Word of the day


Cingular – of or pertaining to a cingulum, an anatomical band or girdle on an animal or plant; encircling, girdling, surrounding.



Marty Morgan, M&M, to his friends has the usual teenage problems plus a brain that doesn’t work the same way others’ do.

He finds it hard to read people and understand figures of speech; his fine motor and organisational skills are poor; and while he’s good at maths he struggles with all other subjects at school.

He has only one real friend, Luke – known as Legless though he does have one and a half legs. Then there’s Francessca with whom he’d like to be more than friends and his mother who’s going for a three month trip overseas without reservations and without his father’s whole-hearted support.

Luke ropes Marty into his team for the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) where his ability to crochet becomes not only handy but a necessary part of the resulting business venture.

I was hooked from the first page and put the book down with great reluctance when I absolutely had to.

The characters are believable and the plot is entertaining with several serious threads woven through it.

The book is aimed at teenagers but like all good young-adult fiction will be enjoyed by older readers too. It could be of particular interest to anyone with experience of people with autistic spectrum disorders.


Yes by Deborah Burnside, published by Harper Collins.

Thursday’s quiz


1. How’s the weather been where you are?

2. What’s your favourite form of relaxation?

3. It’s relaxer in French, rilassare in Italian, relajar in Spanish and whakatā in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What new/different/interesting thing did you do last year?

5. Have you made any resolutions for this year?

North soaked, south parched


While the north has had an excess of wet weather and holiday makers in the southern South Island have been enjoying the sun, farmers in Southland are desperate for rain.

The lush Southland landscape is rapidly turning lifeless and brown.

Dairy farmers are using their winter feed as summer crops fail to sprout, water deliveries to homes are increasing, river levels are dropping and volunteers are rescuing trapped trout as ponds dry out.

As some Southlanders anxiously wait for rain, they have had to take drastic measures to keep their farms and homes running, and as the prospect of rain looks bleak, some farmers have started to panic.

When you’re used to stretches of weeks, sometimes months, without significant rainfalls as we are in North Otago, it is easy to think the Southlanders are over-reacting.

But if you depend on frequent rain as they do there, relatively short stretches of dry weather is as serious as far longer dry spells for us.

Competition helps healing


Competition can be good for all sorts of things, including healing:

Mr Cullen says the new surgical unit won’t require additional funding because of productivity gains and waste minimisation.

He says, for example, a pilot project has reduced by 40% percent the average length of stay in hospital.

This was achieved, he says, by putting patients who have had their operation on the same day together in the same room.

“So there’s a little bit of competition as to who’s best and does their exercises best and therefore who goes home earliest.”

So simple, so sensible.

Wharfies can’t win this one


Wharfies used to be renowned for industrial action designed to cause maximum disruption to their employers and the public whether or not it accomplished anything.

The on-going strikes on the Auckland waterfront shows some are still stuck back in those bad-old days but it is a battle they can’t win.

The workers appear to be very well-paid for what isn’t generally highly skilled work:

The  average annual wage of an Auckland wharfie is about  $91,480 – reportedly for a 26-hour week, employees and their  families get free medical insurance, and three weeks sick  leave entitlement is written into contracts. They also get  five weeks annual leave.

And the POA offer is not ungenerous:

They include a 10 per cent increase in the hourly rate, performance bonuses of up to 20 per cent, retention of existing benefits and provisions, and “full operational flexibility for Ports of Auckland”. No doubt the last is causing unionists most angst. It would allow port management, not them, to manage the business.

Added costs on the waterfront mean higher costs for exports and imports. The country couldn’t afford that in good times and it certainly can’t afford it when so much of the world is mired in recession.

Other ports have workers who have moved into the 21st century ready and are willing to pick up any business lost from Auckland.

Last month the port lost Maresk’s business to Tauranga and yesterday Fonterra announced it would shift its $27m weekly trade  to Tauranga and Napier.

Auckland’s loss is Tauranaga’s gain. Port of Tauranga stocks rose 1.5 percent to $10.10, its highest ever close after news that Fonterra was moving its business from Auckland.

January 5 in history


1355 – Charles I of Bohemia was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in Milan.

1477 – Battle of Nancy: Charles the Bold was killed and Burgundy became part of France. 

1500 – Duke Ludovico Sforza conquered Milan.

1527 – Felix Manz, a leader of the Anabaptist congregation in Zürich, was executed by drowning.

1554 – A great fire started in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

1675 – Battle of Colmar: the French army beat Brandenburg.

1757 – Louis XV of France survived an assassination attempt by Robert–François Damiens, the last person to be executed in France by drawing and quartering, the traditional form of capital punishment used for regicides.

1759 George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis.

1767 Jean-Baptiste Say, French economist, originator of Say’s Law, was born  (d. 1832).

1834 William John Wills, English explorer of Australia, member of the Burke and Wills expedition, was born (d. 1861).

1889 – Preston North End was declared winner of the original football league.

1896 – An Austrian newspaper reported that Wilhelm Roentgen had discovered a type of radiation later known as X-rays.

1903  Harold Gatty, Australian aviator, navigator with Wiley Post, was born (d. 1957).

1910  Jack Lovelock, New Zealand athlete, was born (d. 1949).

1914 – The Ford Motor Company announced an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage of $5 for a day’s labour.

1917  Jane Wyman, American actress, was born  (d. 2007).

1918 – The Free Committee for a German Workers Peace, which became the Nazi party, was founded.

1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first female governor in the United States.

1932 Umberto Eco, Italian writer, was born.

1933 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began in San Francisco Bay.

1938 King Juan Carlos I of Spain, was born.

1940 – FM radio was demonstrated to the FCC  for the first time.

1940 Athol Guy, Australian singer, member of The Seekers, was born.

1943 Justice Mary Gaudron, first female judge of the High Court of Australia, was born.
1944 – The Daily Mail became the first transoceanic newspaper.
1946 Diane Keaton, American actress, was born.
1950 Chris Stein, American guitarist (Blondie), was born.
1960 Phil Thornalley, English bass guitarist (The Cure), was born.

1968 – Alexander Dubček came to power: “Prague Spring” began in Czechoslovakia.

1969  Marilyn Manson, American singer, was born.

1973 Phil Joel, New Zealand bassist (Newsboys), was born.

1974 – Warmest reliably measured temperature in Antarctica of +59°F (+15°C) recorded at Vanda Station.

1976 – Cambodia was renamed Democratic Kampuchea by the Khmer Rouge.

1977 The occupation of Bastion Point started.

Occupation of Bastion Point begins

1993 – The oil tanker MV Braer ran aground on the coast of the Shetland Islands, spilling 84,700 tons of crude oil.

1993 – Washington state executed Westley Allan Dodd by hanging (the last legal hanging in America).

2005 – Eris, the largest known dwarf planet in the solar system, was discovered by the team of Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David L. Rabinowitz using images originally taken on October 21, 2003, at the Palomar Observatory.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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