Sunday, May 30, 2010

Save the world:Grow native plants in the city

Native plants do not need much taken care of, they don't need much water, and are excellent plants to grow when you don't have the time for plants that need TLC.

When you visit Singapore, and go out to the west, you will come to the Nanyang Technological University. You will see many manicured gardens. You will also see a patch of green. Depending on who or what are you, you will see it as either a piece of natural paradise, or a piece of eye sore.

This is a legacy left by me after living 16 years there. What started was similar to the allotment in UK. The university didn't like the residents to plant any where, and after lots of negotiation, they gave us this plot. Unfortunately, it was at a slope and under big rain trees whose canopy blocked the sun.

Friends came to plant and left frustrated by the plants failing to grow. I was the only one undeter, I didn't care if people stole my bananas, because I didn't like to eat them or took the leaves, the pandan leaves as I didn't use them. But I did care when they pulled up my clumps of lemon grass. Any way, I had fun getting my fingers dirty.

When I left about four years ago, the plot was abandoned. The native plants and ferns thrived. I revisited last July. Friends told me that it is gone. I thought the university had dug up my plants. To them, gone meant good bye to my manicured garden. To me, it was quite beautiful as it is. It probably houses a lot of insects like praying mantises and butterflies.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunday stills: Logos

We used to say, if it is branded, then it must be good. Some companies spend huge amounts of money suing others for infringement of their logos. I am posting Logos that most of you will not be familiar with.

This is Brand New Zealand. The Silver fern is our national icon. It goes as a net ball team, a train, appears on all our national sports men and women's clothing, and many New Zealand products.

This is our new Auckland City Council logo.

Our Air New Zealand Logo, is a Koru, another National Icon. The Koru is a spiral in Maori, and is our Kiwiana art form. You can see the Korus on people in the form of tattoos.
This is a marriage of a butterfly and a crocodile. Butterfly creek is a nature park of insects until it diversified and imported two crocodiles from Australia.

Here is where I pump my gas. They have a supermarket deal. If you spend $50 in the supermarket, they give you 4 cts off per litre. They also sell you a coffee for $1 if you buy more than $50 of gas. It used to be free coffee until the franchise ownder decided he was too generous.

This Hotel is called Crown Hotel. It is a higher class than a pub. I went in one day to inspect the washroom to see how royal it was. The hotel is quite posh and befitting of its name.
Greenbay is my green grocery. Makes me wonder why the lettering is red and not green.

A Christmas club, the hampster company is a funny sort of outfit. It caters to people who can't save for themselves. So you contribute weekly to this club. At the end of the year, you get a Christmas hamper. Often, these companies are frauds or their products cost far more than if you went to the supermarket or stores to buy them yourselves.

This is my friendly butcher. He is the man who puts computer chips in his meat packages to prevent meat lifting. He supports sports and is a patron for the Allergy Association because his grand child suffers from it. He's got my support and I buy most of my meat from him.

The residents and the police join hand in hand in this neighbourhood watch. Burglars beware, my neighbours and I are nosy parkers. We mind each others' business.

This is a Chinese Restaurant which a fancy logo, and a fancy name, the Shangri la. It has nothing to do with the Shangri la Hotel chain. I hope after this post, the hotel giant will not use a sledge hammer on this little wee guy.

The Kiwis originally are British stock. The cuppa of tea is very important. This Choysa tea has been quenching the thirst of New Zealanders since 1905. A very genuine NZ tea, though not one tea leaf is grown here.

Being ethnic Chinese, rice is very important in our diet. We use mainly Thai long grain Jasmine rice.
Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Company or Corporation logos
Posted in Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week, the next challenge with tags Sunday Stills, Sunday Stills Challenge on May 23, 2010 by Ed

This should be an easy one, things like the shell sign to fast food places to the more secretive not so obvious logos, look around and find some not so obvious ones….

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friday Shootout: Heros

I celebrate the lives of New Zealand's two favourite daughters. Kate Sheppard and Jean Batten. They are the heros of every girl here. They lived before their time.

I am very proud of Kate Sheppard. Her image appears on our ten dollar note. She is mainly responsible for New Zealand to be the first country to give women the vote in modern times.

Katherine Wilson Sheppard (10 March 1847 – 13 July 1934) was the most prominent member of New Zealand's women's suffrage movement, and is the country's most famous suffragette. Because New Zealand was the first country to introduce universal suffrage, Sheppard's work had a considerable impact on women's suffrage movements in other countries. During one of the protest movement, she led a whole group of ladies to lie down on the road and the police couldn't do anything.

Sheppard played a considerable part in getting the women's suffrage bill was successfully passed, granting women full voting rights. Sheppard herself was widely acknowledged as the leader of the women's suffrage movement.

An elderly friend in her 80s told me that when she was growing up, the girls wanted to be like Kate.

Sheppard is considered to be an important figure in New Zealand's history. A memorial to her exists in Christchurch and a bust in the Auckland Town hall.

In October 1936 New Zealand born pilot Jean Batten made the first direct flight from England to New Zealand.

The famous aviator, Jean Batten, died an infamously obscure death in Palma 27 years ago. Tuesday is the centenary of her birth in Rotorua on September 15, 1909.

Last year, the women of New Zealand celebrate the birthday of their most famous sister. Many women took to the skies, unfortunately I was too poor to ever get a pilot's license.

I went to Rotorua, her home town and saw the memorial for her, a park by the information center. In Auckland, a building is named after her and so is the international terminal of the airport.

She is a great inspiration especially to New Zealand girls. She was a very beautiful woman and called Garbo of the skies.

May 28 – Memorial Day - Honor your town's heroes - by the TownBlogger Team

Every town has a hero. From the past, in the here and now, or someone we know will make us proud in the future.

If out of ideas it always helps me to look up the definition of related words – so here is a list of definitions gotten from an online search -

Definitions of Hero on the Web:

* a man (or woman) distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength;

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday: wedding photos
My brother Charles and his wife Karen's daughter Emily is getting married soon in Australia. Everyone is excited.

One Sunday, on top of Mt Eden, I saw this stretch Limousine pull up. It attracted a lot of attention. The Chauffeur got out and open the door. Out came a bride and her brides maid in black. They spent a long time having their photos taken. The groom and groomsmen were no where in sight.

I thought to myself, just as well. The weather was nippy and the wind up the mountain is very strong, the guys might get impatient and ruin the photo shoot. I do pity the girls though.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Save the world:Save endangered animals - the orangutans

Starting this week, I have been teaching sustainability, palm oil and the orangutan. I grew up in Borneo, and the orangutans are endangered species in Borneo and Indonesian island of Sumatra. Palm oil is labelled as the bad fellow.

When I travel to West Malaysia along the North South Highway, I see acres and acres of palm oil trees. These trees were planted on old rubber estates that were planted with rubber trees a hundred years ago. These palm oil trees do not cause the orangutans to be endangered.

However, when I go to Borneo, and on the plane, I see virgin rainforest replaced by palm oil. This is what Green Peace is objecting about. Clearing virgin primary forest to make way for palm oil plantation. This is where the orangutan's habitat is threatened. I visited an orangutan rehab.

How do we label that the oil is not from the orangutan threatened area? Someone needs to make a distinction. Otherwise everything will be lumped together in the boycott.

Here is an email from Green peace. It is not necessarily my view that all palm oil should be boycotted.

Dear Ann,

We took on Nestlé over its use of palm oil and, with the help of hundreds of thousands of people like you, we won - in eight weeks flat!

Together we demanded Nestlé give the orangutans a break and stop buying palm oil harvested at the expense of Indonesian rainforest for products like Kit-Kat.

And after some initial resistance Nestlé has now released a policy that commits the global chocolate giant to ensuring its products have no deforestation footprint.

It wouldn't have happened without you and the hundreds of thousands of people who supported our campaign. You e-mailed Nestlé, faxed them, called them, and spread the word via Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.

Starting with the now infamous viral kit kat spoof video on youtube, then on to Nestle's own Facebook page and out through the wider social media sphere - this was most definitely an online campaign powered by the people.

Meanwhile, here in NZ recently we've recorded a record number of submissions opposing the Schedule 4 mining and organised the biggest protest march in a generation - largely through our online networks.

With our combined numbers online we're really starting to get results!

Help us get ready for the next fight by joining us on Facebook and sharing the page with your circle of contacts.

If you're not a Facebook user forward this message to anyone you know who might be interested in helping us fight the good online fight.

Thanks for your support,

- Nick and the team at Greenpeace

Monday, May 24, 2010

Our World Tuesday: Gold Coast, Australia
With the rain bomb here in New Zealand, I long for the warm summer in Australia. I took this photo from a boat.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sunday Stills,the next challenge: Landscapes
Sunday Stills,the next challenge: Landscapes
Posted in Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week, the next challenge with tags Sunday Stills on May 16, 2010 by Ed

Wide open places with lots to see, go wide angle with your shots.

I am very lucky, there are more than 100 beaches within an hours' drive from central Auckland. This Owairaka park is just minutes away, and there is a walking track, and people fish, and launch their boats. Oysters grow fat and juicy. The only draw back is just across the channel is the Mangere sewage treatment plant. This is why the oysters grow big because nobody wants to harvest them.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

High Court, New Zealand

4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127

Today, my second child was admitted to bar as a barrister and solicitor. We were there to witness this event.

The judge told the new consuls that today was a culmination of years of hard work. Now their learning has just began.

My friends say that I must be a very proud mum. Am I proud? No! but I am extremely happy for her. I quoted the Bible verse Psalm 127. I am also reminded that all children are gifts of God. It is our responsibility to bring them up. We have prayed for her.

This is the second time I sat through a Bar admission ceremony. In 1977, I was with my mum when my brother Charles was admitted to bar. It's like a cycle. My mum and my brother, and me and my daughter. Incidentally, Charles also was with his daughter when she was admitted to Bar.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday: A hen that thinks she is a boy.

We have a lot of excitement among my siblings. My sister Helen in Australia has a big problem causing an enormous headache. She has a hen that seems to be crowing. Blackey is an six month old Australop crossbreed. She can grow up to 4 kgs provided she doesn't crow again.

The council doesn't allow roosters in her house, and Helen is worried that she might have to use the axe. My other brother is quite happy to solve Helen's problem with the council or her neighbours. Her kids are very attached to Blackey and are very upset with the prospects of losing her.

"I locked all the chickens up in the timber hutch and blocked the light. This morning, Blackey crowed at 6 am. The crowing is not too loud coming from the box. But then, every thing else is making noises too. The crows are really loud, and kookaburras too.

I bought pellets for laying hens and hopefully, Blackey will balance her hormones.!!
I am still worried that the silly black hen destined for cooking pot. I am is giving Blackey a few weeks grace. If it lays eggs, then it can still be saved. Lincoln, my 10 year old, suggested that we should feed Blackey soy products for estrogens. " says Helen.

We have done a bit of research and some people suggest hormonal change can cause a hen to sound like crowing. It appears other Australians are having the same problem. May be it is that Australian species as I once watched an Australian Vet program, and it featured a dominant hen as well.

Do any of you have a similar experience with your hens?

Save the world: Care for our elderly
Today, I was spending my lunch time at Western Springs, a beautiful park in Auckland. Next to this park is our Auckland Zoo. I saw this van when I was parking my car. I was curious by it's logo and wondered what it was for. It was leaving as I was about to enter my car. In it was a load of golden oldies. They had gone to the zoo. The van was also a mobility van.

I came back and google searched them. Christian Healthcare Trust was established in 1962 to provide residential care for older people. As a not-for profit organisation we are able to focus on our residents and their needs and on providing superior service and accommodation. The retirees seem to be happy and the trust is being a non profit making is in my good books.

This is not the case with two other stories that I heard today.

In our national newspaper, an article reported this story.
Rugged up and in sturdy shoes, with a rucksack full of clean clothes, knickers, shampoo and cash, Jeanette Mary Alder was going "as far as she could go" when she left her West Auckland rest home on Saturday.
By the time the 80-year-old was found - just after checking out of a Picton backpackers where she used a fake name - she had traveled nearly 700km by bus and ferry from the Parakai Home for the Elderly in Helensville.
Mrs Alder was carrying cash because an eftpos transaction gave her away another time she ran off.

And on our national TV program, Fair go, a shocking revelation chilled me to the spine. "licence to occupy". The prospective resident pays hundreds of thousands upfront but doesn't own anything. They just buy the right to stay there. In addition they have to pay hundreds in monthly village fees. Phil likens these contracts to crayfish pots: "Easy to get into but problematic and expensive to get out." When the resident dies or leaves the village there is a refund on the licence but first the village deducts as much as a third third for various expenses. The family only gets their money back after the village has sold the licence. In some contracts the village makes the family pay any capital loss and keeps all the capital gains.

I have told my children and my friends, when I am old and incapable of running my house, I would like to go to a retirement home. With crooks in the industry, I better do my homework before I check into one of these boutique retirement homes.