Monday, October 31, 2011

After the Ball is over....

After the ball is over,
After the break of morn -
After the dancers' leaving;
After the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching,
If you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished
After the ball.

(Foster and Allen)

Someone worked out the the cost of hosting the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was $168 for every man, woman and child in the country.  This cost included the building and upgrading of stadiums for the event (or should that be stadia??).  Costs like that are always open to debate, and the numbers depend on who does the adding up, what ingredients are put in the mixture, and what amounts are actually known.   Our nearby city of Dunedin, population of about 120,000, erected a NZ $200 million stadium in time for the RWC, and we actually hosted a couple of early games down here, although we haven't yet seen the All Blacks (the NZ national team)... not even for a victory parade!

Well, the RWC has come and gone, NZ managed to bag the trophy, beating the French side by one point in a low scoring final game, and the dust is settling.  There was some after match nastiness in the form of a $5000 fine to the French team for advancing down the pitch when the NZ side were performing a Haka at the beginning of the match.  Well, the Haka is a war dance, and the sight of the French forming a V formation and walking slowly forward was an inspiring one and added to the drama of the occasion. I understand that technically the French team is said to have infringed a new rule about coming into the other side's half, or something, but I found the $5000 fine distasteful and it saddened me to think of the losing team having to pay out money before getting on the plane to fly home. 

I made these ages ago, and moved them to my wooden shed.  Nice to see them again.  I have to make a big modification to my wood fired kiln to be able to fire them safely as they are too big and heavy for my kiln shelves.

All Black and Lacey....
This fine was one of a string of petty, small-minded deeds that the Rugby officials did over the course of the whole event that rather blighted it.  The Rugby Monster was given rights to control advertising within a wide radius of the stadium when the matches were on. In one ridiculous case, women's lingerie shop, with an "All Blacks" display was told that they could face legal action for infringement of "the brand".  Another stupid example was that a man attending a match in the company of his Toshiba lap top computer was made to cover the Toshiba label with a black sticker in order to enter the stadium, because only sponsor's logos were allowed to be shown there.... the list of such things goes on and on.  

The Scary bit......
The thing that was actually scary about all this was the complete licence that the Rugby Machine had on what we all said, what we advertised, and what we did.  

Knights of old...
In the hours that followed the last match, some commentators began to discuss the likely knighthood of the team captain and the coach, or even knighthoods to all the team.  There was a warm fuzzy glow to such things that again rather got dampened... this time by discussion of eye gouging, kneeing and other foul play that apparently had been part of the final game.  Did knights of old behave in such ways?  (Sadly... they probably did!)

Out now..., a lovely tulip!
Environmental Catastrophe...
Meanwhile a rather more important drama had been unfolding a few miles off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand, near the port of Tauranga.  There the Rena, a container ship, had struck a well charted reef at normal cruising speed, and was slowly dying, leaking oil and dropping containers into the sea.  At first, when the body count of wild life killed by the oil spill was 6 penguins and one shag, this "environmental catastrophe" seemed to be almost embarrassingly hyped up by the media.  Overseas experts were consulted and flown over, and opinions sought, answers demanded. We had reports from the beaches, from small vessels and helicopters by a throng of media who almost seemed impatient to see the first globs of oil on the pristine sand.

As time dragged on, and the body count of dead birds went to 1000 (and more recently to 1300 birds), the words "catastrophe" and "disaster" seemed more fitting.   

Other words have been used too... Many have expressed disbelief as to how a container ship can steam onto a well charted reef in good conditions in broad daylight. (It was rapidly put about that it was the captains 44th birthday that day).  Many have also expressed disquiet and amazement as to how long it appeared to take before there was any apparent effort to pump oil off the ship or to deal with falling shipping containers.  There are various conspiracy theories circulated, and we all became impatient "arm chair experts".  

Probably the thing that has surprised me most about the recovery of oil has been that the attempt began with a long length of 7.5 cm hose and a single pump.  The consistency of the bunker oil on board the ship was that of Vegemite, or Nutella.  This heavy oil was almost impossible to pump without first warming it, and the attempt to transfer it to a waiting tanker barge through such a small diameter pipe seemed to me to be like asking someone to drink a whole keg of beer through a straw!  In the case of the stranded ship the "keg" was 1700 tonnes of fuel oil!

Down Below...
Some days the weather was too rough.  Other days 60 to 90 tonnes would be pumped off. The pounding of the ship onto the reef in the heavy swell caused it crack around its middle.  At times the ship was given only hours more to live. The salvage crew had to send divers within the broken ship to try to access a submerged oil tank.  Can you imagine that, a ship listing more than 20 degrees.  Hull cracked open.  Access below by slippery and leaning companion ways.  No power below, so navigation in that dark place was by torchlight. The hull half filled with water, filth, oil and stinking refuse. The ship groaning and creaking with each lift and fall of the sea. Imagine submerging into the foul water, deep within the ship and searching for the fuel tanks.  The drama dragged on.  

Amazingly, over 1000 tonnes of fuel have now been pumped off the ship, which is an astonishing achievement given the difficult conditions and the nature of the oil.  

Whilst on land the question of knighthoods for sports people has been given some attention, I wonder if awards for the people that actually risk their lives pumping oil from the ship has been given any thought at all?

Sadly the achievement of the "small people" often gets tarnished by the actions of those in power.  There was some good rugby played in spite of the heavy handed action of the rugby officials, and there is heroic work being undertaken by people trying to mop up the mess from the stranded ship, a ship that should not have been stranded at all.  

Behind a Smoke Screen....
Well, you may not know it, certainly many in New Zealand seem almost unaware of it, but we have an election coming on November 26.  This election has slipped under consciousness rather like a navy destroyer manoeuvering  into an attack position behind a smoke screen.  Actually the last three years of National led government have been like that too.  Rather more has been going on under the watch of these grey suited leaders than people seem to notice or care about.  Those that might care and are suffering, probably have little power, money, or voice.  

Occasionally the opinions of those who do speak out, or are outspoken, are wiped off the record, take the recent case of a a regular guest on New Zealand's National Radio afternoon programme who was critical of Mr Key, our Prime Minister.  The man was banned from appearing on the show again, and I noticed, when I searched for the pod cast of that broadcast, that the relevant episode had been removed from the archive!  The man I am referring to was a Left wing commentator, known as Bomber Bradbury.  Three New's coverage of the incident and the text of what was said can be found here.  I will leave it to you to decide if what was said was so bad as to warrant a ban of this kind.  

What really disturbs me about the radio incident and some aspects of the Rugby World Cup, is the feeling that those who can... are exercising the sort of power that is not normally associated with a society that embraces  the principle of free speech.  

Here are one or two photos to finish off with for those who have bravely trundled through this long post to the end!
New pots drying in the kiln shed.

Laura is busy painting lovely new things.
At this time of year the garden brings colour and pleasure.


srgb said...

Hi Peter
Yes I was with you to the end of your ramblings, and you do it so well, I have followed all as you have and have a very similar angle of thought as yourself, it is sad that Bomber is banned, sad that is for free speech, I did think he overstepped the mark in the way he presented the speech it was not in keeping with the tone of the show, I did read his own comments afterwords and he seems to say he would do it differently if he had the chance again, however as you say those with power or those afraid of those with power have the last say, best I stop here.
I look forward to you ramblings keep them coming.
Best Regards Bob

Linda Starr said...

the same could be said about a lot of things going on around the world politically, here in USA too, even if we have a say no choice is good any longer, it's always more of the same from the rich and powerful no matter which side. Love those ruffled pots, you and Laura have been busy and seems as if the cats are plum worn out. Ha. But we have our work:our art, other's art, our cats, our flowers, and small inklings of hope.

gz said...

A good thoughtful post, definitely not ramblings!
Writing to make others stop and consider

Peter said...

Hello there Bob, good to hear from you and to have your thoughtful input. I was working at my potting when Bomber said the things that he did, and missed most of it. At the time I was a bit irritated by his tone, and "tuned" out what he was saying. A day or two later when I heard that he had been banned from appearing on the show again I was annoyed with myself that I did not pay more attention. I then tried to get the podcast of that session from Radio New Zealand, and found that it had been removed. Later it was interesting to read the transcript of what was said (from 3 news). The ban on him appearing again seems extraordinary. It would be fascinating to know from which exalted heights the ban was handed down!!

Did you ever get up and running with Linux? I seem to remember that you had some interest in it? I'm running Debian these days and enjoying it.

Kind thoughts, P.

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. I know what you mean about "even if we have a say no choice is good any longer", I'm feeling very much the same... which worries me. You are right though to end on a positive note, we do have flowers, cats, art, and so on, and all those things bring hope and make us strong. I will add to your list of good things; the feel of cool fresh air on a still morning after there has been a light frost, the sweetness of a ripe pear, and the sound of children at play. P :)

Hello Gwynneth,
Lovely to hear from you too. Thanks for the reassurance regarding "ramblings" and my apparent lack of them!!

I very nearly didn't post my post after I finished it. The thing took a long time and grew more than I intended, but I punched the send button before I could change my mind!

Writing also makes me "stop and consider", and that is one of the things that I like about it.

smartcat said...

Thanks for an informative post. It is a shame that games have to fall into a pit of pettiness.

As for the censorship: I am aghast! Every time I am about to go ballistic over the craziness that is the American Press I read about something like this. I guess it's the price we pay.

Keep those flowers coming. They let me know that a summer will come!

srgb said...

Hi Peter
Nice to have your return comments, I do hope you didn't take offense to my using the word "rambling" I think it was to make light of the matter or my laziness in choosing another word, however I am so pleased you did push the send button.
Like you I didn't pay enough attention to all Bomber had to say but I know he has been building up to this on his last few Panel appearances, and I think it is sad that he finds he has to read out what he has written on his blog when the panel asks for a spontaneous few words on their thoughts he could have said read my blog and he would have been back for another day, I did enjoy him, and as you say WHO has there name on the order to ban him??
I have put Ubuntu on a CD and had a quick look I wonder about an external drive as I'm not confident about tinkering too far, I have just had a proboscis re bore a Septoplasty & Turbinoplasty so I have a few day free recovering at the moment.
We are going to down your way in March, have a cottage booked in Otamatata for 5 nights and 6 nights in TeAnau I'd like to catch up with you.

Peter said...

Hi Suzi,
I'll definitely keep the flowers coming, I found it quite a comfort looking at the gardens on Northern Hemisphere blogs when we were in the depths of winter, and I am very happy to return the favour! I noticed some gorgeous roses starting to appear in some gardens already, and there is some purple wisteria blossom out just where I can see it through the window.

Hi Bob,
No offence at all to "rambling", rambling should really something of a badge of office to those of us privileged to explore the territory of life beyond 50, it is to be treasured!

Sorry to read of the "proboscis re bore", it does bring back rather painful memories of a nasty procedure I endured at the hands of
a young surgeon in training back in the 1980s... in my case the local anaesthetic worked on one side only, and I was in too much pain to explain in simple language why I was not as cheerful about the work he was doing on the interior of my tender snout!! I hope you fared better! It would be lovely if we can see you in March, we are not all that far from Otamatata really and it would be delightful to be able to catch up.

The current version of Ubuntu can be a little strange as they have played with the desktop to make it more friendly for people who use all these fancy hand held gadgets that double as telephones, cameras, and gramophones!!! If you find that Ubuntu does not appeal to you after all, I notice that many are finding Linux Mint good, and I and a couple of my friends have had a great run out of PCLinuxOS.

As I mentioned in my previous comment,I'm currently using Debian (the system on which many others, including Ubuntu, are based), and do find it speedy and reliable.

If you ever want me to send you a live CD or two of some of the Linux versions I have collected, just send me an Email with your address, and I'll happily pop something in the post for you.

Angie said...

Wow that was a powerful post.
I would have loved to have seen the Huka and the french 'V' edging forward... what a sight ...what emotional energy.

I hate reading about oil spills and the destruction of so much wildlife is so sad ...made even worse if it could ...and should ... have been avoided.
I love to see Laura painting in her special style ...I send you all loads of love ...and Meows. xx

Peter said...

Hello Angie,

Lovely to hear from you. You can track down video footage of the All Blacks Haka on youtube. Just search for the NZ vs France one from the 2011 World Cup Rugby game. There are some great examples of NZ vs Tonga where both sides are doing a "war dance" before the match which are quite inspiring too! As a couch potato I can never understand how anyone has the energy left over to even attempt to play the game after doing a vigorous pre match haka!

I'll feature some more of Laura's paintings soon, she has been doing some really nice work recently and I took some photos yesterday.

Love and Meows are happily received by all members of this household, and we send ours back to you too! Pxx

srgb said...

Hi Peter
Your musings about our great country has certainly been food for thought for people and now all the shouting from out politicians looking for the big pay checks for the next 3 years, I just hear they are the loudest when slanging of the oppositions polices pity they don't have the same energy for fixing the problems.
I have now installed a 40 gig slave drive to my machine, its been wiped to DoD level and would like to put a Linux system on it your offer of a live CD is very nice thanks thanks address is 16 Camilla Grove, Totara Vale, North Shore City, it seems from what I read Debian is a good way to go.
Last night I had another play with Ubuntu but couldn't see how to get it to load onto the unformatted slave drive it still seemed to want to partition the main drive.
It would then seem I will have a problem getting the computer to boot up on the one I chose.
Its all about taking my mind of the snout and its throbbings.
Isn't our spring nice, I have planted grapes this week.
Take Care Peter

Peter said...

Hi Bob,
Your comment came when I was installing Linux on my father's computer!

Regarding slave drives... I have a computer here with two drives and a different Linux system on each, so it definitely can be done. I'm interested that, in your case, Ubuntu my not be "seeing" the slave drive. I'm thinking of a couple of things that might be causing that, one may relate to BIOS settings, and the other to jumper settings on the hard drive if it is an old one. Another thought is that Ubuntu may in fact be finding the drive, but you may not be not quite knowing where to look for it on the partitioner... such things are not always very clear.

For now, could you let me know what sort of computer you have (desktop, laptop, approximate age, processor, RAM, and graphics card if known), and I'll do a little more research. I will get a live CD away to you, but it may take until about Tuesday to get to you, due to the nature of our postal system here and the absence of weekend pickups. (in the 1890s I think there were 3 mail deliveries a day here!)

If you send me a quick Email to opogallery AT gmail DOT com (with the AT and DOT replaced by the usual email ones), I,ll be able to send you some Linux installation screen shots and other help as needed.

Hope you are soon feeling much better, lovely you've planted some grapes... Spring.....! we are threatened with snow later today(I can hardly believe it though!!)
Kind thoughts,