Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ski Bunnies

We survived. No broken bones. No dislocated joints. All in one piece. Our first visit to the ski fields of this lovely country were a success, mostly.

Ms R had a great time and has discovered the joys of sledging. Well the joys of riding down with someone else to pull you back up the slope anyway. Damn, I felt old after the 7th trudge back to the top. Poor Little Ms R was not so keen; being so small, she felt the cold a bit more and the gloves and scarf didn't keep her too warm. Looks like she might become an Après-Ski expert.

Ms R was a natural though. Despite some initial difficulties standing up, once she mastered the balance thing, she was in her element and I see many years of snowy fun ahead...and many dollars spent on fashion and kit.

We had a great time eating out in the little restaurants and taking in the spectacular scenery and just living without any boring lifey things to do - no cleaning, no dishes, no jobs around the house......bliss. Nice for Mrs R and I to stop and take a breather together.

On the way home, we diverted around the mountain to the rather cool Tongariro National Trout Centre where the kids fed the fish to many giggles and shouts of "Nemo, Nemo" and then to the Army Museum at Waiouru. I am not keen on guns and killing but the museum is excellent and details the horrors of war with blunt facts and poignant displays. Not one to wish to expose my kids to death at such an early age, I was a bit hesitant but through their eyes they only saw big trucks, men dressed is silly hats and ammo boxes which Ms R insisted were treasure boxes.

The car journey was, as expected, noisy but the colouring books and the purchase of two mid-sized Magna-doodle rip-offs from the $2 Shop were a Godsend (thanks for the idea Martha). They fitted neatly into my coat pocket and appeared magically at meal times along with colouring pens and sticker books for instant calm for the 43 minutes or so for lunch or dinner. After that magic time, all hell breaks loose so the secret is to get as much conversation done before the food arrives and then chow down like a dog in silence with the occasional nod until the plates are clean. The arrival of Ice Cream Sundaes buys at least 8 minutes, enough time for a coffee and to collect the small pile of discarded food from around the table.

The highlight of the return journey was Levin. There is this enormous childrens adventure playground with some modern clear toilets (very useful if you arre travelling with small bladders). Well worth the stop and just broke the journey enough to get home with no bloodshed in the back seat.

We were blessed with dry days and some great clear skies and arrived back to the monsoon season in Welly. Shame, too wet to get those house chores done and I'm back to work on Monday..... Nuts.

"Let me just get my breath back". Posted by Picasa

"Pull, Daddy, Pull, ALL the way to the top this time."  Posted by Picasa

Turoa Rocks. Go Go Go.... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

3 Strikes and you're OUT...

On my way to work this morning I walked past the cafe where I had a bad coffee last week and felt guilty for having avoided them and for making a snap judgement of the new barista. Bit harsh I thought, so in I go and order my Latte.

Looks promising. He's acting confident. Turning knobs. Concentrating. Throthing. Pouring. Oh shit. There is an art to the pour. There is a girl at the airport who has a great pour; she makes great shapes in the top which amaze me. I have never mastered that fancy pour and guess they learn it the day prior to graduation from coffee school - a secret passed on from Coffee Master to wannabe barista.

I'm now nervous. I hand over my cash and walk away. Hmmm, cup feels a bit hot, maybe overcooked this one I think but nothing prepares me for the full horror. I delay the first sip until I am at my desk. I don't want this day to start badly.

Bastard. This is one of the worse coffees I have ever had. I contemplate pouring it away and actually having a vending machine substitute. The guy is a butcher I tell you. All that stops me is the fact that this stuff costs more than petrol and I suffer along, a martyr and sad addict, hoping against all odds that the next sip will be better. Bitter disappointment and I shall not return. My patronage is now firmly to a Mojo supplied vendor down the road. Period.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

If music be the food of love...

Music used to be very important to me personally. It still is important but with two small children, our car journeys consist of either Barney or other such delights and that is where I used to do most of my listening.

I was a late 80's teenager but was heavily influenced by my older brother hence my early drift into the Indie music scene and such great bands as Wonderstuff, Inspiral Carpets and some of the more commercial, Tears for Fears, EMF, The Farm to name but a few.

Well, I had a conversation with
alan a few months back and he mentioned an album "Ruby Trax" where some old number ones were covered by such great bands as The Farm, EMF and all my fav groups. Weird - maybe I had my head in a hole but I must have missed this baby coming out and I've had a copy of the best tracks sitting on my desk for a few months.

Both little R's have been ill this last week and so slept most of yesterday giving me some time to do things for myself, in between delivering treats and stuff to them. So I finally got around to listening to the tracks and Whamo, a step back in time.

What a priceless collection - you haven't lived until you've heard Vic Reeves doing Vienna. Other gems include The Mission with Atomic, Johnny Marr & Billy Duffy with The Good, the Bad and The Ugly and a favourite group of mine, Tears for Fears with Ashes to Ashes.

Tainted Love by Inspiral Carpets is a great mix, with fuzzy guitars and genius drums and is only topped by the synth pop of The Farm and Don't You Want Me Baby and the surreal Marc Almond and Like A Prayer....freaky.

Best track? Hard to choose as they all carry it off in their own way...even EMF with Shaddup You Face. If pushed I'd vote for Ride and The Model as I remember trying to play this on a little Casio VL-Tone, my first (and last) keyboard. I have the original 12" and this version captures the original but with something else...

I found this great web site where the history of music is mapped out with demos and great explanations. Try House/Synthpop if you want some late 80's early 90's energy - I spent a lot of time bouncing around in here - pretty impressive and well worth a visit.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Primo Coffee for everyone....

I had a terrible experience this morning. There is a new barista at the café on my way to work and he is not too accomplished yet.

As you know, I am a fair and reasonable guy and I am usually very tolerant. I'm happy to wait in the queue at the supermarket if a newbie is being trained to use the till, I'm even happy in most restaurants if it is a new waiter suffering a bout of nerves. I remember the worries of that first job and let the occasional extra few minutes off my life slide by, or the chip dropped on my lap get brushed subtlety onto the floor like it was nothing.

But damn it, this is serious stuff. This is not something you mess with. Go to Barista School and get qualified before you try to completely ruin my day or at least practise like the rising coffe baron,
Martha. Do not go near those knobs and buttons with your clumsy fingers before you are a pro. That $3.80 is precious to me and the bitter disappointment lasted the whole day up until a visit to a Mojo supplied outlet by the heroic half-pie brought me back to life and shut up my whingeing.

I read this article this morning. It basically says that many US offices are now providing gourmet coffee for employees and are seeing a lift in productivity. Sounds good to me. The only odd thing in the article is that is uses Starbucks as an example of primo coffee. Well, I guess even a turd looks good to the constipated....

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sleigh bells ring are you listening....

Being from the UK, snow for me means Christmas. For Mrs R, Christmas is a beach in Nelson and BBQs but she still sends Chrimbo cards with snow on them... never quite worked that one out....

Anyway, we are off to the snow. We have booked a little getaway in a lodge near Ohakune and the little R's are very excited as they will see their first ever snow. To them it will be a proper winter experience. To me it will bring back memories of snow drifts and traffic chaos when the first flake used to hit our little village. The trains would grind to a halt and school would be closed. I would walk down Sheepscoat Lane in our village as there was a big hill at the end and guaranteed drifts. My friends and I would build snowmen, snow houses, sled on cardboard boxes, have great fun and then go home cold and hungry. I only experienced this from my teens (having grown up somewhere hot up to then) so had to pretend it didn't interest me after a few years. No cool teenager made snowmen so I might have missed out a bit here.

Having kids allows me to indulge so I shall be going nuts in the snow. I am looking forward to the girls reactions and will pull out that trusted "never eat yellow snow" line, that made me laugh as a kid, and then struggle to explain it. A couple of good snow ball fights and then to dinner with a roaring fire.

It is nice to have a holiday planned. The drive there might be hard work so we shall print a pile of pictures to colour from and we have our trusted Bad Jelly the Witch CD ready.

The fabulous Google Earth gives us a flavour of what to expect. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Let them eat cake...

Every time I walk past a Subway I get drawn in by the smell of fresh bread. What a great marketing ploy as it never fails to get my taste buds going.

Well it got me thinking about bread machines today and whether they are any good or whether they are another gadget that gets used every day for 3 weeks and then finds its way to the back of the cupboard (to join the electric can opener, weird vegetable slicer/dicer thingy and other such essential items).

I asked Mrs R and she looked at me funny with that "poor innocent child" look she gives when I am about to do something stupid. You know the look. It means go ahead, jump off the swing and discover the pain for yourself. I could tell you it'll hurt but you'd jump anyway so I'll just give you "the look", instead of the "I told you so" later.

What to do. Anyone got one of these beasties and are they any good? More importantly, are they easy to use and can they clean themselves? I dream of waking up to the smell of fresh bread and perfectly formed buns (bet that'll get me some interesting Google searches...)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Superextenderbulbchangerer

I've never been very good at DIY. I try hard and muddle through but the results are mixed.
But today I am so proud. Call me King of the Bulb changers if you will.

I was faced with a problem similar to the immovable mountain.
A real high ceiling with a spotlight bulb in the middle that had blown. Now I have a ladder (what self respecting DIYer doesn't) but when put against the wall, there is the small issue of about 2 meters of void between the wall and the bulb. I toyed with the idea of Mrs R holding it upright whilst I climbed but she wasn't too keen on that, so what to do?

And then along came a genius (thanks
Brena) who suggested a pole with a suction cup. Well, it took me some time to get up the courage to make such a complex device but the satisfaction of building a supercomputer is nothing next to my smug smile as I pulled it off. Take one shower pole (the extending type), one No2 Pencil, one sucker (stolen from an angry daughters window toy) and some sticky tape. Put it all together and you have the Superextenderbulbchangerer.

This device can be rented at a modest fee!

Things to do with a pencil and some sticky tape.... Posted by Picasa