This page written circa 20 November, 2021.

I find myself in WDHB hospital at short notice. The rest of the world is coming out of lockdown, but not here. NO visitors. If it was not for friendly and well-meaning staff, things like fresh clothes, toothbrush, edibles, and something to read would not get to you. A long stay could be like a stint on Alone. Challenging, empowering, but not what you want when you are in a hospital.

It is interesting to compare the Waikato District Health Board (WDHB) with the University of Waikato (UoW). My impression is that once you get through the protocol palava, speed and even success dependent upon your urgency, the quality of doctors and ultimate health care is holding up. In contrast, EE is unravelling at Waikato U, as are functions such as IT and our web page. Electronics is eviscerated or disappearing from antipodean universities, even some top-100 ones, but late and swiftly at Waikato. I did warn them, over a decade ago. You could feel it in the water, feel it in the earth, smell it in the air, so to speak. Soon none will live who remember it. Doctors have done a vastly better job of defending their budgets against politicians and managers than have engineers.

The IEEE conducted a study a few decades ago to find out why. Obvious with hindsight... a doctor is right next to you when he saves your life, the engineer did his work years ago. Make no mistake, engineers save lives. From bridges that do not fall down, cars that crash without killing occupants, aircraft that rarely crash, energy that does not pollute, scanners that diagnose illness, to the tech tools that doctors use, engineers have probably saved more lives in the last 50 years than doctors. Ethically, engineers need to make this point even if it hurts. Would you like cars that only crash 1 in a million, or 1 in 10,000... we can dial that in, and a year or two at 10,000 might entice funding that gets it down to 1 in a billion. Politicians and economists will understand that logic.

The food here at the WHDB is palatable and nutricious and a history lesson. I imagine it to be what your working-class Kiwi ate at home 50 years ago. Porridge and cool toast for breakfast, for example, and well-cooked beef with 3 vegetables for dinner. Tinned fruit is an option. Jelly and ice cream is a typical desert.

Actually, seeing hospital food leads to thoughts of one appeal of Sydney & CA. The variety of produce. I am not crazy about Brussel sprouts, squash, cabbage, pumpkin, apples, cauliflower, zuccini, and I really don't like sweet potato in any its variants. You can imagine why WDHB food might bring up this line of thought.
In vegetables I love carrots, snow peas & snap peas, most types of peas & beans, butter lettuce, even iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, buck choy, choi sum, corn, beetroot, lentils, water chestnuts, celery, fennel, most herbs but especially parsley and basil, watercress, all the peppers, most mushrooms (counting fungus), radish, rhubarb, the whole onion gamut, leeks, daikon, ginger, garlic, galangal, prickly pear, the edible seaweeds, potatoes, broccoli, rice, spring onions, parsnips, kale, spinach, horseradish, wasabi, feijoa, even asparagus, artichoke & aubergine if done properly, and likely others I forget right now. In fruit I love papaya, mango, sweet oranges, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, pears, lychees, loquats, tamarillos, pineapple, kiwifruit (green), avocado, cucumber, persimmons, quince (jam), grapes (except pinot), monstera deliciosa, cherries, coconut, lemons & limes of course, the wonderful cape goosberry, occasionally regular gooseberries, rockmelon, honeydew melon, watermelon, grapefruit (pink, not yellow), mandarins, figs, macadamias (nuts are fruits), pine nuts, not to forget cranberries, passionfruit, rose hip, tamarind, juniper, and red currants (not generally by themselves). Not so keen on plums, nectarines, loganberries (the seeds, Curruthers, the seeds), peanuts (they don't like me), and regular yellow grapefruit that live and die sour. Should I add coffee to fruits? Wikipedia lists things I will never get to sample. With most of the fruit, I am particular about them being ripe. I often avoid those that magically go off before they get ripe, thinking pears and strawberries. I find most strawberries here are sold before they are sweet and often don't make it if we do not eat them a bit premi.

I have met adult Kiwis who did not recognise a mango, who never tasted sushi, never tried papaya. If willing to grow your own, often requiring effort and a greenhouse, Incredible Edibles here will sell you the plants. You won't get Cherimoya any other way, at least not here I fancy. This is very NZ. I would love to try Mountain Paw Paw!

My advice to anyone caught in hospital is party. If I am in hospital, and you want to know what you can do for me, it's easy. Turn up with champagne and martinis, pate and pesto, decent fruit and vegetables, ripe cheese and caviar, and let's party. The more the merrier. I don't mind if you don't mind if I fall asleep or die. Why isn't this on all the advice pages on what to bring?

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