Archives For New Zealand

How to mow a hedge

Nathan Campbell —  December 3, 2009

New Zealand has crazy hedges. They were one of the first things I noticed when we flew in last year. Keeping those hedges neat and tidy must present a real issue. Lucky there are a bunch of enterprising kiwis out there on the case.

With a crane and a ride on lawn mower.

Rocking grill

Nathan Campbell —  April 7, 2009

Ahh, the magic of stone grilling… one of the best meals we had in New Zealand was a stone grill selection at a pub in Hanmer Springs. It was so good that I’d almost buy this. For 29 GBP.

You may think this post, with a nominal reference to a Paul Simon song, would be about our return home. Given that the opening lyrics are: 

“Gee but it’s great to be back home
Home is where I want to be
I’ve been on the road so long my friend
And if you came along I know you couldn’t disagree”

But it’s not. Today’s story is about our recent experiences with each end of the customer service spectrum. 

The good (it’s a long story)

Just prior to leaving Townsville we decided to buy a TV. We’d heard that prices were going to go up post Christmas and we’d been saving for an upgrade for a while.  We spent an evening price matching at various outlets in Townsville. We knew what we were looking for and we were quoted various prices roughly within the same $800 ballpark. Until we got to Dick Smith Powerhouse  - where we were quoted a figure of $650 for a Panasonic we’d seen elsewhere for $1000. We were pretty sure it was a good deal. But we wanted to check two more shops before confirming the purchase. We were told by another shop that this was below cost – and we should take it. Upon our return our friendly salesman went out the back to get the TV. He came back empty handed. The TV out the back was broken. He could only sell us the display model. I asked if we’d get a further discount. He said yes, he could sell it to us for a further $20 off – for $830. $830? But he’d just quoted us $650… no, the salesman couldn’t possibly give us that price. It was a mistake. $830 was still the best price we’d found on the unit in question – and we had decided we liked it. We got to the counter, and much to our surprise the salesman told the guy at the counter to sell it to us at $630. Hooray. At the last moment he went around the counter to check the details – and ammended the cost to $830. But I said this was the good. We reluctantly paid the $830 – having made noises about how we should have been given the $630 price – even though it was a mistake. The customer is always right. Right? 

Two days later I wrote used the Dick Smith website’s customer feedback page to write a letter. The basic format of a good complaint letter is some heartfelt praise for the company, the reason you chose to do business with them, a lengthy description of the circumstances, and a closing argument “I know you’re a company that prides itself on customer satisfaction… blah, blah blah…” and contact details. The letter worked. After Christmas I got a phone call from the store manager promising to refund the $200 on our return to Townsville. That happened today. So good on Dick Smith Powerhouse and their most excellent customer service. We now have a $630 TV that we are more than happy with – and they get a mention on the internet, unsolicited.   

The Bad

I mentioned the grumpy lady at Hanmer Horses in my review of our time at Hanmer Springs - she was not a great picture of customer service – but she was not the worst case we came across on our New Zealand adventure. The worst case predated our arrival in New Zealand – and carried through to our travelling companion’s (another gratuitous Paul Simon reference) departure. Cancellation fees can be a legitimate way for a business to recoup lost earnings, a protection for operators against unscrupilous bookings designed to hurt the bottom line, they can be a tax on stupidity, or they can be extortionate revenue raising. Cancellations are the bane of tourism businesses. I know this. Robyn and I both booked accommodation through the same company in the same town on the same night – and they graciously waived the cancellation fee for us. $30 they could by rights have held onto. For that, Alpine Holiday Homes can have a free link. And a hearty recommendation as a cheap, good quality accommodation option in Hanmer Springs. But this is “the bad” – the Interislander Ferry has a monopoly on travel between the North and South Islands of New Zealand – unless you want to fly. The Interislander also demands a 50% cancellation fee on any of their bottom end bookings. Sure, it’s there in the terms and conditions, but that shouldn’t rule out compassion – particularly if you want to maintain a reputation as customer focused. That 50% figure comes regardless of notice – and regardless of the fact that they will operate cancellations notwithstanding. This is an example of extortion. We learned the hard way. Robyn’s sister booked us on to the boat thinking that we would be accompanying them to the North Island as they departed. We were planning to continue circumnavigating the south. We notified the Interislander service by email as soon as we realised a mistake had been made. A month prior to their departure. We received no reply. We had to call them three days before to check that the cancellation had been made. It hadn’t. They gave no quarter. Showed no compassion. And whacked us with a $65 fee for what essentially was an innocent mistake. That was poor. Dreadful service – and a dreadful way to handle customer emails. Even a cursory response to acknowledge the email had been received but ignored because of heavy email traffic would have been nice. A standard autoreply. But no. So they earn a terrible review here. I hope lots of people google the Interislander and find their way here. The interislander ferry is evil.

The Ugly

This is not a first hand experience – unlike the others. This is a case of terrible practice using the user generated content phenomona. I linked to the initial story using my google reader shared items post yesterday. Belkin. Maker of modems, routers and other technowizardry, has been caught trying to solicit 5/5 reviews from users on Amazon. Amazon has a service called Mechanical Turk – a chance for human users to be paid to do pseudo robotic tasks too simple for computers to manage. Collate articles on a topic, summarise an article etc… you can earn Amazon credit – or get paid cash. Not only did Belkin want reviewers to write perfect reviews, in perfect English, they wanted them to pan other reviewers who had been less than flattering of the product. Worse still, Belkin got caught. Now everybody knows what a flagrant disregard they have for customer feedback and customer satisfaction. That’s ugly.

New Zealand: Reflections

Nathan Campbell —  January 17, 2009

As our trip comes to a close – we fly out today – Robyn and I have been doing some early post trip analysis. Here are our thoughts on our trip.

Best Coffee
I’ve written a lot about coffee so it seems only fitting this is the first cab off the rank.
N: Bureau de Cafe, Queenstown
R: Bureau de Cafe, Queenstown
Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of it – but honourable mentions go to the Sugar cafe in Kaikoura, Gusto in Picton and Coffee Culture in Christchurch.

Gusto, Picton

Worst Coffee

There have been some stinkers on this trip. It’s hard to pick. But here goes.

N: The Why Not Cafe, Kaikoura, I’ll tell you why not – the coffee seemed to be exothermic. It got hotter as time wore on, the coffee itself was untastable because our taste buds were scalded off.

R: Piazza coffee at the Hermitage Hotel/Edmund Hillary Centre at Mount Cook.

Best Budget Accommodation
N: Top 10 Holiday Park, Franz Josef. Talk about million dollar views. It worked out at $42.50 pp so that’s value. Plus there were bunk beds in the room so we could have been even more efficient.
R: Holiday home at Hanmer Springs. Worked out at $30pp and was clean, well equipped and very comfortable.

Best Accommodation

We’ve stayed in some nice places as well as some budget places. Here are our top picks.

N: Living Space, Christchurch. It was quirky, colourful and handy to the CBD for strolls and coffees.

R: Breakfree Alpine Village, Queenstown. The views of the lake from the balcony were stunning and it was a spacious one bedroom apartment handy to town.

Worst Accommodation

N & R: Te Anau Holiday Park – the lakeside A-Frame cabins look cute and cozy, but inside were anything but. It was cold. We were supplied inadequate blankets and the bed was like a marshmallow.

Dishonorable mentions: Picton Holiday Park – full of smokers, poor facilities and dangerous cliffs.

Best Breakfast

N: Sugar Cafe, Kaikoura – Big breakfast – venison sausages, hashbrowns, bacon, eggs and a terrific relish.

R: Sugar Cafe, Kaikoura – maybe it was the seal swim induced appetite, but the Sugar Cafe scored again for their eggs benedict – Robyn says it’s the best she’s ever had.

Best Lunch

N & R:  Fergburger.

Honourable mentions go to the Skyrail buffet, and the Honey Pot Cafe for their sensational toasted sandwiches.

Best Dinner

N & R: Bailies Pub, Christchurch. Robyn had Lamb Shanks, Nathan had a sirloin cooked to tender perfection.

Honourable mention – the hot rock dinner at Hanmer Springs.

Best Activity

N: Seal swim, Kaikoura. Seals are cool.

R: The Skyline experience – paragliding, luge and lunch. What a winning combination.

Honourable mentions go to horse riding, puzzling world and the jet boating part of our white water rafting adventure.

Best Drive

N: Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura – the rest of the car was asleep but these picturesque mountain roads were fun to drive.

R: Te Anau to Milford Sound – lots of scenic stops on the way, a tunnel through a mountain and the constant presence of a glacier in the rear view mirror on the trip back made this a drive to remember. As did the early morning start.

Honourable mentions – Queenstown to Lake Tekapo for the Lord of the Rings style rolling mountains and craggy rocks, Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook for the cows and roadkill, and the Wanaka to Queenstown stretch.

Best City/Town

N: Christchurch – lots of cafes, churches, old buildings and a comfortable city feel.

R: Hanmer Springs – a cute little village in the mountains.

Honourable mentions – all the rest.

Most Memorable Person

N & R: The grumpy horse riding lady.

Most Memorable Day

N: Picton – simply because Robyn almost fell off a cliff. I won’t be forgetting that in a hurry.

R: Queenstown – paragliding, luge, lunch, and gondola ride – plus the best coffee all trip. A winning combination.

Honourable mention: Fox Glacier. I’ll never forget the pain in my legs during that walk – or the sense of satisfaction drinking a cold beer on our return. It was all worth it though – walking on a glacier is kind of cool.

Most Picturesque Location

N: Mount Cook

R: Lake Tekapo, Church of the Good Shepherd.

Honourable mentions: Milford Sound and Kaikoura.

We’ll add pictures and links when we get back to Australia – right now it’s off to breakfast.

Queenstown

Nathan Campbell —  January 16, 2009

New Zealand is said to be the adventure capital of the world. Venture capitalists in New Zealand are no doubt called upon to fund their fair share of adventure ventures… ok enough word play.

So far on our NZ adventure we’ve white water rafted, jet boated, horse rided, seal snorkelled, glacier walked, and puzzle worlded. That’s a lot of adventure – but in our mind, not really enough. Well in Robyn’s mind not nearly enough. Holidays for me are more about food, coffee and comfort – hence the flavour of many posts on this blog.

If New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world then Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. For good reason. Everywhere you look there is adventure to be had. Our day out in Queenstown was probably the perfect blend of our different tastes in holiday experiences – with most of the fun being had out of Skyrail – certainly Queenstown’s crowning attraction in both the geographical and metaphorical sense. Skyrail, for those who came in late, starts with a gondola ride up the mountain in Queenstown’s CBD. On top of the hill you’ll find bungy jumping, paragliding, luging, and all the adventure you can poke a stick at. Well, those three pretty much covered it actually. But that’s not all.

But wait, theres more

But wait, there's more

There’s also the best buffet restaurant I’ve come across in a long time – any buffet dessert bar offering creme brulee, chocolate mouse, almond tart and tiramisu is on a winner in my books.

Just desserts

Just desserts

The savoury element was just as impressive.
After our lunch settled it was time to hit the slopes – for some luge action. I’m not big on heights, and chairlifts are right up there with things I don’t want to go on, but the ride was worth it. The luge was fun.

But it wasn’t enough for Robyn – her Picton cliff face experience had left her with a lemming like desire for more – hanging on wasn’t enough. She was determined to successfully throw herself off a cliff – so paragliding ticked all the boxes. I kept my feet on the ground as the dutiful photographer/sidekick/husband that I am while my wife joined a hirsuite German named Leno for a rapid descent.

The Leno show

The Leno show

Lets go fly a kite...

Let's go fly a kite...

I was pretty relieved to meet her back at the gondola after her little jaunt – and with our need for adventure behind us we hit the little red car and made our way to Lake Tekapo – passing the types of rolling hills made famous by Lord of the Rings.

There are, as always, many photos in our New Zealand picasa album – so many, in fact, that I’ve had to start a second.

Seal of approval

Nathan Campbell —  January 9, 2009

This morning’s activity involved some very cold water, hooded wetsuits and a colony of New Zealand fur seals. Oh, and some snorkels. It was cold. Did I mention that already? It was also great, there are hundreds of thousands of seals living on the New Zealand coast. Their numbers were significantly reduced as a result of the fur trade about 200 years ago. These particular seals were thought to be extinct. Luckily for us – they weren’t. Our tour guide informed us that a particular type of seal – I can’t remember which one – is actually more like a dog with flippers.

We finally found a good coffee – at a cafe called Sugar on the main street of Kaikoura. The temperature was perfect. Their big breakfast was also very big. We did have an abysmal failure from the cafe next to the seal swim place – it must have been over 100 degrees – it was scalding.

I think a general rule for picking somewhere to have coffee in New Zealand is avoiding anywhere serving vivace or hummingbird coffee.

There are photos from our last couple of days worth of activities now stored in our New Zealand picassa album – seal photos will be coming once we get the film developed from our underwater disposable camera.

Today is winery day – which I must say I’m particularly looking forward to. Must be off. The grapes await.

The road to Kaikoura

Nathan Campbell —  January 9, 2009

After an eventful morning farewelling Hanmer Springs in the best possible style – coffee at a Yak shack – aka an animal farm cafe complete with llamas, alpacas and what we think was a yak. We’re unsure because we weren’t prepared to pay the $10 each to leave the confines of the cafe for the greener pastures of a series of animal enclosures.
We hit the road – route 70 to be precise – although that’s from memory so it’s probably wrong and started the journey to the coast. We took a “scenic route” although I am unsure whether there are any non-scenic routes in New Zealand. I was struck by the lack of suitable shoulder areas on the road for drivers to stop to take photos. As my passengers were sleeping in the seats around me I was composing a letter to Tourism New Zealand suggesting they create better “lookout” facilities for drivers wanting to capitalise on the rolling hills and forests. But then I realised creating lookouts the whole way along would be an inefficient use of taxpayers’ money. We did stop for a few happy snaps – including the obligatory photos of sheep. Robyn thinks that sheep in New Zealand have reached plague proportions as every mountain is littered with them.
As we drove past a number of farmsteads heading into our eventual destination – the township of Kaikoura – I noticed that each had a unique letterbox – some where weatherboard, others were 40 gallon drums. I thought about commissioning a coffee table book of photos of the letterboxes of New Zealand – but didn’t want to end up with a collection of photos of bins (litter boxes). Something may get lost in translation there.

Tonight we’re in Kaikoura. I’m still unsure how that should be pronounced. We’re staying at a reasonable (both in price and quality) “Holiday Park” that’s Maori for Caravan Park. It’s The Alpine-Pacific Holiday Park. It’s an appropriate name. Kaikoura is situated at the base of snow capped mountains and on the coast – a blend I’ve never before experienced. The combination of New Zealand’s long twilight, the rocky beaches and a combination moonrise/sunset made for some great photos. Fish and chips on the beach is not the same without sand – but I’m happy to report the seagulls here are just as pesky as those in Australia.

We spent an inordinate amount of time throwing rocks at the ocean – well the brother-in-law-in-law, and I, started off trying to skim rocks, but that was an abominable failure. Then it became a chance to be like the children sitting next to us who were chastised by their family for throwing stones only minutes earlier. There was no fear of corporal punishment though – so it was an impressive effort by the parents to get their offspring under control. Robyn’s discus prowess was equally impressive. She could hurl a stone a mile (that’s a small bit of hyperbole) and it glided through the air with perfect form.

We’re going “swimming with the seals” tomorrow morning – so tonight was a great opportunity to scout out our prospective swimming buddies with a trip to the seal colony on Kaikoura’s headland. There was an impressive array of seals “sunning” themselves on the rocks by the water – and a bunch of really smelly kelp to add to the atmosphere. At this point the sun started to go down leading to a pretty spectacular photo opportunity on top of the hill.

I’ll have to add all the photos I plan to insert in this post at a later date, we’re about 4 minutes off running out of our hour of prepaid wireless. Hopefully some of them will be up on the picasa album before our time is through – tonight’s time that is. You should check it out now.

Arthur’s Pass

Nathan Campbell —  January 7, 2009

Day two of our New Zealand adventure (we’re now on day three for those who came in late…) saw us hit the road in our Mitsubishi 4WD hire car. We travelled from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass stopping for an unexplainable number of one lane bridges. Seriously. How hard is it to build a two lane bridge?

Driving out of Christchurch past a number of farms we were struck by New Zealand’s fencing method of choice – a large hedge. We’d noticed it from the air coming in. Every farm we went past had hedged boundaries. It looks cool from the air – but more impressive on land. Speculation as to why they’re there came up with a number of nefarious solutions – probably the pick of the bunch was that they were actually “smack farms” where parents could go to punish unruly progeny. Smacking is illegal in New Zealand.

The other thing I noticed (other than the rolling hills, mountains, creeks, lakes and valleys) was that New Zealand – or at least this stretch of road (and the stretch travelled today) has a lack of roadside advertising. There were no billboards. None. I wonder if this is a result of legislation – or just because there aren’t that many people interested in advertising. I suspect the former. Given tourism’s significant slice of the economic pie in New Zealand I suspect there are a number of “keep New Zealand beautiful” strategies – possibly including a ban on billboards. I’ll look that up later.

It was very cold yesterday – the car’s thermometer had the outdoor temperature hovering around the 10 degree mark – I don’t think that took wind chill factor into account. It was cold.

Coffee enroute came courtesy of a small cottage cafe called “Espress yourself” – I am of the opinion that there is a very limited number of coffee puns appropriate for cafes.

Espress Yourself - coffee in a cottage

Espress Yourself - coffee in a cottage


By the time we got there I was deep into caffeine withdrawal. The headache was a killer. I ordered a bowl of coffee.
The 50c piece is there for scaling purposes

The 50c piece is there for scaling purposes

Robyn scored the coffee here a 6/10 I think. She’s pretty fussy these days. We’ve had her doing video reviews at each stop – but she won’t let me post them online.

Today sees us in Hamner Springs – where the other four have taken a horse trek. While I, not relishing the thought of four days of post horse pain, have chosen to explore the little village – and here I sit, posting this. I should probably go collect the others now.

Christchurch

Nathan Campbell —  January 6, 2009

We’ve spent our first couple of days in New Zealand in and around the city known by airlines all over the globe as Chch. Actually that’s not true. By Australian standards we’ve been around it – but two hours travel in New Zealand is a relatively long distance. In the truest sense of the word. Relatively that is. Whether or not it’s the truest sense of the word distance is a subjective matter and for you, the reader, to decide.

Christs church?

Christ's church?

Christchurch is a city that resonates with me. Maybe it’s the name – which for a Christian is about as theologically “home” as I can be. It feels like Melbourne – or at the very least the block we’re staying in does. Other parts feel decidedly country townish. The fact that the sun doesn’t go down until 10pm makes the CBD feels a bit like a ghost town.

Christs church? Even the pubs get on theme in Christchurch

Christ's church? Even the pubs get on theme in Christchurch.

The surprisingly large number of cafes and restaurants are still closed for the Christmas period adds to that effect. But there are some nice bars, cafes and pubs within the immediate vicinity of our accommodation, and a nice creek/river/brook running through parks around the city centre making the city aspect altogether pleasing. Trams are another similarity with Melbourne. The restaurant tram would be an interesting experience I’m sure – but our desire to see New Zealand without breaking the bank meant tonight’s dinner at least was bolognese – with the ingredients picked up at the local “Pak’n'Save”… which is a grocery experience unrivalled by anything I’ve seen in Australia.

I mentioned the Honey Pot in my last post – but their open grill sandwhiches deserve another plug for outstanding flavour combinations, especially the homemade chutney.

The appropriately named Joe Bloggs - Chicken, bacon, brie, mayo and mushrooms

The appropriately named "Joe Bloggs" - Chicken, bacon, brie, mayo and mushrooms

The coffee on the other hand – in this case a cappuccino – came garnished with so much chocolate powder Robyn suggested spooning it off to make hot chocolate back in our hotel room.

Robyn still scored this a generous 7/10

Robyn still scored this a generous 7/10

Last night’s dinner was at a Chinese restaurant with a generic, forgetable name. Having a Chinese speaker (or a learner) at the table with us was an advantage – the Chinese pages of the menu were designed to obfuscate dishes the owner felt westerners like us would not appreciate. The helpful waiter recommended the place up the road if we were on the lookout for authentic Chinese cuisine. But we stayed. The crispy duck was sensational – as duck is wont(on) to be. The Chinese beer – the Tsingtao – was also good.

Mother duck said quack, quack, quack, quack and one less little ducky came back

Mother duck said "quack, quack, quack, quack" and one less little ducky came back

I told Robyn’s little sister that we’d book some haunted accommodation to really make her first (and mine) overseas jaunt extra dramatic. She’s a dramatic person. There’s a wind tunnel type effect creating ghost noises outside our room at Living Space – and we had to furnish the room with our own ghosts to complete the experience.

Who you going to call?

Who you going to call?

Today we made the trek to Arthur’s Pass – from the comfort of our car. I’ll have none of that stuff the kiwis call “tramping” on my holiday. I’ll have to write about that later – we’re off to Hamner Springs early on the morrow.

New Zealand Photo Album

Nathan Campbell —  January 6, 2009
How did they know I was coming?

How did they know I was coming?

Our New Zealand highlights are being shared via this picasa album. Enjoy. This post is sticky so will greet you at the top of the page each time you come here. There will no doubt be new stuff you haven’t seen below this post. Maybe. Enjoy.

New Zealand

Nathan Campbell —  January 6, 2009

So we’re in New Zealand. We being my wife, two sister-in-laws and brother-in-law-in-law. We arrived yesterday at 3.30pm here time (midday ours).

The cross cultural feel didn’t kick in until we left the airport. Everything looked the same – and having kiwis doing menial jobs for you is nothing out of the ordinary. That was a joke.

As we travelled to our salubrious digs in the Christchurch CBD in our hire car we all had a little giggle at the following ad:

“Million dollar beard sale for a limited time only.”

Everything but the beard was clearly understood. I know bagging out the accent is old hat – turns out it was a clearence sale for beds.

Our first stop was nextdoor to our 3 bedroom unit – in a funky refitted warehouse called Living Space - at an equally funky little cafe called The Honey Pot. They made very good sandwhiches and ok coffee. Robyn’s video review of the coffee will be posted at some stage when I complete a more comprehensive travel journal.

We trapsed through the streets of Christchurch until the wee hours of the morning – it was daylight until 10pm. I took close to 600 photos with our new camera. Taking photos is now too easy. Deleting unwanted ones is going to be a nightmare. Anyone fancy a slide night when we get back… No. I didn’t think so. We still have 12 more days to amass photos for your viewing pleasure. That’s a lot of photos.

I’m testing out a new “clipping” program that lets you highlight any paragraphs and send them straight to your blog. 

New Zealand has some pretty major issues when it comes to parenting. First smacking was outlawed – and now parents can’t give their kids stupid names. What happened to parental rights?

clipped from www.smh.com.au

A New Zealand judge has ordered a name change for an embarrassed
nine-year-old girl called Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, a local
newspaper has reported.

Name change for Talula Does The Hula from Hawaii

  blog it

Climate Change
Peter Garrett and Malcolm Turnbull, the two great hopes of the major political parties, had a debate on climate change yesterday. I fear the election campaign will be dominated by an issue that is really not Australia’s battle to be fighting. Climate change will probably continue occuring despite our efforts given the meagre contribution we make to global emissions. While our output is high per capita the US, China and India – and even the sheep in New Zealand – have more to answer to than we do. I’m sick of the issue and I don’t see why we should harm our economy by stopping our industries when global climate change will still cause the drought/flood conditions we’re facing anyway. Sure, we have a responsibility to look after the environment – but the government has a responsibility to look after its people. It’s not butterflies and hurricanes people – closing down our coal industry will not have any significant global impact while other countries continue to run theirs.

David Hicks
Issue two on the political agenda is the plight of unconvicted terrorist David Hicks, why he’s any more worthy of public support than any other Australian citizen incarcerated on foreign shores is beyond me. The guy’s an Al Queda insider and will eventually be tried, and quite frankly he deserves to be there. What about the Bali 9? what about Schappelle? I saw a group of protestors standing on a corner today calling for his release. Talk about a wasted effort – what does a protest in Townsville have to do with the plight of an Australian war criminal/terrorist under US control – again, not butterflies and hurricanes… If people want to make a difference why not take a meal to a refugee in one of the Australian facilities – their only crime is wanting the freedoms and protections afforded Australian citizens (slightly ironic) they don’t necessarily want to blow anyone up. That’s a worthy cause and I’m sick of stupid activists who think their voice will make a difference. Actions make a difference – and according to the cliche, they speak louder than words anyway. If you’re that worried about Hicks go launch a rescue mission, I’m sure Osama wants his general back. Hicks is an embarassment to Australia – not because of the government’s inaction but because of his actions, he chose to side with the bad guys.

Speaking of bad guys… my pen pal Edward wrote back to me after I revealed I’m a venture capitalist… for those who missed it, Edward generously agreed to raise my commission to the exact level he’d already offered. I suggested I’d be able to find suitable investment arrangments in Australia for his share of the profits:

Tobias,
Thanks for your comprehensive response.
Meanwhile,i thought you would have send the informations i requested from you such as 1.Your full name 2.Your private telephone and fax number3.Your address4.Your present occupation
Though you said that your email was slow but please remember to
include them in the reply to this mail to enable give you more necessary
information regard to this transaction.
I will be very happy if you will really find a good business where where this fund will be invest in your country.
I will be waiting for your urgent response.
Best Regards,
Edward Nkanga


I replied to his email with the following:

Edward,

I’m sorry I haven’t responded until now. I’ve been very confused. I’m not sure exactly why you need these sorts of details to complete the transaction. I think If I am to give out such personal information I need some assurances that the money is real and that I will receive my percentage. I don’t want to appear greedy but I’m worried by the risks involved and don’t want to be hurt in this deal. My uncle Geronimo, a descendant of a Native American tribe, always said that I should never trust a man named after a prince of England so I am understandably wary. This does seem to be a fantastic opportunity to do business and I’m not completely adverse to taking risks in business ventures. My work as a business venture
capitalist and stock broker means I’m often involved with risky deals. My cousin’s brother’s cousin is an investment adviser and he says the internet is the next big thing when it comes to finding new investment opportunities. I guess that means I should trust you when it comes to doing deals like this. I only hope that you are worthy of this faith that I will put into you. Or I will hunt you down with the vengeance of 1000000 bumble bees. It is in the best interest of both parties concerned that you respond to me as quickly as possible so that we can continue making this deal. But like I say, I need real assurances that you still intend to go ahead with this transaction and would suggest that due to the risks involved in the procedure my percentage should be say 40% of the profits plus a return on future
investments in my country. Changing my name has severely confused a number of my clients and my close family who think I’m stupid to take these measures so early in the process. I believe it is better to act first and deal with consequences later – I tell you this so you know the lengths I am going to to help you out with your business deal.

Tobias

Also – If my request for a larger share of the profits offended you I would be willing to negotiate like all reasonable business men. As far as I can see we are equal partners in terms of the risk but it is you who created the opportunity so I
would be happy with a 60-40 % split.


He didn’t respond to that email, perhaps realising that I am not who I seem to be. I did not want to lose out on this opportunity so initiated further contact.

I’m worried that I have not heard from you since my last reply? I apologise if my lack of immediate trust offended you – but I really must be cautious these days because while the internet brings opportunities like this for respectable people to do business there are those who would use it for less honest means.

Please contact me as soon as possible.
My details are:
Tobias Walther Schranner
I do not have a fax machine and my telephone is currently out of
service – however you should be able to leave a message with my secretary
on +61 132 221
My PO box number is 42
I am a banker/venture capitalist/stock broker for my own private firm.

For those worried that I have provided a career criminal with my personal details, please not that this phone number is the number for the Commonwealth Banks telephone banking service… Edward was no doubt a little confused:


Dear Tobias,

Thank you very much for your response.I have gone through all your email with all seriousness and i very well appreciate the effort you have made in respect to this transaction.

I want you to understand the real essence of this transaction and at the same time give you further details regarding this transaction.With the details you provided i will go ahead and procure the required legal documents that will fully present you as the legitimate next of kin to the deceased.

I have tried calling you on the number which you provided but i kept getting a computer recorded message.I will very much love to speak to you so please i will like you to provide me a direct telephone number where i can reach you.

Meanwhile i will begin the process of procuring the legal documents.

I expect to hear from you soonest.

Remain blessed,
Edward Nkanga


Not wishing to disappoint Edward with his request to hear from me soonest I responded immediately.

Edward, I do apologise – that’s the best number to get me on through my current work with the bank I am unable to provide a further number at this time, hopefully my new office landline will be connected shortly. Would a mobile
number be suitable? Email is probably my preferred method of communication as I am often too busy to answer my phone.

I am preparing some contracts for further investment of your funds in the country and have some opportunities I would like to discuss with you in the future. Please could I also have your full name, address and date of birth for my records.

Tobias


Svensk Anfaller

Nathan Campbell —  May 18, 2006

Well once again I’d like to point you in the direction of Matt’s blog. Matt has used his HTML l33tness (leetness = eliteness = ability) a column dedicated to me on his sidebar – he’s basically put a personal want ad on the internet advertising my availability. I’m not sure if I’m flattered or concerned. It seems the only people who visit Matt’s blog are his sister and Mel.

For those of you who don’t know about Sweden let me give you a little bit of back ground. Their national colours are yellow and blue. They’re famous for Ikea and ummm… Volvo… and umm… saab… and Henrik Larrson. They play ice hockey because Sweden is cold and frozen. They have a ceremony where they dance around a May Pole that is shaped like an… umm… let’s just say it’s a little phallic. Historically their men were responsible for much raping and pillaging in the Viking era. They like to eat caviar, and dry, biscuit like, bread (you can buy this at Ikea). Apparently they were some sort of world super power in the 17th century. They had superior weaponry and stuff. Now my favourite bit. On the world map Sweden shares a border with Norway. They’re neighbourly affection is expressed in a similar way to the way we treat people from New Zealand. They generally have a friendly rivalry. Except in World War 2. All the Scandinavian people are fair haired, fair skinned Aryan types. So they had no major problem with Hitler’s third Reich movement. Norway however, decided they didn’t like Adolf very much so basically told him where to shove his Mein Kampf. He didn’t like that very much so he decided he’d like to attack Norway a bit and steal all their treasure. Norway are land locked by Sweden – Sweden being the friendly neighbourhood warmongers allowed Germany free access to Norway through their country. “Don’t hit me – hit them,” they said. They did however rise to defend Finland at some point – in a showing of favouritism probably based on an addiction to Absolut Vodka (which is actually Swedish) or something. Most of this is horribly inaccurate slander based on heresay. You could do some research, or you could just believe what you’re told.

In other blog related news – I notice that Ben, of benintownsville.blogspot.com fame hasn’t updated recently. I have a theory on Ben’s blog that I shared with a couple of other people, Ben included. Ben is your typical alpha male (as in leader of the pack – not reader of Alpha, though he probably does). He’s tall, athletic (he’s doing sports science) and he plays the guitar. So he is a prime candidate for alpha male status. I have a feeling that he’s just trying to subtly reclaim all his lost alpha male turf online. I suspect many years ago men beat their chests and waved their clubs around – it seems blogs are the incoherent grunting of the current generation.