Thursday, December 29, 2011

Piecemeal thoughts upon your cotton ball throne (Family Cactus)

And so that was Xmas and now it's the new year in a couple of days. Waiheke Island is now a memory, as is the stay in the Hawke's Bay with Sallie, Zen and our dogs (Dookie took great delight in rolling in fresh sheep dodos so he was a lovely pea green colour; Bazil was his usual delighted to see you self)

You find us now nestled in the New Plymouth address of my lovely sister-in-law - Ma Belle (sister of the LOML) and her husband.

We are here in the Taranaki town for the wedding of the century this week (our good friends Patrick and Randy are having their civil union ratification do). It's chucking it down with rain right now but that won't affect the occasion in any way.

The countryside is green and lush and so are we!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's a new day (Bob Marley)

Amazing huh. One minute you're in the middle of a middle eastern desert admiring the sand dunes, you blink and you're staring out to a deep blue sea on an island with wood pigeons and tuis for company.

Okay admittedly the blink lasted some time (about 19 hours) while the Airbus whisked us from Dubai to Auckland and then we had the 45 minute ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke Island. But the transition is really a stark one. A few minutes people watching at Auckland airport and you know you're not in the sandpit anymore.

It's interesting being back in Nu Zild. Different pace, different language, different culture, different food, different sun (one day with suntan stuff on and a hat and I can feel my skin), different driving conditions (hamdillallah), different clothes (there really IS a place for the abeya), different's just different okay!

We are on Waiheke (an island in the Hauraki Gulf - just east of Auckland city, some of which is pictured above) until the 26th of December. It's a bizarre place and different again from the North Island mainland. When I was growing up I thought of Waiheke Island seldom but when I did I wondered if there were cars/roads there. Or civilisatrion generally. But it's a cool place with fantastic views in all directions.

It has been worth the effort and the planning to get here.

Pre blink drinks in the Dubai Mall
SWMBO acts cool.

Wozza doesn't - I don't like flying much!

Pre flight breakfast in Emirates lounge, Dubai airport.
Post blink and post 13 hour sleep under a beautiful pohutukawa
tree on Waiheke Island this afternnon with the LOML.
Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I have all I want, is that simple enough? (Crowded House)

Jalal is still going strong on his charity walk. You can read all about it in the link. He is such an inspirational guy! He has no fear.

SWMBO and I will be in Nu Zild for our Christmas holidays, catching up with friends and whanau.

I will attempt to keep the posts coming but there may be a few gaps in transmission.

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear (Mark Twain)

I became impatient waiting for the Gulf News to do an update on Jalal's progress (see previous post), so I emailed the man himself to see if he could update his website for those of us who are keen to learn how he's getting on.

His website is a good place to go for summaries of his achievements to date:

I find his courageous outlook and unselfish motivation to be really inspirational in a week when I have to get on a plane to return to NZ.

To my surprise he emailed me back.

I had some battery and thought I'd respond.

InshAllah my heart doesn't deceive me,in the end Allah knows the true intention of man.

I don't know how my ancestors did all this,they were tough. I'm sure most of this was due to their faith and humble lifestyle.
I'm near the boarder now ill probably cross tomorrow into saudi arabia.
Isn't modern technology wonderful! By the way - tomorrow for Jalal will be Wednesday 14 December.

I'm sure he is right - in the past faith, humility and courage meant people could walk huge distances through the Empty Quarter to Makkah and conquer all obstacles along the way. We've gotten soft, no doubt. That's understandable. The choice between walking 20,000 km and driving there in an air conditioned Landcruiser is a no brainer. When I told some of the Emirati teachers about what Jalal was doing they said, "He's crazy!!"

Jalal told me in another email that he has sent some pictures to the Gulf News so I'll check for those and include them on the blog, inshallah.

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The time is right, I feel it strong (Dream Evil)

SWMBO and I spent the weekend in Dubai and Sharjah. It's SWMBO's last real weekend in the Middle East for a while so we wanted to knock off a couple of things from her 'things to do that we really didn't get around to' list.

After the Christmas break, I'll come back to Al Ain without the LOML for awhile (I'm continuing to work at Ali bin Abi Taleb School while she's organising Zen's new property for him as per the previous post).

The Karama souq in Dubai and the Central (a.k.a. Blue) souq in Sharjah joined the regular Dubai Mall visit on our schedule for the weekend.

While we there I read an amazing article in the Gulf News about a young Emirati guy called Jalal bin Thaneya.

Jalal is only 25 but he's already embarked on four lengthy walks to collect funds for various worthy causes (autism and a paediatric centre are two).

This time he's setting off on a walk from Abu Dhabi to Makkah. A huge walk of 2,000km which he aims to complete in 35 days.

I love the fact that he's packing light - 2 shirts, 2 coats, 1 jacket and 2 trousers but he also has a camel pack with medical stuff, a SAT phone, GPS navigator, camera and laptop. He's a 21st century boy!

The heroic Jalal bin Thaneya is in there somewhere.
All 'n' all he sounds like a completely brilliant young man. Here's the full story for you to read. I found it really inspirational.
I'm going to follow his progress over the next 35 days and let you know how he gets on.

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. PJ's going to have conniptions over that post title!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Could it be that I have found my home at last? (Steely Dan)

Zen (pictured right) recently talked the Light Of My Life (LOML) and me into getting a patch of Nu Zild dirt again.

As the blogosphere will appreciate, Zen, the star of a recent post, requires a paddock or five to live in, some poosh stables worthy of his zen-ness to visit when it rains, and a large three bay implement shed within which to store his moving bedroom (a.k.a. his 'horsefloat' - why is it called that? Stoopid right? I get the horse bit natch but a float? It's just...silly).

Oh...yes...and Zen's owners will need a place to sleep so that they are close by to keep an eye on him. That means a house which has commanding views of the surrounding countryside so that the LOML can preempt the rain and move Zen to the poosh stables.

Bazil, and Dookie will also be joining us in due course and I dear say that chickens, a cat, and a stable mate for Zen will follow along when we eventually return to Nu Zild on a permanent basis.

So, with all that in mind, we have obtained all of the above in a little country town called Otane, in the Hawke's Bay area, which is on the east coast of the North Island of NZ.

It's probably a good idea, at this point, to flesh out what exactly Otane is all about. Here is the entire Wikipedia entry for Otane:

Otane is a township in the Central Hawke's Bay District on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is a small village, with a school, general store, cafe and pub.

See - told you it was on the east coast of the North Island of NZ. What the entry doesn't tell you is how beautiful the countryside is, so I'll correct that omission now with some photos of Zen's new digs.

Stables on left, front drive on right.

Zen's owners will live here.

Poosh stable area.

Love and peace - Wozza, LOML, Zen

Monday, December 5, 2011

He was standing in the doorway lookin' like the Jack of Hearts (Bob Dylan)

Flashes from the archives (of oblivion):
  • Socrates.
  • 1982 World Cup.
  • Brazil.
  • Zico, Falcao, Oscar, Junior...Socrates.
The 1982 Brazilian World Cup team is indelibly etched into my memory banks.

I was on my second teaching section at Havelock North High School and staying with a football mad Scottish family in Hastings opposite the Freezing works. It was the winter term - really cold. I'd just got contact lenses (ah vanity - thy name is Wozza) and it was agony trying to put them in with numb hands and twelve layers of clothes on.

But the FIFA World Cup was on in Spain.

The New Zealand team (known as The All Whites) had miraculously made it through to the finals for the first time. We were in a Group 6 with Scotland, The Soviet Union and...Brazil.

We all knew we would lose all three games - our world cup had been in making the finals, but we still all watched as our team battled manfully against the superpowers of world football.

In all likelihood, a Brazilian team of three - Socrates, Falcao and Zico - would have beaten us on their own.

They were football gods. They remain football gods, Immortals.

Socrates - the Jack of Hearts!

He passed away this week aged 57, in hospital, from complications.

Remember him this way.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

And we dance out of time, and everything goes 'round and 'round (U2)

The box-set-a-thon continues at Yellow Jimi Apartment 6 as we continued to be dazzled, intrigued, amazed, entertained and generally hooked on LOST.

We finished Season One last week and started Season Two this week (we're up to Disc5/6 already), and I can report that the show has only got better and better with lots of plot shifts (didn't see Boone's death or Shannon's death coming) and fascinating symbols (the numbers), back stories, and character developments.

It's also an excellent adventure/survival yarn. I can see why people got hooked when the show aired originally and why the blogosphere is so full of Lost people (like me) still.

The Lostpedia wiki  ( is extremely thorough on details and the blogosphere is not short of Lost experts/obsessives adding their interpretations to things.

I found this great map from one such source (Lostysmurf) and a list of all the deaths in Season One in another ( Interesting that there were so many and since the landing on the island there were actually 8 deaths (and one birth) during Season One.

I like the fact that people care so much about something like this that they create their own websites about the show. You have to admire that degree of obsession. I read one Lost blogger who said he thinks about the show constantly during his day. That may stray onto the unhealthy side of obsession but the show does provide plenty to think about, and plenty to love.

Here are 25 things I love about LOST so far (Seasons One and Two).
  1. I'm a newbie in the Lost universe but we've seen each character in a variety of lights. I love the fact that Jack is not the show's hero. He's as messed up and damaged as the bulk of the characters. Maybe the most messed up!
  2. The show's setting. I love the scope that a remote deserted tropical island location has for a boys' own adventure series.
  3.  Jin-Soo. one minute he's the ultimate chauvinistic caveman, the next he's repairing Sun's garden.
  4. Hugo 'Hurley' Reyes. He seems the most genuinely nice guy on the island who acts in a more purely altruistic way towards his fellow survivors.
  5. The mystery of the old school computer in the hatch and their need to believe in it.
  6. John Locke's name. His namesake was one of the world's great teachers who believed that all knowledge had to be taught. He believed that, at birth, people's minds were a "tabula rasa." Since people were not born with a distinct character, Locke insisted upon teaching character first and academics second, saying the value of good character far exceeded the value of learning to read, write, complete calculations and memorize facts.
  7. The 'monster' on the island stops short when he confronts Mr. Eko and retreats. Mr. Eko (a quasi, very quasi, priest) says he does not fear the monster. Hmmmm?
  8. The constant battle between good and evil that rages inside characters like Charlie, Sayid, Mr. Eko, Ana Lucia, Kate, and, of course, Sawyer.
  9. The record player and the record collection!
  10. The flashbacks. I normally don't like this device much - often they slow things down unnecessarily, but in LOST the flashbacks are a crucial part of the show and the layers of mysteries.
  11. The polar bear and the black horse are unexplained presences on the island (maybe later but we're towards the end of Season Two remember).
  12. Sun-Hwa. She is a mystery all on her own. She has a powerful Korean gangster for a father and a subservient and manipulating mother but Sun is so sweet (at least so far).
  13. Desmond (and, later, Michael) can take off into the jungle and be absent for many episodes.
  14. The personal connections in the flashbacks that link characters in mysterious circumstances (they are often unaware of the connection).
  15. The lava lamp in The Hatch is cool.
  16. The mysterious positive power of the island - the way the island 'heals' John Locke's legs and Rose's cancer.
  17. The father/son story lines (John Locke and his con artist father, Jack and his father the surgeon, and, of course, Michael and Walt).
  18. Big big themes - fantasy vs reality, coincidence vs fate, science and faith, and the previously mentioned good vs evil.
  19. The soundtrack (as distinct from the music from Hurley's Walkman or the record player in The Hatch) is exceptional
  20. The sunsets on the beach look fantastic.
  21. How when it rains, and it rains a lot, no one seems to mind getting drenched.
  22. How tidy the beach camp is - no rubbish is left blowing around. The Utopia that has been created by the survivors has at least got recycling sussed.
  23. The Dharma Initiative sounds like a cool idea - a large scale community project on a remote island paradise where researchers and free thinkers can get away from it all, chill with some great jazz, read some Dostoevsky, and eat chocolate bars.
  24. All the literary nods from the obvious Lord Of The Flies and Robinson Crusoe inspirations to the books on the island that Sawyer reads to all the books found in The Hatch to all the other references found in the series and collected expertly on
  25. JJ Adams. What a guy - I'm a big fan!
Love and peace - Wozza