From the mind of Hamish

My views on news, current events, sports and the general goings on in my life.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

At exactly what point did we decide that we could accept mediocre performance from companies we do business with? Right now I have mobile phone giant Vodafone trying to get me to transfer my Internet and home phone over to them. They are offering a pretty good deal too, but why am I hesitating? Because they can't even get my mobile phone service right!

On Friday I was in the server room attending to a server acting up when I got a call, and while on that call I got a text message. The text message informed me that I have 2 voicemail messages. One of the messages was from a minute earlier and my phone had not rung at all. This has happened before and I put it down to my crap phone, but my new 3G phone I hardly expected it to continue.

The second voicemail message was from Tuesday, and this was the first I had found out about it. While talking to others in the office I found that these voicemail delays are not uncommon.

So the question is, why do I pay this company $40 a month for service that is no up to scratch? And, if they can't get their core services right, why should I give them more services?

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

So once again this blog has suffered from a long absence. I've been doing a lot of writing over at my sports blog, Sports After Dark, and a little bit at My First Mac but haven't had a lot to say about what's going on with me.

Last night we had our friend Felicia over for dinner and had a very pleasant evening. I had asked Jess earlier in the day if I could get creative with dinner and she agreed, then suggested we have Felicia over to join us.

So for our culinary trip around the world I prepared the following dishes. I do not claim any of these recipes are my own, just thought I'd share them with the world.

Chelo is a Persian style rice. As Jess pointed out to me, rice is rice really, but this produces a nice fluffy rice which is quite tasty. Be careful not to over-do the oil.



* 3 cups basmati or long grain rice
* 8 cups water
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 2
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash rice in cold water, Drain and place in large bowl. Add about 8 cups of warm water. Allow to sit for 2-3 hours covered.

After rice has soaked, drain and save 6 cups of the water.

Pour rice water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice and salt. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Remove rice from heat and drain.

Pour vegetable oil in bottom of saucepan, add rice, then 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on top. Simmer on low for 20 minutes or until rice is done.

Serves 4-6.

As Jess and I are both vegetarians, putting a kebab and traditional Persian meat stew on top was out of the question, instead I adapted my recipe for Israeli Couscous.



1 can tomatoes (whole peeled are best)
1 clove of garlic
2-3 spring onions
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
pine nuts (optional)


Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan and sauté garlic and spring onions until soft. In a saucepan heat tomatoes and crush to a semi liquid consistency. Add garlic, spring onions, basil and thyme to mixture and simmer on low heat until thick.

I also prepared some roasties, this time using some different spices to give them a Middle Eastern flavour.



Vegetables of your choice, I like to use potatoes, parsnip, carrots, pumpkin and kumara (a type of native sweet potato)
Onion Salt


Chop vegetables into 2cm cubes and place in oven tray. Add oil and spices to taste, then shake to distribute evenly. Bake at 200ºC (400ºF) for 30-40 minutes until crunchy. Shake occasionally.

For dessert I baked Umm Ali, an Egyptian bread based pudding. The name literally translates to "Ali's mother" but it is very tasty.


* 1 (17.25 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
* 5 cups milk
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup raisins
* 1/4 cup slivered almonds
* 1/4 cup pine nuts
* 1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts
* 1/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut


1. Preheat the oven to 200º C (400º F). Unroll the puff pastry sheets, and place flat on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until puffed and golden brown.
2. Break the puff pastry into pieces, and place in a large bowl. Add the raisins, almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, and coconut, and toss to distribute. Pour into a baking dish, and spread evenly.
3. Pour the milk into a saucepan, and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Heat until hot but not quite boiling. Pour over the mixture in the baking dish.
4. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn the oven to broil, and broil for 2 minutes to brown the top. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

This produces a nice, sweet dessert that goes well with ice cream, whipped cream or on its own.

Bon appetit


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Well it's official, my toe is indeed broken. Quite an impressive break too according to the radiographer. So once again I'm on crutches (I was on crutches 18 months ago when I had a suspected broken foot) and hating every second of it.

I was talking to my wife while we were waiting for the nurse and saying that 7 or 8 years ago I would have been enjoying all the attention I'm getting, these days I'm just pissed off that I have to hobble around on crutches for a few weeks.

So how did I do it? I fell down the stairs. I was carrying one of our cats downstairs to put him out for the night when I slipped on one of the stairs. I fell backwards with one of my legs going up underneath me (I think, it happened damn fast). I managed to take all the skin off the front of my shin and bang my knee in addition to breaking my big toe. I also got a nice cat scratch on my stomach where my cat decided to bail out when he realized I was going down. Lucky bastard, landed on his feet and walked away.

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Last year I decided to convert my personal blog into a political blog. Blogging about politics was fun, but at the same time rather depressing. So I figured what the hell, turn this blog back into a personal blog and post about whatever you want. And I did.

2007 hasn't been a good year for injuries for me so far. On the first night of the year I subluxed (partially dislocated) my right shoulder. How you ask? Not in some violent collision or awkward twist, I just stretched my arm up above my head in bed. I should probably point out that I've done over my left shoulder repeatedly with multiple subluxations and dislocations resulting in having stabilisation surgery 7 years ago. That shoulder is good as new now apart from the occasional aches on a cold morning. Fortunately I doubt I've done any real damage to my right shoulder this time, just over a week later and on a course of anti-inflammatories it feels pretty good.

But last night I managed to fall down the stairs and suspect I may have broken a big toe. I also managed to tear off a strip of skin from my shin and the cat I was carrying at the time left a few marks too. Not a good start to the year.

Still, I've decided to start a new blog over on about sports. It's one of my passions and there's lots of sports coming up this year. The Super 14 is only a month away, the Commonwealth Bank series starts on Friday, Cricket World Cup, Rugby World Cup, it's a sports lover's paradise. So I figured I'd start writing about it. Who knows, I might enjoy it, I might start a podcast and make some money out of it. I also might get bored of it and stop writing after the second week of the Super 14, only time will tell.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Remember, remember the fifth of November.

Guy Fawkes season is once again upon us and once again there is a small group of idiots who seem intent on ruining the fun for everyone. Many of us saw pictures on the TV news of a group of teenagers firing fireworks at each other across a road.

The government has already made noises about banning the sale of fireworks from next year on. Other groups such as the SPCA and Fire Service make these noises every year. And then there is the strangest group, some talkback callers and hosts have actually advocated moving Guy Fawkes to sometime in May because it gets dark earlier and children won't have to stay up so late to watch the public displays. This, of course, is ludicrous because the actual date has significance.

Some people, including some at my place of work, have said we shouldn't be celebrating the actions of a "terrorist" on the fifth of November. Seems like a good argument right? Wrong! We're not celebrating what Fawkes did, we're celebrating catching him and foiling the Gunpowder Plot. That's why people used to put a dummy or "guy" into the bonfire, it was a burning effigy. Interestingly enough, this is also where the slang term guy originates from.

OK, a little history. In the late 1500s and early 1600s Catholics in England did not have equal rights and King James I refused to give them equal rights. This frustrated English Catholics to the point where 13 of them began to hatch the Gunpowder Plot. The aim of this plot wasn't to blow up Parliament and force the government to give Catholics equal rights, if it had been I can see how the terrorist comparison could be made. It was actually to start a full scale revolution in which James I's 9 year old daughter Elizabeth would be made Queen giving England a Catholic monarch. It is said that on the night of 5th November 1605 the people of London celebrated the foiling of the plot by lighting bonfires and holding street parties.

The historical significance of this date has long since been forgotten by most people but it is an important part of our heritage. I actually remember going to at least one party on Guy Fawkes evening where everyone from the street came and celebrated together, we had a bonfire and burned the "guy".

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason that the gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Is it just me or is Helen Clark getting more and more paranoid? She calls for a stop to personal attacks on MPs and then the very next day says, "Labour regards Dr Brash as a corrosive and cancerous person within the New Zealand political system". Um, isn't that slightly hypocritical? Wait, let's go back to the beginning of this sorry saga.

It starts with National continuing to apply preassure about Labour's pledge card spending. Helen sicks Trevor Mallard on National (nobody believes Duckman was operating alone) with a threat to "dish the dirt" if the pledge card issue isn't dropped. Suddenly a week later there are allegations being made that Don Brash has had an affair. Isn't that just a little too convenient?

Then Ian Wishart publishes his so called "article" about Helen's husband, Peter Davis, and we have the PM demanding a halt to these personal attacks and descibing Duckman's antics as "deplorable". And then the very next day she calls Brash corrosive and cancerous to the New Zealand politcal system.

Well Helen, maybe he is corrosive and cancerous to the system because he wants everyone to play by the rules, not your rules. Because he understands that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but mainly because Don Brash is not a good little socialist who won't do exactly what he's told like all of your cronies.

My own personal belief is that Helen is headed towards a breakdown of some sorts, she looks tired, confused and is constantly raving about some "vast right wing conspiracy". Take a break Helen, or even better, resign and call a snap election because this country is sick of you, and sick of all your crap.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

MP's finger gesture sparks row on images

MP's finger gesture sparks row on images
NZ First MP Ron Mark

This is what your elected representatives get up to in Parliament. And they don't want you to know. Yup, apparently taking pictures of MPs behaving like children is against the rules. Which is completely against the spirit of transparency in government.

Parliament is looking at installing their own cameras and then making the footage available to the news media, which means we won't see MPs sleeping, or knitting or giving each other the finger. In other words, government censorship. If there is one place every New Zealander deserves to be able to view uncensored, it's Parliament. Of course then we might see what a bunch of prats we've elected, and we couldn't have that!

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Call for Govt to save Overlander train

Call for Govt to save Overlander train

Should I be surprised that a union official is unhappy about the Overlander ceasing service with the loss of 35 jobs? Of course not. But should the government step in and "save" the Overlanders? Again, of course not. It's simple economic reality, if the service isn't making any money (it isn't, it's actually losing money) then it isn't worth running. And I suspect deep down Rail and Maritime Transport Union general secretary Wayne Butson knows this.

He acknowledged that the service has been suffering from diminishing patronage for years and had been losing money but said the Governmentshould step in to ensure its continuing viability.

So the service is being used by less and less people, has been losing money for years, but we should "save" it? I'm sorry, I just don't understand the arguement. Why is this the government's role to "save" these money losing services? Should my tax dollars be wasted on something that fewer people are using each year just because people feel all romantic about trains?

Toll Holdings have made a business decision, with flights as cheap as they are now people can travel from Wellington to Auckland for around the same price in less than 1 hour. The Overlander takes 12! Please people, drop the romantic view that we "need" a train service and accept the reality that we simply aren't using trains anymore.

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