Saturday, October 31, 2009

Alan Pitts The master of the musical saw

Alan Pitts
The master of the musical saw,(two times world champion)...a very popular act. incredible music, fun and laughter.
A musical act that has to be seen to be believed.
Ph 09 627 3504

Yesterday I went to the Parnell Festival. I posted on my other site, ann-mythoughtsandphotos.

It was a great festival of Arts, Music, Food and Roses. The sun was shining.

I met two gentlemen, and when I came back, I felt sheepish because I was in a situation where this Chinese Quote is so appropriate," GOT EYES, YET COULDN'T RECOGNIZE TARZAN." I guess you know what I mean. Luckily I wasn't condescending and I didn't exactly put my foot in my mouth.

These two gentleman are Alan Pitts and Abdul-Satar. .

It was only after I posted last night that I googled Abdul and found out who he is.

This morning, M commented in my post.

M said...

Could you tell Dr. Tow (and also Alan Pitts, if you happen to see him again) about the annual NYC Musical Saw Festival, please? It would be great if they performed there. They can contact the festival through

This afternoon, I googled Alan and found that he was two times world champion and is known in New Zealand as a great musician.

Here am I, an Arts and Music ignoramus.

Sunday Stills: Diwali Festival of Lights

The owners of the "Open most hours" dairy.

Photo: courtesy Auckland city Council news.

We celebrated with our Hindu friends this Festival of lights this month.

In Singapore, they call the festival Deepavali. When I was in Singapore, my Hindu friends lit fire works. I always remember a special couple A and D, they gave lots of fireworks to the neighbouring children. Some of my friends invite me and other friends to a sumptious vegetarian meal.

In Auckland, on 10 and 11 October, the Viaduct Harbour and Te Wero Island were full of colour, traditional, authentic music, dance and aroma's of Indian food celebrating Diwali Festival of Lights 2009.

Diwali symbolises the victory of righteousness, the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life.

It is the time when families light small oil lamps (diyas) and candles and place them around the home and set off fireworks.

The event celebrates not only traditions of Diwali, but Indian culture as a whole.

Last weekend, many dairies run by Indian owners celebrated with our New Zealand Tip Top Icecream, the coming of summer with $1 a scoop of ice cream. There was a beeline to this special offer. The owners were very happy for me to take their photos.

Traditionally, the dairies or corner shops operate long hours and are owned by Indians.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday shootout:October 30 - landscapes - Mt Roskill Memorial Park

In this park, there are two market days on Tuesdays and Fridays. It is an International Market where the vendors come from all over the world.

Families come to support in a game of soccer.

American influence less the ghetto blasters in the skateboard and cycle rink. These kids are very young.

Auckland is the Polynesia capital of the world. Sports and church play a very important part of their culture. You see men and women wearing their lava-lava even when playing sports.

The park is very big, and there are wild life, birds and ducks. I was surprised to see a hedgehog.

One for the kids and the young at heart. I saw this hideaway hidden among the hedges.

One of our many bridges in this park. They are all sorts in design and lengths. The water are storm water, and eventually flow into the sea.

It must have been the influence of the water engineer, when I saw this round thing with a hole in the centre, I was curious.

The sign satisfied my curiousity. The hole above it a catchpit. It collects the rain water and the area has filter bags. Since then, I keep an open eye and see many other catchpits. We have a lot of rain in Auckland, but we are doing a good job in not wasting our water.

There are many foot bridges which makes this park a very romantic place to stroll. I photographed many bridges, but am posting only two.

What is a park without toilets. These sleek stainless steel toilets came about ten years ago. I was told, I am not sure if it is true. They were invented in New Zealand. You press the green button to enter, and when you are inside, you press the button to lock. I was also told, you can't linger too long, indeed, I went into one which allows you ten minutes. Otherwise the door will open. It's intention is for you to use th etoilet for that purpose and not anything else. A friend asked what if he was constipated and he needed more than ten minutes. I was also told that it is a self cleaning toilet, I guess after a certain number of flushes, water comes down from the wall and then it is dried automatically. My kids then were very curious about this new Kiwi invention.

The Wesley community centre, a people's place where you can learn the guitar for free.

This is only part of the children's play equipment. In the evening, it is fully utilitised. I see even grown ups playing there. There are monkey bars, swings, see saws, slides.

Sandpits, you don't need to go to the beach to make sand castles.

Americans will not feel totally out of place in this Down Under Country. People do play baseball here.

This park hosts Auckland's annual International Day. We have many people from many nationalities. Some are refugees, some are new migrants. This makes Auckland a very colourfuland vibrant city.

On International Day celebration, many ammenities like the fire serivces, police, Trade aid, VSA and St Johns were there to do their PR.

This is my cup of tea, Zero waste was there to teach people to recycle. I wasn't actively involved on that day, but I went to say Hi to the volunteer.

There are many refugees from the different continents. This group was from Eritea in Africa. I have students from Somalia, Tanzania, Ethipia and Kenya.

A must for the children.

I wish they had such things when I was young.

October 30 - Park landscapes - by JarieLyn -

"When I think of park landscapes, I think about the design of an entire park. This could be a local park or a state park. A park landscape not only includes trees, plants, grass, ponds and bushes but also could include functionality such as playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, skateboard parks, tennis courts, swimming pools, etc. Some parks also have decorative items scattered about such as statues, monuments, benches, courtyards, buildings, etc. What makes the parks in your town special and/or fun? Tell us in pictures what it is about your park(s) that captivates you. ... here is a photo of one of the state parks located in my town of Las Vegas, Nevada." Jarie Lynn

The citizens of Auckland are very lucky. We have many parks, big and small for everyone to enjoy and in some to make a living.

I am featuring Mt Roskil War memorial Park. It has a Wesley Community centre where all kinds of courses and activities are conducted, every Tuesday and Friday morning, Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall, there is an International market, a lovely play ground for the children, a soccer field, a rugby park, a baseball diamond, running track, bike and skate board rink, and lots of green for other games like the Samoa Kiri Kiti

Monday, October 26, 2009

Macro Monday: Octopus

This is a fake octopus hanging from the ceiling of a new wing of Jurong Point in Singapore.

Simpoh Air Dillenia/Wormia suffruticosa Shrubby Simpoh

Simpoh Air
Dillenia/Wormia suffruticosa

Shrubby Simpoh

Fellow blogger in the Philippines mentioned a plant they call Mickey Mouse. It is interesting that different regions call different plants by different names.

Everything about it is large.

It has large leaves, and large yellow flowers. The flowers open at 3 am and last only a day. They are pollinated by bees which collect its pollen (the flowers don't produce nectar or a scent) or by small beetles and flies that scramble over it. Almost every flower sets fruit.

Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Large shrub or small tree. Grows up to 5m.

Leaves: Large (35cm long) oval leaves that are cabbage-like with slightly toothed edges.

Flowers: Large yellow, five petals.

Fruits: Red, splits open into segments; seeds covered with red flesh.

Status in Singapore: Common, particularly on wasteland.
World distribution: Throughout West Malesia.

Classification: Family Dilleniaceae.
The unopened fruits are surrounded by thick red sepals. To distinguish them from flower buds, the fruits face upwards while flower buds face down. The ripe fruit splits open also at 3 am, into pinkish star-shaped segments to reveal seeds covered in red arils. The plant blooms from age 3-4 and can live for 50-100 years! Plants in the Simpoh family (Dilleniaceae) hiss when the trunk or a branch is cut (you have to put your ear to the cut to hear it). The sound comes from the air that is sucked into the cut vessels.

leafUses: The large leaves of the Simpoh Air were used to wrap food such as tempeh (fermented soyabean cakes), or formed into shallow cones to contain traditional "fast food" such as rojak.

The Simpoh Air sends out very deep tap roots to reach underground water sources. So much so that their presence suggests an underground water source, and some people use the plant as a guide to decide where to dig a well. The timber is not useful because it is twisted and very hard.

Traditional medicinal uses: Simpoh Air is used to staunch bleeding wounds, and the fruit pulp may be used to wash the hair (Brunei).

Dillenia/Wormia suffruticosa

Fellow blogger in the Philippines mentioned a plant they call Mickey Mouse. It is interesting that different regions call different plants by different names. In two much older posts, I posted with passion this Mickey Mouse plant. At that time, my photos didn't have flowers.

This July, when I revisited Singapore, I took photos of their flowers. These plants line the road leading to the Nanyang Technological University where I lived for sixteen years.

Ochna is a strong-rooted shrub growing up to 3-4 m (usually less) with dark green leaves which have finely serrated edges. Its bright yellow petals fall off after flowering leaving red sepals (some call them bracts). Currently mature specimens of this shrub should be quite recognisable by these bright red displays containing 4-5 glossy black berries, which are very attractive to birds and hence readily dispersed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Northern Club of Auckland

The Northern Club

Some of you have commented on this ivy cladded building. It is situated just off the Auckland University, and thirty years ago, I see it often as I go to my prefered location, the Albert park. The clock has turned around and my second daughter G is now a law student in the university. Law school is located nearer to this building. Sometimes I drop her off and I see this building which fascinates me. It is like a seasonal calender.

In Spring you see less dark green leaves, in Summer you see dark leaves, in Fall/Autumn, you see brown leaves and in Winter, you see the veins. The building becomes naked without the leaves.

I have dug out a bit of info for you.

The Northern Club, 19 Princes Street, Auckland, New Zealand
Telephone : +64-9-379-4755

The Northern Club provides companionship and a sense of belonging in a dignified atmosphere where old traditions have meaning and value because they have been tested and retained. The members are drawn from Auckland's well-respected professional and business community and it is on those criteria - not wealth or ancestry - that they are admitted.

Although members are businessmen and women, they know that they are a part of a social club where briefcases are left closed and business talk is confined to private rooms.

From its inception, The Northern Club has laid down certain rules of dress and behaviour for members and their guests, and these codes continue into the 21st century.

Our History

The Northern Club was founded by a group of prominent professional and business men in 1869 when the popularity of a gentleman's club was at its peak throughout the British Empire.

The club's founders, with remarkable daring and foresight, agreed to purchase a handsome quarrystone building overlooking Albert Barracks in Princes Street.

The four storey building, a high-rise in its own time, was originally designed as a hotel and built on the first section sold at Auckland's inaugural land sale in 1841. Following the purchase, architect Edward Ramsey was commissioned to rearrange the hotel's internal rooms for use by the 120 founding members.

In 1991 the Club voted to admit women and today has a thriving membership of men and women. Membership of the Northern Club attracted many leaders of the Auckland community, and the Club has played an active and sometimes pivotal role in the history of New Zealand's largest city.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kiwi Ugliness and Hospitality and Kindness

Yesterday, the Television New Zealand reported the ugliness of some rotten apples of New Zealand society. Some idiot stole a $3000 van belonging to two nineteen year old students from Germany. They had finished their three months' English course and bought their van for their Kiwi experience.

Isabel Egerland and Nora spent $1800 on a Mitsubishi Bongo van and then spent another $1200 getting it road worthy before it was stolen outside their homestay's house on Tuesday. It was stolen even before they got their insurance.

Now broke, they would have to head back to Berlin.

Many New Zealanders responded to their plight. Many offered cash, free long stay in their camping grounds and free use of camper vans.

Yes, there are rotten apples every where. But there are kind people too. Isabel and Nora will have something good to write home about. I am proud of my adopted country.

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Landscapes

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Landscapes (Fall Foliage)
Posted in Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week, the next challenge with tags Fall foliage, Sunday Stills Challenge on October 18, 2009 by Ed

By now most of the north has passed peak for the year but thats o.k there is still some left to be found out there somewhere, archives are fine this week. For those of ya’ll in the Southern Hemisphere spring landscapes are always welcome..:-))

Once again, thank you Ed, I am featuring our spring landscapes from New Zealand.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More on girlfriends commented on my post on Good friends are like Azaleas " Thank God for girlfriends!"

Today, I got a surprise from a group of women I work with. They gave me a nice bunch of gerbera flowers and a card. We don't normally get flowers or cards, but they said it was my special birthday.

As I was driving home, I was thinking gerberas give me a fuzzy feeling. When D was little, we grew gerberas in the garden. D won't be with me this birthday, she is far away in Singapore. Five years ago, she encouraged me to run the quarter marathon.

Friday Shoot out: Airport and Fokker Friendship

October 23 - Classics of Childhood - by Ellisa
"What are your childhood memories made of? A game? A park? A special place you used to visit? OR Look around you. Watch for places and things you'd like your children to remember. Or maybe you see children creating memories as we speak. What will be the thing they remember as classic?" Ellisa

This is a sweet story dear to my heart and my siblings' hearts. It has a special meaning to us.

During the Second World War aka as the Japanese War in Asia, the Japanese soldiers conscripted all able bodied men to break rocks and build the road leading to the Sibu airport. My Grand dad was old, and it was back breaking work for him. The Japanese were cruel and would beat the labourers at the drop of the hat. My dad knew my grandpa would not survive this cruel treatment and volunteered to take his place. Fortunately my dad who was in his late teens had studied his high school, and the Japanese relieved him of this hard work and gave him a clerical work going to the fields to assess the produce of farmers.

After the war, Dad and Granddad were proud that through their blood and sweat, they had built this road. When we were little, Dad would take us his his little Fiat and drive to the airport and watch the Fokker Friendship take off. He would say," I built this road."

These days, Fokker Friendships are not the only planes that fly from this airport. But for reminscience, my brother Henry took his kids in a Fokker Friendship. He told them great grandpa and Grandpa's story and also by flying a Fokker Friendship, you get to feel how it is like to embark and disembark a plane.

Sam and I flew this Fokker Friendship to the Mulu Caves and he got to know a bit of his roots.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good friends are like Azaleas

Azaleas have many stems. At the end of each stem, grows a flower. During the flowering season they are a solid mass of colour. Azaleas are recognised by these flowers blooming all at once, in a showy display for a month or two in spring.

When I lived in Singapore for sixteen years, I had a group of girlfriends who are like sisters to me. In deed, together, we are like stems of an Azalea plant. We flower at the end of each stem. We are bunched together closely that we produced a mass of wonderful blooms. As a bloom inevitably left us for their home country, we nurtured another bloom.

We were not beautiful physically, but that is not important, we had beautiful hearts. Together we used our hands and brains and raised money for the deaf children in Kenya, and to separate a pair of Siamese Twins.

When I left Singapore three years ago, friends asked if I would miss Singapore. I sincerely tell them, it is not the place I would miss, it is the people especially these group of sisters. I went for a visit this July, and they made me feel as though I had never left.

Today, they sent me a card to mark a special occasion. On the card, there are two new blooms. I am glad that Azalea bush is continually growing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marae Office

Like all institutions, there is an office where you have to go before you visit. The marae is a private property and you just can't simply wonder around.