Control is good

I really enjoyed talking to Sam Grover from The Big Idea about artists promoting themselves and their work.

You can read the interview here, but essentially, it’s:

  • Have a clear goal, and know what success looks like
  • Don’t get bogged down in meaningless metrics (And don’t compare yourself to others. Good advice for many areas of life, ahem)
  • Own your audience. Don’t rely on Facebook or Instagram’s mechanisms as they change all the time, not always in your favour

Hopefully there’s some ideas there to stimulate or reassure. As always with, I think your time is best spent working on a strong story rather than the minutia of social media / algorithms etc etc.

One year of the Sport Review newsletter

My little newsletter project recently turned one – here’s a run down, remember that you can sign up any time at

52 not out – thanks for being part of the first year of the Sport Review newsletter. It’s been a bloody pleasure hitting send every Friday for you. 

First, massive thanks to you, dear readers for signing up. Every bugger’s after your email address these days, I appreciate you trusting me with yours. Your enthusiasm and encouragement make rolling out of bed every Friday at sparrow’s fart with the laptop and a strong coffee very much worth it. 

Thanks also to this fine nation’s sport journalists, who produce world class work every week, full of depth, passion and insight while making a living in a tough business. Get around them, support their work by paying for it, sharing it and supporting crowdfunding efforts like the brilliant LockerRoom

And thanks for putting up with my own writing – the goal of the blog when it started in 2004 was putting a bit of humour into the nation’s sporting discourse. You will be the final judge of course (!) but I’ve loved writing it for you and enjoyed the discipline of doing my own thing every week. 

Ultimately this newsletter’s kaupapa is ‘caring about sport’ and ‘having fun’, and I hope it’s added something to your sporting week.

Sometimes sport feels like hard work with the week in week out grind, the shit posts, sports that feel more marketing machine than actual sports, while other athletes survive on oily rags. It can be harder and harder to justify spending your valuable leisure time on actually getting out and supporting your teams when the big screen TV and pistachio nuts are RIGHT HERE IN THE HOUSE!  

But there’s so much to enjoy – the big tries, wickets, goals, winning trophies or losing them in enjoyably frustrating ways, and being part of a tribe and a culture. Sport catching up with society and starting to recognise female athletes properly has been huge and a real injection of enthusiasm and fresh energy. There’s a whole lot of sport happening this year with all those world cups on, I hope you have a great one. Thanks again for reading.  

Sharing makes you look intelligent and cool 
A problem shared is a problem halved – I really appreciate you sharing this on your social feeds, or forwarding it to your family, friends, workmates and enemies and then badgering the crap out of them until they subscribe at

Plans for the year ahead? More of the same. Maybe some T-shirts. Would love your feedback at, let me know what you’d like to see more of and less of. Cheers! 

Top three most popular newsletters

  1. Best of 2018 – year in review
  2. Ric Sallizzo’s Instagram is New Zealand sporting Taonga
  3. All Blacks end of season questions edition 

My owns favs, in no order: 

You can enjoy all the old editions again at the newsletter crypt

My DIY guitar pedal board odyssey

Being a total Busy Dad, the greatest mental barrier to playing my electric guitar was the time it would take to get all my pedals out, connect them together and power them up. Then put them all away again when the rockin’ arena must return to an office.

The solution – build a pedal board, so I can just plug in a couple of things and go! My budget didn’t extend to buying a Pedal Train or what have you, and I liked the idea of doing it myself and putting my non-existant wood working skills to the test. Here’s how I went:

These are my workings, sketching out a few designs and measurements, and a list of materials (some of which I’m yet to buy / aren’t needed).

This is pretty close to what I ended up with for the frame.

Planning out where everything will go. The pedals ended up on the board in reverse order to this, but this was important for making sure everything would fit. There’s a 2cm-ish gap between the slats, plenty for running power cords and connectors through.

This is a piece of rimu scavenged from my dad’s garage, with everything drawn out for cutting. He was an expert wood worker, so no pressure.

Cutting. The sides were done with a borrowed skill saw, I managed to blow the fuse in the garage the first time I used it. For the sides, I had to use a hand saw, that was probably fail #1. Stopping and starting and trying to stay on the line meant I ended up with some saw marks that still haven’t quite come out.

Glueing the supports for the slats. This is just 2cm square wood from Mitre 10, I ended up nailing these down too for strength. Check out that rusty saw! I am a complete amateur.

Glueing the frame – those are special woodworking vices, and in the hands of professionals they’re tremendous. In the hands of muppets, not so much – fail #2 is not making absolutely sure everything sat flat on the floor. I was able to fix it, but it could have been neater.

I used normal PVA wood glue, and ended up putting metal braces in the corners as well, just because I don’t trust myself and wanted to make sure it was solid as.

With the slats in place – they are 90mm radiata, which were cut to size, glued down, nailed down and sanded. Then I covered the whole thing in wood stain, twice.

The velcro – I opted for the fuzzy side on the board, and the hook side on the pedals.

The finished board. The chain is: KLD OD (808 Tube Screamer clone) – Big Muff Pi Sovtek Civil War (brought this in Sydney in the deepest darkest early 90s as a 21st present to myself) – Yamaha FL-10M Flanger – TC Electronic Flashback – Boss RC-2 Looper. That’s a Liverpool / Beatles mints tin to keep my picks in.

The Big Muff kind of messes things up with how MASSIVE it is, but it’s my fav, it’s not going anywhere. Because the ideal number of pedals is always N+1 (the number you have now plus one), there’s room for expansion. I reckon I can get another three standard size pedals on there easily if I bunch everything up, more if I go down the mini pedal path.

Underneath. Have tried to keep things halfway tidy. Note the metal bracing on the sides, and the glued-on match stick to make sure it all sits level on the ground (see fail #2)!

Things I may yet do include putting handles on there somewhere, and drilling a hole in the front for the power cord, but no hurry on those.

Shred time! I learned heaps, am stoked with how it turned out, and am playing more, now I can just plug it in in seconds and go.

Worryingly, I’m thinking of what else I can make. I can see how people start to obsess over power tools. I’d really like to attempt a rotating speaker. Might have to build up to that.

For nerds, I play an Ibanez Talman TC825 (love this!) and a Vox Cambridge Reverb 30 (love this too!). Honestly, it all gets played though headphones mostly, as most of my rockin’ takes place in the dead of night when the kids are asleep. Bet Jimmy Page never had this issue.

This guy’s photos of his build really helped. There are loads of articles, photos and videos out there, really recommend watching a whole lot and deciding which is closest to what you want to build / your DIY ability.

I got the Caline CP05 power supply from Ali Express. It does the job, is a little noisy but not too bad. It also has cool blue lights which light it all up from underneath like a boy racer car.

Velcro is expensive – this was $30 from Mitre 10 and I still have a little left over.

A new thing – the Sport Review New Zealand newsletter

I’m not convinced about the ‘newsletters are the new blogs’ chat. But, at the risk of sounding out of touch and longing for the Olden Days, I definitely support anything that operates in a web browser instead of an app.

Claiming the internet back from walled gardens – Facebook, mainly – is good.

If everyone created their own personalised corner of the web, would make it harder for us to be marketed to (arguably a plus!), and give control and autonomy over our ideas and online operations back to us and our businesses.

And so, the good old newsletter relies on the simplest platform there is – email. There’s no algorithm involved, just the challenge of creating something interesting, that hopefully people will sign up for, enjoy, and recommend to their friends.

I’m keen to try – my new project is the Sport Review NZ newsletter. Sign up at

The idea is to deliver the best New Zealand sport writing and content, along with a video, a gif and some surprises, to your inbox every Friday morning at 8am. I’m not sure where it’ll end up, but getting there is going to be fun.

For myself, I enjoy newsletters that have a personal voice, are a bit geeky, and tell me something I didn’t know before. And link to lots of interesting things to read.

The ones I read regularly include Dave Pell’s Next Draft, Ann Friedman’s weekly newsletter, the Dicks and Betties newsletter (it’s cleaner than it sounds), Anne Helen Peterson‘s newsletter.

Along similar lines is my all-time favourite website, which has been finding and sharing fascinating links for over 20 years (he’s just launched his own newsletter too), and Martin Belam’s occasional Friday Reading series.

Also, shout out to Inky’s rugby newsletter – most of what I know about rugby I stole from him.

Let’s see where it takes us – I’d love it if you could sign up, share it, and let me know what you think.

Now leaving the milky way

Thought with some distance, it was the right time to wrap up two years at Fonterra. Previously: Leaving Telecom / Dawdling to the pavilion.

My two years at Fonterra was a real game of two halves. The first year was when the milk price was down, the farmers were hurting and getting things out the door was tough going.


In co-operatives, you’re extremely close to your shareholders / owners. You could feel the presence of Our Farmer Owners in every email and meeting room. There were plenty on Twitter letting us know what they thought and often asking where the value for them is in pretty much any aspect of Fonterra’s daily operations.

But it was cool, generally. Farmers are fair, and have tremendously dry humour. I felt I had to come up to speed on dairy farming quickly to have some kind of credibility, and was delighted when I started recognising stuff like calving, dried off cows and milking runs when driving through the country side.

The second year, the milk price was up, and we started Telling Our Story. That meant a heavy rotation TV campaign that was labelled 80s style in the NBR, and the most intense Facebook advertising I’d ever been part of.

Frankly, a fair portion of the country didn’t want to know. Our farmers loved it and the questions on how much we were spending on advertising largely dried up, despite all the news-hour and All Blacks match advertising.

With such a large footprint, it’s fair to say Fonterra was an issue-rich environment, and the community management could be pretty challenging. Lewis Road (who take Fonterra milk BTW), supplier terms, these ads that ran over the Christmas holidays, the situation in Australia… and that’s before water pollution became a big election issue. That was tough, and I spent many, many hours on my phone deep in Facebook discussion threads trying to explain, apologise and reach some understanding.

Despite the good intent, people were keener on action and results rather than key messages. That one will be a challenge for a while.

Fonterra is chock full of some of the most dedicated and smart people you’ll find anywhere. Farmers should rest assured there’s some serious midnight oil going in on their behalf, with great passion for taking the milk from one of the best places in the world to produce it, get the best out of it, sell the crap out of it around the world and get the best returns for the farmers. If we can get the environmental side of it right, NZ is going to win when Fonterra wins.

Meeting this NZ icon at Fieldays was big for me.

For me, I hope I helped get them in the game a bit more online and help the organisation be more comfortable with getting in tough conversations online. They were a bit of a soft target up until then, and it was time to do the basics right, like listen, respond and be a bit human. We also re-launched, going from a site with over 10k pages to an experience that’s a bit more user-friendly. The co-op has extremely ambitious plans to make digital a key facet of our biggest primary industry in some fashion, and there’s some really smart people setting about it. I wish them the very best.

Stand by for action! We are about to launch Stingray!

A couple of years ago while messing around with the kids at the Hairy McLary park on Tauranga Waterfront, we saw a stingray lazily cruising along the rocks at low tide. He did several laps and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere.

Now we live here, and every time I park in Dive Crescent (it’s $3 a day, the kind of car park that invites uncharitable comparisons to Auckland), I walk along the same path looking for a ray.

This morning, I spotted another one. He / she was a lot more translucent than you can see in the video, with more blue. I was delighted.

Batavus Criterium restoration

Moving to Tauranga, we now live an easy ten minutes or so on the bike from the office. I wanted a flat pedal bike that’s more upright than the road bike, and that wouldn’t be out of place on the light gravel paths around here.

Luckily I had this – my father’s old Batavus Criterium. It’s a 531 steel road bike with older Shimano kit. Batavus is a Dutch company that usually makes yer upright town bikes, but also did these road bikes – Google tells me they were high quality builds.

@jackelder @saniac This is my next project, hand me down 531 road bike. Looking for a fixed / free wheel set so I can convert it.

It’s got a fairly laid back geometry and seemed a perfect candidate for flat bars and a general re-jig. It’s well worn but in good shape. Hopefully the sweet purple / green / yellow and white paintjob make it stealth and unappealing to anyone wanting to nick a bike at the supermarket.

Here’s the after:


Dad’s tubular wheel set had to go. They were excellent Weinmanns that rode very smoothly but I’d tried tubulars for city riding before and they’re a real PITA when you get a flat. In came a robust (code for heavy) aluminium wheelset I’d obtained for commuting, keeping the original rear cluster with a spacer, and a set of Panaracer Paselas.


The drop bars were replaced with a no-name flat bar (it can be hard to find a flat bar in road-bike-compatible diameters I discovered). These are a set of Shimano brake levers specifically designed for caliper brakes, they work really well.

As I’m stuck with downtube shifters, I don’t need the combo shifters/brakes. I didn’t bother putting a computer back on, I really like how bare bones it looks.


I got a set of 700x25s as I was a bit unsure how much clearance I’d have, but I could have easily gone to 28s. I reckon I could get a set of proper fenders in there too. And check out that badge!


The original plan for this bike was a fixed gear conversion, and that may still happen, these dropouts look likely to me.


Steel is real. It’s an extremely smooth ride and is working perfectly for the ride to work. I’m delighted, and stoked to get something so nice back in regular use.

Just heaps of dolphins

This was on the return from a trip to Astrolabe Reef to scatter my uncle’s ashes.

It was an emotional and fascinating day. He was a mad keen diver from the days where you wore a rugby jersey rather than a wet suit and saying goodbye in such a beautiful spot with perfect seas and weather felt appropriate.

It was the first time I’d been out and talking to his diving mates about their trips there and how well the Rena crew had done to hit that itty bitty reef in the massive, vast ocean brought home what a fluke it was. A bloody shame. There was a coast guard boat out there keeping an eye on the area, it’s always there, along with a handful of fishing boats who seemed to be going all right, and a seal.

These dolphins joined us for a while on the way back. Apologies for portrait video but it seemed right for capturing the moment, and I was crapping myself about dropping the work phone over the side.

Hack pack

Couple of notes on music apps:

Garageband is really fun and powerful app – I use it on my iPad to record my electric guitar using the Tascam IXZ dongle and headphones, so as not to wake the kids.

Here’s me butchering George Harrison’s Something in Garageband:

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The backing guitar uses the Americana Tremolo amp, while the ‘lead’ is on the Orange amp using some delay and compression.

You can use Garageband to make bedroom demos like this, using your instruments or a microphone, or the vast array of smart instruments and loops included.

Other guitar apps I like are:

Jamup – loads of amps and pedals to play with

Guitar Tuna – always have a tuner with you (also Pitch Lab)

Ultimate Guitar tabs – industry standard for finding tabs on the net, now in app form!

And here’s a good one for the bus – Beatwave – for all yer DJ / producer needs.

A sample – don’t let my incompetence put you off.

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2015 in mobile phone photos

Here’s a ramble through 2015 expressed in the ‘photos I took on my phone’ medium. I’ve actually tried to take the DSLR actually out of its bag more often this year in order to get slightly nicer, slightly more considered photos happening, but that’s, erm, a work in progress. Anyway. Onward.

See also: 2014 (at, 2013, 2012 and 2011.

See also:’s year in review.


Just some sweet garden gnomes I was kindly gifted.


In the middle of scoring 237 against in the CWC quarter final, Martin Guptill hit one on the roof of the packed Westpac Stadium. A few minutes later, this bloke went up there to get it.


And after everyone went home from THAT semi final at Eden Park, these guys went in the middle for a pretend game and selfies. They got in trouble.


Some goober at the MCG.


I’ve largely given up food photography but holy balls, when you’re basically served real-life Fred Flintsone ribs, you can’t not. Recommended.


So, I work at Fonterra now. I got to go to Fieldays and met a long-time hero. Background woman spectacularly unimpressed.


This is my reality now.


We got cats, Sweetpea and Fred. Once the former stopped chewing through every phone charger cable in the house, we got on fine.


Proud moment.


Some neighbour’s plant. In my dream compound / Led Zep-style country estate, I would like a whole garden of these.




Dorking out next to a sweet Falcon at The Mount.


Halloween decoration or Klansman? You be the judge. 


My attempt to make a baked pancake turned out kind of weird, but kind of compelling.


Kids cricket at East Coast Bays. Have to say, I loved being a cricket dad kind of more than being a football dad, it’s much more relaxing watching kids sport in tee shirt and shorts with a shit flat white in your hands.


Joseph Parker Stalkipedia. He was a cool guy and later casually jumped on the bar’s guitar and piano and kicked arse.


Ray Columbus hotel portrait. Unexpected and a little bit terrifying, if I’m honest.


This Mount Victoria fire was obviously worrying for all concerned, but looked pretty sweet from our office.