And so it goes…

It’s now Saturday May 21st, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning it was very cold. There was some condensation in our house.  Later in the day, it was sunny and fine. We went to the supermarket in Thorndon, and although I couldn’t get the salads I wanted, I bought some raspberries, feijoas, bread, pies and cakes, lettuce, and beefsteak tomatoes. It was very busy at the store; thankfully people are still wearing masks.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t too bad, athough two Auckland secondary schools have reintroduced mask wearing. Apparently Eric Clapton, who refused the vaccine, and so far escaped the coronavirus, now has covid 19 and has had to cancel some planned concerts. He’s 75, evidently, and still performing. Today there are 6,635 new community cases, and there’ve been 6 deaths.

The deaths included two people in the Auckland region and one each in Northland, Taranaki, Canterbury and the Southern regions. One of those who died was in their 60s, two were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and one was over 90.

It’s reported that the 400 people in hospital include 10 people in Northland, 38 in Waitemata, 39 in Counties Manukau, 80 in Auckland, 38 in Waikato, 10 in Bay of Plenty, two in Lakes, one in Tairāwhiti, 14 in Hawke’s Bay, 12 in Taranaki, four in Whanganui, 11 in Mid Central, two Wairarapa, five in Hutt Valley, 17 in Capital and Coast, eight in Nelson Marlborough, 61 in Canterbury, 10 in South Canterbury, two in West Coast and 36 in Southern. There are 12 people in intensive care, and the average age of those in hospital is 61. The Topp twins have tested  positive for Covid 19, as well as both having cancer.  Many people that had escaped Covid 19 up till now, are now catching it.

The location of today’s new community cases are Northland (194), Auckland (2222), Waikato (527), Bay of Plenty (205), Lakes (121), Hawke’s Bay (255), Mid Central (190), Whanganui (94), Taranaki (172), Tairāwhiti (57), Wairarapa (67), Capital and Coast (466), Hutt Valley (177), Nelson Marlborough (206), Canterbury (985), South Canterbury (106), Southern (519), West Coast (67) and five were yet to be linked. There are also 85 imported cases.

The war in Ukraine – has stalled, perhaps?  There are terrible videos about of wounded people; tragic stories of bereavements; stories about Putin having cancer, and about plots to roll him; whatever’s going on there, there’s no doubt that Russian troops have wrought immense destruction and death, and I doubt that Putin’s going to pick up the pieces and make things better any time soon. All this tragedy and turmoil is quite unnecessary. George (Dubya) Bush made an extraordinary gaffe when he spoke to a university recently, citing the “decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq”; oh, he meant Ukraine. And then he had the nerve to giggle about this Freudian slip. Well, we know it wasn’t his decision alone – then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney and lots of US journalists helped him make the decision, but I remember the huge protests in London and other places that accompanied this decision; the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair went along with this “boots and all”.  There was a British scandal, too – remember the “sexed up” dossier”, and the suicide of Dr David Kelly. At the time I thought, as did many others, that Dubya was the worst ever president of the US. He was later to comment that Donald Trump made his presidency look better, and, of course, it did, although that’s not saying much. I remember someone who lived in the US calling the invasion of Iraq “the end of US hegemony” (what a beautiful word hegemony is).   Well. they did topple Saddam Hussein, but there were no WMDs there. Many US and UK troops died needlessly,  and thousands more Iraqis died needlessly and had their way of life totally disrupted. There was no Plan B, about how Iraq would be administered after the war, or how many US troops would stay there (I believe there’re still some there). Instead, we got ISIS.

Also in the US, more texts have been released from Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, showing that she urged Arizona legislators to deliver an alternate slate of electors to the Electoral College, to show that Trump has won Arizona rather than Biden. Will any of these people be held accountable? It doesn’t look like it.

We spoke to our son in the UK; he has recently visited Lithuania. He commented that it was very clean, in a rather Scandinavian way, with a huge sense of history. We spoke about the Polish-Lithuanian Empire, which I have been reading about. The history of Europe is so interesting, and down here we are so very far away! 

During the evening I watched results of the Australian General Election, as the votes were counted.  Labour seemed to be doing well, when you looked at one view of the outcome; other views had Labour and the Coalition (National and Liberal) very close.

It’s now Sunday May 22nd.

I woke up at 1:40 am this morning, but thankfully went back to sleep until 7 am. Then I saw that the Labour Party have won the Australian election, and Antony Albanese will be the next Prime Minister. I also saw that the odious Josh Frydenberg’s, (the former Treasurer), seat is in danger, with the result too close to call at that stage. I gather the Greens have done quite well, which is a relief, considering that Australia has been quite terrible in addressing climate change.

It was very cold this morning; thankfully the windows weren’t too steamed up.

I had church in Wadestown this morning, but I zoomed in along with a few others.  JD was too busy to take me there, and there’s no good public transport options for getting home. It was sunny later in the day, but didn’t really warm up properly. In the winter, even if it’s sunny for a bit, the days are so much shorter that I’m glad of winter woollies.

Today’ Covid 19 report was much better, with less than 5,000 new community cases reported (4,990), and 10 deaths. There are 379 people in hospital, and 9 in Intensive Care. It’s reported that the average age of current hospitalisations is 62 (that’s pretty much the norm).

 The cases reported were spread as follows: Northland (140), Auckland (1693), Waikato (353), Bay of Plenty (165), Lakes (88), Hawke’s Bay (166), MidCentral (182), Whanganui (62), Taranaki (137), Tairāwhiti (27), Wairarapa (58), Capital and Coast (351), Hutt Valley (134), Nelson Marlborough (165), Canterbury (799), South Canterbury (84), Southern (344), West Coast (36), Unknown (6). There were 60 new imported cases.

The disease of Monkeypox is going around, with slowly increasing numbers in some countries.  I read a long article about it, but I find my questions unanswered: if you’ve had chicken pox as a child, or been vaccinated against it, or had the shingles vaccine (Zostavax, free for people over 65), are you immune to monkeypox?  From the photographs, it causes a rash of skin pustules, a but larger than chickenpox ones.  I don’t know if it leaves scars like smallpox.

I later find out it’s more like small pox than chicken pox or shingles; sexual contact is one of the main means of transmission.

It’s now Monday May 23rd.

It’s a beautiful fine day today, and not too cold a start. I walked up to the store and back to get some croissants for lunch. When I woke early this morning I listened to the newly released podcast Will be Wild. Man, it quite upset me. I had listened to an episode on the Skulduggery podcast where the authors had spoken about their new podcast, about the events leading up to the riot on January 6 2021. I found it shocking indeed, horrifying.

This afternoon I had my ears suctioned; I had them syringed years ago; now they do suctioning. My GP thought it would be a good idea, and so it was.  It was a little uncomfortable at the time, rather like being at the dentist’s; but I’m glad I had it done.

Today’s Covid 19 report is good-good, although Wellington mayor Andy Foster has Covid 19. Today there are 6,000 new community cases, and there’ve been 9 deaths. There are 363 people in hospital, and 14 in Intensive Care.

It’s reported that cases were broken into regions like this: Northland (158), Auckland (2053), Waikato (463), Bay of Plenty (206), Lakes (77), Hawke’s Bay (163), Mid Central (196), Whanganui (85), Taranaki (179), Tairāwhiti (27), Wairarapa (45), Capital and Coast (444), Hutt Valley (181), Nelson Marlborough (230), Canterbury (878) South Canterbury (90), Southern (461), West Coast (62), Unknown (2). There were 58 new imported cases.

It’s now Wednesday May 25th.

Yesterday I met a friend and we visited the Fine Arts Academy, where there is a wonderful exhibition until 12 June. There are paintings by Charlotte Hird, Vivienne Manthel-French, Philip Markham and others. There are some beautiful paintings, and more lovely things in the gift shop. I would very much like to visit it again. Afterwards, we had lunch at a nearby café, but it was just on midday and very busy there.

This morning it was very cold, but later a fine, sunny day.

This morning I went to hymn singing – lovely, as always. Thankfully I didn’t get a frog in my throat as I sometimes do. Afterwards, I caught a bus into town and had a cup of coffee and a cheese scone. Afterwards, I walked to a cinema where I saw Operation Mincemeat – a very good film.  Pardon my ignorance but I did not know that the British invaded southern Sicily in 1943.  This was a complicated operation to deceive Hitler; Churchill, of course, loved it. I guess the movie showed the intricacy of planning such an operation, and the human side of it too.  Colin Firth, Matthew McFadyen and Jonny Flynn starred; Penelope Wilton too. Jonny Flynn, who played Mr Knightly in the latest film of Emma, starred as Ian Fleming. I enjoyed the film, but I think JD would have hated it, so I didn’t feel guilty about seeing it alone. There were I think 4 other adults in the theatre.

Meanwhile, there’s been another school shooting in – where else – the US, this time in Texas, in an elementary school. Nineteen children have died and two adults. The numbers keep going up. Apparently the gunman, a teenager, is dead. This follows a recent shooting at Buffalo, where ten people died, and it seems this was definitely a hate crime, where the teenage shooter set out to kill black people.

Before this latest tragedy, President Biden said the US would defend Taiwan if China attacked. This has caused a general freak out: another Biden gaffe; why, I wonder? Biden has done a marvellous job of unifying support for Ukraine against the Russian attack, without committing any US forces to the special military action; why shouldn’t he do the same for Taiwan? This was no gaffe, in my view.

In New Zealand, the governor of the Reserve Bank has raised the OCR to 2%.  I thought the OCR announcement was made on a Thursday. Now it’s evidently on Wednesday.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are officially 8,150 new cases, and it’s reported that omicron sub-variant BA. 2.12.1 has been detected. This case does not have a direct link to the border.  There are 368 people in hospital, including 11 in Intensive Care. There have been 11 deaths.

Of the 11 deaths reported, two were from the Auckland region, one from Waikato, two from Taranaki, one from Hawke’s Bay, one from MidCentral, three from Canterbury, and one from Southern. One person was aged under 10, one was in their 30s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, three were in their 80s, and four were aged over 90.

It was announced yesterday that New Zealand would stay at the Orange level.  The Hon Chris Hipkins predicts that New Zealand will have another wave of omicron. There were a number of public transport cancellations today, because of staff sickness.

There is worldwide concern about monkeypox, which is spreading around the world, but it is not thought to be as infectious, or pose as much of a threat, as the coronavirus.

In the US elections today, Brian Kemp won his primary election against the Trump-endorsed Brian Purdue; when I looked, Brad Raffensberger was ahead of his competitors for Secretary of State; and Herschel Walker had also won his primary. Perhaps there are chances here for democrats after all.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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