Auld Lang Syne


Whether or not a new decade starts tomorrow, a new year does.

Whether or not you call it New Years Eve or Hogmanay, there’s only one song to sing at midnight:

May 2010 be full of love and laughter and be kind to you and yours

Language beats logic


A few pedants tried to tell us that the 21st century didn’t start on January 1, 2000 and now they’re trying to tell us that tomorrow isn’t the start of this century’s second decade.

They were right mathematically then and they’re right now because there was no year 0.

But language beats logic.

Just as 2000 didn’t sound like the 20th century, 2010 doesn’t sound like the noughties. As the years roll on this argument becomes even more compelling; most of us say we enter our 20s when we’re 20 not 21 and few would be willing to wait to 101 to claim the title of centenarian.

Adam at Inquiring Mind takes the contrary view,  and while it may be correct it’s a minority one. 

This is one instance when right sounds wrong and most of us will go with a new decade starting tomorrow not a year hence because of the way it looks and sounds in spite of the logic and the maths.

Should our greatest be good?


Are honesty and integrity important?

Does the type of person someone is count at least as much as what s/he does?  Should s/he be be judged not only on what s/he does but the way s/he does it? Do not just  deeds but character matter?

Should our greatest people also be good?

If they are getting our highest honour they should and that is why I am disappointed that Helen Clark has been made a Member of the Order of New Zealand.

I wouldn’t have minded if she’d been made a Dame, although her aversion to titular honours would have precluded that.

My disappointment isn’t because of politics. I don’t agree with a lot of what she did but redistribution and encouraging dependency on the state are consistent with her socialist views.

It’s what some of her actions say about her character that’s the problem.

She didn’t just forge one painting. She admitted to signing “about half a dozen” works of art which she hadn’t produced “over 20 years” and then couldn’t understand what was wrong with that.

She didn’t support the police who drove too fast to get her from Waimate to Christchurch.

She used taxpayers’ money illegally to pay for Labour’s campaigns, changed the law to make that spending legal and passed an Act in an attempt to allow that spending to continue while restricting what other individuals and groups could spend.

She backed Phillip Field in the face of strong evidence against him and did her best to thwart the inquiry into his actions.

She continued to back Winston Peters as a minister long after he showed he could not be trusted.

The Order of New Zealand is restricted to just 20 living New Zealanders.

If one of our 20 greatest isn’t also good it reflects very badly on the rest of us.

December 31 in history


On December 31:

400  Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gaul.

1229  James I of Aragon the Conqueror entered Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma, Spain)  consummating the Christian conquest of the island of Majorca.

1599  The British East India Company was chartered.

The Company flag, after 1707

1687– The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope.

1695 A window tax was imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax.

1729 Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the British throne, was born.

1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and started brewing Guinness.

1853 Sir George Grey left New Zealand after finishing hisfirst  term as Governor.

Grey leaves NZ after first term as Governor
1857 Queen Victoria chose Ottawa, Ontario, as the capital of Canada.
1869 Henri Matisse, French painter, was born.
1878  Elizabeth Arden, Canadian businesswoman, was born.

1879 Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time.

1904 The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York.

1908  Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian Holocaust survivor, was born.

1909  Manhattan Bridge opened.

1923 The chimes of Big Ben were broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC.

1937 Sir Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor, was born.

1943 John Denver, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1943 Sir Ben Kingsley, English actor was born.

1943  Pete Quaife, English bassist (The Kinks) was born.

Four smiling young men leaning over the back of a green park bench, a row of three-story-tall residential buildings behind them. The man on the left wears a brown sports jacket and white turtleneck; the man to his right wears a black-and-white-striped pullover shirt; the man to his right (standing straighter, just behind the other three) wears a black suit and tie; the man on the far right wears a black sports jacket and white shirt.Original lineup in 1965. From left: Pete Quaife, Dave Davies, Ray Davies, Mick Avory.

1946 President Harry Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

1951 The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $13.3 billion USD in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.[1]

1955  The General Motors Corporation became the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion USD in a year.

General Motors.svg

1960 The farthing coin ceased to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.

1963  The Central African Federation officially collapsed and split into Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia.

1965  Nicholas Sparks, American author, was born.

1980 – Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

Richie McCaw

1983 – The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government.

1991  All official Soviet Union institutions ceased operations by this date and the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

1992 Czechoslovakia was dissolved, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.






1998  The European Exchange Rate Mechanism froze the values of the legacy currencies in the Eurozone, and established the value of the euro currency.




1999  Boris Yeltsin resigned as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President.

1999 – The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

2004  The official opening of Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 ft).


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Wedding Song


It’s Noel Paul Stookey’s birthday.

He’s best known as the Paul in Peter, Paul and Mary but he also wrote The Wedding Song (There is Love).

In training


Mount Roy stands guard over Lake Wanaka.

It’s  1,578 metres high and those who climb it are rewarded with panoramic views across the lake and up the Matukituki Valley to Mount Aspiring.

My first ascent of Mount Roy was with my best friend and her family when we were about 10.

A hundred or so metres short of the summit we were ready to give up but her father fed us chocolate and talked us to the top.

I’ve walked up several times since then, the last time was New Year’s Eve, 1999. I’ve contemplated climbing it again since then but never got further than good intentions.

However, those good intentions will translate into action soon because the friend with whom I first climbed the hill and I are planning to tackle it again this summer.

I’m taking my training reasonably seriously. It includes a walk up Mount Iron every morning and some days it feels harder than others.

That encourages me to keep training because it’s just 240 metres high and takes me about 30 minutes from the car park to the top. Last time I tackled Mount Roy it took about 3 1/4 hours and as I gaze across to it from Mt Iron I get the feeling it will have got stepper and higher since then.

December 30 in history


On December 30:

39  Titus, Roman emperor was born.

Tito, testa in marmo da Pantelleria.jpg

1066 Granada massacre: A Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, crucified Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacred most of the Jewish population of the city.

 1460  Wars of the Roses: Battle of Wakefield.

 Roses-Lancaster victory.svg

1835 Charles Darwin left New Zealand after a nine day visit.

Charles Darwin leaves NZ after 9-day visitThis red gurnard was collected by Charles Darwin when the Beagle visited the Bay of Islands.

Rudyard Kipling, English writer, Nobel laureate, was born.

1916 The last coronation in Hungary iw performed for King Charles IV and Queen Zita.

 King Charles IV taking his coronation oath on 30 December 1916

  • 1919Lincoln’s Inn in London admitted its first female bar student.
  • 1922  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.

    Flag Coat of arms

    1924 Edwin Hubble announces the existence of other galaxies.

    1927  The Ginza Line, the first subway line in Asia, opened in Tokyo, Japan.

     One of the original 1000 series cars.

    1931  Skeeter Davis, American singer, was born.

    1937 Noel Paul Stookey, American folk singer (Peter, Paul & Mary), was born.

    1940 California opened its first freeway the Arroyo Seco Parkway.

    1944 King George II of Greece declared a regency, leaving the throne vacant.

    1945  Davy Jones, English singer (The Monkees), was born.

    1947 King Michael of Romania was forced to abdicate by the Soviet-backed Communist government of Romania.

    1947 Jeff Lynne, English musician (ELO), was born.

    1948  The Cole Porter Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate (1,077 performances), opened at the New Century Theatre and was the first show to win the Best Musical Tony Award.

    Caucasian man in his thirties smiling and looking to the camera. He has a round face, full lips and large dark eyes, and his short dark hair is combed to the side. He is wearing a dark jacket, a white shirt and a black tie with white dots.

    1950 Bjarne Stroustrup, Danish computer scientist, creator of C++, was born.

    1953 The first ever NTSC colour television sets went on sale for about USD at $1,175 each from RCA.

    RCA Logo

    1959 Tracey Ullman, English actress and singer, was born.

    Tracy Ullman 1990.jpg

    1965  Ferdinand Marcos became President of the Philippines.

    1975 Tiger Woods, American golfer, was born.

    Tiger Woods drives by Allison.jpg

    1993  Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.

    2004 A fire in the República Cromagnon nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina killed 194.

     Relatives of the deceased in the fire light candles in a public protest against the perceived lack of control by the government.

    2005  Tropical Storm Zeta formed in the open Atlantic Ocean, tying the record for the latest tropical cyclone ever to form in the North Atlantic basin.

    2006  Madrid Barajas International Airport was bombed.

    Barajas overview1.jpg

    2006 Deposed President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, convicted of the executions of 148 Iraqi Shiites, was executed.

    Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

    As Tears Go By


    Happy Birthday Marianne Faithfull.

    Tuesday’s answers


    Monday’s questions were:

    1. What was the best Christmas present you’ve ever had?

    2. And the worst?

    3. What’s your favourite Christmas Day menu?

    4. What was your best Christmas?

    5. And the worst?

    Deborah, Rob, Paul Tremewan and Gravedodger tied for first place with 5/5 because there were no wrong answers.

    1. So many to chose from . . . but ones which stand out: a dolls house my father made when I was about 4; a watch when I was 10; the sapphire pendent my farmer gave me the first Christmas after we met;  the book Chicken Soup for the Soul my mother gave me – yes I know it’s syrupy, but I was coming to terms with life with a son with multiple handicaps at the time and syrup helped.

    2. Least appreciated was a pair of frilly knickers, given by an aunt when I was about seven. I’d much rather have had the sweets she gave my brothers.

    The one which made me feel the worst was bronchitis 8 years ago.

    3. Ham, tomatoes with basil, green salad, new potatoes and nut roast (made by one of my sisters in law who is vegetarian) followed by pavlova, strawberries, raspberries and cherries.

    4. All but the one below – spent with extended family and or/friends. One which stands out was 1988, the sun shone, the adults lounged in the shade of a tree on the lawn while the children (eight cousins aged from 3 to 10) played with giant bubble makers near by.

    5. I’ve had only one not so happy Christmas – it was the first away from home when I was working as a kitchen hand in Omarama in the university holidays. I’d had the two days before off and went back on the bus on Christmas Eve. It was full of blokes who were working at Twizel, they were all drunk and one threw up at the start of the two hour trip. Christmas Day was just another day at work.

    More to burn will burn more


    The ODT confirms that the fire we witnessed near Butchers Dam yesterday (two posts back) was on conservation land.

    About 20 hectares of the 813 estate was burned.

    Shingle Creek farmer Jack Miller said the fire was “something that was just waiting to happen”.

    The ungrazed conservation estate was a fire risk, he said.

    “And when you lock up vast amounts of land like this, it becomes a huge fire risk for everyone,” Mr Miller said.

    However Doc deputy principal rural fire officer for Otago, Trevor Mitchell, said:

    . . . the fire risk and the dryness of the property was the same whether it was conservation land or farmland.

    Who owns the property has no impact on how dry it is but that’s not the only factor which adds to the danger of fire.

     Farmed property is grazed. Most land under DoC management isn’t and at this time of year it’s covered in dry grass and scrub which provides more fuel for fires.

    If there’s more to burn it will burn more.

    December 29 in history


    On December 29:

    1170  Thomas Becket: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was assassinated inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II; he subsequently becomes a saint and martyr in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

    13th-century manuscript illumination, an early depiction of Becket’s assassination.

    1721  Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV of France, was born.

    Madame de Pompadour, portrait by François Boucher.

    1800 Charles Goodyear, American inventor, was born.


    1809 William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born.

    1835  The Treaty of New Echota is signed, ceding all the lands of the Cherokee east of the Mississippi River to the United States.

    1876 The Ashtabula River Railroad bridge disaster occurs, leaving 64 injured and 92 dead at Ashtabula, Ohio.

    Ashtabula Bridge disaster.jpg
    Wood engraving published in Harper’s Weekly, 20 January 1877

    1880 Tuhiata, or Tuhi, was hanged in Wellington for the murder of the artist Mary Dobie at Te Namu Bay, Opunake. Tuhi wrote to the Governor days before his execution asking that ‘my bad companions, your children, beer, rum and other spirits die with me’.

    1890 United States soldiers kill more than 200 Oglala Lakota men, women, and children with 4 Hotchkiss guns in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

    1911  Sun Yat-sen became the provisional President of the Republic of China.

    1911  Mongolia gained independence from the Qing dynasty.

    1930  Sir Muhammad Iqbal‘s presidential address in Allahabad introduces the Two-Nation Theory and outlines a vision for the creation of Pakistan.

    1936 Birth of  Mary Tyler Moore, American actress.

    1937  The Irish Free State was replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.

    1939 First flight of the Consolidated B-24.

    1940  In The Second Great Fire of London, the Luftwaffe firebombed the city, killing almost 200 civilians.
    Herbert Mason’s iconic photograph taken 29 December 1940, published front page of Daily Mail 31 December 1940
    1941 Birth of Ray Thomas, British musician (The Moody Blues).
    1946 Marianne Faithfull, British singer, was born.
    1949 KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut became the first Ultra high frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.
    1953 Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, was born.

    1972 An Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 (a Lockheed Tristar) crashes on approach to Miami International Airport, Florida, killing 101.

    1975 A bomb exploded at La Guardia Airport in New York City, killing 11 people and injuring 74.

    1889 1989 Václav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia – the first non-Communist to attain the post in more than four decades.


    1996  Guatemala and leaders of Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union sign a peace accord ending a 36-year civil war.

  • 1997Hong Kong begins to kill all the nation’s 1.25 million chickens to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.
  • 1998 Leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologised for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed over 1 million.

    2003 The last known speaker of Akkala Sami – died, rendering the language that was spoken in the Sami villages of A´kkel and Ču´kksuâl, in the inland parts of the Kola Peninsula in Russia extinct.

    Sourced from NZ HIstory Online & Wikipedia.



    Fire engines and two helicopters were called to fight a scrub fire near Butchers Dam, a few kilometres from Alexandra, today:

    It looked like it had started near the side of the road:

    Fortunately there wasn’t much wind and the dam was near by to supply water:

    Locals say it is DOC land and they had been concerned about the fire danger from uncontrolled growth on it.

    Vivaldi’s Summer


    Happy Birthday Nigel Kennedy.

    Monday’s Quiz


    1. What was the best Christmas present you’ve ever had?

    2. And the worst?

    3. What’s your favourite Christmas Day menu?

    4. What was your best Christmas?

    5. And the worst?

    December 28 in history


    On December 28:

    1065  Westminster Abbey was consecrated.

    The Abbey's western façade

    1612 Galileo Galilei becomes the first astronomer to observe the planet Neptune, although he mistakenly catalogued it as a fixed star.

    1635  Princess Elizabeth of England

     1768 King Taksin‘s coronation achieved through conquest as a king of Thailand and established Thonburi as a capital.

    1795 Construction of Yonge Street, the longest street in the world, began in York, Upper Canada (present-day Toronto.

     1836 South Australia and Adelaide were founded.

    Flag of  South Australia
  • 1836 – Spain recognised the independence of Mexico.
  • 1856  Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, Nobel laureate, was born.


    1867  United States claims Midway Atoll, the first territory annexed outside Continental limits.

    1879 The Tay Bridge Disaster: The central part of the Tay Rail Bridge in Dundee, Scotland collapses as a train passes over it, killing 75.


    1879 Billy Mitchell, American military aviation pioneer

    Billy Mitchell.jpg

    1895 The Lumière brothers performed for their first paying audience at the Grand Cafe in Boulevard des Capucines marking the debut of the cinema.

    Fratelli Lumiere.jpg

    1908 An earthquake rocks Messina, Sicily killing over 75,000.

    1912 The first municipally owned streetcars take to the streets in San Francisco, California.

    1929  ‘Black Saturday’ in Samoa – the day that New Zealand military police fired on a Mau demonstration in Apia, killing 11 Samoans, including the independence leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III. This led the Mau movement to demand independence for Samoa.

    'Black Saturday' - NZ police open fire in Apia

    1934 Dame Maggie Smith, British actress

    1935 Pravda published a letter by Pavel Postyshev, who revives New Year tree tradition in the Soviet Union.

    1945 The United States Congress officially recognised the Pledge of Allegiance.

     1950 The Peak District became the United Kingdom’s first National Park.

    1953 Richard Clayderman, French pianist, was born.

    1954  Denzel Washington, American actor, was born.

    1956 Nigel Kennedy, British violinist, was born.

    1981 The first American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.

    1989 A magnitude 5.6 earthquake hits Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, killing 13 people.

    1999  Saparmurat Niyazov was proclaimed President for Life in Turkmenistan.

    2007 Nepal declared a federal democratic Republic by interim parliament, abolishing the monarchy.

     Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

    Lili Marleen


    Marlene Dietrich was born on this day in 1901.

    Aquellas pequeñas cosas


    Happy birthday Joan Maneul Serrat.

    Foundations for family Boxing Day tradition laid at St Bathans


    This year an uncle and an aunt died leaving just two of my mother’s seven siblings.

    At my aunt’s funeral my cousins and I discussed how we’d have to work harder to keep in touch now our parents who used to pass on the family news had died.

    Someone suggested a get together on Boxing Day and yesterday three generations gathered at a family crib at St Bathans.

    We pooled Christmas leftovers for lunch, exchanged news, walked a little and laughed lots.

    Before we parted we started making plans for another gathering next year because yesterday’s successlaid the foundation for what we hope will be a family Boxing Day tradition.

    Is there a word . . .


    . . . to describe the act of listing unwanted gifts on Trade Me within hours of receiving them?

    . . .  for what you feel when you come across a listing and realise it’s the gift you chose so carefully?

    . . . and for what you’d feel if you found out that the person who gave you the gift knew you were trying to sell it?

    Some of the givers and recipients of the 5000  unwanted gifts listed on Trade Me so soon after Christmas might need these words today.

    December 27 in history


    On December 27:

    537  The Hagia Sophia was completed.

    Hagia Sophia

    1571 Johannes Kepler, German astronomer, was born.

    1773  George Cayley, English scientist, inventor, and politician, was born.

    1822 Louis Pasteur, French scientist, was born.

    1831 Charles Darwin embarked on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle.

    Charles Darwin
    Three quarter length studio photo showing Darwin's characteristic large forehead and bushy eyebrows with deep set eyes, pug nose and mouth set in a determined look. He is bald on top, with dark hair and long side whiskers but no beard or moustache. His jacket is dark, with very wide lapels, and his trousers are a light check pattern. His shirt has an upright wing collar, and his cravat is tucked into his waistcoat which is a light fine checked=

     1836 The worst ever avalanche in England occured at Lewes, Sussex, killing 8 people.

    1845  Ether anesthetic was used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Williamson Long in Jefferson, Georgia.


    1901 Marlene Dietrich, German actress and singer, was born.

    1915 William Masters, American gynecologist, was born.

    1918 The Great Poland Uprising against the Germans began.

     Soldiers of the Greater Polish Army

    1922  Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō became the first purpose built aircraft carrier to be commissioned in the world.

    Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō

    1932  Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City.

    Radio City Music Hall Factbook.jpgFront facade of the Radio City Music Hall

    1941 Michael Pinder, British musician (Moody Blues), was born.

    1943 Joan Manuel Serrat, Spanish musician, was born.

    1945  The World Bank was created with the signing of an agreement by 28 nations.

    1948 Gérard Depardieu, French actor, was born.

    1949 Indonesian National Revolution: The Netherlands officially recognised Indonesian independence.

    1968 Apollo Program: Apollo 8 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, ending the first orbital manned mission to the Moon.

    1951 Ernesto Zedillo, President of Mexico, was born.

    1955 Brad Murphey, Australian racing driver, was born.

    1978 Spain became a democracy after 40 years of dictatorship.

    1979  Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

    1987 Rewi Alley, friend of China, died of heart failure and cerebral thrombosis at his Beijing residence.

     2001  The People’s Republic of China was granted permanent normal trade relations with the United States.

    2004 Radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reached Earth – the brightest extrasolar event known to have been witnessed on the planet.

    SGR 1806-20 108685main SRB1806 20rev2.jpg This is where SGR 1806-20 would appear in the sky if it were visible to human eyes.

  • 2007 – Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by a suicide bomber.
  • Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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