Category: stories

Hello October

Forgive me dear reader, for I have sinned. It’s been months since my last blog update. There’s been a bit going on.

Photos from the last holiday. Must be time for another!

I’ve been preoccupied with finishing a video project, a bunch of smaller jobs, and then trying to line up my next work trajectory.

The project

The video project was a documentary about the Te Ropu Kōkiri-a-iwi response to Covid-19 in Te Tauihu. It taught me a lot about some awesome people and organisations where I live, and it was an absolute honour to be part of it.

It was a complex story, with lots of moving parts, and lots of interview and field footage. I really felt the responsibility of capturing history, and trying to do the story well.

A chunk of other stuff

At the same time I finished some other videos about chlorination, did ongoing social and website updates for another organisation, did three or four short videos for an award presentation (the client got second ) built a website on spec for someone, did some family history – and finished the podcast, Richie’s 50.

In the latter stages of all this there was the first hearing for the truck driver who hit and killed my brother at Christmas. It was adjourned, so that bundle of poop will be opened again later this month.

Next steps

Choosing the work trajectory – one contract, the other contract, or both? It’s a luxurious position to be in, I know. Work has been turning up at my door. Doing both will make me very busy for a few months, but could give me a breathing space next year for a bit more time off. Now that sounds good!

Goodbye July

Goodbye to the old. 50 is not old when you’re 70, but unthinkable when you are 30. Ancient when you are any younger than that. Image by @yoyoqua

Zoom went June

Well that month disappeared quickly. It’s been busy!

I finished one video project and have done more than a dozen interviews for the next. All mostly via Zoom. Some was field footage and shooting though, and it made me realise how much I still have to learn. The sound was OK, but my camera skills need practice. Slow pans, manual focusing, getting visual elements to help the narrative…

I’ve also got four episodes of the podcast lined up as well as some trailers to promote it on air. I haven’t done much more outside of that for it. More on that later

Quick retreat

In NZ we’ve left lockdown and everyone is trying to go back to the before. You can shop at will, travel, there’s school sport, and televised rugby. So more than 90% of the nation is happy that life is normal enough again. Those that aren’t happy probably need to take a look around the world and reassess. We have so much to be thankful for, most of all there’s no community transmission. Yes, industries are suffering, people have a lot to deal with, but that was the same before. Now it’s different industries. Most of us talked about realigning, changing for the better. Now we have to follow through.

The nation seemed outraged at a couple of border failures – but the response to the failure was exemplary – all cases since have been caught at the border. Imagine how we would feel if we were in Victoria – suburb by suburb lockdowns, police on each floor of apartment buildings, road blocks… again, we don’t know how lucky we are, mate.

Lots of people are talking about holding on to the good changes that have happened; it’s getting harder though. The ‘return to normal’ seems include acting like Covid-19 wasn’t a thing. But you can’t have a skirmish with a pandemic and then take it all back. Some fundamentals have changed.

For me, I’m thinking hard about how I balance things – money, family, work. I’m determined not to go back to full-time work stress. This will bring other stresses, but for now, I’m ok with that.

Lockdown made me broaden my network, reset my approach and look around for new opportunities. The good news is there’s plenty out there – it’s time to follow up on them. Wish me luck.

Zoom calls, Apple IDs and happy travels…

25, 26, 27 May

So I’ve decided to stop recording the coronavirus lockdown days. It’s kind of over, and we are in post-Covid – no-one is in hospital anymore in New Zealand.

The last three days have been a blur of activity. Monday was a straight-forward work day. Tuesday was an early start.

I was to be picked up at 0720, but got a text as I got out of the shower just after 7. We headed into town to pick up a whale jaw bone, and took it over to Wairau, where I spent the day at the offices. It was so strange to be out and about and doing things! I finished the day with a couple of Zoom catchups.

Wednesday was also busy, with work and zoom catch-ups. I have a lot of editing to do for my birthday podcasts, and had a meet up with Matt about those today. Might have to ease back on the sweary … but it will make a funny series.

Some of the video work I have been doing is coming to an end, but it will be replaced by another contract for a different group, so I am very fortunate to have that!

Ansd speaking of fortune, when it smiles, it shines! After more than four months of discussions and bouncing back and forward, I’ve made some progress at recovering my deceased brother’s Apple ID.

First I had to have a death certificate and ID for him. Then ID for me. Then a letter from the trustee approving me to act. After supplying the required documentation, it’d be easy, right? Apple would press a couple of buttons and the transfer would be complete!

Wrong. Then it got harder. To reclaim the Apple ID, there was a phone number associated with the account. We had four different mobiles for my brother – he travelled to a lot of different countries. None of them worked.

The customer care team said in the end that if we didn’t find the number, we couldn’t transfer the ID. It was a technical issue that the engineers couldn’t resolve. I was astounded, and more than a little worried.

So we would have to find the number, scouring through emails and bookings and reservations of a man who spent his life travelling. Different countries and languages. It was down to emailing people in his address book to see if any of them had a match.

Fortune was with us, we found the number through a friend of my brother’s in Moscow. It will take four days to find out how long it will be before we can access the account, but we were so lucky! Listening to the Apple Support person I was working with, it doesn’t happen that often.

It could have been so much worse. I hate to think what it would have been like if we didn’t find the number. For us this wasn’t a technical transaction, or following a list of instructions to resolve an issue. 
This is our last connection with Keith.

In a few days I will get a text, and will find out how long it will be before I can access the account. Whatever I find, even if it is just receipts for three badges and a fridge magnet, I will cherish it a great deal.

So my heartfelt thanks to Greg and the team at customer care in Apple Australia. We are very grateful indeed.

My personal measure of whether a day on the road was a good one is set fairly low. If I can go to sleep with a roof over my head, warm, with a full stomach, I’m better off than many in the world. So finishing inside a dry tent, in a warm sleeping bag, with a warm belly will mean it was a good day.

However, I can’t see the point of spending thousands of dollars on a bicycle and gear before such an adventure, only to try to preserve the hundreds left over by turning into a miser; skimping, scrimping, and “saving” money every day on the tour; spending as few dollars as possible each day.

It makes more sense to me to economise by using practical solutions for any needed gear, and spending the thousands thus “saved” on enjoying every day of the tour, memorable experiences, or touring for longer.

Keith Liddicoat, Philosophy: Where I Prove I’m Crazy

23, 24

Coronavirus days 59 and 60

It was the end of a couple of months of coronavirus. I had a weekend! Din’t write or do much, but had a few calls with friends and reflected a lot on the last eight weeks.

This time has been massive change – and there are good, if uncertain, times ahead.

When in doubt, improvise!

Corona virus day 58

A more settled day, but some how it seems it is the calm before the storm. Busy week ahead next week. An important meeting, a trip over the (physical) hill, the last of a line of things and a gathering for being over the (metaphorical) hill.

A long birthday podcast interview which was really nice, and an even longer follow-up call with band members. There will be about 30 more in the coming weeks.

Too many Grolsch, and I blame economics. It was on special for $20 per dozen. Now how does that happen? Dutch pilsner available in Nelson, New Zealand, cheaper than the local product?

Anyway, I’m going to be so busy, I’ll have to improvise…
Some memorable phrases from today:

  • Ask 1000 whys and write it down
  • 100,000 ways of describing friendship

Is it a full moon?

Coronavirus day 57

Weird things happen around the full moon. I don’t know if today was a full moon or not, but it felt like it!

An early start to get work done, school run, then a drive to Motueka to meat the surgical theatre bus. Sounds great doesn’t it, getting surgery on a bus in the car park of a hospital!

It wasn’t for me, but I was the helper and the driver. It was an excellent setup really, and they got through a fair number of patients.

While that was happening, I took the dog for a walk, and then did an interview at the Marae. Quickly brushed up on my paku mihi (and thank God for Te Aroha, neh?).

We moved on to the interview. It was brilliant, captured such wisdom and gems of knowledge – except that the recorder wasn’t going. Shame-faced, we started again. My phone rang!!

It was the CEO of the iwi, probably the only thing that saved me, but I got the hard word to turn it off completely! Everything that could go wrong did, but my guest was gracious and accommodating. In the end the audio came out very well, and everyone was happy, but it was a hard-earned win!

That was fine, but of course, I missed the three calls from the hospital to come and collect the patient … When I did finally arrive, they looked at me like I had abandoned the person, and gave me suitably filthy looks.

Got home, with a stop for food on the way, settled patient in. Off to the school run, then home to edit audio, chop, chop, chop. LAter edited video, chop, chop, chop.

A long, and busy day.

A long talk, a few cans if you can

Coronavirus day 56

A long conversation today with someone interested in the same kind of service design field I am. We shared tales of woe – in terms of how hard it is for smaller centres to do the type of work they want to, and that their citizens are expecting. Small teams, under resourced and only able to do one or two projects at a time.

Sharing and collaboration will help, but if you’re not beholden to a vendor, you’re stuck on one platform or other, and even if you used open source for everything, you can easily end up with a highly-customised thing that costs a fortune to maintain.

Because in the end, vendors of al stripes want you to be mine, be mine, tonight. How about that for a tortured analogy… Still there are opportunities, so when the conditions are right you need to be ready to go…


Out now: Meatnik

Buy on in kindle format.
Read on any device with the kindle app.

Meatnik is something I have been working on for a while. It’s a pulpy, schlocky tale set in the future. Meat is a thing of the past. The drug market is controlled by the government. The lucrative black market trade is now human cells, as cartels try to put meat back on the menu.

Durn is a muso, who drops a few cells on the side. At band practice, he gets a call – and gets shot at.

Little does he know people have been watching his drops, checking out his DNA. Turns out he could be the person who could solve the missing meat link.

What follows is an entertaining, gripping and comedic adventure into cow smuggling, danger, and DNA deals.

Coronavirus day 54

Back to not normal

Coronavirus day 53

Time is ticking, tomorrow the bubblemates go back to school and work. I will stay put with the dog.

I think we’ll all be very careful, and get back into things slowly. I like the slower pace. It has been such a strange time.

We celebrated tonight with a delicious roast, and the minor miracle of the teen getting organised independently … and I have to say she has done brilliantly overall. Let’s hope the renewed enthusiasm lasts!

Tomorrow another week begins, one that could bring some news and some change, perhaps an opportunity or two.

Roll on Monday!

Can you take the ums out please?

Coronavirus lockdown day 52

The morning was fixing up some final video tweaks, and some administrivia.

Friday afternoon beers were welcome, a friend visited, then a zoom call with bandmates. I was late, but we had a good chat. I realised during the course of it that my basic job at the moment, audio and video editing, had become deleting a procession of ums – my own and others – from various takes and tracks.

Not tedious. Everything is fine.

Day 50 billion

Coronavirus Lockdown Day 51

Today was the first day of Level 2, after 7 weeks of lockdown.

It began early, after another nice sunrise, with an 8am zui (zoom hui). Looks like a positive outcome from that, so another project on the list.

Then there was a bit of waiting and non-meetings. I missed a call for pick-up of a purchase, and after 1/2 an hour on the phone, was told I could just waltz on in. Such luxury.

The shop though had walk-ins going in through one door, and click-and-collect round the back. It was pretty well organised and fast, with hand sanitiser and plenty of distancing.

The gold though was the new hard drive I bought. It’s really sped up the machine I do my day-to-day work on. The catch was I had to re-format it, change some deep disk settings, install the OS and migrate all my existing hard drive content. It took quite some time…

But now, the main apps I use open lightning fast, so I will make all of that time up, over time. Good times.

It was also Budget Day, a $50 billion covid spending plan. Lots for housing and infrastructure, not much for direct support of beneficiaries or low income earners. But trades training and community education and $4b for health, bravo. Most of the hot takes I saw were, yay for this; grumble, grumble for that. What’s the old saying? If you piss everyone off equally you’ve got it about right?

Fifty, and nearly 50

Coronavirus lockdown day 50

View from Queen's Reserve, Nelson
Dusk on Day 50.

Day 50 was a budget preview day. Big Norm got a mention. It will be a real change to see an investment budget.

Work has been slower the last couple of days (that is not a complaint) and I had time to do a few online tutorials about After Effects.

New neighbours arrived, although there’s no sold sign on the house next door.

The sunset, and the sunrise today were magnificent. it is my favourite time of year.

And soon, my birthday. So what will I do? Probably, a few folk over on the night. Shashlik. A vodka or two, snacks and the like. Singing perhaps.

But I am tempted to do a 50 at 50 thing. Something creative, something different. Something I wouldn’t normally do.

50 zoom meetings with friends old and new… this could be a good podcast … 50 bike rides? 50 rambles and rants? Hmm, thinking cap on!


A few minutes after writing this I posted on social media. I had 10 people within about 30 minutes.

Folks, your attention. Soon I am 50.

I can only have a few people over in person on the day, so I’m thinking of a way we can celebrate together.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll schedule a zoom chat (or similar) and we’ll swap a memorable story with each other.

It might be how we met, some hijinks, things that went well, things that spectacularly didn’t, or any of the nicks and scars we collected through our lives. Memories, hopes, dreams.

Or you could mix a drink for me and we’ll share it virtually. Or something else fun and creative.

Here’s the catch – I’d record it, and make it a podcast.
Who’s in?? Like for yes!

Richard Liddicoat – celebrating 50 years.