Monday, November 6, 2017

Santa Clause and the FAA rules - why he may be late delivering Christmas presents this year

Monday, November 6, 2017 0
oldbearnews editor
It happens pretty much every year.   Santa Claus is a slippery customer - his exact  location is unknown although rumor has it he has some form of abode in the colder regions of the north pole.  The way the ice cap is doing up there (assuming you belief in global climate changes) that would be mostly UNDER the water - or ice pack.  In any case the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA ) is trying to catch up with Santa.

 Reasons - all to do with the health and safety act at various workplaces. some of the issues relate to suitable running lights on his sleigh - or lack thereof / lack of suitable safety harnesses  being mounted on-board (no evidence of a seat-belt) / having non-standard landing gear / no anti-skid systems installed on the sleigh / the annual inspections (WOF) missed  or not reported  let alone passed / the lack of suitable paperwork filed covering a flight plan and risk-management for passengers and goods and services carried  / unauthorized take-off's and landings and especially in areas of high population concentrations - speak towns / rumors of his workforce doing no pre-testing for future planned and newly discovered  landing sites - no touch and go round flight training / lack of post flight reports filed in terms of near misses or other issues that need rectifying or addressing.  Then there is the issue of a non-standard flight suit (some red flowing cape/coat) being worn by an old dude with long white beard!

Further issues not related to the FAA concern animal welfare. Reports are filtering in about mistreatment of some reindeer who have to work despite being in some way handicapped by some enormous red nose. Rumors could not yet be verified that the Reindeer are on a strict vegan diet of carrots only (which could account for the red noses).  The RSPCA is trying to investigate further.

The Ministry for Work and Safety is also investigating other aspects of this operation.  Lacking are documentation for the workshop under the Resource Management Act, its layout and lack of suitable signage (fire-exits) visible .  Missing are also files covering risk management plans for the workforce  (we are told it is a virtual slave labour by minors or other small people and the Labour Department is trying to look further in to this, to see if the workers rights are being honored ).  The Unions have been trying for years to organize the labour force yet failed to get access to the work-site let alone of the workers! Annual inspections never happened as the various Government inspectors could never find the place or make suitable appointments in advance !

Lastly we are sure that the owner (Santa Claus) never uses his sign in /out board, so one can never tell if he is at home or away - presumably delivering prezzies for the children or sourcing the materials needed to make the gifts -  which is against the standard risk practices in business.  Imagine if the workshop should get flooded by the melting north pole ice sheet and no one can be sure if Santa was at home - or relaxing on a warm sunny beach someplace in the tropics.

Thus if any of the authorities finally do catch up with Santa his promise for a delivery on 25 Dec could all be a teeny weeny bit delayed.   Given that we have always tried to capture him when entering our house via chimney and bribe him to stay with an offer of cookies and warm milk - and lately tried a 24 / 7 surveillance via go-pro camera system,  and have FAILED to even capture an image, I am confident that this Christmas will go as smoothly as all other previous  celebratory events.  Thus Santa Claus continues to be a slippery customer - and is probably safe. 


Guess Christmas will happen after all . .. . or at least the gifting of presents!!

Have fun! bear print

Sunday, January 15, 2017

"As you sow so you shall reap" - and please be not be surprised by what you reap!

Sunday, January 15, 2017 0
oldbearnews editor

I came across this article today vie the wonderful world of Internet --->
www.flirting is now a crime??

and could not help feeling that I knew this was going to happen - or be vindicated in that thought!
Let me explain -

Some 20 years earlier - and yes this old foggie no longer can remember the exact date - (I am sure however that some clever brick can dig the relevant date out from the Uk court records) it was reported in the media on a landmark case involving a sales agent (female) who won a court case against a client (of the firm she worked for). Basically she been to this car-garage many times before to sell her company's products - except this time she had to go into the "tea" room rather then the office, as staff where on their tea-break when she called in, and of-course as in so many places at the time, there was a automobile themed "girlie" calendar on the wall - which left her  feeling "uncomfortable" - so she ran off to the courts and argued her case - and won - much to the consternation of the public and lawyers at the time! At the time the comment was, that the courts  judgment was based NOT ON WHAT the law of the land said (as it was not ill-legal to have this type of calendar on a wall) rather it was based on HOW a individual might feel in any given circumstances! That of-course can change from day to day let alone in the mood of anyone at any given time. How can you keep dispensing justice fairly and evenly???  There were dire predictions that if this trend continues it would lead to - a lot of unpleasant living conditions.
Well, it has of course continued and leads us to the above article.
The fear of being sued by American style justice has gripped most of the western world and leads us to being muzzled. We no longer can freely say what we think because we "might" offend someone. How do we know, what we say is ok from one person to another person- or is not ok??

I long for the old playground banter from decades ago where you just ignored a verbal joust or simply told the other person to "get lost" and carried on in whatever game you were in.
Nowadays we have to run of to mummy / teacher / older sibling / or lawyers to "sort out" whatever perceived insult you feel you just received.  It is deferred action and justice for oneself! Further - we are no longer encouraging a self-determination on this as it could lead to fights etc - better to run of to the teacher etc . . . . .  We are shifting the responsibility from one-self to another authority.  

Thus the landmark case in the UK was just the sowing of todays society where flirting and chivalry are an extreme dicey thing to engage, for you never know who might take it as a compliment or an insult. Better not to say anything at all.
Better not to risk anything! After all it might lead you to a court appearance.
And I contend that as a society, we are worse off for it.  We are now reaping for the attitudes sown 20-30 years back.  As a society we almost lost the art of social and verbal engagement (especially if it involves a male/female), of sparring verbally ideas and concepts to a point where we are all becoming well - just bland.

We are indeed reaping, what was sown 20 years back.
There is no easy fix and any fix will take another 20-50 years of ploughing / sowing / weeding the field etc, a time-frame that will be beyond my own life expectancy.  I feel sorry for todays youth though - after all - it is not their fault that we are in this fix.

If you are still with me at this point and tend to disagree with the above written- do yourself a favor and engage in some light hearted flirting at various places and reflect on the response you get . . . . .

"Whatever one sows, that will he also reap!"

From the Urban dictionary

1. Everything that you do has repercussions. It comes back to you one way or another.
2. You cannot escape the consequences of your actions. What you do comes back to you.
3. You will see the long-term effects of your actions.
4. KARMA - The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny, especially, in his next incarnation.
5. What goes around comes around.
6. Your actions all have consequences. Don't ever be fooled into thinking that your actions don't have consequences. Don't think you can get away with bad choices even if you don't seem to get caught. 
Watch the way you live your life because you reap what you sow.
7. We sow in one season, we reap in another.
8. Sow a thought you reap an act. Sow an act, you reap a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap a consequence.

snip --------------------------------------------------

The full article here in case they dump the web-page in some near future:

Celia Walden: When did flirting become a crime?

When was the last time a man openly flirted with you?
"There you go, my lovely," says the greengrocer, handing over the sweet potatoes.
"Is the "lovely" for me or her?" I ask playfully, gesturing at my five-year-old daughter. Whereupon an odd thing happens. The greengrocer blanches, swallows and stutters, "I didn't say 'lovely'. I didn't call anyone 'lovely'."
And what was a good-natured little interaction between two people on a bright and frosty Saturday morning has suddenly been warped into something strained, worrisome.
Why? Because the man thinks I'm going to ask to speak to his boss, accuse him of a smorgasbord of 'isms' and demand some form of retribution/compensation for the affront suffered.
Welcome to 2017, folks: the year flirting officially became a crime. Now let me be clear: after reading and running, flirting is one of my top three pursuits. I'd even go so far as to call it an addiction.
Ever since I first felt the peculiar biochemical change that occurs when two people engage in playful banter, at 13, I have scoured pretty much every occasion - social, professional or otherwise - for the pilot light that will allow me to engage in what I see as one of the purest celebrations of life that there is. I flirt with men; I flirt with women.
I'd flirt with a table leg if it had a nice line in badinage. Because it's not about sex. It's not even about seduction. It's about veering off into a little cadenza that may mean everything, or, most probably, nothing at all.
It's about - as Wikipedia will remind you - "a social and rarely sexual activity involving verbal or written communication as well as body language by one person to another, either to suggest interest in a deeper relationship with the other person, or if done playfully, for amusement."
Amusement - remember that? And I'll tell you something that's not covered by that definition; something so deeply off-message that I'm half expecting my keyboard to rise up in PC outrage and auto-delete the following words: when talking to a man, I like to be reminded that I am a woman.

I like there to be an implicit nod to my femininity, an appreciation that I am a different creature - not inferior, just different. Rarely will young men engage in that subtle and sweetly antiquated doffing of the cap now.
It would be inappropriate, the girls warn - before posting pictures of themselves naked and wrapped in toilet paper on Instagram.
And so those tender little exchanges - homages really, to women and womanhood - are left to the men of over 50, who - sentimental fools that they are - will occasionally still be ignorant enough to call a woman "my lovely."
By the time my daughter is a teenager, I'm not sure there will be a cabbie alive who will have the temerity to call her 'love', the disrespect to help her with her bags or the condescension to wait until she lets herself into the house of an evening before driving off.
And I can only hope that she has enough 'impropriety' in her soul to make her own fun in what looks likely to become a very brittle world.

Reports The Telegraph

By Celia Walden

Post script - since then found a video online that literally quotes my point - you know - "the reap what you sow" part - although it talks about the Trump presidential elections!

Have fun! bear print

Friday, December 16, 2016

13 Christmas traditions myths explained

Friday, December 16, 2016 0
oldbearnews editor

The real stories behind 13 Christmas traditions
Here are their explanations of some customs we often take for granted.

1. Christmas lights
2. Santa Claus
3. Fruit Mince Pies
4. Christmas Crackers
5. Christmas Cards
6. Christmas Trees
7. Christmas stockings
8. Red and green colour theme
9. Pavlova
10. Christmas Dinner
11. Advent Calendars 
12. Christmas Presents 
13. Boxing Day 


1. Christmas lights
The concept of hanging fairy lights during the holiday season came from the need to have a fire-safe alternative to putting candles in trees.  During the Christmas season in 1880, Thomas Edison strung up his lab with lights on the outside as a stunt to try and win the electricity contract for Manhattan. "Edward H Johnson, Edison's right hand man, had another crack two years later when he lit up his Christmas Tree in New York with the familiar lights.
In 1895 President Grover Cleveland stirred public interest in the budding tradition when he asked that the White House Christmas tree be strung with the lights. "By the turn of the century, a lot of families lost their homes to the flames of Christmas. In response, 15-year-old Albert Sadacas, the son of a light shop owner, invented the tiny safety-conscious bulbs in 1917.They started becoming commonplace from the 1930s."

2. Santa Claus
Santa really starts with Saint Nicholas, a Greek Orthodox Bishop from 3rd century Turkey. "If you ask someone about the true origins of Santa, they'll probably tell you he was invented by Coca-Cola," says Lorna Piatti-Farnell, Associate Professor of Cultural History. "But as fun as that idea is, it's not true at all." "St. Nick was known for his charitable works and secret gift-giving, especially around the time of the year we now associate with the Christmas season. Saint Nicholas as a symbol was eventually picked up by the Protestant church, who merged him with Sinterklaas, a mythical Bishop from Dutch folklore, who would ride into town on a white horse, just in time to celebrate the winter.
"In 15th Century Britain, the English Christmas icon of Father Christmas was born. He was invented as a personification of Christmas itself, and so his attitude and personality was representative of the holiday's traditions and values. Eventually, as American culture began spreading throughout the world in the 1800s, Father Christmas began taking on similar attributes to Santa Claus, an American figure directly inspired by Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas and even a little from Odin, the Norse God, whose gift giving had been celebrated during the Germanic winter festival Yuletide.
"In terms of his appearance, the image of Santa was popularised by the famous American poem "A Visit from St. Nick", known more commonly today as 'The Night before Christmas', which described Santa in great detail, and included the first recorded mention of his reindeer. It wasn't until the 1920s that Coca-Cola started using Santa Claus as a marketing tool."

3. Fruit Mince Pies
The spicy mince pie itself can be traced as far back as the 12th century, when the Crusaders brought spices back to England from the Middle East.
Centuries later, British MP Samuel Pepys mentioned the pies in his diary on Christmas day 1662. In the 17th century, the filling still contained real meat like minced cooked mutton and beef suet, along with currants and raisins with ginger, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange rind, salt and a tiny quantity of sugar. The mince pie began to get sweeter in the 18th century when cheap sugar arrived from slave plantations. By the 19th century, the Christmas mince pie had adapted to be as we know it today, with most recipes dropping the meat entirely.

4. Christmas Crackers
Back in 1840, London sweet shop worker Tom Smith discovered the French confectionary known as the Bonbon while on a trip to Paris. Tom dropped the sweet and the 'Bonbon' name, calling his new crackers Cosaques, but he kept the love note and added a surprise gift.
"Tom's Bonbon was a sugared almond wrapped in tissue paper, which he started making and selling in his store back in England. Demand boomed during the Christmas season, so Tom added a small love note into the tissue paper of each Bonbon and profits were once again high that following December.
"Still trying to figure out how to make his Christmas treats even more successful, Tom's Eureka moment came when he threw a log on the fire and heard the crackle and pop it made as it burned. After some amateur chemistry, Tom perfected the pop caused by friction when the wrapping was opened. He dropped the sweet and the 'Bonbon' name, calling his new crackers Cosaques, but he kept the love note and added a surprise gift."

5. Christmas Cards
Christmas Cards date back to 1842 to social reformer Henry Cole. The idea of sending well-wishes didn't become commercial until the 1860's when Charles Goodall and Son's cards became popular. Christmas cards were originally flat and square like postcards so that people could scrapbook them or attach to their mantle piece. The amount you had showed how loved you were. By the 1920's the folded card we have today became the norm. Whilst early cards from England had holly and bells, New Zealand cards featured iconic local landscapes that aren't too dissimilar from postcards today.

6. Christmas Trees
This idea really took off in 1846 when a picture of Queen Victoria and her family around a Christmas tree was released. Victoria's husband Prince Albert was German, and in Germany Christians had had the tradition since the 16th Century. The Americans saw the royals' tree and it soon took off there too. They decorated with homemade ornaments. German Americans continued to use traditional elements of apples, nuts and marzipan cookies. While trees are a major Christmas tradition around the world, in New Zealand they are actually considered a pest and a threat to local plant life.

7. Christmas stockings
Some claim stockings were a ritual invented by the Dutch in the 16th century, originally with clogs, filled with hay for Santa's reindeer.
There's no factual history to explain this tradition but there are plenty of theories. Some claim stockings were a ritual invented by the Dutch in the 16th century, originally with clogs, filled with hay for Santa's reindeer. North America also claims cartoonist Thomas Nast invented the idea in his 19th century illustrations for a Christmas themed story by George P Webster. The most common legend though, tells the story of St.Nicholas providing charity for a poor father of 3 daughters. The father, impoverished and struggling, was unable to provide enough money for his daughters to ever get married. Knowing the father would refuse to take any money from him directly, St. Nicholas climbed down the family's chimney in the middle of the night and left a bunch of gold coins in each of the girls' freshly laundered stockings which were drying by the fire. St. Nick swiftly disappeared, leaving the gift to be discovered by the ecstatic family the next morning.

8. Red and green colour theme
Recent research from the University of Cambridge has found that the red and green dates back to panels from churches from the 14th to 16th centuries.
It's likely the red and green were used because they are such contrasting colours, and because of pigment availability at the time. The colours also align with the weather in the Northern Hemisphere at Christmas. Evergreen plants signalled the start of spring and new life and beginnings. Red relates to berries on holly, apples which were used as decorations, and of cause, Santa.

9. Pavlova
The exact origin is still unknown but everyone from New Zealand to Australia to Russia to Germany to America have all laid claim. One thing we know for sure is that it is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. In New Zealand the first recorded proof of Pavlova dates back to 1911, but it isn't the marshmallowy treat we know today. Then, Pavlova was a strawberry based iced or glace dessert that was first found in Auckland and then Oamaru. It went on to be described as a four layer jelly in 1926, so the pavlova we know today definitely isn't the pavlova our ancestors would remember.

10. Christmas Dinner
What we know as Christmas dinner has changed a lot over the centuries. Beef and goose were common meats in the early days and it wasn't until the Victorian era that turkey became common. Initially it was reserved for the wealthy, but the size of the bird made it ideal for feeding large communities of the middle class, making it the dominant dinner mainstay by the 20th Century. As for Christmas dessert, way back in the Georgian era, what we now know as the Christmas Cake may have had its origins in the Twelfth Cake. This fruit and vegetable based dessert was part of a celebration known as the Twelfth Night on January 5th.

11. Advent Calendars
The name Advent Calendar is actually inaccurate. The Advent season, which is an ancient Christian celebration of the weekends leading up to Christmas, usually falls somewhere around the end of November each year, and not necessarily December 1st, which is where modern Advent Calendars begin. In the 18th Century, the advent calendar used to be as simple as painting the doors of houses with the number of days until Christmas, before it was adapted to lighting candles- a tradition that still exists. Then, people began exchanging little pictures or poems or games, then items of food, before landing more commonly on chocolate.

12. Christmas Presents
The obvious answer would be the three wise men, who brought gifts for the baby Jesus upon his birth. But the act of exchanging presents during winter festivities also has roots in pre-Christian Scandinavia, where people would gift each other with food, not just on Christmas day, but all winter long. Giving gifts specifically on Christmas day was established in the 18th century, and popularised by Queen Victoria, along with many other Christmas traditions.

13. Boxing Day
The term Boxing Day dates back to the 1830's when the tradespeople and public servants like postmen or errand boys would be celebrated. As a thank you for their year of service, these individuals would receive a Christmas box of goodies from their masters or customers, usually containing food or money.
However the origins of the Christmas Box potentially go back even further.
In Samuel Pepys' 1663 diary, he mentions an old English custom wherein masters would give their servants a box of gifts to take home to their families, since the servants would have spent Christmas day tending to the masters themselves. More than 350 years later, the concept of Boxing Day has shifted dramatically to the shopping day we know today.

Have fun!

 bear print

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What is your why????

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 0
oldbearnews editor

Haven't posted anything for a while - with good reason.
let me explain - why

Some of us oldies might remember - there was in the mid 70's a classic poster for sale! It was born out from the Anti-war movement and summed up neatly everything the people felt at the time! hmm lets see if I canfind it on the Inter-web-thingie and add here.

Basically it just asked one question - WHY?????
Why me?
Why now?
Why do I have to die - here?
Why was I fighting here in the first place?
Why, why, why

It is a bit easy to ask this question when things go a little bit awry and lets face it - your own premature death is a bit more then just going awry! Right?!  Loved the poster - even If I have not seen it for a long while.


In the book of Job (urm - yes - that book in the Old Testament) Job is a solid character who, not due to his own fault, - gets "tested" by God and passes the test - with flying colours!
Ha - thats a very simple version of what's written.
I do remember one of the main themes being an investigation of the problem of divine justice.  This problem, known in theology as theodicy, can be rephrased as a question: "Why do the righteous suffer?"
The conventional answer in ancient Israel was that God rewards virtue and punishes sin (the principle known as "retributive justice").
This assumes a world in which human choices and actions are morally significant, but experience demonstrates that suffering cannot be sensibly understood as a consequence of bad choices and actions, and unmerited suffering requires theological candour.


as a friend of mine more simply put it - 'why do bad things happen to good people????'

I don't know the answer - I do know that when I took my son into hospital with a fever and Flu-symptoms and after some initial tests was transferred into the BMTU - the Bone Marrow Transfer Unit - and after some more tests, the Diagnosis came back with - Acute Myeloiod Leukaemia (AML) - and our world came crashing down.
I can't imagine what Michael is/has been going through! For us it was a nightmare that lasted the first few days, then the time and days began passing like a ship sailing through thick fog.
Naturally it would be easy to ask the above posted question - why???
Why me?
Why now?
Why my son??
What have we done to deserve this?

It may seem odd - yet neither myself or Mamabear ever actually asked the 'why' question! This, by the way, does not make us some mythical saint or foolish arrogant idiot!
There just never seemed a point to ask that question. After all - what would be the point?
Wailing or railing against the perceived injustice dished out to us does not get us anywhere - and not that we are Angles at the best of times anyhow.

It would be a waste of time.  Besides - I'm with Job on this one - God gives and God takes. Our favorite mantra being - "shit happens - deal with it"!

I must admit that for the first week or so, it was super-hard - or as "Sam" in
Sleepless in Seattle said ---  "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while."

So the day after the news came through about Michaels condition, we took a deep breath, got out of bed and put one foot in front of the other - then took another step, and another and so forth.
In other words - we are dealing with the 'shit'!  Not that it is easy - far from it!
The daily nightmare continues . . .  and will continue for some months yet.
The best part is that we have some good friends and with the support from these we seem to cope a whole lot better.  It helps when you know that some people care for you and are offering practical help!
Job also had friends and when they came to support him in his crisis, the sentiments very much was like - 'you must have done something to deserve this!'. Thankfully we have moved on from the retributive justice theology and are more into the 'everyone is loved no matter what' Theology.

Currently there is a advertisement doing the rounds on TV - from Rebel Sport - asking "what is your why?  It highlights the plight of one of New Zealand's Rugby Players and the huge adversity he overcame, to become an All Black.
It then goes on to ask - "what is your Why????"  Meaning - what's your reason for doing whatever goal / achievement you have set? (with a bit of help from the sports store of course)

The other favorite maxim of mine is - "Tomorrow is another day - the sun will rise again and shine!".

No matter how bad things seem today - tomorrow is another day . . . .
No matter to the why, no matter to the how bad - the sun will shine again tomorrow!

Now there is a thought worth holding on to!

So Rebel Sport - I guess - that is my "why"

 - and to toss in another super slogan - I'm with Nike on this one -

Have fun! bear print

Monday, June 6, 2016

Short weekend away in Picton - Day 4 - time to come home

Monday, June 6, 2016 0
oldbearnews editor

Monday - Queens birthday weekend - a public holiday!

Time to pack up and go home.

At least the front ripped through (again) and we started with a misty and somewhat polluted day! Still it promised to be sunny - all the way back to Christchurch - and so it should eventually proof!

Before we headed back, I tried to take some more pictures of the fore-shore and then stitch them together, later, once back home. (turned out ok - what do you think?!)

The Johanesshof brewery ( modeled on some Austrian / German wine-hof) was sadly closed for the day - so have to miss that (it will keep till next time) and thus we had no local wine to bring back home - oh wait there is the Giesen!!!   yusssss :)

Decided we would visit Renwick - the home of the next NZ Scout Jamboree and have a look-see!!!  Eventually found the location -  after driving through the town and having to turn around - main drag is VERY short.  Boy - this Jamboree is going to be a squeeze (and so it should prove later!!!)

Anyhow - from there we went and found the Omaka Air museum after getting lost a bit among the many roads around the many vineyards! A fantastic place with a lot of WWW I air craft models on display and some interesting stories behind them! We have certainly "improved" our planes since then!!!!

Check out the TIMBER propeller on Snoopy's main enemy!!! Nice Work!!

The ETRICH Taube - modeled by a German chap named  'Etrich' ,  on a specific bird - the Dove.  It was the only large-ish bird in his home town and he spent a lot of time studying the wings / feathers in Bird-flight - so to speak, he eventually modeled his first plane on those studies.  Funny how the war and the need for greater speed and height lead to all modern aircraft we know today.  Guess it is true --
'necessity IS the mother of all inventions!!! "

I was lucky enough
( a - not many folks in the museum - and b - having my camera gear on me) to take a shot of the model behind a extremely large mural, making it seem I flew OVER the battle field and used my camera to get this 3 dimensional shot . . . .

Close-by is the "Wine" museum - a place I am sure the scouts will NOT visit! It is worth it though - you see the history of NZ's burgeoning wine making - its beginnings to current day industry!  Marlborough supplies more then 50% (think from memory it is 73%) of ALL wines made in NZ - and they are still expanding.  A certain Timber-firm that Mamabear is working for is flat out making the posts that hold up the wines etc!!!  

Eventually had to face it and go back home but not before we struggled to find a SIMPLE cafe with SIMPLE sandwiches (in Blenheim) for lunch - so ended up going to Maccas instead! Then the 4 hour drive home.  A weekend well spent relaxing and a change from the last 10 or so year's being with the Scouts camping.  What will I do in June 2017????

Little did we know what the next 6-8 months would hold in store for us!!!!!

Have fun! bear print

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Short weekend away in Picton - Day 3

Sunday, June 5, 2016 0
oldbearnews editor

Sunday - a day of rest and recreation!!

A day to do things you would normally not do during the week.

A day - hmm to lie in bed for a bit and listen to the rain - again!

The promised 2nd front decided to rip through from midnight to early morning - so no hurry to get out of bed.  Eventually cleaned up post breakfast and got our raincoats and gumboots and trundled down to the Aquarium.  A local place that has many purposes - one being the rescue center for any bird or aquatic life that needs - urm - assistance. Found this little blue penguin who had his foot broken and needed a safe place to recuperate - so he took the opportunity to "sun"-bathe! The place also doubles as a breeding place for Tuatara! Informative lady took us on a tour and let some folks carry the old fossil!  They do not know their "sexes" until they reach about 30 years of age!! Thats a long time for going through your "teenage" years!  Once they safely navigate past those years - then the mating years begin - in slow motion! No wonder they are becoming extinct-ish - ok - an endangered species!!

By the time we watched the old fossil (The Tuatara that is - not Mamabear - just clarifying this :)  ) and the hand-feeding of the other various aquatic - things, it was lunch time - so of we went for urm lunch - Benedict eggs yusss!!! Despite bing Sunday, some shops were open and tried to make a living - including this store that sells a lot of wool - and I mean  a LOT of wool.  Had an interesting convo with the shop-owner about badges - and gave her a contact! Who knows next time we are up there we might actually see a Picton Badge for my blanket?!?!?!?!

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing what one is supposed to do on a lazy rainy Sunday - relaxing.  Eventually watched the rugby round up and caught up with the local news (some say gossip column) on TV and had late dinner.  Home again tomorrow!! At least I don't have to pack much - unlike the scout camp I would have been on!!

Oh and do not tell Mamabear - but we did admire a certain (made of local recycled Kauri) clock and agreed it would make for a good addition to the buffet in our lounge - so secretly went and arranged for a purchase! *grins* - Happy urm pre-birthday Mamabear!!!!!

Oh -- and Happy Birthday Son!!! 

 Have fun! bear print

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Short weekend away in Picton - day 2

Saturday, June 4, 2016 0
oldbearnews editor

Having listened to the rain pounding away on the roof and wondered if we have to swim out - we awoke to near silence - and opened the door to a brilliant blue sky - free of any cloud! Stunning with a capital S!! 

So post breakfast we strolled down to the Marina and enjoyed the sun and wildlife (various birds circling for food) and took some pictures (testing the new lens attachments) of the marina and fore-shore! Some shops open late - no worry - we did spot a hmm left over or pre-christmas tree?!?!?!?  Maybe it is a permanent feature???  Anyhow - a novel way on an old theme!!!  

Picked up the car and drove to the lookout and participated in a favorite past time of many a tourist - watching the boat come in and berth - then giving birth - urm disgorge its belly (of cars and trucks).  More pics!!

From there we drove along the windy road towards Havelock  - a small town who's main income is from fishing and mussels (grown farm-like on the sea-bed)!! There is advertised a lookout point - which requires a decent walk up the hill and yes back down.  The view's were so-so.  Guess the tide being out and exposing the brown mudbed (especially following the rain) did not help "sell" the view! Although the crystal clear blue sky (free of ANY pollutants) was something to see!! More pics!!!   By that time it was lunch time - so yeah had a late lunch at the local Cafe in Havelock!

Given it was so nice a weather and we like driving on roads yet to be explored we decided to go back to Picton via the long way round (Blenheim) thus stopped at the Giesen Vineyard (and bought some VERY nice plonk - urm - crushed grape juice *cough* white wine).  Distance is not to great to travel and the roads nice and flat, most of the way with little traffic!

Arrived back at the Motel around 3pm and decided to just relax and catch up on reading / cross stitch etc.  Having eaten out previously and no cooking facilities in the motel unit - not even a pan - we had a traditional cheap NZ meal out - Fish and Chips!!!

Still feels weird NOT being on the westcoast and on scoutcamp.  Been taking notes of times etc and what we might usually do at this time of the day/ night!  Maybe next year?!?!?!  

While I waited for the Rugby to appear on TV, had a glass or two of the nice red and then spotted the lights - so without a tripod have risen to the challenge . . . . .
Did turn out ok - you think? Pity the clouds had rolled back in and blotted out all the stars . . . . 

Have fun!

bear print

Friday, June 3, 2016

Short weekend in Picton

Friday, June 3, 2016 0
oldbearnews editor

Say what???? A non-scouting Queen's birthday weekend - how did that happen???
Yess astute (and regular) readers will remember that for the last 10 or more years, every NZ Queen's birthday weekend I had a trip away with some scouts to our gorgeous West-coast for various activities (Greenstone [Jade} carving / knife making / digging for gold or coal etc).  That particular weekend is always my and my son's Birthday - so a reasonable large sacrifice is/was made - very enjoyable though!

THIS year - urm - it was deemed everyone is to busy and with all effort going into fund-raising for jamboree - no scout was willing to make this trip work!
(sad face)

Urm - okay urm  *cough* urm     H u n n y     -   guess what - I am home this weekend - WHAT will we do???

This will feel weird!  Anyhow after a brief discussion early in May it was decided to treat me (yeah I know - lucky sod eh?)  to a weekend away in Picton.  We have been lately to much in Tekapo,  so Picton sounded just refreshing!

Soooooo we packed up and looked at the weather fore-cased with trepidation (heavy rain for Picton on Friday afternoon and maybe Saturday) and set of.
It was a very warm and sunny day in Kaikoura! We had lunch there (in short sleeves and sitting outside on a terraced cafe)  and then decided to stop at the waterfall with the seal-pup nursery.  A short stroll inland along a tiny stream which ended up in a hollow basin at the end of a waterfall full of seal-pups - enjoying a good frolicking swim in safety from predators.

From there, a non-eventful drive north towards Picton only to see dark and heavy clouds arriving and yes - before we even got to Blenheim - it started to urm rain - if you can call it that - it rained cats and dogs, ok not literally but it did came down large and full - enough to float Noah's Boat, which made driving a bit challenging - and slow going.
Eventually got to Picton - found our new temporary home on the main-street and unpacked - then strolled around main-street in search for dinner.  Found a good place - that served our entree (garlic-bread) post mains being served - they forgot the order!! Fell to bed for a good night sleep with the rain pounding on the roof - wondering what the morning would bring!

Have fun!
bear print

There are stories going round that with the massive earthquake in Kaikoura that this sanctuary is no longer.    I dunno - however - there  I S  a waterfall so would not take long to re-create a pool - I am sure mother nature will and can take care of that in no time!!!!

Thursday, March 31, 2016 distances again

Thursday, March 31, 2016 1
oldbearnews editor

I have done something similar before:


It is time to revisit the distances and put it in some sort of practical context our northern folks can come to grips with!!

We tend to under-estimate how LONG New Zealand really is.

Google map tells us that to drive from Bluff in the deep south to the Cape Reinga  in the far north you will cover 2081km and drive for 28 hours - urm - non-stop, no toilet break, no sightseeing, no souvenir shopping etc.  (and I am not sure if that includes the distance / time spent on the ferry to get from the south to the north Island!!!)

That is the same distance it is from Christchurch (in a direct line of flight) to Sydney - by 50km short - urm - you might have to swim the last 50 km!
If I leave Salzburg and head south - I would have to go almost all the way to Ankara (2213km)

If you leave Hamburg you be almost in Madrid ( 2172km)

The shortest and most direct route from Salzburg to Stockholm (where my Uncle lives) is 1775km (or 1892km)
and I remember this trip well, as I am sure, are several of my relatives, who made the same trip at different times!!

For our USA folks  --  If you were to leave New York in the States you could travel equivalent distance to Miami or Kansas city!

All the while New Zealand is a narrow country - very similar to Italy.  The furtherest you would have to go, in order to meet the Ocean is 119.44km!!!!
Same (or less??) distance as Salzburg to Linz in Austria!
The location of that point surprised me - I was thinking somewhere around Taupo - rather it is in the South Island.  *grins* - of course - good ol' South Island


Snipped txt --> 
The position of the "unofficial most inland point" is S4500.340', E16922.245', 119.44km from the Tasman Sea at Milford Sound and 119.44km from the Pacific Ocean, near Hampden.  It is 1km south of Castle Rock and 7km north of Leaning Rock on the Dunstan Range, on the property of Northburn Station owner Tim Pinckney.
"Nowhere else in New Zealand is a piece of land so far from a coast. Unfortunately, this point is at a very inaccessible part of the country," Mr Brown said. The point was about 1500m above sea level and provided spectacular views to Lake Hawea and Alexandra, but was an all-day tramp or a rugged ride in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, he said. Although there were nearby tracks and a conservation area, Mr Brown said it was best for any visitors to check with both farmers to make sure they were not going to disrupt farming operations.
For a large part of the year, the terrain would be virtually impassible, he said. "You would have to be outdoors equipped. It is not a casual afternoon's drive."

This of course does not take into account several Islands of shore!!
The northernmost point is often thought to be Cape Reinga, but this is instead the northwesternmost point. Similarly, Bluff is often considered to be the southernmost point of the South Island, although The Bluff itself (the promontory which gives the town its name) is actually fractionally further north than Slope Point. The phrase "From Cape Reinga to The Bluff" is, however, frequently used within New Zealand to refer to the whole country, ignoring both Slope Point and some offshore islands.   www.List_of_extreme_points_of_New_Zealand

 Anyhow - our son just started a 5 year stint in the UK and mamabear wanted to know the latitude compared to and with New Zealand, so - I paper-copied the shape of NZ and marked the 45th Latitude line and then tried to place it appropriately on the same map on Europe.


Yeah - surprise all-right
Stewart Island would be bang on the Austrian City of Graz and it goes south (urm - closer to the Equator) from there!!
Hope he will enjoy the LONGER summer nights!!
Also he likes the cold - so he is in a good place for the northern winters. 
I noted too that Cape Reinga is almost on the Tripoli coast.  If you flick the NZ image round  - the South Island covers almost all of Italy and our North Island covers the Entire Ionian Sea! 
Now as to the weather pattern being similar - that is an entire different ball game . . . . . .

Anyhow - this was a fun stat exercise!! Back to the mundane housework

Have fun! bear print

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Coromandel trip 2016 - or - checking out paradise to chill out in

Thursday, March 17, 2016 0
oldbearnews editor

Thursday 17 March

Well - after 10 days - we had to come home - not that we wanted to! Especially when we heard the temps down in Christchurch! Sighs - still we have to - if nothing else just to earn the $$$ to be able to buy a house up here in the future!!
Anyhow - usual up and brekkie, then came the hard part - packing the suitcase - along with the extras we gained (2 bottles of liquid and about 15 or so sea-shells and also not forgetting mamabears purple extras!!!)
We had to drop the key back to the camping ground and soon found out that we did had a bit of rain overnight - 80ml in just 2 hours!! I knew - I lay awake during most of it - considering the NOISE on the roof and what it would do to the Road conditions! The camping ground already was flooded - about 30cm deep (a foot to you non-metric folks).

rain radar map from our travel day -
blue and purple indicate cold ergo - heavy rain

Got to the petrol station and the lady there half guessed where we were heading and advised that the road south was closed due to flooding!  We have seen the road markers for the last few days going past them - they are colour coded in order of depth - to indicate how deep the water was running and if there was still safe passage possible.  Nothing like in Queensland of course - but still - NOT letting you go through or past. 
We had already decided to go the long way home  I F  the weather had been fine - now we had no choice!! Hmmm do you think we would get away with an extra night here claiming road closures? ? ? ? ?
Anyhow - it was an exciting trip round the long way - LOTS of water on the road and the occasional rock-slide.   At times we had a 2-5 meter wide and about 2-4 cm deep river running across the road.  As long as it was clear water we were good - once it gets discolored brown - you almost can count on rocks and or mud following the water! 

The impossible happened  which I was 100% sure it could and would never happen - we were forced to follow a motorcyclist round the bends - in FIRST gear! Talk about over cautious driving!!  Eventually he saw the wisdom and went into a lay-by and let the 14 cars banked up behind him pass.  Once we were on the west-side of the peninsular the rain eased of but still wet and miserable and you could never be sure if there was a rock-slide waiting for you around the next corner.  Made it to Thames by lunchtime and decided to have another of the Colonel's chickens only to hear on their internal radio broadcast that BOTH (and there are only two) roads from Whitianga are closed due to mudslides! The town is cut off!!!
It must have happened 10 minutes ( no less) after we went past a particular spot!!! Guess we were very lucky!  Urm - Bugger  :)
Very Lucky indeed!  I think Mamabear is still having kittens when she remembers this particular drive!

Below are two news articles we found once we got home - seems it just did rain a bit!!
Of course - given the right conditions in New Zealand anywhere - it can rain up to 300ml in a day!!! Or more!!  As one tourist in Franz Joseph recently described it - it is like the fire fighters are using their hose to dowse the roof!!! The lady in the shop at Franz Joseph once remarked that "it can rain so heavy that you cannot see the store across the road" -  some 25 meters away!!!  Awesome to see - freighting to contemplate!

We had a bit of spare time so stopped at the Thames gold mine,  and took the tour! They take you "20" meters underground (I am sure it was more then that) and show you how the gold was mined previously! There is more gold there - it is just locked up inside the rocks and you need to crush them first before you get ever so tiny wee specks of yellow dust!  Still if the Gold price jumps a few % points upwards - it could be economically worth re-opening the mines.
Historically speaking Thames once was the largest town in New Zealand - for a short time only - that is - until the gold run out!

From there it was onwards to the Airport and a short plane ride back home to cold wet drizzly Christchurch!  Saw our PM coming out the gate!!
Hihihihi also one of the executive drivers doing a pick-up of a passenger had a sign up for CHER!!!! hmmmm surely not?!?!??

  Anyhow - thus finished our trip north! Plenty of ideas for retirement and when my sister comes for a visit.  Sounds like we will get back there next year - LUCKY us!!!! yusssssss

It does look better in sunshine!!!!

The hard work underground depicted via models

The tunnels are not particular tall - so suitable for shorter persons - and - note - NO safety helmets!!!!

Hard rock - granite - and all extracted by hand and hammer

hmmmmm - you know - perfect for a wine-cellar!!!!!

Cyah next year Whitianga!!!!

Have fun! bear print
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