Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Made It!

So we made it...just...I think its a bit like childbirth...everyone hates it, but a couple of years goes by and all you can think of is how cute it would be to have a little newborn.

The LA leg was OK. At some point, kids all slept - rare that all three slept at the same time. Beginnings and endings of flights were the worst bits for the kids - waiting on the tarmac...

Managed to watch "Watchmen" which was a dark, violent experience made more manic by the constant use of the Pause button while I attended to one of the kids...Qantas did a pretty good job of the food and stuff for the kids.

Going direct to Detroit was a good call, but it was the longest 4 hours of my life with Ryleigh unsettled and Raegan wanting her Momma. Trying to keep Rae entertained involved every parental trick available.

I hadn't been feeling that well since LA. Just a low level nausea. Maybe dehydrated? Anyways the turbulence on the descent into Detroit almost caused an emergency evacuation! Every shred of willpower went into not barfing! Not so lucky on the car trip from Detroit to Lansing. Fortunately, a gift bag and rest area ensured the car stayed clean...

So then we have to deal with these hyped up, over tired kids who are having a party with their cousins with me getting the chills. An interesting night of which Kristen took the brunt. What a good mother :) Eventually, sleep arrived for all.

So here we are in a house filled with kids, and more family expected as the day goes on. Nice.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dear Graham

I am leaving the country for the start of the Tri-nations and wanted to give you my team before you go. These last 3 weeks have been a bit frustrating as players have been out with injury, but I hope you have learned something from it. There are some players who haven't made the grade and others who need to stay ahead of returning "incumbents". Anyways, I have organised the AB's team for you before I go, making some assumptions regarding injury. Here it is:

1. Tony Woodcock
2. Keven Mealamu
3. John Afoa
4. Brad Thorn
5. Isaac Ross
6. Jerome Kaino
7. Ritchie McCaw
8. Kieran Read
9. Brendan Leonard
10. Luke McAlister
11. Lelia Masaga
12. Ma'a Nonu
13. Isaia Toeava
14. Joe Rockocoko
15. Mils Muliaina

16. Neemia Tialata
17. Aled De Malmanche
18. Whichever no-name appeals to you this week
19. George Whitelock
20. Liam Messam
21. Piri Weepu
22. Corey Jane

I've gone for extra cover in the loosies because I think we'll need it against the Japies and Aussies. That leaves us lighter on the bench in the backs, but with Mils able to cover midfield and Piri a handy first V, you'll be OK. Its the forwards who risk getting munched in this series. You need to persevere with Toeava seeing as you set him up in the first place as a 19 year old. He's solid on defence and just needs to know you back him. Joe gets the chance for more work which he needs for top form and I liked the way he got involved on Saturday. You were wrong about Masaga - he will do just fine on attack and defence. You need to let Conrad, Stephen and Rodney down lightly. They are good guys but they don't have what it takes right now. I wish you'd given some older and wiser locks a bit more of a chance - with Ali gone now, we look real thin - so I'll let you have a go with that selection. But maybe its time for someone who might bring some impact off the bench? Jason Eaton would be my pick out of the Junior AB's - he has experience to go with mobility and attitude.

Best of luck.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

AB or A "B" Team?

Shame on you Cantabs for not snapping up the AB v Italy tickets this weekend! All I hear on the radio are whinging sheep shaggers complaining about the quality of the AB team for Italy and the 7 changes being rotation. Really? I don't think so:

Williams in for Ross - the incumbent returning from injury
Afoa in for Tialata - the reserve covering an injured player (and arguably a better player)
Leonard in for Cowan - the incumbent prior to a long term injury (and a lot better player)
McAllister in for what his name? - the reserve covering an injured player and about time too...
Toeava in for Smith - the reserve covering an injured player (and arguably a better player)
Masaga in for Jane - OK so the reserve gets a shot and he's a specialist replacing a utility
Crocket in for Woodcock - OK so its rotation here...

Isn't this AB team a better team on paper? Many have argued for Afoa (a specialist tighthead) to replace Tialata (a converted loosehead). Donald is gone, please Jesus, forever...the players coming in for injured players are not too bad eh?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grace Anatomy

So we started this new series on Sunday walking through the high points of Paul's letter to the Galatians. I've enjoyed the experience although admit to a little frustration with the whole industry of publication and speculation around some of the core concepts. Anyways, this post is not about that.

What captured me most, was the genius of grace. God is really quite perverse when it comes right down to it. He undermines those core human defaults that drive us to negotiate/mediate Him through ultimately dysfunctional lenses. I think if I'd remained an atheist I would nevertheless have retained a grudging admiration for the elegance of the properly understood Christian paradigm. A bit like Antony Flews (former atheist and now deist) has expressed admiration for NT Wright's work in describing the resurrection.

Its so counter intuitive to express this kind of view. Grace. Unmerited favour. God's elegant solution for the problem of human pride (read independence, bloodymindedness, the Fall, legalism etc etc). No Karma. No coming back as a slug.

Some of things that stuck out for me from the first chunk of Galatians:

  • Paul in his zeal for persecuting the church wasn't looking for a change in job description when God showed up on the road to Damascus - underlines the initiating activity of grace

  • Paul's gospel, like Jesus', was fundamentally one of inclusion - the definition of "the people of God" had changed to reflect the fullest expression of the Abrahamic covenant

  • I know people like to get tangled up in whether "faith in Christ" = the "faithfulness of Christ" and its a good discussion to have in the (w)right context. But whatever the reading, I don't think there is any doubt that Christ's faithfulness is expressed through His death and resurrection. It takes just a little faith from us to believe and trust in the fact of Christ's death; it took a whole lot more faith for Jesus to go along with that...

  • Abraham's faith - belief and trust in God was credited to him as righteousness - I've never wondered before what Jesus faith meant? I suppose he didn't need any extra credit.

  • It doesn't really matter what the nuance of the justification picture is as to whether its "not guilty" or "innocent", the key is that we walk free. Which is the whole point of Galatians. Walk free.

Anyways, it was good to dip into this letter and I only wish I was able to be more involved in this series than my leave will allow!

Monday, June 15, 2009


"Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible"

There are days where I despair of ever achieving the simplest things in life. 2 years of fighting (successfully) the Auckland DHB and the Ministry of Health over $6,000 (oh and my rights as a NZ citizen] convinced me that we are the most overregulated and least sensible country on this earth.

Today this was confirmed in a myriad of small ways.


4 years ago a small triangular window in a rear car door was smashed by car thieves. I patched it up with duct tape and its been sweet ever since. Passed 7-8 warrants. Until today. The conversation went something like this:

"It's failed the warrant on the small window"
"Well, it doesn't meet the standard"
"What does the standard require?"
"That it has the approved glassmark on it"
"Well, yes, thats if it has glass in it. Why does it have to have glass?"
"Its a safety issue"
"So, whats the safety issue?"
"Well its like if your bumper is hanging off someone could catch themselves on it, so it needs to be fixed"
"But this is a window, not a bumper, whats the safety issue?"
"Its the law"
"So why did you and every other WOF place give me a warrant these past years?"
"I don't know why they would do that. Who gave you your last warrant?"
"You did"
"I'll check our records"
"So what does it say?"
"We gave you the last WOF"

At this point a former version of me offered a next sentence:

"So you have a choice: either you give me the WOF or I report you for giving me the last one."

Unfortunately the comment was censored before it got from brain to lips and I left without my warrant.

WOF #2

Hours later with car #2 now going through its paces.

"It failed the WOF"
"On what?"
"The SRS light won't go off"
"Is that a problem?"
"Its a safety issue"
"Whats the safety issue?"
"Its to do with the airbag"
"Is there something wrong with the airbag?"
"It doesn't seem to have deployed does it?"
"How much?"
"To turn a light off?"

So we have 2 cars, no WOFs. For $780 thats 4 fines. I'm thinking of having WOF's every 6 months, failing it on the light but having everything else fixed so at least I can say, "its a safe care, but for this very dangerous light!"

IRD #1

Finally, I went to get an IRD number for Ryleigh. I carefully checked the requirements. One piece of ID from list A. One from list B. Birth Certificate and Drivers License. I even have photocopies as well. I head into the Post Shop.

"Here we go - Birth Certificate and Drivers License"
"You'll need a second ID for yourself?"
"Hang on, its one from List A and one from List B right?"
"Yes, sir"
"And I have one from list A and one from List B correct?"
"And thats whats required right?"
"You need 2 from List A."
"But it doesn't say that does it?"
"You need 2 from list A" [translation: you are right but I am being perverse today]

I left without the IRD number because like an idiot I don't carry my passport around with me in my own country.

Anyways, I settled for going home and spanking my children...oh crap, I forgot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AB Team Named

It took me all day to find out the AB team, as I was out and about and always just missing the sports news. So here it is, alongside the differences from [my team] selected a couple of weeks back:

1. Tony Woodcock
2. Andrew Hore
3. Neemia Tialata
4. Brad Thorn
5. Isaac Ross
6. Kieran Read [Liam Messum]
7. Adam Thompson [Richie McCaw] - comes off the bench to cover McCaw's injury
8. Liam Messam - I had Liam at 6 with Kaino at 8 - with Kaino injured the excellent Read comes in at 6 and Messum shifts to 8
9. Jimmy Cowan [Piri Weepu] - my 2 halfbacks swap places
10. Stephen Donald
11. Joe Rokocoko
12. Ma’a Nonu
13. Isaia Toeava [Richard Kahui] with Kahui injured the versatile Toeva gets a chance at centre - he has international experience in this position and won't let us down - if he plays well, can he make this position his own when Smith is fit?
14. Rudi Wulf [Isaia Toeva]- comes in to cover Toeva's shift to centre but I have to say he wasn't on my bench - he does have a better kick defence than Masaga
15. Mils Muliaina (c)

16. John Afoa
17. Keven Mealamu
18. Bryn Evans [Kevin O’Neill] - the most surprised rugby player in NZ
19. Tanerau Latimer [Adam Thompson] comes onto the bench to cover Thompson moving to the starting lineup
20. Piri Weepu [Jimmy Cowan] I guess they see Piri as the impacy guy
21. Luke McAllister
22. Corey Jane [Lelia Masaga] clearly they rate Wulf ahead of Masaga, but Wulf wouldn't have made my bench as he is not an impact player - Corey Jane won't let anyone down.

Not a bad lineup really. A good blend of experience and newbies - of course any team without McCaw, Carter and Williams is not going to be there. But when you look at it - we have 4 out of our first string tight 5 with a rookie of some potential locking the scrum with his Super 14 partner. Our loosies are good players and frankly I think its a good blend of flair, solidity and bloody mindedness! Donald has stepped up this Super 14 and is head and shoulders above the other 1st V's in NZ. The rest of the backline is either first choice or experienced contenders.

For me, the points of interest are:

  • How will Thompson go? I rate him (being a former loosie myself)
  • Could Nonu and Toeva be the surprise package? With Nonu's strength and step with Toeva's speed and swerve - if they can get it right on defence it could be interesting
  • How will McAllister go and will he replace Nonu or Donald?