Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Draconian measures

I do wish there were fewer idiots. Without them life would be so much easier. And no more so than during the current pandemic. I can understand why authorities bring in draconian regulations that seem “over the top”. It’s to minimise the harm caused by idiots.

Take the Australian state of Victoria for example. Their lockdown was no where near as severe as the one we faced here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and may have worked. The idiots have not only delayed the state’s recovery, but have moved it into rapid reverse. There, persons tested positive are required to self isolate for 14 days.

Seems reasonable to me, but following evidence that some people were not self-isolating, the authorities checked on every person who should have been self-isolating. They found one in four people weren’t home! Yep, 25% of all those known to be infected were running around loose in the community!

The state government is now contemplating a lockdown similar to that which Aotearoa New Zealand was subject to for five weeks. Although in Victoria it might be for a longer period due to how widespread the virus is in the community.

I’m not sure whether we Kiwis are more sensible or more compliant. Possibly a bit of both. During all the stages of lockdown there were a few thousand breaches recorded in total, which have resulted a few hundred prosecutions. But on the whole, it was social disapproval of rule breakers that seemed to have had the strongest effect. The concept of a “team of 5 million” whether a myth or not, kept this country united and indeed is keeping this country (mostly) united in the fight against the pandemic.

Our attitude towards rule breakers can be clearly seen in our attitude to the borders remaining closed. Back in March when this country was first closed to non-residents, the government introduced mandatory self-isolation rules. Those arriving in the country were required to stay at home in isolation for 14 days. But it soon became apparent that a small minority (less than 5%) were not following the rules.

As the Prime Minister said at the time, the authorities placed a high level of trust in those in isolation. Had everyone followed the simple rules of self isolation, that’s where we’d still be. But no. A few idiots spoil it for everyone. The outcome has been that inbound residents are now required to undergo managed isolation in luxury hotels.

Originally security was minimal. Again the authorities placed a high level of trust in those staying in managed isolation. However it’s become very evident that a small handful of those returning to the country have little regard for the safety of others, and over time, security has tightened to the point now where every facility has a permanent police and military presence and perimeters have become more secure as the weeks pass by.

Over thirty thousand people have passed through managed isolation since March and there have been somewhere around ten incidents where an individual or family group have left isolation without permission. Originally the term “absconded” was usually used when the media reported these breakouts. More recently I hear the term “escaped” used instead. I think this reflects the community attitude to those who flout the isolation rules.

The public attitude towards those who now arrive in this country is unfortunately becoming antagonistic. While there’s always been a small minority of the population antagonistic towards immigration, there is now a widespread attitude that returning Kiwis should have stayed where they were. The wife has this attitude (and she’s an immigrant herself) and as far as she’s concerned every returning Kiwi is being selfish. As far as she is concerned, there’s no set of personal circumstances that can justify travelling to this country. In other words, she wants a blanket ban, even though our Bill of Rights guarantees the right of every citizen to enter and leave the country. Her attitude borders on draconian in my view.

The wife’s attitude is becoming more prevalent, and we can now see examples of graffiti sprayed on security fences around isolation facilities demanding the residents return to where they came from. Apparently some returnees have faced hostilities even after completing managed isolation. I find such an attitude understandable but totally unacceptable.

The negative attitude to returnees has culminated in a call from many, including some political parties, for all returnees to be billed for their stay in isolation. This is something the government has resisted simply because it’s likely to place an unreasonable burden on many families. Let’s face it, many of those returning are not doing so willingly. Many are returning because there is no support structures accessible to them in their country of residence. Others are returning to escape ill managed pandemic environments.

To placate the hostile attitude where returnees are seen as “living in luxury at the taxpayers’ expense”, the government has finally introduced legislation that will allow some returnees to be billed for staying in isolation. For this to occur, the government had to seek the cooperation of the opposition National Party as the Greens were totally opposed to any billing of those in managed isolation.

Eventually a compromise has been reached where those who return from overseas having been away for less than 90 days, and those who return to the country with the intention of staying less than 90 days will be billed for part of the cost of their managed isolation. The legislation also specifies grounds under which exemptions can be granted. So how many will be charged? Perhaps five or ten percent of those arriving in the country. I think a reasonable compromise.

Already we’re seeing comments in overseas media that such moves are another step in the erosion of our freedom and rights, usually accompanied by associating such moves with recent legislation that tightens some aspects of gun ownership. I’ve previously posted about ignorance some foreign media have about our handling of the pandemic, and no doubt the ignorance will continue unabated. I would like to remind such critics that the nation still has the highest level of freedom, ranking at number one or number two on every freedom index, but I suspect I’d be wasting my effort. Those people seem so willing to ignore the facts whenever it’s inconsistent with their prejudice.

So my question is: do most jurisdictions impose restrictions with the aim of gaining greater long term control of the population – in other words tyranny, or are restrictions reluctantly imposed because some idiots give the authorities little choice if they are to prevent widespread harm?


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And on the fourth week…

Kia ora e hoa

It’s getting difficult to remember when it was “normal” around here. I’m not referring to COVID-19. That returned to normal many weeks ago. In fact lockdown and its precautions are definitely a fading memory

No, the normal I’m referring to is the one we had prior to the commencement of bathroom renovations. Today marks the start of the fourth week of a major makeover of the upper floor toilet and bathroom including expansion into the roof cavity and the installation of a skylight, converting part of the roof cavity into a walk in wardrobe for the adjacent bedroom, the installation of a solar light tube to brighten up a dark corner of the dining room, the removal of two woodburners at opposite ends of the main floor that are too expensive to run and maintain, and the renovation of the toilet on the main floor.

Apart from weekends, the place has been a hive of activity with chippies, sparkies, plumbers and others constantly traversing between the basement garage and the upper floor via the main floor. Part of the basement has been taken over by storage of bathroom fixtures and part as a temporary workshop where larger equipment such as circular saws, framing jigs and whatnot have been set up. This way, most work can be carried out regardless of the weather.

The problem with this arrangement is that the garage doors and every door between the garage and the bathroom seem to be open more often than not. To make matters worse, for much of the last three weeks, the renovation area has been open to the uninsulated roof space. It’s the middle of winter here, and the stairwell extending over the three floors has been acting as a funnel drawing all the heat generated on the main floor up to the top floor and out into the roof space. In the process it draws cold air from the basement and distributes it across the main floor.

The airflow from basement to roof space has been exacerbated over the past ten days by strong easterly winds that rush through the open garage doors and create a hurricane-like gale up the stairwell. I’ve taken to switching off the heatpump when the first of the workers arrives at around 7:30 in the morning and not turning it back on until the last of them leaves when it starts to get dark at around 5:00 as its heat output, even on maximum is miniscule compared to the draught up the stairwell. Effectively, all the heat generated was being transferred outside. Let’s just say it’s been decidedly chilly over the last few weeks.

Thankfully the builders have almost finished their work on the upper floor bathroom/toilet renovation – The only major task remaining is the installation of the skylight. Weather permitting, that should all be done by tommorrow. After that, it should be much quieter for a while as the plumbers, sparkies, floorers and such finish off their work.

It never occurred to me to take some “before” photos of the project, so although I have captured a few at major milestones since, you’re all spared a series of photo blogs of “work in progress”. I’ve also realised that the phone camera is not up to the task of recording the work. Bathrooms are relatively small and unless the camera has a wide angle mode, which mine doesn’t, it’s not possible to capture more than a small section of wall/floor/ceiling at a time. I suppose it might be possible to use panorama mode to create a better field of view, but it’s not something I’ve experimented with. Perhaps a video clip that pans around the room might be another option.

My home office is almost directly below the upper floor bathroom and at this point in time the noise is becoming decidedly unpleasant. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but the sound that is emanating from above reminds me very much of a dentist’s drill. So I think it’s time to withdraw and find a quite corner in which to hole up. So for now, ka kite anō.


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Pay equity versus pay equality

Are “market forces” capable of ensuring a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”? The fact that almost every nation has legislation requiring women to be paid the same as men for the same job would indicate that this is not so.

Pay equity vs equal pay
Pay equity is about women and men receiving the same pay for doing jobs that are different, but of equal value (that is, jobs that require similar degrees of skills, responsibility and effort).
Equal pay is about men and women getting the same pay for doing the same job.

Historically, there has been pay disparity between the sexes, but since the early 1970s, equal pay laws in Aotearoa New Zealand require that men and women should be paid equally for the same for jobs of equal value, even if those jobs are different. In theory that should result in everyone being paid equally for work of equal value – pay equity. That never happened.

The problem with the legislation is that pay equity could only be claimed through the courts– there was no provision for pay equity to be negotiated through the existing “good faith” bargaining framework. Litigation can be a costly and lengthy process and this has resulted in jobs that have historically been female dominated continuing to be paid less than similar jobs where the workforce is predominantly male.

Kiwis are not a litigious lot by nature and workers are usually reluctant to take their employers to court. Following a landmark court decision in 2014 that resulted in significant pay increases to those working in the aged care sector, the unions, employers and government agreed there had to be a better way to ensure pay equity. The outcome was the Equal Pay Amendment Bill that passed through it’s final stage in Parliament at one minute to midnight yesterday.

The amendment should benefit those who have been underpaid due to systemic sex-based discrimination. According to the Minister for Workplace Relations, Andrew Little, the Bill makes it easier to raise a pay equity claim, and encourages collaboration and evidence-based decision making to address pay inequity, rather than relying on an adversarial court process. Employers already have a duty not to pay people differently on the basis of sex – this Bill helps parties to come to an agreement about what equitable remuneration would be, and makes court action a last resort rather than a first step.

A modern and more effective system for dealing with pay equity claims is long overdue. It is just one step in a long journey towards gender equality, the work does not end here

Andrew Little, Minister for Workplace Relations

As Andrew Little has stated, this piece of legislation does not resolve all gender inequality – it’s just another step in that direction. What’s next?


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They Were Wrong — Speaking of Autism…

Too often, those who are neurodivergent are written off and denied the opportunity to shine. It takes an exceptional amount of determination and good fortune for most autists to break through the barriers that society, in its ignorance, places in front of them. Success stories are rare, not because it’s an innate characteristic of autism but because society has decided to write off autists as failures, rejects, and broken, even before formal education commences. So I rejoice when a kindred spirit is able to demonstrate how wrong the system is. Here is the success story of one autist who, with just the right amount of determination, support and happenstance, has proven that the system and society are indeed wrong.

Congratulations Quincy!!

Well, folks, it’s official. I am a high school graduate! Well, technically I’ve been “graduated” since May, but the school held the actual ceremony this week. Despite the delay, I walked across the stage and got my diploma last Thursday on the school’s football field. I think that for everyone a high school graduation is […]

They Were Wrong — Speaking of Autism…


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Decisions

Our triennial general elections are just two months away (Saturday 19th September) at which time I will be faced with four choices:

  1. Cast a vote in the End of Life Choice referendum
  2. Cast a vote in the Cannabis legalisation and control referendum
  3. Chose my electorate (constituency or voting district) representative
  4. Choose my preferred political party

Choices 1 and 2 are the easiest to deal with as the choice is binary: support or oppose. Unless some radically new information comes to hand before I cast my vote, I will be saying Yes, I support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force and Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

I have been a long time supporter of the concept of drug abuse being a health issue and not a criminal matter, so my decision to support the proposed legislation was a no brainer. I hope this is just the first step on the path to removing all drug use from criminality. I have a very different view of those who peddle the drugs.

The cannabis referendum is nonbinding, but the Labour Party and the Green Party are committed to introducing the proposed legislation to Parliament in 2021. The other parties have made no such commitment, so if Labour and/or the Greens do not form the next government, the proposed legislation will likely fade into oblivion, at least for a while..

On the other hand, the End of Life Choice Act has already been passed by Parliament and simply requires a 50% Yes vote from the electors to come into force. As it was first introduced into Parliament, I would not have supported it. While I personally felt it was too liberal on the grounds one could request assisted dying, my main objections were twofold:

  • It would not have prevented those suffering from depression and other mental health issues from obtaining assisted dying
  • There was no protection from individuals being pressured or persuaded into seeking assisted dying.

I believe that the act as it now stands answers those concerns. Also the grounds under which assisted dying can be granted has been tightened, although possibly more than I thought necessary. Perhaps this is a good thing. In my view, it’s better that a life not be taken unnecessarily than a life be spared unnecessarily. And like all laws, it can be amended in light of new evidence.

If I’m not mistaken this will be the first time any nation has held a referendum on assisted dying.

Choices 3 and 4 are more difficult for me as they are “multiple choice”. Choice 3 is perhaps the easiest as I base my choice on who I feel is the best person to represent myself and my community in Parliament. I’m more interested in them as a person than what their politics might be.

In this regard, I prefer someone who is open minded over someone with rigid views, someone who values consensus over majority decisions, someone who puts social justice above individual “rights”, someone who has shown service to the community over someone who has not, someone who recognises that the interests of minorities, be they ethnic, neurology, religious, or healthwise, are just as important as those of the majority, and finally, someone who I feel I can relate to. Such attributes can be found in people of any political persuasion. Ultimately who I choose as my local representative has no impact on the proportionality of the parties in Parliament.

In the bad old days of FPP I had to juggle the often conflicting issues my preferred MP (Member of Parliament) and the political party I preferred to govern the country. Not always an easy decision, and under MMP, something I no longer have to struggle with.

I was first able to vote in the general elections in 1972 – I had just missed out in the 1969 elections as the voting age was still 21 at that time. I have voted in every election since. By a quick estimate, that’s 16 general elections I’ve participated in.

Over that time I have voted for six different political parties! By a strange twist of fate, not one of the parties I have voted for has been in government (prior to 1996) or part of a governing coalition (since 1996). On only one occasion have I voted for either of the major parties, and that was before the introduction of MMP in 1996.

I don’t regard my vote as either a protest vote or a wasted vote. Perhaps, prior to MMP, it could be argued that any vote other than for the winning candidate was a wasted vote – in one election the party of the candidate I voted for gained almost 30% of the popular vote nationwide, but gained only a single seat in Parliament. That result was a significant catalyst in the call that eventually lead to the introduction of MMP.

Provided your preferred party reaches the 5% threshold, or gains an electorate seat, a party vote is never wasted. It counts towards the number of seats that party will have in Parliament.

Personally, I’d like to see the threshold lowered to 2% or removed altogether to encourage more diversity in Parliament, but such a change would require the support of one of the two major parties, and I don’t see that happening any time soon. Neither of them supported lowering the threshold to 4% as recommend by an electoral review a few years ago, and both voted against that change when Parliament considered the matter.

I usually decide who my electorate candidate will be by around a week before the election, but typically, all the policies I’d like to see implemented are spread across many parties, including both major parties, and my very final decision on preferred party is not made until, pencil in hand in the voting booth, I go to place a tick beside one of the parties listed on the ballot paper. I don’t think this year is going to be any different.


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To Alex Berenson: You’re so wrong!

I am aware that Alex Berenson is somewhat of a controversial author, but if his recent claim about indefinite detentions in Aotearoa New Zealand is so wildly inaccurate, how factual are his comments about other causes he promotes? Fact checking on the situation on Aotearoa New Zealand is so simple, that Berenson’s comment borders on being hilarious.

According to a recent tweet, Berenson claims that people here are being detained indefinitely:

https://twitter.com/AlexBerenson/status/1282059985288036358

Knowing Berenson’s opposition to the way most nations are managing the pandemic, I don’t know whether his tweet is a genuine misunderstanding of the context, or he is being deliberately disingenuous.

Let’s get the story straight shall we?

  • Currently our borders are closed to everyone attempting to enter the country except for NZ citizens, residents and those who have qualified for special exemptions. There is no restriction on anyone leaving the country.
  • Everyone arriving in New Zealand must go into managed isolation for two weeks.
  • There is a high level of trust required of those in isolation. They are put up in mostly 4 and 5 star hotels at taxpayer expense and the facilities are made “secure” by the way of temporary fencing of the type typically seen around construction sites. As has been demonstrated by one “escapee”, it is very easy to cut the plastic ties that hold the fencing together.
  • Of the more than 30,000 people that have passed through managed isolation, just four have broken the rules and left the premises where they were isolated without gaining permission.
  • There is no indefinite confinement. The statement that thousands of people will be quarantined in isolation facilities for months and possibly years was in reference to the protocol of requiring inbound travellers to isolate for 2 weeks in managed isolation.
  • When the 2 week isolation period is up, the returnees are free to go about their lives as we all are: no social distancing; no masks; unrestricted crowd sizes; sports facilities, bars, restaurants, nightclubs etc operate as normal. In other words, business as normal.
  • There is no community transmission of COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • The NZ COVID-19 cases being reported to WHO are those of people in managed isolation who tested positive within the managed isolation period. In other words, they contracted the virus before arriving in the country.
  • If it wasn’t for the fact that most countries have failed to get COVID-19 under control, this country would have no need for border restrictions at all.

While I’d like to think that it was a genuine error on Berenson’s part, the fact that he has not removed the tweet or made a correction is telling.

Perhaps what is less surprising is the fact that so many people accept the tweet as factually correct, even though many Kiwis have replied, made it clear the comments by Michael Baker, professor of public health at Otago University have been taken entirely out of context. In fact a quick scan of the comments and retweets seem to indicate that only Kiwis are contesting the accuracy of Berenson’s tweet. Is the rest of the world really so ignorant and willing to believe a lie?

As one Kiwi tweeted “Who needs comedy when you have Americans on Twitter”. With that, I can’t help but nod my head in agreement.


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Will COVID-19 harm our democracy?

The question posed in this blog’s title refers to Aotearoa New Zealand, and no other country. America, has an orange clown who all by himself is harming that nation’s democracy more than the virus can. Putin has already sunk Russia’s fledgling democracy, and Boris is trying to do a Trump impersonation, but is hamstrung by the collective decision making process inherent in a parliamentary democracy.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, it’s the government’s success in squashing the virus that makes me a little uneasy. It has made Jacinda and the Labour Party too popular based on recent polls. We have our triennial General Election in September, and if voting is anywhere near recent opinion polls, Labour will romp home with an clear, outright majority. And that’s the problem.

What I like about our MMP voting system is that since its introduction in 1996 no political party has been able to govern alone. This may not seem all that important to many today, but as one who lived through decades of governments that in many respects acted as three-year dictatorships, I’m grateful that no party can steamroll whatever legislation it likes through Parliament.

Perhaps the worst part of FPP voting is that it almost invariably leads to a two-party system, and if as in Aotearoa New Zealand, you have a unicameral legislature, the majority party has almost unbridled power and that was the case until the introduction of MMP.

Given that the NZ Parliament is sovereign and we don’t have a formal constitution, it is perhaps surprising that this nation has the highest levels of economic and personal of freedom and lowest levels of corruption worldwide. Perhaps it says something about our politicians, or about respecting social and parliamentary conventions?

Two conventions that have arisen from MMP ensure that a single political party does not hold sway over Parliament. One is that political parties do not form coalition arrangements before an election. The other is that coalitions are very loose allowing the coalition partners to pursue their own policies apart from those specified in the coalition agreement.

A case in point is the current government formed after a coalition agreement between the New Zealand Labour Party and the New Zealand First Party. Together they form a minority government, and to ensure stability on matters of confidence and supply, the Labour Party entered into a confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.

So, getting back to my concern:

Prior to COVID-19, opinion polls placed both the two major political parties, National and Labour, each with a little over 40% support, although national was usually slightly ahead. I’m comfortable with that although the slow decline in support for minor parties as a concern.

However, the success of the government’s handling of the pandemic, which at its height had an approval rating of 87%, has seen opinion polls reporting those who intend to vote Labour soaring well above 60% while National have slumped to the low 30s, with one poll showing only 28%. That, I don’t like.

Just as alarming is that Labour’s popularity has resulted in support for minor parties dropping away. The outcome is that there are likely to be fewer political parties in Parliament after the elections given that a party must gain at 5% of party vote or gain an electorate (voting district) seat to be represented in Parliament.

While governments need to be able to govern, they also need to be subject to effective scrutiny. They also need to be inclusive – to listen to minority voices. One way of guaranteeing this is to ensure that no political party has absolute control over the legislature. One method is to have a bicameral or multicameral legislature, although my observation of such arrangements is that scrutiny often disintegrates into filibustering and political point scoring.

Here, the parties that make up the government are free to disagree in all policies apart from those specified in coalition or support agreements. Given that Labour’s partners are a centrist nationalist party and a socialist environmental party that have about as much in common as chalk and cheese, it often requires a lot of negotiation and compromise all round for bills presented to Parliament to be passed.

As sometimes occurs, Labour is unable to gain the support of one or both of its partners, in which case either the bill is dropped from the Parliamentary schedule, sent back for further consultation and redrafting, or support is negotiated with National. All round, it results in more inclusive and better written legislation.

If Labour does achieve an absolute majority in September’s election what guarantee do we have that we won’t return to the pre MMP days where poorly drafted and ill considered legislation too easily became law? The only safety net would be the select committee process that all legislation must pass through.

The select committee process allows for the public to present oral and or written submissions and committees themselves can recommend and draft amendments to bills for consideration by the Parliament. The select committee stage may take three to six months for all submissions to be considered. Convention has it that these changes are accepted, but if one party commands an absolute majority, would it continue to adhere to convention? Would it heed the voice of the public?


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A call for action after Covid-19

Yes, in Aotearoa New Zealand, it is now after COVID-19, although I and the rest of our nation are under no illusion that the rest of world has some way to go (some nations much further than others).

As we recover from the pain and difficulties that COVID-19 wrought, we should take the opportunity to reevaluate what we are doing to harm the planet and our fellow human beings. Most people, especially those with privilege, simply accept the status quo and seldom think that it is we who are responsible for the harm we’re causing in communities, nations and the environment.

I firmly believe that this recovery period give us a unique chance, perhaps the only chance, for us to take action, individually and collectively that will bring about lasting changes that will enable us all to live in harmony with one another and with the planet.

As a community, Quakers of Aotearoa New Zealand have published a statement calling all Kiwis to action. As much of the call is applicable to people everywhere, I’m reproducing it here in its entirety:

To the Citizens of Aotearoa/New Zealand

At this critical time in the history of New Zealand, and the world, the Quaker Community wishes to convey to you and to the broader community, some principles and values that we feel are key to the decision making that will guide the nation to a better future.

We invite you to consider the enclosed Call for Action

A Call for Action after Covid-19

HOPE

We Quakers find hope in the communal response to the Covid-19 crisis across our nation. The collective action of New Zealanders has demonstrated how much we can achieve together in a short time. We see the current pandemic as a warning which creates an unprecedented opportunity for systemic change and as a call to remodel our nation guided by the principles of sustainability, non-violence, simplicity and equity. This is a transformation that will require redistributive and regenerative economic, government and social policies that ensure all members of society benefit in an equitable manner.

VISION
Our vision is of a society that is inclusive and respectful of all people. We affirm the special constitutional position of Māori and a Treaty-based, bi-lateral system of government. We seek government which leads with integrity, shares information based on evidence, and engages with communities prior to decision-making. We oppose violence at every level and look to practices that bring peaceful dialogue and non-violent management of conflict.

SANCTITY
Quakers have a strong sense of the sanctity of creation. We are committed to the development of systems and new societal norms to rebalance climate disruption, preserve biodiversity and water quality and enable New Zealanders to live simpler lives within sustainable natural boundaries. We support the use of national resources to provide housing, low-carbon transport, and regenerative food production to benefit future generations.

CONSUMPTION 

We see that society has been putting profit and consumption above other considerations despite clear evidence that earth’s natural limits have been exceeded. Consumer lifestyles have been destroying the natural ecosystems required by future generations. Decades of neoliberal economic and social policies have allowed a few people to set the agenda and benefit disproportionately. This has condemned many to low wages, poverty and insecurity whilst also degrading the environment.

OPPORTUNITY

Quakers consider that the current pandemic offers the people of Aotearoa New Zealand a chance to reassess the situation and to create a new sense of community and purpose. The Light of the Spirit has inspired Quakers through the generations into social and environmental action. We see this experience with Covid-19 as the impetus to find a way forward based firmly on the Quaker values of peace, simplicity, and equity

ACTION

Quakers call on every person in Aotearoa New Zealand to bring about whatever changes they can to enable us to live in harmony with one another and with the planet.


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When chaos reigns…

Today is day one of a six week renovation project, the major part of which is our main bathroom upstairs. And being the first day, it is, in the words of one of the project chippies (Kiwi slang for carpenter or builder) the best part of any project: knocking things down. That means noise – lots of noise!

Noise is one of my autistic hypersensitivities, And although it’s just half an hour after noon (at time of writing) I already feel somewhat jaded. Roll on 5PM when once again silence will reign until 8AM tomorrow morning.

Being mid-winter here, the option of retreating to the garden isn’t really an option on most days. Yesterday was an exception, warming to 15°C (59°F) and I spent most of the afternoon outdoors, but today it’s on and off drizzle, a stiff breeze and a high of 11°C (52°F). So, when chaos reigns…

…relive the calm

What better way than to enjoy the garden as it was yesterday. It might be mid winter but there’s sufficient flowers out to remind us that spring is just around the corner. To top it off, there’s the sweet perfume of over a dozen Daphne shrubs scattered alongside the pathway. Here’s a few snapshots taken in the front garden yesterday


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If you’re not a touch typist…

Although I use a computer for several hours every day, I have never learnt to touch type. I’m mostly a four-finger typist, and I still need to look at the keyboard every few keystrokes to keep myself orientated.

I don’t know who invented the dark coloured keyboard, but whoever did should be taken out and shot. White/cream/beige keyboards were the norm until the early years of this millenium, and are so much easier to read in poor light, but now they are are as rare as hens’ teeth.

As I have aged, my gripe with dark keyboards has increased, so much so that my son gave me a backlit keyboard last Christmas. Problem solved I thought to myself as I gratefully thanked the son for the considerate gift.

My tired old eyes struggle with this keyboard

But it was not to be. I’m not sure if all backlit keyboards are the same in this regard: The lettering on this particular keyboard was clearly visible only when the eyes were directly above the key – not the most comfortable of positions. Otherwise they were more difficult to see than the standard white lettering on black keys.

I persevered for months, but finally has to acknowledge that the keyboard and I would never be on friendly terms, and it was time to part company. But what could I replace it with?

I searched online for several weeks before I found what I was looking for. It was love at first sight! I ordered it on the spot and just one day later I was was tearing at the packaging like a child at Christmas.

We’ve been together for two weeks now, and I know it has been a match made in heaven. It might not be the most attractive keyboard ever made. One person has commented that it’s ugly and more than a little garish. But it has done wonders to my soul, not to mention my eyesight, and as they say, beauty is only skin deep.

Even when the only illumination is from the computer screen, the keys are still very readable. The lettering is four time larger than found on a typical keyboard, and you could almost say that the keys glow. They are radiant.

I’m in love with this keyboard!