Thoughts: A Quick Return Home

In January I headed to Palmerston North for a family wedding. 
Palmerston North is my home town. I haven’t actually been there for about six years, and before that there was at least a ten year gap between visits. 

It was interesting to see my childhood home. The schools I attended. Driving around my old paper route and noting little change in the houses I used to deliver to. Seeing the lawns I used to mow relatively unscathed by the passage of time.


I was struck by a sense of malaise. 

There’s a gradual deterioration that those living day to day in this place don’t seem to notice, as it happens under their noses. It seems that house owners are neglecting their assets. Homes that I remember being quite lovely in my youth are now run down. This may be the curse of absentee landlords taking advantage of student rents? 


Perhaps arriving in to town on a rainy, bleak day coloured my perception. Palmy is quite lovely on a good day. 

In January there is also an absence of students, which would account for a lack of vibe and the low energy ebb.

I also do not understand the non-sensical paid carparking at the Plaza. It serves little purpose and it’s badly organised.

There are some good things to note. I was impressed with a bar called Brewers Apprentice (their playlist included Wang Chung). I loved the short travel times between destinations. I love that it’s really, really flat (perfect for running and cycling) and I love that there is a low cost of entry to home ownership. I found that people were friendly and conversational.

The wedding service was in Feilding. I was impressed with that town. It seems to be starting to get ‘gentrified’. Wide streets, nice shops and eateries and still only minutes from Palmerston North airport. 

Feilding triggered a fun memory. I remember riding my bike from PN to Feilding to see a girl I liked. She worked in a dairy. I bought a milkshake. I was too shy to say anything about that, so I rode home. 

I really didn’t do my teenage years right in retrospect.

It was nice to get back there, on balance. I don’t think I’m going to rush back anytime soon though. I think the myopic optimistic memories of youth are best left intact.

Thoughts: 2016 

Well, I survived 2016. 

Of course, my measures or KPI’s around how 2016 worked out may be different from yours, but I’ll give it a solid pass.

For me, the year started on the back foot. It involved really hard calls and compromise. It involved a lifestyle upheaval and I’ve been closely monitoring the impact on my kids. (So far, so good and they don’t seem to realise I’m keeping an eye on them).

I have fought battles to the point where I had to make the decision to risk all or walk away.

I have learned that there are people in the world who will impact your life negatively and that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

I have learned that I should focus on things that I can actually control or at the best, influence. I have learned that things not in my control aren’t actually worth expending my energy on.

I have found friendship and support in unexpected places. I have learned that by being open and vulnerable, good people will come to your side. I am grateful to those that kept an eye on me (especially Katherine). Supported. An encouraging word here and there. 

God I hate being vulnerable.

2017 brings change. And I’m actually looking forward to it. 

Thoughts: Personal Grooming and Domestic Bliss

Ok ok. You all know that guys are gross, right? They move in and your clinically clean and tidy world is utterly disrupted. But you put up with it, because for some reason, you quite like having their stupid faces around.

But here’s the big un-asked, non-discussed question which every guy needs to know the answer to, but is afraid to ask:

Nail clipping. What’s the deal? Surely EVERYONE does it, but why is it a problem when us guys say that we are going to do it?

We get complaints when our nails are long and unkempt. We get complaints when they’re looking a bit rough. So when we actually want to do something about it, it’s gross and disgusting? Really?

So, to help the cause of partner harmony, please advise me (us) on the following:

– when should we clip (and under what circumstances)

– where should we clip (and under what circumstances)

– when do you clip (and under what circumstances)

– where do you clip (and under what circumstances)

And why is it gross to talk about it? 

Diary of a Shore Thing #5

I’ve reached the age where I have started to obsess about power tools and have a desire to do creative things with wood. I think it’s the need to be able to just switch off a little bit.

Anyway, I’ve made a start with my Ryobi collection, but it has occurred to me that I don’t have the space for some of the tools that i would quite like.

Enter a manly conversation with my neighbour. He’s quite handy, an architect I believe, and he’s been busy building stuff around his house. He has all the tools. 

He mentioned a place, the Devonport Community Workshop, secreted away off Lake Rd. It’s been around for over 20 years, has many of the ‘big’ tools (table saws, drop saws, bandsaws, jigsaws, lathes, routers, sanders etc.) that we all want but can’t really justify purchasing ourselves, and is run by a team of volunteers. 

I popped in for a look-see on this bleak stormy Saturday morning.


It’s open Monday-Saturday, 9am-12 noon and is funded by donations received for use.

I think I may have found a gem.

Thoughts: Local Government Elections

It’s all over bar the shouting. I’ve found this election interesting and not for the usual reasons.

Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the passion and desire of those who stood for office. Secondly, it was nice seeing friends of my youth get a Mayoralty, achieve Council and Board positions. (There’s something special seeing people get ahead when you feel like you’re standing still, eh?).

I didn’t get to vote. (And yes, I could have made a supreme effort to cast a special vote, but I wanted to see how this played out). 

Let me explain. I registered online with my address details at both the Elections website and also updated my RealMe profile. I received acknowledgements that all was good in the world. Did my voting papers arrive? They did not. I checked my details a week out from deadline, they were all correct. Days passed. Still no papers. 

Saturday came and went.

At 9:30am on Sunday (today) we received a knock on the door by a guy from the Electoral Commission to tell us that there were no registered voters at this address… A little too late one would think.

Given my experience, and indeed the experience of the residents of Crummer Road, Grey Lynn, I suspect that the organisation of this Electoral cycle was FUBAR.

Aside from the technical difficulties experienced, I was also interested in the people standing, and how they presented themselves. I’m usually a Centre-Right voter, and I have to say that the options I had to choose from were poor. I can’t believe how badly organised the ‘Right’ was. Labour was organised at the grass roots and succeeded, but National clearly took their eyes off the ball. 

I heard several of the Candidates speak. And I wasn’t impressed. Yes, they were keen on being elected. And yes, they were putting themselves out there. But there was a lack of depth to their thinking (in my opinion of course) and they were really talking in soundbytes, making unaffordable promises, and in some cases bagging people who worked hard to deliver on the promises of the preceding Leaders. 

Still, Auckland now has a Mayor that I probably would have voted for, given that he at least understands bureaucracy and political BS. The others simply weren’t ready.

Thoughts: The US Presidential Elections

I love the business end of the US electoral cycle. It’s so fun. Tribalism, machinations, manipulations. It’s a goldmine.

I recognise that as a New Zealander my opinion has no bearing whatsoever on the outcome, but I’m loving the show.

When Trump put his hat in the ring, I noted the public outcry. There was a definite predisposition across the Media and various commentators that it was Hillary’s game. Trump was a distraction.

I begged to differ.

Trump is not playing politics. The idea he’s sticking to is that if you’re in the game and the rules aren’t favourable, change them. 

I also have a long held opinion based on years of conversations, observations and interactions with Americans, that Trump may be, in fact, precisely what America needs right now.

My rationale is that America has been operating as an Empire for quite a few decades and as such has over-extended itself. In terms of territory, influence, people and finances. Trump’s language has been about refocusing on America. It will be interesting to see what happens should he get the top job.

Hillary is also interesting. She is no longer a shoe-in. Yesterday’s collapse and resulting media coverup (many news channels have edited the clip so they show the wobble but not Hillary going down). I don’t believe she’s well at all. More than ‘pneumonia’. 

Which of course creates many other interesting possibilities. Will she withdraw? Who will the Democrats replace her with? Can the election be postponed?

And more importantly, if this occurs, what do the American people have to say about it? Will they be presented a new candidate as a fait accompli? Bypassing the democratic process? 

Very interesting times indeed.

Thoughts: Fathers Day and Family

I’ve been percolating and processing a little bit over the last couple of weeks.

I didn’t have my kids with me on actual Fathers Day which I am kind of ok about. I’m used to it now I guess. The sum total of contact was a ‘Happy Fathers Day’ text from my son and a ‘Happy Farters Day’ text from my daughter.

I did find it a bit hard seeing the outpouring of happy dads across all social platforms, but I took comfort from the fact that I’d have my kids the following week to make up for it.

On the actual day I popped in to see my 84 yr old dad. Gave him a card which reflects my sense of humour. I even wrote some lovely thoughts inside.

favechildcard

A week later I took my kids over to visit, and I noticed that of all the cards he’d received for Father’s Day, my card was the only one not displayed. He was worried that it might offend my sister. Cool. Boring Simon from here on in I suppose.

A few other things occured at that visit that got me thinking that family really isn’t that important to me.

On Sunday, I lay in bed anticipating a little bit of celebration and attention from my kids. Nope. Maybe my expectations were too high. OOMA made a great effort but it was like pulling teeth to get my kids to do anything.

I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually a good father. Do I do a good job? Do my kids actually care? Or have they been put off me a bit through changes in circumstance (both with me and with their mother). I don’t know.

It’s very disconcerting that they’re getting to the age where they need me in a different way.

I guess I can just steer the course.

Watch this space.