Word of the day

January 5, 2015

Consonance – accord; agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions; combination of sounds pleasing to the ear; combination of notes which are in harmony with each other due to the relationship between their frequencies; a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of repose; recurrence of similar-sounding consonants in close proximity, especially in prosody.


Rural round-up

January 5, 2015

Is raw milk safe? Some pasteurisation facts. Why I won’t well Raw milk & what to look for in a raw milk supplier – Milking on the Moove:

Tragically a child in Australia has died as a result of drinking contaminated raw milk.

So the raw milk vs pasteurised milk debate begins again. The comments on this article from June this year show the diverse opinions.

I grew up drinking raw milk from the vat. We looked long and hard at selling raw milk. We looked at the issues and decided that raw milk was not for us. I’ll explain why.

Is raw milk safe or not? 

The quick answer is, it can be safe, but it can turn bad very quickly. . .

Silver Fern Farms profit unsatisfactory, but promises more to come – Fiona Rotherham:

Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and marketer, has returned to profit after two years of losses but admits it still needs to deliver more.

Net profit after tax was $500,000 in the year ended Sept. 30, a significant turnaround from the $28.6 million after tax loss the previous year while pre-tax profit was $1.8 million compared to a loss of $36.5 million in 2013, the Dunedin-based cooperative said in a statement.

Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the company’s debt servicing costs. Total income was $2.32 billion, up from $2 billion the previous year while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was $68.1 million, a nearly $46 million improvement on the 2013 financial year. . .

Silver Fern Farms release audited result just before Christmas – Allan Barber:

The delayed and much anticipated final result for Silver Fern Farms’ 2014 year has made it into the public arena in time for Christmas. Although it has squeaked in just above breakeven for the year at $1.8 million pre-tax and $0.5 million after tax, this is worse than the original guidance of $5-7 million announced at the end of October.

The difference is accounted for by a $3.3 million provision following a ruling by the Employment Relations Authority in relation to a technical redundancy arising from the closure of the Silverstream plant in 2013. From recollection SFF laid off staff on the basis of a seasonal shutdown, although at the time the company announced that it was unlikely to reopen unless stock numbers increased significantly.

The ERA’s ruling suggests this automatically implies a technical redundancy situation, whereas SFF believes not. The company has sensibly chosen (requested by the auditors?) to make the provision “while we consider our next steps over the coming month” according to chairman Rob Hewett. The time taken to reach this decision indicates the auditors must have refused to sign the accounts without this provision. . .

Year of contrasts for rural New Zealand:

It has been a year of contrasts for rural New Zealand, weather-wise and in other ways.

In Northland, for instance, while some farmers were emerging from drought, others were battling floods.

And dairy farmers saw record milk payments for the past season plunge from above eight dollars a kilo to below five dollars in a few short months.

Pondering on that is Waikato University’s professor of agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth.

“Hooray, hooray for good prices and then far more of a crash than actually was predicted by any of the analysts, though the banking ones were saying ‘watch out, we don’t think it’s going to be as good as you’re saying’, but of course they’re still saying that and there are some fairly dire predictions by the end of the year. . .

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q4: Supplies remain tight amid robust consumer demand:

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly Q4 reports that tight global cattle and beef supplies continued in Q4 2014, although prices tempered from their Q3 highs. The US remains the major global driver, with import demand affecting prices and volumes for other countries. A big question heading into 2015 with such a finely balanced market is—if Australian export rates decrease and herds in Mexico and Canada continue to be run down by the US—whether a new norm has been reached for prices or whether they still have room to rise.

“The US continues to be the driver in the global beef market with constrained supply and strong demand keeping prices high. A recent strengthening in the US economy and dollar will support continued imports to the US however we are watching a drop in the oil price and depreciation of the Russian Ruble given Russia’s status as the world’s largest beef importer”, explains Rabobank analyst Angus Gidley-Baird.  . .

Wine industry shows continued increasing profitability:

2014 financial benchmarking survey supports industry-wide optimism

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2014 on the back of improved profitability across wineries of all sizes, according to the ninth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2014 tracks the financial results of wineries accounting for over 40% of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2014 financial year. Survey respondents have been categorised into bands according to revenue to assist comparison within the industry.

Deloitte partner Peter Felstead says that for the first time since 2007, every category showed profitability before tax, ranging from 3.3% to 17.6%. . . .

New technology helps in fight against pests – Adrien Taylor:

A New Zealand inventor hopes to add drones to the fight against pests.

He won $25,000 to help turn his dream into reality and a trial of his Trap Minder system is taking place on Great Barrier Island this summer.

Scott Sambell and his dog Millie are finding that keeping Glenfern Sanctuary pest-free can be hard work.

The 240 hectare peninsula is cordoned off by a pest-proof fence to protect native wildlife, but that doesn’t stop a handful of unwanted predators making their way in every year. . .


Capital cities quiz

January 5, 2015

How’s your knowledge of capital cities?

I got 15/15 with a couple of guesses.

You’re a living atlas.
Simply unbelievable. You answered every single question right. Either you had an Atlas for breakfast or you’ve traveled the world extensively. Congratulations. 


Bigger blind spots part of problem?

January 5, 2015

Sixteen people were killed on the road over the official Christmas holiday period:

This compared with seven deaths last year, and six the year before.

This came despite a zero-tolerance campaign for speeding, which critics argued had done nothing to reduce the toll. . .

One holiday period with a zero-tolerance for anyone exceeding 100 kph is not enough to draw conclusions on its effectiveness.

Speed is a factor in accidents but there are others and I wonder if the design on modern vehicles which makes them safer also makes them more dangerous?

The two vehicles I drive most often are a Holden Cruze and a Toyota Prado.

Both have substantial posts between the front and side windows and the rear and side windows  I’ve noticed this in other newer vehicles I’ve driven too.

They are designed to be safer in an accident but also make much bigger blind spots than in older vehicles.

Drivers have to do more than turn their heads to see round them. They have to lean forward and backwards at intersections, or when pulling out of parks or to pass.

Could it be that drivers accustomed to older vehicles with less substantial posts between the windows look left, right and behind but don’t see properly?

It is of course the driver’s responsibility to ensure s/he not only looks but also sees.

That is more difficult in many modern vehicles and reinforces the advice from a friend who specialises in three-dimensional thinking and had done a lot of work on road safety.

Any time you’re checking for traffic you should look, look away and look back.

That way you’re more likely to see anything that might have been in your blind spot and you will also be able to better judge the speed of anything you see to which you might have to give-way.

That reminds me of the mantra we were taught as child pedestrians – look right, look, left and look right again before you cross the road. It should be standard practice for drivers too.


Things to do in Oamaru – Steampunk

January 5, 2015

Oamaru is New Zealand’s steampunk capital and a highlight of any visit to the town is Steampunk HQ.

steampunkhq

 

Steampunk is a quirky and fun genre of science fiction that features steam-powered technology. It is often set in an alternate, futuristic version of 19th century Victorian England.

The Steampunk future is driven by unusual steam powered devices – the ‘world gone mad’ as Victorian people may have imagined it. Examples are machines like those in the writing of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and in tv shows such as Dr. Who.

Oamaru is an ideal setting for Steampunk art and activities, given the wonderfully preserved and thriving Victorian buildings.

The building was originally called Meeks Grain Elevator and was built in 1883 from designs by Architects Forrester and Lemon for the grain traders and millers J. & T. Meek. Oamaru was at that time a flourishing sea port, and bigger than Los Angeles.

The five storey building was the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere at the time. In 1920 the top two storeys were destroyed in a spectacular fire.

Steampunk HQ, which opened in November 2011, is an art collaboration proudly based in Oamaru, New Zealand. It sets out to portray an industrial version of steampunk, with a giant sense of humour and larger than life visions of an off the wall steampunk universe. Steampunk HQ is well known for its full scale train engine that spits fire and billows smoke The Lonely Planet Guide rates Steampunk HQ as one of NZ’s best new tourist attractions.

Wanderlusters visited Steampunk HQ and wrote:

. . . In this cultural display of art, fashion and sculpture, one man’s trash is literally another’s treasure.

Steampunkers reconstitute the familiar into the weird and wonderful in a bid to create an alternate dimension.

Peculiar contraptions hiss and pop as they send you kicking and screaming into warp speed, destined for worlds far beyond our comprehension.

Mayan counters track the passing of time and predict the end of the world as we know it, subliminal messaging interrupts rational thought and radio waves bounce around your brain, feeding you messages from the other side.

The fashions incorporate fabric and object without prejudice.

Merging the line between form and function these alluring designs adorn the colourful characters who call the world of Steampunk home. . .

If your curiosity allows I highly recommend taking a trip into this neo industrialised fantasy world.

As you explore the dimly lit curiosities of Steampunk HQ you are transported into another dimension.

One of unexplainable sights and sounds.

80’s computers emit puffs of smoke as they dial out to connect with the either, steam powered portals spring into life as they sync with alternate dimensions, the creative remnants of previous inhabitants litter the floor, light bulbs flicker and the sound of static fills the air.

A loud rhythmic ticking keeps the ensemble in time. . .

Steampunk HQ is at the norththern end of Oamaru’s historic precinct.

Steampunk also provided the theme for the playground to the south of the precinct over the road from Friendly Bay.

steampunk playground

 

 

 

 

 

A steampunk- themed café is about to open nearby too.

The annual steampunk festival held in June attracts a growing number of visitors, among whom last year was Curious Kiwi.  Follow that link for words and pictures.

P.S.

This is one of an irregular series of posts on things to see and do in Oamaru and the Waitaki District.

You’re welcome to add your ideas for visitors to this area o further afield.

 


January 5 in history

January 5, 2015

1066 – Edward the Confessor died childless, sparking a succession crisis that eventually led to the Norman conquest of England.

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.

1902 – Stella Gibbons, English author, was born (d. 1989).

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

1981 – Corey Flynn, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

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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