Monday, December 30, 2013

Life of Note: Mikhail Kalashnikov

The Saturday Dom runs a weekly obit page on lives of note and there's some really interesting stuff on people who had an influence on history, no less so than did Major General Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK47 assault rifle, who died age 94, couple of days before Xmas.
Its estimated 70 million of the Avtomat Kalashnikov 1947 model (I guess avtomat is Russian for automatic),  were made, excluding copies produced in third-world backstreet workshops. 7.62mm carbine, it can fire 600 rounds per minute, accurate to 300 metres, still lethal at 1500 metres, reputed as robust, lightweight, easy to maintain, operable in environments ranging the full gamut from sand to mud, less sensitive than the American M16, and more reliable than most British counterparts, continuing to operate when most others would jam.
Kalashnikov was born in Khazakstan, a 17th child of a peasant family, went to work on the Turkistan-Siberian railway on leaving school, and on call-up for military service in 1938, trained as a tank driver, then a tank commander, seriously wounded in the 1941 Battle of Byansk, (a stand-off southwest of Moscow where two Panzer divisions surrounded the 50th Army, who managed to extricate without much actual fighting, despite a huge toll of 80,000 killed and 50,000 taken prisoner as a result of the artillery and air bombardment), brooding on the superiority of German weapons, he conceived the idea of making a simple weapon for soldiers "that dont go to university", and built the prototype while recovering at the railway workshops, all with hand tools.
On later posting to the Emsk small-arms proving ground he developed the final version, which became the chosen standard weapon for the Soviet army, but given the 1947 date, never saw active usage in WWII. The pity of it all, and much to Kalashnikov's disappointment, the rifle went on to become the weapon of choice for anybody but the good, was probably responsible for killing most of the Russians killed during the Afghanistan occupation, and the Chechen uprising. Asked at a press conference how he felt about inventing a weapon that had killed more people than the Hiroshima bomb, he replied he'd received a lot of negative letters but still slept well. "Weapons are not to blame when used illegally," he replied. "the ones to blame are the politicians, not the designers."
Anywhere other than Russia, Kalashnikov would have become a multi-millionaire for his invention, instead he got honours heaped on him by Moscow, Hero of the Socialist Labour, Stalin Prize, Lenin Prize, a doctorate in engineering, 3 Orders of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, and at age 75, Yeltsin promoted him to Major-General.
Ironically, he became a friend of Eugene Stoner, the inventor who made a fortune from his M16 rifle, who gave him more than a taste of the lavish hospitality he missed out on.
A lot of people would condemn the invention of such a weapon, but you couldnt deny the influence the man had on history.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book: Never Go Back; Lee Child

I'm so hooked on Lee Child and Jack Reacher, he has to be my all time favorite read.
This one I started at 10.30pm to go to sleep on, only I roared through it to the end without the sleep.
11 out of 10!

Book: Leighton Smith; Beyond the Microphone

Leighton says something like, with the growth of social media, people make a heap of sharp comment that isn't worth reading, none more so than book reviews, so what can I say?
Well, for starters I did enjoy this book. You couldn't say it was high literature, but given his lengthy career in radio, it was a nostalgic commentary of our times, and although I've only been a sporadic listener to his morning talk-back only recent years, its the only talk-back I can be bothered listening to.
I think I get educated by listening, the others are just a load of petty proletariat gripings and platforms for talk-show hosts to mouth their own less educated and formed, and sometimes nasty, opinions. You can chuck sports-talk into this category as well. No search for a solution, most times I'm made to feel better off than any caller, so the ills of the world are all my fault.
In his book Leighton details what amounts to a good life.
He's earned it.
A 5 out of 5 read for me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book: Gavin Menzies "Who Discovered America"

Interesting read, maintaining Chinese colonised America by sea, plenty of evidence, DNA and archaeology, they were there about the right time.
Major plank being the land bridge from Asia theory is shot full of holes, who'd want to tramp 1000's of miles across snow and ice, no local food source to sustain the journey.
But my question from the outset was, no reason why planet Earth might'nt have been a lot warmer at odd times past, permitting shorter sea crossings and more land based migration.
And neither is there much evidence today of the supposed Chinese shipping armada, although I had a cousin researched building himself an ocean-going steel boat, and after pretty thorough research came up with the chinese junk being the most sea-worthy, easiest built and rigged, one-man sailed model.
So who knows. The ancients were no less clever than we are today.
Who can say what civilisations were swept away by natural catastrophe.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

ANZA Harley Demo Day

Quick blat over to PN today for the annual demo day put on by ANZA. Booked in for two rides.
Couple of nice bikes
First up, on the left, the Fat Bob. Gee, this bike keeps getting better. Couldn't get over how quiet it was, moreso from inside my Schuberth helmet, which gives the quietest ride out anyway, surging grunt delivered as quietly as the kitchen fridge. Have to agree with a lot of commentators that 6th gear nearly superfluous. I'd emphasise the "nearly"..., for cruising round US style open roads it would be ideal.
The bike cornered beautifully too, and brakes only needing a touch. I liked the toggle on the digital read-out that gave an option of gear indicator, plus rpm. Other's on the toggle included fuel, odo, and distance.
The forward controls were fine, but I was getting a bit uncomfortable after 30 odd mins.

I mainly wanted to see what the Breakout went like. Pretty similar really, but some bark from the exhaust. I think I liked the deceptive quiet rumble of the Fat Bob better.
Handled pretty much as nice as the FB too, maybe better, certainly no influence felt from the phat back tyre.
A lot more comfortable ride for me though, dished seat and forward controls felt better placed.
6th gear indicator light in a nice big speedo. The left side ignition switch had me tricked.

Back on my old 99 LowRider coming home, I felt more comfortable, maybe neither of them would be good trip bikes without some changes, but you'd be hard placed to find a more fun commuter straight off the shop floor.

The LR embarrassingly gave a bit of starting trouble to get on the way home, how convenient said the shop staff. Unfortunately I couldnt respond positively by leaving it as a deposit on a new machine, but I did vindicate myself by coming home with a new helmet, Scorpion EXO100. Open face model which will earn me criticism from the full-face brigade. Such critics ignore that lack of a visor riding into the sun is pretty imperilling with full-face, this one has a visor. Its also got a flip down sun lens, and have to comment its one of the best shaded lens I've looked through, excellent definition and very little dimming of the vision, and lovely range of sight through to the peripheral. Easily removable, and a clear one comes with it. The visor clips off too.
Didn't have a face scarf coming home, but wind wasn't unpleasant. The wind noise is a bit distracting.
At the sale price, $149 incl, it would make an excellent round-town lid.
Bugger the full-face critics, most cops round the world wear this model, and as far as looks go, its a stunner.
At the price, I had farm use in mind if I wasn't bowled away with on-road suitability.
OSH have a real problem getting farm people to wear helmets on bikes and quads, and I think the main drawback is the models available are so, so, plain DAWKY.
A model like this, boys will be boys, couldn't help wanting to put this one on!
The clasp is an interesting ratchet latch, with an easy open tab, very comfortable to wear, if perhaps a little on the heavy side.

Thanks to Kerry and the ANZA staff for once again putting this day on, really appreciated.
This year simultaneous events were held in Wellington, New Plymouth, and Napier, so it was a one-day affair, and ample riding opportunity for a smaller attendance.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wellington Oct '13

Aztecs - Conquest and Glory, exhibition at Te Papa till 9 Feb, staged in partnership with Mexico's National Council for Culture and Arts, and National Inst of Anthropology and History, plus Australian Museum and Museum Victoria, so goes without saying there's a wealth of interesting stuff to see and ponder on.
An education on the great culture of city and pyramid building, the largest city lying underneath present day Mexico City, and a now filled in lake.
The schism of class was greater than I had been aware, another case of an upper class keeping hordes of minions under control by fear and hocus pocus, human sacrifice an integral part in a supposed continuum of appeasing gods, but conveniently keeping the proletariat on the back foot.
Nothing like a live beating heart to feed the eagles.
I'd always thought it was the superior war technology, steel and mounted cavalry, that handed a small Spanish force conquest over a vastly more numerous indigenous people, but really when you think about it, the recruitment of disaffected Indians who saw one bloke dying on the cross back in the past, was a far better lurk than being regular eagle fodder.
Te Papa's stream of quality exhibitions keeps coming, and its certainly a help being a Friend of the museum, and having access to 2 days parking as part of membership.

Had also won a couple of tickets in a Dompost draw, to the stage show "No Naughty Bits", put on at Circa.
Being a fan of the Month Python series years back, thought this dramatisation of the difficulty experienced getting the show into USA could be a good lurk. A newspaper reviewer subsequent to my big win wasn't quite so enthusiastic, but we couldn't complain about the price!
Well, we both had a little nod off in the first half, but the second half came to life with snappy dialogue in the court-room scene, with lots of laughs, credit to the cast for keeping this up.

Quick bite at Joe's Garage beforehand, filling lamburger with glass of pinot.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book: Faster Than Lightning - Usain Bolt

Good read, well constructed, starting with his life-pivoting car crash in 2009, then dipping back into his childhood to start the life path to track glory, which for all champions, whatever the endeavour, is pretty much all practice, practice, train, train, blood, sweat and tears, till more perfect than the opposition.
Even at my pathetic level of achievement in athletics I could relate exactly to the slo-mo recount of the sprint race experience Bolt does so well.
Then there's all the rest of it, ability to cope with expectation, both own and others, motivation, and the all important mentors, plus family environment shaping the individual.
Good book, narrated in nice easy yo bro style.
Well done Usain, you my Hero!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stan Walker's World Tour of NewZealand

Big surprise here, didnt know what to expect.
Have to admit Whenua Patuwai, (runner up in this year's X-Factor NZ), was a major attraction for me, as he was for many others according to the booking office.
Whenua sounded a lot better on stage than he did on TV, I think he's come on heaps since then, incredible voice, powerful for someone still quite young.
His bracket of songs was well received, certainly he's not short of a fan base, even had a couple of teenies rush the stage to give him a hug. Half time......
Then it was Stan.... searchlights, showband, backing group, dance troup, it was all on, fantastically constructed show.
Stan himself doing the moves with a great hip-hop gangsta dance team, doing his popular numbers and more.
The backing group did a bracket, and I particularly liked Troy Kingi and his acoustic guitar work.
11 out of 10, and I'd go see it again.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Roger Fox 40th Anniversary Tour

A real treat for the audience that pretty much filled downstairs at Palmerston North's Regent on Broadway,
a two and a half hour non-stop jazz concert superbly crafted by Roger Fox.
While knowing the Fox Big Band was always worth a listen, I went mainly to hear guitar guest, Mike Stern, and that was really nice stuff, upper fretwork on an electric Fender or look-alike, mellow softer harp tone, but got a further shot to the fabulous with the other two guests.
Joey Defrancesco was billed as a hammond organ exponent, which was pretty good, but I thoroughly enjoyed his faultless and expressive "flugelhorn", (he called it), like a bugle, but bigger horn and mellower, fuller, plaintive sound.
Brenda Boykin was a sweet surprise for me too, not being all that familiar with the jazz scene, strong, powerful, accurate, story-telling, as only a negress could do.
The local men from Wellington Jazz Orchestra did trombone and sax solos with accuracy and aplomb, and the evening wouldnt have been complete without a trombone lick from the Master himself.
Top show, I could go see it again. 11 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Movie: Elysium

Set in 2154, all the wealthy folks live on a space station while the hoi polloi battle out their existence down below, and the main theme's about equalising things.
Some say Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9 didnt quite make it, but I think it did, one of the better sci-fi's of late.
The slum theme was recognisably so, very realistic, in fact realistic real, those scenes filmed in Mexico.
Easy to follow plot, but again as getting more common in movies, some of the dialogue garble difficult to follow.
Matt Damon's one of my favourite action heros, and Jodie Foster looking gorgeous here.
As with District 9, Jackson/Weta Workshop had a hand in.
9 out of 10.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Movie: Pacific Rim

Contrary to Lone Ranger, the Dompost movie critic thought this movie was great.
I found it tedious, crash bang action start to finish, predictable plot, and rah, rah, America victory parade.
When the noble commander got up to make his climax battle pep-speech, I was waiting for him to say something like, "We will not go quietly into the night, we will not go without a fight". But no, it was something pretty lame and forgettable.
Del Toro did do a great job of the robot action, and I have to admit the camera work was awesome, but I've had enough of looking down the throats of scary monsters.
2 out of 5.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Movie: The Lone Ranger

Here we go again, the Dompost movie critic panned this movie, I thought it was great.
I think it helped having watched it as a kid on TV, the corn was brilliantly re-presented. The critic really stiffed Arnie Hammer, for doing what he was supposed to do.
The standouts were Silver (the horse), and Tonto Depp, what a great actor/entertainer he is.
The critic lamented no story and poor dialogue, but nothing about it bugged me, a full of surprise start to finish romp between serious and parody.
The William Tell overture for the final sequence topped it off for me.
10 out of 10.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Movie: Oblivion

Great expectation on this one despite mixed reviews.
Tom's a great actor, no disputing that. The tech and action was spec, and the story good.
I know how it finished, but gee, I lost the thread in the last tantalising quarter, so I dont quite know how it got there.
Wasnt helped by not being able to translate from gaming/texting gibberish, the plot critical bits the girl said.
S'pose thats what happens after 60 years in suspended animation.
Actually, I missed what Morgan Freeman said about that helmet the free people were wearing too, that enabled them to avoid detection by the Drones.
3 out of 5, top movie that never quite got there.
Maybe I should go see it again.
I mean what happened to Jack II in the 3 years after his scrap with Jack I.
When Jack I arrived back with the medi-pak to treat the girl, Jack II wasnt where he was left trussed up by Jack I.
Maybe I've just got too old, and pointlessness is the name of the game these days.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Movie: Django Unchained

Django passes the lasting impression days after test with flying colours, another glorious, gorious, Tarantino.
Superb acting by Samuel L Jackson, De Caprio, and Christoph Waltz, really made the movie, while Jamie Foxx completed his spoof role to perfection.
Its quite a long movie, and the reprieve granted Django with the escape from the mining co. slave train was an almost un-necessary add-on, I think us punters would have gone home happy with an earlier splatter wind-up back at the estate.
But never mind, top movie.
Morricone's objection to his treatment over the score is an interesting sideshow. After hearing so much about the Django theme, I was waiting for something that didnt quite happen for me, nothing instantly everlasting like the themes from the spaghetti's or the Kill Bills.
5 out of 5.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Masters Games Motorcycle Event

Racecourse start venue, Day 1
Big thanks to local Ulysses men Roger and Dave for organising this year's games 3 days eventing, the glorious weather helping show-case the top scenery and rides available in this lower west North Island.
Day 1 took us up the Parapara, now a much improved hill-country road loved by local riders, with the first stop at the Railway Cafe at National Park.
Gotta say at the outset that this event has a sort of 3 face value to it, part cafe crawl, part scenic tour, part set your own comfort pace burn-up.
National Park Railway Cafe, in the old station, does a good menu and has a nice cabinet if you're a bit shorter on time.
Then up to near Taumarunui turning right over Waituhi Saddle to Turangi. Have done this a couple of times on a push bike in the old Tour de Trout, 25 km grind up hill, and a 25km fly down the other side where you can give yourself the cramp in the braking hands, or the sphincter if you dont.
Lunch and refuel at Z/BK Turangi, then home via Waiouru and Karioi, across the Whangaehu to Fields Track/Parapara, then home, nice ride in late afternoon hues.
Rangitikei Valley, near Apiti

Day 2 out to Hunterville via Fordell and Turakina Valley, for morning coffee at the old BNZ, now sporting a bike museum, then up to Ohingaiti and a particularly pretty stretch of hill country curves to Apiti Hotel for a cooked lunch menu under umbrellas in the back court-yard. Another over the hill to Pohangina Valley, down to Ashhurst and up over the Saddle Road, with a quick stop at the Windfarm, before pm coffee at Cafe 88, Woodville. Through the Manawatu Gorge, now repaired of the massive slip, and home via Colyton and Makirikiri Rd.
The group at the Wind Farm, Saddle Rd
Day 3 had a few apprehensive after the rainstorm the 24 hours prior, but no problem with a fresh morning ride up to Stratford, quick fuel top-up, then onto the Forgotten World Highway 43 to Whangamomona, prefaced by a big take care sign, "High Motorcycle Accident Route". Not surprised, its as small and windy a road as you could ever find left in NZ these days, and a first for me on the bike. Fantastic scenery up and over 3 saddles, not particularly high, but as winding as anything you'd encounter in the French Alps.

Republic of Whangamomona
It was a proper little tourist industry going on at the Whangamomona Hotel lunch stop, aside from our 30 strong group there were several overseas tourists and local daytrippers enjoying the pea, pie and pud, or burger lunches.
A couple more saddles to crest before the Tangarakau Gorge, a river wending its way through a bushed gorge to join the Whanganui. This part of the road is unsealed, but has an excellent surface. If it was sealed it'd be the equal of any scenic road on the South Island's west coast, but would hardly be a Forgotten World anymore.
Closer to Taumarunui
On to Taumarunui for the next quick fuel stop, National Park Railway Cafe again for another coffee and cake, then home through the Parapara, which after the days bush enclosed highway 43, seemed like a super highway by comparison.
Each day's conclusion, Roger had arranged a group entry into the Games hospitality enclosure for the medal presentation ceremony, placings determined by poker run basis with a draw from a card deck at 5 check points each day, with somewhat hilarious result, but emphasising the social aspect of participation.
Roger concluded a successful round of events by saying it all went free of 'incident', we all got home safe and sound, but we did pass a prang in another group going the opposite direction, which was a timely sober.
Only got a few pics, as time didnt allow for the camera stops I would have liked through the winding and scenic bits.

Movie: Hansel and Gretel

Yet another case of one should never place too much value on press reviewer's comments, the Dompost bloke only gave this one a 2/5, but both AJ and I got a good enough buzz from this kiddult variation of the Grimm fairy tale. Kiddult it has to be too, the violence is a bit too graphic, if not comedic, but....., when you think about it, there is quite a violent thread in most fairy tales.
The movie featured Jeremy Renner, ex Hurt Locker and recently taken over as the next Jason Bourne, and Gemma Arterton as a credible Gretel. Famke Janssen, with some previous from Star Trek and Bond movie credit did the bad witch that AJ particularly enjoyed, ditto for the two blokes who did the ogre, Edward.
Not a long move at 88 mins so you'll be home early, and one of the better 3D productions you'll come across, 5/5.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spice Guru

Have to make a quick comment about this place, the more I go there the more impressed I am.
It got an award last year for top restaurant, or something similar.
I've found the service outstanding.
A while back mate Peter and I went in after a movie across the street at Embassy 3. It was late enough, the place was empty with the last two patrons mopping up their plates, but the m'de, after a quick check with the kitchen let us in.
Just the other night AJ and I thought we'd have a curry before the movies, but were a bit alarmed to find the place full. On mentioning our concern to the m'de about getting out in time, he gave the no problem gesture, and hola, our orders came pretty much straight out, beef korma for me, a medium/hot lamb something for AJ, a couple of lasi's and a basket of naan.
I dont think we upset anyone by appearing to horn in out of turn, they all appeared to be settling in for the evening's dining.
Top shelf.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Movie: Jack Reacher

Brilliant movie.
Followed Child's book "One Shot" pretty good.
Still not entirely convinced Cruise fits the Reacher mould, but hey, his acting performance is outstanding, and all kudos to him for getting a movie rights deal with author Childs.
Understandable also, why Childs has come out and said he's happy with Cruise's involvement and interpretation. He's in the movie too, look for him as a desk sergeant at the police station.
Best bits, Tom's acting, and the car chase!
Cant wait for the next one.
5 out of 5.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book: Richie McCaw's The Open Side

Lot of talk around about this book, it'll be one of the more widely read, not just by rugby officianados, but by the life/business strategists on the 'how to succeed' pathway as well.
It becomes evident pretty early in the read he's as well-endowed intellectually as he is physically, and his game by game analysis and non-denigratory, matter of fact inclusion of characters is totally absorbing to us students of the game, adding dimensions some of us wouldnt have thought of.
I liked the recurring reference to his gliding passion. Along with the rugby I learned some about that sport as well, it fitted as a foil with the book's unfolding, as much as he averred it does with his rugby life.
In fact its a very well constructed work. I did think it unusual for a prominent sports personality to be doing an autobiography before their career's over, but this story is really about the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and his life-road to it, neatly both opening and closing with the RWC scenario. Some kudos due for writer Greg McGee on this front. Make a great TV doco one day, far better than the one aired recently.
A fascinating, absorbing read, easy relational level style too.
For this arm-chair fan, who like a lot of others of similar years, 'if only professional rugby was around in my day', its all probably more intimidating than inspirational.
Against the likes of Richie, I'll confess being far better suited to my choice of career dagging sheep in a declining job-market, than trying to compete with the likes of him for a place in a professional rugby team.
Good read, 5 out of 5.

Movie: Les Miserables

Not your average movie, but it passed the test of lasting impression.
I guess always going to be difficult transferred to the screen when you know a stage musical so well, with all the stereotypes to overcome.
When Jackman and Crowe appear, you automatically expect acting, but you get singing, and when Hathaway sets up to Dream a Dream, we dont get the Susan Boyle rendition we've somehow accepted as standard, we get acting! 6-8 minutes of sniffing, sobbing and face-pulling, instead of soaring glorious melody, lost in the drama.
Jackman thoroughly deserved his Golden Globe Best Actor Musical I thought, despite the cheap shot of one critic who said his voice creaked "but maybe that was just for dramatic effect". I didnt notice it.
Hathaway ditto female, well maybe because there wasnt much else in the field, the role of Fantine isnt a very big one.
Russell Crowe, likeable bugger, so-so, but he did "Stars" really well.
Some reviews have suggested a bit of license taken with the story line vs the stage show's, and this was all to the good I thought, I've never really got to grips with the stage plot, but the movie tied up the plot and sub-plots pretty good, even if they were contrived somewhat, at which stage the musical became a movie again!
Never read Victor Hugo either so dunno for certain about the story.
Another observation maybe peculiar just to me, but have been moved at almost every stage show I've been to, even the local Amdram, but never got the same level of emotion with this movie.
That Dompost reviewer Tuckett says he knows nothing about musicals, but as a movie it ticks all the right boxes, and I'd agree, camera, direction, setting etc, strong contributors to the lasting impression.
You could hardly get a better score-line in a musical than with Les Mis, and the music was always going to pull this one through.
Pity about dreaming a dream.
Still, 5 out of 5.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Appliance: Electrolux Ultrapower

Lol, bit of a laugh this social media biff, but at least I can deal with stuff on my own blog a fair bit more sensibly than many do on Facebook, and so it is come to pass writing up about a vacuum cleaner!
My old sucky 1300w Sanyo's been doing a commendable job, but there are things about vaccys in common that get right up my nose, and make the job a real drag. Like not being able to stay upright and getting the hose in a twist, and no longer on its wheels, being a drag to, well, drag around. Then there's the power cord, inevitably, never long enough, or wanting to spring recoil itself back in. Or if its the paper bag variety, having a supply of bags when you want them, or bagless, trying to empty it in the garden without the stuff blowing in your face, or back in the house through the open door you just came out. Then, storing the thing without it being somewhere you trip over it, or so well put away in a cupboard you're stuffed just getting it out and set up proper like.
I'd followed the TV ads for the Shark, where you could detach part of it and do the stairs, so was interested enough to poke around Mitre10, and more recently Harvey Norman, where I settled on buying this cordless 'Lux. The young lady assistant was very helpful, and pretty too, so I believed her it was a fair punt to buy.
Dear enough at a bit over $400 on special, but its great enough I'm moved to put it up here on the JReb Blog.
Its 2 speed. The low speed is plenty fast enough. I'm in a bloke's house here, where the carpet pile is more shagged than shag-pile, and on high speed, all the buggered pile gets sucked up and blocks the suck-way. Fortunately, a couple of clicks dismantles the suck-way for unblocking, and this whole mention indicates the suction power is right up there.
And this suggests a bloke ought to be doing the 'luxing a bit more regularly, and it sure is easier to do just that with this baby, even though the dust bowl isnt very big.
So anyway, on low power, I can get round all my carpeted floor on one, or sometimes two, empty outs.
The battery has never looked like running out. I got the 24volt model, which I think's probably a wise decision.
In the charger
When not in use the machine clips into its charger, maintaining itself on mnimum power consumption till next time. I've set it up in the hall where I pass it every day and get reminded to do a couple minutes here or there. The charger's got a discrete amber light that comes on intermittently indicating charge, and in the hallway, this is useful in the dead of night if you're trying to find the loo.
The vac head's got a torchlight too, useful when you're working dark corners, or under beds and furniture. There's plenty of swivel angles for getting round stuff, and the head's got about 3-4 ins straight edge each side which when you flush it with the floor/wall corner sucks the corner wonderful. With the old machine I had to pull the head off and use the pipe end.
The powerful suction is also good for mats, saves having to take them outside for a beating.
And the stairs are a dream to do with all this convenience, lightweight, handy angles, and no cord. There's also a nifty button you can push with your toe to clean the rotating brush in the pick-up head.
6 out of 5 for this baby.

Uncle Dave Does a Dive

Uncle David turned 90 recently and the cousins shouted him a tandem skydive for his birthday.
Any trepidation we might have had about him doing it got swept away when he accomplished it with aplomb.
He said he was always curious what it would be like, despite coming close to a parachute jump but fortunately not having to, into shark and Jap infested water, while serving as rear gunner up in the islands around Bouganville in WWII.
David right, Jack 2nd right
The tandem dive was set up for Sat 12th at Taupo, cant remember the name of the company, there are 2 operating there, but its the first hangar on the right.
Its a surprising proper industry, the hangar full of comings and goings, the lift plane operating almost non-stop nearly all day, giving young punters another slice of their adventure tour cake here in NZ.
The company do it well, you get a stretch limo ride out from town, full briefing, video job on the way down, and a movie put together for a take-away memento. David's had Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" poignantly spliced into the sound, you can view it in the theaterette.
Grandson Jack accompanied him on the dive, but no-one else in the family took the opportunity to have a go. I was content with my ride up and back on the CB, on a fine and warm day, up via the Parapara, National Park, and home via Desert Road.
David took the cake with his closing quip when asked if he'd like to do it again.
"I'll come back for my 100th", he said.
On the road home

Friday, January 11, 2013

Movie: Quartet

The hit of the holiday season.
Most critics put this in the same thread as Exotic Marigold Hotel, sure its about aging and hanging onto your character when you do, but this one's in a different class. While memorable, Marigold didnt do much for me.
Maybe it was Billy Connolly, magnetic at any time, but the four did standout performances, Tom Courtenay, Maggie Smith, and Pauline Collins, not often you find yourself rooting for more than one or two characters to succeed.
Excellent camera work, as well showing off some classy English countryside and a stately home, with more than a salute to classical music.
Convincing and entertaining support cast.
Dustan Hoffman's directing debut, at age 75, a triumph.
6 out of 5!