News Archive 2004 - 2010
What was going on?
24 December 2010 - This past year has been very busy for me, with a long holiday in Germany in September and October, two weeks in the North Isand for the World Rowing Championships, and a lot of work with newspaper stories and two websites.
Together with a co-editor I created the website www.nzpensionprotest.com which is about a fraudulent and hugely unfair law directed against immigrants. Lucky us, it now affects more and more Kiwis, as a kind of collateral damage. This is the only way to effect a change, otherwise nobody would be interested in poor old foreigners who have worked and paid taxes and the pensions of Kiwis all their lives.
The other project is a website about my travel bear Kimi. It is in German and can be found on www.kimiderreisebaer.de. Right now I am working on a more modern version of my personal website www.sissistein.com - but it will take a little while until I can switch the sites.
The weather this year has been wonderful, particularly in our region. Spring was warm and summer has started with temperatures in the high twenties and above 30°C. The past days have been hot but also very windy. This has caused many scrub fires, the fire brigades have been forced to work day and night. Unfortunately there are too many inconsiderate people around, throwing cigarette butts out of the car windows onto bone-dry grass, and farmers burning off grass! Some people never learn.
John is busy painting the house white which is a huge job, as progress on the rough-cast surface is incredibly slow when you work with brush and roller. At the end of the day he is always sprinkled with white dots - which fall off him when he walks around in the house. Sometimes I think these dots are falling off him like dandruff even after the shower ;-)))
Ulm 2010, Cathedral and sparrow, the city's symbols
Photo on the left: Medway Street Bridge - when we thought the damage caused by the 4 September 2010 earthquake was huge, not knowing what was still to come less than six months later.
My text was written two days before the Boxing Day earthquake struck. It was only 4,9 but caused huge damage in central Christchurch, as the epicentre was located in the suburb of Opawa, only five kilometres from the CBD.
The big event in Christchurch this year has been the 7.1 earthquake on 4 September. Lucky us, we were on holiday at the time, and lucky us again, there was no structural damage to the house, only a huge mess. The higher in the house, the bigger the mess. In the office about every sheet of paper had been flying around.
Surprisingly only a very few glasses and cups were broken, and we did not lose anything that would have been important to us. And we are even luckier, given the pain and stress other people have suffered. Many have lost their homes and businesses, others have to wait up to two years until they can move back into their unstable homes.
When you walk through the streets of Christchurch, there is still a lot of rubble, and it is heart-breaking to see the many badly damaged churches. Last week I was by the Avon river where footbridges were twisted. There are huge cracks in the ground. You can look deep into the ground, children would disappear in these cracks. But again it is miraculous that no-one was killed in this disaster.
In the meantime there have been more than 4000 aftershocks. Some of them scared the hell out of us, particularly those centred very close to home. One long 5.0 nearly knocked me off my feet. I was in the changing room at the gym, and all the walls and the ceiling shook and moved. John raced home from the office but found the road tunnel closed. He wanted to check if the house was still standing - but litterally nothing had moved at all.
We are lucky that our house has a wooden and steel frame which absorbs the energy of the quakes. There are still occasional aftershocks but they are getting less frequent. So our first wish for the New Year is that this stops, our second wish would be a lotto win for renovations and a convertible ;-) All the rest is fine :-))
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy and successful New Year. May all your wishes become true, may bad things turn to the better and good things at least remain as good as they are.
02 August 2010 - The most important news is that together with a co-author I have worked on a website about the New Zealand government's pension rip-off, named www.nzpensionprotest.com, for several months.
We went public last week, and the feedback has been impressive already although up to now you could not not even find the site on Google. And I had used Google Sites to build it! The "word of mouse" is working.
We have not started the website for pure benevolence. But by starting action now the chance is higher that the law will be changed until we retire. We have not run out of steam yet and are prepared to fight and support all the pensioners who have been fighting for 20 years and longer, and in return they support us and our website.
It is about justice - and the answer to a Government that claims its shabby treatment of immigrants and Kiwis who have worked overseas is "fair to most New Zealanders". It is not. If injustice affects a minority only, it does not mean that it is fair to anyone. It only means that not everybody is affected by the unfair action.
If you know people who want to emigrate to New Zealand, please refer them to our website, so they do not fall into the retirement trap unprepared, as the Government is doing its best to hide the ugly truth. And the truth is: In theory everyone who has lived in New Zealand for ten years between age 20 and 65 (five after age 50) receives the officially universal tax-funded New Zealand Superannuation.
While millionaires, lifelong beneficiaries, people who have never worked, including criminals who have spent most their lives in prison, receive this state pension, many immigrants and Kiwis returning from overseas do NOT get it at all or only a part of it. Despite having paid a big share of their wages and salaries into retirement insurance schemes, New Zealand deducts those contributory overseas pensions from NZ Super. This is called Direct Deduction.
If this person’s overseas pension exceeds the NZ Super rate for one individual, the “excess” amount is carried over to their partner’s entitlement and deducted from his or her NZ Super. This is called Spousal Provision. The practice is governed by Section 70 of the Social Security Act. In a worst-case scenario, one partner’s high overseas pension can cancel out a couple’s combined New Zealand pension entitlement.
This means that the New Zealand government uses other states' contributory pension provisions for the payment of the NZ Super benefit. It is the biggest legalised fraud on the planet - and has to change. The way we and far more than the officially admitted 52,000 affected pensioners have contributed with our money to our pensions overseas, we now contribute with our writing to the exposure of this impertinent rip-off.
19 February 2010 - Yes, I know, again quite a break since my last news update. It is like with the people who run to the gyms with the best intentions straight after New Year - every year - and give up after two months without having lost the ten kilos they had hoped for... Lucky me I have been going to the gym forever although I hate this artificial world, so I only have to try to think of updating my website ;-) Ok, I try it again this year!
My visit to Germany from late August to early October 2009 was great. What I enjoyed most was cycling on my father's prehistoric three gear bike. Thanks to the fantastic weather I could ride every day, and if it was only the ride to the bakery to get those delicious Swabian pretzels (Brezeln) for breakfast. My parents do not have a car anymore, so all my trips were by bicycle, bus, or train.
With one of my friends I went to Alsace for several days and explored the north where I had just driven through previously. With another friend I went hiking in Tannheimer Tal in Austria. I enjoyed watching a Bundesliga handball game of Frisch Auf Göppingen, my visits to my kind of second hometown of Ulm where I had lived for 24 years before emigrating to New Zealand, and meeting up with a few (human) friends and several travelling toy animals from VirtualTourist, including two ladies and four toy wombats in Sydney. There I had a three day stopover on my way to Germany.
Like always I did not have enough time to meet up with all the people I had wanted to meet. Once more my apologies to those who have missed out. I will also try to get better in this point during my next visit in August. But I have to say now already that I do not have high hopes. But what would we be without good intentions? ;-)
In November I had some great days in Wellington. The main reason for travelling there was the World Cup qualifier of the All Whites - that is New Zealand's football team - against Bahrain. As you might know, they qualfied for the World Cup in South Africa later this year. This has given football in New Zealand a big boost. The atmosphere at Westpac Stadium was fantastic and reminded me of the good old football days in Germany, especially after the great victories of VfB Stuttgart I was priviledged to report about.
In early December I had a friend visiting from the Waikato, and went back up to the North Island with her for nearly a week. I had not been in this region for ages, so it was a great discovery tour. I even visited Hobbition and was pleasantly surprised of the beauty of this movie set. Another fabulous trip was to Mount Maunganui on a brilliant day, with the red flowering pohutukawa spectacularly bordering the turquoise blue waters of the sea.
I also checked out the venue of the World Rowing Championship which will take place at the start of November 2010 on Lake Karapiro. Some former rowers from Ulm have already booked their flights, so the event will be even more exciting for me. Ah, and not to forget: We got a special demonstration of alpaca mating at Karapiro - whereas the sparrows I watched in Cambridge would have also done it without my presence...
The New Year has started well, with some interesting work, the national road cycling championships here in Christchurch, a Ronan Keating concert in a Waipara vineyard, and big success with my stories. The funniest one was surely about a German guy who had tried to smuggle geckos and skinks out of NZ in his underpants. Yes, the ones he was wearing!
I have just come back home from a business trip to the wine country of Marlborough, next week I will be in Auckland for two days. So you see, I am busy. The only thing I want to complain about is our summer. It seems as if spring changed straight into autumn, with an incredible lot of cloudy days which is uncommon for our region, and the temperatures are lower than normal. We have had the fire going on many evenings. I agree, this must be the much discussed climate change ;-)
11 August 2009 - We have been on a South Pacific Cruise three weeks in June, visiting Vava'u (Tonga), Rarotonga (Cook Islands), the four French Polynesian islands Tahiti, Raiatea, Moorea and Bora Bora, Samoa, and the two Fijian islands Vanua Levu (Savusavu) and Viti Levu (Suva). It was a cruise on a queues ship... Read more about it on my VirtualTourist page in the Australia & Oceania section.
We loved it everywhere but in Suva which seems to be the dirt hole of the South Pacific, and rightly so, it was the only place where it rained during our three week long trip. We were most delighted with the friendliness of the people everywhere and the hugely interesting cultures. We would surely want to go back to Vava'u, Samoa, and - but not longer than a week - to Rarotonga. But where we would want to be right tomorrow would be French Polynesia. Back to all the islands we have visited, and add Huahine and Maupiti. We'll see. At least we have a goal.
At the end of the month I will visit family and friends in Germany.
Another highlight of the first half of the year was a ten day trip to the south of New Zealand with my German colleague Doris. She tends to extend her tennis business trips to Australia by several weeks, and since last year this includes New Zealand. We had a great time and great weather in Queenstown/Glenorchy, Te Anau, Milford and Doubtful Sounds, and on Otago Peninsula. We had great wildlife encounters, getting close to Yellow-eyed, Little Blue and Fiordland Crested Penguins, Sea Lions, NZ Fur Seals, and dolphins.
27 January 2009 - I have added a photo of my first Christchurch necktie to the Products page
Some of the most important news of 2008 were:
February 2008 - After our holidays in Germany in August 2007 I reinvented myself as an athlete and restarted training discus, shot put and javelin after a break of about 25 years. I won three gold medals at the New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin and was rather pleased how the things were going in discus and shot put.
Although I delivered my best result in javelin which had always been my favorite discipline, I injured my arm. Too much adrenaline... I still feel I should leave the javelin in the garage, and have not restarted specific throwing training again. But I have worked out a lot in the gym, and my biceps and triceps look as impressive as Arnie's... Shocking!
March 2008 - Hubby bought himself a BMW R 1100 RT motorbike, and after quite a lengthy thinking process I accompany him on the passenger seat from time to time. At the start of the New Year we even did a two day trip to the West Coast, via Arthurs Pass and back via Lewis Pass. Planning is paramount as I only travel on the bike in good weather conditions - and with a scooter helmet only, as I feel claustrophobic under a full-face helmet...
I did not travel overseas in 2008 but travelled extensively within New Zealand. I was in Wellington, the capital, four times. It is fantastic even if you have a day only, as the airport is so close to the city and public transportation perfect and cheap. We were in Auckland for four days, also in Queenstown, not to mention the lots and lots of great day trips. The two best day trips probably were the scenic flight over the majestic landscape of the Southern Alps, over lakes, mountains, glaciers, braided river beds and icebergs, starting at Lake Tekapo, and the railway trip on the TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth and back.
November 2008 - I visited Shrek the sheep, probably the world's most famous sheep, in Tarras, Central Otago. I had to handle him alone as the farmer had been called out before he could introduce me to the hermit merino that had been discovered in 2005 after six years without shearing and wearing a fleece of 27 kilos. Although Shrek did not even say Baaah to me, we got along quite well.
1 October 2005 - Finally the products have been updated. It has been a very busy year for us and the website we established almost twelve months ago has really suffered. But we are delighted to have finally updated the product pages and finally got the hand-painted ties and the watercolour and oil on silk paintings on display.
Our next project is to develop a German language version of the site - hopefully this will not take another twelve months.
We are also debating whether or not to accept credit card sales. If you have strong view please give us some feedback - at this stage it has not proved to be an impediment to sales, but perhaps there are sales missed we do not know about?
25 October 2004 Well here it is - the first draft of the website. There are still many empty spaces and links that we have to complete - but a first step has been taken. Hopefully we will get things tidied up before we get too many visitors :-)
Not a lot of damage at home after the September quake.