Saturday, October 12, 2013

Voting and vexation

On Thursday a yellow sign was put up right outside my flat, i.e. inside the apartment building. That's great. I expected a sign on the exterior (we got that a week earlier), but not inside as well. What's next? I'll have to put one on my loo door? You wouldn't want to be caught short when the big one hits so anyone who uses my loo needs to be made aware of the risk. From the council's point of view our apartment block is two separate buildings (a "safe" one and a dodgy one), even though they're joined together. I'm just inside the unsafe part, so this new sticker tells everyone they're now entering the dodgy area. There are two other yellow signs on upper floors that carry the same message.

I'd only just seen the sticker when we had an emergency body corporate meeting - it lasted two and a half hours and things got pretty heated. They're painting the outside of our building and they've found a lot of corrosion in the steel panels of the roof. Water is already leaking into one or two apartments (not mine - yet). We had the meeting to vote on how to proceed. For me it was an easy decision: we've got the scaffolding up so we should do it now. I don't want to fork out this extra money, but leaving it till later, when it might cost twice as much, would be crazy. They needed a 75% vote to allow the work to go ahead, but the townhouse owners banded together and voted no (they're up in arms over shelling out all the money for their leaky buildings and don't want to pay for work on the main apartment block, not that they would really have to anyway) to give a 16-7 tally. The townhouse owners wouldn't benefit at all by stopping the work; they were just trying to score a political point. Someone compared them to the Tea Party in America. Eventually two of them changed their mind, two more people arrived (they voted yes), and with a 20-5 vote the work was allowed to go ahead. I think it'll cost me about $3000 (on top of my normal body corp levy). People pointed out that this is just the entrée before we deal with the seismic strengthening.

This home ownership lark isn't at all what it's cracked up to be. Paying for the roof repairs is just one of those things, but as for the earthquake reinforcements, who knows what that might cost, and in the meantime I'm stuck here with no possibility of selling. There really isn't enough money coming in; the sudden drop in value only adds insult to injury. I'm beginning to wish I'd stuck with online poker. I knew the rules and could calculate the odds; with this apartment someone slipped a couple of jokers into the deck when I wasn't looking.

While my boss was out of the office for a couple of hours, one of my quieter colleagues commented on how much more relaxed the atmosphere was. Too right. With my boss, it's go go go, all the time, and all information about anybody in the office (including her) is public property. I'm always thinking, jeez, I didn't need to know that. (I didn't have to guess her weight at all; she volunteered that information.) In other work news, the woman who was controversially fired in June for fiddling her stats, recently got unfired. She took it further, won her case, and got another three months' pay. Good on her I say.

I did vote in the local elections. I never bothered when I lived in Auckland. I see that Celia Wade-Brown was re-elected as mayor. I didn't put a 1 beside her name, nor her main rival John Morrison. My council vote was mostly driven by self-interest (my earthquake predicament) and I note with some horror that none of the names I put any sort of number beside got elected. I like the randomised ballot papers we had in Wellington, which meant the Abbotts and Adamses didn't get an unfair advantage.

Last week I read an article in the Guardian about Britain's failings in literacy in numeracy, compared with other OECD nations. I enjoyed this comment about the obsession with targets in education:

I just can't understand it. Labour gave schools targets, masses of new procedures to follow to record target completion, policies, procedures to follow to record policy adherence, procedures to record policy targets, procedures to ensure that targets were within policy, policies to ensure that procedures recorded targets, and above all targets to ensure that recording of targets and the policies to follow procedures were on target.
I suppose they could have thrown in a bit more teaching, but surely with these many targets, policies and procedures the children should have pretty much educated themselves?

I also read an article about Britain's booming new-car market. It's nuts if you ask me, and great news for people like my brother who can grab bargains by buying perfectly good second-hand cars.

Here and here you will find (and hopefully enjoy) some music from the band with probably the best name ever. They're called Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam. Or TASTATSBWTAS for short. Or just Tim and Sam (incidentally there is a Tim in the band but no Sam). They're either from north Wales or Manchester, maybe both. I'd never heard of them until last week, but with a name like that there was a fair chance I'd like them.

That band name (lots of short words) made me think up a quiz question about a song title. Which hit song has 10 words in its title but only 15 letters? It's from the seventies and reached number one in NZ.

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