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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mr Parker is on Holiday

Hi to my regular reader/s
You know who you are.

I'm away for a rural hotel getaway - nothing too flash. Just a country pub with a golf course and a hot spring.
Will report on return.

Meanwhile - here's some of my favourite blogs, which I heartily recommend:

Quote Unquote

Today is My Birthday

Howie's Hot Five


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My 5 seconds of fame - TV3 News

I was on the telly last week. Nothing grand – just a 5 second soundbite.

I seem to be on a database for physiotherapy comment at TV3 because I was president of our local private practitioners association about ten years ago when I was still in practice, and did a few interviews then. So I did point out that I was commenting as a retired physio, but that didn’t seem to bother them.

The issue was - that since our taxpayer ‘no fault’ accident cover insurance (ACC) has cut physio fees by 30%, there has been a 50% drop in treatments by physios.

A no-brainer – and the reason I quit the profession in the first place. Poorer suburbs are not going to support physio practices where patients pay 60% of the fee as, a ‘co-payment.’ (ACC speak for ‘the vast majority of the cost’)

So I did my bit – and explained that some conditions will not get better without professional assessment, treatment and advice. It is a false economy when ACC and the tax payer is going to pay for time off work, and possibly remedial care when a few visits to a physio at the start would get the patient sorted and back at the workplace.

A two person team did the job - small but perfectly formed young reporter with white teeth in a natty suit, and a slightly bohemian cameraman.  About 30 mins all up. No gear plugged in, no lights.
And - funny thing - it's all noiseless (apart from the talking).
One ..two..three...and ..We're filming. 
But there's no noise - no whirring no nothing.  No blinking red lights. I felt like saying, Are you sure it's switched on?

I can see how one could be easily lulled into a wide ranging convo, especially when one forgets that there's anything happening.  Just a big matt black lifeless camera on a tripod pointed in your direction.
My password and pin mumber?  Sure!  Just between the two of us, eh?

How to open a bottle of wine with a shoe

Theatre for an audience of one

"  By the end of the Battersea festival there had been 10,000 performances in the center’s big building in southwest London. With dozens of choices each day, one could be bathed in the nude by a performer, “kidnapped,” slid out of a window and much more, all for the price of admission. "

What the?  New York Times reveals a new trend in thespianism - where the play's the thing that revolves around you.  Performances are continuous, with audience member joining in one-by-one for such odd experiences as a hand massage, sitting in an office or the forementioned naked ablutions.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What's all this ear ???

There's hope for us over 50s males. 

In your collective faces Gen Y!!  Nerny-ner-ner.

Yep - this Indian man holds the record for the longest ear hair on the planet, measuring over 18cm.  Just at the age when most men are losing theirs, he is cultivating hair in interesting places.  Now that would make an awesome comb-over.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Irish studies building nuclear fusion reactor

Yeah - that's what I though:  WTF!!???

The Celtic Tiger goes nuclear?  A new threat to World Peace from people who like potatoes, diddily-diddily music and Guinness? 

But ... NOPE.  I misread the Google homepage news roundup. 
IT SHOULD RILLY BE:  "Iran studies building nuclear fusion reactor."

Blame 54 y/o eyesight and a few wines.  Being 6/8 Irish genetically, I am quite allowed to take the piss out of my Irish genes.  The 1/8 Danish was the bit that rowed up the Irish rivers in their long boats and pillaged and carried off young maidens and that.  My Geordie Genes are responsible for our early coal mining industry. The Irish genes and my Danish genes are having peace talks as I write. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Letters from my Grandfather

When My Mum died, I was given an old cardboard box full of my grandfather's stuff.  I used to call him Granf.

Henry Peter (he always preferred to call himself Peter) was born in 1892, the seventh child of Danish sea captain, Christen Lauritz Rasmussen, and Irishwoman Anne Murray. Their ninth child, Valdemar had died of measles at 14 months old. Christen had to make the child’s coffin himself and bury his own baby son on the property. Granf’s younger brother Francis became a Marist Priest and a Doctor of Divinity, who taught at the Marist Seminary at Greenmeadows, Hastings for many years.

The Rasmussen family farmed stock in Little Wanganui, near Karamea on the South Island’s West Coast. Later they moved to Lyell - now an overgrown wasteland in the Buller Gorge, where they ran a public house and general store. The pub was one of eighty or so along the West Coast after the gold rush days of the 1800s. Today, there’s not one standing.

Peter attended St. Patrick’s College, Wellington as a boarder and excelled in Latin and English, no doubt stimulating his life-long love of poetry and languages. Interrupting a law degree half way through, he joined the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in 1913, leaving from Westport to fight in World War 1. His beloved horses were unsuited to the conditions at Gallipoli and were destroyed. He then joined the Wellington Battalion.

After surviving trench warfare, Peter was one of only 70 survivors of the 760 soldiers who on 8th August 1915, gained and then attempted to hold the hill of Chunuk Bair, which overlooked the crucial Dardanelles strait. They could have turned the tide of World War II, but British reinforcements arrived too late, and Chunuk Bair was lost after only two days.

After the withdrawal he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and after a total of five hours of flight training, crashed his open cockpit biplane, incurring serious facial and shoulder injuries. A convalescence of eight weeks in Malta saw him back to his station in Suez where he got straight back into flying, doing bombing raids and reconnaissance missions over Egypt, Turkey and Mesopotamia. Bombing was pretty hit or miss. You found the target, flew in low and released the bomb rack underneath the plane by pulling a cord. One raid not far from Jerusalem nearly ended in disaster when he crashed a plane with a full rack of bombs still on board. Luckily they didn’t detonate.

After the war, he continued his military career in England and then India, being lured by his lifelong love of Kipling’s poetry. Spending five years in the Indian Army Service Corps, he finally returned to Westport to see his parents into retirement and nurse his mother. There he met Annie Isobel Brown, the daughter of a Geordie coalmine owner and his New Zealand born Irish wife. Ironically Granf had taught Annie Isobel when he was a 17 year-old trainee teacher and she an eight year-old pupil. They married in 1928.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie Prequels - indoor activity for adults on rainy days

OK - here's the idea - come up with the name of the movie before the one that made it. 
E.g. Die Weak ... for Die Hard

The Afghan Connection

4 Easy Pieces

To Be Pissed Off By A Mockingbird

Raging Bobby Calf

The Seeds of Wrath

Star Skirmishes

Mr Smith Gets On The Train

Schindler's Mental Note

The Scooter Thief

Some Like it Lukewarm

The Mild Bunch

The Fiancee of Frankenstein

Slightly Unstable Max

Raiders Of the Lost Cutlery Drawer

The Baby Elephant Man

The Touchables

The Penultimate Waltz

Foreplay, Fibs and Betamax

Chance of a Shower Man

Chariots of Smoulder

Room With A Shite View

Pushing Miss Daisy's Wheelchair

My Aperitif With Andre

Ferris Bueller's Day At Work

Get Annoyed With Bill

My Life As a Cute Puppy

Wings of Mild Interest

An American In the Orly Airport

Pele The Tryer

The Pea Shooters of Navaronne

The Xylophone (classic NZ movie)

Whatever Happened to Embryo VT400777-Y666

Dead Men Don't Wear Plain Fabrics

Two Weddings And Nobody's Died Yet

Midnight Feast At Tiffany's

Mild Anxiety In Las Vegas

Prince Kong

Bad Will Hunting

Non-lethal Weapon

Beverley Hills Parking Warden

The English Fit & Healthy Person

Good Night Vietnam


Late Evening Cowboy

Das Jandal

Cinema Purgatorio

Intact Spine Mountain

Boogie Afternoons

Conceiving Arizona

The Undergraduate

Moonlight Boulevard

Heated Argument Club

And from Chris Slane:
Two Engagements and a Hospital Visit

The Man Who Knew Enough

Start On Up The Khyber

Dial L for Libel

The Cruel Bee

Illegal Immigrant Kane
Alfred Hitchcock's The Eggs
The Damn Builders

Apocalypse Soon

What's All That Ruckus On The Western Front?

One of Our Planes Is Just Where We Expect It To Be.

Lawrence of Suburbia

Still here with indigestion
From Matt Elliott (Billy T James biographer):
American Spray-Can Purchase

Potential New York Cabbie on a Probationary Trial

Dog Day Morning

Apocalypse When?

Seedlings Gump

Before the Recession Back Mountain

Intern Zhivago

New Born Frankenstein

Came a Warm Thursday

Recyclable Aluminium Jacket

Applying for Residency Kane

The Bumbling Magician of Oz

Samson and the Girl in the Dairy

Muddied Knees Harry

Bad Case of Indigestion in Brunswick

Sleeping Puppies

More from Stephen Stratford:
Once Were Cadets

Happy Easter Mr Lawrence

Hello Pork Pie

Once Upon a Time in the Mid-West

Two Dalmatians

But wait .. there's more:

King George Forgot to Take His Meds

Thicket Gump

Private Ryan is Missing

Sweeney Todd - the Annoying Kid With The Pocket Knife

Losing Nemo

The intermittent Gardener

Black Hawk Flying Very Well Right Now

Monday, July 19, 2010

Words for the New Millennium

Eccentricity - power generated by odd-ball scientists

Coprophagy - the unnatural desire to eat policemen

Cyclamen - Italian Tour de France team

Veteranarian - someone whose diet is restricted to war returnees

Tachyderm - elephant with no taste

Oenanologist - wine writer who is a wanker

Period Drama - monthly 'difficult' phase in (some) permanent relationships

Catatonia - Spanish region where felines are immobile

Clitorati - lesbian writing circle

Corsican - self affirmation

Tangent – African male

Alan Retentive – very tidy dyslexic

Precrastination - doing today what you were going to put off till tomorrow

Dog Poo Etiquette

I have just got home after Jasper’s late night doggie walkie – the usual 30 minutes of sniffing, peeing, pulling in the other direction, and of course – pooing. (That’s Jasper, not me).

I’m yer responsible dog owner and I even have biodegradable blue poo bags. I have even been known to come back next day to remove Jasper’s free-form sculptures from peoples grass verges. But there is the issue of disposal. Do I take 1-2 bags full all the way home? Or do I drop them off on the way? Do I use a council rubbish bin, or do I take advantage of the residential wheelie trash bin left out on the footpath?

I do have a set of rules re that latter – if the bin is full and due for pickup next day or so then I don’t feel bad. But if the bin has just been emptied – I haven’t got the heart to leave a bag of fresh Labrador doo-doo in there to greet the owner. Plus it makes a loud ‘donk’ when you drop it in, in case they're watching.  On the other hand, if they too bloody lazy to bring the bin in way after rubbish day then I figure they deserve a deposit.

I recall one occasion when I couldn’t find any bin on the way home, but then spotted a church fair. Always on the lookout for a bargain, I tied the dog up and rolled the full bag in my sweater as I wandered in to investigate. The I noticed that the queues gently parted as I walked in; people moved away from formerly busy trading tables. Nothing like the funky whiff of canine caca to help clear the way.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Binge Thinking Alarms Health Minister

Government Health Minister Tony Ryall has expressed concern at the level of teenage thinking, particularly on Fridays and weekends when youths gathered together for thinking binges.

“I’m in no way critical of responsible social thinking,” says Ryall.

“If people share a few thoughts over dinner, then maybe a small think before bed, that’s fine with me. But since we lowered the thinking age to 18, younger and younger kids can get hold of thoughts from older kids, which leads to excessive and unsupervised thinking.”

And it’s not just youth binge thinking that worries the Minister: “Of course there are adults who can’t handle their thoughts – they think excessively on their own and that can lead so a slow slide into dependence.”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Patutahi Gewurtztraminer 2007 - A little Gewurtz never Hurtz

I did crop this pic using my Picassa software but it has downloaded as un-cropped.  Whatever. You get the idea.

 I do like a good Gewurtz - and the Patutahi Gisborne GwZ from Montana is a very reliable example. (I like to shorten it to GwZ because I can't be buggered typing it out in full, plus the copy & paste on Blogger is a bit of a drama). And it's kinda cute the way the G and the Z cuddle up to the w.

Gewurtztraminer (pron. ga-vertz-tra-meaner) was once the subject of a USA marketing campaign where they branded it as The Gee-Whizz Wine!   Whoo-hoo.  (Possibly the same company that promoted an Aussie red as Kanga Rouge). 

Anyway, GwZ never really took off in the US and over here GwZ is only about 2% of the national vineyard.  They do push it as the wine to drink with spicy Asian cuisine - and it is a good match for Thai, Malaysian and Japanese. But that's spicy - as in lemon grass, coriander, ginger etc.  Too much chilli just kills the flavour so you might as well drink lager.

This Patutahi GwZ comes from Gisborne, home to some of the best Chardonnay and GwZ in NZ. It has a perfumed, floral aroma with flavours of honeysuckle, Turkish Delight and a hint of oregano.  Opulent but with a dry finish. We just drank it by itself.  Yum.  It is a bit of an acquired taste, and the perfumey flavours can be a bit over the top, but GwZ can be a lovely complex wine, especially when slightly sweet; with layers of flavour and texture to 'amuse la bouche' in a manner of speaking (like a total plonker).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I am now certified and committed

Phil does wine tours around Auckland

As part of my ongoing Quality Assurance commitment to Qualmark NZ for the wine tour business, I was recently required to get a First Aid certificate, being as I am - a driver of passengers for hire.

I had thought that being an ex-physio and having a dusty old CPR certificate was OK ... but nope. I would not get my Endorsed Visitor Activity sticker unless I 'fulfilled all outstanding requirements' of the QA programme.

So off I went, at the ungodly hour of 8.00 a.m. to St Johns Ambulance training centre in Mt Wellington - luckily 5 mins down the road. The class was a real mix of ages and ethnicities - I was second oldest in the class. There were young high school students, Indian taxi drivers, Asian Uni students, and an ex-Southern States drug & alcohol rehab operator called Tom - pronounced Taarm. Tom was my desk buddy so we ended up taking turns being the patient or the first aider. Our creaky old knees barely coped with all the squatting and kneeling, let alone trying to do 60 or more chest compressions on a mannequin. If you collapse near me - I'm good for about three minutes of CPR - then you're on your own.

By lunch we'd done Scene Assessment, Bleeding and Shock, CPR (adult child and baby), plus Seizures, Choking (adult child and baby), Convulsions and Cardiac Arrest. Then I had a bread roll and the worst automated flat white coffee I'd ever consumed. It was one of those machines that spurts out latte, black coffee, cappuccino, mocha, hot chocolate, soup, tea, gravy, béchamel sauce, pina colada and yoghurt.

Basically everything tastes the same.

After lunch we did Burns, Poisoning, Sprains and Fractures. We were regularly assessed en masse and pulled up for any bad technique. But in the end - we all passed. We got our certificates, and proudly marched out, ready to rescue!!!

Brand New Harvey Norman Dishwasher Installation Blues

Woke up this mornin'
'Larm clock woke me from my slumber.
Yeah - woke up this mornin'
'Larm clock woke me from my slumber.
Had to be awake really early - yeah,
Cos we expected ... The Plumber.

Plumber turned up on time (!)
But the new dishwasher wouldn't connect.
Said them connections was wrong,
Then my day was wrecked.

Turned out the builder
Had installed it wrong.
Yeah, baby - turned out the builder,
Had installed that old f*****n' dishwasher wrong.
And that's the reason,
That I am singin' this soooonnnng.

It all turned to crap.
Looks like we need a noo kitchen!
Gonna cost the f*****n' Earth,'
That is why I'm bitchin'

Now I got to get another builder,
To put the kitchen stand alone island bench thingy with the sink and dishwasher - to rights,
Now I got to get another builder,
To put the kitchen stand alone island bench thingy with the sink and dishwasher - to rights,

And that is a-why
It's givin' me the shites.

Derdly-derdly-derdly-derdly-dung ...

(thank you)


Monday, July 12, 2010

'Sideways' and 'The Hangover' - two movies which disappointed

I saw Sideways a while back, not long after it was released, after soooo many people told me it was The Funniest Movie They Had Ever Seen.  These were people that I generally like and trust, so I eventually got the DVD, sat back and waited for the hilarity to unfold.
Sure - it was ... quite funny. Paul Giamatti as the bug-eyed, nerve-wracked obsessive in post marriage depressive melt-down was pretty good.  The rest of the cast were OK - mainly unknowns, and - I gather a few ring-ins that they found in wine country while shooting the pic.  It started as a low budget movie, but went on to be a cult hit - especially among the wine drinking fraternity.  Also it reputedly led to a huge drop in the popularity of Merlot and a corresponding spike in Pinot Noir sales.
But over-all, it was mildly amusing, with the best comedic moments hinging on Giamatti's character.  Not a lot of laugh out loud moments for me.

The Hangover had also been recommended by folks recently as The Funniest Movie They Had Ever Seen.
We watched it on the weekend.  Again I was underwhelmed.  Yeah - a bunch of guys end up in Vegas on a bachelor weekend and get an unexpected dose of Rohypnol with their shooters.  The result is that they wake up - and the groom is gone, there's a tiger in the bathroom, a Chinese mobster wants $80,000 back and one of them is missing a tooth.  I get the feeling that the writers started with that premise and then backward engineered the plot from then on.  The characters stay very much one-dimensional and cartoonish.  There is B grade acting, showing that the actors don't have the comic skills to pull off quirky characters - other than mugging for the camera.

I can't help thinking that both movies would have been far more successful if filmed by a British crew and cast - say in they style of  Death at a Funeral, with some good eccentric character actors.  The Poms do seem to do a good comic movie - even if it means seeing Colin Firth again...and again ...and again. 

Not that I'm knocking USA comedy. In fact, there has been a reversal where USA sitcoms are funnier, sharper and more consistent than most of the Brit TV comedy dross.  Shows like Scrubs, Malcolm In The Middle, Everybody Hates Chris, The Simpsons, Two And a Half Men, and the new Big Bang are brilliant.
Whereas the Brits throw up the odd gem like Black Books, Black Adder, Red Dwarf and The Office, most of the fave Britcoms are formulaic crud like One Foot In The Grave, and The Vicar Of  Dibley.

Take heed America and Britain - stick to what you do best!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why is Jasper so awful ???

Jasper looks nice enough, fer sure.  But there is a  black side to the dark Lab.

For instance -  he had his 30 min walkie before bed, and then I bid him goodnight and left him shut in the dining room as usual where he has his dog bed and blanket.  (He used to sleep by our bed but his snoring, scratching, stretching and yawning and general nocturnal cacophony meant that we didn't get any sleep).
Tonight we are having an early night as we both have an early start in the morning.

So I'm just drifting off and I hear 'bang'  ... 'bang' ... bang ... from downstairs.  I go down to investigate and catch Jasper trying to force open the bi fold doors into the lounge - where he likes to sleep on the leather couch and leave scratch marks.

NO!  Bad dog. GO. TO. SLEEP!

I'm fast asleep.  It's about midnight, and I hear scratch ...scratch ... scratch..from downstairs. I go down to investigate and find that Jasper is at the kitchen door in his 'I wanna pee' mode.  OK.  I let Jasper out as a blast of cold air rushes in and freezes me in the doorway.  Jasper circles around, finds the perfect feng shui dog pee spot. Squats, and relieves his bladder.  Better outside than inside.
'Good boy'. 
I bribe him with a biscuit to get him back inside, as I'm in mild hypothermia at this stage.
'Go to sleep'.
I leave him on his bed curled up in sleep mode, gently close the door and go back to bed.

I'm in deep,deep sleep and it's about 2.30 am, and I hear scratch ...scratch ... scratch..from downstairs.
F**K!!!!  Bloody dog!  If they hadn't already been removed, I'd cut his goolies off.
I go down to investigate and find that Jasper is at the kitchen door.
I sigh, and open the door for him.  
'Off you go - have a pee'. 
No response.  Jasper pokes his nose just outside the door, sniffs gently, stays still. Looks at the moon.
I push him gently from behind.  He braces his 40Kg of bulk and refuses to budge.
I shut the door.
He immediately waddles over to the pantry, sniffs the door - 'Well, how about a biscuit, seeing you're awake 'n all, Phil?
NO! Bad dog. GO. TO. BED!

I stay awake for about an hour, sleep fitfully and finally wake with the alarm feeling shattered the next morning.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Germs and Viruses... am I paranoid or WHAT?

Just a thought regarding TV advertising.  Saw an advert tonight (not unlike many others) where the product was advertised as 'kills 99.9% of all known germs and viruses.'

Which sounds pretty well OK, I guess. 

But then I get worried.  What about the 0.1% that they don't kill?   These are probably the worst germs un-known to mankind. These are the UNKNOWN GERMS.  Germs and viruses from alien planets which we have no cure for. 

Or, to be grammatically correct - those germs for which we have no cure.  Either way we are screwed!!

 I'm not letting my bum get in hovering distance of any of those nasty incognito, intergalactic pathogenic little greeblies. 

I wanna 100% kill rate.I want a toilet bowl cleaner that kills the f***ing lot!!  No mercy.  Rat-a-tat-tat!!  Wipe out ALL the little buggers. 

wine writers ... what the ...?

Nowadays, I am used (and amused) to see people’s opinions of wine writers – particularly those folks who think that we are a bunch of total plonkers who get paid money to get pissed.  And in some cases they may be right.  But I do try to write objectively and to describe the wines in some sort of accessible manner.

It is difficult to describe wine – just as it is difficult to describe music. You have to compare wine to other things that people can associate with – like fruit, herbs, vegetables etc.

Which brings me to an extract from Anton Coates’ blog for Regional Wines & Spirits, on a Waiheke wine exposition.  And all due respec’ to Anto – he is a good bloke and has very good wine knowledge but …

“Moving round the room, I was fortunate to do a bit of time travel with Paul Dunleavy from Te Motu. We headed back through his Te Motu wines and the 2005 particularly impressed with fragrant notes of tobacco, leather and new car.”

‘NEW CAR’?? WTF Anto??

Rilly Anto. I have heard that a lot of the ‘new car’ aroma on delivery of your pristine vehicle is actually a toxic compound of carcinogenic volatile  plastic compounds like polyurethane, polyvinylchloride, pollywannacracker etc.

Do I rilly want a wine that smells like a cocktail of plastic chemicals?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dry River Syrah 2006 - to dry for

My dad has finally sold his house after having it on the market since September 2009.   He plans to move to Marlborough where he has a brother and many nieces and nephews.

So to celebrate, we invited him over for lunch on Saturday - roast chicken with Phil's onion gravy, mashed potato and steamed veg. One of his favourites.  (Nothing too fussy).

The wine - Dry River Syrah 2006.  Verdict: lovely wine, possibly should have cellared it for a tad longer.  Flavours of black cherry, plum, black currant and liquorice, with a hint of spice and medium tannins. Slightly gamey.
Just checked Dry River's website - and they say this is one to hold on to for  a while longer.  I'd better consult their online cellar guide next time!
Even so, the wine was a good match for the spicy gravy.

Neil McCallum started the winery in 1979. Dry River shares the Craighall vineyard with Ata Rangi and also sources fruit from contract growers in the area. Plus they have the Arapoff vineyard in Martinborough.

Dry River would easily be in the top three NZ producers of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They produce a miniscule two and a half, to three thousand cases of wine a year. (Nobilo makes just over two million.)

A little is exported and anything spare generally goes within a few weeks of release. There is even a waiting list to get on the mailing list – basically you can be added if the member doesn’t order any wine for three consecutive years, or they die. Could be a motive for homicide. Coming soon to your screen: WCSI – Wine Crime Scene Investigation.

Anyway, Neil McCallum sold Dry River to El Molino Wines of California and has largely handed over the reins to young winemaker Katy Hammond, but he stays on as chief winemaker. Now am I getting old or are winemakers getting younger? Sadly, all of the above, I’m afraid. The slim bubbly blonde looks no older than 25 and is passionate about her craft. She sees the wines as feminine and each with a personality of her own:
Despite being owned by a US company there are no plans for expansion or even increase in output.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dentists and Vets

Meanwhile, I thought I’d have a gripe about the way they announce the bill after you’ve been somewhere really expensive.

Not like at an expensive restaurant – because then you know roughly what the bill will be. And not even your local GP – because the fees are pretty well advertised.

No - I’m talking about when you go somewhere specialised – usually a vet or a dentist, where you really have no idea how much it’s going to cost. You know that the professional did things, and injected things and gave you the benefit of their experience, and of course they have to pay for all the staff and the flash waiting room with the cool vertical fish tank, and all that hi-tech brushed stainless steel, digital readout gear.
But part of you has this pathetic little hope that when you go to the desk, that they have employed a totally mad person who is charging only five bucks for everything. But noooooooo.

You stand at the desk, cough slightly. Fish out your credit card. The receptionist consults the monitor whence the professional has just sent your details and account total.
“That’s six hundred and seventy three.”

Six hundred and seventy three …???.
Six hundred and seventy three redundant five-cent pieces?
Six hundred and seventy three chocolate fish?
Six hundred and seventy three cork beer mats?
Six hundred and seventy three Haitian threepennies?
No.  She means Six hundred and seventy three ACTUAL NZ DOLLARS.  She just can’t bear to say the word DOLLARS, because it would make it too real.  She would have to identify with the poor bastard who’s coughing up his six hundred and seventy three hard-earned, non-deductible, never-to-be-seen-again DOLLARS.  She knows she could fly to Sydney and back, with change to spare for six hundred and seventy three DOLLARS.

Or the second method they use is the TODAY distraction word.
“That’s Six hundred and seventy three. *pause* Today.”

TODAY?? What do you mean TODAY??  Did I miss the last day before prices go up – YESTERDAY? Or do they just triple the prices every Tuesday – when I’m there?  Or should I be grateful that I don’t have to come tomorrow when they add two zeroes to every bill???

No I don't say anything.  I just surrender the card and pay up. I hope she has a nice day.  Today.


Phil runs wine tours in Auckland NZ

Just checked my email and got a message from telling me that Rupesh Kumar wants to be my friend and will I accept or reject him.  Now, I have no issues with Rupesh being very likely Indian - and I like a Palak Paneer as well as the next man.  But I have no idea who Mr. Kumar is - nor am I even registered on

Weird shit, huh? There seems to be this monstrous social media hydra out there, capturing people's details and matching them up with other people who they don't know of.  I have numerous Twitter followers who I also follow, who I don't know from a bar of soap - or a garlic naan.  It's a bit like being match-made by a robot.  Maybe it's like arranged marriages - perhaps Tuebely is an Indian arranged friendship site where they make you mates with an Indian instead of being matched with a bride from Uttar Pradesh.

I can't wait for Rupesh to meet my parents!  I'm sure we'll be very happy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pinot Gris - place your bets

Phil runs wine tours in Auckland NZ

We went out to dinner last night - first time in ages that it was just the two of us.

I picked a really nice little Japanese place in Mt. Eden called ..(now where did I put the card …? ... Here. It was buried under my midden filing system).

It is: Haru no Yume 405 Mt Eden Road ph 630 445

Very nice atmos. Quiet jazz, candles on tables, warm and comfy, friendly efficient staff, and with a reasonably priced menu of tasty exquisite morsels.

So I bought a Neudorf Pinot Gris 2009 at the village wine shop almost next door. I had assumed it would be the average off-dry style, but in fact it was more medium sweet. Which was a bit of a surprise – problem is you never know what quite you’re getting with some of the aromatic styles like Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. The wine can be anything from dessert sweet to flinty bone dry.

As it turned out the wine was a good match for the fresh and tasty items like: tempura oysters, rare beef, edamame (baby soy beans in pod), and fried rice.

Medium sweet, rich and slightly mineral with quince, pear and apple juice flavours.

It would make sense to have some kind of common sweetness rating system for our wine producers so that we know what to expect. A label sticker with a 7 out of 10 or similar would be very helpful.