Feet on the ground

Serendipitously I have found some fully fenced accommodation in National Park Village, it even has mountain views!

I’ve been here about a month now and am finally getting settled in, resuming my duties as the commandant of Colditz Castle as Louie tries to find ways out.

Louie and Kala seem to be adjusting to the sights and sounds of urban life, although Louie clearly misses being able to slope off into the bush for a couple of hours at a time.

The neighbours two down have Corgis and a visiting puppy and Louie spends a lot of time checking the neighbours out from the second story lounge.

This isn’t our permanent home but it gives us some breathing space to hunt around and stay together – if this opportunity hadn’t come up, I would have been making some tough decisions in March after getting back from the EMA course.

It’s getting colder now and we have the fire on most days. Without tbe elevated ceiling of the Lodge, heating the lounge when I get home from work each night only takes about the same amount of time as it takes to feed the dogs so we now have a fixed routine in the evenings.

It’s not worth trying to build here over winter, so hopefully this place will keep us going til spring when we hope to acquire some land to build on…

Watch this space…

Moving on…

Well, it’s been a month or so since the big move…am settled for now in National Park Village and the dogs are happy in their respective foster homes…

I’m sure she misses me…

…and him too @K9 Heaven in Auckland…

Just about everything is in storage and I’m slowly starting the big downsize…in the end I left a lot of stuff behind as I realised I didn’t really want or need it, nor the hassle of trying to unload it through Trademe or the buy and sell boards…

Looking pretty empty

Didn’t finish the final move until 4AM on the settlement day but by then I just wanted to be well shot of the place. No final pix as I accidentally packed my phone in one of the last loads…

National Park at night, walking home from work…

I’m liking living in the Village for now, being able to walk to and from work each day, meeting people, having occasional chats on the roadside, getting a feel for the Village vibe, not being last on the truck when the siren sounds…but…I miss the dogs and that’s my main motivation to find a new home.

Renting in the Village is not really an option as no one has heard of fences and dogs just run free, so it’s really a choice between buying an existing home or a block of land to put something on. The pickings are pretty slim in the Village, or even in Raurimu where we moved from but there are possibly some options in and around Owhango, although that would be the end of the walk to work thing…

Worse case scenario is opting to rehome Louie and Kala which opens up my own rehoming timeline but a a big cost…I’m away on course the next two weeks and will have to start sizing that option up on my return…

Should I stay or should I go now?

 

When this all blew up at the end of 2013, I’d just left the Air Force. Had I known of this mess before my departure, I may have looked at staying on but after eighteen months working for a sub-optimal boss, I pretty much just wanted to be gone…

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Happy Air Force days…

Looking back, then, I wasn’t that attached to this place, the area, the district…the whole time that I had been living up here, just over nine years at that point, I had essentially been working out of the district – the only people I had any sort of relationship with was whoever was pumping gas at the National Park Service Station. Seriously…

Looking back through my albums, most of my pix are either here in Raurimu, or around New Zealand or the world…no pix of National Park Village at all

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Not National Park…

I didn’t really want to move back to Auckland or Wellington…I still think that central Wellington is a great location centrally but after ten years here, Wellington’s become “…a great place to visit but wouldn’t want to live there…” I was applying for jobs in the provincial centres, mainly in my local or central government comfort zone…I saw myself eventually living in the rural periphery of someplace like Hamilton or Tauranga, possibly a South Island centre but never really looked that far…

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Happy Meal treat

Staying north or moving south…either way, it’s moving away from and towards family. It probably seems silly but a lot of the decision making revolved – then – around these guys…any solution that didn’t include them was unlikely to be a goer, more so since this was well before I discovered Tracy’s Rottweiler Rescue & Rehoming New Zealand as a means of rehoming the fur babies if it came to that…

My Air Force role had been pretty intense and so, like when I departed the Army, I granted myself some headspace time before actively seeking something new. I’d enjoyed working as a census collector for the 2013 census as this was a license to explore my local patch and so when DOC advertised a casual role , I thought it’d be pretty good to get paid to wander around the Park over summer 13/14. That’s when my roots started to grow in volcanic soil…

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I never thought for a second that I’d have been able to fend off ANZ this long and the uncertainty has been part of me over this five year campaign…now the question really looms…

Do I stay or do I go now…?

Taps Off – really…?

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This attack on the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade was published in this week’s edition of the Ruapehu Bulletin. It is an apparent response to this notice published by the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade a fortnight or so ago:

As of today our water delivery price will be going up to a minimum charge of $200 then anything over the 1 hour there will be an extra charge of $25/15 minutes.
We have had to renew our water carrier approval license and also now need to do regular water hygiene checks. With part of the requirement we need to do a yearly audit so now we also have to pay the council for the water, I do want to make it clear that this is not at the council’s request it’s a requirement for our certification.
We are no longer allowed to deliver water with the same truck that was used for fire service duties so as a brigade we still wanted to maintain servicing the community in both water deliveries and fire fighting capabilities so we purchased another tanker at a huge cost to the brigade.
This is still a voluntary and non profit making service with continued running costs rising we have been forced into these changes. Any outstanding invoices owed to the brigade you have 2 weeks to clear on old pricing then from the 1st March you will be charged the new rates.
Regards
CFO Keith Watson

The Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade is as its name suggests, and like all the other fire brigades in the Ruapehu District, a volunteer fire brigade. That means that all its members freely give of their own time to provide this essential service within our communities. This commitment comes at the cost of significant disruption to personal and professional lives, is not without frequent physical risk, and comes with the sole reward of a job well done.

On top of its significant commitment to maintaining (it’s not all riding on a fire engine under lights and siren: there’s a major training requirement for all members as well) and delivering an excellent firefighting capability in Ohakune and the broader Ruapehu District, the Ohakune Brigade voluntarily provides a water delivery service in the community. The only payment sought for this service is to cover the direct costs of compliance, certification and delivery: there is no profit margin and no person gets any financial reward for providing this service.

Just a little sidenote on the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade’s tanker capability. This is community-funded i.e. the Ohakune community raised the funds for these tankers themselves. In addition to providing a great capability to Ohakune firefighting operations, the new 18,000 litre tanker (18,000 litres is about 9 times what a normal fire engine carries onboard) provides a reliable water supply for firefighting in areas not supported by mains water supplies and where there may not be an available alternate water source like a stream or water tanks.

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18,000 litres of water on the hoof (c) Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade

To be this into a local context, while the main water supply in National Park Village is being repaired this week, there will be insufficient guaranteed mains pressure for firefighting in the Village. To ensure a viable water supply during this period, the big Ohakune water tanker will be ‘attached’ to any major firefighting callouts in the Village.

Chief Fire Officers are busy people. They have to:

maintain the same skills as their firefighters.

be prepared, at the beep of a pager, to deal with a range of contingencies including flooding, fallen trees, detaching roofs, assistance to ambulance, motor vehicle accidents, hazsubs spills and leaks, and  a whole raft of different firefighting challenges.

be on top of all the administration required to make a fire brigade function.

do all this without pay or reward beyond the knowledge of a job well done.

Chief Fire Officers have better things to do than endure and respond to vexatious and petty attacks from the likes of John Chapman.

John Chapman signed his letter as a member of the National Park Community Board. I have spoken with members of the National Park Community Board and at no time have any concerns regarding the water delivery service provided by the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade been raised with the Board, let alone discussed at a Board meeting or progressed to a resolution of any form. I would think if the National Park Community Board was going to adopt any resolution regarding this service it would be one of support and appreciation.

Certainly, support and appreciation has been the unanimous and common theme amongst members of the National Park community since Mr Chapman’s letter was published.

It’s unlikely but perhaps some members of John Chapman’s own community in the Waimarino-Waiouru ward have some concerns about the increases in water delivery costs. This is something that they would need to raise with the Waimarino-Waiouru Community Board, a group quite capable of managing local issues within their own ward. Not only is in appropriate for John Chapman to (ab)use his position on the National Park Community Board to launch an attack on a matter in another ward, his actions implies that Community Board in that ward is unable to function without Mr Chapman’s input. That is most definitely not the case.

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This from comments on the letter on Facebook. John Chapman, it would appear, is actually a local firefighter himself, rural, I believe. One can imagine that his brigade’s next training session may be somewhat ‘interesting’, the conversation potentially robust…

This is not the first time that John Chapman has (ab)used his position as a community board member to launch petty attacks against local community members. Last year he conducted a campaign against the Chair of the National Park Community Board because she would not bow down before his (allegedly) superior political experience. His motion of no confidence in the Chair was soundly defeated with community members speaking on behalf of the Chair and acknowledging her long commitment and contributions to the community.

More recently, John Chapman took advantage of his position on the National Park Community Board to read out an interminable personal statement relating to his vendetta against anti-1080 signage at Waikune. This related to provocative statements he had made on the National Park Community Facebook page – this purports to be representative of the community but is really just another soapbox for John Chapman – which had resulted in some backlash from the community. His actions on this page are totally independent of his membership of the National Park Community Board and Mr Chapman needs to learn that actions have consequences and that the Community Board is not there to act as a shield when his actions generate consequences. The targets of this vendetta attended this meeting and it is a credit to them that they calmly opted to not rise to his provocation, leaving him alone in the mud.

Perhaps it’s time for Mr Chapman to consider whether he truly does represent the community of the National Park ward. If he hopes to do more for the community, then he needs to reconsider his game plan. If he hopes to use his Community Board activities as a springboard for higher office, he should realise that his current conduct is unlikely to endear him to the voting public.

If John Chapman thinks community board membership is just about lashing out at those who dare to disagree with him, maybe he needs to stand down and seek such solace in some overseas socialist nirvana…

 

 

 

Glow | The Daily Post

This week, share something that glows. Maybe you’d like to experiment with some Golden Hour photography, or perhaps you know someone with a glowing smile. We’re excited to see what you share.

Source: Glow | The Daily Post

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A couple of nights ago, Mt Ngauruhoe glowed pink in the setting sun…

I didn’t check the image til later and so couldn’t reshoot when I fumble-fingered this impressionistic view…

We often get spectacular sunset views of the volcanoes on clear days…

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 13 – Spring

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Not very “springy”…cold and wet…not much interest for anyone in doing much outdoors today…stay in and be warm…sadly the beginning of the last weekend of the school holidays…

After 14 road deaths in the last fortnight, with this weather, people will be taking the discretion option and heading away a little earlier, avoiding the logjam of Saturday and Sunday…

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 12 – Creature

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Token creature…first one I saw in the image archives…

Been a long but satisfying day…

Louie and Kala went for their first ride sharing the back of the truck together with no major arguments – OK it was just to Lower Raurimu and back – so that’s an important milestone out of the way…

Picked up an old deck chair to restore – hence the visit to Lower Raurimu…

Learned how to make onion rings on an industrial scale…

Was a creature of habit in opting for fish’n’chips for dinner when i had the whole menu to choose from and there are still things I haven’t tried yet…

Was reminded not to pass up the opportunity off a meal when it’s quiet because quiet may not last…

Enjoying this hospitality gig…great to be busy and learning again…

…and there goes the (old) neighbourhood…

Very disappointed to see this poor reporting in the ODT “Clamp deadline for Tongariro hikers“:

1. “Hikers will have only four hours to do the 19km trail” Wrong! The 4 hour time limit for parking is to allow visitor to the park to do some of the shorter walks from Mangatepopo car park. In addition, any intimation that the Crossing is doable in 4 hours is simply irresponsible – yes, I saw the note about the normal times – first responders up here do enough rescues of people who can’t get their timing right already.

2. “Hikers can alternatively park at the Mangatepopo car park and then pay for a shuttle to the start” Mangatepopo IS the start of the Alpine Crossing.

3. “…at a cost of $30 per adult and $25 per child….” Where did these figures come from? The cost per adult ranges from $25-40; children less than 10-12 years old are not encouraged on the Crossing and so many operators do not have child prices. At a guess, this ‘reporter’ has only looked at one site and concluded they didn’t need to look further.

While this initiative is years overdue, it would have been more effective if DOC had not waited until only a couple of weeks before Labour Weekend, the typical start of summer walking, the weather notwithstanding, when many operators have already printed their brochures and accepted advanced bookings.

Visitors are encouraged to catch the buses that will be running from National Park Village every day that the weather permits.

Visitors are also asked to consider starting later in the day to avoid the traditional bubble of people that start the walk between 6 and 9AM. When the weather is good, the Crossing can be started at midday and completed by 8PM with a couple of hours of daylight left (take a torch in case you miscalculate) and if you have made arrangements to be picked up from the finish at Ketetahi.

#westisbest #getthebus #gettheapp  http://www.tongariroalpinecrossingapp.com/

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

Star Trek – Discovery

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In addition to Tight-As Ribs night, Tuesday night at Schnapps Bar in National Park Village, it is also Quiz night – so long as the crowd looks ‘quizzable’…it’s a challenging combination as patrons smear rib sauce over their answer sheets and struggle for a decent grip on their pens…

I wasn’t quizzing last night – in fact, the questions looked way too hard for this former member of the triumphant 2003 Trentham Tote Quiz War team – as I was a bit pushed for time…busy busy busy…an intended quick shop after my ambulance shift turned into a very productive chat with a local Council member…and had plans for the evening at home…

I was probably 6 for 1 in the Name this Event round as I mowed into my caramel sundae (watch this space for a future item on the perfect commercial sundae) and Round Two started up. I think the theme was Who Am I? and the clue started off “I am a TV series that premiered in 1967 and only screened for three seasons but spawned three TV movies” + some other stuff that I can’t remember. I think the actual answer was Gunsmoke but my first thought was – naturally – Star Trek

That random question reminded me that the latest in the long line of Star Trek spin-offs of TV series (6), fan series (2), and movies (13) had been hyped on Netflix for the previous month or so….so much for plans for Tuesday night…

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So, three episodes in [NO SPOILERS}, what does Discovery look like..?

Very flash graphics. Possibly a little too over the top and for their own sake; a distraction from the story.

Alien subtitles. Suck. Total distraction from the very flash graphics and vice versa: the viewer must choose between following alien conversations OR watching what’s happening on the screen, Very annoying. The subtitles add no value. Whatsoever.

Pretentious and bloated. The pilot (episodes 1 and 2) is not much more than the worst angsty bits of the Abramoverse all mixed in together. You could skip the first episodes and dive straight in at Episode 3 without missing too much. Everything prior is covered by statement or implication in Episode 3.

In the ‘verse. Discovery seems to be set around the same time as the Abramoverse Star Trek, or maybe between this and Enterprise (there are some unsubtle references to Spock). The ships seems more angular that those of Kirk’s era and the alien ship designers seem to follow the spiky bumpy school of alien spacecraft design.

Peacenik philosophy. Federation thinking seems to be of the same ‘we come in peace’ as the Abramoverse or the early period of The New Generation. None of Kirk the Original’s “we come in peace – shoot to kill” philosophy here.

In fairness, Star Trek series, on large and small screens, traditionally start from a  weak position. The pilot for The Original Series had to be reworked; the first series of The Next Generation were quite boring and uninspired; Enterprise, well, I only last about two episodes on my first go-round; Voyager picked up with Seven of Nine (there is much to be said for lycra uniforms in certain circumstances) and the stronger Borg story arc; and, despite my best efforts, Deep Space Nine remains on the whatever list…

Apparently, 15 episodes of Discovery have been filmed to date and will be weekly drip feed on Netflix. It has potential but we will have to wait to if this is realised or not. Binning the subtitles will be a tremendous step forward but it remains to be seen if the story will mature or remain a trite collection of what has gone before…

In meantime it can’t hurt to remember the spirit of Star Trek as it was…

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 3 – Light

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Last light

Snapped after dinner outside Schnapps…almost forgot…

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

Volunteer | The Daily Post

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My new happy place

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Source: Volunteer | The Daily Post

Never volunteer. That’s like one the the greatest military truisms – ever. And one of the wrongest. Nothing risked, nothing gained. My experience always was that something good generally came from volunteering – being volunteered, perhaps not so much…

I’m starting on a new volunteer adventure. The Fire Service was never something I really considered before…I travelled so much in my Army, then Air Force lives that I would have been unlikely to have been able to meet the training commitments but really, my head wasn’t really in that space. Most of my post-infantry career was in TTI roles (Top Two Inch) , thinking jobs, often working on my own, solo…not really the team environment from way back then.

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Way back then…

My lifestyle changes over the past year have changed my ‘headspace’…an Outdoor First Aid course brought back all those Band 4 Medical memories and encouraged me onto the Pre Hospital Emergency Care course in September and that team working environment showed just how much I missed team work. On top of that, I needed some place to keep up those PHEC skills..

A friend joined another local brigade and I followed her progress…mid-winter, the local brigade delivered a recruiting pitch to our Business Association meeting and, although I wasn’t ready then, that sowed a seed that took root post-PHEC. I went down one training night and, in half an hour,  I was helping a firefighter into a hazsubs ‘carrot suit’…

Training is officially two hours every Wednesday night but that’s the minimum…National Park 281 is only a small brigade but most members work odd hours and days so there are usually ad hoc training sessions throughout the week. For recruits like me, there is also a lot of study and training – just getting on top of the language is a mission – to be signed off before the week-long recruit firefighter course at the National Training Centre in Rotorua…with a little luck and a few more people falling off the wait-list I may get on the January course…

So volunteering…it’s a bit more than a couple of hours a week and a bit of study…lifestyles need to change: a pager can go off anytime so little things like ‘cap, shirt, Bata Bullets, need to be more prescribed and practiced; parking the truck pointing up the driveway saves a few seconds…many of us live in Raurimu, a time-consuming 5km north of the station: we don’t have the critical mass or number of calls to justify standing watches…

Small team, good team…hard training, good training…repetitive training, even better…