Category: Shade Petition

Shade Needed For Playgrounds


Whether you think it’s controversial, or just me being silly; fact of the matter is when it’s hot outside, it’s almost impossible for our kids to play on a playground that has no shade.

We can lather our children in sunscreen, give them adequate clothing and pop a hat on them (which most of us do); but still it doesn’t help the fact that often the sun is so hot it’s impossible for our kids to play on a playground.

It’s time our councils took this matter seriously and started providing shade over our children’s playgrounds.

Here’s the latest article on the matter (published 9th January 2018):


I started this conversation about a year ago and was met with a lot of support, and a little resistance. Those against having some kind of shade for our playgrounds said things like:

You should just learn to put sunscreen on your child

Put a hat on your child you lazy parent”

Just don’t take them to the playground in the heat of the day, it’s not rocket science”

Why should the councils do your job for you as a parent

When I was growing up we had no shade and we are fine

Honestly the list of comments goes on and I was a little discouraged by the human race when I read things like this.

Why build a playground that cannot be used at ANY time of the day? Why subject our children (or ourselves) to the incredible heat of the sun?

Obviously protecting our children from sun burn / skin cancer is the obvious reason to have a shade sail, but it’s also to do with the fact that we need to give our kids a reprieve from the heat.

HERE’s a new article from TVNZ:

PLUS as parents who want to take their kids outdoors, it is NO FUN sitting in the burning hot sun.



So yes, I’m starting this conversation again.

There are plenty of playgrounds in Australia that are built with AMAZING shade sails, which proves it can be done.

There are also a lot of playgrounds in New Zealand that have shade – I’ve been to a few of them and it’s amazing; but there’s MORE that don’t have any kind of shade at all.

When I talked about this a year ago, I did approach the Auckland City Council but was also met with resistance – with them saying they “do their best” with new playgrounds.


Because new playgrounds are being built with little to no shade – really unacceptable for us here in New Zealand. Especially given the skin cancer statistics here; skin cancer is by far the most common cancer affecting New Zealanders

Here are some links to previous articles I’ve written about this topic, feel free to read these:

Also, if you’d like to sign a petition to get the councils / government to start thinking about our kids, you can sign it here at

The Cancer Society of New Zealand support my call to have more shade, so let’s get it talked about more!

WATCH THIS SPACE! I’m teaming up with Jacquelyn from Kiwi Play Safe and we’re joining forces to talk about playground shade AND fencing! WE can make a difference because we have a voice – so we are looking out for our children and the future generations!

What do you think about this topic? Do you think shade sails (or shade) should be provided for our children at playgrounds across the country?


Banana Boat Sunscreen Issue

Playground Rant 04

So a lot of you have sent me links to the article recently about the boy who received 2nd degree burns after using Banana Boat SPF30+ Sunscreen, and being in outside in the water.

Before you read my thoughts, make sure you familiarise yourself with the article, because I can’t be bothered going over it again HAHA.  It was on Stuff, click on the link to read it.

A few of you wanted me to weigh in on this and let you know my thoughts.

Well I’m kind of of two minds.  Firstly, I feel incredibly sorry for the child.  No child should have to suffer that way.  Secondly, I feel sorry for Banana Boat.  Because, in my personal opinion, this could have happened with any brand given the conditions it happened in.  Just happened to be that it was Banana Boat.  Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of people have come out of the works with complaints about Banana Boat, so clearly there is an underlying issue there.

However, I do think some points need to be made and clarified about sunscreen moving forward:

1. Sunscreen is not the be-all-and-end-all
No sunscreen will completely shield you from the effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). You can still burn, especially if you have sensitive skin. Sunscreen use should not be the only or even the primary line of protection against the sun. It should be used with other sun safety behaviours, including covering up and seeking shade.

In my personal opinion, SPF 50+ should be mandatory on all outdoor excursions.  Especially when in the water.

2.  Application & Continued Application of Sunscreen is CRUCIAL
Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure to allow it time to dry and be absorbed into the skin. Spread it on to exposed skin thickly and evenly. If it’s put on too thinly the protection is lessened and it won’t work as well.

Sunscreens need re-applying to remain protective. However, re-applying sunscreen does not reduce UVR already received.  Applying every 2 hours is a MUST, if not more frequently depending on the conditions.

3.  Being in the water makes it WORSE
The sun’s reflection on the water intensifies the UV rays.  Which means you need to be extra diligent with sunscreen.  Applying more frequently than every 2 hours is a MUST.

4.  Clothes are not going to necessarily protect from sunburn
If you are out in the direct sunlight for any length of time, then you really should apply sunscreen ALL OVER.  Even under clothes.  As was evident in the article I linked to above.  The boys sunburn was where his shirt had obviously lifted up, and it was not protected there.

5.  Just get out of the sun to reduce exposure
UVR builds up and can damage the skin even when you’re wearing a sunscreen and before burning is visible. Reduce your daily sun exposure as much as possible and in particular avoid the sun (even if using a sunscreen) between 10am – 4pm during daylight saving months. Sunscreens should not be used to increase the amount of time spent in the sun.

Sunscreen slows down further UVR accumulation and if burning has already occurred, it will only lessen the severity of further burning. Re-apply sunscreen every hour or more if you are swimming or sweating a lot.

The above information was taken from the SunSmart Schools Website.  So it’s all fact (apart from the bits that say otherwise).

The best form of protection from the sun is a combination of sunscreen, shade and
common sense.

The catchphrase should really be “Slip, Slop, Slap and Thinking Cap” … as in use your brain.

Our sun in New Zealand appears to only be getting harsher, so as parents we need to think sensibly about it.

Want to take your kids to the beach?  Go for it – just limit their time in the sun.  It’s sad, but it’s true.  Especially during the hottest parts of the day.

It’s the same at playgrounds as everyone keeps telling us parents – if it’s too hot, then the kids shouldn’t be outside in the direct sun for prolonged periodsof time.  Which is why I think shade sails are a MUST on playgrounds.

At a beach it’s a different story, and as such, we need to adjust our thinking around it..

Be SunSmart guys – especially at beaches where the water can make things a thousand times worse.

No matter what sunscreen you use, make sure you apply it prior to going out in the sun, and then frequently throughout the time the child is outside (or on yourself – don’t forget about yourself!).

For more information about sunscreen and our sun, visit my Myths & Statistics page.

To sign the Shade Petition, visit Change.Org.

Did you read the article?  What did you think?  What do you think of what I’ve written?



Facebook Commenters: My Final Rant


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Seriously, WHO THE HECK thinks that protecting our kids from the sun is a negative?

I’m calling them out RIGHT NOW because I am sick and tired of seeing comments online about it.

When sunscreen was invented I’m sure people spouted on about it then too – and look at us now. SPF50 AND GROWING!

The sun is hot. The sun causes cancer.  TWO FACTS.

Over 90% of all skin cancer cases are attributed to excess sun exposure.

Why do you think that erecting a shade sail is a negative?  Why can you not look at the positive?

Let’s answer some questions that I have read:

Why should the council protect your children?  Just put a hat and some sunscreen on your kids.
Firstly, most parents do put a hat and sunscreen on their kids.  This isn’t about that.  The council is building a playground designed to be played on.  When the sun is out, especially at the moment during Summer, the playgrounds are HOT.

Shade is essential in ALL FORMS in preventing cancer too – according to SunSmart, “Umbrellas, tarpaulins and shade cloths are also good options, but some filter out only some UVR, so other SunSmart actions are also advisable.”

This isn’t about removing responsibility from the parents – our responsibility is to protect our kids as much as possible from the sun (slip, slop, slap), but having that additional protection from the playgrounds that our kids play on, would be incredible.

You’re wrapping your kids in cotton wool!  Just let them be kids!
Wrapping our kids in cotton wool? OH PLEASE!  Making our kids NOT use a playground because it’s too hot is wrapping them in cotton wool.  Making them stay inside all day because it’s too hot outside to play, is wrapping them in cotton wool.  And yes – at the moment when the sun is out, it is hot from 9am – 5pm.

What about the Vitamin D?  Next thing you know the kids will be at the doctors with Vitamin D deficiency!
We get plenty of sun just walking around – guys it’s New Zealand, not the UK.  Stop worrying about our Vitamin D intake.

The Ministry of Health recommends “sensible sun exposure”.  Having a playground covered, does not mean your child (or any child) will be at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.

Living in the UK where there is constant cloud cover – that is a reason for Vitamin D deficiency.

Back in my day we went down those slides all the time.  No problem!  Kids are so sensitive these days.
The whole “back in my day” thing is moot.  “Back in the day” the earth was known to be flat. “Back in the day” smoking was considered to be ok.

Just because you did it “back in the day” doesn’t mean it’s ok, or right.

Think that kids need to “toughen up” when it comes to the sun?  MEMO ALERT: sun causes cancer.  I don’t think I need a statistic to back that up, but just in case you need to know, head over to the SunSmart page.

Gummon, as a parent you should test the equipment out before your kid goes down it.
Yes in a perfect world, we would do this.  But we are human, and often have a million things on our mind.  Wouldn’t it just be amazing if the kids could play on a slide without having to worry about burning themselves?  Surely that’s not too much to ask.

Just put a hat and sunscreen on them – do your job as a parent!
As I said above, it’s about more than that!  Sunscreen isn’t foolproof.  You can still get skin cancer even when you bathe in sunscreen.

According to SunSmart “No matter how high the SPF rating, no sunscreen can screen out all UV radiation”. Therefore, a combination of shade and sunscreen are the best ways to beat the sun, in all aspects.

If you want to know more about our sun and skin cancer, please click the below link.  I have put together a page full of useful information:

Myths & Statistics About Our Sun

As I said above, let’s stop thinking negatively about shade coverage on our playgrounds. Because as the SunSmart Organisation says, shade is an important part of reducing skin cancer.  It’s also common sense that it will cool the equipment down.

The Cancer Society supports sun shades being mandatory on all public playgrounds. SunSmart school co-ordinator Louise Sandford said: “Not only do those playgrounds get hot but we should be protecting [children] from harmful UV rays.”

Finally our children will be able to play for LONGER without worrying about sun stroke.  Or without burning themselves.

How can you argue with that?!

In my personal opinion, this topic shouldn’t be up for debate.  We need more shade on our playgrounds, STAT!

Guys I could go on about this forever.  But I truly believe if you care about the children, who are our future, then you would be all for our playgrounds being covered (in one form or another).  Instead of being negative Nancy’s, why don’t we band together to make a change!

If you haven’t signed my petition yet, please do!  CLICK HERE.

Got an opinion?  Negative or Positive?  Share it below – but remember … keep it civil.


Myths and Statistics About Our Sun


Here are some myths and statistics about our sun here in New Zealand.


1) I can’t get sunburnt on a cloudy day.

False: You can still get sunburnt on a cloudy day. This is because UV radiation can get through light cloud cover, so unprotected skin can still be damaged.

2) Temperature gives me a good idea of the the chances of getting sunburnt.

False: The heat from the sun is caused by infrared radiation, not ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation can still be high even on a cool day, when infrared radiation is low. Just think about how easy it is to get sunburnt on the skifields when it can be very cold.

3) I’m windburnt not sunburnt.

False: Your windburn is sunburn caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The wind may make you feel cooler but UV radiation can still be high even on a windy day. Just think about why you don’t get windburn if you’re out in the dark on a windy night.

4) Sunscreen blocks out all UV radiation.

False: No sunscreen filters out all UV radiation – that’s why you need to limit your time in the sun no matter what sunscreen you’re using and cover up.

5) Getting badly sunburnt before the age of 20 increases my risk of getting melanoma skin cancer later on.

True: If you have a history of one or more sunburns before you turn 20, research suggests you have a much higher chance of getting melanoma skin cancer as you age.

6) Wearing a t-shirt in the water is as sun protective as a rash shirt.

False: A wet t-shirt may offer only half the protection it does when it is dry. If you are going to be in the water, a rash shirt and sunscreen is a good form of protection. A full body wetsuit gives better protection.

7) If you don’t get burnt, you won’t get skin cancer?

False:  Our skin remembers and records all the UV exposure ever received; all the sunburns, tans, solarium visits or just simple day-to-day time spent outdoors when sun protection has not been used. It all adds up and increases the long-term risk of skin cancer.


  • Over 350 New Zealanders are dying from skin cancer every year.
  • Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer affecting New Zealanders. There are approximately 67,000 new non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) cases each year.
  • Of the 3 most common skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma), melanoma is the most serious.
  • NZ has one of the highest melanoma death rates in the world.
  • The most recent statistics are for 2012, showing:
    2,324 registered cases of melanoma
    354 deaths from melanoma
  • There are approximately 67,000 new non-melanoma skin cancers each year.
  • However, providing an exact figure is differcult as, unlike melanoma, they are not required to be notifed under the Cancer Registry Act 1993.
  • Skin cancer costs the New Zealand health system about $33 million a year, making skin cancer one of the most expensive cancers for the NZ health system.
  • It has been estimated that, for every death from skin cancer, an average of 17.4 potential years of life are lost.
  • The majority of skin cancers are preventable – it has been estimated that over 90% of melanomas in Australasia are caused by sunlight exposure.


  • Is the least common but the most serious form of skin cancer.
  • Being sunburnt under the age of 20 years increases the risk of developing melanoma.
  • Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in New Zealand.
  • Each year approximately 270 people die from melanoma skin cancer.
  • The number of cases of melanoma has doubled in the past 30 years to about 2000 cases per year.
  • In 2005 melanoma was the most common cancer among males 25-44 years old and among females aged 15-24 years.
  • The risk of melanoma increases as you get older



SLIP – into a shirt and slip to some shade, especially between 11am and 4pm when the ultraviolet rays are most fierce.

SLOP – on some SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply regularly.

SLAP – on a hat with a wide brim or a cap with flaps

WRAP – on a pair of sunglasses. Choose close fitting wraparound styles

Slipping into some shade is also an effective way of preventing sunburn. Solid blocks of shade from dense trees, cars or buildings are best. Umbrellas, tarpaulins and shade cloths are also good options, but some filter out only some UVR, so other SunSmart actions are also advisable.


Sources: SunSmart, SunSmart Schools


More Drama Llama


The metal slide at the Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch

More drama llama surrounding the lack of shade on our playgrounds.  Now guys, just to reitterate this – although I am approaching the Auckland Council about this, my ranty-mcrants are about ALL playgrounds that are open in New Zealand.

My number one reporter in the field, Amanda, sent me a link to this article in Stuff.

Basically a child burnt their hand quite badly on the big metal slide on the Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch.

Many of you have complained about this playground to me, so it will probably come as no surprise that this has happened.

A 6-year-old Christchurch girl burnt her fingers on the metal slide at the Margaret Mahy Family Playground as the Government continues to “investigate options” for more shade cover.

What annoyed me about the article was the fact that the playground was built RECENTLY without protection from the sun.

They built a METAL SLIDE out in the open.  Honestly, did they not talk about this situation?  Did they not discuss the fact that it will get hot?

Surely in their planning stage they would have noted that the sun is hot in the summer.  Providing “slide mats” is hardly a solution when the entire slide is burning hot.  Just touch the sides and it burns ….

A member of the Christchurch City Council said “We made the decision to use stainless steel for the slides because it is durable enough to withstand thousands of uses for many years to come.”

Sorry but what use is it for thousands of years if the kids can’t even play on it.

As a parent we do our best with our kids.  We “should” check the slides before they go down them – that’s what every man and his dog will say.

Honestly – we’re human.  We make mistakes and we forget to do things.  I am still surprised at how hot a slide can get – even a plastic one!

Surely if you’re going to build a playground it should be able to be played on even in the heat of the day.  It’s not as if we live in the desert!

Gosh, on a rant again …

Here’s what our playgrounds NEED to look like:


Are you from Christchurch?  What do you think of this happening?


Sunscreen: What Do You Use?


Just a really simple poll to find out what sunscreen you use or find the most EFFECTIVE.  Scroll through this list and click on the one that most applies to you and your family.  If the answer is NOT in the list, please write it in the comments at the end of the page.


[socialpoll id=”2326164″]


No matter what brand of sunscreen you have, make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30.

  • check your sunscreen’s label to confirm it hasn’t past its use-by date (expired).
  • apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors.
  • reapply your sunscreen every two hours, as well as after swimming or sweating (even if your sunscreen says it’s waterproof and good for four hours).
  • don’t think sunscreen means you can stay out in the sun for longer – a sunscreen’s purpose is to decrease exposure to UV radiation not to increase the amount of time you spend in the sun.
  • store your sunscreen according to the label’s instructions.

What does ‘broad-spectrum’ mean?
UV radiation that damages our eyes and skin is from UVA and UVB rays. Broad-spectrum means the sunscreen will filter out both UVA (‘ageing rays’) and UVB (‘burning rays’).

When instructions on the sunscreen label are followed, SPF 30 filters around 97% of UV radiation and SPF 50 around 98%. No sunscreen provides 100% protection from UV radiation.

New Zealanders’ use of sunscreen
Despite New Zealand’s high levels of UV radiation, we’re not very good at using sunscreen on unprotected skin. Only 50% of New Zealanders use sunscreen, and fewer than half of those people reapply it.

How much sunscreen should you use?
The short answer is, probably more than you think.

Most people don’t use enough sunscreen, and therefore don’t get its full protection. If you’re an average sized adult you need to use about seven teaspoons of sunscreen (35mls or a good cupped handful) on your body – including face, hands, neck and ears.

The above was taken directly from the SunSmart website.

To sign my petition to get adequate shade at our public playgrounds, click HERE.



This Makes Me Sad


A friend, and fellow team member, sent me this image of an article in the Bay of Plenty Times this weekend:

Click to Enlarge


I am ridiculously saddened by this article.

This just goes to show that sunscreen is essential, but is NOT the only part of protecting our children from the harsh rays of the sun.

As parents WE KNOW that children need protection.  Sunscreen, however can be expensive.  I’m not saying this is an excuse, but it’s the truth.  As the article shows though, the price can vary depending on where you shop.

We do our best to protect our children, but we also want them to learn and grow as individuals.  Which means getting outside and ENJOYING life without worrying about killing themselves in the process.

Sun protection in the form of shade on our playgrounds is INCREDIBLY important for this.

Skin Dermatology Institute dermatologist Dr Ben Tallon says “While I would fully support subsidised sunscreen, I have a bias towards providing adequate sun shade in the form of protection in parks, playgrounds, pools and also for wearing hats”

So even the experts say that shade is needed.

Parents can slip, slop, slap as much as they want, but ultimately if a child plays outside in the open sun, they are at risk of skin cancer.

Obviously the whole country can’t be shaded, but let’s do our best to ensure at LEAST our playgrounds are.  Which are PURPOSE BUILT for children to play on.

What more do I need to do to get the council to take me seriously?  I want ALL playgrounds covered.  With a minimum of the major, highly populated area ones to be done first.

Do not expect us parents to lie down on this.  Our children are our future, and we will protect them – by standing up for their rights to play on a playground ANY time of the day.

If you want to make a difference, even a small one, please sign my petition.

I promise you, one way or another, I will get something changed in our system.  Will you help me and support me?  Because so far, you guys have been AMAZING ❤️


The Gems


Cornwall Park

So I’ve ranted about the lack of shade at playgrounds, started a petition, talked about the trouble spots, and now I think it’s time to talk about the gems.

The playgrounds that have enough shade, and you feel comfortable leaving your kids to play without worrying about overheating.

There are a couple that I’ve been to where there is some kind of shade:

This playground is covered by the most amazing trees.  It is absolutely lovely.  Set in Cornwall Park in Auckland, the entire area is actually fantastic for kids.  They have a couple of play areas and a flying fox.  If you’re in Auckland and haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth it.

Now this playground is sprawled over a large area, so the majority of it is UNCOVERED, but there is a pretty neat toddler section that is under cover.

So where in your area (doesn’t have to be Auckland) has a playground with adequate shading?

I’m going to put a list together so that if people need to find somewhere to go, they’re all in one place.

Hopefully there are more than just two on this list HAHA

So, let me know below – what playgrounds have adequate shading?


The Trouble Spots


Playground Rant 01
Stonefields Playground – Auckland

So all of the playgrounds I have come across over the years BAR two, have been uncovered.

I will do a post about the awesome COVERED playgrounds another time, but for now I want to know from you – where are the trouble spots?

Which playgrounds do you want to go to ALL THE TIME, but can’t because they’re not covered?

Do you know of any that are major playgrounds that get played on by loads of people that deserve to be shaded?  Let me know in the comments below, either on here, or on my Facebook page.

I want to know what is important to you.

The council have already expressed to me that essentially the playgrounds that get played on the most, are the ones that get shaded, but I call bullshit on that because a LOT of the major ones are NOT covered.

Now I may have misunderstood them completely, but from what I remember of our conversation, not all playgrounds can be covered, and there are ones that get priority.

So my local wee Mangere playground on an open reserve, in a quiet suburb, will highly unlikely get covered.


So tell me below – where do you want covered?


Going Public


canstockphoto32934910Well after my last blog post about inadequate shade in our public playgrounds, things kind of took off!

The response was overwhelming and it was very clear – there is not enough shade over our playgrounds.  Whether it’s artificial shade, or natural, there’s just not enough of it.

A call to action was requested – start a petition.

So I did.

Turns out that was kind of the “wrong” thing to do.  I mean, not WRONG as such, but not really necessary at this stage.  But regardless, having the names, the numbers and the figures to back up this point is truly amazing.

What was a bit hard for me was dealing with the “backlash” online from those who didn’t agree with the petition.

I am not naive. I realise what happens when you go public like this with anything, I just wasn’t expecting to be so affected by it.

People questioned my parenting.  Accused me of not looking after my children.  Telling me I’m wrapping our kids in cotton wool.  Someone even accused me of not being a New Zealander (because of my last name) and saying what right did I have to create a petition.

To that person (and anyone else ever wondering), I am born and raised in New Zealand.  Fourth generation New Zealander.  My great grandfather fought in World War I.  Know me before you judge me.

All of these negatives etched away at me, and I did shed a few tears and wonder if this was worth it.  I started questioning myself.  I ate McDonalds.

But then my Dad and my online friends said “back away from the computer and don’t read those bloody comments anymore”.

So I did.  I stepped back.  I started reading more on my actual Happy Mum Happy Child Facebook page and I was reassured.  I had private messages from people who had covered up in sun screen their whole lives and still got melanoma.  They were over the moon that this petition / conversation has been started.

The health organisations and local councils around New Zealand AGREED.

People still thought it was a good idea.  Phew.

But it was still hard.

I kept coming across comments questioning my parenting, telling me that “man what ever happened to just putting on sun screen and a hat” … inside of me was SCREAMING to reply because SERIOUSLY, it’s about more than that.  And it bugged me to no end that people couldn’t understand that.

I HAVE to write these points down.  I have to.  They’ve been in my head all day in response to everything that was said:

  • My children wear sun screen every day
  • My children wear hats every day
  • My children wear appropriate clothing every day
  • The shade is not just about protecting from skin cancer and skin damage
  • The shade is about protecting our children from the heat of the sun
  • The shade is about ensuring the playground equipment doesn’t heat up
  • By providing shade it actually means our kids can play for LONGER on the playground

Wanting our children to not get hurt by the sun (this thing that causes cancer) IS NOT wrapping our children in cotton wool.  Making them stay inside for 8 hours a day while the sun is out because it’s too hot – that’s wrapping them in cotton wool.

And yes – it is hot here in the sun from 9am until 5pm.  Going by what people have said online (stay inside during the hot times) my kids would be inside all day.

Playgrounds are built to be played on.  If they’re too hot to play on, it kind of defeats the purpose.

I have been reassured that those people saying ridiculous comments are not real parents.  And that the real parens are the ones who understand what this petition is asking.  That those people who write those comments are a “special breed” of people – and I’m beginning to see they’re right.

These people will never instil change in this world.  Not with their attitudes.

It’s just so easy to get caught up in all of the negative.  But I know it’s all for a good reason, and someone has to do it.  I want my kids to be able to play for ages at a playground without having to drag them away because it’s too hot.  Surely that’s not too much to ask!

I wouldn’t change it for the world though.  Knowing that I am helping to do something that no one else has really done successfully – get people talking about adequate shade on our playgrounds.

Gosh this was a bit ranty.  Sorry bout that.