeated volleys of fire. In desperation, someone even tried to blind the two pilots by flashing the signalling project. All to no avail.

And so the Brits took a bit of a battering within the naval taskforce from the Argie airforce, whose flyers modelled themselves on WWII fighter pilots by sitting outside on deck chairs waiting for the call to scramble and using expressions like "Tally ho!"Luckily for them the Rapier anti-aircraft batteries set up on the island were total crap. Unluckily for them, the Brit pilots of the slower but more manoeuverable Hawker Harrier jumpjets were better trained and knew how to 'vector' their jets to best advantage. Unfortunately, a few dogfight victories weren't quite enough for Maggie as the navy lost more and more of their quick-burning aluminium ships, which led to the order to sink the WWII-era cruiser, the General Belgrano, leading to the infamous English tabloid headline "Gotcha!", despite the fact the Belgrano was well outside the exclusion zone and was steaming back towards port. The frustration with the loss of ships also led to the land battle for Goose Green, which went against the overall tactical plan but which was demanded by the politicians to demonstrate the superiority of British squaddies over Argie conscripts and raise morale back home.

All this reminescing about war in the early 1980s makes me think about all the stories about the 17th cocktail squadron that I picked up off a mate during my last year at university. More on that later perhaps. By the way, has Rotten read the junkie-gonzo-journalistic account of the war in Yugoslavia by Anthony Loyd called "My War Gone By, How I Miss It So"? A highly recommended read.

Friday, 18 May 2007

A box of birds or a box of blades

I recently finished reading Tim 'Australian of the Year' Flannery's 'The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing The Climate And What It Means For Life On Earth'. Couldn't help osscilating between wanting to head down to the corner store for a box of razorblades while reading it, or hoping beyond hope that maybe we actually avert laying waste to our planet to the extent that humanity could somehow survive beyond the 21st century. As one of life's natural pessimists, I can't help thinking that we're off to hell in a handcart, which a cynic might say is one way that helps me deal with childlessness, i.e. better not to have 'em as we're leaving nothing behind for them apart from a toxic and dessicated wasteland bereft of most living things.

Of course, it may not get that way for some decades to come, but as Flannery points out, we've already passed through a couple climatic 'magic gates' as it is: that is, leaps made by climate that mark the onset of "remarkable phenomena". We've apparently already been through two such magic gates in 1976 and 1998. The first occured when scientists drilled into a piece of coral from an isolated atoll in Kiribati and found that the detailed record of climate change contained within showed that the surface of the tropical Pacific Ocean has rarely dipped below 77 degrees Fahrenheit, when historically it usually sat around 66 degrees. This has caused huge shifts in the jet stream and tropical precipitation. The second occurred when the El Nino weather pattern became virtually permanent and coincided with fires that wiped out 25 million acres of land in South Asia, half of which was ancient rain forest. These major changes haven't corrected themselves and it's highly unlikely they ever will. It's only a matter of time before the next magic gate appears, which in turn may lead the tipping point that sends us completely over the edge. Flannery documents all the evidence to show that huge swathes of planetary flora and fauna have been lost to climate change. If we do our absolute utmost to reduce the amount of carbon we spew into the atmosphere though and stabilise global warming at only 5 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, then he reckons we may only lose one-tenth of all animal species on earth. That's the best case scenario.

In the worst-case scenario, we'll be reduced to a few breeding pairs at either Pole within a hundred years, according to the originator of the Gaia thesis, Sir James Lovelock. The latter has sometimes been portrayed in the mainstream Murdoch press as an extremist and a crank, but Flannery agrees with him: "Given the scale of the change confronting us, I think that there is abundant evidence to support Lovelock's idea that climate change may well, by destroying our cities, bring about the end of our civilisation."

Flannery posits three possible scenarios that may occur sometime within the next 10 to 50 years. Firstly, the Gulf Stream may collapse as a result of fresh water from melting ice accumulating the North Atlantic. This would cause another 'magic gate' when persistent drought would hit major agricultural areas with major plunges in temperature in northern Europe and America and major increases for South America, Australia and South Africa. As anybody who's read Jared Diamond's 'Collapse', Australia is already on a knife edge and will be the first to go once major climate changes take place. Just look at what's happening there right now. NZ is already starting to think seriously about how it would cope of an influx of climate refugees from across the Tasman.

Secondly, the Amazon rain forests could collapse very suddenly in a textbook example of a positive feedback loop, where increasing temperature leads directly to a vast increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This would basically happen if Amazonian transpiration is shut down so that the rain forest ceases creating its own rain clouds. This would happen if increasing CO2 levels caused rain forest plants to keep their stomata closed for longer periods of time (because they can only absorb so much) and hence reduce the water vapour they transpire which in turns help create the rain clouds that keep the forests wet. A positive feedback loop. Reduced rainfall combined with a predicted increase in temperature in the Amazon basin of 10F will stress plants to the point that collapse of the forest will become inevitable.

Thirdly, the massive volumes of clathrates that sit on the beds of the oceans and that contain huge amounts of methane, could become overheated and release their greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. At present they're kept on the sea beds by the cold and the pressure of overlying water. But there are between 13,100 and 55,020 trillion cubic yards of the stuff, and if they're every released by a warming of the oceans, then it's goodnight nurse. Paleontologists reckon this is what happened to cause the biggest extinction event ever 245 millions years when nine out of ten species on earth became extinct during the Permo-Triassic period.

So, there we have it. Flannery does offer some hope and some solutions, but I'm too tired to write about that now. I'll save it for another post, but in the meantime, switch off all the lights and catch some public transport.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Treti navrat idiota

Ach jo. Better keep the numbers up, particularly as Idaho has been checking in over the last couple of days.

The plans have gone slightly awry for the next return to CZ next year, surprise, surprise. They haven't been cancelled, but they have been brutally truncated. The missus, influenced by the large ex-pat community here that believes it escaped hell on earth by migrating to the other side of the world, vehemently insists that she's not going back for more than an extended holiday. That means three months. It's slightly problematic in that I'll have to completely renovate the flat in Zlicin while we're there, which will leave s.f.a. time for acclimatising back to my natural habitat (nalejvarna), but with a lot of you guys having spoiled the party by knocking up your wives and churning out mini-mes, the potential is there for a lot of lonely drinking. Nevertheless, I think I might have negotiated a special deal for myself whereby I take a full six months, with the excuse being that I can expedite the flat refurbishment a lot quicker by myself if I go on ahead alone. The ulterior motive is to give myself the chance of travelling overland to save on those nasty CO2 emissions (even though the contrails can have the opposite effect to global warming, as seen in the dramatic heating up of the atmosphere over America in the 3-4 days after 9/11 when all air traffic was grounded, but that's another digression). Travelling overland actually allows me to explore a shitload of countries to where I've never ventured before, and hence could provide a modicum of excitement and new material for this blog, should it survive that long. I'd probably fly to somewhere like Singapore/Bangkok and then strike out by train or bus through Malaysia-Thailand-Burma-Bangladesh/India-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Europe. It's just a pipe-dream at this stage of course - should be plenty of organic material to stuff into the corncob on the way through Pakistan - but that's what I'm aiming for at this stage. The flat becomes vacant theoretically at the start of March, so that could be when I embark on my journey.

Of course, this is all predicated on having a big stash of loot on hand to not only pay the way (and the missus's flight tickets), but also cover the mortgage, insurance, rates, etc, while we're away and have something left over when we return. That would all be resolved, however, if we sell the flat for a decent price. Any offers?

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Forays into Czech journalism

G'day Kivak. It's just you, me, myself and I, and the occasional accidental tourist from Pakistan or Japan, so feel free to do whatever you want. Yep, I got absolutely sick of seeing that ugly grinning mug of yours on the introductory picture so I just had to change it to what was in our very first post.

And because it's just the four of us now, I'm sure neither you, me, myself nor I will mind if we take the liberty of posting up the one foray we made into Czech journalism a few years ago. Not because I'm particularly proud of it mind you, but it's just handy to have it on the net somewhere in case the missus does what she did to some other historic articles of mine and uses them as firestarters (serves me right for storing them by the woodburner I suppose). The editor of Respekt generously agreed to publish something from me before even seeing what I was capable of, although he did preface his acceptance with the statement "I trust you're on our side of the barricades". I wonder if he would publish yesterday's rant about Klaus the Klown?

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Vote 'tosser' for president

Since you haven't been asking about Amerca's Cup racing, here's another change of tack. Apart from my pal at WelTec in Petone, I don't suppose anybody read this laughable attempt at political analysis by Vaclav Klaus while on a visit to his mates at the Cato Institute in America. Vasek appears to be mired in the past fighting political ghosts long past or perhaps that never even existed during his cosseted life as a banking apparatchik under the old regime. Seventeen years after the revolution led by his rivals and that he himself pusillanimously warned against, Vasek apparently believes that the enemies of 'freedom' are still alive and well, and he's not talking about the Bin Laden family or his illegal wire-tapping mate in the White House either. No, real evil lurks in the creation of fashionable 'isms' that "put various issues, visions, plans, and projects ahead of individual freedom and liberty." Take "social-democratism", for example, which is allegedly nothing more than a milder and softer version of communism. Other insidious 'isms' include internationalism, multiculturalism, Europeanism, feminism, and environmentalism. "Communism is over, but attempts to rule from above are still here, or perhaps they have merely returned."

Nice one, Vasku. Although he "understands" concerns about eventual environmental degradation (duh? this degradation hasn't taken place yet?), environmentalism as an ideology is a huge threat to individual freedom. Yes indeed, environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people- and nature-friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior, and our values, harrumphs Vasek! Order in the 300 underpanted Spartans and eviscerate them with deft jabs to the belly with those phallicy javelins now. It's a quasi -scientific conspiracy to deprive that freedom-loving 0.0001% of mankind with all the loot of their gleaming Sports Utility Vehicles and their Louis Vuitton handbags. If we want to load up with the atmosphere with carbon from our weekend Manchester to Budapest short-haul flights 10 times per year and fill our houses with pointless trinkets delivered on pallets made from tropical rain forest wood, then who the fuck are those tree-hugging cunts to tell us what to do?! How dare they encroach on our God-given right to over-consume and leave the rest of humanity to eke out a living from the crumbs we leave after gorging ourselves at their table!

Erm, only thing is, Vasek, you forgot to make mention of the most fundamentally dangerous 'ism' of them all and the one that seriously inhibits all of mankind's ability to pursue the greatest freedom of all, i.e. life. That is, neoliberalism. The danger of this ideology is that because neoliberalism is predicated on open-ended expansion and grow over equity (equal distribution of the world's resources), it is inherently unable to confront the very real limits that nature imposes on economic growth (and I'm sorry Vasku, but technology may help at the input end but not at the output end). It should go without saying that neoliberalism and the irrevocable economic growth that Vasek advocates is in fact inimical to planetary sustainability.

Neoliberalism in the form currently practiced via structural adjustment policies of austerity and deregulation in the Third World in particular, and via the expansion of free trade regimes such NAFTA and WTO, fundamentally deepens socioeconomic inequality, both globally and within countries. Socioeconomic polarisation has been a feature of neoliberal reform in virtually all the contexts in which it has appeared. Neoliberalism also poses the fundamental ecological-economic problem of negative externalities. In uncorrected market exchanges, the selling prices of goods do not incorporate the full social and ecological costs of their production. In the absence of rules for internalising true costs, the benefits of globalised production accrue disproportionately to those players most effective at externalising negative costs. Finally, neoliberalism is predicated on the continued loosening of state restrictions on capital. Because most environmental policy is regulatory and because governments are pitted against one another in competition to attract and hold footloose capital investment, one fears a deregulatory 'race to the bottom'. The globalisation of Vasek's neoliberalism will continue to force producers to move the most humanly exploitive and ecologically dstructive portions of the production process to desperate Third World locales.

As the journal I'm reading states: "The fruits of middle-class buying power are being subsidised by the externalised ecological damage of hazardous, unregulated production in the Third World, and by the misery of workers in the global assembly line...By rewarding production methods that externalise negative costs in distant places, the world's affluent consumers are shielded, delinked from the ecological and human consequences of their consumption." No wonder you can't get Vasek and his friends in Washington to agree to controls on carbon emissions. Sorry to be so disrespectful, but the planet is in serious trouble and as long as politicians like Klaus are burying their heads in the sand and insisting on business as normal then we're fucked. The guy's a cock.

No prizes for guessing what I'm studying this year.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Change of literary pace

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago before this blog came into existence, Rotten mused over the possibility of establishing a site where we could all write up thought-provoking reviews of the books that we've been reading. Well, unlike George Dubya, I have managed to read a book this year, but I can't promise to write anything even vaguely provocative. It's definitely worth a quick line or two though, as I haven't read such a page-turner in a work of fiction in a long time (I usually confine myself to treatises on climate change and environmentalism these days, but as you'll see this book isn't all that far removed from those topics).

It's 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy and in my very humble opinion it's undoubtedly a modern masterpiece. If you don't know who I'm talking about, you might know one of his earlier books turned into a Hollywood film starring Matt Damon called 'All The Pretty Horses' (I think). I note from other reviews that McCarthy is generally ranked alongside Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal as one of America's greatest living writers. Anyhow, a quick synopsis: The Road tracks the voyage of a father and his son through the apocalyptic wastes of a country (presumably the USA) following some sort of catyclismic event that has destroyed every single living thing on the planet apart from a few humans, including all manner of fauna and flora. The landscape is covered in a thick layer of ash and the days are bitterly cold and very short as a result of a grossly polluted atmosphere. The reader is never told what exactly happened to the planet, although the inference is that a meteor has hit the earth or a thermonuclear war has taken place and the last surviving humans are living through the resultant nuclear winter. All we know is that the father and son are struggling to walk as far south as possible to get to the the sea and a warmer climate. We're given just enough information to guess that the boy was born after whatever catastrophe hit earth and that he's probably about nine or ten years old. As the blurb on the book states: "They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food - and each other".

Anybody else would have written the story as a science-fiction action thriller, but McCarthy pares back his language to its barest, sparsest bones and creates something bordering on a poetic work as a result. The events that take place as they trudge further south necessarily repeat each other to hammer home the absolute bleakness of life in a corpse of an environment, yet he still manages to somehow conjure just enough hope to keep you guessing as to the protagonists' ultimate fate (I thought there could be only one outcome but I was wrong). Clearly, the only thing that keeps the two going is their love for each other, although the son's affection for his father is sorely tested by the actions he takes to protect his son from any manner of harm. No doubt it's meant to be an evocation of the best and the worst than man is capable of in the face of virtually no hope. To stress the father's devotion to his son, there's a gut-wrenching scene in which the boy's mother demands the right to euthanise her son before she eventually wanders off into the pitch blackness of the night and is never heard of again.

If you've read anything about the likely impact of climate change, then you'll see that this book is not completely beyond the realms of probability. I felt like purchasing a box of razorblades while I was reading it, but I couldn't stop myself completing it anyhow. I'll leave you with one of the more tense moments in the book when they enter a seemingly empty house in search of food:

"He started down the rough wooden steps. He ducked his head and then flicked the lighter and swung the flame out over the darkness like an offering. Coldness and damp. An ungodly stench. The boy clutched at his coat. He could see part of a stone wall. Clay floor. An old mattress darkly stained. He crouched and stepped down again and held out the light. Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt. The smell was hideous.
Jesus, he whispered.
Then one by one they turned and blinked and in the pitiful light. Help us, they whispered. Please help us.
Christ, he said. Oh Christ.
He turned and grabbed the boy. Hurry, he said. Hurry.
He'd dropped the lighter. No time to look. He pushed the boy up the stairs. Help us, they called.
Hurry.
A bearded face appeared blinking at the foot of the stairs. Please, he called. Please.
Hurry. For God's sake hurry.
He shoved the boy through the hatch and sent him sprawling. He stood and got hold of the door and swung it over and let it slam down and he turned to grab the boy but the boy had gotten up and was doing his little dance of terror. For the love of God will you come on, he hissed. But the boy was pointing out the window and when he looked he went cold all over. Coming across the field toward the house were four bearded men and two women. He grabbed the boy by the hand. Christ, he said. Run. Run."

Memories of Zanzibar under the old regime

A couple more thanks yet again to PAM. Scene of the famous buddy-fuck performed by tvc on Rotten, as related in one of our earlier posts.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Young Scallywags Club

Here's another one from the photo archives courtesy of PAM, and which helps ween me off tedious griping about my employer of the month. This one is circa 1995-6, although on the basis of the fashion and the fresh-out-of-diapers look on the mugs here you'd think it must have been taken at least 10 years earlier. BA was still too young to ever grow whiskers or long hair at that age (even Bedrich is suitably bemused at his febrile state), while Rotten is still wearing his junior high school turtle-neck skivvy. Charlie is clearly concerned at having to make do with such blatantly under-age drinking company and get knobbled for it by the photographer, although to be fair they've probably all just passed the Czech legal drinking age of 11 years 8 months.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

New start tomorrow

Better write something to keep the monthly numbers up. After a rather enjoyable week arsing around at home erecting a new washing line, replacing weather boards at the back of the garage, sowing more grass seed and catching up on my university studies, it's time to re-enter the wage economy (yay...). Have to report to Homeland Security tomorrow, although I'm scoobied if I know who the hell I'm supposed to ask for, what time I'm supposed to turn up and or what I'm actually supposed to do. Like most large government departments I won't be expected to do any work in the first month or so anyhow, and I think I'm being sent away for some Maori language training in the first week in any case. I heard something on the radio this morning regarding public access to the births, deaths and marriages registry which I'll no doubt get caught up in. Doesn't exactly fill me with paroxysms of excitement. Still, I've justified the position to myself by determining that it'll be the very last public service role that I'll fill; after that I'll be organic farming or some such like for me. I'm absolutely dreading having to don the corporate uniform of dress trousers, business shirt and tie again. But I shouldn't get so pessimistic about it. After all, it could turn out to be sort of interesting, and if I'm really lucky my colleagues might be smart and intelligent people. I certainly hope that's the case, coz God, I get sick of writing about work. Must make a mental note to stop thinking about it so much and enjoy the million other things in life. I could start writing about them now, but, no, it's time for bed. PAM sent me some more great pics from the old days, so I'll try and get some posted shortly.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Omigod - Sammy Beckett's signed up

Will wonders never cease? First Tony anoints Gordon as his favoured successor and now it turns out that ah has signed up to co-authorship after only 23 invitations. Small but bold steps my fine vegan friend - just keep a close eye on how much Amazonian rain forest is being cleared to plant soya beans to maintain the most important vegetarian staple ;)