Word of the day


Cordate – heart-shaped.; having a heart-shaped out-line.

Are you feeling Christmasy?


“Are you ready for Christmas?” people keep asking.

The short answer is sort of.

The long answer is that our family keep it simple – summer food and simple fun with no gifts for adults so there shouldn’t be a lot extra to do.

But we’ll be having 20ish adults and half a dozen little people at home for lunch tomorrow. That does require some forethought and preparation and there are still a few things on my to-do list.

“Are you feeling Christmasy?” people have been asking.

And the answer until today has been not really.

There used to be just Christmas, Easter and a very few other special events and occasions in a year. Now it seems there’s some celebration of happening every week, if not more often and there’s a temptation to let that take away the anticipatory excitement.

However, now I’ve got carols playing in the background, the first pavlova in the oven, the cake waiting to be iced and I’m looking forward to carols by candlelight this evening.

I’ve also got the knowledge that once more I can count my blessings, including having family and friends with whom to celebrate another Christmas in good health and happiness.

So yes, I’m feeling Christmasy and hope you are too.

May the joy and blessings of Christmas be with you and may 2015 be kind to you and yours.

Rural round-up


The winding path for agri-food – Keith Woodford:

With another year winding down, it is time to reflect on how well the agri-food industries have been travelling, and to look forward to what the next twelve months might bring.

2014 will be the remembered as the year that the dairy industry started on the super highway but then hit a pot hole. Many in the industry expected a slow-down, but most have been surprised by the depth of the hole. It is also the year when the dairy industry began to recognise the full extent of the nitrogen leaching challenge.

For beef, 2014 was the best farming year there has ever been, and for sheep farmers it was also a positive year. The kiwifruit recovery gained momentum, and the wine industry moved forward. These outcomes have all occurred despite an exchange rate that for much of the year was at record highs. . . .

Landcorp seeks to fatten sheep returns through wool deal, milk – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, is moving on two fronts to expand the money it makes from sheep, signing a three-year contract with NZ Merino to manage its entire wool clip and planning a trial of milking some of the flock.

The state-owned enterprise indicated last July it was taking a serious look at milking sheep as a way of getting a third income, along with meat and wool, from its flock.

Chief executive Steve Carden said while milking sheep is common offshore, most of it is consumed domestically and there is no real international player. Landcorp has been investigating establishing a premium, niche sheep milk brand from the 370,000 ewes it farms. . .

Venison companies working together:

The venison exporter and processor, Duncan and Co is hoping it will soon join other companies whose plants have been certified to supply venison to China.

This year seven venison processing plants received approval to export to China, which was a new market for New Zealand farmed deer meat.

Duncan and Co’s general marketing manager Glenn Tyrrell said it was hoping its plants would also be cleared for China in the new year.

And it was working with four other companies on a joint marketing project. . .

Avocado industry waits for China clearance:

The New Zealand avocado industry is waiting for clearance to export to China, as it expands its trade into Asian markets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries was negotiating an access agreement for China and avocados are at the top of its priority list for horticultural products.

Chief executive of New Zealand Avocado Jen Scoular said only Chile and Mexico had access to China for the fruit.

But she said avocado industry representatives attended a fruit and vegetable fair in Beijing last month, where Chinese officials indicated they saw no technical reasons why New Zealand should not be granted access as well. . .

Gibbston Valley Winery launches full-service bike centre to cater for growing demand:

Award-winning Gibbston Valley Winery is adding to the experiences that locals and visitors can enjoy at the winery with the opening of a new on-site bike centre.

Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt said the centre was the next stage in the company’s continued expansion, enabling them to cater to the growing demand for cycling facilities in the region and grow its biking product while also showcasing award-winning wine and food.

“Located across from the beautiful Kawarau River and next to Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort, our new biking centre gives people convenient access to some of the top biking trails in Queenstown and a premium Central Otago wine and food experience,” said Mr Hunt. . .

Silver Fern Farms Confirms Audited Result:

Silver Fern Farms has bounced back to profit and reduced debt for the 2014 year.

The co-operative is reporting a net profit before tax for the year of $1.8 million, a $38.3 million improvement on the 2013 season. Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the cost of debt servicing to the company.

Chairman Rob Hewett says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be heartened to see audited confirmation of the turnaround in profitability. . . 

Sealord nets a profit and pays dividend:

Sealord Group Ltd has reported a net profit after tax of NZD$25.4 million for its financial year ending 30th September 2014.

The result marks a return to profit for the Group following the exit from its Argentine fishing investment the previous year.

The result has enabled Sealord to declare a dividend of NZD $10.5 million to its shareholders.

Company revenues of NZD $448 million were slightly lower on the previous year due to unfavourable foreign exchange movements.

According to Chairman Matanuku Mahuika, the result represents a significant turnaround from the previous year. . .

Jeremy Lloyd 22.7.30 – 22.12.14


We recognise the names and faces of those who star in popular shows but rarely think about or even know the names of those who write them.

Phrases like good moaning and  listen very carefully, I shall say this only once are part of the popular lexicon.

But only today, on the news of his death did I know the name Jeremy Lloyd, who created ‘Allo ‘Allo . Nor did I know he was the writer behind Are You Being Served too.

Worst words


Conscious Uncoupling is the Plain English Foundation’s worst word of the year:

Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin used the phrase earlier this year when announcing they were separating.

“Why do celebrities play these kind of dress ups with the language?” asked Dr Neil James of the Plain English Foundation. “There are perfectly good words for what the couple went through: ‘separation’ or ‘divorce’. It isn’t any less painful for putting a New Age gloss over it.”

Each year, the Plain English Foundation collects dozens of examples of doublespeak, jargon and fancy pants language. Staff then vote on the shortlist and winner.

2014 year was a particularly notable year for euphemism and spin.

One corporation described a mine fire as an open cut event. Another explained its exploding airbags were merely experiencing rapid disassembly. Microsoft took 11 paragraphs of jargon about its appropriate financial envelope to tell 12,500 people they would lose their jobs.

“People rightly distrust euphemisms because they deliberately downplay reality, like a fire or an explosion or the loss of a job,” Dr James said. “The softer version may be convenient for corporations, but the public just want them to get to the point.”

“Of course, euphemism can be humorous, such as Qantas explaining how a pavement failure (pothole) delayed a flight. But when politicians talk about high value targeting (assassination) or efficiency dividends (funding cuts), there is something more unpleasant at play.”

At other times, we fancify our language to make it sound impressive. A coastal council put up a warning sign about the potential for dangerous aquatic organisms (sharks) and the world of fashion extolled the virtues of normcore (normal clothing).

The selfie phenomenon continued to generate some ugly words, such as couplie and legsie.

But collabition (a blend of collaboration and competition) sounded a bit too close to the collusion you can have when you are not having collusion.

“We usually feature a verbal slip of the year, but in 2014 it was hard to go past the store apologising for any incontinence caused by its freezers not operating,” Dr James said. “And while on the subject of apologies, sport gave us the non-apology of the year when footballer Luis Suarez explained how the physical result of a bite was not, in fact, a bite.”

Rounding out the list was the mixed metaphor of the year, where we learned how to fix our budget problems by repairing our roofs under the sun while we are hitting the rocks.




December 24 in history


1754 George Crabbe, British poet and naturalist, was born  (d. 1832).

1777  Kiritimati, (Christmas Island) was discovered by James Cook.

1814  The Treaty of Ghent was signed ending the War of 1812.

1822 Matthew Arnold, British poet, was born (d. 1888).

1865  Several U.S. Civil War Confederate veterans formed the Ku Klux Klan.

1880  Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist, children’s book writer and creator of Raggedy Ann was born (d. 1938).

1893  Harry Warren, American composer and lyricist (Chattanooga Choo Choo – I Only Have Eyes for You), was born (d. 1981).

1905 Howard Hughes, American film producer and inventor, was born (d. 1976).

1906  Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.

1914  World War I: The “Christmas truce” began.1922 Ava Gardner, American actress, was born (d. 1990).1923 George Patton IV, American general, was born (d. 2004).

1924  Albania became a republic.

1927  Mary Higgins Clark, American author, was born.

1941  World War II: Hong Kong fell to the Japanese Imperial Army.

1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander.

1946  France’s Fourth Republic was founded.

1948 Frank Oliver, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

1951 Libya became independent from Italy. Idris I was proclaimed King.

1953 Tangiwai railway disaster – The worst railway disaster in New Zealand’s history occurred on Christmas Eve 1953 when the Wellington-Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River, just west of Tangiwai in the central North Island. The accident happened after a railway bridge was destroyed by a lahar.

Tangiwai railway disaster

1955  NORAD Tracked Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.

1957 Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, was born.

1961 Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, was born.

1968 The crew of Apollo 8 entered into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures that became the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history.

1969– Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, was born.

1974  Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin.

1979 – The first European Ariane rocket was launched.

1997 – The Sid El-Antri massacre (or Sidi Lamri) in Algeria killed 50-100 people.

2000 – The Texas 7 held up a sports store in Irving, Texas,  Police officer Aubrey Hawkins was murdered during the robbery.

2003 – Spanish police thwarted an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid’s Chamartín Station.

2005 – Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declared a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.

2008 – Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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