Since I’ve already had occasion to whinge about the use of leaf-blowers I thought I’d follow it up with a little bit of evidence. The first thing I’ve done is sent in a request for information to the City Council, and they’ll soon be getting details out to me about where else people are complaining about this particular noise. There’s also a letter in both the Capital Times and the Wellingtonian. Apparently the DomPost ignored me.

Further good news is that I’m not the only person in the building who’s annoyed at Transpacific Industries (the cleaning company), it looks like a committee is forming. An the one thing you do not do is mess with a Wellington committee.

If you’re not aware of what’s been going on, Transpacific has acquired the contract for street cleaning and has taken to the use of a leaf-blower (which is a noise akin to a lawn-mower) at around 4am every morning. From speaking to the guy at Transpacific this is because it is the most efficient way to get “sticky” or “tricky” dirt like cigarette butts and small papery rubbish off the footpath, and out into the street where it is swept up by one of their (relatively quiet) trucks.

No problem with that reasoning from me. It’s an efficient approach, only uses one man so it says ratepayers money, and they’re apparently using low-decibel leaf-blowers. And after all, this is an urban environment, you have to put up with a little noise. We for example never complain about drunks singing, buses, trucks, goddamn boy racers, bottle bins, pubs, or parties.

But let’s look at the issue at hand.

One: The leaf blower is a loud, droning noise active nightly at 4am. This is contrary to the Council’s own regulations about cleaning noise between the hours of 8pm and 7.30am.

Two: The one man working efficiently has been closely observed by me. He’s frequently a dude wandering aimlessly pointing his leaf blower almost randomly at walls, footpath, trees, cars, whatever. At least if he has a brush and shovel he’d be forced to approach a bit of rubbish and actually pick it up or sweep it somewhere.

Three: They aren’t actually cleaning the street. And here’s my evidence. All these photos where taken around 7.30am, a couple of hours after the blower came through, so not too much time for the rubbish to mount up.

Here’s my neighbourhood: Cuba St.

And here’s the rubbish, starting walking along the road from the right, then back down the left of the picture.

Thing is, you want to say, “but that’s only tiny bits of rubbish – except for all the bags of crap and bottles – why is it a problem?! Whinger!” Because… that’s why they’re using a leaf-blower instead of a brush and shovel.

And some days the rubbish isn’t there at all.

Windy days.

And while I think of it, do you see a pattern? If not let me point it out to you: smokers are lazy.

I’ve heard that one of the reasons New Zealand is that a lot of people of low skills have entered the workforce over the past 5 or  6 years. Things have been pretty good, so all kinds of dopes have been getting jobs when they may well have been unemployable before. But, they get hired on lower wages. When thousands are employed like this, it drags one measure of productivity down.*

This is my only rational explanation for the idiot who likes to use a leaf-blower outside our place early on the weekends.

Now, leaf-blowers by themselves can be a fairly effective means of street-cleaning. I’ve used them myself to tidy up gardens and the like. The trick though, and you can probably guess this one, is that there are a couple of situations where they don’t work particularly well.

The first is when the leaves are really wet. They stick to the ground, and no amount of cold air being blasted at them will move them.

The second is when it’s really windy. All you’re doing is moving the leaves out into the wind to be blown christknowswhere.

This leaves me wondering then what kind of idiot the Wellington City Council is contracting to street clean? This moron is out there, on a number of occasions, with a leaf-blower, at FIVE AM, in a half-gale?


I’ve taken to calling noise control. One day he was out there after a howling storm, and I’d seen paper and assorted crap all over the street when I’d walked home the previous night. So after working on the street for about an hour, you’d think he’d tidied it real sweet.

Nope. Worse than the night before.

Again, where the hell the City Council finds these munters is beyond me. So I say, BRING BACK BRUSHES AND SHOVELS!!

*No economics arguments in comments… this explanation will do.

It never ceases to amaze me what makes the news.

Without doubt the loss of life and the loss of property in Southern California is a tragedy. What sickens me is that it makes so much press without any real consideration of why these fires occur. Instead of pointing out the causes, the media focusses on the great pictures of weeping people and destruction, not to mention nice pictures of huge blazes.

Have you ever heard the line from the song that goes, “it never rains in Southern, California”? This is mostly true (although it does actually rain), because S.C. is a semi-arid landscape. In particular, the ecology of the region is called chaparral, and fire is a part of the natural cycle.

As the population of the region has grown it has expanded out into the chaparral and brought with it the trigger for big fires. Munters.

So what we have is a lot of people, some of whom are idiots, living nice and close to nature. The downside is that when planning is done a the human environment – mostly made of flammable materials – is placed right up close to these great, big, plants that easily dry out and catch fire.

Good one, planning dudes.

“Sheer”. Probably the most mis-over-used word in New Zealand. The sheer prevalence of sheer in conversations, print and other media is a sheer disgrace.

I get that it’s a great adjective for some contexts. But, it’s sheer application is often completely out of place.


Whinge over.

To avoid the label of whinger I’m putting this post up as a cautionary tale for anyone who finds themselves in need of assistance at Wellington Hospital Emergency rooms.

Number One. Get a copy of any paperwork they generate when and if you ever enter ER.

My appointment to attend heart clinic was today, and the cardiologist started the conversation with, “so no worries then?” Now, this isn’t his fault. Once we unpacked the goings-on it turns out that ER isn’t sending any information from my file up to cardiology… so the cardiologist has nothing to go on.

Worse, the radiologists at Hutt Hospital aren’t sending stuff through to Wellington, so again, no information.

And my question is, WTF?

How the hell is a medical system supposed to work with no goddamn information transfer!? I have only one medical number, so why is my information not being sent to a centralised database for christssakes?

Gripe over.

My good fortune is to have an uncle who is a cardiologist in London. This means he was able to diagnose me by reading my blog, and insisted on an MRI and other tests. He’s familiar with a wider range of issues and recognised something that no-one here was able to pick up. He also insisted that no-one here owuld be able to pick up what he did…

Short story?

I regret that I live so close to this hospital. The cardiologist is a decent bloke, but needs decent info to do his job, which he just isn’t getting. And it’s goddamn annoying.

Once again demonstrating that no matter how terrible a visit to heart surgery gets it might never be your last time, the ticker started playing up again last night. The latest episode started over a month ago, when I was woken with a start by the downstairs neighbour’s burglar alarm. The heart gave a great thump, and was erratic for awhile, but came right.

Then, Second Chef and I were out walking a few weeks back (because fitness is good), and I got home with tightness across the chest and shortness of breath. Otherwise, fine. Despite all this I’d assumed that it was just the weird physiology making itself felt.

Nope. And so now we’re back in the cycle of endless visits to specialists, and not a lot being known about anything.

At least it’s all free, bar the sick days at work.

I had to get out of bed about 2am because an erratic beat was waking me up. By 6.30 it still hadn’t disappeared, so I decided to head into the emergency ward (as you should. If you leave erratic heart beats for too long they can cause blood clots, which are a-whole-nother kettle of fish).

The first problem was trying to catch a bus. I waved at the oncoming driver, ran to catch the #1. I got as far as the door just as he was closing it, and this mtherfather just looked directly at me, and drove off with me rapping on the window. There will be a formal complaint about that.

$15 in a taxi later, and I’m back with my old friends in the emergency ward.

Nothing to report there. I have to complement the high standards of professionalism, despite being given medication I’m apparently allergic to, and having to wait four hours for it to leave my system. 

I then get sedated, and given the low-voltage electric paddles.

A hour after that, I actually catch a bus, and come home to chill out.

Now I’m wondering what more adventures there are to be had. Tell you what, if they’re pussy-footing around about how/when to fix this? I am immediately looking for work in Melbourne.

Well, I walk to work, so your protest is meaningless to me. But that said, I really don’t give a shit about your economic woes. Frankly you bunch of road-hogging, dangerous driving idiots can take your trucks and down-scale to a less fuel-consuming, road-destroying, air-polluting, noise-generating occupation as soon as possible.

If tomorrow one kid doesn’t get his MacDonalds burger patties shipped all the way from some South Auckland factory to Manners Mall, then so be it… You’re probably doing us all a favour.

And if all you’re doing is pissing off the people you actually want to support you, then you’re likely to succeed. Catch up with the C21st boys, your long-haul trucks are obsolete.

Damned luddites

So, in this interesting story the papers are advising people so save money by filling up their tanks at independent stations, why is admirable, and a great change to outright complaints!

Apparently, petrol is 3c cheaper per litre at place like Gull. Which means that you can save $1.80 on your average 60litre fill. A very smart move there. There’s no point being loyal to any particular station when they’re basically funnelling money to big corporations. The bastards.

But what makes me wonder is this… filling the car from empty will still cost you $124!!!

So someone tell me why they drive at all? Aren’t you just outright being gouged? I opted to just save the $124.

Tell you what, this is exactly why we moved to a slightly more expensive rental in town, and sold the cars. Not only are we saving money by not paying for parking, warrant of fitness and registration (up to $4k a year, per vehicle), but no throwing good money after bad with petrol costs.

Don’t feel jealous though! Move into the city! Plenty of room for everyone.

And, the more people whinging about the boy racers the better…

Look you crazy people. Green thinkers, politicians, advocates, and crazies have been saying for decades that oil would one day become too expensive to base an economy on.

Even though this isn’t the mythical ‘peak oil’, we’re experiencing what a high-cost-oil-economy is like.

You can’t say you haven’t been warned. You’ve had DECADES to sort your shit out and find a low-oil alternative…

The thing about airport waiting lounges is the glimpses you get of the lives of other people. It’s something of a cliche these days to talk about how you can see the best and worst of life in the way people greet each other, and frankly I’m sick of hearing or thinking about it. It’s only because modern Western societies isolate ourselves communally as a matter of course that the exception of a huge family greeting is exceptional. We divide ourselves into age cohorts and only get close to our relatives at weddings and funerals, then act amazed when we realise that meeting and greeting is such a nice feeling.

Worse is the fact that airports are the most expensive place on earth. There’s plenty of people who get a kick out of ‘pay and display’ lifestyles, and I would refer all of them to a life of lurking in lounges. You’ll be broke in no time. For example, I was interested in a Lonely Planet guide called “South-East Asia on a Shoestring”. The first thing I noticed was that you’d immediately blow any pretense your budget on the $65 tome. Then you’d want to be sure you didn’t buy a single gram of food or drink.

Perhaps that’s why people are so damn happy to see one another, “sweet jesus… I can finally escape this noisy, air-conditioned hell.”

Despite all this whinging, I seem to have spent an extraordinarily long time sitting about in airports. Half the time I was waiting for a friend or relation to come in from New Zealand, or sending one home (consequently I’ve mastered the “any excuse to not actually enter the terminal” approach, which means that I think airport parking fees are actually a good thing), so I’m well-familiar with the arrival/departure anxiety that appears to result in the effervescence of the welcome. And I remain cynical about the authenticity of the emotions on display.

Now, this isn’t to say that I think all greetings or farewell’s are fake. Rather that the atmosphere lends itself a a smidge of dramatisation. Lot’s of waterworks when someone is only going away as far as Australia, when, in reality, they’re a short trip away and can be easily visited. Maybe it’s the realisation that one should have spent a lot more time with the departing person that drives the wailing and gnashing of teeth up that extra octave. Who knows?

Or more importantly, who cares… Once I’ve been lying on one of those uncomfortable lounge chairs trying to catch up on the sleep I’m missing by hauling my backside out of bed to collect a friend at 3am, only to find the flight delayed, or customs is holding people up, or I got the wrong time, then feeling the love of the people around me is the last thing I feel like motivating myself to participate in.

Worse, airports are one of those places where the masses get to blend in all their glory. You get toffs sitting uncomfortably and trying to pretend they aren’t sitting two feet from a lurking bogan family. You get rascists pretending they aren’t a seat away from “the Maoris”, or “the Asians”. And you get the smells, the wailing, the running around, the loud cellphones, the grumpy kids, the happy kids, the hungry kids, the inquisitive kids who don’t know that you’re not related and therefore don’t give a goodamn that they just “did poopy”, the stinky old people, the uncomfortable looking and slightly distressed disabled, the crowd of drinkers, the loner stoner hiding under his hoody, the poorly dressed slappers with their gear out on display, the dazed smokers bringing skinny wrinkled lips in from the cold in a miasma of stale smells and so pale as to almost be translucent skin lacking all circulation, morbidly obese people looking happy at the prospect of being upgraded to first class and therefore enjoying the benefit of slowly drowning in nutrients for the first time in their lives, the new family family proudly touting and displaying a baby like they’re the first people in the world to breed, the exhausted parents herding four children and looking wistfully at the childless couples like pumping out that first sprog was the craziest thing they ever did to make themselves happy, the ordinary people, the beautiful people, the persistently friendly, the compulsively grumpy, and last of all, the heartbroken.

And all of it laid out like a night in front of the telly. God I hate it.

Nice to be back in Wellington by the way.

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