A Mild, Wet Winter

A slip at Wellington’s Wilton’s Bush

Today is Friday August 19th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night again, was not a good night. I figured after a while that I was too hot!  It’s raining, and foggy, of course, but not cold.  I woke up at 2:40 am, much too early, and I listened to a The Rest is History podcast about Victorian Holidays; I also listened to a Real Dictators podcast about Napoleon in Egypt; I heard about the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (which the British obtained and which went to the British Museum); after that I must have gone back to sleep.  At some stage I listened to a Hacks on Tap podcast episode which featured David Axelrod and Mike Murphy, with Maggie Haberman of the New York Times as their guest. Then I listened to the daily  Bulwark podcast with Charlie Sykes talking to Philip Bump of the Washington Post.

There’s been very heavy rain and flooding in parts of Nelson and Tasman, and in the far north of Aotearoa.  Hundreds of homes have had to be evacuated.

At midday someone from Access came to do some housework. I changed the towels and sheets. It’s still raining.

In the US, Trump seems to be in a whole heap of trouble, as arguments rage about unsealing the affidavit that was part of the search warrant. It seems that three acts were cited as possible reasons for the search, including the Espionage Act.  His CFO, Allan Weisselberg, has pled guilty to 12 (15?) charges in New York. Weisselberg accepted a plea deal in terms of which he is expected to testify against the Trump organisation. And it seems that before the insurrection ono January 6, there was warning of threats against Nancy Pelosi, which were suppressed by the Trump organisation.  In primary elections, Liz Cheney lost her chance to represent the voters of Wyoming, but has vowed to see that Trump does not become president again.  While many admire her political courage, let us not forget that she almost always votes  republican, and has voted against Biden’s landmark legislation.  Still, good for her in standing up to Trump, and serving on the January 6 committee, where she has been very effective. 

In Ukraine, the war rages on, with great concern about the bug nuclear plant at Zaporizhia. It was pointed out that the reactors need a lot of water; if there’s a power outage for some reason, the water for cooling systems may be imperilled.

It’s now Saturday August 20th.

It’s been another day of rain and low cloud, with some very heavy falls overnight and this morning. The newspaper was quite sodden this morning, although it comes in a plastic bag. I had to dry it out before doing the puzzles – which are always best on a Saturday! I registered online that the newspaper was wet, and I should receive a credit. Another newspaper will not be delivered. Again I’m asked if I’d recommend the newspaper to someone else. I would not, I just get it for the puzzles and the obituaries. The newspaper seems to get thinner every weekday.

It’s been flooding overnight in the Nelson area, and there are many slips. Thankfully we’re not affected by flooding or by slips.

JD had to go out in the morning, and then we both went out, firstly to the library at Johnsonville. As usual, the carpark is busy and difficult to manoeuvre in. as usual. The café is full, with people sitting at the tables outside the café in the wide passageway.  I return one book, and pick up another which is on reserve. The number of reserves is huge – many people must have twigged to this rather than mastering the weird shelving system at Waitohi.. The self-issuing machine is occupied, so I go quite a long way in search of another. Then we go to New World in Thorndon.  It’s quieter than usual, probably because it’s lunchtime.  We get all the things on my list except for psyllium, which we cannot find.  I buy some rhubarb stalks to cook – I’m so tired of not having rhubarb or raspberries for breakfast, We also buy some gold kiwifruit, the last lot were very ripe and I had to throw most of them out. Avocadoes are 3 for $5, which seems like a good deal to me: they’re quite large. Avocadoes have been marvellous, lasting from last summer. We don’t get salads this time, but we do get a potato-topped pie. There are lots of pies today!

Last night I slept much better than usual. I listened again to a Real Dictators podcast episode about Napoleon in Egypt. While I thought I knew a bit about this time in history, I find there is a great deal more to learn! 

It’s now Sunday August  21st.

Today it isn’t raining. The country can start cleaning up again. I went for a walk to the local shops, but they don’t have psyllium husks, which is rather annoying. I  zoomed into a church service this morning. 

I have started reading Agent Sonya, by Ben Macintyre.  It’s a rollicking good read. I reserved this at the library, and it came right away. Of course, it’s quite a long book, so I push aside all my unfinished books in order to read this now.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 2,100 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today and 15 virus-related deaths. There are 436 people in hospital with the virus, including 7 in intensive care.

Of the 15 people whose deaths were reported today: four were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from MidCentral, two were from Wellington region, three were from Canterbury.

The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations today is 487 – last Sunday, it was 587.

The regional breakdown of the 436 people in hospital with Covid-19 is Northland: 16; Waitematā: 64; Counties Manukau: 38; Auckland: 55; Waikato: 68; Bay of Plenty: 17; Lakes: 10; Hawke’s Bay: 19; MidCentral: 30; Whanganui: 3; Taranaki: 11; Tairawhiti: 0; Wairarapa: 2; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 13; Nelson Marlborough: 7; Canterbury: 41; West Coast: 3; South Canterbury: 6; Southern: 18.

It comes as new wastewater results from ESR have revealed Omicron BA.5 is now by far the most dominant Covid strain across New Zealand.

It’s now Tuesday August 23rd.

Yesterday I didn’t blog; we went to town about lunchtime. It hardly rained all day!  JD was worried about the advertised street blockages in preparation for a protest, but we went to The Terrace, which wasn’t blocked. We went to Whitcoulls, and then had lunch at Sierra Café, one of my favourite places – not that there are many left.  It’s roomy there, and they don’t have loud music.  I had avocado on toast, he had corn fritters; I had a taste of his delicious date and orange muffin. Afterwards we went to Commonsense Organics at the top of Tory Street- it’s really hard to get to, although there is a carpark in that complex. I bought some psyllium husks (they’ve become really hard to get), and some Hōhepa Danbo cheese. Then we went home, and I found to my surprise that my new Listener had arrived.  The magazine competed with my reading of Agent Sonya, a very racy and interesting story. 

By the evening I had completed all the Listener puzzles – both sudokus, both crosswords, and the code cracker.  Last night Poi E was the movie on Te Whakaata Māori, which I’ve seen twice, so we watched an episode of Superpumped on Prime Television, about the rise of Uber.

In Moscow, Alexander Dugin’s daughter has been killed by a bomb in the car she was driving.  Dugin is a friend of Vladimir Putin, and has extremely far-right views.  It’s suspected that the car bomb was meant to kill him; Putin is blaming Ukraine.  No surprise there.

Today there actually is a protest in Wellington, led by Brian Tamaki of the Destiny Church. Last night it was reported that 7 vehicles were to drive from Taranaki to join the protest.  Apparently there’s a counter protest too. Tamaki’s protest is said to be about Freedom and Rights. Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s caucus has expelled the troublesome Dr Gaurav Sharma. Will he keep quiet now?  He certainly has taken attention from the National Party’s problem child, Sam Uffindell. Luxon must be breathing several sighs of relief.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 3,693 new Covid cases reported today – and 35 Covid-related deaths, including four people in their 60s. Ten people were in their 70s, 13 in their 80s and eight were aged over 90.

Of today’s 35 deaths, six people were from Northland, six were from the Auckland region, two from Waikato, one each was from Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, MidCentral and the Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, nine from Canterbury, one was from West Coast, one from South Canterbury and one was from Southern.

Today’s figures show 402 people are in hospital and six people are receiving intensive care. They are in Northland (seven), Waitematā (57), Counties Manukau (35), Auckland (52), Waikato (66), Bay of Plenty (17), Lakes (nine), Hawke’s Bay (16), MidCentral (28), Whanganui (three), Taranaki (12), Wairarapa (six), Capital & Coast (15), Hutt Valley (12), Nelson Marlborough (eight), Canterbury (42), West Coast (four), South Canterbury (four) and Southern (nine).

Today is a beautiful sunny day. I walked up to the local store carrying, not wearing, my jacket.  I bought some croissants for lunch.

The protest, that marched to Parliament grounds, has wound up. It’s said that about 2,000 protesters marched, and there were about 500 counter-protesters. Tamaki is evidently launching a new political party. The protest seemed to be peaceful, and not nearly as disruptive as earlier protests. When asked by a journalist whether national would be aligning with Tamaki’s new party, Chris Luxon wisely said that it was too early to make any statements about political party alliances. He later received criticism for not ruling out such an alliance.

It’s now Wednesday August 24th.

Today is my eldest grandson’s 10th birthday, and the second anniversary of our special friend in Auckland’s death. This morning I got up early and went to hymn singing again.  It was lovely, of course, and I can still sing – somewhat, although I don’t have much breath. But then I didn’t before I had Covid 19, either. Afterwards some of us had morning tea, which was also a treat. I didn’t know the hymns although hymns are easy to pick up. One tune sounded very like Old Hundredth.

We had quite an intellectual conversation – about literature, music, opera, ballet and art.  What a treat!

Today’s covid 19 report is finally a lot more hopeful.  There are 3,140 new community Covid-19 cases to report across the country. There were 373 people in hospital with the virus, six of whom were in an intensive care or high dependency care unit, the Ministry said. There have been a further 4 deaths reported in the past 24 hours. That is far less than has been reported for weeks now. There were 147 cases in people who’d recently travelled overseas. There seems to be some confusion about the number of deaths.

It’s now Thursday August 25th.

I was really tired after Wednesday’s excitement, so I sent an apology for my Thursday singing, and went to tai chi instead. One of the tutors was away, but it was lovely, of course. Despite the forecasted rain, it stayed fine, and not really cold. JD was too busy to pick me up afterwards, so I caught a train into Wellington with a friend, and then a bus into town. I had coffee and a toasted cheese scone at Smith the Grocer café – delicious!  It’s a really popular place, so I left as soon as I’d finished eating – there was already a huge queue there. I walked to Unity Books, and had a lovely browse. They didn’t have Promised Lands by Jonathan Parry – they offered to get it for me, but at $90 for the hardback version I said no. I did however buy a book about Stalingrad by Iain MacGregor.  I listened recently to two podcast episodes on The Rest is History, where Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland talked to the author.  This book has lots of photos, which helps to understand the conflict. For some reason I’m fascinated by this battle.

I then went to catch a bus back to the northern suburbs. Usually there’s at least one every 10 minutes, but today two were cancelled. I waited for the next bus, which was several minutes late, and then despite my standing at the bus stop and waving, the bus did not stop! How very annoying that is.  I waited some more, and then caught a bus to Grenada Village, getting off at the Johnsonville Library, where I caught a number 19 bus home.  Boy, I was tired after all that, but chuffed that I could do it.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 2,780 new community cases, and 336 people in hospital, including 6 in Intensive Care. Apparently there have been a further 20 deaths.

Of the 20 deaths reported today: five were from Northland, two were from Auckland region, four were from Waikato, two were from Taranaki, four were from MidCentral, three were from Canterbury. One was in their 30s, two were in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, six were in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, 13 were women and seven were men.

It’s almost a week since I started this blog. Time to stop now!  Slava Ukraini! Ngā

More Wild Weather

Wild weather and flooding in Nelson

Today is Tuesday August 16th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night was not a good night for me, but after midday I started to feel better. It’s not nearly as cold now as it has been. Not well enough to walk to the shops, however; I relied on JD to take me. Sadly, they have no rhubarb – neither stalks or conveniently sliced.

We do go out for lunch – to Kaizen, one of my favourite cafés.  The ones closer look really full. Kaizen is lovely with well-spaced tables, some of which are empty. I have a cheese omelette, and their beautiful rhubarb shortcake. Of course I don’t need it, and I feel quite satisfied after the omelette, but somehow one manages to find room for pudding.

I have been reading more of the LRB dated 6 January: a really interesting book review about the period of England from 1588 to 1699. We feel as though things  are mightily unsettled right now, but that was a terrible time in England with the regicide of King Charles II Cromwell, and the Protectorate, and great religious division. I tried to read Paul Lay’s Providence Lost, but I couldn’t cope with the violence.  Then there is a review of a book about duelling, and affairs of honour. There’s also a review of a biography of W.G. Sebald, called Speak, Silence. I have tried to read this book and found it not to my interest, but I did find some of his books quite amazing – specifically Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn. There’s also an interesting article about American conspiracy theories (oh, dear!) and a story about the artist Fragonard. And then there’s Alan Bennett’s pandemic diary. Lots of interesting reading.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: it’s reported that another 21 people with Covid-19 have died while there are 4,811 new community cases of the virus.

In its daily update, the ministry said there were also 533 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 12 in intensive care or a high dependency unit. That compared with 536 people in hospital with the virus, including 13 in ICU or a HDU yesterday.

The cases in hospital were in Northland: 25; Waitematā: 64; Counties Manukau: 61; Auckland: 62; Waikato: 77; Bay of Plenty: 17; Lakes: 8; Hawke’s Bay: 38; MidCentral: 16; Whanganui: 8; Taranaki: 11; Tairāwhiti: 1; Wairarapa: 10; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 12; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 68; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 13 and Southern: 14. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations is 556 – last Tuesday it was 645.

On the deaths being reported today, six were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, three were from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, three were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury and one was from Southern. Five were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 13 were women and eight were men. There are now a total of 1782 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.

It was reported that in the past seven days there have been an average of 13 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19. There were also 169 new Covid-19 cases reported at the border.

It’s now Wednesday August 17th.

Last night was disappointing. Although it was quite mild, I did not sleep much. I wasn’t a great sleeper before I had Covid 19; now I think the sleep disturbances have got worse.  I did listen to several podcasts: Willy Dalrymple’s Empire, introduced on The Rest is History: Willy Dalrymple is a great talker, he does rather go on and on. I found this interesting, however. I also listened to the American Scandal podcast about Edward Snowden – what paranoia! And the Real Dictators podcast about Napoleon called The Italian Job about Napoleon’s invasion of Italy. In fact, it wasn’t united Italy then, it was a series of fiefdoms. I also listened to a We Have Ways podcast entitled Greece Part 2. Warning: the titles don’t always bear much relation to the contents.  There’s a lot of banter, and a lot of “Yeah yeah yeah”, all rather annoying. There are some gems too. These were all moderately interesting – the news episodes drop later this week, so one is reduced to finding new podcasts to listen too, or listening again to ones one has already heard.  

Actually there was a redeeming feature in this podcast: they spoke about the new movie Operation Mincemeat (which wasn’t set in Greece, by the way).  It was quite a good movie, but having listened to the lads I can see its flaws.  It’s been interesting to hear their take on the Midway movie, and on Munich: the Edge of War, which was on one of the streaming services.

This morning – it’s raining. Again. A friend came to visit – that was lovely. I really should be braver about doing stuff and not moping around not feeling well enough to do stuff.  But I certainly don’t feel up to catching a bus or train yet.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: because it’s Tuesday, the numbers are up a bit after the weekend. It’s reported that another 21 people with Covid-19 have died while there are 4,811 new community cases of the virus. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 4073 – last Tuesday, it was 5120.

It was reported that there were also 533 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 12 in intensive care or a high dependency unit. That compared with 536 people in hospital with the virus, including 13 in ICU or a HDU yesterday. The cases in hospital were in Northland: 25; Waitematā: 64; Counties Manukau: 61; Auckland: 62; Waikato: 77; Bay of Plenty: 17; Lakes: 8; Hawke’s Bay: 38; MidCentral: 16; Whanganui: 8; Taranaki: 11; Tairāwhiti: 1; Wairarapa: 10; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 12; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 68; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 13 and Southern: 14. That’s still lots of people in hospital in Hawkes Bay, and in Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

On the deaths being reported today, six were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, three were from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, three were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury and one was from Southern. Five were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 13 were women and eight were men.

There are now a total of 1,782 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. In the past seven days there have been an average of 13 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19. There were also 169 new Covid-19 cases reported at the border. So that’s that. There are still too many deaths.

Today marks one year since New Zealand went into lockdown for the delta variant of Covid 19.  This seems slightly laughable now, but other countries had been through Covid 19/delta and had pretty high death rates – the wave in India was particularly distressing. I think there was one case here, but soon there were more, in fact it never really went away. Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) was in severe lockdown for weeks – 13, I think – until the beginning of December. Auckland borders were opened – I think mid December. Aucklanders couldn’t wait to get away.

Now, there are virtually no restrictions.  We can take whatever risks we feel like. The isolation period is down to 7 days, and a close contact is someone who lives in your home.  Masks are still common in Wellington, and are required on public transport and in supermarkets and most shops. You don’t have to scan QR codes, although one can still do a manual entry – which I do, on the whole. It’s useful to know where I’ve been, and it can be frustratingly hard to remember. Now we are (condemned to) living with Covid 19. Many cafes are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and closing at 3 ppm rather than 4 pm. And who can blame them – they’ve had a really hard time for the last 1 1/2 years. Everywhere, including public transport, is affected by sickness and staff shortages.

It’s now Thursday August 18th.

This morning I went to tai chi again. It is raining again, but not nearly as cold as last week. It was lovely to go to Tai chi again; I’m telling myself it’s good for my balance (and I’m, sure it is). On the way home we stopped at Nada Bakery and bought some yummy food – a scone, a doughnut, some savouries, and a pie.

Last night I zoomed into Macbeth Unpacked, an online session in preparation for the Verdi opera Macbeth about to be performed in Auckland and Wellington in September.  They had speakers about Shakespeare’s Scottish play, the conductor and director of the opera Macbeth, and the head of MZ Opera.  I think 107 people zoomed in; among names that I recognised were Rob Julian, Roger Hall and Karen Grylls.  The session was free. The conductor really impressed me. I do indeed want to go to the performance. There are only 3 in Wellington, instead of the usual 5.  I don’t know this opera, but I do know Shakespeare’s play, have seen several film versions, and I greatly admire Verdi’s music.  Today I listened again to The Rest is History podcast about Macbeth.

During the night I listened to a British Scandal podcast about the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 (not 1938).  This was the third episode, and for some reason it was extremely difficult to listen to: my phone kept wanting to play something else.  It seems really sad that David and Wallis were forced into an extremely difficult situation,  where there was really no practical way out. David and Wallis (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor) were exiled from England, not one member of his family came to their wedding, and they didn’t have enough money. David had nothing to do, and few friends; he’d lost his entire way of life. They were wooed by the Nazis, and considered traitors for cosying up to them.  It seems that Wallis wanted to stay married to Ernest Simpson, but he was engaged to marry her best friend. What a sad story.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows:

There are 4,540 new community cases of Covid-19 reported, along with 473 people in hospital. Ten people are in intensive care. There have been 16 virus-related deaths.

It was reported that of the 16 people who died one was from Northland, four were from Auckland region, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, four were from Wellington region and two were from Canterbury. Three were in their 60s, three were in their 70s, seven were in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, eight were women and eight were men.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today was 3928 – last Thursday, it was 4750. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations was 527 – last Thursday, it was 617. There were now a total of 1807 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 was now 12.

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

Ground Zero

“St Jerome in his study”, Albrecht Durer, 1521

It’s now Saturday August 13th, 2022. Kia ora!

It was very cold and frosty this morning, but this turned into a fine sunny day.

There’s a lot happening at present. Anne Heche has died (after being declared brain-dead); Salman Rushdie has been stabbed several times while on stage in New York, is on a ventilator, and may lose an eye; he is unable to speak. The FBI’s search warrant at Mar-a-Lago has been unsealed, revealing that documents relating to nuclear weapons, some classified, were taken in the search; Trump may have violated three Acts here; and, oh, yes, the US House of Representatives has passed the Inflation Reduction Act (known as the IRA) – with no Republican votes, in the Senate or the House.  This is a wonderful act, with many provisions – it’s a BFD, as Charlie Sykes at The Bulwark would say. It now goes to President Biden for his signature, to sign it into law.  It’s strange that the succession of this bill is minor news, compared to all the other stuff that’s going on. It’s a major achievement for the Democrats.

This morning I listened to two episodes of The Rest is History podcast about the Roman emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. They were quite a couple! One point of note is that they talked about the frescoes in Ravenna, and I was watching an episode on Youtube which showed them last night.  So it was nice to note that while I haven’t been to Ravenna, I knew what they were talking about.  I’ve added Ravenna to the growing list of destinations for my fantasy trip overseas.

On a sad note, the author Raymond Briggs has died. When the Wind Blows was an illustrated book he wrote about a nuclear attack on Great Britain. While it looked like a children’s book, it certainly wasn’t a book for children.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 3,650 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today – a continued fall in infection numbers as the country emerges from the second wave of Omicron. There are 546 people in hospital with the virus, including 10 in intensive care.  There have been 27 deaths. So while it’s a good thing that there are fewer reported cases, and hospitalisations, it bothers me that there’s still quite a high death toll. A friend of mine went into hospital a few weeks ago for an operation, and tested that she was free of Covid 19, only to catch it in hospital.

The 27 new deaths of people with Covid-19 reported today include three people who were in their 50s, two in their 60s, seven in their 70s, 12 in their 80s and three aged over 90. Sixteen were women and 11 were men. One was from Northland, seven were from Auckland region, two were from Waikato, two were from Lakes, three were from Hawke’s Bay, two were from Taranaki, three were from MidCentral, two were from Whanganui, one was from Wellington region, three were from Canterbury, one was from Southern.

We went shopping to New World in Thorndon. Again, they had no raspberries, and no potato-topped pies, but I bought coffee beans, salads, bread, some brie, oat and raisin biscuits. 

On Saturday night we watched American Animals on Te Whakaata Māori. I had seen it before, but it was worth watching again. Four “friends” conspire to steal an extremely rare book from – I’m not joking here – the library of Transylvania University.  This crime was just so weird it was interesting to watch, in an odd sort of way.

It’s now Monday August 15th.

Yesterday I zoomed into a church service – they had a baptism, too, and although I heard the baby crying, I couldn’t see the ceremony.  Afterwards, we went into town for lunch, but I had forgotten it was Visa on a Plate, and the restaurant I wanted to go to was full, with a queue. We ended up going to a vegan restaurant; this wouldn’t have been my first choice, but my pancakes with lemon curd, plum and berry compȏte, and coconut shavings, were delicious, although the music was rather loud. It was cold and windy outside.

This morning it’s not so cold, but there is a spectacular red sky early in the morning. That’s a shepherd’s warning; evidently there was a red sky yesterday morning as well. But the All Blacks beat the South African Springboks by 35 – 23.  The Argentinian rugby team, the Pumas, beat Australia’s Wallabies decisively. 

I watched a Stuff documentary called Fire and Fury about the protest encampment in Parliament grounds earlier this year, which seemed to go on – for ever, although it was only for a few scary weeks.  The documentary follows up on the big story in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times, about sinister drivers beneath the protest, catching up nervous people in some truly frightening violent threats, based on ideas that the government is bad, that vaccines are dangerous, and that violence is justified – echoing the convoy protest in Ottawa, and other such protests. The story argues that this protest (and others like it) are really about destroying democracy; some advocate right-wing elements getting elected to any positions of power, as republicans are doing in America, and thus being “in charge”. I cannot for the life of me understand why people would want to destroy elements of a society that works well on the whole: the business of issuing passports, or driving licenses, even if you can’t go overseas; health and education systems; paved roads, footpaths, utilities such as running water. I could go on and on.  I must say I found this documentary, and the accompanying fear of the media, really frustrating.  The media are certainly annoying, but you can learn different views and make your own opinion about  divisive issues. These elements of civilisation are really to be valued: why would you discredit them?

Today’s Covid 19 report continues the good (or, rather better) news: there are 3,387 new community cases reported, we are down to 12 deaths, and there are 536 people in hospital. Apparently this is the lowest number of daily new cases since February. There are 15 people in Intensive Care. 

On the deaths being reported today, two were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, two were from MidCentral, one was from Whanganui, three were from Canterbury, one was from Southern. Three were in their 60s, one was in their 70s, six were in their 80s and two were aged over 90. Of these people, four were women and eight were men. There are now a total of 1750 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. In the past seven days there have been an average of 14 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19, the ministry said. There were also 171 new Covid-19 cases at the border.

It seems that we will have to live with Covid 19, but it also seems that that latest intense wave is easing.  As someone who’s had Covid 19 (and I’m glad I had both the vaccine jabs and a booster), I wish the anti-vax people would take this more seriously. I doubt if I will ever get back to “the way I was before”, which wasn’t great, by the way. It seems so ironic that I want to get back to that now.  It feels like Ground Zero right now – recovery takes a long time.  Anyway, protesting is not for me – sleeping in a tent, using portaloos, lacking showering facilities. I want some degree of comfort and cleanliness.

We had hard-boiled egg sandwiches for lunch. After lunch I have been reading (and rereading) an LRB dated 6 January, which somehow got put away, only partly read. How interesting it is! It has a very interesting article about the COP summit in Glasgow (how long ago that seems now!); about the Bidens – specifically President Joe’s two brothers. To say it’s a strange family somehow beggars belief.  The story barely mentions Hunter Biden, by the way.

There’s also a long review of Ben Macintyre’s book Agent Sonya. What a strange life this woman had, and a number of romantic partners. One of them came close to assassinating Adolf Hitler, in a plot that I heard about on one of my podcasts. The plot failed, but Sonya’s story is truly amazing. 

Then there was an extremely interesting story before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year. It talks about Putin’s aims, as set out in a long essay written by him and published in July 2021 called “On the Historical Unity of the Russians and Ukrainians”. It also talks a lot about Belarus, and Putin’s support for Lukashenko, the dictator there, also about Ukrainian history, and quotes historian Serhii Plokhy’s 2015 book “The Gates of Europe” about the history of Ukraine (a book I have dipped into; it’s a huge tome, and I didn’t read all of it). It also talks about Nord Stream 2, the election of President Zelensky, and NATO. What an interesting article. I remember for the months preceding the February attack the fear that Putin would attack Ukraine; now the war’s been going for 6 months, and doesn’t show much sign of stopping.  There’s still lots of reading to be done in this issue. Again I am torn between relief at not feeling obliged to read each issue, when it comes in the post, and missing the really good articles that I find most interesting.

In Ukraine, Zelensky has vowed to take out Russian soldiers guarding the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhia, and Ukrainian forces have greatly damaged a bridge at the city of Kherson (presently under Russian control).

There’s also a brief article in the LRB about an exhibition of paintings by Albrecht Dϋrer in the National Gallery in London. This article focusses on a painting of St Jerome that was given to a Portuguese friend of his in Antwerp. I remember seeing a painting (Salvator Mundi) by Dϋrer at the Met in New York, as well as some of his rather scary etchings (including Melancholia) which were on display at the Art Gallery above the erstwhile Dominion Museum.  This rather wonderful museum was replaced by the even more wonderful (and much larger) Te Papa Tongarewa.  There was an outcry when the Art Gallery seemed not to be replaced; eventually Te Papa opened Toi Art, a dedicated art section, and it is quite wonderful too. I’ve been there many times.

In the US, it has transpired that the FBI took 11 boxes of classified documents away from Mar-a-Lago. Far from their activity being a raid, the FBI agents wore plain clothes, liaised with Trump’s secret service officers, and went whan he was not there – actually, he was in New York, busy taking “The Fifth” when required to testify to New York Attorney General Letitia James. Of course, he has the right not to incriminate himself, although he decried this during his 2016 campaign for president; one wit joked about how hard it must have been for him not to say anything (as, no doubt, requested by his lawyers).  One of his lawyers assured the FBI (or perhaps the National Archives) in June that there were no classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Republican governors Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Larry Hogan of Maryland have come out to the effect that some republican reaction to the FBI’s legal search was overblown. Of course, the action to search a past president’s home was unprecedented; but then, Trump was unprecedented, too. Many people including former FBI officers like Frank Figluzzi have said how scared they were by Trump’s extreme casualness around document classification and national security; especially so, after excoriating Hillary Clinton’s supposed carelessness concerning her email server (which an aide of hers, Huma Abedin, had access to).  These republican guys take hypocrisy to a whole new level. By the way, it seems Trump may be charged under the Espionage Act. 

That’s it for now. I look forward to reading the rest of my 6 January LRB issue – I’m about half way through it. Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi.

Red Flags

The attack on the Russian air base in Crimea by Ukrainian forces

It’s now Wednesday August 10th, 2022. Kia ora! Today there’s lots to write about.

Early this morning I listened to another We Have Ways podcast about the extreme bravery of the resistance in France, and a SOE operation in Greece, during the Second World War. Once I had got over some rather annoying banter, I wondered at these stories, and again at the ease with which people in the Northern Hemisphere can travel around.

New National Party MP for Tauranga (replacing erstwhile National leader Simon Bridges) Sam Uffindell is in a spot of bother.  Christopher Luxon (new National leader) and his deputy Nicola Willis continue to support him, as stated by this morning’s Dom Post, but there was news from a former female flatmate about his taunting her, and her escaping though a window!  The information was later removed and could not be found during the day. It seemed that Uffindell had told someone on the candidate selection committee about his assault on a thirteen year old boy, but Luxon was not told. Matty McLean pointed out that there was some irony in the fact that Luxon was supporting Uffindell while voting against getting rid of the three strikes act for violent behaviour. There was much discussion during the day about bullying along the lines of “boys will be boys”, bullying was part of life, especially at prestigious private schools,  and excusing something that happened 22 years ago.  I would pick that since Uffindel was effectively expelled from the Kings College, the college had probably given him several warnings, and had had enough of his behaviour. Uffindel was stood down (whatever that means) pending a two week investigation of – what exactly? The terms of reference of the investigation weren’t announced. As I noted earlier, he obviously wasn’t captain of the 1st Fifteen, or even of the 2nd Fifteen, or in any senior position.

There’s more rather shocking news this morning, courtesy of Radio NZ news, 87 people (an average of four per week) have died of Covid 19 at home since March; over 400 had died in rest homes. There are valid questions as to whether any medical support was provided, or whether these folk had simply slipped under the radar.  I felt grateful that I’d had JD here during my severe illness with Covid 19; I don’t think I could have coped on my own, but I didn’t want to go to hospital.

In the US, many have expressed fears about the extreme response of republicans to the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. At first, many people wondered which of Trump’s many legal entanglements had caused this move. This was not a raid, by the way; it was a legitimate search. It transpired during the day that the search was for documents, some presumed classified, that were official documents and not necessarily Trump’s personal property.  This was a follow-up to two previous attempts to get documents that should not have been there. Although there has not been a “protest” as yet, there has been the threat of violence; this is very scary. Many republicans expect another civil war; meanwhile, President Biden is doing wonderful things to help America, and perhaps confront the ever more evident drastic effects of climate change. It was later reported that congressman Scott Perry’s phone was seized by the FBI. Make of that what you will, but some will recall that Perry wanted a pardon for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election. He was the dude who introduced Jeffrey Clark (aka Acting Attorney General) to Trump.  While there are millions of people, not only in the US but ourselves looking on, wondering when if ever Trump will be held to account, there’s a huge backlash against this legitimate action (a legal search warrant, granted by a judge), it’s feared that Trump’s potential run for President in 2024 has been given a huge boost, just when it was hoped that his lustre amongst republicans was fading somewhat. There have been many discussions as to whether he should be charged;  most now think that he should. The consequences  are going to be ghastly, in either event.

I listened to an American scandal podcast, the last in the series about chemicals created by the big firm Du Pont.  The author interviewed Robert Bilott, the lawyer played by Tom Ruffalo in the film Dark Waters. Forever chemicals American scandal.  The discussion about what are now known as “forever chemicals” was particularly concerning.

There’s news from Ukraine that the large nuclear plant at Zaporizhia with six reactors has been shelled by the Russians, causing enormous concern amongst nuclear experts and others about potential radiation leaks. Like Covid 19, radiation is an invisible threat. Dr John Campbell departed from his usual non-hysterical disease analysis to talk about the threat of nuclear radiation; he also went over what happened at Chernobyl in 1986, and the spread of radiation from that disaster. He didn’t wat to e alarmist, but he did rather alarm this viewer. It seems the Russians may not need to use “tactical nuclear weapons” (whatever they are) to achieve their objectives (what objectives?). It seems that Putin wants to render Ukraine a waste land – all if not most of it. It does upset me when so many people say “nucular” instead of nuclear. It’s not difficult, for goodness sake!

On the other hand, the Ukrainians blew up a Russian fuel depot in Crimea, shocking Russians sunning themselves on the beach. There were huge explosions and spectacular “mushroom” clouds. It’s thought that at least 8 aircraft were destroyed.   I have been listening to a week-day podcast produced by the Telegraph about the war in Ukraine, and it noted recently that it’s thought there have been 80,000 Russian casualties, and Putin is having trouble recruiting soldiers.  It must have been interesting for Russian tourists in Crimea to see Ukrainians having a devastating effect on a Russian base. Many of them left – this wasn’t the kind of holiday they’d bargained for.

I can’t resist briefly commenting on the Sussex saga.  It seems that Meghan is channeling Wallis Simpson in some of her clothes and actions. I have been listening to a British Scandal  podcast about the abdication of King Edward VIII (Prince David) in 1938; I had always thought Wallis Simpson was quite unwilling to marry her David and live with him (and his dependency) abroad – they were banned from living in England); she found herself in an unfortunate situation by his abdication. There’s no doubt that she gripped her David’s arm the same way that Meghan grips Harry’s hand or arm, depending how hard he’s trying to escape. There’s also a funny story about Harry’s grundies (from a naked escapade in his pre-marriage days, having had various escapades in Las Vegas) being auctioned in the US. Proceeds are to go to Archewell. 

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: There are 5169 new reported community cases of Covid-19 in Aotearoa today, the Ministry of Health says. There are 11 people in intensive care and 599 hospitalisations. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 4938. Last Wednesday it was 6355. An additional 228 imported cases had been detected in recent arrivals.

There are now a total of 1705 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, the ministry says, which are deaths where Covid-19 is either the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. So we’re not told how many new deaths.

The 599 people in hospital are across Aotearoa: Northland: 36; Waitematā: 59; Counties Manukau: 53; Auckland: 68; Waikato: 60; Bay of Plenty: 23; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 35; MidCentral: 21; Whanganui: 16; Taranaki: 12; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 7; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 16; Nelson Marlborough: 15; Canterbury: 86; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 23; Southern: 31.

It’s now Thursday August 11th.

This morning I went to Tai Chi instead of singing. I figured that it would be easier to cope with. Despite the very cold weather, there was a big turn out there. It was lovely – I did enjoy it. I was a bit unsteady, but I remembered most moves, and only coughed at the end. I was near the door, so could leave for a few moments. I was going to catch the train back to Wellington, and go to Unity Books, but I thought better of that plan and asked JD to come and pick me up (he had offered).   I said to one of my friends there that it was like recovering from my illness almost 11 years ago (my “ground zero”), when Tai Chi was one of the first activities I took up in my new life.

Today’s Covid 19 report tells that there are 4,818 new community cases, and 571 people in hospital, with 13 in Intensive Care. There have been a total of 1,726 deaths; we’re told this past week’s average is 12 per day.

Sam Uffindell is in even more trouble. Uffindell was stood down from National’s caucus late on Tuesday by Luxon as an investigation was launched into allegations made by a female flatmate of Uffindell when the pair studied at Otago University in the early 2000s.

The flatmate said Uffindell had been an aggressive bully who once pounded on her bedroom door, screaming obscenities, until she fled through her window. This was being ignored yesterday, as the bullying incident was  focussed on. This morning it transpired that Uffindell’s flat was disgustingly dirty – the toilet wasn’t cleaned for over a year, and for some time the toilet was discharging into the house’s back yard. Uffindell was attending Otago University, but he doesn’t appear to have graduated.  He drank, and smoked weed – as you do, but this does not excuse some rather unpleasant behaviour, including intimidating a female flatmate, and having female underwear on display. Uffindell joins a list of unsavoury National Party guys who have had to be let go including Jami-Lee Ross, Andrew Falloon, Todd Barclay,  Aaron Gilmore, and probably others. While some of the Labour Party people are less than likeable, and not always very intelligent, they have not all been shown to be this predatory.

It’s now Friday August 12th.

Today at midday someone was supposed to come from Access. Although I was really tired, I got up early, changed the towels, emptied the rubbish, loaded the dishwasher and did some tidying up – in preparation. Someone left a message on my phone, but I couldn’t decipher it at all.  Then I checked my schedule again, and someone else was due to come at 1:30 pm. I rang Access (a mission in itself), and left a message cancelling the “cares”.  I couldn’t cope with having a stranger come: I don’t want strangers coming to my house, and I didn’t want to show him where everything was. It’s a large house, so it’s not that straightforward, although I have tried to streamline things as much as possible.

Other than that, I’ve been reading, writing, and listening to podcasts.

Sam Uffindell is in even more trouble: his student flat in Dunedin was so dirty that flatmates were put on notice by the local council to clean it up. Really, I know students can be pretty gross, but this seems disgusting.

In the US, there’ve been further developments concerning the FBI search of Trump’s private club at Palm Beach in Florida called Mar-a-Lago. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he had known about the search warrant (the Biden White House did not know), and he’s offered to disclose what was being looked for. He’d giving Trump an opportunity to respond. Someone armed with a nail gun and an AR15-like weapon tried to enter the FBI headquarters in Cincinnati, and was later killed after fleeing police.  He was evidently at the January 6 riot, and advocated civil war – as do many republicans, being shocked by this legal search. “Defund the FBI” is the chant of some politicians – which is highly ironic, since the call by some democrats of “defund the police” was seen as being very problematic for them.  There is a very real threat of violence, as enacted by this person in Cincinnati, and many Americans are afraid, comparing these times to those before the Oklahoma bombing in 1995. This was seen as being due to private far-right militia anger at some developments. Americans have reason to be afraid, given the prevalence of gun violence in their society. Free to be afraid, what?

Then the Washington Post broke some alarming new news: it claimed that some if not all of the documents sought (some if not all classified) related to nuclear weapons.  This is truly terrifying.  Republicans calling for the search warrant to be disclosed are not so sure now that that’s what they want.   There are very real fears about what may happen next, and what peril the US may be in, internally and externally.

Today’s covid 119 report seems mundane compared to these issues. Today there are 4,126 new community cases, and there’ve been 13 more deaths. There are 609 people in hospital, says the RNZ News headline, but their actual report says 549 people are in hospital. we’re not told how many are in Intensive Care. The NZ Herald says 549 people are in hospital, and 16 are in Intensive Care.

The 13 people with Covid-19 whose deaths were reported include five people in their 70s, five in their 80s and three aged over 90. Eight were women and five were men. One was from Northland, three were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Canterbury, three were from Southern.

So I guess the numbers are inching down, gradually.  I still wish I hadn’t got it. That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

The rain, it raineth (almost) Every Day

A slip on Wellington’s The Terrace, causing evacuation of 8 houses

It’s now Monday August 8th. Kia ora!

Last night there was rough weather, and it’s continued throughout the day. It has got very cold, as forecast. I am happy to be nice and warm tucked up inside. The predicted snow and cold temperatures have come.

Early this morning I listened to a podcast with the American podcaster (Hardcore History) having a conversation with Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland. They ranged across a range of subjects, but the one which really caught my attention was their discussion about the use of nuclear weapons, and the threat by Putin of their use in the conflict in Ukraine.  Dan seemed to me more terrified of their use than the two British historians, and I am inclined to side with him; I remember well the CND marches in Wellington; the French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific Ocean (and the Rainbow Warrior’s efforts to stop them); the Labour Government’s intention of making New Zealand “nuclear free”, thus sparking an international incident when they said that a US  nuclear-powered submarine would not be welcomed here; the near-misses; and then the disaster at Chernobyl.  The ANZUS treaty between the US, New Zealand and Australia, became ANUS. The area surrounding Chernobyl is still very dangerous, and the sarcophagus covering Reactor number 4 causes fraught discussions about its effectiveness and need for replacement.  This part of the podcast brought to mind the Raymond Briggs animated book called When the Wind Blows.  Nuclear was our huge fear, before climate change and its threats started to loom even larger in our terrors.

Once again, I am stunned by Toms Holland’s immense and awe-inspiring knowledge.  With some of his podcasts, I have to admit I have trouble following them, his knowledge is so vast.  Even when I know something about his topic, I feel I have to do  some revision first to bring myself up to date. Spoiler alert: many historical figures did not actually exist, in his opinion.

Today The Rest is History podcast is about the Empress Theodora. As usual, it is very interesting, and Tom Holland’s knowledge again astounds. How can one person know so much?  He seems to be an expert on everything.

Today’s Covid 19 report is almost encouraging.  There are 4,006 new community cases, and there have been 13 deaths, including a child under ten. There are 654 people in hospital, and 16 in Intensive Care.

Five of these people were from Auckland, two were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Canterbury and one person was from the Southern region.

One of these people was aged less than 10 years old. One person was aged in their 60s, three were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Six were female and seven were male.

Today’s 654 people in hospital are being treated at Northland: 36; Waitematā: 61; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 75; Waikato: 60; Bay of Plenty: 30; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 32; MidCentral: 21; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 22; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 5; Capital, Coast: 23; Hutt: 13; Nelson Marlborough: 20; Canterbury: 107; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 27; Southern: 35. The average age of current Covid hospitalisations is 63.

It’s now Tuesday August 9th.

It was very cold last night, and pretty wild. I was glad of my warm pyjamas. Today things have quietened down, with respect to the weather, but it’s still cold and rainy.

In the US, the FBI have raided Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida club and home. He reports being “under siege” but did not specify what was taken. Actually he was in New York at the time, and the FBI notified the secret service, who facilitated access to Trump’s Florida home, although they did not take part in the search. A new book discloses that Trump wanted his generals to be more like Nazi generals; in particular, to be loyal to him, rather than being apolitical. Actually, some Nazi generals hatched a plot to assassinate Hitler, and they didn’t do so well after some early military successes.  Hitler’s orders were baffling at times (and not always obeyed). Ultimately, the Germans lost the Second World War – does Trump not know this? It’s also disclosed that he tried to flush documents down the toilets – at the White House and overseas. I saw some photos on CNN. The use Trump’s black sharpie pen is evident on a document that blocked a White House toilet.

Here in New Zealand the Nats poster child for its Tauranga seat (recently vacated by former leader Simon Bridges), a guy called Sam Uffindel, is now in a spot of bother, having physically assaulted a thirteen year old at Kings College, when he was sixteen. He was asked to leave the private school after this incident. Apparently he disclosed this a year ago, and apologised – a year ago.  While most if not all of us did some things in our teen years that we later regret, physically assaulting a much younger student has to be way out there in terms of things one shouldn’t have done. Nonetheless, he’s still being supported by the National Party’s leader, Chris Luxon.  It seems he wasn’t captain of the First Fifteen, or in any leadership role.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t so bad; there are 13 new deaths, strangely that’s a good low now; there are 5,939 new community cases, and 634 cases in hospital, including 15 in Intensive Care.  New Zealand is to remain at the Orange setting, which, I think, limits the numbers of people you can have at gatherings. There were also 203 Covid-19 cases at the border.

An ”expert”, a computer science lecturer (make of that what you will), said the following: unlike the eradication of the earlier Covid-19 variants in 2020 and 2021, Omicron would stay in the community until it was superseded by a new strain. That meant it would probably fall to around 3000 new cases a day until the next wave arrived, he said.  Advice to be taken – or discarded, perhaps. Note this prediction wasn’t made by an epidemiologist, or an infectious disease specialist.

It’s reported that so far, Māori and Pacific people have accounted for more than a third of hospitalisations with Covid-19 – and nearly two in 10 deaths where the virus was the underlying cause. Another clear risk factor in hospitalisation and deaths remained age. All but 46 of those who’d died from the virus were older than 60 – and two-thirds of deaths were recorded among people older than 80. Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist, made these pronouncements. Again, we’re not told whether, or to what extent, these people were vaccinated, or how many of them had underlying medical conditions that may have affected their immunity. 

It’s reported that today’s cases in hospital were in Northland: 34; Waitematā: 65; Counties Manukau: 49; Auckland: 80; Waikato: 54; Bay of Plenty: 26; Lakes: 15; Hawke’s Bay: 37; MidCentral: 20; Whanganui: 15; Taranaki: 22; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 7; Capital, Coast: 18; Hutt: 17; Nelson Marlborough: 15; Canterbury: 97; West Coast: 5; South Canterbury: 25; Southern: 31.

The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago has sparked intense reaction from republicans, and a threat from Kevin McCarthy, advising Attorney General Merrick Garland to preserve his documents and keep his diary free. Republicans are incensed that the law may be catching up with Trump, although he and General Michael Flynn repeatedly called for Hillary Clinton to be locked up when she was the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. 

Tonight we watched a three part documentary on Netflix called Trainwreck Woodstock, about the Woodstock music festival held in Rome, New York state, in 1999. It was held in a now-closed air base, so there was plenty of room, but lots of concrete. What a disaster this was! The organiser, Michael Lang, who had been at the original Woodstock festival in 1969. He claimed afterwards that a few “bad apples” had caused any trouble that occurred.  It seems that it was a chaotic occasion; the music seemed to be mostly heavy metal, if you can call it music; personally, I have never wanted to go to a music festival of any description, I much prefer classical orchestral music, and sometimes opera. 

While the original Woodstock festival was about “peace and love”, they did have many great artists there; I don’t doubt that there were sex, drugs and some nudity, but perhaps young people were different back then? 

This was really badly organised. The organisers had outsourced the catering, and no one was allowed to take water into the venue (I think entry cost $150 US, and there were 200,000 or 400,000 people there, depending on whose figures you believe), so a lot of price gouging went on. I wondered just where people kept their money, or their eft-pos card, given the nudity and how revved up people were.  The bands just stirred the crowd up more, rather than calming them down; security was totally inadequate; the port-a-loos were disgusting; there was mess everywhere. On the third day several fires were lit, and anything dismantled that could be dismantled. Some people had already left, disgusted by the mess, but not enough to make a difference. It was really, really hot. What a shambles. Photos of Michael Lang suggest that he didn’t do badly out of this. He died in 2022.

Afterwards we watched a Youtube clip of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show, which showed, among other things, some film of the CPAC conference in Texas. This featured a clip of a prison cell with an actor inside, pretending to be one of those imprisoned as a result of the January 6 insurrection (this guy had dobbed in others in order to stay out of jail himself). So while he was pretending to cry, Marjorie Taylor Greene entered his cell to pray (with the actor), and people threw money into the cell. Really.

It’s been nice to hear so many people now praising President Joe Biden for the great things he’s done, and he’s had covid 19, and recovered, and now tested negative. Along the way he managed to take out the head of Al Qaeda.  He has achieved so much.

I’ll stop now, because there’s so much to say, and it really applies to Wednesday’s blog. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.


It’s now Saturday August 6th. Kia ora!

The biggest things on my radar this morning are (Saint) President Joe’s (Biden, this time) climate legislation, which has many benefits; Alex Jones has been ordered to pay the parents of the Sandy Hook massacre; and China is retaliating against Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit to Taiwan. I listen to The Bulwark Podcast, where, now Charlie Sykes is singing Joe Biden’s praises. This makes a pleasant change. The podcast is now advertising a weight-loss (weight control?) product, after a wrinkle treatment cream, and cigars. Really, what’s next? I dread to think.

There are 4,790 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 5608 – last Saturday, it was 7405. It comes as experts warn Covid-19 has joined forces with colds and flu to disrupt workforces across the country this winter. There are 648 people in hospital. Of those in hospital, 19 are in ICU.

As of today, 1638 deaths in New Zealand have been confirmed with Covid-19 being either the underlying cause or a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is 14.

It’s now Sunday August 7th.

I had another difficult night last night; I went to sleep, and soon had a dream, which woke me up. Perhaps I had a dream on waking – who cares. Anyway, I thought I’d lost something, and was about to get up and look for it, and the decided to search in the morning. In the morning, I realised it had been a dream. Boy, I do have some realistic dreams.

It was predicted to be very cold this morning: we’re told a cold front is sweeping up the country, with warnings for snow, road closures, and a cold blast. Duly warned, I wore my fleece pyjamas, ones I keep for really cold nights.  Suffice to say I threw the bedclothes off, and by Sunday morning I was way too warm. It’s a balmy 14֠C at present – far from the 7֠C that was predicted this morning. Is the cold still coming? Well, it hasn’t come yet. Actually, it’s winter – cold is normal, but it’s quite mild today, and not raining. That’s another thing that annoys me; it’s rained consistently for weeks now, raining almost everyday, and heavily at nights, but evidently there’s a water shortage in Wellington. The Wellington Regional Council is responsible for the water here, but the Wellington City Council is responsible for sewage; perhaps with all the geysers we’ve had in Wellington, a lot of water has been wasted. I really can’t imagine that the reservoirs aren’t full.

This morning I zoomed into a church service. It was back in the church, where the sound is better, although not for the hymns.  The sermon was about faith, and about God being close to us, and the need to hear Him by doing his commandments and by praying.  This afternoon we are to go shopping.

Last night we watched a move Dan in Real Life, mainly because I didn’t want to watch Shadowlands again on Whakaata Maori, or Fame on Eden. I was reminded again how TV Three has the worst advertisements, in my opinion. It was a romantic story about a charming widower (played by Steve Carell) who ends up marrying the character played by Juliette Binoche (I’m a fan of hers). It was a feel-good story, once you got past the awful Americanisms. Being a few years old, it wasn’t quite as disgusting as more modern movies.

On Friday night we watched Billy Elliott on Bravo. That was another feel-good film, although one remembered the dreadful strife during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister over the coal mines and coal miners’ union strikes.  Julie Walters plays a magnificent role as Billy’s dance teacher.  It’s quite a story, and well worth watching again.

My life revolves around watching the occasional film on television, and watching some rather good series on TV On Demand: This is Going to Hurt, Sherwood, and Passport to Freedom. I’ve written about Sherwood before; it also demonstrates the serious violence and policing during the miners’ strike, and the division caused between the union and “scabs” who decided, for whatever reason, to go back to work – deep down in the mine, dirty and dangerous work. It doesn’t parallel the dreadful fates meted out to Jewish people in Germany in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, but coalmining feels pretty bleak, nonetheless.

Passport to Freedom is set in Hamburg in the Second World War era, and centres on a woman working at the Brazilian Consulate and the Deputy Consul. Of course, they have a romance, but we get plenty of pictures of the desperation of the Jewish people, who, at first, cannot believe that the dreadful things that are happening to them are really happening, and then family members are sent to concentration camps, and some even die. One Jewish woman singer collaborates with a high-ranking member of the SS, thinking he will save her, but she’s under pressure from her family, and from the Jewish resistance; her Nazi boyfriend is under pressure too from a sadistic colleague who has been promoted. He’s also conflicted: when he was a baby, his mother was ill, and a Jewish woman fed him and saved his life. He has a debt to pay. It’s all ghastly, of course, and there’s much secrecy and ploys, but the beautiful Aracy is very brave indeed, and not only obtains visas for Jewish people who would escape to Brazil, but manages to save their jewellery too. Of course the consulate comes under enormous pressure not to assist Jews, and that’s a source of conflict too. This beautifully filmed series is based on true events. I am wowed by the beautiful old buildings of Hamburg, with their extraordinarily high ceilings; the apartments are large and spacious; the wide staircases seem to go on for ever.  In Hamburg, however, the Nazi takeover is very evident, with the sign of the swastika everywhere; uniforms everywhere; big black cars everywhere. It’s both sinister and impressive, at the same time, but the Nazi stain is everywhere. It’s as though Hamburg is a poster-child for Nazism: the Fuehrer comes to speak there, and then Goebbels and his wife visit. This series is well worth watching, in a kind of morbid way.

One of the things about absorbing films or series is that they take me out of myself, they distract me.  I still feel very weak from Covid; things were a struggle before; and recovery still seems some way off:  every week I assure my friends that next week I’ll be back – to visits, or singing, or shopping, but every week I think that perhaps the following week I’ll feel up to doing any of those things.  It’s ghastly kind of limbo. On the one hand, things could have been worse: I might have been hospitalised with Covid 19; on the other hand, I feel even worse than “usual”, fearing to go out, and fearing to get covid again.

Turning overseas now, in the US, Vice President Kamala Harris has used her casting vote in the Senate to pass Biden’s climate bill; it’s now being called the climate bill (before it was inflation busting);  evidently Krysten Sinema had accommodations made so that she could join Joe Manchin in supporting it; now it goes on a “vote a rama” to get it to the point where President Biden can sign it into law. It’s being done under an arcane term known as reconciliation (hence no filibuster), but it has to get past the Senate parliamentarian too. Oh dear, what a strange constitution, where it’s almost impossible to get anything done, and yet someone like Trump, as president, could wreak enormous havoc – without breaking laws. There’s debate currently going on as to whether he did break the law in the events around the January 6 insurrection; US lawyers are wrangling over that one too. It’s doubtful whether he’ll ever be prosecuted.

Former Vice President Disk Cheney has come out boldly to the effect that Trump was a coward, in not accepting that he had lost the presidential election; he called him the greatest threat to the republic.  While that advertisement is indeed impressive, broadcaster Mehdi Hasan has said that Cheney senior helped create the conditions that led to Trump being republican nominee and then president. Certainly I remember after the dreadful events of 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, many of us thought that US politics had reached rock bottom with Dubya Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld and their actions: “the end of the hegemony”, someone called it. Sadly, we were wrong: it could, and did, get so much worse.

In the UK, Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie had a wedding party, where she apparently wore a gold mini-dress. They have two children, and were married (during Covid restrictions) in the catholic Westminster Cathedral. Make of that hypocrisy what you will. There was also much hypocrisy in the party’s rural setting, with street food and no tables and chairs (to save on the carbon footprint), but also some distance away so much driving and some helicopter travel to get there. The party was held not at Chequers, but at the country estate of a major Tory donor. The guests could sit on hay bales, apparently.  It seems there was some confusion as to the purpose of the party, given that the hosts are already married (and Boris has been married twice before). It’s reported to have been “cringeworthy”.  Ah well, Trump has a lasting influence, and I guess Boris will too.

In Taiwan, China is still showing extreme anger over Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit. Methinks they’re over-reacting, but who knows what will happen there?

Today’s Covid 19 report was – encouraging; numbers of new cases continue to fall (although I’m very cynical about that), but people keep dying – 19 deaths were reported today. RNZ says 18. It’s thought that one in every six or seven deaths is due to Covid 19.  Officially there are 3,302 new community cases, and 606 people in hospital. 16 of them are in Intensive Care.

The 606 people in hospital are across Aotearoa: Northland 29, Waitematā 57, Counties Manukau 46, Auckland 75, Waikato 67, Bay of Plenty 28, Lakes 10, Hawke’s Bay 24, MidCentral 27, Whanganui 6, Taranaki 22, Tairāwhiti 3, Wairarapa 3, Capital & Coast 16, Hutt Valley 15, Nelson Marlborough 18, Canterbury 100, West Coast 6, South Canterbury 23, and Southern 31. The average age of those on hospital is 64.

The 18 people who have died from Covid-19 and are being reported today include one person in their 50s, two in their 60s, two in their 70s, nine in their 80s and four aged over 90. Eleven were women and seven were men. Eight were from Auckland region, one was from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, four were from Wellington region, one was from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury.

The Al Blacks lost their first game to South Africa 26 10. That’s a decisive loss, but, hey, it’s only a game. After reading all the stories about concussion, I have to say I’m a bit relieved if the game of rugby loses its mystique.  The National Party has held its annual conference in Christchurch. Luxon (looking very like Rob Muldoon) goes in for a bit of dole-bludger/beneficiary bashing. So predictable. Prime Minister Ardern’s Labour is slightly up in the polls.  Actually before I thought Luxon looked like Todd Muller, but now I think he looks like Piggy Muldoon. 

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

Too Many Deaths

Today is Sunday July 31st, 2022. Kia ora!

It’s yet another grey day. Today it’s raining again; it rained a lot during the night. This morning I listen to the opening episodes of The Commune, the podcast about Bert Potter’s Centrepoint commune. It’s shocking, but not really surprising – an extreme extension of the feelings many people had about defying convention, living communally, amid dissatisfaction with the “nuclear family”, and traditions of religion or sexual mores. There was also the supposed need to let go of “hang ups”. The freedom afforded by effective contraception (with all its downfalls), and women’s liberation, extends into sexual freedom, where ideas of commitment, or propriety were thrown aside. Some conventions, I do believe, were stifling and annoying, and we threw many of them aside. Now people do have conventional weddings (after living together for several years, buying a house, and having set up house together), and parties.  Although, having said that, parents of the bride no longer put on a wedding for their daughter (expecting the groom’s family to pay part of the cost), but they organise wedding themselves (then expecting parents to pay, nonetheless, despite having little if any say in the arrangements). Funerals are less conventional. Are they for the living, the offspring or the dead? Not trusting my whanau, and wishing to make things easier for them, I have set out my own instructions. I know how difficult this can be, especially when there are lots of people to be taken into account. I now need to change my instructions, but that’s by the by.  Listening to this podcast, I can see how ideas of “freedom” were extended into “free love” (at what cost?) and a peculiar kind of selfishness.

This morning I zoom into a church service, again without video.  The sound is very poor, but the sermon is about storing up wealth in this world, to the detriment of one’s soul. There don’t seem to be many people there, and those whom I see are masked.  I can’t hear the hymns, so can’t join in.

There are 4238 new community cases of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health says. There are 806 people in hospital with Covid, including 12 in intensive care. There are now 1502 deaths that have been confirmed as either directly attributed to Covid, or with Covid as a contributing factor. An average 19 additional deaths have been attributed to Covid each day over the past seven days to Saturday.

So that’s that, for now. There are fewer new cases (reportedly), but more people in hospital.  The number of deaths is not announced yet.

The total 806 Covid-19 cases in hospital are in Northland: 18; Waitematā: 88; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 139; Waikato: 96; Bay of Plenty: 31; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 39; MidCentral: 52; Whanganui: 14; Taranaki: 20; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 6; Capital & Coast/Hutt: 36; Nelson Marlborough: 18; Canterbury/West Coast: 120; South Canterbury: 16; and Southern: 43. The average patient age is 65.  One wonders how many of those hospitalised have been vaccinated. We’re not told that information.

It’s now Monday August 1st.

This morning it’s very cold, and there’s a heavy frost. There’s condensation inside, of course, in spite of heaters being left on overnight.  It’s fine and sunny, too, but still very cold.

Last night we watched The Post on Eden. I hadn’t realised it was directed by Stephen Spielberg.  It took a while to get interesting – really, who cares about Tricia Nixon’s wedding? But eventually it did, as it represented a kind conflict between the paper’s ownership and the journalists – over publishing the Pentagon Papers.  The Post, of course, is The Washington Post, which competes with that other famous American newspaper, The New York Times. This is a kind of prequel to another famous move, All the President’s Men. This movie ends with the burglary at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate building. Ultimately, it’s about the freedom of the press, something to be treasured, if annoying at times. It was a good movie.

The previous night we watched Gifted, a remarkably fine movie about a gifted girl being raised by her uncle, after her conflicted mother had taken her own life. The movie centred around a custody battle where the girl’s grandmother wanted her to have different educational opportunities.  The movie is about the conflict between offering a genuinely gifted child advanced educational opportunities, and teaching her other values that might make her a more rounded personality, better fitted to cope with life’s swings and roundabouts. Does understanding matter more than intelligence?  I thought about my own sons, some of whom are seriously intelligent, and ultimately I’m glad that they’ve turned out to be wonderful human beings, despite having gone to school locally. I still believe the best school for your child should be the one down the road, and if it ain’t, then one should get involved and make it so – and not just best for one’s own child, but best for all the children attending it. They all should have great opportunities arising from their education. Two of my sons applied for, and received scholarships to do PhD’s at overseas universities.

Today’s Covid 19 report continues a trend, of fewer new community cases, at 5,312, but still quite a lot of deaths – 28. There are 759 people in hospital, and 16 of them in intensive Care. Some of the infections are re-infections.

Four of these death were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, one was from Tairāwhiti, three were from Hawke’s Bay, three were from Taranaki, two were from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, four were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury, one was from the Southern region. Two of the deaths reported today were aged in their 50s, three were in their 60s, four were in their 70s, nine were in their 80s and 10 were aged over 90. Twelve were women and 16 were men.

The location of the cases in hospital is Northland (13), Waitematā (86), Counties Manukau (79), Auckland (79), Waikato (102), Bay of Plenty (29), Lakes (15) Hawke’s Bay (34), MidCentral (49), Whanganui (11), Taranaki (22), Tairāwhiti (three), Wairarapa (five), Capital & Coast (25), Hutt (seven), Nelson Marlborough (19), Canterbury (124), West Coast (one), South Canterbury (17) and the Southern region (39).

The weekly rolling average of Covid-19 hospitalisations is 799, while this time last week it was 768. The average age of the cases in hospital with Covid is 65.

Of the 5312 community cases reported today, 269 had recently returned from overseas.

So that’s that – not too much change there. At least this disease isn’t killing children, and I guess we must be thankful for vaccinations and boosters. New Zealand’s borders have fully reopened today allowing anyone from around the world to enter.

It’s now Tuesday August 2nd.

Last night we watched a documentary about Dior; while I admire Dior, I didn’t find this nearly as exciting as the one on Alexander McQueen, which was shown the previous Monday.

Today we went out for lunch. We went to a very nice restaurant in Days’ Bay – we had been there before but it had a different name then. Anyway, it was very nice, and exciting to go out again.  It was quite roomy – I got brave and had an Aperol Spritz cocktail (Prosecco, Aperol and Soda), and a smoked salmon salad – with lentils, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, as well as lettuce leaves and two dressings.  JD had waffles, and a glass of chardonnay. We shared a dessert: dark chocolate mousse with cherry compȏte and honey fig ice cream with our coffees.  Meantime, we watched the ever-changing weather across the harbour to Somes Island; we watched the ferry depart, and then return. I did not faint, or fall over, but I am pretty tired afterwards.

Today’s Covid 10 report is mixed: numbers of new community cases are up from yesterday at 7,113, which was a Monday; there are slightly fewer people in hospital, but there’ve been 33 further deaths. Yesterday there were 28.

On the deaths being reported today, four were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, five were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, two were from Nelson Marlborough, five were from Canterbury, three were from South Canterbury and six were from Southern. Two were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, 12 were in their 80s and 14 were aged over 90. Of these people, 15 were women and 18 were men.

There were now a total of 1563 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor, the ministry said.

The seven-day rolling average in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is now 22. 

It was also reported that there were 738 people in hospital with the virus, including 15 in ICU.

The locations of the hospitalisations were in Northland: 16; Waitematā: 77; Counties Manukau: 76; Auckland: 91; Waikato: 109; Bay of Plenty: 22; Lakes: 11; Hawke’s Bay: 38; MidCentral: 44; Whanganui: 9; Taranaki: 21; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 5; Capital & Coast/Hutt: 32; Nelson Marlborough: 19; Canterbury/West Coast: 117; South Canterbury: 16 and Southern: 33.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 6683 – last Tuesday, it was 8335. There were also 275 new Covid-19 cases at the border. So we’re still in deep trouble, I think.

It’s now Wednesday August 3rd.

The Ministry of Health is reporting 6440 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, and 704 hospitalisations including 11 in ICU. 28 deaths. Nothing much happened today.

It’s now Thursday August 4th.

I showered, dressed and walked up to the store and back today.  That was weird – I have that dislocating feeling like after one’s had a baby – everything has changed, and one sees the world in a whole new light, while doing very mundane things. I bought some croissants, coffee beans, Havarti cheese slices, and pasta and sauce. They have no rhubarb and no raspberries.

So what’s been happening? In the UK, Liz Truss (aka Doris is to replace Boris Johnson) and Richie Rich Rishi Sunak are slogging it out, making outrageous promises of  tax cuts, and seemingly blind to the circumstances around them. But then, they’re both appealing to a very small audience of elderly rich white men.

In the US, the conservative state of Kansas in a referendum voted that the state shouldn’t impose abortion restrictions: it was a very strangely worded referendum, and I suspect some anti-abortionists were confused by the question. Anyway, I gather they had a turnout of over 50%, in the hot sun, and this outcome is seen as a victory for pro-choice folk and the Democrats. In primary elections held across several states, Trump-endorsed election deniers won many of their state primaries, although of course that doesn’t mean they’ll win office in the actual elections. The odious Eric Greitens (who advocated RINO hunting with a gun), lost his primary, thankfully. The odious Kari Lake narrowly won hers in Arizona.Beyond that, I’m not overly interested.  Charlie Sykes of the Bulwark was amazed to be asked by a Scandinavian reporter about these elections. He marveled that people outside America are so knowledgeable about US politics. Well. Yes, we are; it has a huge effect on our lives here or wherever. Would the war in Ukraine still be going on if Trump had won the Presidential election and/or been inaugurated again?

Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker, has made brief visit to Taiwan. The Chinese premier Xi has overreacted. Was it a good idea to go there? Who knows.  It’s one of those issues where you could argue both sides. One should show support for Taiwan whatever pressure China exerts; on the other hand, one shouldn’t rark them up. Well, the West tried very hard not to annoy Putin, and look where that got us – a dreadful war in Ukraine.

Talking of the war in Ukraine, some prisoners of war were killed by the Russians in another confusing, yet dreadful incident. The war grinds on; a ship carrying grain has got away; it’s said that the Russians are not coping well with a large number of casualties and fierce resistance from the Ukrainian forces. But there’s no denying it’s a hard slog.

Today’s Covid 19 report is mixed again, with fewer infections, but a large number of deaths at 45. Who is dying from this, I wonder?  There seems to be an ever-widening gap between the general population where new case numbers are going down, and the number of deaths is horrific. I know emotive terms are overused in the media, but there must be a bot of a cleanout going on.  I still get symptoms which come and go – sore chest, difficulty  breathing, head ache, muscle aches and nausea, and difficulty sleeping.  I gather these are not unusual.

The Ministry of Health is reporting 6440 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, and 704 hospitalisations including 11 in ICU. It has reported 45 deaths. I read later that it wasn’t so many deaths, I couldn’t find the original report.  It’s still too many, whatever the number is.

It’s now Friday August 5th.

Someone from Access came this morning to do some cleaning. I nearly cancelled, having had a truly awful night beforehand, but I didn’t, and managed to change the sheets and bedlinen, clean the sink, and do some general tidying up. It was good to see her again, but I was exhausted afterwards.

The Covid 19 report showed numbers declining, but there were still 19 deaths.

That’s it for now. I still get a bit headachy, short of breath, and am tired, although I can’t sleep. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.


Over Another Peak

Wellington Free Ambulance

It’s now Thursday July 28th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night I slept a bit better, waking after 2 am but going back to sleep until 6 am.  Today it’s raining and overcast.  I have a headache again; it’s not a good day and I don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. I don’t feel as though I’m getting better – I feel stuck; this should never have happened to me. But it has. Somehow I don’t see myself going on any of my previous “adventures”.

The Ministry of Health says there are 7627 new community cases today. There are 827 people in hospital with the virus, including 24 in intensive care. Nearly 100 people have died with Covid in the past three days as this week shapes up to be the deadliest of the pandemic to date. Since Monday the Ministry of Health has announced the deaths of 99 people with yesterday proving one of the grimmest days of the outbreak with 45 deaths alone.

I listened to the second part of the Battle of Stalingrad podcast on The Rest is History. I found it very affecting. No doubt it was a dreadful time, even if it has been somewhat mythologised.

It’s now Friday July 29th.

Yesterday was not a good day. Last night I had a racing heartbeat, feeling as though I’m on steroids, which I aren’t, any more. I’d had no caffeine either. This morning I leave a message for Access, cancelling my scheduled “cares”.  I actually slept all right last night; this morning I listened to the Bulwark podcast, where Charlie Sykes was talking to Admiral Stavridis; I have a lot of time for “Supremo”, it was interesting to hear him talk – about the war in Ukraine, for the most part.  I also listened to The Rest is Politics, where Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart answered some listener questions; there was more talk about “charter cities”, which are, you’ve guessed it, another right wing idea for wealthy people to escape the clutches of the tax department.

I also listened to a Lawfare podcast about the Secret Service and the missing text messages.  President Joe Biden’s poll approval is even less than Trump’s (which never went positive, by the way), but as I see it he’s a simply wonderful president, and Americans are lucky to have him. Even democrats don’t want him to run for President again!  So who’s going to beat Trump, then?  It will be interesting to see how the famous mid-term elections go, and whether Democrats will increase their mastery of the Senate.  It seems to me that Biden is an outstanding president, and the views of the severely right-wing Supreme Court should give Democrats another advantage.  

The polls universally ask is America on the right track?  No one ever asks what the “right track” might look like. Really, somebody or something should knock some sense into these folks.

This morning a dear friend drops off some beautiful daffodils and chocolate cupcakes.  I shower and dress, change the towels, and put two loads of washing on.  Earlier I had tidied the kitchen and put the dishwasher on. Later, I have crackers and cheese and quince paste and a cupcake with a cup of coffee for lunch. I fear that Covid 19 has caused my heartbeat to be rather erratic, but there’s a fat chance of getting anyone to check it out.  I am still very weak, and extremely unsteady. In bed, I think of things I should be doing, but then I get up and they’re way beyond me.  I can taste and smell, however, I guess that’s something to be thankful for. It’s fine and sunny now, too, and this week’s Listener has turned up – for television listings starting tomorrow! One of the front page headings is Blue Blood: How Luxon pulled the Nats out of a toxic tailspin. It’s accompanied by pictures of John Key, Simon Bridges, Judith Collins, and Chris Luxon; no mention of Bill English or Todd Muller, then. Luxon is probably their most effective leader to date, but already some of his public statements have irked many people, not just me. And as for pretending to be in Te Puke while he was on holiday in Hawaii: inevitably comparisons will be drawn with his erstwhile Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison (recently defeated in an election), and US Senator Ted Cruz going off to Cancun in Mexico during the severe Texas snow storm and power crisis, when some people froze to death..

It’s weird: I feel as though I’m in a strange kind of bubble, where everything passes me by, and further things are scraped off the list of things I would very much like to do.  I’m trying to lose weight (the covid curve), but will I ever dress up again? Wear a pretty dress? Put on makeup?  Life was an effort before this happened, i.e. before I caught Covid 19.  Now I feel it’s almost over.

The Covid 19 report today is terrible, again, with 7,605 new community cases, and 799 people in hospital. 25 of them are in Intensive Care. But there’ve been 41 further deaths reported today!  That’s horrendous, during the earlier phase we had less than 60.  Dr Bloomfield makes a final statement, telling New Zealanders to keep up their good work. Ha! Nice one.  I tried, desperate to avoid this plague, and now I’m in a hole.

There are now a total of 1479 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. We’re not told where the deaths occurred. Actually we are told – sometimes you have to search the various websites to find this information.

Of today’s 41 deaths, one was aged in their 50s, one was in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, 12 were in their 80s and 19 were aged over 90. Of these people, 22 were women and 19 were men.

Fourteen of these people were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, three were from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, two were from Whanganui, two were from Wellington region, seven were from Canterbury, three were from Southern.

Cases in hospital include: Northland: 21; Waitematā: 100; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 93; Waikato: 97; Bay of Plenty: 35; Lakes: 16; Hawke’s Bay: 44; MidCentral: 48; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 21; Tairawhiti: 5; Wairarapa: 7; Capital & Coast/Hutt: 45; Nelson Marlborough: 17; Canterbury/West Coast: 129; South Canterbury: 13; Southern: 44.

This afternoon I have a coughing fit – something I haven’t had for a while. I’ve also had a bit of a runny nose. It’s disconcerting to have symptoms, like a headache, or an irregular heart beat, reappear. Will I ever be free of this scourge? I had pneumonia several years ago, and it took me weeks to get over it.  Although “community spread pneumonia” is infectious, it’s much harder to catch than Covid 19, I think. I still feel really wary about going out anywhere.

It’s now Saturday July 30th, and I am determined to go shopping.

This morning there were 3 big things on my “radar”: Joe Manchin’s about-turn on Biden’s big Act to combat inflation and take some climate measures, amongst other things. Then I look up the NZ Herald website, which claims that Brian Tamaki drove dangerously, crossing the centre line and crashing into a car and injuring two elderly people. The other item is a very shady real estate deal, where a LIM was doctored, removing leaky building information, and then an auction was brought forward, meaning that the successful bidder did not have time to call for a building inspection. The buyer only discovered the omission when he went to sell the property, and again obtained the LIM (which contained the deleted information).  The fraudulent seller became a real estate agent for Barfoot and Thompson; the original real estate agent has gone to Australia. The couple, who originally owned the house, may go to jail for up to 10 years.  This looks bad for all concerned, but especially bad for Barfoot and Thompson, wo, I think, would claim to be one Auckland’s more honourable agencies.

I listen again to The Rest is Politics podcast about David Trimble, and the part he played in the Northern Ireland Peace Accords (for which he shared the Nobel Peace prize). Then there is an obituary in this morning’s Dompost. What a remarkable man, and what an amazing agreement, ending years of sectarian troubles. I still marvel at this achievement. There were enormous challenges involved.

I shower and dress, and make a shopping list. Then I wait for JD to have his shower, I wonder if I am up to this trip, but we head off to Thorndon, and it goes quite well. The New World supermarket is very busy, but the crowds lessen off as we move through the store. There are no raspberries, and no potato-topped pies, but I get most other things on my list. Tomatoes are $15.99 per kilo, so I give them a miss. I did get some pre-cooked meals, coffee beans, tonic water, salads, cheese, yoghurt, soup and bread. We don’t have to queue up to check out; I have plenty of bags, but I’ve spent so much money that I have to enter the PIN on my pay-wave card. Fortunately I remembered it correctly. We drive home in the rain, and eat pies for lunch.  It was nice to get out, but boy, I am tired afterwards.

Today’s Covid 19 report is better, in that there are fewer new cases (6,232), and fewer people in hospital (769, with 18  in Intensive Care), but there are 67 deaths reported, including 6 people in their 20’s. 67!  That’s crazy. Apparently New Zealand is over the peak, say the experts.

In a statement, the Ministry said the 67 deaths include people who died between 12 May and 30 July, and only 25 were in the past week.

The 67 people who died with Covid-19 included six who were in their 20s, as well as three in their 30s, five in their 40s, four in their 50s, six in their 60s, 10 in their 70s, 22 were in their 80s and 11 aged over 90. Twenty-seven were women and 40 were men. Nine were from Northland, 16 were from Auckland region, seven were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, one was from Hawke’s Bay, four were from Taranaki, six were from MidCentral, three were from the Wellington region, eight were from Canterbury, one was from West Coast, seven were from Southern.  Covid 19 seems to be like what used to be called “old man’s pneumonia” – you’re close to death, but Covid 19 adds the finishing touch. And you may have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order on your file, which is then obeyed. I think you have to have one when you enter a rest home. At least this plague is knocking elderly people, in the main. It would be truly horrific if children and more young people were dying. Thankfully, there’ve been few so far.

On that cheery note, I’ll end; once again, I feel that so many more things I would like to have done are removed from my to-do list.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

In a Doom-loop

A doom-loop representation – here it’s used in a financial sense

It’s now Tuesday July 26th, 2022. Kia ora!

Several things come to mind, as we circle in a kind of doom loop of despair. Last night I didn’t sleep well; it rained heavily, but is dry here now today and a bit warmer; I finished my course of prednisone this morning, and I still cough, have a sore chest, and shortness of breath. When I use an inhaler, I struggle not to cough, not really inhaling the necessary medicines.  It’s not a good day for me. JD wants to take me out to lunch, again; I quip that perhaps next month on our wedding anniversary might be a good date to aspire to. That’s still several weeks away.

There are several issues arising from the January 6 Committee hearings:

  • The missing Secret Service texts. It is really hard not to see a sinister sub-plot here.
  • Josh Hawley running away from the rioters, after cheering them on – to the Benny Hill theme, or Chariots of Fire. This video has been widely circulated online. I think I prefer the Benny Hill theme.
  • Mike Pence’s imminent danger, increased after Trump’s tweet; I have yet to hear a republican voice concern about his life, although I think someone did in giving testimony;
  • Trump’s refusal to act as Commander-in-Chief, raising questions about who was in charge: did Vice President Mike Pence (still alive) have authority to call out the National Guard?
  • Are republican minds being changed about Trump?  I heard a very depressing line on Sarah Longwell’s Focus Group podcast, from Wyoming: “If these were Trump supporters, where were the guns?”  Where indeed? Many of Trumps supporters came armed and prepared to Washington DC on January 6, and Trump urged for them not to be screened by the magnetometers.

In Ukraine news, Russia agreed that some exports of grain could go ahead, and then went and bombed Odessa, meanwhile assuring African allies that grain exports would go ahead. In Myanmar, the junta has carried out some executions. In southern Iran, there’s been flooding again. Wildfires are still raging in parts of Europe; it’s a naughty, selfish and very upset world.  Thankfully I’m here, and whatever my problems, I’m not in a refugee camp, or on Manus Island.

I am also listening to readings of Tom Bower’s book Revenge read by H G Tudor. These are annoyingly addictive.  They come up in a piecemeal fashion on my Youtube feed, not in any particular order.  I really should stop listening to them. But three particularly salacious revelations stand out to me. Just saying.

What else is happening? In the UK, the Tory leadership contest is between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, an unsavoury combination if ever I saw one. They both favour Home Secretary Priti Patel’s solution of sending unwanted immigrants, i.e. desperate boat people crossing the English Channel, to Rwanda.  I believe this policy was recommended by their Australian friends, the Manus Island solution for boat-people having worked so well for them (for whom, I wonder?). I posit that Truss will win for now, and then when she inevitably fails, Sunak will take over.  I trust this gives the boring Sir Keir Starmer some joy; it surely ought to. Certainly he lacks magnetism, but he has a fine name, and he’s much more electable and less toxic than the odious Jeremy Corban.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, it’s another sad day, with flooding in parts of Christchurch, and wild weather in the South Island.  In the North Island, several school have received bomb threats, and some are in lockdown. This is New Zealand!  Crazy stuff, crazy actions, and crazy protests have taken over here, as is predicted after a plague.  And I’ve held out for two and a half years, and have it Covid 19 now. It feels like a doom-loop of crazy things happening.

JD alerts me to a video by Dr John Campbell, who, in his credulous way, has taken on board a horror story of a woman whose father died in hospital. She claimed he was euthanised.  I am very disinclined to believe this story. While elements of it may be true, some of what Dr John says comes across as quite untrue. I resent our being compared to Australia, and seen as doing worse than them. Covid is soaring over there again, too, and while our health system is undoubtedly under pressure, I guess it’s coping as well as it can under the extreme circumstances.  We still have a lot of people sick with a very contagious disease, but no one is on a ventilator; and I think if an ED were short-staffed, and a choice was to be made as to dealing with me first or a much younger person in good health, I’ve have no doubt about who should get priority.  As for funeral parlours and cemeteries being under pressure, the number of death notices in the daily paper isn’t any more than usual.

Today’s Covid 19 report is pretty dire. The Ministry of Health has reported 9,256 new community cases of Covid-19 and 822 current hospitalisations, including 24 in intensive care or high dependency units. In the past seven days there have been an average of 17 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19. Wastewater testing indicates there are probably far more cases of Covid 19 than reported. There were 430 cases of Covid 19 at the border. We aren’t told how many deaths are being reported today. Meanwhile, the travel vultures are out in force again, advertising cruises, locally and overseas, bike riding tours, walking tours, and trips abroad; the cost of flying has increased on pre-Covid 19 levels. Will I ever go overseas again? I doubt it somehow; my last trip to Napier was exhausting. To be honest I don’t feel like going anywhere right now, not even in New Zealand.

Cases in hospital include: Northland: 19; Waitematā: 99; Counties Manukau: 60; Auckland: 89; Waikato: 100; Bay of Plenty: 41; Lakes: 12; Hawke’s Bay: 35; MidCentral: 49; Whanganui: 14; Taranaki: 14; Tairāwhiti: 3; Wairarapa: 15; Capital and Coast: 28; Hutt Valley: 27; Nelson Marlborough: 14; Canterbury: 149; West Coast: 1; South Canterbury: 12; Southern: 41. You’d certainly expect those numbers to be coming down, but they’re not. In the US, Joe Manchin has tested positive for Covid 19. Here in New Zealand, students returning to school for Term 3 are advised to wear masks.

Today I take a shower and change my pyjamas, but I do not get dressed.  It’s a great saving on clothes, anyway! I get emails from my favourite cinemas, the Penthouse and the Lighthouse, telling me what’s on. I won’t be going there for a while, either.

Last night we watched a documentary on Te Whakaata Maori (formerly Maori Television) about the late Alexander McQueen. What an amazing and innovative designer he was!  How sad, too, that he was so talented, but then got into drugs, got Aids, and took his own life.  What a splash of talent he was! And how sad that once he got on the bandwagon of success, he found that he couldn’t get off. It wasn’t for want of admiration, or encouragement.

It’s now Wednesday July 27th.

Again, I didn’t have a great night. After listening to several podcasts, I put on a long Youtube recording of the beautiful voice of late great Sir John Gielgud reading Brideshead Revisited. This has the convenience of not stopping: while I often go to sleep through podcasts, I tend to wake up when they stop. Some of the podcasts on Apple keep going, but not all, and you want them in the right order. I wake up and wonder just where we are in the story (which I’ve read more than once, and watched the sumptuous television show).

This morning I zoomed into a Stroke group session which had two young people speaking about their personal stroke experiences. I find this quite depressing. I don’t ask anything (!) It strikes me that over 10 years on, nothing much has changed in terms of anyone taking you seriously. The two young people who spoke were very eloquent: but many of the things they were experiencing echoed with me, things like losing one’s ability to concentrate, getting very tired, being unable to run after young children, losing some movement in odd places although still looking pretty normal. Unlike these two brave souls, my eyesight and speech have been affected. Some advice from recent stroke patients was to pray, and keep trying; older folk might advise acceptance, since in my experience things have got worse, not better.  It also struck me that everyone experiences stroke differently in terms of ability to read, write, use a computer or a mobile phone, while looking pretty “normal”. Another frustration is losing one’s friends, since one now lives in such a totally different world: it’s as though your former friends don’t understand the new world you inhabit (as you don’t either). Everything has changed, and basic “recovery” can take six months, or up to two years.

There’s wild weather across New Zealand, but not in Wellington; there’s been flooding in Christchurch and some houses in Dunedin have been evacuated, and many roads are closed. I remain safe and warm, if very frustrated, as I continue to cough and feel quite weak.

Today’s Covid 19 report is predictably bad. There are 8730 new cases of Covid-19 today and 808 people are in hospital with the virus, including 25 in Intensive Care. There’ve been 45 deaths! The total number of people who have died with Covid-19 is now 1427. They’ve stopped initially publishing the daily number of deaths recorded. Apparently there were 38 deaths notified yesterday – no wonder they’ve stopped reporting them; I think that’s the highest daily total yet. Dr Ashley Bloomfield gave his final media update.

Of the 45 people whose deaths were reported today, three were from Northland, eight were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, three were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, three were from Whanganui, four were from Wellington region, five were from Nelson Marlborough, eight were from Canterbury, three were from Southern.

One was in their 40s, three were in their 50s, five were in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, 12 were in their 80s and 16 were aged over 90. Of these people, 25 were women and 20 were men.

Today’s hospitalisations are in Northland (14), Waitematā (114), Counties Manukau (54), Auckland (108), Waikato (89), Bay of Plenty (38), Lakes (13), Hawke’s Bay (35), MidCentral (51), Whanganui (14), Taranaki (14), Tairāwhiti (four), Wairarapa (11), Capital and Coast (26), Hutt Valley (14), Nelson Marlborough (18), Canterbury (137), West Coast (one), South Canterbury (12) and the Southern region (41).

In Ukraine, the HIMARS are making a difference to the Ukrainian forces. Putin has threatened to greatly reduce the gas supply to Europe, mainly affecting Germany. In the US, the Department of Justice is investigating Donald Trump’s actions around the events of January 6.  In the UK, David Trimble has died – one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement (signed at Leeds Castle) settling the ghastly political and religious violence in Northern Ireland.  There’s a good podcast on this on The Rest is Politics.  This was Alastair Campbell’s proudest moment, and I don’t blame him – it was a huge achievement, now, sadly, largely forgotten. I have been to Leeds Castle in Kent; it’s well worth a visit. A proud moment for me too.

In the northern hemisphere the heatwave continues, and in Europe and Great Britain they try not to use air conditioning, for fear of its effect on the environment. As with any crisis, those most affected just try to survive.  Meanwhile, some continue to deny the effects of climate change as it sweeps the earth.

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

It’s Wild Out There

The slip in Lennel Road, Wadestown, Wellington – a main thouroghfare

Today is Thursday July 21st, 2022. Kia ora!

I’m still coughing today, despite using cough mixture and inhalers. This morning JD manages to sleep through it.  I ring the medical centre soon after 9 am, but my GP is fully booked today and only has one appointment free on Monday. I arrange for someone I’ve never encountered before to ring me at 1:15pm. No, you don’t want me to come in – I have Covid 19.

Meanwhile, it’s wild and stormy in Wellington, although you wouldn’t know it here. There aren’t planes flying overhead, thank goodness. It rained heavily during the night, and it was still raining when I went up to get the paper – I had to put a raincoat on over my dressing gown.  There are big swells I find when looking at the photos: a high tide in Lowry Bay, in Oriental Bay, at the Petone Foreshore, and all flights in and out of Wellington have been cancelled. A Bluebridge ferry cannot dock, and is circling the harbour. The train line between Johnsonville and Wellington is affected by a slip (again!), and trains have been replaced by buses. Roads are closed around New Zealand. I am thankful to be warm and cosy here, if a tad frustrated. We are not cold here. The heaters have been kept on, we are warm and comfortable, and I hope there’ll be no power outage.

I listened to a Guardian Australia podcast about recent damage to Australian ecosystems – this environmental report, although received, was not even tabled by the outgoing Coalition government. We all knew Australia was very lax about the environment; this report is even worse. The new Labour Government is facing an uphill battle getting environmental concerns addressed; there’s a lot of support, but a lot of opposition too.  Meanwhile, they continue to export Kiwi-born criminals here, and consequently there are shootings here more days, especially in Auckland, and the level of crime is up. As well as shootings, there are ram raids, and some knife violence.

After 1:15 pm a doctor rings me – I don’t know his name, but eventually agrees to prescribe me a course of prednisone, and fax this through to the chemist in the Johnsonville Shopping Centre. He does not ask about my peak flow reading, or if I’m running a temperature. He does ask if I have a sore throat, which I don’t, thankfully. I will get JD to pick it up later on this afternoon. I did manage to find a peak flow meter reader, but I don’t have a spacer, which I am supposed to use with this particular inhaler.

Today’s Covid 19 report is out: there are 9,953 new cases, and 32 further deaths. There are 767 people in hospital, and 20 of them are in Intensive Care. There are 383 cases at the border.

In the US, the Arizona republican party censure Rusty Bowers!  He’s the dude who testified to the January 6 Committee, and defied Donald Trump. So what was he supposed to do? He still intends to vote for Donald Trump – unaccountably. (Later I learn that Bowers does not intend to vote for Trump in 2024 if he’s the Republican Party’s nominee for president).

It’s now Friday July 22nd.

I felt much better during the night, but not so good this morning, with lots of coughing.  I duly started on the prednisone, but don’t see much difference as yet. I do another RAT test, and it has a second faint red line. Access woke me up with a call early this morning, but I didn’t manage to answer the call, and they didn’t leave a message.  After my RAT test, I left a message for Access to cancel today’s help.  On looking up the site, I was the carer was “to be announced”, so perhaps the usual person was unwell. Anyway, it’s cancelled for today. Even if I’d tested negative, I don’t feel up to doing the usual things I do for preparation. I still feel very weak.

In Wellington, the weather is milder today: aeroplanes are flying again, and many who live by the sea are assessing the damage from yesterday’s storm. In Lennel Road, Wadestown, there’s been a huge slip, causing the road to be closed. There is actually another (upper) road into Wadestown; perhaps this could be used in the meantime.

I listen to more excerpts from Tom Bower’s new book, Revenge. H G Tudor is now reading chapter sections, rather than abridged versions.  I had thought the January 6 Committee in the US was doing a presentation last night, but in fact it’s to be tonight – Thursday night in the US, so I still have that to anticipate perhaps, rather than look forward to.

Actually the hearing is on Thursday evening in the US, so it comes online here from early afternoon. It’s gripping viewing, as expected.

This afternoon I get a text from the Medical Centre reminding me of my second booster appointment on Saturday morning (tomorrow). I duly ring and cancel the appointment – how annoying that they don’t seem to have any coordination between their various systems. I’m advised to “get well soon”, not asked how I’m feeling.

It’s now Saturday July 23rd.

I’m still coughing, and weak. I realise it’s an achievement to take a shower, out clothes on, make the bed, go for a walk outside (once I test negative), and then perhaps go shopping, or go to church, and take up Term 3 activities.  While I am still coughing, I don’t dare go anywhere.  This is a peculiar kind of isolation – no one can come and visit, no medical people are in touch; the unknown doctor who prescribed me the Prednisone didn’t even ask what my peak flow measure was. I had dug out my two peak flow meters, but no matter. Covid has hit me very hard.

Last night I didn’t sleep. I listened to lots of podcasts – The Rest is History, the Rest is Politics; I also listened to We Have Ways of Making you Talk podcast about Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, and the war in the Atlantic. I try to listen to the complete latest January 6 Committee hearing, but it’s not available until early morning.  Chairman Bennie Thompson has Covid, but he does a very nice introduction via zoom to the latest hearing.

The hearing is riveting, of course, and I learn distressing new things, but I also learn that Steve Bannon has been convicted for his defiance of Congress.

In New Zealand, Brian Tamaki has organised protests – one of which is on the Auckland motorway. What is there left to protest, one wonders? These folk are protesting against the government. Goodness knows, there are plenty of things one could protest about – like insufficient measures to address climate change, the war in Ukraine, child poverty, pollution in our waterways.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows:

There are 7746 new Covid cases in the community today and 22 people have died with the disease. There are 759 people in hospital with the virus, including 19 in intensive care.

The seven-day rolling average of community cases now sits at 8703 – continuing a downward trend. It was 9984 on the same day last week.

Out of today’s new cases, 353 were among people who had recently travelled overseas. The 759 people with Covid in hospital are located in: Northland: 19; Waitematā: 94; Counties Manukau: 62; Auckland: 97; Waikato: 65; Bay of Plenty: 41; Lakes: 13; Hawke’s Bay: 32; MidCentral: 38; Whanganui: 11; Taranaki: 18; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 8; Capital & Coast: 33; Hutt Valley: 29; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury:137; West Coast: 0; South Canterbury: 12; and Southern: 35.

Among the 22 people who died with Covid: six were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, three were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from MidCentral, one was from the Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, two were from Canterbury, and three were from Southern. Two were aged in their 50s, one was in their 60s, five were in their 70s, six were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. They included 10 women and 12 men.

The seven day rolling average of reported deaths with Covid is 25. There has also been 1976 people who’ve died with Covid since the pandemic began.

I didn’t give yesterday’s report – to be honest, it wasn’t much different. We have no real good news as yet.

In the afternoon I showered, washed my hair, dressed, and then changed the sheets and towels. I found myself feeling much better than I had done for several days.

It’s now Sunday July 24th.

Last night I slept much better than I had done. I woke about 6 am, but went back to sleep.  I zoomed into the church service, again without video.  It was a lovely service – about prayer, and the value of the Lord’s Prayer – which we can say when we don’t know what to say in prayer. One of the hymns was What a Friend we have in Jesus. I joined into this, finding I can still sing, if weakly; what a sad life the writer had, and what a beautiful hymn it is. I feel quite heartened by feeling better – I hope it lasts.

Today there are 5535 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today – and a further 14 Covid-related deaths. It was reported that there are 720 people in hospital with the virus, including 21 in intensive care.

Of the 720 people in hospital with the virus, 18 are in Northland, 96 are in Waitematā; 63 are in Counties Manukau; 82 are in Auckland; 60 are in Waikato; 40 are in Bay of Plenty; 11 are in Lakes; 32 are in Hawke’s Bay; 40 are in MidCentral; 13 are in Whanganui; 16 are in Taranaki; two are in Tairawhiti; six are in Wairarapa; 61 are in Capital & Coast/Hutt; 11 are in Nelson Marlborough; 132 are in Canterbury/West Coast; 13 are in South Canterbury and 24 are in Southern. The average age of those with Covid in hospital is 66. I feel we are in a holding pattern with Covid 19: the news has been fairly steady for several days, if not weeks, mirroring my own situation.

I do another RAT test, and I’m negative for Covid 19, but still coughing, and still very weak.  I certainly don’t want to go to hospital, but where’s the care, I wonder? Let’s face it, you just have to look after yourself.

It’s now Monday July 25th.

I am feeling a little better today, but I am amazed when JD announces he’d like to take me out to lunch, or would I like to go shopping? I find his relentless positivity really annoying. I would like to go out for lunch, but I’m still coughing a great deal, and don’t feel well enough to walk up to the local shops. It’s cold today, too, so going out of the house is not a good option. Furthermore, it’s very anti-social to cough in public.

I am quite intellectual today. I finish re-reading Philippe Sands’ East West Street, centred around the city of Lyiv (Lvov) in what is now Ukraine. His Jewish forebears came from a small town outside of Lyiv, and suffered very badly during the Second World War, with most of them being exterminated.  How fascinating that Lyiv is now again a focus of Ukrainian conflict and culture. I would love to go there, but Ukraine is likely to be a dangerous destination for some time.

I also finish reading my last LRB, and find a review of a new book by Jonathan Parry very interesting: the book is called Promised Lands: the British and the Ottoman Middle East. The library don’t have it, but perhaps Unity Books do. I look forward to browsing there again.

I need to read more of Mikhail Bulgakov’s White Guard, which is due back at the library later this week.

I have been listening to more of H G Tudor reading Tom Bower’s new book, Revenge, although I’m finding it a bit boring and repetitive now. As with Trump, the more I hear, the more my earlier sentiments are confirmed; I haven’t heard anything to make me change my mind, just to confirm how awful some people can be.

I listen to a Guardian podcast about homeless people in Los Angeles being forced into the Mojave Desert, where it is far too hot for people to survive without basic amenities. In Los Angeles, there is a huge contrast between extremely wealthy people, using massive and scarce resources to water their lawns and gardens, despite a water shortage, and those who have nothing – not even a home. The city of Lancaster, north of Los Angeles, has a republican mayor, who has evidently called for homeless people to be arrested – and told not to loiter. Of course, some loiter, others don’t.

Then I listen to a new The Rest is History podcast about the Battle of Stalingrad. This is very interesting, too; part two will be published later this week.

There are 6910 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, and a further 16 Covid-related deaths. There are 836 people in hospital with the virus, including 27 in intensive care.

Of the people whose deaths were reported today, one was from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, four were from Taranaki, one was from Whanganui, two were from Wellington region, three were from Southern. Six were aged in their 70s, five were in their 80s and five were aged over 90. Of these people, five were women and 11 were men. IN the US, President Biden has Covid 19. He’s double-boostered, and is said to be responding well to Paxlovid.

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