Archive for the ‘Occassional updates (random ramblings)’ Category

The first 2 seconds you just stop.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

September 4th 2012,  2 years since the 7.1 that started major changes in so many lives around me.

At that moment when the earthquake struck, the band Pump had just finished playing at The Southern Blues Bar in Madras Street.  Most had already left.  There were only a handful of people other than band and staff still finishing off their last drinks before leaving the bar.

The first 2 seconds you just stop.  Then when the dust starts falling from the ceiling you suddenly realise “This is real!”  The bar leaners are 2 inch thick solid rimu tops planted firmly on 12 inch diameter posts, 2 people dive under them but most of the others just dash for the door.  I duck down beside the bar, trying to squeeze my XXXL, 6ft, 19st. frame under the 4 inch overhang of the bar top.  It rocks on for what seems like 2 minutes and everytime I consider dashing for better cover it seems to intensify, rooting me to the spot.

45 seconds after it started, it stopped.  There is silence, for an eternal second, followed by a string of expletives from absolutely everywhere.   I would not be at all surprised if the whole city spontaneously swore right at that moment.


In the first few minutes that followed there was no immediate phone access.  The band members decided that going home to check on families etc. was more important than packing up the remainder of their gear (fair enough) so they high-tailed it out the door.  It wasn’t the first “critical” event I had experienced at the bar so I just clicked straight in to “management mode”, checked everyone was ok and started cleaning up.

It was probably 10 minutes before I checked outside the front of the building and realised that most of the rest of town had lost power.  Standing at the corner of our block was like standing in the centre of a pie-chart where 1/4 of the pie is in light and 3/4 is in pitch black darkness.  As I peered in to the darkness, I realised there was a car down the road that had been pummeled by the fallen parapet of the building it was parked beside.  I knew there would be no-one in it as it was the only car in sight and 15 minutes earlier (just before the quake) there were dozens of cars parked that side of the street.  I scanned the top of our building and realised there were also a few bricks missing from our parapet.  That’s when it started to dawn on me that this was indeed a big quake.  I rang home to check on the family, by this time we’d had a few aftershocks, they were all together and ok.  I went up on to the roof to check the parapet, much of it had collapsed on to the building next door and I discovered that I could see down in to the bar.  I rang Nigel and Leanna, (Blues Bar owners) to give them a report on the status of the bar.  Their place got it pretty bad.  I arranged to get some tarpaulins from Bunnings for them and meet up later on to patch up the parapet, then I carried on cleaning and tidying before heading off to my day job.

I would normally go home for a few hours sleep before starting work at 9.30, but considering I’d stayed at the bar nearly 2 hours longer than normal to clean up, I figured there might be some clean up required at Bunnings before I started work.  The sky was just starting to light up as I drove down Madras Street from the bar and I was too focussed on the road (and it’s newly acquired undulations) to notice much of the damage to my surroundings.  I arrived at the store at the same time as the complex manager and the operations manager and the 3 of us entered the building together.  Everyone must have had similar lines of thought because within minutes half the rostered team were there and it was still more than an hour to opening.  We did our best to open, but apart from the logistics of doing sales without power in an eftpos reliant society, the aftershocks were prevalent and the decision was made to close the store for safety reasons.  I was low on petrol and realising that most petrol stations between work and home would have been affected by the earthquake I took the long way home to try and find a service station that was working.  This meant that I circled around town, going through the lesser affected suburbs.  As I surveyed these suburbs I was relieved to see not nearly as much damage as I had feared.  When I got home and walked in to the lounge I was shocked.

The television was showing the damage around the city.  I had been right in the middle of all that and yet somehow oblivious to it all.  I had realised the situation was serious and yet had no idea of it’s enormity and impact.  I don’t know why I was fortunate enough to come through that situation unscathed.  Nor do I know why, when the 2nd major  earthquake struck on February 22nd, I was even more fortunate to survive once again being so close to the centre of all the chaos that ensued.  But I am glad that I did.

…a year on

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

I went for a drive earlier tonight.

I made a point of parking the car near the outskirts of the town that was.

I got out and walked up to a street corner that was bordered down one side by the wire mesh fences that have kept most of us out of town for the last year.

I stood and looked up into the night sky.  I watched as the spotlights circled through the sky above our once bustling city.  I cried.

Maybe it was because they served as a reminder of the 2 devastating earthquakes that had changed our skyline, or maybe it was because their time has come.  It was predetermined when the decision was made to have these 2 beacons, that they would be extinguished on the anniversary of the 6.3 that destroyed so much of our city.

Light signifies hope and it has been comforting to see these lights shining in our night skies over the past few months and think that there is hope.  But the time has come to move forward.  Hope is much like a Dream, it can give you purpose, but until you act upon it, it has no substance.  So many of us have lost so much to this terrible tragedy that has put many of our lives on hold for the last year, but there is hope, and I, for one, am ready to move forward.

I let the tears flow, and I resolved to give substance and meaning to my hopes, my aspirations, my dreams.


Life is not meant to be fair.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

If life were fair, good things would come to good people and people who break the rules would suffer the consequences.  People who lead dangerous but exciting lives would live the action packed existence that they strive for, however short that may be.  Whereas those that choose to do all the right things:  work hard, achieve well, marry, buy a house, raise beautiful children, accumulate friends just through sheer and genuine niceness would live long productive and rewarding lives.  If life were fair only fat people would have heart attacks, only smokers would get lung cancer,  only drunk drivers would suffer disfigurement and amputations.  If life were fair good people wouldn’t be prone to random, nonsensical occurrences that take lives.

If life were fair my dear nephew, who was taught from a young age to “Always be the best you can be, because as long as you’re trying your hardest then nobody can ask anything more of you.”, would still be alive today.

But life is not fair.  If anything, it is random.  We may wonder what point there is to striving to live a good, purposeful life.  Especially when we witness what can only be described as a crime against humanity (When a young man strives to live a good life and by all accounts he is achieving such, when that young man suddenly dies, so many others are suddenly affected; THAT is a crime against humanity.)  I know there will be some that take the attitude “What’s the point?  Why make the effort to do all the right things, to live a decent life and set a good example?  Especially when it can all be taken from you in an instant!”

The answer is simple:  Because we should; if only to give meaning to those before us who have done so.  To prove that life IS a blessing.  To show that they DID make an impact in this world!

Life is NOT fair, but maybe it’s not supposed to be.  Maybe THAT’s the point.  We shouldn’t expect life to be all cookies and cream just because we’re nice people that do nice things.  We should expect to have to strive to achieve so that we value and appreciate what we receive as opposed to taking the good things in life for granted.  Life is NOT fair.  Sometimes I wish it was, but I do understand that things can’t be how I want them to be simply because that’s how I want it.

There are so many things in life that can be such a struggle to understand, but one thing I am aware of is that nobody has a greater influence on my life than I do.  Despite the unfairness we sometimes witness and are subjected to we still have more control on our own situations than any other force of nature or God.  I will strive to live what I consider to be a worthwhile existence simply because I can.  I will do so because I refuse to accept any defeatist notion that I am at the mercy of lifes cruel and unfair whims.  I will do so as a sign of respect to all those who have had a positive influence on my life.  I will do so as an example to those I love, that life is ours to live.

Ia manuia lou malaga – safety and well being on your journey


Saturday, October 1st, 2011

I remember a sermon that was preached in church one Sunday when I was young and sponge-like, still able to absorb all that was around me.


…such a small and seemingly insignificant word.  A small and seemingly insignificant word that contains so much power.  It contains the power to make us choose.  One of the things that sets us apart from every other creature on this planet is our ability to make our own decisions, our free will.  We have the ability to reason, and from that reasoning we make choices; If I do this, I can achieve that. If I do that, I can achieve this.” If is the key word in both these statements.  It is the pivotal point in the decision as to whether I do this or that, to whether I achieve that or this.  If is the crux of any question/statement in which it features.  For such a small and seemingly insignificant word, it demands attention.


Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem based around the word IF.  David Gates wrote a song called IF.  Roger Whittaker gave up believing in IF.  I am undecided.
What if
…?  That’s the question that has popped up from time to time in the past few weeks.  What if I hadn’t gone to Iconic that day?  What if the earthquake had struck 2 minutes earlier, when I was crawling around in the roof space of the Iconic?  What if it had struck 2 minutes later, when I would likely have been in my car?  What if I didn’t have a gammy knee, and I was quick enough to actually make a dash for the door?  Would I have gone for the door if I could?

Kipling pondered, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” as a condition for achieving success in life.

I kept my head Mr Kipling.  1001 thoughts went coursing through my brain and somehow I was able to sort through them; disregard those that were irrelevant, unhelpful, inconsequential; categorise them according to relevance and urgency.  “MOVE!”  That was at the top of the list.  “No, wait, Little Sam’s up stairs, …can’t leave without him!”, “Stop!”, “Wait for it to calm down then get Sam from upstairs.” …barely seconds into this thing and already a dozen or more thoughts have been sorted; disregarded; categorised.  Already I’ve made choices.  Already if has had it’s say.


David Gates asked If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?”   My issue is that a thousand words aren’t enough.

I have a thousand pictures in my head from that fateful day and I would struggle to find the words that could adequately describe half of those pictures.  This blog site has been so helpful to me as a way of expressing what I experienced on that day and yet as I continue to pour out words I still cannot give justice to the absolute enormity of emotion that overwhelmed me on that day.  I am reminded just how insignificant we really are in the grand scheme of things.


Roger Whittaker claimed If is for children, building daydreams”  Maybe he was right!

The simple fact is, things happened the way they did.  There is nothing I can do now that will change what happened then.  The best I can gain from all that has happened is to realise that everything could end at any moment, so there is no use in daydreaming about the what ifs’.  I’m a grownup, so I’m responsible for making things happen in my life.


IF, it’s a small word that alludes to so much, but it’s still just a small word!

Rugby mismatch …by design!

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Had to work last night so I taped the rugby and watched it when I got home.

I think the SANZAR nations can be thankful that so many of the islanders have to play their rugby in Europe. If they were able to field teams in Super Rugby or an equivalent of the current Tri-Nations Tournament, you can guarantee they would soon be winning the fair share of matches

I also think the IRB need to take a good look at the way this tourney is run. All teams need to be on a level playing field (pun intended) with regard to rest days between games. It is not logistically impossible to create a draw that allows every team a minimum of 5 days between games and a maximum of 8 instead of the current situation where some teams play numerous games with 4 or 5 day breaks and others don’t play any games with less than a 6 day break.

Proposed RWC tourney structure

In this proposed structure each team would have at least 5 days between games whilst the viewing public would have at least one game to watch each day. A much better more even spread of games with the same number of teams and pools as the current structure

I thought I was over it

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

I thought I was over it.  My whole world stopped for a few days.  Days that evolved in to weeks, but I was moving on.  Life was returning to its proper pace, albeit with differences, but still with purpose.  This morning I was just about to leave for work when a series of minor events (car troubles, inconvenient bowel motions, misplaced car keys, more inconvenient bowel motions) combined to persuade me to just stay home.  I made the obligatory phone call, to inform those who needed to be informed and found myself sitting in front of the computer.  Needless to say I took the opportunity to check my emails and my facebook.  I upgraded some properties on my monopoly board, before making my chess moves followed by my scrabble moves.  Then I thought I’d check the online papers and see what was going on in the world today.  That’s where I found the link to all the Earthquake News.  The first story wasn’t too bad, it was about a woman who was being released from the hospital so it had some “feel good” value to it.  It still brought a few tears to my eyes as it brought back the emotion of that day.  Then I noticed another link.  Quake Victims.  I paused;  I hmm’d and I haa’d;  I clicked it.

It’s a web page where people can go, not just to be nosey and see who died etc. but also, to leave condolences and messages for the families and friends of those who passed in the earthquake.  The names are listed alphabetically and there are photographs (where they were able to obtain photographs) and more links to articles about each person.  I was moved to tears once again as I saw the picture of young boy, struck down on the day before his 15th birthday.  As I scrolled through the pages the tears just flowed.  Jaime shared a page with Jo Giles and Baxtor Gowland, by this stage the tears are streaming and I wonder if I should go change my top but I wanted to get through these pages, it was like a challenge to see that I could, and then I found Joe Pohio.  I already knew Joe had died.  His funeral was at the same time as Jaime’s.  But seeing his page stopped me in my tracks.

Joe Pohio was an awesome guy.

It’s hard to put it any differently than that.
I was introduced to Joe by Evan.  They would often stop in at the Southern Blues Bar late in the evening, usually as they were heading home after a night in town, and somehow they would end up staying until closing.  The usual scenario for closing up at The Southern Blues Bar was to usher everyone out the door while we started the clean-up.  Occasionally we would allow a “chosen few” to hang around and share a quiet drink with us when we wound down at the end of clean-up.  Joe was one of the chosen few :)
When the Southern Blues Bar was forced out of business by the 7.1 in September, I was suddenly without a weekend job.  I picked up a few casual/on call stints doing doorwork at a couple of bars and also as a minder for some “promo” girls.  The girls walked around town handing out flyers and wearing jackets that advertised a niteclub in town.  I had the task of ensuring that they were not accosted by any over-zealous drunken types.  One of the perks of the job was that we got to check out all the hot spots in town.  We were allowed entry in to any bar or club in town as long as the girls didn’t hand out flyers inside (they didn’t need to anyway, the jackets said it all).  Often, in our travels we would bump into friends and acquaintances and whilst there was no problem with occasionally stopping for a chat, it got to the point where I could pretend not to notice someone until they noticed me, just to avoid holdups.  Not with Joe though;  if I saw Joe I would always make a point of going up to him and saying Hi.  I liked him THAT much.  I even added The Bard to our list of regular stops just so I could catch up with him.

The tears stopped a while back now, but even as I was to-ing and fro-ing from the other pages to insert the links on this page I would feel them well up ready to go again.  I think I’ll check out the rest of the names another time.


Quake Brain!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Quake Brain!

It’s the term my lovely lady uses to describe those frequently recurring “blonde moments” that have become so common among cantabrians since the 7.1 and even more so since the 6.3.  She’s a very together lady and in many ways she typifies the ideal modern woman; strong willed, intelligent and caring and she can multi-task on a level that is beyond the comprehension of most mere males.  In short, she is a very capable and competent woman with her head screwed on.  And yet she has confided to me that she has experienced these instances that she can only describe as “Quake Brain” moments.  I know only too well what she’s referring to, I’ve had a few of them myself.

I’ve been down to the shops for bread, milk and ciggys and come back with a newspaper and a chocolate bar.

The other day, she noticed an old lady in a distressed state.  It turns out, the lady had forgotten where she had parked.  Barrington Mall carpark is not the biggest carparking area in Christchurch, but it’s big enough when the only description you have of the car you’re looking for is “…it’s silver.”  Given that there are 3 distinct parking areas at Barrington they did well to find her car in under half an hour.  It would have been something funny to muse about at a later date if she didn’t find herself in the same position at the weekend.  She was helping a friend with a fridge and microwave purchase to replace those the 6.3 had decided to destroy.  The purchase was made, delivery of the fridge was arranged, all the necessary papers were signed.  They decided it was coffee time so the friend set off in search of coffee while she went to put the microwave in the car…

Northwood carpark is bigger than Barrington carpark!

Logic set in and she waited outside  the entrance to Harvey Normans for her friend to discover her, but the fact remained that try as she might she was unable to recall where they had parked the car.

In the past I might have set myself a list of things to do, but lately I’m finding it more and more, necessary to actually have that list on paper,  I still have not completed the small list of chores I had to complete at our rental property on the day of the 6.3.  Sure, I have a valid excuse for not getting everything done that day, but it’s been 3 weeks now and as well as that small list of maintenance chores there is the car registration and my own overgrown back yard that need to be tended to.  It’s no coincidence that this blog has had more posts and comments in the last week than the previous 3 years.  People ask me how I’m coping and I’m being truthful when I tell them that I’m ok, but I can’t deny that I have been affected.  It’s easier for me to sit here and ramble through the myriad of abstract thoughts that are pervading the bounds of my conscious mind than to face reality.  And yet, reality itself is not that scary.  It’s just tiring.  It’s persistant and continual and it wears you down and it’s always there.  You can’t escape it.  You can’t escape it, but you can have a break from it.  This is my break from it, I go online and vent.  Sometimes I’ll play poker with complete strangers, other times it’s chess or backgammon.  Sometimes I’ll just exchange witticisms with others who are also in the mood for that kind of release, because that’s what it is…

It’s a release!

…and if we don’t allow ourselves that release then we risk Quake Brain!

Quake Brain (by my definition) is an early onset symptom of stress build up.  It’s a sign that we have human virtues; strengths and weaknesses, qualities and faults.  Whilst we might be able to deal with a stressful situation or circumstance, there comes a time when our mind and body need to rest and rejuvenate.  Quake Brain is our minds way of telling us to slow down (or even step back) that we might refresh our minds and/or bodies in order to gain a renewed vigour and vitality with which to approach lifes many challenges.  Quake Brain should not be ignored.

Today, …has been a good day. ;-)

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Today is Sunday, it has been a good day.

Yesterday was horrible.

The world reeled as we got reports through the night of the 8.9 that shook Tokyo and the resulting tsunami that devastated so much of the eastern coastline of Japan on Friday afternoon.  The horror and devastation that I and so many New Zealanders have experienced seemed suddenly to pale in to insignificance as we watched on our television sets the horror and devastation that so many Japanese are currently experiencing.  It was hard not to think thoughts of armageddon as the Pacific Rim’s “Ring Of Fire” seemed to come to life.

Throughout the day there were rumours of volcanic eruptions all around the pacific, earthquakes in Indonesia and Tidal Waves causing millions of dollars worth of damage on the West Coast of the U.S. and down to Mexico.  It turns out that they weren’t so much rumours, as they were exaggerated truths.  Strangely though, the discovery of these inaccuracies did not lessen the feelings of helplessness that were so overwhelming as we were forced once again to realise our vulnerabilities.  It was all too much for me to want to deal with and I decided to shut it all out when I got home from work.

Meaningless television seemed like the ideal solution.  Easier said than done.  There was no problem finding what I call “bubble gum TV” (television programmes that are all flair and flavour but with no substance) but much of it was such garbage that I couldn’t actually watch it.  Eventually I stumbled across “Man vs Wild”.  I wasn’t in the mood to watch a guy hopping across the top of a lava field in an effort to educate viewers on how to survive in said terrain, but it was the nearest thing to watchable.  As I watched all I could think to myself was how staged it was.  There’s no doubt that Bear Grylls has skills, but I have great difficulty accepting that he and a lone cameraman are able to film the footage we watch, whilst dashing over rock and through caves and bush, at the same time as avoiding dangerous predators (from crocodiles to snakes and spiders) and knowing what plants, insects and animals are edible, regardless of which continent (or even which hemisphere) they’re in.  To my way of thinking, the programme would be just as watchable (if not somewhat more believable) if they admitted that they have, at least a small film crew with them as well as experts on local flora and fauna.

In the first episode I watched, he was in Australia (southern hemisphere) and needed to head north.  By using a stick like a sun dial and marking it’s shadow 5 minutes apart he determined that he could stand with his feet on the 2 markers and by facing directly at the stick he would be facing North. ~~BOLLOCKS!~~  This would be correct if he did it at noon, but if it was morning be heading more to the east and if it were afternoon he’d be heading more to the west.  He had a wrist watch on, it is possible to determine north by pointing the 12 at the sun.  North is halfway between the 12 and the hour hand.  In the northern hemisphere you would point the hour hand at the sun and South would be halfway between the 12 and the hour hand.  In the 2nd episode he was in Hawaii but this time he determined that it was late in the afternoon so the sun was in the west.  Much better logic.

It worked!  When I eventually went to bed, the catastrophes of the world could not have been further from my mind.

The upshot of all this was that I was able to start today with a clear(ish) head that wasn’t filled with the doom and gloom of recent world events.  Yet whilst these events have not disappeared entirely from my mind, I am at least able to focus on the here and now.  Once again I have hope and optimism for the future.  The world may end tomorrow, but that’s not where my focus is, so I’m not gonna worry about that.  I’m just gonna get on with my life! ;-)

It’s been 2 weeks since the 6.3.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I’m guessing that’s how people will refer to it as time goes by.  There was the 7.1 that rocked Christchurch on September the 4th, 2010 and now the 6.3 that devastated the city on February the 22nd, 2011.

That’s 2 weeks since I witnessed what has been dubbed “Christchurch’s darkest hour”

2 weeks since a concrete beam fell from the frontage of the Winnie Bagoes Pizza Restaurant and lay itself right through the centre of the car I had parked less than an hour earlier.

2 weeks since that same beam laid itself right through the centre of the van that was parked directly behind me, killing the driver.

2 weeks since I was standing in The Iconic Bar, chatting and laughing with colleagues.

2 weeks since I tried furiously to dig my colleagues from the rubble of the building that we had been standing in, only minutes earlier.

2 weeks since the world lost Jaime.

It’s been 2 weeks and I wonder to myself, when will I go a whole day without shedding a tear?  When will I be able to listen to the news on the radio, or read it in the paper, or watch it on the television, without my eyes welling up with water?  When will I be able to greet people I haven’t seen for a while without the overwhelming need to give them a hug? (And not just a quick “throw your arms around” hug, but an all-embracing MAN hug)  When will I be able to farewell friends with something other than “Stay safe!”?

Occassional updates (random ramblings)

Monday, September 21st, 2009

well ….like we need proof that I’m not exactly consistent with keeping this thing up-to-date.  At least my tweets and twitters are coming through.

Not getting much chess play lately. Playing freerolls online, particularly those offerring an entry fee to NZ tourneys.  Making better progress each time, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m getting better or if I’m just adapting to the style of online play that is requirted for these particular tourneys.  Lately I’ve also been playing in live tourneys at Iconics bar in town every 2nd Wednesday.  Usually get knocked out midway through 2nd to last table, which is not bad, considering there is usually a field of about 60 players.  In general I think my play is improving, but discipline still remains an issue.

On the work front: …I scored a job selling kitchens for a major “cash and carry warehouse” – awesome job and it’s done wonders for my knee (not constantly walking over broken ground).  The employee discount is great too :D

Golf: …It’s september and I had my first game this year in the weekend!!  I impressed myself!  Despite winning the “honest golfer” award, I think I actually played better than in last years “Samoan Open”.  So much so that I’m keen to get out there and play some more.  Rex and I will be going out for a round next week.  I’ll be sure to post how that goes