Word of the day

January 4, 2014

Sclerotic – hard, rigid; slow to adapt or respond; becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing the ability to adapt; of or having sclerosis, an abnormal hardening of a tissue or part; anatomy Of or relating to the sclera – the white fibrous outer layer of the eyeball.


Internet outage three days and counting

January 4, 2014

We got home after a few days in Wanaka late this afternoon to find we had no internet.

I turned everything off, waited a few minutes and turned it all on again but we still had no connection.

That being the limit of my self-help repertoire, I phoned the Telecom help desk.

The call was answered by a real person in a very few seconds.

I explained the problem, she ascertained that there was no connection, looked further then said there was an outage in our area.

It had happened on the second, three days ago, and they’d received about 20 calls like mine. Chorus would be fixing it but they had no updates on progress and no knowledge of when service would be restored.

I’m using a T-stick with a laptop which is adequate for my needs, albeit slower than the broadband connection which isn’t working.

But our office staff will be back at work tomorrow and it’s very difficult to run the business on a single T-stick.

It would be good to have the problem fixed and until it is, communication on when it will be, would be appreciated.

The internet is a vital tool for business in the 21st century.

An outage lasting three days – and counting  – with no updates is unacceptable.


Phil Everly: 19.1.39 – 3.1.14

January 4, 2014

Phil Everly of the Everly brothers, has died.


Rural round-up

January 4, 2014

MP: Tractor protest well worth it – Sue O’Dowd:

The retiring politician who once drove a tractor up the steps of Parliament would do it all again.

Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern famously gunned the tractor called Myrtle up Parliament’s steps in a 2003 protest against the Labour Government’s proposed flatulence tax on ruminants. It was later described as the single most effective protest in scuttling what was deemed an idiotic proposal.

Today Ardern is still incensed the Government sacked eminent ruminant scientists conducting research into harnessing methane emission to improve production, even as it was proposing to tax those emissions.

“The scientists were working on something that would potentially overcome the problem, but the Labour Government sacked them because it wanted to introduce a tax on the productive sector that drives the economy of New Zealand.

“It was a lie and it still is a lie. [The proposed tax] was nothing to do with environmental problems. It was about getting extra revenue from the productive sector and it was about wealth redistribution. . .

Fonterra scare could have been prevented– Catherine Harris:

The botched Fonterra botulism scare in August last year might have been prevented if an independent food safety centre had existed, a top toxicologist says.

Professor Ian Shaw, of the University of Canterbury, is among those to welcome the idea of a $5 million food safety centre, which was recommended last month by a government inquiry into New Zealand’s food safety systems.

Shaw, who has chaired a food safety body in the UK, said the Government’s proposal was “a bloody good idea”.

If there had been a food safety centre in place when the Fonterra scare occurred, the test results might have been known more quickly and the false alarm possibly avoided, he said. . .

Sheep injures man:

A man has been airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital with serious chest injuries after being ‘‘rammed’’ by a sheep on a farm north of Hunterville.

Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter pilot Lance Burns said the man did not appear to have been trampled but had obviously been headbutted relatively hard by the sheep.

It was thought he was in a pen with the sheep at the time of the incident.

He stabilised by St John paramedics on board the rescue helicopter and arrived at Palmerston North Hospital in a serious condition. . .

DOC targets rats to help save struggling bats – Neil Ratley:

The Department of Conservation is going in to bat for a critically endangered mammal species in Fiordland.

A low count of long-tailed bats in the Kepler Mountains is prompting DOC to design and undertake rat control to protect the rare species.

The rat control will emulate that undertaken by DOC in the Eglington Valley, the only other known long-tailed bat habitat in Fiordland.

There was excitement surrounding the discovery of the long-tailed bat colony near the Kepler track in December 2011, with DOC staff estimating the population was close to 70. . .

The Myth About Seed Choice – Foodie Farmer:

I recently had a twitter conversation on a topic that seemed to perpetuate an urban myth – that farmers do not have a choice when it comes to planting seed or that seed companies “impose” their seeds on farmers, as if it is a dictatorship… Last time I checked, America was a pretty free country. Most people are able to make choices on what they buy at the store… So why would that be different for farmers?

As a family farm, we grow both GMO (we don’t actually use this term but for the sake of this blog, am using it for the reader for whom it may be a descriptor) and non-GMO crops and choose our seed produced from a variety of different seed companies, buying directly from our neighbors, which frankly, is the whole point of the fabric of rural America. We support one another. . .

Donkey meat contamination scare in China’s Walmart – Horsetalk:

Several Walmart outlets in China have withdrawn “five-spice donkey meat” after tests revealed the presence of fox meat.

The company is helping authorities in eastern Shandong province investigate the Chinese supplier.

Walmart confirmed it found traces of DNA from animals other than donkey after testing the product. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration had been reported as saying the product contained fox meat. . .


Saturday’s smiles

January 4, 2014

An American was holidaying on his own in Ireland.

He decided to play a round of golf and was partnered with some locals.

He took a few practice swings, stepped up to the first tee, and hooked the ball out of bounds. He shook his head, reached in his pocket, and re-teed another ball. He told his playing partners that he was taking a Mulligan.

He pounded that one down the centre of the fairway nearly 300 metres.

With a big smile, he said, “In the U.S., we call that a Mulligan; was wondering what you called it here in Ireland.”

After a moment of silence, one of the locals replied, “Hitting three.”


Coddled kids set up for failure

January 4, 2014

One of the strongest influences on my parenting was a business seminar on four quadrant leadership taken by Australian behavioural scientist Wilfred Jarvis.

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The quadrants referred to a graph with the employers’ control on the horizontal line and the employees’ skills and ability on the vertical one.

The first quadrant was at the bottom right where the employer had total control and the employee little or no skill. That was I’m in charge and I decide.

The next quadrant moved to the left and up as the employee developed some skill and the employer had less control. That was we’ll discuss and I’ll decide.

The third quadrant moved further to the left and up as the employee’s skill improved and the employer’s control lessened. That was we’ll discuss and we’ll decide.

The fourth quadrant was at the top left with the employee having all the skill required and the employer relinquished any control. That was you’re on your own, but I’m here if you need to consult.

This idea was just as useful in parenting as business.

Putting it into practice meant helping children develop their skills and giving them opportunities to learn and experiment. This let them experience the rewards of succeeding by themselves as well as learning to deal with failure. It fostered confidence, independence and resilience.

I was reminded of this when I read about these coddled kids:

Computer games, junk food, political correctness and apathetic parents are inhibiting Kiwi kids’ development, says physical educator Lee Corlett.

He has seen children cry because the grass on their school field hurts their bare feet, and kids who are so obese that they can’t get up off the ground without help.

“This is what our parents are doing to some of our children. It’s tragic, it’s awful,” he said.

It sounds like parental neglect at best and a form of abuse at worst.

Mr Corlett, of Sporting Initiative Nelson, every week teaches hundreds of Nelson children to “run, jump, throw, hop, skip, and catch, really well”.

He adores his job but says he is dismayed by many Nelson youngsters’ lack of physical skills and confidence, which he said were standard 20 years ago, before “PC gone nuts”.

“School teachers don’t have time any more, and mums and dads don’t have time any more.

“My job is to try and create a habit in the child’s mind that physical activity is real cool. And the hope is that will stay there for the rest of their lives.

“The physically capable children we are working with in Nelson tend to be the more academically capable child later on. That’s cool,” Mr Corlett said.

But parental apathy, and a lack of appreciation of the importance of physical activity for a child’s development, is affecting children’s attitudes toward exercise, something Mr Corlett fears will stay with them their entire lives.

“I’ll go to the park down the street from our house and I’ll see mum sitting there with her children. While they are playing, mum’s busy on the cellphone. There’s no interaction. It’s really sad.”

My parents and their generation didn’t do a lot with their children, they were too busy working. But they did encourage us to do things for ourselves and gave us the freedom to play outside where we ran, biked, climbed, indulged in rough and tumble and explored.

When our parents did have time to take us the beach, river or playground they might have chatted to other parents but they also watched and interacted with us.

Lazy parenting also affected a child’s work ethic, he said.

“Lots of New Zealand children don’t have any perseverance. Lots of things are done by mum and dad, because it’s quicker for mum to do it than for Johnny to learn to tie up his laces.”

However, children didn’t learn anything that way, other than reliance on their parents, Mr Corlett said.

It is often easier in the short term to do things for children but that sets them up for dependence and other problems in the longer term.

He said his programme encouraged kids to get stuck into physical activities and to push themselves further than they otherwise would, in a safe and supported environment.

“We’ll tell them why we do [an activity], and how it will help them later in life with sport or whatever. And we don’t give the option of not doing it. I will help them until they get it.”

He is imploring parents to do the same, so they can take an active role in their child’s physical development.

Five minutes a day of activities was all it took, he said. Parents should also allow their children to experiment, to go outside their comfort zones and perhaps their parents’ comfort zones. “If they climb a tree, let them climb a tree. It’s a good thing.”

It was also essential to create a balanced lifestyle, he said, “making art a part of their lives, physical activity a part of their lives, and, of course, schoolwork a part of their lives”.

Four traits were common indicators that a child would succeed later in life, Mr Corlett said.

“Confidence, perseverance, a ‘give anything a go’ attitude, and listening well. It’s all about attitude, and so much of that comes from parents.” . .

Parenting takes time and requires a degree of selflessness but the more you put into helping them learn for themselves when they’re younger, the more able they are to do things by themselves as they grow older.

Good parenting gives children the skills and confidence to succeed independently.

Coddling kids sets them up for failure.


Key to be US president for day

January 4, 2014

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is to be US president for a day after winning a game of golf against Barack Obama.

President Obama said they’d agreed to a wager with the winner taking on running the loser’s country for a day to add a bit of interest to the game played in Hawaii yesterday.

“We haven’t decided which day it is to be yet, but I’m looking forward to having a real break from the responsibility of running the USA and I am confident it will be in safe hands,” the President said.

“I’d hoped John would agree to bring Bill English with him so we could get the benefit of both of them, but John said Bill would have to look after New Zealand that day.”

Mr Key said he was looking forward to the experience.

“I realise that the USA is a bit bigger than New Zealand but I’m pretty relaxed about the challenge,” he said.


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