A touch of frost


The ute which had been left outside on Sunday night had ice on its windscreen when we got up yesterday and if the fog hadn’t rolled in it would have been cold enough for frost this morning too.

That is surely proof that daylight saving ought to have finished on Sunday as it used to, rather than continuing until the first Sunday in April.

Mutter, mumble.

Still, I suppose I should be grateful that the sheep and cows aren’t harmed by the frost, unlike grapes. The Central Otago harvest is still a couple of weeks away which means frost fighting takes priority over sleep when overnight temperatures drop.

Fonterra payout stays at $5.10



Farming families and staff will be relieved with Fonterra’s announcement that its forecast payout will stay at $5.10.

While its well below last year’s record $7.90, and down from the opening forecast of $7 , it will be the third highest payout Fonterra has made and is above the longterm average.

The average payout during the 10 years prior to 2008 has been $4.21 per kg of milksolids.

Costs rose on the back, and sometimes ahead, of the increased payout. They never go down as quickly as they go up, but the drop in interest rates and the fall in the price of fuel and fertiliser are having a positive  impact on farm budgets. Widespread autumn rain has also meant better pasture and less need for supplements than last year when drought reduced production.

And while the international price of milk has dropped,  so too has the value of our dollar. Even though it’s gone up a few cents in the past week, it is still compensating in part for the reduced price on world markets.

UPDATE: Roarprawn compares media coverage of the half-year report and rightly points out that farmers won’t be overjoyed with the results.

Payment by honour


How much would you pay for a meal if you could choose the amount yourself?

Barecelona restauranteur Eledino Garcia started letting patrons pay whatever they want for the daily special three weeks ago to help customers who had lost their jobs.

And the idea is actually working: Garcia says his daily take is up.

After a midday meal, diners who opted for the ¤10 ($13.56), three-course daily special get something other than a check.

“I give you an envelope, and you pay what you think it was worth, or whatever you can pay,” said Garcia, the 50-year-old owner of the small restaurant called Mireya.

. . .  Garcia says his trust in the public is paying off. Although he says he does not keep track of how much each person pays, no one seems to be taking advantage of him.

“People are better than we think,” Garcia said.

It was a gamble which has paid off and I’m delighted the trust Garcia showed in his patrons hasn’t been abused because, like him, I believe most people are good.

I have a vague memory that someone tried ths system in New Zealand and that people often paid more than they would have been charged in that restaurant too.

How will we notice the difference?



TVNZ could be reduced to idiot box by scrapping charter

Scrapping TVNZ’s charter spells doom for public broadcasting and will relegate the network to idiot box status, critics of the Government’s decision say.

Passing over the irony that this comes from TV3, how will that differ from what we get now?

In sickness . . .


The traditional marriage vows are also applicable to parenting.

When you have children you have them to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health.

That doesn’t mean that it’s easy when a child is ill or has a disability, but it does help explain why most parents sacrifice so much for and give so much to their children both because of and in spite of their problems.

When we were told our son had a degenerative brain disorder, that he was unlikely to live long and if he did he’d be profoundly disabled, I didn’t know which would be worse.

He died soon after but two years later his brother was born with the same condition and lived until just after his fifth birthday which gave me the answer – both disability and death are worse than the happy, healthy children we all hope for. But you can’t give your child back nor do you stop loving him because his brain doesn’t work properly.

Caring for a child with multi handicaps isn’t easy, but when Dan was alive I often wondered if it was less difficult with someone like him who was totally dependent than it might be with a child whose disabilities weren’t quite as severe but still left them well behind “normal” development.

Dan could do nothing for himself, didn’t appear to see or hear and his only communication was crying so there was no feedback or affection from him but at least he couldn’t hurt himself or other people or misbehave.

Parents of children with severe autism have the challenge of dealing with people who are physically able but socially and often intellectually disabled and as Macdoctor explains in response to the story of the 18 year old autistic girl who was jailed  there is a large hole in the system  which means people with these sorts of conditions and their families don’t get the support they need.

I fully support the theory of deinstitutionalisation of people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses but the practice has been flawed because of a lack of training for care givers, lack of support for the people and their families and as always, a lack of funding.

But there are a couple of  glimmers of hope, Innovative Learning of Dunedin is:

. . . joining forces with two international partners in a $3 million deal to help fight the spreading “epidemic” of autism.

Innovative Learning, headed by chief executive and psychologist Dr Mike Reid, of Dunedin, will launch two new certificate programmes later this year.

The certificates are the result of a partnership between his company and Antioch University Santa Barbara, a private institution based in the United States, and will also be distributed in the United Kingdom by Ludlow Street Healthcare.

The programmes aimed to improve the care given to those diagnosed with a range of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by upskilling those who came into contact with them – from teachers and carers to GPs and other health professionals, Dr Reid said.

And yesterday, John Key told Breakfast he would look into the matter.

Now isn’t the time to be expanding budgets but ensuring people with mental illnesses and intellectuall disabilities have the care and support they need must be a priority.

A man is no financial plan


We aren’t too far removed from the times when a woman was dependent on her father, husband or other male relatives. We have come a long way and now have legal equality but many women are still less than equal financially.

That there’s neither security nor independence in that is recognised by Property Women Australia.

Bearing in mind their strict mantra – a man is no financial plan – the sisterhood has come to New Zealand looking for bargains to add to their property portfolios.

. . .  This unique support group is all about women taking control of their own finances.

And they are much more likely to live happily ever after by doing that than by kissing toads or waiting for a prince.

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