Word of the day


Cacology – socially unacceptable diction, faulty pronunciation, defective speech, poor choice of words.

Saturday’s smiles


I’ve been a bit slack with Saturday’s smiles this year, but was prompted by this one which is in this week’s edition of  the Ag Letter (a previous edition and details on subscrbing are here).

A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car.

His father said he’d make a deal: ‘You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car.’

The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he’d settle for the offer and shook hands on it.

After about six weeks his father said, ‘Son, you’ve brought your grades up and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.

The boy said, ‘You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair…and there’s even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.’

His father replied, ‘Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?’

Whats the point of:


* patterned loo paper?

* sticky labels on individual pieces of fruit?

* putting a bunch of bananas in a plastic bag?

* mist-free bathroom mirrors – or do some people really want to look at themselves as they get out of the shower?

* locks on the doors of shops which are open 24/7?

* asking how are you? when you don’t know the person you’re questioning and/or have no interest in the answer?

* so much weather during TV news bulletins?

* reporters doing live broadcasts from the scene where something happened hours before?

Whitcoulls: my part in its downfall


Competition from online booksellers is one of the reasons being given for the problems facing the Whitcoulls and Borders bookstore chains.

I have to admit I have played a part in their downfall.

Reading is one of my passions and I buy a lof of books.

If I ever have time to spare when I’m in town or visiting a city I’ll go looking for a bookshop and I rarely come out empty handed.

But in the last couple of years I’ve also bought at least as many books from the online bookstore Fishpond as I have from book shops.

Price isn’t usually the main consideration – there can be savings but most bookshops are pretty competitive. It’s the range of books on offer, the convenience and service which makes buying books online so attractive.

They often have books not available elsewhere. When I was teaching Spanish night classes I found several children’s books, of the same title, in English and Spanish and I’ve bought lots of other books from Fishpond which I haven’t been able to find in shops.

I still love browsing in bookshops. Being able to touch, see and dip into a book which catches my eye will always be preferable to looking at a catalogue online. But if I know the book I’m looking for it’s often easier to get it online than wait until I’m in town with enough time to visit a bookshop.

I was in Dunedin yesterday and called into Whitcoulls. It was busy, as it usually is, and the staff were as efficient and helpful as I’ve always found them. I said to the woman serving me that it must be difficult for her, not knowing if her job was secure.

She replied that the worst thing was not being able to tell the customers what was going to happen because the staff didn’t know.

With staff like that who smile and put the customer first in spite of the uncertain future for their own jobs, there is hope for the company.

Convenient as an online bookstore is, it’s hard to beat face to face service from people who are interested in what they’re selling and care about their customers.



7/10 in the Dominion Post business quiz.

February 19 in history


On February 19:

197 Roman Emperor Septimius Severus defeated usurper Clodius Albinus in the Battle of Lugdunum, the bloodiest battle between Roman armies.

Septimius Severus busto-Musei Capitolini.jpg

1473 Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer, was born (d. 1543).

1594-  Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother Catherine Jagellonica of Poland, Sigismund III of the House of Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden.

1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina exploded in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.

1674 – England and the Netherlands signed the Peace of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfered the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, and it was renamed New York.

1743 Luigi Boccherini, Italian composer, was born  (d. 1805).


1807 Former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr was arrested for treason and confined to Fort Stoddert.

1819 British explorer William Smith discovered the South Shetland Islands, and claimed them in the name of King George III. 

 Williams Point

1847 – The first group of rescuers reached the Donner Party who had been snowbound. Some of the party resorted to cannabilism to survive.

 The Donner Party Memorial

1861 Serfdom was abolished in Russia.

1878 The phonograph was patented by Thomas Edison.

1883 Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu were released.

Release of Parihaka leaders Te Whiti and Tohu

 1884 The Enigma tornado outbreak.

1895 Diego Mazquiarán, Spanish matador, was born  ( d. 1940 ).

1924 Lee Marvin, American actor, was born (d. 1987).


1936 Sam Myers, American musician and songwriter, was born (d. 2006).

1938 Twenty men and one woman were drowned when a sudden cloudburst sent a wall of water surging through a public works camp at Kopuawhara, near Mahia. This was New Zealand’s deadliest 20th-century flood.

21 drown in Kopuawhara flash flood

1940 Smokey Robinson, American singer, was born.

 1942 Nearly 250 Japanese warplanes attacked Darwin killing 243 people.

Darwin 42.jpg

1942 –President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order 9066′, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese-Americans to Japanese internment camps.


1943 Battle of the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia began.

Kasserine Pass.jpg

1945 Battle of Iwo Jima – about 30,000 United States Marines landed on Iwo Jima.

37mm Gun fires against cave positions at Iwo Jima.jpg

1947 Tim Shadbolt, mayor of Invercargill, New Zealand, was born.

1949 – Ezra Pound was awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

1952 Amy Tan, American novelist, was born.

1953 Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the United States.

1958 Helen Fielding, English writer, was born.

1959 – The United Kingdom granted Cyprus its independence.

1960  Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was born.

1963 – The publication of Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique launched the reawakening of the Feminist Movement in the United States as women’s organisations and consciousness-raising groups spread.


1972 The Asama-Sansō hostage standoff began in Japan.

1976 Executive Order 9066 was rescinded by President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417

1978 Egyptian forces raid Larnaca International Airport, in an attempt to intervene in a hijacking situation, without authorisation from the Republic of Cyprus authorities. The Cypriot National Guard and Police forces kill 15 Egyptian commandos and destroy the Egyptian C-130 transport plane in open combat.

1985 William J. Schroeder became the first Artificial heart recipient to leave hospital.

1985 – Iberia Airlines Boeing 727 crashed into Mount Oiz in Spain, killing 148.

1986 Akkaraipattu massacre, massacre of 80 Tamil farm workers by the Sri Lankan Army in the eastern province of Sri Lanka.

1986 – The Soviet Union launched its Mir spacecraft.

1999 – President Bill Clinton issued a posthumous pardon for U.S. Army Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper.

Cadet Henry O. Flipper in his West Point cadet uniform. It has three large round brass buttons left, middle and right showing five rows. The buttons are interconnected left to right and vice-versa by decorative thread. He is wearing a starched white collar and no tie. He is a lighter colored African-American with plated corn rows of neatly done hair. He is facing the camera and looking to the left of the viewer.

2001 An Oklahoma City bombing museum was dedicated at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

A panoramic view of the memorial. In the center is a large stone structure shaped as a gate with "9:03" at the top. At the center of the gate is a large hole and through it a road can be seen. The Regency Towers building is visible on the right of the image in the background. The gate is reflecting in a pool of water in front of it, and grass and trees are visible to the left and right of the pool. 

2001 Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of a “lifetime of service to humanity”.

2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe started to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.

2001 mars odyssey wizja.jpg

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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