Sunday, January 31, 2016

Photographing Animals : Wild Ones

Hey, this isn't a feeding trough

No, I don't want a bear hug

Go and find your mummy, I'm trying to work

Local experience can be invaluable

Stop critiquing my work and get off my back

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Photographing Animals : Little Cuties

It looks posed, but still cute


Nothing like improving your vantage point


Some birds think they're soooo cute


Hitching a ride


One of these Meerkats is a bit shy


He may be a cutie but those teeth are sharp


Is dis close enough for ya?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Photographing Animals : Foxes

Never mind taking my photo, how about some food?


I could have sworn there was food down this tube


Am I going to be famous?


Well let's see what you've taken, eh?


Now where did that fox go?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saying The Obvious

Sometimes something is so true yet someone isn't sure or doubts it. By replying with a question that can have only one answer, it confirms the first statement as obvious. Here are some examples.

Is the Pope a Catholic?

Do one legged ducks swim in circles?

Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?

Do whales have blubber?

Is the sky blue?

Can fish swim?

Do chickens lay eggs?

Is water wet?

You can easily make up your own. Then there is the opposite, saying something cannot be true. They are not so common:

Do chickens have lips.

Do pigs fly?

If you know any, add a comment and I may add it to the list. Keep it seemly.

Top 25 Passwords 2015

Passwords are a pain. If they are too simple or obvious, they are useless, too complicated and you may find yourself shut out. Some have simple passwords for websites where security isn't an issue and the real deal when it is. You have to be careful to remember or note down difficult ones, then where do you store them safely? 

So what are the top 25? Bearing in mind some have simple passwords because they are forced to have one on a zero risk site: 

1. 123456 (unchanged) 

2. password (unchanged)
3. 12345678 (up 1)
4. qwerty (up 1)
5. 12345 (down 2)
6. 123456789 (unchanged)
7.  football (up 3)
8. 1234 (down 1)
9. 1234567 (up 2)
10. baseball (down 2)
11. welcome (new)
12. 1234567890 (new)
13. abc123 (up 1)
14. 111111 (up 1)
15. 1qaz2wsx (new)
16. dragon (down 7)
17. master (up 2)
18. monkey (down 6)
19. letmein (down 6)
20. login (new)
21. princess (new)
22. qwertyuiop (new)
23. solo (new)
24. passw0rd (new)
25. starwars (new)

Remember: for important passwords, don't use any of these.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reputation Or Money?

What is more important? Reputation is how others view us. Money pays the bills and buys things we want. If we had to sacrifice one, which would it be? Which do we value the most? I am not talking here about trying to please everyone so we are popular. Rather, about our real reputation, based on good values.

There was a saying in English that said 'a man is as good as his word'. How honest and dependable he was determined how good a man he was. A business deal could be done on a handshake. Would it be wise to do that today? How many keep their word no matter what transpires after he spoke?

In the Bible book of Psalm 15:4, it talks about a man "who keeps his word whatever the cost" or "he does not go back on his promise, even when it is bad for him" or again "makes a promise and does not break it, even though he is hurt by it". Different translations have differing nuances.

To do that may cost us a lot of money. However, our reputation remains intact, and it is even enhanced if it becomes known to others. In the long run, the trust and respect a person has may be financially advantageous, as people want to do business with someone they trust. I learned the hard way that dealing with someone not keeping their word is costly and painful.

On a personal level I want to sleep soundly, knowing I did right by others. Of course, we all make mistakes and some of those will cost us our reputation. It takes years to build and is lost in minutes. We cannot take our money with us but our reputation can linger for a long time after we have gone.

So what is worth more, reputation or money? A far as wealth goes I am who I am, regardless of how much money I have. What I own does not define me, but how I treat others does. The latter is what my reputation will be based on. Therefore my reputation is what is valuable to me.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Passports. Why?

I recall may years ago, at the conclusion of an international aeroplane flight I was on we were all told to remain seated. Police came on and took a man off the plane, then we were told to disembark. I recall thinking that they knew of this person before he went through immigration.

I have been told that authorities know more about us than we realise and that the formalities of presenting your passport is just that, a formality. In that case, there are other ways, more secure ways, to confirm who we are without messing around with a hard copy document. Simpler too.

Fingerprints and iris recognition would be more accurate and less of a hassle for the traveller. Just scan either before starting and at the conclusion of a journey and that's it. If an alert is generated, then nearby officials could then take them aside.

So why do governments persist in this archaic form of international identification? Plus why do they pretend they know nothing about you, even when applying for your sixth consecutive passport? Government departments must be totally inefficient if they lose all your records between each passport being issued. Everything about it seems like an overkill.

It just doesn't make sense other than to conclude it's all about bureaucracy. Perhaps too being entrenched in traditional ways and not having the initiative to risk a new way of doing things. If you meet someone from a government department, you understand what I mean. A dull shade of grey would be an exciting colour to them. No, it's time to ditch the passport and embrace new identification technology. It would be more efficient, less hassle and in a word, smarter.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fun Food

Food doesn't have to be bring, especially at a party. Children love food that looks fun too and it's nice to see the effort that people put into it. Here are a few examples at a party my better half went to (the cheese cake was another recent occasion) . All the items were made by - or in the case of the ark project contributed to - by a very talented friend of ours.

A cheese cake with a difference. That's mango on top with kiwi fruit.
It tasted delicious!

How about a watermelon with fruit salad inside!

Noah's Ark was a sweet idea too

No, not ladybirds but half cherry tomato, black olive & basil leaf.
Underneath is cheese, pesto and crusty bread. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Borrowing & Lending

I have always been dependable. That isn't bragging but I know it is true. Where ever I work, I get so much sent my way because as one person put it "Give a job to Ray and you can forget about it, because you know it will be done".

I thought everyone was like that but my mother warned me about lending because as she said not everyone is like you. I found out the hard way when goods were not returned or came back damaged. Now I just don't want to lend to anyone. I don't like borrowing either, preferring to buy what I need.

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend". So said Shakespear and it's true.

A neighbour we are on reasonably friendly terms with came over and wanted to borrow a chilly bin. They wanted it for beer at the beach and a friend had borrowed their chilly bin and never returned it. We use it to store food items we buy in bulk such as spices and it's a nice one. We had to empty it out and they could see that it was used so promised to have it back by late afternoon.

Well, that came and went. We noticed them home early enough but the next morning and still nothing. We decided to go over and get it ourselves. It was clean and undamaged but I sense they were in no hurry to return it as promised.

If I did promise to return something, it will happen or an timely explanation if something has made that impossible. That's a value system that I find easy to live with. It's based on consideration and respect for others, something I appreciate from others too.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Rarangi Area

Just north of Blenheim and on the coast is a small settlement of Rarangi. Drive up the hill and looking south there are some nice views. Great vacation area.

Driving up the hill, overlooking a vineyard

A bit further and Rarangi Beach

A bit further still and taking both the previous shots 

Children playing at White's Bay Beach

Returning at dusk overlooking Rarangi Beach and Cloudy Bay

Monday, January 4, 2016

So What About Fat?

I recently wrote two blog articles on white sugar in which I was less than complementary. (You can read those by clicking here for the first and here for the second. So what about fat? Doesn't that deserve the same treatment. Well, yes and no. The lack of clarity I will explain now.

Our body uses fat to make tissue and manufacture chemicals. They are sources of energy and is a flavorsome ingredient in your food. We must have some fat to be healthy. As with all issues, experts contradict each other and I don't even class myself as an expert. However, common sense and observation is often a better educator than traditional ideas. So what could be some do's and don'ts?

Complimentary eating. When having food, drink red wine in moderation. One glass with a meal is fine. Onions and garlic, raw or not too heavily cooked is good. We always had simple homemade mint sauce with roast lamb to cut the fat.

Regular, aerobic exercise. Anything that works muscles and gets the heart pumping is good. Regular and not too excessive in one session works for me. Of course, periodic medical check ups are important and any medical conditions you have should be checked out before starting. Better to be alive that dead fit.

Avoid ice drinks. When I have visited America, the obsession of iced water at the table and ice in drinks disturbs me. I don't think it is good for digestive juices, as ice has a numbing effect. Also, ice causes fat to solidify. I don't touch ice, and any liquid I drink is room temperature or warmer.

Sugary fat is bad. Processed foods are based around sugar and fat, a bad combination.

Summary: Hopefully it provides food for thought. It is not a scientific treatise nor will it work for everyone. We are all different. This is working for me, and if it gets you thinking about the subject - good.  If improvement can be made, initial 'baby steps' are better, as your body doesn't like sudden change any more than you do. It has to be trained.

I don't see fat a particularly big problem. I do see poor eating combinations, an indolent lifestyle and processed foods as bad news. Eat fresh, eat as natural as possible and put some effort into food preparation. Get out and exert yourself if you can. You are what you eat and you are how you live.

Taste Bud Alert!

We have been enjoying cherries and apricots, two products that are grown locally in reasonable abundance. We particularly enjoy tree ripened cherries and you can go to orchards and do 'pick your own'. Yum.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Little Visitor

The other night I wasn't sleeping well so got up for a drink. Outside I could hear some scuffling and knew what it was. The day before we had been cracking some walnuts and that night a little visitor came and scattered the empty shells eating anything we had left due to insect contamination.

We got rid of the shells but he was back the next night hoping for another feed. All he found was unopened nuts but made some noise looking around I opened the door and took this photo.