Sunday, September 27, 2009

Smudge's Operation

Smudge has a problem with being a white cat and having me as a caregiver. Firstly she is likely to get cancerous growths on her ears and I don't see how it is possible to apply sunscreen as suggested by the vet. Little do the vets know how difficult an old lady she is at 13 years. I was supposed to give her anti-biotics and no way husay will she permit this. Put it in her food and she ignores it ... remove other food and she is prepared to starve for at least 24hrs until my conscience pricks me and I give in. The Vet gave me tablets and then there was another $33 as we tried liquid .. squirt it into her mouth using the eyedropper ... you're kidding lady! Anyway she appears to be recovering well without and simply eating her biscuits.
"So Much For YOU! "

This is the second time she has needed to have her ears, just the one ear this time, due to growths.
"You KNOW I don't look good and YOU Take PHOTO's of me in THIS CONDITION! Humans! "

Today's Photo -- "The Start of a Dream"

My memory is like a sieve but I know it was south west of Colorado Springs across the mountains you can see in the background. It suggests to me that the pioneering dream of a place of one's own is still alive and kicking in the States with this tiny house on what in New Zealand we call a landscape block [ I think :-) ]. Behind the house is the road north to that fascinating natural phonomenum[?] of a sand dune in the midst of fertile [relatively so anyway] country. I happened to past this house three times during my stay in the States and finally got this photo. Nearby I experienced an interesting aspect of American driving. Most places on the open road you find the posted speed limit ignored. But just east of this the heavy truck and trailer unit which had overtaken me WELL OVER the limit slowed to the restricted speed through a small township. I guess, and my son who lives in the States confirmed my impression that likely the local cop would be witing to catch a speeder to help pay his wages. Speed all you like on the open road and through cities, but WATCH IT through small townships :-)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rationing Health Care

There are various ways of doing this. In the United States which spends twice as much on health care as the next they still have around 20% of the population without insurance, and even those with it have to fight an industry determined to not pay unless they really have to to make profit for shareholders. In countries with government schemes it is rationed by the need to wait for care. They allocate certain resource and that is it, with wastage on beaurocratic rivet counting to ensure there is no wastage, with an army of bean counters wasting resources which would better be used getting people better or teaching people to lead a healthy lifestyle.

In all countries if it is an accident or emergency you get it fast, but it is elective surgery that gets pushed back.

I think the problem is largely the selfishness of people who are not prepared to pay through their taxes to provide the money needed to run a full and speedy service. They would rather get all hung up about terrorists and weapons of mass destruction and go off on wars, recently, Iraq and Afghanistan instead of looking after their own people. Or within the nation want more road and other non-important things built and paid for.

Then when rationing occurs we have conflicts between peoples objection to dying before their time and doctors desire not to 'loose' a patient, beaurocrats conflict over 'wasting' money of the terminally ill to keep them alive a few more days or weeks. A question of quality or quantity. Really if people where more pragmatic and accept that their number had come up. But to do that they need to have had a satisfying life. Personally I have had a very good life, it could have been better in some respects, but generally I'm not complaining. If I had to take drugs to cope with unbearable pain I would wish I had the option of quietly and painlessly going to sleep for good.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today's Photo --"The Committee Disaproves"

A grumpy lot this crowd!

Why have we been forced to pay all this money?

We have a problem here in Dunedin. The stadium being built at a cost of $200million, plus interest, and with little likely custom when built, is supposed to be built in time for the World Cup games. It had to be built becuase the House of Pain was unsuitable. However if the new stadium is not complete we are assured the WC games can be held at the HoP. Makes me wonder why we need to spend the $200Mplus in the first place.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My one and only speeding ticket [to date]

Back in my young tear away days, everything is relative, when I worked for Television New Zealand and was in the Head Office [Wellington] Newsroom [ Bowen Street opposite the Reserve Bank] [ Richard Prebble's swimming pool at a later stage] there was a ceremony at Government House and later around lunchtime the Gov Gen was to visit the actual Station WNTV-1 [ or was it WNTV-2 ... long time ago 1964 or so ] Dowling Street rings a bell.

Anyway the idea was that as the editor responsible for cutting the film I had to go out to the National Film Unit in Miramar [ Where I gather Peter Jackson enterprises now hangs out ] and pick up the film and bring it back to TV News next to Parliament Buildings. Of course things ran late and I had been given a false early deadline by my damm fool supervisor, no names no pack drill,so I was in a hurry. Actually innitially I was doing 60 in a 60 area and approaching an intersection at the end of the runway. In front of me was a cop car indicating a left turn so I charged past him across the empty intersection. Clear visibility in all directions. [ If you cannot trust a B&W to go where he was indicating who can you trust? ] Of course my car was a TV one and the other younger tearaways [reporters] were always speeding on news stories etc so it was a red rag to the traffic cop. [ In those days TVNZ had just two staff cameramen, one doing doco's and one for News, I was part time cameraman too when not editing] He came after me and I foolishly, or maybe in the long term sensibily, kept my speed at 35mph until the Haititai [?] Tunnel when he pulled me over. Gave me the option of dangerous driving across the intersection or speeding at 45mph. I took the latter and went to court, never thinking to get a lawyer and perhaps having the cop on.

Judge Scully on the bench, his daughter had worked for HOTV News with me before going on OE, and I listened to a lawyer defending a truck driver with ten years driving experience and first time up. My turn came and I started that I had more years experience and Judge Scully quipted " But not the first time you have gone over the limit ". Obviously correct and I didn't know what to say.... Jeez! ... the Court had a good laugh and I then made my excuse of not wanting to keep the Gov Gen waiting to see the film of him and was fined three pounds and thirty shillings costs.

Pretty light I guess but I think I earnt about 20 pounds a fourtnight in thos days.

Traffic fine whingers

Crusader Rabbit complains about getting a speeding ticket returning from a shopping trip.

I do not subscribe to 'speed kills' either but neither have I ever had so much money to waste it on paying fines. After all it is the 'Stop that kills' not the actual speed. Unfortunately the modern car is easilly capable of going over the limits designed for the average incompetant and in-attentive driver. But of course that isn't you, or me, just the other guy :-)

But I remember driving in the States [Denver] doing 15 MILESph over the posted limit in evening rush hour traffic and a cop on the side of the road waving his hand up and down ... so everybody pulled back to 10mph over :-) When in Rome etc. It was scarey and fun to be doing 90mph on a two lane motorway in the little Honda Accord lent to me by my daughter-in-law. Or through Denver doing 70mph and have a truck and trailer unit overtake on a four lane cross town motorway.

It is an attitude to life. Gone are the free wheeling days when the world had a 'small' population and everybody could do what they wanted, if they could get away with it, like Alexander marching through Turkey and Persia and Pakistan where he got a bloody nose and the like. There are too many people on earth, for us to survive, there have to be guidelines and the intelligent person obeys them out of self discipline rather than because there is a black and white around the corner.

Another less noble reason for my record* is that I generally speaking have never had vehicles which wanted me to exceed the limit by any great amount. I remember getting the 120Y up to 130K overtaking but I have always been happy to cruise within the '10 plus' of the speed limit and my current SUV is happy to be in the 'under 10' until she warms up on a long trip. Just as my son visiting from the States [ I paid the fine for him, his mother didn't want to open the letter after he had returned :-)] did 41K at the wrong time so you did 42K I guess for a similar fine.

What does get my goat is the stupid cop behaviour of giving tickets for two or three K over the limit. So far I have not encountered that thank goodness.

It is not a question of 'civil liberties' but rather of self discipline and many these days seem to think solely of ME and MY wants.

*60 years of driving with one speeding ticket and five parking fines, the last one about 25 years ago maybe further back, hard to remember when. Wife was in hospital and I forgot it was friday night and meters went till 9pm. I'll post separately about the speeding ticket and fine.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today's photo -- Say ARRRGH!

This character was a grumpy old male with a harem and was a bit annoyed at this dam fool homo sapien who got too close to him.

All alone on one of Dunedin's beaches and of course the tog had his digital camera set to give a one second review of the shot just taken.

So it was a considerable shock to see him lunging for me. Fortunately he wasn't that keen and I managed to get out of reach, though it was close!

But despite the stupidity of the tog it is a nice shot and the best he's got apart from another where the animal was asleep just a few meet away from a busy path across the sand down to the beach with HSs passing every few minutes.

"Curves" gone to top of page for some reason Grrr!

Cyclonic drain

The link which Blip gives us doesn't explain why the direction of rotation changes with the depth of water in the shrub.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Student riots

I have been disgusted with the amount of broken glass and burnt patches on the roads around the 'student' area of Dunedin when I have needed to travel though it. The shortest route I used to take. Firstly the burnt patches destroy the road surface and need to be patched at expense to ratepayers of whom I am one directly, though renters pay through their rents too.

We have our Mayor going on about drink, and the Police saying without the Christchurch visitors it wouldn't happen ... both obvious and valid arguments. But what of the argument that visitors to the city spend money.

Not knowing much about the law I assume that if there is a congregation of people drinking and organising bonfires on public streets the Police have to do something about it. There is also the safety aspect of fires spreading to houses, though I don't think that is a very serious and likely problem. So lateral thinking suggests to me that the Council should arrange the closure of sections of Castle Street for the weekend. They often close off the central portion of the Octagon. So it is not a public street, the police do not need to don riot gear and approach students, the fire brigade can simply watch from a distance, and the students can drink and burn and other activities to their heart's content.

The other proviso is that the student organisers organise a bond to pay for cleaning up and resurfacing the road. Media could also be required to pay to cover the 'event' becuase I'm sure their presence helps to inflame the situation.

The student organisers should think up a better place than the Edgar centre for a concert becuase I am not suprised the centre management declined to have a drunken mob spoiling their carpet and other likely problems.

My cyclonic shrub

In case you don't know, though I guess you do, in the Southern Hemisphere wind, and water, circle around a low pressure area in a clockwise direction and in an anti-clockwise direction around a high pressure area.

My shrub must have its own peculial pressure system as when it is say 35mm deep after a shower and I remove the plug it quickly adopts an anti-clockwise rotation. Then when the water is down to about 10mm it stops and adopts a clockwise rotation.

I am pretty sure this is a daily demonstration to me of the cyclonic principles. When the pressure of the water trying to exit through the drainpipe is high there is the anti-clockwise swirl and the pressure difference changes as less water remains.

It puzzled me for ages until I hit on this explanation. If I swirl the water around in a clockwise direction I can upset the natural effect but otherwise this happens every day ... fun eh :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

United States Health battle

How terrible it would be to live in a country where for all the other benefits you could be one of the 46.7million without health insurance. That is 15% of the population. Where one side, the current government is trying to do something about it, while the opposition engage in lies and hysteria trying to scare folk away from what should be a common right in any civilised country ... the right to be brought back to health if and when one falls sick or has an accident. Without crippling bankrupting cost. I doubt if many would argue against the principle of spreading the risk through car or building insurance yet the 'right' argue against applying the same principle to health.

At least with Medicare the aged and Medicaid the very poor are cared for and there are state and city run programmes but insurance should be, though often isn't, a guarantee of care in times of need. So that 15% is simply the proverbial tip of the iceberg. How fortunate we are in New Zealand to have universal health care despite our problems of access to elective surgery at times ... I guess that I am lucky that to date I have been looked after when I needed it, which is different from wanting it. We have a very good health system though without doubt it could be better.

Today's New Yor Times editorial

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Undemocratic System --- Wards

It is socialistic tripe that the ward system is best for the little person. Do we really want the unsuccessful 'little person' to run our councils? I have lived with the ward system for a good number of elections here in Dunedin and it is a frustrating dis-enfanchising system. Originally I was in a ward with two members, then I moved to another with just one. This means that really voting in council elections is a complete waste of time becuase even if my candidate won they would be just one of twelve. It stops me helping to elect across the council the prospective councillors who think the way I do. It is a complete socialistic lack of democracy. Amazing that a National government proposes it for the new Auckland Greater Council.

The Right's FEAR of Socialism

Aparently President Obama is going to give a speech about the importance of education in the coming week, at a school and available to any school that wants it.
But the 'right' is afraid that he will spout socialist stuff in it and are trying to stop children from watching. I guess the 'right' in their ignorance simply don't want future generations to be knowledgable, to make up their own minds between the common sense of the right versus the socialistic twabble, that is when the 'right' do talk common sense instead of bigoted twaddle and outright mistruths that the extreme right , like the extreme left, are so fond of. Because they cannot win their argument with the truth.

NYT link =

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gasoline $4 a gallon

Bearing in mind that the American gallon is a little less than four litres and the exchange rate ... oh the poor souls ... that's about, or less, what we are paying today. But of course most of us have reasonably sensible cars rather than the typical American gas-guzzler, and maybe for some of us the distances are shorter.

Drivers to distraction

A frame from a four minute video that you can watch on YouTube to see with all the horror of the young woman texting on a two lane road, drifts across the road into oncoming traffic, crashes, anather car hits the mess and full of horrible scenes.
After seeing 'District 9' the other night, first R16 film I have been to see in years, I wonder if the viewers are getting the message or rather looking for some 'good' gore.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It is fun [crazy] running a blog

Indeed ...I try to answer somebody who has grace to visit this blog and felt enough to contribute ... thanks :-) ....but when I try to add my bit to their comment it turns out that it doesn't recognise the password that I sign in to start a thread with .... MAD!

I'm not too worried about getting spam or junk mail ... I seem to recognise it and just a click and it is gone off my e-mail. While the 'No Junkmail" sticker on my letter box seems quite efficient ... perhaps too much so ... I rarely get either of the two free newpapers in my area.

The only thing which IS bugging me slightly is the Wine Society. I spent up prior to last christmas on presents for family and some people who had done me a big favour [ they towed me and my yacht to safety from moderately rough seas ] and so the WS think me a greatpotential. Only I'm not and quite happy to dilute my case red with tonic. Principly to keep my intake of alcohol within the drivers' limit ... quite like the taste too. So since I am ruining the taste why spend up on it :-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Let's bash the Muslim lover Obama

Happened upon Crusader Rabbit complaining about Obama speaking favourably about the Muslim in the United States ... suggesting he was a left wing extremist or a covert Muslim. really they are just so foolishly one-eyed you have to laugh at them. Well I do anyway.

As to if a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian , a 'whatever religion you like to insert', is good or bad largely depends on the human being involved. The major religions have a commonality of goodness but it is the way the human interprets their religion or uses it for their person benefit or depravity that warps the basic concept.

It came to me that todays crusaders are using their strength in a similar way to the Christian knight from western europe who went to palestine. The English got their noses blooded, then the Russians tried with similar result, and now the Americans are trying in Afghanistan with I suspect equal waste of energy and lack of result, thats from the western point of view. I suspect the only successful invader of that region was Alexander the Great and he just passed through ... sensible man.

Another thought on that country ... the people need an income ... they grow poppies ... instead of burning the crops why doesn't the 'west' let the crops grow, be harvested, and then buy the finished product. That way the Afghans have an income to buy western goods, improve the standard of living, be lesser a prey for the extremists ... and the west can destroy the poppy product if they don't want it to destroy their culture by turning them into a nation of drug users. I think it is called lateral thinking.

Shopping Bags .. the Plastic ones

Oh the innocence of people … “I’ve never been charged for plastic bags!” … you have been paying for them, and the paper bags, when you bought the groceries. They are part of the overheads which contribute to detirmine the retailers margin. The 5c or 10c is simply a penalty for being lazy in not bringing your own bag to the shop, like we did in the old days when we had a wicker shopping basket et al. I have four green bags and a bluegrey one given to me by Rockgas when I bought some equipment. They are very useful for carrying things around quite apart from groceries, such as tools and library books.

Somebody suggested holding up the queue by refusing to pay for bags .... I doubt if that will happen because just as when I only took one bag with me and bought large I was permitted to take the balance of my purchases, un bagged, out to my car on the trolley. Out at the car I packed my groceries into the other bags which live in my car along with all the other stuff I carry around.
I thought it rather nice of New World to give me five bonus flybuy points becuase I brought my own bags last month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Message from a concerned American doctor

Fear and Loathing in America: How to Sell Health Care Reform

I wonder if anyone has considered shifting the focus of the healthcare reform debate? It might seem to those of us who support health care reform that pleading the case of 47 million uninsured Americans and the many millions more who are underinsured or bankrupted by previous illnesses is sufficiently heart wrenching to rally people to the cause. The problem is that the demographic who watches Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh without recoiling are reflexively persuaded that these uninsured are mostly "ne’er do wells” and “illegals" who are living off of their taxes (even if they, like their spokesman, Joe the Plumber, have failed to actually pay the taxes whose ill use they lament). A much more compelling sales pitch can be made for the other major components of the proposed healthcare reforms, i.e. cost-containment, preventive medicine and improved outcomes. Even the most hardcore conservative can support a reform that aims to find the cheapest, safest way to give granny the best treatment. None would support a system that instead gives granny the treatment which is most lucrative for the doctor, hospital, pharmaceutical company or insurance company. If Bubba realized that this is what we currently have, he could more easily be rallied to the cause.
So why aren't we rousing the granny loving masses with true tales of the endemic dangers in our current healthcare system? Fear and anger are remarkably effective mobilizing tools. Fear based tactics have worked well for Republicans on many occasions, even when used inappropriately -- it is what got us into Iraq without weapons of mass distraction or links to Al Qaeda, allowed too many of us to accept torture and wiretapping as okay sometimes, and it is what has undermined healthcare reform efforts as far back as 1915 when opponents were able to sabotage the establishment of a national health insurance with claims that this was a plot by the German emperor to take over the U.S. Visceral fear invoking rhetoric represents the single greatest threat to health care reform today if those of us who know we must reform don't get our act together and focus Americans fears on genuinely terrifying stuff. It will not avail our cause to simply whimper about the disingenuous fabrications from the likes of Fox News or about certain Republican Congressmen’s refusal to disavow propaganda and entirely untrue rumors. Of course, the Conservatives are attempting to “Swiftboat” the effort. This is what they do, this is their best opportunity to hurt Obama …and it will work if our only response is to cry foul.
The sad truth is that there are many real reasons for Americans to be afraid of our current healthcare system. We are killing grannies every day and we are bankrupting our country doing so. Proponents for reform need not resort to cruel and dangerous misrepresentations such as depicting efforts to encourage end of life counseling via physician remuneration (something every sane and caring physician supports) into death panels which incentivize doctors to suggest that granny snuff herself. The debacle we call US healthcare offers no shortage of real horror tales. Most tragic amongst its shortcomings is that our “healthcare” system infrequently delivers health-- We rank last amongst Western nations on nearly every measure of quality and yet our system costs twice as much to operate and the cost is rising by over 7.7% annually. For all this, our outcomes are deteriorating across nearly every disease category. Rates of diabetes and obesity, the two diseases placing the greatest financial strain on our healthcare system, are rising at alarming rates in both adults and children. Our children are projected to have shorter life spans than we currently enjoy secondary to tripling obesity and diabetes rates over the last 30 years. If nothing changes, the only thing projected to slow this process down is genetics. One analysis reckons that the only reason that the 30% of 6 to 11-year-olds who are obese has not risen further in the last few years is because every six to 11-year-old with the genetic propensity to be obese is obese. This is a disgrace and a true pandemic. Diabetes and obesity are nearly 100% preventable with diet and exercise. Surely in this advanced day and age, there is some way to design a healthcare system that incentivizes all of us from doctors to government and insurance administrators to patients and employers to figure out how to get up off the couch and eat more vegetables? Shouldn't this be the focus of our efforts to improve health rather than idiotic gadgetry driven diagnostics such as correlating expensive pictures of atherosclerotic plaques to risk for heart disease? Would not a an old-fashioned, thorough history about lifestyle habits such as exercise, diet and chill out methods be just as predictive, less dangerous and about 20 times cheaper? Equally illogical is to continue spending enormous funds on pharmaceutical development to treat diseases for which we already have a perfectly adequate arsenal of drugs and for which we know that no drug regimen will be nearly as safe and effective as dancing and eating some beans and broccoli. When the solution is so simple it seems hard to believe that we can all be so sick and getting sicker. The problem is that we have a "healthcare system" that incentivizes sickness care more than health care. The financial rewards for increased medicine (MRIs, procedures, dialysis, surgeries…) are much greater than the financial rewards for performing good medicine such as preventive counseling or adherence to state-of-the-art protocols. It is for this reason that there is an estimated 17 year lag between a new medical discovery and implementation unless this discovery is a lucrative procedure or medication. Keep in mind that this implementation lag results not only in failure to utilize helpful treatments but failure to cease utilizing harmful treatments. This distorted system results in too many situations in which granny receives treatments that are neither the cheapest, the most effective nor the safest. For instance, if granny goes to the hospital following a heart attack, even if she is one of the patients for whom evidence-based protocols recommend a relatively cheap and safe regimen of medications followed by cardiac rehab rather than an angioplasty; in many parts of this country, she is likely to undergo the angioplasty with its related risks, because this procedure will pay the hospital on average 40% of $20,000. By contrast, opting for the evidence validated safer protocol of medicines and rehab will cost the hospital approximately 11% of its expenditure on granny. It is this reality about which people should be enraged and afraid --not Sarah Palin’s imagined death panels.
As physicians and other concerned citizens who genuinely care about granny it is our responsibility to join the effort to pass meaningful health care reform. This means reform that achieves better health with minimal harm along the way. Since this route usually also involves the lowest tech, most lifestyle based interventions it is also the cheapest. Our current healthcare system is terminally ill—it has become so distorted as to lose track of the only truly relevant outcomes. Number one --do the patients undergoing the intervention feel and function better without a pharmacopeia so obtunding that motor vehicle operation ought not be allowed. Number two -- are the patients who underwent the intervention less dead than those who got no treatment or other treatments. Reform can be accomplished in a highly sustainable fashion. Furthermore I believe that making these changes will reinvigorate physician’s commitment to their craft. Few of us would object to working in a system which supported good medicine and thereby, happier, healthier patients-- even if this meant slightly less pay. Believe it or not, most of us love medicine more that money and lament the formers demise.
Virtually no other business model would tolerate the lack of quality or quality controls seen in our healthcare care system. If a widget making company was spending more and more on R&D and its widgets were becoming increasingly wonky, somebody would look into the data to figure out what was working and what wasn't and thus produce less wonky widgets. The only thing that would interfere with such a logical course of action would be a situation in which multiple powerful industries had grown up in the capacity of maintaining wonky widgets beyond their wonkily shortened life spans. If the various spring makers, ball bearing re-surfacers, lubricant specialists and so on stood to lose significant revenue on less wonky widgets which required less maintenance for longevity, then they would do everything in their power to sabotage the creation of high endurance, low maintenance widgets. This is, unfortunately, where we are in medicine. A few very powerful players—Big Pharma, some procedurally oriented physicians and hospitals, surgical instrument and other gadgetry makers –have a very strong interest in keeping us wonky. The studies of treatment efficacy proposed in the reforms are not in their best interests. In the meantime, the rest of us are literally dying to know what works.
Our current disaster management model of medicine is the least effective, least kind and most expensive way to do things by every assessment. Without reform, the economic viability of our nation and the viability of our people are imminently threatened. Americans should be afraid, but their fears should be of real bogeymen not socialist rationing, death panels or fascist takeovers. To paraphrase my hero, Jon Stewart-- while the language in the health care proposal may be complicated and open for interpretation; is it the least bit realistic to believe that the interpretation which would be chosen at the impetus of the government, would be the one in which doctors are compelled to push euthanasia on elderly folks?! Perhaps under a Cheney administration, but otherwise this is absurd!
So let’s get our troops in order and make sure that healthcare reform passes and that that the reforms transform our sickness care system into a healthcare system. Let’s stop whining about the misuse of fear and anger and appropriately focus these emotions. Fear and anger mobilize people whether aptly or illegitimately used. We have legitimacy on our side. So let’s all collect factual anecdotes and data illustrating the dangers, costs and glaring inefficiencies in our current system and inundate the people with this information. Let’s rally influential, well respected celebrities from all walks of like to the cause. Healthcare reform is arguably the most important issue facing this country. The system must change. We have the technology. So let’s go and scare the hell out of folk’s in the name of good medicine, good living and good healing. In a properly reformed health care system granny would get the colonoscopy she needs, be spared the colonoscopy that's more likely to harm than help, and if she is diabetic she would be treated early with diet and exercise counseling. That way, if she likes them, she'll get to keep her kidneys and feet. Oh, and for the gazillionth time, if she likes the current insurance administrator that stands between her and her doctor she can keep him too. And we'll all live healthily and happily ever after.

Lisha Barré, M.D.

A Little Train Show

Last weekend, after an 'absence' of several years, I helped run one of the Model Railway layouts working at our Little Train Show. Over the years I have travelled with layouts, my own and club layouts to Invercargil, Timaru and Christchurch to help provide a better show than just what the 'local guys' can come up with. Layouts which because of the originator's own ideas are a little different.

I do this principly to help raise funds for the host club but the thing I remember most is the happy faces of children as they are introduced to the idea of model trains, the sheer enjoyment as they either stand on chairs to look at layouts wrongly designed for the operator's convienience, or else held in the arms of Dad or Mum, or often this year it was grandma and grand dad, I guess mum and dad working to make ends meet or just to have a little rest from the kids.

One of the problems of course is the wish all children have to TOUCH and this is a NO NO as far as modellers are concerned, the trains are expensive and easilly de-railed, the layouts the result of many hours of painstaking work. Some years ago our club was given a sheet of plywood onto which a scale image of a railway had been pasted. I organised legs and edging and laid three rings of track to match the image. Other clued up members built a triple control system with separate timers for each circuit. The first few years we ran this we charged/asked for a 50c donation with total proceeds going to a child charity. These days, years, it is just open slather as the kids roll up.

As far as touching most children are pretty good and understand the 'no touch' rule. Perhaps they have not learnt to dis-obey their guardians. I remember one little boy, happilly standing taking in the layout I was running. I was obviously just a little nervous and kept an eye on him, out of the corner of my eye etc. But he didn't touch UNTIL! Grandma came back and in his enthusiasm he pointed to something on the layout ... WHAM ... grandma's hand came down on his. I was very sad at this un-needed smack.

Another time I was running a railway at "Santa's Cave" and an older boy put something on the track .. silly idiot he didn't look around to a few feet away I was keeping an eye on things. I just coughed, or something like that, and he looked up at me and promptly removed the stick or something he had placed on the track.

But these are isolated cases from hours of running.

While a lot of club members come along every week to run their trains on club layouts, clubs do not have many or any trains of their own, for others it is the creating of a miniature piuece of railwayania which is the main point of their interest and keep on adding to layouts until there is nothing more to do, whereupon they start building another. I guess I fall into that later group and only run for the benefit of the Club.