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Travels in America: Fallingwater and Gettysburg

My husband Joe and I have undertaken three trips to the United States, and have loved our travels there.  In the keeping with the holiday spirit as we all take a well-earned break, I have brushed the dust off our blog written at the time (October 2014), removed excessive cussing and tidied up the grammar for Whaleoil readers.  This is part 2 of 7.

Day Five – Washington to Fallingwater

Early start to the day, up before 6 am to pick up the rental car.  Schlepped all our luggage (and it seems to have increased 20kg even though we haven’t bought anything much) via the Metro to Union Station where the rental car company was located.  Schlepped ourselves and said luggage a block and a half looking for the Avis place, and wouldn’t you know it, it was located inside the train station, up on the second floor in the middle of a bunch of shops.  Just as well J thought to ask one of the local cops or we would never have found it by ourselves.

The car was duly collected, though the pre-drive “check for damage” was farcical on a black car in a dark parking garage.  Then began the “tight right, wiiiiide left” mantra as we headed out into the city, driving in what we hoped was the right direction until Dora caught up with our movements.  (On our last trip Stateside, we named our GPS Dora (the Explorer) and it stuck).  It took us about an hour and a half to make our way out of the city, even though we left the rental car place about 7.30 we seemed to hit peak rush hour traffic.  That combined with our tight-wad choice to avoid toll roads meant it was a long trip.  Still the Steven Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum didn’t open until 10am so we had plenty of time.  And it was worth the wait, a GREAT museum.

As the wife of an aircraft enthusiast, I’ve seen a few in my time – yawn – and even I got excited about this one.  As well as aircraft, it also had some really cool space stuff, including the Space Shuttle Discovery.  The museum is really big but well laid out with elevated walkways so you can view the planes from above as well as below.  We saw the actual Enola Gay that dropped the H Bomb on Hiroshima, which ties in nicely with our last US trip when we went to the West Wendover airfield where the crews trained to do the drop.

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Travels in America: Washington DC

My husband Joe and I have undertaken three trips to the United States, and have loved our travels there.  In the keeping with the holiday spirit as we all take a well earned break, I have brushed the dust off our blog written at the time (October 2014), removed excessive cussing and tidied up the grammar for Whaleoil readers.

Day 1:

The Auckland -> San Francisco -> Washington leg.

We leave for the airport in plenty of time, there has been a fire at a substation and there are approx 80,000 homes without power, which also means all the traffic lights in the area are out as well.  Thankfully there are no issues, drivers are being sensible and traffic is light, most unusual for Auckland & we arrive with plenty of time to spare.  We board on time and are pleasantly surprised to find the aisle seat next to us remains empty, so we have extra space to spread out.  The flight is smooth and uneventful, just how we like it.  A few crying babies do their thing to hamper our chances of sleeping, but I manage to get a few hours kip and try not to fidget the rest of the time.  We arrive early in SFO, no issues getting through Immigration, getting finger-printed or getting our luggage, though we snigger at Carousel 2 just in from Tokyo, so jammed with trollies and anxious travellers 6 deep that no one can actually GET to the carousel to pick up their bags!

We hike across to Terminal 2 to check in for our next flight, it’s hot and sunny and we stink like pole cats, so buy two new t-shirts to stop the dogs from following us.

Plenty of time to grab some lunch while we wait for out flight to Washington.  We board on time but some kind of auxiliary power unit is not working so that means they have to start one of the engines while we are at the gate, and for some reason that causes quite a long delay.  We are 45 minutes late taking off.  Sigh.  Another uneventful flight, this time on Virgin America, which is budget and you have to pay for everything, including checked luggage, food and movies.  Tea Coffee and water is free, and the coffee is much nicer than the swill Air New Zealand had the nerve to call coffee.  But the late departure means that it’s 1am by the time we collect our bags, wait for the shuttle and get dropped to our apartment for the night.  We are staying at Washington Circle in an apartment we rented off Airbnb.  It’s a quaint old Georgian brick house, very quirky, but the one disadvantage of booking something like this is it’s not as easy to find and let yourself into at 1 am.  Thankfully the instructions were pretty thorough and we had no issues once we found the place.

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Our ‘forgettable’ Prime Minister

John Roughan writes in a Newspaper that we have a forgettable prime minister. He says that she doesn’t really say anything memorable.  I can think of plenty that is memorable, just not for the right reasons. She of course gave a ‘rock solid guarantee’ that there would not be more strikes under a Labour government.  That was memorable.  It was also completely false. I’m also sure that the oil and gas industry has not forgotten her words when she axed exploration permits with no warning.

John goes on to sing her praises for one of the few times she said something that was memorable to him.   Quote.

At times this year I’ve been very proud of our Prime Minister, never more so than when she made a public apology to the parents of Grace Millane at her post-cabinet press conference. That was a fine thing to do and she did it so well, with the genuine feeling every parent has for those who suffer such unimaginable loss, and with the shame we all felt that it could happen to a beautiful and vulnerable young visitor to this country.

I’m not sure it would have occurred to any previous Prime Minister to do that.  End of quote.

It also did not occur to Ms Ardern to weep over any of the other 4 murders that occurred that week. Only for the murder that involved a pretty young woman and had the international media watching.  Quote. Read more »

Photoshop competition

Why the delay? Census 2018 results


Back in March 2018, New Zealand undertook its five-yearly census.  Nine months on, we are no closer to knowing anything about what the census results are. The data are so late that the next general election may be affected. Stuff reports.  Quote.

The next general election is at risk of being compromised due to Census 2018 delays.

The Electoral Commission has confirmed its necessary redraw of electoral boundaries for Election 2020 could be jeopardised by the delayed data.[…]

[…] Electoral Commission chair Sir Hugh Williams QC said the population figures, which come as part of Stats NZ’s initial data release, could come as late as September 2019.

“Anything later than that would really jeopardise the capacity for the Electoral Commission to do its work, assuming the general election was set for the third or fourth quarter of 2020.”

Documents released under the Official Information Act show Stats NZ has acknowledged the high risk of failing its statutory obligation to provide the data.End of quote.

Why is this taking so long?  Here’s what Stats NZ had to say:  Quote. Read more »

Christchurch Oilers: Sump at the Quarry Sunday 16th

Attention Christchurch Oilers, there will be a final sump for the year at the Quarry this Sunday.

Come along and wish the Bluebirds a happy wedding anniversary.  Oh, and enjoy great coffee and company too.

Where: Halswell Quarry Park, Christchurch

When: Sunday 16th December 1 pm – 3 pm

All welcome!

If you’re shy or wondering what it’s like to meet up with other Oilers, don’t be afraid, there are some good stories to be found here as HookerPhil and Incognito tell the tale of their Whaleoil tour of New Zealand meeting other Oilers on their recent trip north.

 

Christchurch Oilers: Sump at the Quarry Sunday 16th

Attention Christchurch Oilers, there will be a final sump for the year at the Quarry this Sunday.

Come along and wish the Bluebirds a happy wedding anniversary.  Oh, and enjoy great coffee and company too.

Where: Halswell Quarry Park, Christchurch

When: Sunday 16th December 1 pm – 3 pm

All welcome!

If you’re shy or wondering what it’s like to meet up with other Oilers, don’t be afraid, there are some good stories to be found here as HookerPhil and Incognito tell the tale of their Whaleoil tour of New Zealand meeting other Oilers on their recent trip north.

 

Remembering the Lindt cafe siege


Today is the 4th anniversary of the Lindt Café siege in Sydney.

Back in 2014 my husband and I were living in Sydney and we happened to work in the building that was diagonally opposite the Lindt café in Martin Place.  What unfolded that day had quite an impact on us at the time.

It seems appropriate today to revisit what I wrote about it immediately after it had happened.

I first became aware that something was wrong when I noticed a few of my co-workers further down the floor looking out the window.  We are on the 2nd floor of a building that looks down on to Martin Place.  There are often protests of some kind or other being held in the space below us, or marches along Macquarie St, so I didn’t take much notice at first.  Then I heard one of the guys say “armed Police” which caught my attention, and I went to the window myself to have a look.  We are right on the corner of Martin Place and Phillip St, which is diagonally opposite and looks down on the Lindt Café.  A place that we will hear mentioned many times over in the coming days/weeks & months.

There were a couple of armed Police half crouched under the windows of the café, and another taking cover behind one of those metal cabinets that are often dotted on street corners.  All had hand guns drawn and pointed at the café.   Two plain clothes Policemen and one in the equivalent of our Armed Offenders Squad gear.

From where I was standing, I could see the glass doors that were the secondary entrance to the shop right on the corner, plus the windows down the side of the café along Martin Place.  There was a young guy in dark dress pants and a light coloured business shirt with his hands held up, just a few feet behind the glass door.  Along the windows I could see another three or four people, all with hands held up against the window.  I watched for a few minutes, as other workmates joined me.  I couldn’t see anyone moving inside, just the people standing very still with hands raised, facing outwards.

It felt completely surreal, and I just couldn’t really believe what I was seeing.

I fully expected it to be over in a few minutes, expected someone to come running out with a bag of cash, to be challenged by Police and have him or her drop to the ground in surrender, get arrested & taken away in cuffs.  Some kind of crazy robbery gone wrong.  Time ticked by and that didn’t happen.  The longer this went on, the less likely that seemed to be.

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Let’s throw money at a problem that doesn’t exist yet

“An Inconvenient Truth” Hollywood special effects showed the rising seas of the Apocalypse. It is quite like a biblical flood

Every day I think we’ve reached peak stupid, yet every day once we’ve got to the top of the peak, there is another higher peak, more aspirational than the last one.

Today’s peak stupid is the idea that we should start to pay compensation to beachfront property owners because of climate change.  Don’t believe me?  Read it for yourselfQuote.

The Government is secretly grappling with the dilemma of paying out climate change compensation to beachfront property owners.

And one of the options on the table is buying up homes that are at risk of being swamped by sea level rises.

Stuff can reveal Government officials have been quietly working with the insurance industry, banks and local government in the last year.

They are in hush-hush discussions to avoid moral and economic panic.  End of quote.

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What can we joke about?


In another story from the ‘can you believe it’ files, a University tries to take all the fun out of comedyQuote.

A comedian has pulled out of a student charity event after being asked to sign a contract banning him from being offensive about almost anything.

Konstantin Kisin was sent a ‘behavioural agreement form’ which stopped him telling jokes which were not ‘respectful and kind’End of quote.

A joke is not a joke if it has to be respectful and kind.  That’s the whole point of a joke. It’s what makes it funny.

No, these people are seriousQuote:

The form stated: ‘By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no-tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism.’

Student leaders said the ban was necessary to preserve the event as a ‘safe space’ and a place for ‘joy, love, and acceptance’. end quote.

You just have to feel sorry for them; they are clearly far too busy taking themselves seriously.

Thankfully Mr Kisin is refusing to give up the giggles.  Quote:

[…] Mr Kisin, 35, who was born in the Soviet Union, said the demand amounted to a ‘threat to freedom of speech’ and pulled out.[…]

Mr Kisin was one of four comedians invited to perform unpaid, with proceeds going to the UN children’s charity.

Politics student Fisayo Eniolorunda, the society’s event organiser, wrote in the invitation: ‘Attached is a short behavioural agreement form that we will ask for you to sign on the day to avoid problems.’

After listing subjects covered by the no-tolerance policy, the form stated: ‘It does not mean that these topics cannot be discussed. But, it must be done in a respectful and non-abusive way.’

Mr Kisin wrote back saying that although he supports Unicef, he could not sign such a contract.

Mr Kisin, who has lived in Britain for 20 years, said yesterday: ‘I couldn’t believe it. The only people who should be controlling what comedians say are comedians. This is a threat to freedom of speech and I have declined the invitation on a point of principle. end quote.

Ah, remember the good old days when Billy T James was alive?  He could say anything he liked about anyone, and we all laughed along with him. Maori’s, honkeys, didn’t matter; we were all fair game.  No-one got offended and demanded a ‘safe space’ or a little bit of kindness. Hell, the more offensive it got the better we liked it!

I fear comedy has a terminal illness.