Tim Walker Minimum II

What an amazing time to be a Kiwi; as of today every New Zealand employee will receive at least $20 per hour.

That’s right, even workers with no training, with zero qualifications, no work ethic and often, no discernible skillset, will now earn the same amount that, just ten years ago, people considered a good wage.

See how far, and how quickly, inflation has come?

The result of this extremely short-sighted move, of our beloved Jacinda’s wage increase, will do nothing but further increase inflation.

Since employers are now forced to pay lower echelon employees $20 per hour, the next level – who might have previously been on $20 per hour – will also need to undergo a pay increase to keep them happy, and so on.

Some businesses will find themselves paying million of dollars more in increased wages so how are they going to survive? Of course, they raise prices.

Those people who were struggling to get by on their previous minimum wages, now, for a few months anyway, will feel as though they are better off.

Gradually though, everyone is suffering due to the increased price of commodities, of living, and demanding renewed wage increases.

Kiwis don’t need more money, we need to learn how to live within our means.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Moe Minnie

Photography by Grey D Dix

Tim Walker’s Waiting

December 2000, I suffered a life-changing incident.

The next 19 years, it seemed, were a strenuous blend of attempting and failure.

Realistically there were minor successes, but they always came at a rate disproportionate to the amount of effort required to achieve the aforementioned breakthroughs.

Almost 20 years on from the moment my life had effectively become a write-off and, as I do still tend to do, I attempted something new.

My career prospects in New Zealand looking decidedly forlorn, I travelled to Vietnam in the hope of training as, and indeed becoming, an English teacher.

As previously documented at https://mitreklaw, following the final day of a gruelling course in Go Vap, Saigon, I stumbled euphorically through the typical Vietnamese footpath bedlam, in what was one of the greatest achievements of my life, as an official TESOL graduate.

It felt as though that was the first time in a long time that gains of any real significance had resulted from prolonged concerted effort on my part.

This TESOL grad then bussed half the length of the country to end up in one of Vietnam’s more sparsely populated cities, coffee capital of Vietnam, also legitimate capital of Dak Lak  province, Buon Ma Thuot.

I was immediately welcomed into the community where I was then, mind-blowingly, promptly offered employment by these gracious townsfolk and, essentially, embraced like one of their own.

Every day though, waking before 6 a.m. to the sun streaming through my window and excitedly preparing myself for another wonderful day in Vietnam, I found myself almost waiting for my bubble to burst.

Life in Buon Ma Thuot was like a dream and, like many dreams, it seemed almost too good to be true; I had been successful in everything that I had attempted which was, honestly, unprecedented.

I could scarcely believe my own good fortune, and even as I neared my scheduled return to New Zealand (COVID at that time was wreaking havoc on the world but, in idyllic Buon Ma Thuot, it was difficult to comprehend the existence of anything at all negative) I found myself playing down my ease of life out of fear that it might somehow jinx my situation thus reality would inevitably befall me; yet this amazing run of goodness stayed with me.

From TESOL accreditation to a harmonious life in Buon Ma Thuot, from teaching English to youngsters to being accepted as a local by adults; from the scintillating relationships developed with townsfolk to meeting a truly resplendent young woman…

Some time after that, having had several flights cancelled in the meantime, I managed to catch a plane home.

Let’s stop short of saying my ‘run of luck’ came to an end (it wasn’t luck anyway, it was the result of hard work coupled with good management of the situation mingled with a sprinkling of fairy-dust), but I checked into Auckland quarantine on June 1st, 2020.

After spending every day for five months with my girlfriend in Vietnam, then having been apart for a further eight, fair to say, waiting times have become frustrating.

Personally though, however long it takes, I am going to wait; there is no way, no sense in it, after spending so much time, after investing so much in the life of her and her (my) Vietnamese family, there is no way that I can walk away now.

I am just fortunate that we live amid a time where technology has enabled such easy communication across the world.

Therefore, I guess, as infected idiots cough and splutter their way through gymnasiums in New Zealand, I should be thankful, I should look at the bright side; while she might have doubts over my resolution and maybe I have reservations about hers, at least we can still chat, at least I can still see her pretty face, most days.

…She, for whom I am waiting.

Life is about vicissitudes and how we cope with them.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Wade Ting Fore

Photography by Nguyen Kien Giang

 

 

 

Tim Walker’s Insurer

An accepted cost of international travel is insurance yet, as regular travellers will be aware, most of the time, this is wasted money.

Do bear these points in mind as the end of COVID nears and international travel again beckons.

Invariably, the reason people buy travel insurance is to ensure peace of mind but, usually, if it comes to it, your travel insurer will do everything in their power to avoid covering the cost of your travel mishap.

Regarding figures, by the time your travel agent has covered all aspects of travel insurance – flight, possessions, accommodation, business, transit, health/injury – you are likely looking at a cost of up to $200.

Travel insurance is not cheap and – as documented in an earlier publication – personally, at that time having been on three international trips thus paid over $500 in insurance fees, when I did attempt to make a claim on a lost/stolen/long-story/look-it-up-if-you’re-that-into-it – tim-walkers-vietnam-supplement – rather expensive piece of jewellery, I had the claim basically laughed off, with the shitheads at Covermore Insurance pointing out that, in the small print, it is clearly stated that their policy covers a maximum of $500 for personal loss, anyway.

More recently, I was stranded in Southeast Asia while a Coronavirus pandemic flourished around the world; first my return flight worth $1700 was cancelled then, after paying for a backup flight – twice – that too, was cancelled. As that money was not returned to me by the cancelling companies (now upwards of $4000), when another flight did come up, simply, I had no money left to pay for it.

I wasn’t worried, I knew I was covered, I knew I’d get that money back eventually; like a sucker, I had again taken out full travel insurance.

Yeah, covered, nice one; turns out the only group of people who ‘covered’ me in that predicament was my adoptive Vietnamese family (I would later discover that, again in the small print, travel insurance providers stipulate that they will ‘not cover flight disruptions resulting from epidemics or other widespread illness’), my glorious Vietnamese family actually donated the cash to get me home.

In essence, over the years having invested somewhere close to $700 in the sham that is travel insurance, even after having a couple of potential claims, travel insurance has given me nothing.

No, sorry, that’s not right, of course, it has afforded me that fabled ‘peace of mind’ that travellers so desire; though hollow as a traveller’s peace of mind may be when that ‘peace’ is provided by a travel insurance company, it seems, we will pay a lot for it.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Ian Shearer

Photography by Wusta Thyme

 

Tim Walker’s Outburst II

Problem is there are people in New Zealand who, despite having insufficient ability/resources to raise children, they go ahead and procreate anyway.

Often, they don’t stop at one or two either, sometimes they just keep on making babies and then, as if that’s not enough, then they get a big dog, too.

They can barely look after themselves, yet they somehow see fit to propagate a continually expanding, increasingly demanding, family.

I don’t have children. I’m sure I could have had, if I had chosen it, but I didn’t. I could appreciate that, for the past twenty-or-so years, I was not in a viable position to raise children. Therefore, I do not have any children, or a big dog.

The follow-on problem with unfit parents raising their big families, is that the new generation brought into this unfit situation are more likely to make the same mistakes as their parents, later in their lives, thus repeating the cycle.

That right there, that is a hypothetical example of how an area (of New Zealand) becomes impoverished.

Then once that district has become impoverished, with all its unfit parents, its neglected children, and its big dogs, because of this repeating cycle, this (hypothetical) area is destined to remain, or become increasingly, impoverished.

These neglected children, raised by their unfit parents, they will likely seek firmer authority, they will likely find it amid some form of gang culture, they will likely be turned to illicit drug-taking and other crimes, and their lives will be effectively over.

Why would anyone bring children into a family that is unfit to take care of them?

You’re basically killing them before they even get started.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Betty Kilwell

Photography by Arn Fitter

Tim Walker’s Outburst

Internet, along with the regular appearance of new social media sites, is breeding a generation of, what we cool kids know as, ‘haters’.

Negativity, criticism, even anger, sometimes personal, usually unwarranted, always unsolicited, usually unwanted, always unneeded, disgusting, pointless, unnecessary, repugnant; oh, when the bitter loser takes the seat behind the security of their QWERTY board, you’d better believe, this bitter loser becomes empowered.

Insecure and friendless, gutless and weak this loser may be but, through their inability to feel good about themselves, they will attempt to bring down others to their own pathetic level in a cowardly display of spitefulness – ‘I don’t feel good about myself therefore why should anyone be able to feel good about themself?’ – picking flaws, insulting, mocking, ridiculing, denigrating for no reason other than to boost their own misguided sense of esteem.

Currently big on the Political Correctness front, racism, acceptance, tolerance, fat-shaming…

What about dickheadedness – being a dick online?

…Why don’t we get real, stop making a big thing of shit that doesn’t matter and start focusing on important issues such as parenting; knowing where your kids are, knowing what they’re doing, knowing their friends, knowing you have brought them up to be good people and, importantly, knowing that their online usage is safe, productive and not hurtful.

If your kid is someone who goes online and – seeing a post from somebody perhaps trying to boost their self-confidence, risking their vulnerability, opening-up, courageously displaying a new side of themself that they desperately hope people will like so that they can stop hiding from the world and finally feel good about life – leaves a negative comment in the hope of knocking down that somebody who they maybe perceive as having more confidence than they do thus who they feel are implicitly attacking their own pretentious sense of bravado, fair to say, you are failing as a parent.

Mental Health is one of the biggest issues of our time and, particularly among our youth, social media plays a significant role in the stability of this.

Online disparagement, insults, pointless negativity, is ruining our society – both online and real time.

Why are some people compelled to become cruel once they’re online?

Online activity is a responsibility; take it seriously, don’t abuse it.

Why can’t we be supportive of each other?

If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it online.

Don’t be a dick.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Anh Lyne

Photography by Ut Birst

 

Tim Walker’s Summertime

Typically, summertime is warmer than wintertime.

Generally, one will wear less clothing during summertime than wintertime.

Occasionally, in the South of New Zealand summertime can feel like wintertime.

Realistically, during these cooler summer days one would be foolish for dressing in their traditional ‘Kiwi summertime’ garb.

Unbelievably though, there are people who do it.

The other day, in Canterbury, the weather went from two days of mid-thirty temperatures to just high teens the next.

Overnight the weather had turned comparatively cold.

Despite this, as though ‘summertime’ in the New Zealand South demands a particular dress sense, out and about I was seeing T-shirts, singlets, jandals (also a great many goose-pimples) and the like.

It was not a warm day yet, these ostensibly staunch (but maybe just uninformed or maybe senseless) Kiwis were determined to embrace this New Zealand ‘summertime’.

Thing is, given the geography of our country, New Zealand is prone to sudden and dramatic changes in weather yet the people, oh the people, we are so damned determined or demanding or resilient or principled or stoic, spiteful, scornful, pissy or something, that most of us cannot tolerate the idea that during our summertime, we should ever have to wear anything less (more) than our favoured Kiwi summertime ensemble.

When it comes to ‘cutting off our noses to spite our faces’, for most of us Kiwis, it’s a culture thing.

Sure, they were cold but, you’d better believe, they were embracing their Kiwi summertime.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by K Y Summer

Photography by Orphan Cold

Tim Walker’s Vaccine

Over 12 months since COVID-19 made landfall and a new vaccine is offering renewed hope of viral extermination.

Labelled ‘new vaccine’ because past claims of vaccine development have been numerous.

Russia won the race with the first registered vaccine, Sputnik V, developed back in October 2020.

Oddly, there was little hype surrounding the Russian elixir; hushed also were efficacy reports of this hastily produced and distributed (Argentina was reportedly administered 300,000 doses in December last year) Sputnik V, leading the rest of the world to wonder…

True to form, right behind the Russian juggernaut, later in December of 2020 the USA was quick to reveal its own vaccination progress; US medical researchers had in the works three potential world-savers – AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine, and Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine – but again, garnering limited fanfare.

…All these supposed vaccines yet, January 13th, 2021, the world suffered its worst ever COVID-related mortality – over 16,000 deaths in one day – more than twice the number of global deaths than this time a month ago.

The two most recent attempts, though, the ​​​​Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine have finally gained some recognition, as though there is feeling the end of the COVID pandemic might be nearing.

Huh, forgive my resounding lack of confidence.

Viral contagions are living organisms; like the human beings they inhabit, the foremost instinct of viruses is self-preservation. Like us, a virus will change, adapt, and evolve for optimal existence within its given conditions.

If viruses could be eradicated, why would Medical Science allow something so insidious as the Cold virus to plague mankind?

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Noah Hopper

Photography by E Ruddy/K Shinn

Tim Walker’s Trumpet III

Cast your mind back to 2017; Donald J Trump has just beaten Hilary Clinton in the US election and much of the world is now in hysterics regarding the World War Three event that President Trump is indubitably going to incite.

Skip forward to 2021; President Trump has completed his four-year stint as Leader of the Free World and, having been edged out in the recent election by Democrat Joe Biden, has transpired to be one of history’s least pugnacious presidents.

WW3 never occurred despite Trump’s riling of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and, in fact, exactly zero wars were started in the name of Donald J Trump.

There are no presidents in recent history who can say they incited zero international conflicts.

Before Trump there was Obama; he started the Waziristan War.

Before Barack Obama there was Bush; he started the Afgan War against the Talliban.

Before George W Bush there was Clinton; he started many wars, including the Kosovo War.

Before Bill Clinton there was Bush Sr; this man started the original war in Iraq which, in fairness, has been more devastating to the US than concurrent COVID pandemics.

George Bush Senior was still far from the biggest warmonger the US has seen but, assuredly, nor was Donald J Trump who, despite bearing such hatred and derision, actually did nothing wrong during his single term in power and, more notably, he started no wars.

Going back even further – Raegan, Carter, Ford, Nixon – US Presidents, traditionally, start at least one international conflict during their time in power.

The man, who many were terrified would bring the world to its knees, as a further many of us could appreciate, was nothing but a big fat blowhard.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Imp Eaching

Photography by D J Trump

Tim Walker’s Infection IV

At a time where COVID-19/20/21 is ravaging the global populous with renewed tenacity, I was foolish enough to expect people might have pulled in their heads somewhat.

Oh my, was I mistaken.

‘The worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the UK is making it close to impossible for many Kiwis trying to get back home’.

Imagine my distaste to come across the aforementioned excerpt in a recent Newshub publication.

In that same article, causing me to choke a little: ‘On Sunday the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced six cases of the new UK Variant were in New Zealand.’

Gosh, this all sounds wonderful. They are ‘behind the border’ though, so, you know.

That Newshub article just kept on flowing, like the exceptional piece of writing it was: ‘COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Sunday that on January 15, all travellers from the UK will need to return a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure.’

Funny, that just there, common sense told me that would have been happening months ago; mind you, didn’t work so brilliantly for that planeload of Russian fruit-pickers, did it? Every one of them entering quarantine with COVID-ravaged lungs, so, yeah.

There is a supposed vaccine though, so, well, you know, if it’s anywhere near as effective as those other viral vaccines like the Flu jab; if you are in the unlikely minority who contract genuine Influenza – as opposed to a heavy case of Cold – there is then a chance you have been vaccinated against the strain of Influenza currently plaguing you but, more likely not (in other words, the Flu vaccine provides low-percentage protection against an even lower percentage virus).

Of course, I am extremely thankful that our Government is managing the Coronavirus pandemic with such competency and I am furthermore thankful that I am a citizen of a country where officials take seriously the rules and the regulations that keep people safe.

I am aghast that, having been told almost a year ago of a potentially worsening Novel Coronavirus epidemic, we now find there are Kiwis out there who possess such a strong and selfish sense of self-preservation, that they are willing to potentially bring down their native land just to be safe.

You make the self-centred choice eight months ago to stay abroad, so be it, but are you really so gutless that now you’ll come running back to safety?

Huh, each to their own, I guess.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Devi Staten

Photography by Homer Land

 

 

Tim Walker’s Homily

I can’t think of a more appropriate time to be delivering homily than right now, at the start of a new day, at the beginning of this New Year.

Honestly though, does anyone even want to hear it?

Does anyone ever want to hear it?

In New Zealand we have a proud history or telling others what to do; this is not the gentle offering of advisement either, but the telling, the firm instructing, the brazen demanding that others follow our rules, our etiquette, our homily.

Indeed, in New Zealand, we seem to thrive on telling others what to do; some Kiwis, the assertive (bumptious) ones, they consider themselves the delegators and, exerting this self-imposed qualification, will then basically bully the other (less bumptious, more agreeable) people into accepting, abiding, even advocating their homily…

Childish as this may sound, this is a grownup practise.

…The alternative, if somebody (less bumptious but still able to think for themselves), decides they disagree with a given instruction thus are unwilling to go along with the delegator’s rules, this so-called leader is likely to have a tantrum and possibly withdraw into a sulk until they get their way.

Childish as this may sound, I assure you, this is a grownup practise.

I am aware that this assertive leader/bumptious delegator hierarchy thing goes on in other cultures too but, New Zealand being a country composed of tall-poppy-chopping yet overconfident, depression-prone yet stoic, self-admiring yet pretentiously humble, too-cool-to-be-seen-trying-hard yet fiercely competitive, quick-to-take-offence yet feverishly laid-back Kiwi battlers, across any other culture that I have witnessed/experienced, among the general population, I don’t believe I have ever seen/felt the effects of self-imposed hierarchy as severely as I have experienced in New Zealand.

It’s always good to take advice where advisement is required but, in my experience, almost every Kiwi thinks they know how to do it better than you will.

Almost every Kiwi will offer unsolicited improvements even if they don’t fully understand the topic.

Now, here’s the irony: most Kiwis don’t like being told what to do, particularly the kinds of Kiwi who thrive on telling others how to behave.

 

 

Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Mie A Whey

Photography by Bess D Whey