29 June 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well Wednesday has rolled around yet again and I have not posted anything for a week. Obviously it has been a busy week for me otherwise I would have been in here like a shot posting some rubbish for you to read. Not only busy in my employment I have also been busy around the house, creating peace treaties between the two great warring nations of my son and daughter, finally mowing the lawns and other general housework and maintenance.

My writing has not been neglected, I have been re-reading BOAS up to the point I stopped writing those months ago in readiness to once again start rejigging the last draft into a more hilarious version with more character development and plot etc. I have some wonderful ideas and humorous additions to the story, now all I need to do is put them down in bytes.

On the earthquake front, nothing major over the past week, though Christchurch residents are still being bombarded with smallish aftershocks (3 - 4.6) and I know they are sick and tired of them. A telling sign that there are Christchurch residents on the edge is the latest quake felt locations on Geonet (via Google Maps). These are reports logged by the public on the Geonet website who felt the quake. This quake was centred in the Southern Alps and obviously on the Alpine Fault, which is quite removed from the faults responsible for the quakes in Christchurch (though I think they talk to each other, there always seems to be a large quake in Christchurch a few days after a 4.0 or high quake on the Alpine Fault). Well anyway, this earthquake was 4.1 and centred just North-East of Mount Cook/Aoraki which was 160 Km (100 miles) South-West  of Christchurch and 120Km West of here. 30 – 50 Km (30 miles) South-East of the West Coast towns. If you follow the link above you will see that the felt reports are from the West Coast Towns and Christchurch, but no felt reports from Timaru or any other eastern towns closer to the earthquake than Christchurch. I can just imagine those people in Christchurch frozen to their seats analysing every little creak, every little bump in fear of another large quake. This is not a life for anyone, but a life being endured by the hardy soles up there in the “Garden City.”

Another interesting factoid about the quake is even though Christchurch has been shaken badly and as a result a few buildings in Timaru are condemned, Timaru itself is still deemed a low earthquake risk area. Our local paper seems quite upset that Timaru’s earthquake rating remains low as they have recently been running stories about the risk our huge percentage of brick buildings (was the highest in New Zealand), especially those in the main centre, being a death trap. What they forget is that Timaru is not on a fault line (as far as the experts know) whereas Christchurch was always deemed to be on fault lines even though their exact nature was unknown. We may get shaken from earthquakes further afield but we are very unlikely to experience one on our doorstep like Christchurch has several times this year. Plus the ground structure of Timaru is totally the opposite to the sandy, swampy ground that Christchurch is built on. I agree that we should keep buildings in good condition so blocks of stone and bricks don’t fall on the public below, but we needn’t go overboard in suddenly demolishing every brick building around “just in case.” I pray that the council is wiser than the reporters of the local paper.

I think I will need to go into the history of Timaru in another blog so as to explain the high percentage of brick buildings. It involves a fire and a local industry.


Have a great Wednesday over there in the rest of the world.


Cheers and Blessings




22 June 2011

Exams... Yay!

It was exam day today. Isn’t it strange how as soon as you sit down at the table/desk in front of a small seemingly unimportant piece of white paper with a few questions on it your mind goes completely blank. Well that was my experience today, all those names of the great, and not so great, theologians must have poured out of my ears onto the floor escaping my grasp throughout the 2 hours I spent staring at the black letters that once would have meant something to me five minutes earlier.

Fortunately it was not quite that bad and I pray that I have written some useful theology down that satisfies my wonderful and fantastic tutor (just in case he reads this) to take pity on me and award me some grade higher than a D.

But the significance of this is that for a few weeks I have no more study and thus can put some time into this blog and of course BOAS. So expect more from me during the following days.

I am meant to be having an early night tonight and reclaim lost hours of sleep working fulltime and studying for exams (and the occasional posting of course).. But I could not put my head on the pillow until I had posted yet another mindless drabble on the internet for people to ignore.


On another note – and sorry guys for bringing it up yet again – but we had another large quake last night. 5.4 on the scale and yet again I did not feel it. Unfortunately the people of Christchurch did and the 20 plus aftershocks since last night so again I am thinking of them and the distress they must be under.

For me I had just wandered into the bedroom when my wife noted the bed was moving. I felt nothing and the only way I knew she was right was the light swinging from side to side. We estimated about a 4.2 so we are definitely not experts. Of course it all depends on the site of the quake, this time it was close to Halswell, a south western suburb of Christchurch where they have had some liquefaction in past quakes. Luckily it seems the only real damage was to the supermarket stock in Halswell crashing to the floor.


As far as the location goes the further west it is, the more likely we will feel it down here, the eastern ones seem to go off into the ocean and miss us. We felt the September Quake much more dramatically than the February and subsequent eastern quakes. In fact in Timaru there was major building damage in September but only minor cracks (some sending a couple of buildings just over the safe limit after September’s work) in February.


Well that’s it for a cold Wednesday


Cheers and blessings




18 June 2011

Talking about the Weather...

Winter is upon us (well us in the Southern Hemisphere at least) and it is starting to make itself felt. Gone are the unusually mild days of May and early June we are now deep into wintery temperatures. For the U.S. readers when I say it hasn’t got higher than 8 degrees they would shiver but since I am speaking in Celsius, being in New Zealand, it is not so bad as that is equivalent  to 46 Fahrenheit. In fact the northern U.S. and Canadians would probably now be saying “that’s a warm winter, get a life!”


The reason I am going on about the weather is 1) I’m a New Zealander, and 2) I am sitting in my sun-porch office with no sun and feeling quite ill to boot (I am determined not to let it become man-flu but it is tempting)..  I look out the bit of window I can see between the drying racks and LCD monitor and all I see is grey-white sky above the row of houses on the opposite hill. The majority of winter days in Timaru are bright blue skies and very warm in enclosed glass areas, like for instance, my sun-porch office. So today is one of those not-so-nice days where everywhere is cold and it is the dampish cold that gets into the bones of a person.


I would prefer a minus 2 degree (Celsius – 36 Fahrenheit) morning with the grass covered in white frost and that clear skied day which follows such a morning, but the weatherman has noted that it is going to rain, rain and more than that, rain again. At present the best it can do is a light drizzle, I think the weather has lost heart in itself as well. I wouldn’t be so grumpy about it if it actually snowed. Timaru is lucky to get snow once every three years so snow is a bit of a novelty to us Timaruvians. Everyone is saying “It feels like snow” but then we get it so infrequently we can’t really remember what snow feels like. So that is not much of a gauge really.


You may wonder that since I have just moved to Timaru a few months ago why I am including myself as a true-blue (actually green and black are our rugby colours) Timaruvian. Well for those who haven’t read my bio on Amazon I was a born and bred Timaruvian who moved away for a total of seventeen years (albeit the last three only 50k (30 miles) away).


Well that is my Saturday thoughts sent out to the wide world. Now back to study and concentrating on my headache.


Cheers and Blessings to you all.

16 June 2011

Just some thoughts for a Thursday

Well I have completed the Ay to Zed challenge, albeit late and with a little cheat at the end, but still finally completed. The challenge has given me more confidence to post any information whether it is to do with my books, Christianity or just some boring subject I happen to be enthused with at the time.


A few things have come to mind since my last posts (Here and in my BOAS blog).

·         A letter to the editor today in our local paper (Timaru Herald – www.timaruherald.co.nz) noted that one person died in Monday’s quake. I do not know how accurate that is, but if so, I wish to pass my commiserations onto the family of this person and I am very apologetic that I did not mention the death in my previous post.

·         Another large quake occurred yesterday (Wednesday 15 June) at 6:20am (5.0) and yet again I did not feel it, my wife did but she was lying in bed and I was making breakfast. (Makes me look like a saint doesn’t it. Truth is, she already got up and made her own breakfast while I was spending all day in the shower). I did hear a window creak though.

·         I realised, mainly in my BOAS post, that I used the terminology of “I decided” a lot and there was no mention of God’s plan at all. I am going to do some serious praying about my direction over the weekend. More on this later.

·         Finally and the most important, I have come to realise today how annoying it is when your tongue seems to always end up brushing against the sharp point of the newly chipped tooth creating a very sore ulcer. I will avoid crispy ginger biscuits (cookies for the U.S.) from now on, but those new dark chocolate covered ones are all so tempting.


Another interesting fact is how long it takes to get a PO Box transferred these days. I am not being nasty here, the lady at the post shop was very accommodating and most of the time was my own inept ability in filling out forms. I do not know how many readers out there know I have moved from Geraldine to Timaru, or how many actually care, but I have. We decided to keep the box in Geraldine for a while to make certain we would be staying in Timaru and we were going back and forth anyway for a while so we could pick up the mail often enough to not require a change.

Now we are not going back and forth so much as winter is here and the gardens do not need so much attention (not that we gave them much to begin with) and life in the big City of Timaru (30,000 pop - very approx.) is getting busier and busier. The final say ion the matter was the invoice for the coming year so we made the move, and I had the task of going to the new location to do the deed.

We decided on Highfield because it sounds so posh and it is easier to get a park there, unfortunately many other people feel exactly the same and thus they have a waiting list. So I had to then pop into town and get one there and hope there was a free parking space close by. There was one opposite the train tracks which was a bonus for my son as there was a train going through as we walked back (well I walked back carrying him) after the ordeal.

So the upshot of the exercise is that Trentsworth Press (My publishing company in everyway imaginable) has a new postal address. You can feel free to send presents, cheques or book orders etc. to PO Box 341, Timaru 7940, New Zealand anytime you want from now on. Some people may think I mad putting my postal address here, but I realise even the most basic internet nasty would realise they could just go to the website to get it anyway, so why not make it easy for anyone who is legitimately interested?


Well that is Thursday’s posting. I may attempt a Friday’s tomorrow, we will see.


Have a wonderful Thursday yourselves.



14 June 2011

Unwanted Vibrations Will Xtract Your Zoomability

Okay extract is spelt with a E and Zoomability is not really a word, but when dealing with the last six letters of the alphabet one has to make allowances for bad English.

Obviously this title is to do all six remaining letters in one blog and also talk about the latest events to get them off my chest and out there in the world where they will not harm me. (Well that's the theory anyway).

The Unwanted Vibrations are of course the vibrations within the ground caused by a 5.5 and a 6.0 scale "aftershock" in the Christchurch area. Unlike those of 4 September 2010 (which woke me up from a deep sleep - a mean feat in itself) and 22 February (where I ended up in  a doorway with my son hoping that our rental was a well built house) the 13 June quakes were mild in Timaru - well at least for me. (And my editors say I do not use enough fullstops).

My work mates and my son's daycare staff would disagree as the 6.0 sent the former out of the building in a mild panic and while collecting my son I noted a very stressed look on his teacher's face. But for some reason I did not feel any vibrations at all, the only tell tale signs of an Earthquake for me were the creaking of the building (5.5) and the violent swaying of children's artwork (6.0).

To be honest the 5.0 (which was 20Km closer to Timaru) on Monday the previous week was a lot more dramatic for me yet only toppled a few items off supermarket shelves in Christchurch. Though I admit I was sitting on porcelain attached to a concrete floor at the time, and being surrounded by un-reinforced brick walls was not an ideal position.

But whether I felt yesterday's quakes or not, Christchurch definitely did and even though there were no deaths this time it was a major blow for those exhausted individuals willing to remain in what is becoming a war zone. A minefield of unexploded bombs that once were majestic structures that made Christchurch the England of the south.

Those eastern streets which didn't get covered in grey sand became river beds instead. I would not blame any resident of Christchurch (especially those of the east) if they upped and went elsewhere leaving the city to its doom. Christchurch, for now, has lost its Zoomability.

The worse fact is that is it not over. The Christchurch residents cannot say "Well we have all this damage, but the worst has passed and we can get to and sort things out." They can pull up their sleeves, transport the huge tonnage of sand away from their streets (yet again), demolish the weak and strengthen the not so weak buildings etc. but another quake can then just send more sand into the streets and more buildings crashing to the ground making their determined work for naught.

It is easy to see why the mayor is showing fatigue and why more and more Christchurch people are showing their frustrations to the media. No one can give them any assurance it won't happen again. In fact there seems to be more evidence to the contrary.

And all I can do is sit at my computer, study, write or work and hope the loud noise with slight vibration is another truck making its way up the hill and not another quake that has already struck at the hearts of those desperate people 160km away to the north.

People of Christchurch - My prayers and thoughts are with you.



For those overseas people who were looking at travelling to New Zealand, keep your travel plans. As mentioned no one died last quake and with the off-limit areas well sign posted this will probably remain the norm. We are still a safe place to visit and if anything we are slightly more interesting with a bit more history than we had before.