Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Portrait Of The Blogger As A Young Man

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo

His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.

But if you look again, you'll see another nicens little boy named Bryan

And then he grew up, and went to PlayCentre, where they had parties and he had friends like Rosie

Sometimes he dressed up, preferably so he could shoot Injuns.

He went to school to learn useful things like how to brush his hair, adding up, the names of all the oceans, wear the thick jerseys his mother knitted, and have his photo taken.

While all this was going on, the rest of the family was growing up too, and got married and had nicens babies of their own.

And some even thought he looked like Will Robinson, but he didn't.
And then he grew up even more.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thanks for Integrity

Cabinet Minister Nick Smith resigned this week. His 'crime'? Two minor errors of judgement.

I must confess I'm pleased at the outcome. Not because I don't think Smith is competent, or that I oppose the Government's policies (I do), but because it is one of our few 'constitutional' checks in operation.

New Zealand is somewhat unusual in the absence of many formal constitutional checks and balances designed to constrain the power of the government. In that sense we are closer to the Westminster model than to the American model of government structure and operation.

We had a Constitution Act as far back as 1852, and there is currently in force another Act passed in 1986.

However, since about 1890, there has been a steady accretion of power to the Executive - in practical terms to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Simultaneously there has been a dimunition of checks and balances on the power.

The consequence, in my view, is that Cabinet has become too powerful. In evidence I would cite the Emergency Powers taken by governments during the Great Depression and then World War 2. These latter were then used to crushing effect in what became known as the Waterfront Dispute of 1951 a clear of the Government seeking to crush the life out of a workers' organisation.

And then again, the Governments lead by Muldoon about 1980 and that suborned by Roger Douglas in the latter half of the 1980s, exercised their power in the face of concerted and vociferous opposition to their policies. The National government of the 1990s continued the approach, doggedly implementing a right-wing, laissez-faire agenda.

So, John Key's insistence on what he calls "high standards from my ministers" is one of the relatively small number of checks and balances on ministerial power.

We rely on the three-year term of government to 'keep governments honest'. Now we add to the mix the MMP system, which interestingly has left the current on a knife-edge; indeed they could not have afforded to have Smith actually resign from Parliament and risk the vagaries of a by-election.

So the expectation that Cabinet Ministers will not only be 'squeaky-clean' but will be SEEN to be 'squeaky-clean' and free from any taint of corruption and subject to the glare of public scrutiny is to be applauded.

It is unfortunate for Smith, and perhaps unlucky, if one views his mistakes as minor. But he is in a sense an example to his colleagues. And with that I am in agreement.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Heart of the Matter (3)

Well, the decision is made. No cause to dwell on it.

Angioplasty it is!

In case you're not sure how this works:

April 5 is 'S-Day'.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


The family gathered on Sunday for our regular weekly dinner.

We were having burritos. And that meant we brought out the sombrero:

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Heart of the Matter (2)

Well, that was helpful!

I had an appointment with the specialist the other day. He had taken some time to confer with colleagues over my 'condition' because, in his words, it is fairly unusual.

So the appointment was an opportunity for him to layout clearly the options I face, along with the risks and benefits. What he was cautious about doing was to make a specific recommendation beyond: You need to do something.

Seems my reading of the options was accurate: stents or bypass.

He has said it is up to me to decide, although when pushed, he said he would recommend angioplasty, but would be quite happy if I opted for the bypass surgery.

So there it is: I now have a couple of other factors to include in the calculation (risk levels, recovery period) along with simple, uncomplicated fear.

Hmmm - what's that Eddie Izzard routine about cake?

Oh well, I'll think on't for a couple of days, talk to a few people, before I commit to one or the other.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

So, it's like this: I have Angina. A brief test on a treadmill for a cardiologist was enough to get him worried, and scare me.

So I was summoned to hospital for an angiogram.

Now I'm a coward from way back, so having to be subjected to medical procedures is un-nerving for me. And to make matters worse, I had to hang about after being admitted until the specialist was ready for me; it did wonders for my nerves!

Anyway, the procedure was, for those not sure, the insertion of a tube into an artery, in my case, in the groin. Into the tube was put a purple dye, the progress of which around my circulatory system was monitored by the specialist and the technicians. It was all over in less than an hour, and I was sent back to my little room.

Once there I was 'trussed'. You see, I had a hole in an artery, and the staff were understandably cautious about me bleeding - a caution I was only too happy to go along with. Although it did mean a small degree of discomfort. But that only lasted a couple of hours, during which I was fed and watered. As the nurse was satisfied that the risk of me bleeding had passed I was allowed to go home about 7:30pm.

If you look at the two images above, you'll see what the problem is. The upper image is the left-side of my heart; the lower is the right-side. In the lower image you should be able to make out a network of dark lines which are the arteries in the heart (they stand out because of the dye inserted). The problem is that the same network is not present in the upper image, apparently because the arteries are blocked, and so the dye didn't flow through them. It seems that this has developed ove a period of time, during which the 'healthy' side has developed to compensate for the blocked side, and in the words of the specialist, the situation is "quite stable".

So what was the outcome of all this? If you can read the discharge notes above, Well Done! What it amounts to is that I am likely to have to have either a stent (or possibly stents) inserted or by-pass surgery. It's not yet decided, but the specialist has seen enough to know what the options are and is taking a week to decide which is the better of the two.