On Homelessness, Being Trustworthy and the SuperBowl


CorvetteYesterday I had a day off between two holidays. I was going to go for a Fly Your Own Scenic Flight in a Cessna 162 at Ardmore, but the weather looked a bit dodgy and my car got trailered to an auto electrician in Pt Chevalier at lunchtime on Friday who said he was going to check the diagnostics and let me know why the engine lights kept coming up. Ardmore is an hour from here so a long drive with a high risk of rain.

I rang them 3 times after that and they said he was really busy and would call me back. I’ve been ringing ever since and I think he’s taken the long weekend off. It’s now Tuesday. We’ll come back to trustworthiness again later. This guy has been trustworthy before and was recommended by the man I bought my car off as an expert in Corvette’s. He didn’t let me down the other time I went to him. I suspect he is the sort of person that takes on more than he can handle and that frustrates his manager who in the end wouldn’t let me speak to him. So I’m not sure how I’m getting to work tomorrow or when I will see my car next. I think the thing about trustworthiness is it must be pervasive and consistent. It wasn’t.

Anyway, the weather improved a bit and I borrowed a car off my daughter and went into town to visit my friend and your Giapo for a chat.

I parked at Sky City, because it was free courtesy of a couple of poker matches and walked down Queen Street, where in almost every doorway sat someone with a hat out, not making eye contact, mostly no note and a vacant drug stare in their eyes, not the “I can feel it coming in the night” rush I saw on Louis Theroux’s Dark State – Heroin Town on TV recently, this was more like everyone was isolated in the same bad trip.

I had about $18 in coins in my pocket, planning to give some to buskers if they were making an effort, given that I had done some busking in my teens and I respect people who are prepared to make some sort of a trade for value.

Then I walked past this white guy, (his term) in a tidy shirt, clear drugless blue eyes and a hat in front of him with a lonely silver coin looking up at me from it. I turned around and walked back. I asked him if we could chat and if I could ask him a few questions. He looked me straight in the eye, blue eyes to blue eyes and said “Sure, I’m not going anywhere. What do you want to ask me?”

I said “I don’t want to offend you, but how did it come to this?”

He told me that a couple of years earlier he had been working as a labourer, had an accident which left him unconscious in hospital with severe injuries, to the point that he could no longer work when he got out after a couple of months. He couldn’t earn money (still can’t because of tremors and the scars looked pretty real where his hand appeared to have been pulverised). He and his wife lost their State House and then he lost his wife and kids.

With nowhere to go he now lives in a street doorway in downtown Auckland, except when he can find the $10 to get into an Internet Cafe where they don’t mind if you sleep in the night.

I asked what he could do and he said he didn’t know. His body didn’t give him much of a chance to get work and therefore a room and the only work he had been offered was with the gangs and he said “You know where that would end up. Back in jail and I aint ever going back there.” I didn’t ask what he had been inside for but he said it was about 24 years ago. He told me how he had survived by studying on behalf of inmates who were trying to get qualifications and explained how they would arrange it so that at exam time, the guards would let him go in and sit the tests on behalf of inmates that would have failed. He was very bright. He helped them and got to use his mind and they left him alone and safe.

It was clear that he couldn’t do physical labour, but he is 51 by his reckoning and the only way off the street is to work. Without a street address, he couldn’t get a benefit or his first hand on the rung to get out. He told me a lot of stories and he did have a good head on him so I asked if he had done any public speaking. He said he had been a member of Toastmasters while he was in jail. He found public speaking pretty easy and I thought of people I know who tread the circuit and thought he could probably hold an audience with his experiences. I said to him that the chances I could help him were pretty close to zero and not to get his hopes up, but I would ask some questions and I shall.

I dropped the change I was planning on giving to buskers into his hat and with a big grin he said “I’ll be staying in the Internet Cafe tonight.” He went on to say that he had to stash the money because if street kids saw any money in the hat they would run past and snatch it. He said he had been through 7 hats already that they had stolen.

I shook his hand and went on to visit my friend Giapo in his awesome new gelato shop.

Giapo2018This was my first visit to the new store (I know it has been there a while) and there was one thing that never changes. There is always a queue of people waiting for their Giapo gelato experience.

If you haven’t been to his new store in Gore Street, Auckland City, you owe yourself a treat.

This is no ordinary store where they wet an aluminium  scoop in a container of water and drag some ice cream into a cone from the cardboard tub of your preference.

You are purchasing a culinary experience the equal of what you would get from the kitchen of a master chef. You will be taken on a journey of testing and trying flavours, even while you are standing in the queue Eventually a unique visual and sensual experience will be delighting you and your friends, while you are looking at and consuming it, followed by the sensation that you are sated and satisfied and looking forward to recommending it, the experience, to your friends. This is no drive to Pokeno for an ice cream, this is theatre for the eyes and taste buds.

Giapo and I have wonderful conversations and it was also great to finally meet his amazing and beautiful wife in person. I loved that she gave me a firm handshake and looked me in the eye, I don’t like limp handshakes from anyone. I know these last years have been a big journey for her also. Behind every consummate dreamer is their best friend and partner and without her the stumbling blocks are that much higher. We deep thinkers need a leveler and someone to sometimes ask how and why and finally, “how can I help?”

Giapo is an economist, a mad scientist, a gastronome, a master chef, a 3D printer, a social media maven from way back, a purveyor of experience, an artist and a man who speaks with absolute passion and Italian gestures, from a big heart, who wants to leave a legacy of experiences bound by trustworthiness for himself and his business; and a secure income for staff who want to use his business as a stepping stone for his own career.

We have many experiences in common, including both being deep thinkers and the visit left me with lots of thoughts and questions about what a trustworthy business looks like. The simple answer is that he was going to take many years to build it and would find out as it developed. But I can say that trustworthiness for Giapo includes:

  • Consistently delivering a quality experience that is like going to theatre for the eyes and taste buds. I have never seen anyone leave disappointed;
  • Passion for delivering something of quality including his relationships with staff and the products.
  • Passion for his staff and helping them make what they will from the work experience and wishing he could do more with and for them.
  • Helping his staff develop ideas, for example he runs Chef’s Table gelato degustation evenings and VIP evenings (they were set up for one when I was there) which includes matching music to the course, something one of his students is studying.
  • Having a genuine passion and compassion for his customers (and friends) that never wavers, Giapo is who and what he is, not someone living a persona.
  • Making sure that he looks after himself, his health and fitness so that he can be well in order to run his business to deliver the trustworthiness he aspires to.
  • Recognising the importance of family, that includes those of his customers (friends like me and my family) and of course his own, those here and those back home in Italy.

There is something I deeply admire in people like Giapo. There is a sincerity and depth of purpose that he strives for every day, rain or shine, winter (not the best time for gelato) or summer, year on year.

It is a desire to be the best and continue to push the boundaries of what that means, each and every day and he has now done that for years past the use by date at which 80% of businesses go broke. He has proven that it is sustainable.

I’m not saying it has been easy. It’s tough when you are creating a unique business with a unique set of values and direction. Where ultimately you want your business to conform to a set of ideals. Where, if you consistently over-deliver on your promise of a wonderful experience and people trust you that if they tell their friends how great it was, they will confidently wish that same experience for their friends.

Like fractals, (something Giapo used to tell me about years ago, that branch out like pretty ice crystal flowers) customers all over the world would say “If you go to Auckland, New Zealand, you really have to go to Giapo in Gore Street. It will be a highlight of your trip.”

Anyway, enough of that, it’s a beautiful day, go and visit Giapo and let him know I sent you.

Superbowl2018On the way back to Sky City to pick up the car I borrowed, I walked past a noisy bar with an American flag outside. It sounded like there was a show on, so I walked a bit closer to see what was happening. Yep, you got it, Super Bowl 2018. I’m not sure whether the audience was that worried about whether the Eagles one. Heck, I’ve only ever changed planes at the airport there on my way to or from Ithaca NY, but we love our sport in Auckland and despite the showers, it was a great day for sitting in a bar watching sport on TV.

Off I went home to do my thing, working on recording my second track for The Cancer Diaries, my charity music EP and Music Videos for cancer patients and their supporters, a bit of writing on the two books I am working on and pondering with my wife on the nature of trustworthiness as a pillar foundation for a business.

I have 2 questions for you:

What does trustworthiness mean to you in business? ; and

Have you been to Giapo yet. Looks like a great day for it today.

 

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Workplace Bullying in Christchurch


Further to my blog this morning on how people are, or are not coping with stress from the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, we are now hearing stories of increased workplace bullying in Christchurch. I don’t know how much it would take place normally, but this is another example of ordinary people being stretched to extraordinary limits.

According to a story published in many media this week, the stress levels are as high as would be found in a war zone. An AAP story says that scripts for sleeping pills and anti anxiety drugs are up and many people are self medicating with alcohol often resulting in violent incident, domestic and otherwise. Women’s Refuge reports a 30% increase in demand since the February earthquake.

A poll in The Press established that only 38% of people in Christchurch don’t want to leave. Of course as I mentioned in my blog yesterday on  Post Traumatic Stress in Christchurch, because of mortgage commitments, and the logical lack of buyers, many people can’t afford to leave if they wanted to.

Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key is still unable to say whether a decision will be announced this week on which streets or  suburbs will not be rebuilt.

Here’s another every day view from NZ Herald TV, brushing your teeth with lemonade because there is no water.

Olmesartan and Recovery from Autoimmune Disease


The following presentation is fascinating. So many people suffer from autoimmune problems. Could it be that many of them can be cured using a subset of Vitamin D?

It makes sense that many bacterial genomes damage the immune system over time and incrementally shut it down. In effect microbiota block the Vitamin D Receptors from producing antimicrobials.

Professor Trevor Marshall has worked with over 500 human subjects and demonstrated reversibility of   many autoimmune conditions including Lupus, MS, Type 2 diabetes and many more conditions, typically chronic inflammation conditions.

What is even more impressive is that as the inflammation receded, a host of other conditions that the subjects suffered from also disappeared. These included  memory loss, obsessive compulsive disorder, osteoporosis, bipolar and even cardiovascular disease.

In their research they discovered a couple of very interesting points. One is that only 1,25 dihydroxyviatmin-D can activate VDR transcription, whereas Vitamin D that we can take as pills actually inhibit it.

Could this be one of the discoveries that will help increase our life expectancy and potentially cure people from many terrible diseases?

Why do people still smoke?


With the amount of information about the effects of smoking, it amazes me how many people still want to smoke. My father in-law had a laryngectomy several years ago and speaks through a valve in his neck. After several years of remission he now has tumors in his bladder. My mother in-law has emphysema and cerebrovascular disease, which is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease with similar symptoms. She still smokes.

The cost of smoking increases constantly with taxes and governments have been forcing manufacturers to add more and more horrific images of rotting lungs and other consequences, but to little avail.

It is now known that current smokers have a 50% greater likelihood of getting dementia and are 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease. It deems this hasn’t had the same publicity as other consequences, perhaps because there is no cure, or operation to help people recover from it.

For people that want the nicotine rush, but want to avoid the tar and other carcinogens that come from tobacco, there are now other alternatives. One is nicotine gum. I used this myself some 20 years ago when I decided it was time to give up. The gum worked for me because I wanted to give up and by continuing the supply of nicotine I was able to get over the psychological urge to smoke.

Now there are E-CIG’s which allow you to continue getting the nictotine rush as well as the need to have something in your hand, to put in your mouth and suck in that deep breath, inhaling a measured shot of nicotine sprayed from an atomiser and then having a nice relaxing exhale. This could one day become quite the vogue for people who want to enjoy smoking, but want to avoid the risks. There are several benefits. You don’t have to be a pariah, standing out in the cold, excluded from enjoying your passion, barred from restaurants and drinking establishments.

There are some ironies in the smoking statistics. In the US, the highest percentage of smokers are those just above the poverty level at 29.9%. Overall around 24% of men and 20% of women in the US smoke tobacco. You often hear of people saying the smoke because they can’t afford many vices and smoking makes them feel better. Off course we all know that those same people also have a lower life expectancy. Some of it might be down to access to medicine, not having medical insurance and so on, but those that can least afford it seem to spend the most money on alcohol, gambling and smoking (to list the legal things).

In New Zealand around 25% of people smoke and a worse statistic is that around 174 to 490 non smokers die from second hand smoke.

There is no end in sight and while in countries like New Zealand it is pretty much illegal to advertise tobacco in any form, hope over to countries like Jamaica and you will see enormous ‘statues’ of packs of cigarettes and billboards of people with big smiles on their faces as they take a big lungfull of tar.

I would love to see support for the E-CIG’s because if people got the same stimulation, even if they don’t have fun curling the smoke from their mouths to their noses, or blowing smoke rings, they would at least live longer. I don’t know how bad the nicotine is as a stimulant.  I did some research on whether nicotine is harmful in itself and there are conflicting opinions and I guess given the commitment of manufacturers to keep making and selling tobacco products, there is potential for bias.

The main thing people say is that nicotine is an addictive substance, but my experience was that nicotine chewing gum made it so much easier for me to give up smoking. The evidence on smoking tobacco is irrefutable and the many court cases the tobacco industry has lost bear testiment to this.

I have a problem with intelligent people using and abusing drugs. Whether it is overuse of prescription drugs, smoking, taking mild or dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines or binge drinking. Many of my friends drink alcohol every day and many can’t open a bottle of wine without finishing it in one sitting. Many are happy drinking a whole bottle on their own, several times a week. I have a friend who works in a prison with methamphetamine addicts and told me that they have inmates who have virtually no brain left. That warden still smokes and drinks to excess.

So here’s a lits of what intelligent people are legally risking with tobacco smoking according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly nine out 10 of lung cancer cases, as well as other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
  • Heart and circulatory system problems. Smoking increases your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Smoking 15 cigarettes a day doubles your heart attack risk. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have cardiovascular illness or heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year.
  • Other cancers. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and also is related to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias.
  • Physical appearance. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Infertility and impotence. Smoking increases the risk of infertility in women and the chance of impotence in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, decreased birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborn. Low birth weight babies are more likely to die or have learning and physical problems.
  • Cold, flu and other illnesses. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis, than are nonsmokers.
  • Diabetes. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications such as kidney disease.
  • Impaired senses. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn’t as appetizing as it once was.
  • Risks to your family. Spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease, compared with people who don’t live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, ear infections and colds.

So I’ll leave the last note to doctor’s of yesteryear:

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

What happens when the consumers can’t buy anymore?


Everyone has a deal. Harvey Norman is offering 12 months deferred payment and 12 months interest free, Noel Leeming has deals, Bond and Bond has deals, there is even a web site called Perweek that lets you search for products by the period of interest free terms they are offering.

The Scooter Bar has ads on Trade Me offering deferred payment and special deals on new motorcycles and on it goes.

There is always something essential that you need, like a new HD TV with Freeview, an iPhone, a new car, a stereo that you can plug your iPod into and on it goes.

A couple of years ago I bought a new Canon camera. I had the cash in my savings, but I decided to take the 18 months deferred payment and then pay it off straight away. I paid a week late and GE Money, the company that seems to be offering a large chunk of retail finance wanted to charge me a hefty fee for that, but no one sent me a slip or reminder to say it was due and I had diarised it a week out. I stood my ground and as Noel Leeming wanted to keep my business I didn’t have to pay the late fee.

6 months or so later I got a letter from GE Finance offering me a special deal with pre-approved finance for a sum, I can’t remember exactly, but it wasn’t interest free, they were offering me finance at 24% interest!

They have all sorts of great ideas and of course you could say that anyone silly enough to take that deal deserves to be taken to the cleaners, but the problem is that there are people who are struggling and will be thinking, these guys want to lend me money and I need money, so lets do it.

I wonder if there is recourse in the finance. If the person who is paying for their new HD TV defaults, does it become the finance company’s loss or the retailers problem. Finance companies are typically risk averse, so I’m guessing it’s the retailer. It would be great if someone can clarify that for me.

So here’s the thing. There are loads of people spending money they don’t have on things they can’t afford and chances are it’s not one item, it’s several over a period of time. So when the masses are broke and the retailers aren’t getting paid, what happens next?

We are already officially in a recession and things aren’t getting any better. Very soon a large number of people will owe much more on their homes than their value, especially the thousands who bought at 90 to 100% of the property value in a growth market and those who leveraged heavily for their retirement funds.

If retailers can’t recover their money, they can’t buy new product, they can’t afford their staff and the manufacturers can’t keep manufacturing. If houses aren’t being built because people can’t afford to buy them, all the trades will suffer, plumbers, electricians, builders, labourers, the list goes on.

Is this inevitable? Is there a solution?

Some people got hurt in 87′ but most people in New Zealand have not lived in a depression and have lived a life of instant gratification. Of course there will be some fortunes made as well. What could some of the consequences be?

Increased domestic violence is on the rise, violent crimes are on the rise including aggrevated robbery. Drug use is on the rise which increases crime and the worse of things are, the more displaced young folk will be heading into the welcoming arms of gangs.

How can we avert this?

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

The Right Track Programme


This morning I read a story in The Aucklander about The Right Track programme which is an intense program for first time motoring offenders to get them to think twice in the future about boy racing, drinking and driving and other motoring activities that are dangerous to themselves and innocent bystanders.

According to the police this programme is having good results, but it seems that funding from Manukau City Council is going to end. They said that it was never a long term exercise.

Amongst other things members of the programme visit the Otara Spinal Unit and meet survivors who now need a wheelchair for their mobility. Funeral Directors talk to them about how they have to pick up body parts after an accident and try to put them together for funeral viewing.

It’s all about having the ambulance at the top of the cliff according to John Finch who developed the programme which is a world first.

My father in law has had throat cancer and as a consequence had a laryngectomy. In conjunction with the NZ Cancer Society he visited many primary schools and told his story. He let the children have a look at the whole in his throat and see how he can talk. He let them ask questions and gave them honest answers. It’s interesting how onto it kids are. He has dozens of letters from students saying that they will never ever smoke. I would say he has probably saved at least one or two lives, which probably represents a six figure sum at least to our health system.

An ambulance at the top of the cliff has to be significantly greater than the cost of mopping people of the road after a needless accident, but unless funding is found, this excellent and selfless service will disappear.

I wrote a song about situations that kids find themselves. It’s called One More Time Around the Block and you can hear it at Music Forte.

It thundered down the road like a young boy racers dream

The Rockford Fosgate sub beat like a life support machine

They never saw what hit them on the wrong side of the bend

They didn’t have an inkling that their lives were going to end.

The mourners stood in silence dressed in dark clothes, mostly black

A mother screamed her lungs out, cried “I want my baby back”

Their friends stood round in circles, still not coping from the shock

They said they be five minutes, one more time around the block.

They were best of friends like they were tied at the seam

They knew what each was thinking and they shared the same big dreams

They were just young men in the prime of their life

Their futures lay before them, empty pages still to write.

But now those days are over and their lives have been snuffed out

The sub’s no longer thumping and their hearts have lost their clout

If only they had listened, if only they had stopped

They said they’d be five minutes one more time arouind the clock.

And now the music’s playing and the mourners begin to pray

They sing the Lord’s Prayer and ask themselves

Why did it end this way?

The V8’s sound like thunder, can’t you hear the engine’s roar?

Car horns sound a last salute with feat flat to the floor

Wish we could have changed the outcome, wish we could have stopped the clock

They said they’d be five minutes, one more time around the clock

They said the’d be five minutes, one more time around the clock.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

How about some Maggot Therapy.


When I was a kid and said “I can’t be blowed doing something” (an Anglo Saxon explitive meaning I couldn’t be bothered) I would get a severe talking to or worse from my father. The being blowed was a vague reference to fly blown, which used to be a common problem in sheep farming, where flies would lay their eggs in live sheep.

Anyway, over the years, maggots have been considered one of the most gross and disgusting forms of life, generally found in rotten meat or dead animals such as roadkill.

We have heard about leech therapy, which has been used for centuries, but now it seems that maggots have been used in the healing process for centuries too and these little creatures have become the next new old thing.

Apparently in the dim dark past they discovered that wounded soldiers who had maggots eating at the rotten flesh on their wounds were more likely to surive than those who didn’t.

Now if you asked me to lie in hospital with maggots crawling on my body, I would be horrified and would probably complain to whoever would listen. But it seems that these little larvae secrete an enzyme with very strong healing properties. It’s the enzyme that matters. So drug companies like BioPro are now looking at harvesting the enzymes and creating biofunctional textiles which have these enzymes in them, to place on top of wounds, which will have the same effect.

In the past people with wounds that won’t heal, sometimes associated with cancer or diabetes have used places like Hyperbaric Chambers which are very high in oxygen to help the body heal itself, but whilst this has had great success, it doesn’t always work.

Lately there have been spates (not to be confused with Speights) of cases of Norovirus and other infections that have an immunity to today’s antibiotics, such as Penicyllin and when these outbreaks occur in hospitals (and cruise ships), there is a major problem and we go back to my old question of, ‘Is Hospital the best place to be when you are sick?’

So now they have discovered that the Maggot Enzyme can fight these nasty bugs, so the race is on to understand the enzymes and then synthesize them so that we don’t have to build fly farms.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)