The squeaky wheel get the oil

Having lived in the US for so long, it's hard for me to comprehend the idea of blindly accepting whatever services you can get and calling it 'good'.  I suppose the fact that NZ is such a small place with very little competition for any service-based companies fosters such attitudes, but I was not raised here and I know that people can and will do better when pushed.

Yes, I am speaking of the land agent fiasco (click here for the story) in which we had no hot water for a whole weekend because there was no land agent available to give a crap help us.

We did, indeed, notify the landlord and when he got our letter informing him of the situation he couldn't apologize enough. He was under the impression, as were we, that Harcourts Agency in Stratford took care of rental properties 24/7. Apparently his mother is a land agent in New Plymouth and they both were shocked at the lack of service.

Well, I am relieved to tell you that I got an email today that said,
 'I am sorry that you were unable to contact anyone from this office when you had problems with your hot water recently.
Procedures have been put in place with an emergency contact number on our answer service at the office....'
Which makes me wonder: Does everybody just sit on their thumbs and wait for Monday morning when they have a problem? I gotta tell ya, that's not my style.

For the money we pay for rent (a lot) and the money the landlord pays for management (not a little, I assume), it's a shame that you have to squeak so loudly to get a little oil. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And we did. And now we are squeak free. For now.


Love through the eyes of kids

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.' Rebecca- age 8  

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'  Billy - age 4  

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.' Karl - age 5  

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.' Chrissy - age 6  

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' Terri - age 4  

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.' Danny - age 7 

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss' Emily - age 8  

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'  Bobby - age 7  

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.' Nikka - age 6  

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.' Noelle - age 7  

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.' Tommy - age 6  

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8  

'My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.' Clare - age 6  

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.' Elaine-age 5  

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.'
Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.' Mary Ann - age 4  

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.' Lauren - age 4  

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' Karen - age 7  

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.'  Mark - a ge 6  

 'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'  Jessica - age 8  


I think rum would be cheaper to drink...

I posted this photo a while back when I was shocked that bottled water was the same price as Coke.

And this shot last week shows that the price of bottled water has surpassed Coke. What is this world coming to??


new tricks

This weekend was Labour Day weekend in New Zealand. The weather was wonderful for the three day weekend and, I am so happy to say, it was pretty quiet at our house. That's a good thing.

It means that the neighbours that called the police on us for harassing them by calling noise control were quiet, even though they had company.

It also means that the neighbours that threatened to call the police were quiet, too.

I guess you can teach an old Taranaki dog new tricks!


Weather, weather everywhere....

In Kansas, you can see weather coming for miles and miles. In Stratford, if you see any sort of clouds around the mountain, you know it's going to rain in some degree. I found this article that explains it rather nicely.
Mountains make a barrier for moving air. The wind pushes air, and clouds  in the air, up the mountain slopes. The atmosphere is cooler at high elevations, and there is less of it: lower pressure makes it hard for lowland animals to get enough air to breathe. Dense masses of warm, moist air that move up and over a mountain swell as the air pressure confining them drops away. The air becomes colder in the same way as a pressurized spray can's contents become colder when the can's pressure drops rapidly. (The phrase that describes this phenomenon is adiabatic expansion.) Water that existed as a gas under the high pressure and temperature  of the flatlands now condenses into cool droplets, and clouds form over the mountain. As the cloud continues to rise, droplets grow and grow, eventually becoming too heavy to float in the air. The clouds dump rain, and snow, on the mountain slopes. After topping the crest, however, the clouds may have no more moisture to rain on the other side of the mountain, which becomes arid. This rain shadow is best illustrated in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, where the  tall Redwood Forests cover the ocean-facing side of the mountains and Death Valley lies in the rain shadow.
               from     Mountains - Weather Effects Of Mountains

I first thought this whole weather thing would be a problem and make hanging clothes on the line a bit tricky. Then I realized that the neighbors didn't seem to care what the weather was--they just hung clothes out whenever they were moved. So the conclusions I found were these:

  • If I look out all the windows and see even a small patch of blue anywhere, the clothes should eventually get dry today. 
  • The rain is so fine on this side of the mountain that it doesn't hinder the drying process to any degree unless it's blowing sideways. [Sometimes, it's pleasantly balmy and I don't realize it's actually raining (misting, we used to call it) until I get outside.]
  • Except for the dreaded winter months, the rain is always intermittent--the blue skies and sunshine can break through the clouds 10 times over a period of a few hours, interrupted by some mist or drizzle or having both sunshine and rain simultaneously.
  • Even if the clothes don't get dry today, they will be nicely rinsed in pure, mountain rainwater and will dry tomorrow.
I have learned not to worry about the laundry. And I have, thus, learned not to worry about many things over which I have no control. Life is always a learning process.


Danger, Will Robinson!

Here's the major intersection. I guess we timed it right to avoid all the dangerous traffic!


I should be a land agent

Sometimes I wonder if I live in a world that is somewhere in that sparkly gray area between reality and the way I think things should be.

In America, I rented most of the places I lived. I usually answered an ad in the paper, met the landlord, checked out the property and then decided if I wanted to rent it. It was a simple transaction. There were no people in between--no agents, no nothing. I was of the opinion that you only needed an agent if you had large properties to maintain or sell.

That's not how it works here. Everybody has a 'land agent'. I'm not sure what the advantages are for the owners, but we found out this weekend that it's definitely not an advantage for the renter--at least, not if you have a problem over the weekend. Or, at least, not our particular agent.

We had no hot water over the weekend and the agent was NO help at all!

Now, you have to keep in mind that the power companies hook up water heaters on a separate line because they can legally turn them off for 4 hours at a time if the need arises for electricity--like during the summer when A/C's are running.  We did consider that option when we notice the hot water wasn't so hot around midday on Saturday. So we waited.

And waited.

And still no hot water, so we called our agent and left a message on her mobile. Nothing. We called several times and left messages and I even called her office and left a message, all this time, waiting for an acknowledgement that she knew we had a problem. Nothing.

We fumed and fussed and finally decided that we would go to the landlord (who lives just down the street) if she didn't call us back before 9:30AM on Monday.

Well, she calls about 8:45AM Monday all cheery, saying that she doesn't get her messages until Monday morning. Since I hadn't had a shower in 2 days, I was not in the mood to be cheery and said something to the effect of 'I thought you had died' or something like that.

She then replied something cutesy about she needs a day off like everybody else, I think, but I was too busy trying not to say, 'Why do you have a &(^%$ mobile phone if you don't take it home with you, you moron!' or 'It's your #^%$% job to be available for tenants 24/7, that's what the landlord pays you for, you freaking rude Taranaki redneck!'  You'll be pleased to know that I was controlled and didn't say either one.

Come to find out, the fuse (that is a very old system) had burned out the holder, which shut off the power to the hot water cylinder. He fixed the fuse and we are waiting for the electric company's 'ripple' to turn it back on.

Knowing that we will have hot water soon is a soothing notion so we are calming down. We are still considering sending a letter to the landlord to formally ask if we can call him if we have a weekend situation again.

I guess being a land agent is a pretty cushy 9-5 M-F job,after all, just showing homes and looking around every few months. If I every feel the need to work outside the home, that's what I want to do!


You should be so lucky!

I haven't updated you on our wonderful tv listings in a while. It's the one thing that I find quaint but a bit erratic. We, of course, get a lot of British TV, but the American stuff is what intrigues me.

We got to see the first 5 whole seasons of Survivor, twice a day. Then the first season again. Then nothing. Now there's a Heroes and Villains season on once a week.

And I get to revisit the 70's and 80's without moving from the couch. And I don't need no steenkin TVland!! We can watch one episode (or six) of a program and it will disappear forever.

These are available lately....

Sledge Hammer
Miami Vice
The Guardian and The Mentalist
8 Simple Rules
Malcolm in the Middle
Ugly Betty
Home Improvement comes and goes
US version of Life on Mars (as opposed to the British version that came out first)

We saw the last episode of Bones and now have hit-and-miss reruns. We saw the last episode of Friends, too, and it's still on twice a day.

I'm glad to say we have a few almost-up-to-date shows, but, as I said, they are subject to disappearing at any moment.

I'm loving
The Big C  
Human Target

I watch these, too...

CSI- Miami
Cold Case
Criminal Minds
Without a Trace

I don't know what happened to NCIS-Los Angeles  after the few episodes we had.
And, of course, the Simpsons are everywhere!!

There are some American shows that I don't watch for one reason or another. Mostly because they are really lame (IMHO). If you're bored enough to want to check it out yourself, here's the link....

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!


The ultimate question

A man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, 'Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.'

Very quietly, the doctor said, 'I don't know.'

'You don't know? You're a Christian man and you don't know what's on the other side?'

The doctor was holding the handle of the door. On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, 'Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before.
He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here,
And when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. 
I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing...

'I know my Master is there and that is enough.'


Some good news about Taranaki...

I mentioned in an earlier post that Christchurch was cracking down on boy racers and I'm pleased to know that New Plymouth followed suit! Sadly, the article below says they are going out into the countryside towns (which we have noticed in Stratford) but I hope they just get tired of spending all their money on petrol to get to the smaller towns and give up.

Personally, I think the speedways should be opened,at the District's expense, once a week and let them wreck their cars themselves. It would pay off big time.

Boyracer nuisance goes bush

By LEIGHTON KEITH and RYAN EVANS - Taranaki Daily News

Boyracers are going country.
Chased off New Plymouth's streets by a new bylaw and the fear of their cars being crushed, boyracers are playing havoc in the countryside....
He urged people to take down vehicle descriptions and registration plate numbers where possible. "We will actively follow up any written complaint."...
Earlier this year, the New Plymouth District Council adopted a bylaw banning cars at night from Bell Block's De Havilland Drive and Connett Rd. The Government has also addressed the problem, allowing authorities to confiscate and crush the cars of repeat offenders.
Speaking for boyracers, New Plymouth woman Shayna Dreaver, 20, said the shift to rural roads was because there was now too much risk involved in the city..
She said boyracers were worried about getting caught since the Government introduced new "car crushing" legislation last year. "It [the car] is like their baby, they saved up to make it and now it's just getting crushed."

Read more here. http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/4201039/Boyracer-nuisance-goes-bush


South Taranaki, the armpit of the universe

An article on the front page of the South Taranaki Star, Thursday, September 30, 2010

I couldn't find this story online, so I scanned the article for some semblance of credibility. I'll rewrite it exactly how it is written so you don't have to squint to read it.

Shouting and swearing, a man stormed into the South Taranaki SPCA to dump a ginger and white male cat, calling it a pest and saying he just driven 20km and wanted it "shot, drowned or knocked on the head".
The cat-rage incident on Friday left staff members stunned but they were alert enough to jot down his car details.
SPCA centre supervisor Atholl Byers says the cat is very friendly, in good health and obviously someone's loved pet.
"We believe the man was rude and refused to leave his details because he knew it was someone's pet, possibly a neighbour's.
"I was on the phone and the man started shouting at my volunteers who handed him a sign-over form so that we could legally take the cat into our care," Mr. Byers says.

"He flat out refused and was very rude to our SPCA volunteers.  I had to tell the person I was on the phont to that I'd call her back. 
"I politely explained to the man that in order to take custody of the cat, no matter what the reason is, we have to have a signature.  He was very aggressive towards me and shouted at the top of his voice.

"He said he had driven 20km to bring this 'f***cat' here and I'm not signing any form.
"He said shoot it, drown it, knock it on the head or something I'm not signing it.
"His wife stayed very quiet, I tried to explain again that we would take it, if like everyone else, he could just give us his contact details.  He turned around and shouted to his wife, 'We're out of here'."
Mr. Byers says he asked one of his volunteers to write down his number plate and make/model of car.  He has just dumped or abandoned an animal.
"Sadly the plate was a number short on the silver car.  (The number has been recorded by the SPCA and the Star).
"The cat is a very lovely tame and social animal.  It is by no means a stray.
"The man was obviously a cat-hater of sorts, viewed the cat as a pest to himself and has probably picked it up on his street.
"I'm not surprised he didn't want to put his name to it and got so upset because he new he was trying to hand us someone's pet to put down."
**If this is your cat or you th ink you may know who it belongs to, please contact Mr Byers on 278 5605, PO Box 648, 62 Beach Rd, Hawera, or spcasouthtaranaki.co.nz.

I did find it online here 


Spring has arrived!

After weeks and weeks of unrelenting rain--the kind that falls 22 out of every 24 hours, with winds at night that sound like they are going to blow the windows out of the frame--we have finally had 3 whole days of sunshine! And more is expected tomorrow. Yay! 

I guess you don't know miss it until you don't have it any more, so we celebrated by going to Hollard Gardens to see what almost twice the 'normal' rainfall for September had brought. What we found was an abundance of color, especially the magnolias, with promises of much more to come.

 Spring is truly here. It was a long wait.