Word of the day


Handsel –  gift to express goodwill at start of new year or enterprise; a first insallment or payment;  inaugural gift; a speciman or foretaste of what’s to come.

Friday’s answers


Thursday’s questions were:

1. Where did you used to go for summer holidays when you were a child?

2. Where do you go now?

3. Name three things you wouldn’t choose to holiday without.

4. Where would you suggest tourists eat if visiting your home  town/region?

5.  If you could choose any time of year to have a holiday when would it be?

There were no wrong answers so Zen, Ray & Adam  win a bag of electronic cherries and Zen gets a bonus for going the extra mile in answering before the questions were posed.

My answers:

1. My family used to stay home and take picnics to the river (Gemmell’s Crossing or Clifton Falls) when I was at primary school, when I got to intermediate I started going to Wanaka with my best friend.

2. Home and Wanaka.

3. My farmer, lots of books, a clean loo.

4. Fleur’s Place and Riverstone Kitchen.

5.  February if holidaying in New Zealand, any time from late May to late August if going overseas.

Charlie Gibson 19.8.55 – 23.12.10


One of the people who gave a eulogy at Charlie Gibson’s funeral yesterday noted how appropriate it was that the photo on the order of service showed him with his sleeves rolled up.

That was how she remembered him literally and figuratively ready to get stuck in.

Another of those delivering a tribute to Charlie said four f words were important to him – family, friends, farming and fun.

He always wanted to be a farmer but his father made him do an apprenticeship when he left school. Charlie completed that then returned home to the land he loved.

From the start Charlie was active in the community – holding offices in Young Farmers, serving on the hall, water scheme, home and school and swimming club committees. His wasn’t just token memberhsip. If there was something to be done Charlie was rolling up his sleeves to do it – from helping to build an adventure playground to deputising for Father Christmas at the break up.

Some time after the news that Charlie had terminal cancer had made its way round the grapevine I came upon him taking sheep down the road. We rolled down our windows and he asked me how I was. I said I was fine and did he want me to ask the same of him?

He replied with his trademark grin and said, “I’m great, every day is a blessing.”

We called on him 12 days ago. He was in bed but still grinning, open about his future and at peace with it.

He leaves a wife, daughter, wider family and many friends who will miss him and he leaves a big hole in our neighbourhood.

Kitchen Dame’s well deserved honour


There would be very few kitchens in the country which doesn’t have at least one of Alison Holst’s recipe books.

She is now a Dame in well deserved recognition to her services to the food industry and charity.

Her honour citation describes her as ”one of New Zealand’s best-known food experts”.

She is also being honoured for her charity work, having raised more than $4 million for schools, churches, Plunket groups, kindergartens and playcentres, mostly through cooking demonstrations which have drawn crowds of up to 700 people.

Since she published her first cookery book in 1966, more than four million copies of her books have been sold.

She has continued to encourage young parents to cook ”healthy and reasonably-priced family meals” and still advocates for ”strong family values through a shared appreciation of food”, the citation says.

”She has been a positive role model to New Zealand families for more than 40 years,” it says.

If there are few kitchens in New Zealand without an Alison Holst recipe book I doubt there’s any farms without a Gallagher fence. The company’s principal, Bill Gallagher, receives a knighthood for services to business.

Others in the New Years Honours List are high country advocate, business woman and philanthropist Christine Fernyhough for services to the community and former Director General of Agriculture Murray Sherwin who both get a CNZM.

Michael Hill receives a knighthood for services to business and the arts.

Dr Keith Maslen, who tutored me at Otago, receives an ONZM for services to literature and bibliography.

One of the more controversial recipeints is Garth George who has been awarded a MNZM for services to journalism.

Tough love needed for tough cases


If parents don’t equip their children to do their children to do their best and prepare them for independence, even if it needs a bit of tough love at times, they fail them.

Yet when a political party suggests measures to encourage people off benefits so they can be independent they’re accused of beneficiary bashing.

A relatively few people have physical, mental or intellectual disabilities which prevent them from ever being independent and few begrudge them state support.

Most other people who require benefits do so only temporarily due to circumstances beyond their control. Once they get over the problem they are able to support themselves again.

Some of the rest need help to become job ready. That isn’t usually either cheap or easy but it’s better in the long run for them and society as a whole than letting them languish on benefits.

With a few the problem isn’t that they can’t work, it’s that they won’t. They’re the tough cases and they need tough love.

If the state doesn’t all it can to help those who need it to be independent, which might require both carrot and stick,  it is failing not only them but the taxpayers who have to support them.

December 31 in history


On December 31:

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

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

1491 – Jacques Cartier, French explorer, was born (d. 1557)

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.

1720 Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the British throne, was born  (d. 1788).

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, as the capital of Canada.
1869 Henri Matisse, French painter, was born (d. 1954).
1878  Elizabeth Arden, Canadian businesswoman, was born (d. 1966).

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

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

1908  Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian Holocaust survivor, was born (d. 2005).

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.

1941 – Sir Alex Ferguson, Scottish football manager, was born.

Sir Alex Ferguson

1943 John Denver, American singer and songwriter, was born (d. 1997).

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.

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, All Black captain, was born.

Richie McCaw

1983 – The AT&T Bell System was 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 handed 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).


2007 –  Bocaue Fire: Seven people were injured when a fire resulted in the explosion of several fireworks stores in Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Word of the day


Bibacious – overly fond or addicted to drinking.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Where did you used to go for summer holidays when you were a child?

2. Where do you go now?

3. Name three things you wouldn’t choose to holiday without.

4. Where would you suggest tourists eat if visiting your home  town/region?

5.  If you could choose any time of year to have a holiday when would it be?

Seeing what you want to see


The reaction to Chris Trotter’s  The Incredible Lightness of Being John Key is a telling illustration of how we see what we want to see.

Those of us on the right, like Kiwiblog, saw the positives while on the left people who’ve responded with comments and Deborah’s post at In A Strangeland  show the negatives.

Like most of Chris’s works, it’s a masterful piece of writing which can be read in many ways. The reaction shows that most of us who are politically aligned tend to have our prejudices confirmed in what we see, hear and experience.

That is why the political centre is so crowded.

That’s where most of the swinging voters are. Gaining their support is less difficult than trying to change the minds of people whose allegiance is confirmed or those whose views tend more towards the outer reaches of the political spectrum.

Guide book in your phone – yes please


A Dunedin company has developed technology to turn smartphones into mobile tourist information guides.

Smartphone applications represented the most exciting possibilities for the fast moving tourism industry since the introduction of maps and guidebooks, AA Tourism online general manager Roger Slater said.

At the forefront of this technology was Dunedin company iVisit, which has spent nearly a year creating the smartphone application XplrNZ.

The iPhone application, which will be available on Android smartphones early next year, features interactive maps of New Zealand and an accommodation search and booking system.

Social media also offered the chance for travellers to offer their own tips and reviews of places they had visited, iVisit chief executive Pierre-Emmanuel Perruchot de La Bussiere (25) said.

“While not everyone has smartphones, this is certainly changing,” he said.

The free application used GPS and cellphone positioning to ascertain area-specific information and the ability to offer special deals for that locality.

More than 5000 AA Tourism clients were listed on the application, which cost in the “tens of thousands” to set up, but would be recouped in the first few years with more businesses paying to list their details, he said.

Guide books are good but not user-friendly. They are almost always weighty, deteriorate with use and can’t keep up to date with changes.

A smart phone application weighs nothing, won’t deteriorate and will be easily updated.

This time last year I had no idea what a smart phone application was – I wonder what we’ll be doing with our phones a year from now?

December 30 in history


On December 30:

39  Titus, Roman emperor was born  (d. 81).

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 (d. 1936).


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


1919 – Lincoln’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.

1928 – Bo Diddley, American singer and musician, was born (d. 2008).

1931  Skeeter Davis, American singer, was born  (d. 2004) .

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

1940 California opened its first freeway the Arroyo Seco Parkway.


1942 – Michael Nesmith, American singer and musician (The Monkees) was born.


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.

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.

2009 – The last roll of Kodachrome film was developed by Dwayne’s Photo, the only remaining Kodachrome processor at the time, concluding the film’s 74-year run as a photography icon.

Kodachrome box.JPG

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Word of the day


Galimatias – meaningless talk, gibberish, nonsense, confused mix of unrelated things.

Tuesday’s poem invites


This Tuesday’s poem  invites entries for the Caselberg Trust’s inaugural competition.

Among the poems linked in the sidebar which caught my attention are:

Innocent’s Song by Charles Causley.

Bouquet of Dead Flowers by David Eggleton.

Near Morning by Melissa Green.

For Thomas on His First Birthday by Andrew Ball.

 House by Renee Liang.

Denis Dutton has died


Philosophy professor, internet entrepreneur and media commentator Denis Dutton died yesterday.

The announcement of his death in Arts and Letters Daily which he founded has resulted in  tributes  from readers.

Blake Eskin wrote in the New Yorker:

Through Arts & Letters Daily, Denis helped prove that the Web could be a platform not only for fast-paced celebrity gossip and pictures of cute animals but for long and serious writing and the exchange of complex ideas. Denis died today, but his site and his vision will endure.

Although best known for ALD, Dutton also founded New Zealand Skeptics – the NZ committee for the scientific investigation of claims of the paranormal.

I knew him only through his voice on the radio and writing in papers and on the internet. In all of those media he came across as  an intelligent, articulate man who was passionate about his beliefs, including public radio.

Money is democratic


Quote of the week from Chris Trotter:

Strangely, we don’t seem to mind if our leaders are richer than we are. Money, after all, is a wonderfully democratic thing. With sufficient hard work (and just a little bit of luck) just about anybody can become rich.

He was writing about John Key in such a way that I am going to resist the temptation to quote more and suggest you follow the link above to read it all yourself.

Update: The column is now at Bowalley Road too.

Far too much weather this year


With droughts, floods, hail and snow there’s been altogether too much weather this year.

North Otago wasn’t as hard hit as many other areas, but it was bad enough.

We had only about half our normal rainfall in the year to the end of March, a few showers in autumn then more than half the annual average fell in three days in May.

It kept raining off and on through winter but then it stopped and didn’t start again. By last week we had only one wish for Christmas – a decent rain.

We got it on Monday – more than 30 mls which was enough without being too much.

Holiday makers wouldn’t have found it as welcome as farmers did and further north there was far too much for everyone:

Farmer Paul Storer said the flooding on the farm, which he estimated to be between one and six metres deep at different points, was “within six inches” of the farmhouse.

The house had also lost part of its roof, and water was flowing in.

“We’re absolutely stranded. We can’t go anywhere. We just have to sit tight.

“I’m just watching half a ton of baleage floating past the house – that’s how much water we’ve got.”

The worst of the rain came overnight, and he had not slept, he said. He moved all his cows to the cowshed at 5am.

“They’re all sitting in the cowshed together in about a metre of water.”

Mr Storer said five other neighbours on his side of the river faced similar conditions.

“It’s ruined our season. The whole farm will be silted up. All the food I’ve got stacked up will be ruined. And it’ll take out all the fences as it goes through.”

Some have lost stock too:

Federated Farmers’ Golden Bay president, Graham Ball, said several farms lost much of their herds. One farmer lost 100 heifers and another lost 70 cows.

Mr Ball said power has been lost to the valley for up to two days, creating animal welfare problems for cows that cannot be milked.

Looking back on the good, bad and ugly of the year the weather has definitely been in the latter category. Dare we hope that next year will be better?

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 (d. 1764).

Madame de Pompadour, portrait by François Boucher.

1800 Charles Goodyear, American inventor, was born (d. 1860).


1809 William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born  (d. 1898).

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

1876 The Ashtabula River Railroad bridge disaster left 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 introduced the Two-Nation Theory and outlines a vision for the creation of Pakistan.

1936  Mary Tyler Moore, American actress was born.

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) crashed on approach to Miami International Airport 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 signed a peace accord ending a 36-year civil war.

1997 – Hong Kong began 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.

Word of the day


Worsification – the composition of bad poetry.

Source: Phrontistery

Signs of summer


We don’t get pohutukawa trees this far south but one of the harbingers of summer is the blooming of the cabbage trees.

They’ve been particularly exuberant this year.

Heavy braking best with ABS


An Automobile Association survey shows nearly 60% of people who have anti-locking braking systems don’t know how to use them.

However, road safety consultant Peter Sheppard says the number who don’t know how to use ABS brakes, is even higher than the AA survey, at 69%.

Both Mr Sheppard and the AA say that if everyone who has ABS, knew how to use it properly, that would save lives.

When I was taught to drive I was told not to jump on the brake pedal in an emergency but to pump it to avoid locking the brakes and skidding.

However, after listening to the audio on the link above I’ve leaned that isn’t the way to make an emergency stop in a car with ABS brakes. Contrary to what I was taught, you’re supposed to hit the brakes hard and let the electronics take over.

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