366 days of gratitude

October 4, 2016

There’s a huge element of luck in hosting an exchange student.

We struck the jackpot when we did it more than 20 years ago and he and his family have become ours.

He is Argentinean and we’ve just returned from nine wonderful days there.

We caught up with our exchangee, his family and friends in San Nicolas, Pergamino, Mendoza and Buenos Aires.

We ate a lot of meat, drank some wine and visited el Mercado de Liniers  – the Buenos Aires cattle market which was having a quiet day – only about 6,000 head of cattle, because of a strike.

We also travelled to Mendoza and drove up a mountain pass in the Andes; and returned to Buenos Aires to watch the All Blacks play the Pumas.

It was our ninth trip to Argentina and, like the previous ones, made us appreciate that country and its people and ours.

Today I’m grateful for happy holidays and safe homecomings.

I’m also grateful that I was out of the country when the clocks went forward. The start of daylight saving always makes me feel jet-lagged and I reckon if I’m going to feel that way it’s better to do so as the result of travel rather than mucking about with time.


Less crime, more freedom

October 3, 2012

Each time we’ve been to Argentina our friends there warn us to be careful of pickpockets and petty thieves.

In light of that I always wear a money belt and carry only a little cash and no cards in my wallet and have never had any problems.

Several members of the Air New Zealand All Black entourage weren’t so lucky when they were in Buenos Aires last week.

One man was robbed twice, losing all the money he had with him and his credit cards.

Several others were the victims of pickpockets and one woman had the back of her handbag had been slashed though nothing was lost.

It could happen anywhere in the world but the chances of it happening here are a lot less than in many other countries.

We can still walk down the street with our bags swinging from our shoulders and wallets in pockets without the constant fear we could lose them or their contents.

We can live in houses without bars on the windows and – at least in this part of the country – without elaborate security systems.

This gives us a freedom and security we shouldn’t take for granted, although we can be grateful that the crime rate is falling.

Police Minister Anne Tolley says the increased focus on frontline policing and crime prevention will continue, following another drop in recorded crimes.

Recorded offences were down by 5.2 per cent, with 21,802 fewer crimes in the fiscal year to 30 June 2012. The crime rate per head of population fell by 5.9 per cent.

It follows a seven per cent reduction in crime per head of population in the previous fiscal year, and a 5.6 per cent decrease in the 2011 calendar year.

“The figures reflect the excellent work of the Police in making our communities safer and I want to thank them for their efforts,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Police are spending more time and are more visible in their communities through Neighbourhood Policing Teams, while mobile technology is also allowing officers to stay out on the front line, instead of having to return to their desks.

“This new way of working will continue – to proactively prevent crime rather than react after an offence has been committed, and that leads to fewer victims of crime.

“So there will be no let up for criminals. The Police are well on their way to reaching our target of an overall reduction in crime of 15 per cent by 2017.

Less crime means fewer victims, greater security and more freedom for all of us.


February 2 in history

February 2, 2010

On February 2:

962 Pope John XII crowned Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor.

 

1032 Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor became King of Burgundy.

1536  Pedro de Mendoza founded Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1653  New Amsterdam (later renamed The City of New York) was incorporated.

1709 Alexander Selkirk was rescued after being shipwrecked on a desert island, inspiring the book Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

Statue of Alexander Selkirk in Lower Largo

1790 The U.S. Supreme Court convened for the first time.

Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

1812 Russia established a fur trading colony at Fort Ross, California.

1929  William Stanley, inventor and engineer, was born.

1848 Mexican-American War: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed.

 

1848 California Gold Rush: The first ship with Chinese emigrants arrives in San Francisco, California.

1876 The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs of Major League Baseball was formed.

1880 The first electric streetlight was installed in Wabash, Indiana.

1882 James Joyce, Irish author, was born.

Half-length portrait of man in his thirties. He looks to his right so that his face is in profile. He has a mustache, a thin beard, and medium-length hair slicked back, and wears a pince-nez and a plain dark greatcoat, looking vaguely like a Russian revolutionary. 

1882 The Knights of Columbus were formed in New Haven, Connecticut.

1887 In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania the first Groundhog Day was observed.

1899 The Australian Premiers’ Conference decided to locate Australia’s capital (Canberra) between Sydney and Melbourne.

1901 Queen Victoria’s funeral took place.

1905 Ayn Rand, Russian-born American author and philosopher, was born.

Half-length monochrome portrait photo of Ayn Rand, seated, holding a cigarette

1913 Grand Central Station opened in New York City.

Grand Central test.jpg

1922 Ulysses by James Joyce was published.

UlyssesCover.jpg

1925 Serum run to Nome: Dog sleds reached Nome, Alaska with diphtheria serum, inspiring the Iditarod race.

 Statue of Balto, the lead dog on the last relay team.

  • 1925 – The Charlevoix-Kamouraska earthquake strikes northeastern North America.
  • 1931 – Les Dawson, British comedian, was born.

    1933 Adolf Hitler dissolved the German Parliament.

    1934 The Export-Import Bank of the United States was incorporated.

    1935 Leonarde Keeler tested the first polygraph machine.

     

    1940 David Jason, English actor, was born.

    1940  Frank Sinatra debuted with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra.

    1946 The Proclamation of Hungarian Republic was made.

     
       

    1947 Farrah Fawcett, American actress, was born.

    1948 Al McKay, American guitarist and songwriter (Earth, Wind & Fire), was born.

    1957 Iskander Mirza of Pakistan laid the foundation-stone of the Guddu Barrage.

    1967 The American Basketball Association was formed.

    1971 Idi Amin replaced President Milton Obote as leader of Uganda.

    1972  The British embassy in Dublin was destroyed in protest over Bloody Sunday.

    1974 The men’s 1500-metre final at the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games is called the greatest middle distance race of all time. Tanzanian Filbert Bayi won in a new world record time of 3 minutes 32.16 seconds. New Zealand’s emerging middle distance star John Walker came second, also breaking the existing world record. The remarkable feature of this race was the fact that the third, fourth (New Zealander Rod Dixon) and fifth place getters ran the fourth, fifth, and seventh fastest 1500m times to that date. The national records of five countries – Tanzania, Kenya, Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand – were all broken in this race.

    ‘The greatest middle distance race of all time’

    1974 The F-16 Fighting Falcon flew for the first time.

    1976 The Groundhog Day gale hits the north-eastern United States and south-eastern Canada.

    Groundhog Day gale of 1976
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    1987 The Philippines made a new constitution.

    1989 Soviet war in Afghanistan: The last Soviet Union armored column left Kabul.

    1989 Satellite television service Sky Television plc launched.

    1990  F.W. de Klerk allowed the African National Congress to function legally and promised to release Nelson Mandela.

    ANC logo

    1998 A Cebu Pacific Flight 387 DC-9-32 crashed into a mountain near Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, killing 104.

    2002 Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange married Máxima Zorreguieta.

     

    2007 Four tornadoes hit Central Florida, killing 21 people.

    Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


    BBC World Food Price Index

    June 2, 2009

    The BBC World Service has been tracking food prices in seven major cities to create a World Food Price Index.

    Reporters started making a weekly record of five basic food items in July last year. The basket of goods was normalised to 100 and subsequent changes in prices are measured against that to show rises and falls.

    Bread, milk, potatoes, eggs and beef were the products chosen in Brussels, Buenos Aires, Moscow and Washington DC; onions, rice, ground flour, lentils and milk were priced in Delhi; in Jakarta it was eggs, rice, sugar, flour and cooking oil; and in Nairobi it was green maize, milk, maize flour, bread and tomatoes.

    Some interesting points in the analysis:

    In Brussels prices were fairly flat. The price of milk fell because of a price war between supermarkets but the change wasn’t as great as the fall in price paid to dairy farmers.

    In Argentina the price of potatoes, bread and beef were steady but the latter was due to export taxes which resulted in farmers reducing production of beef in favour of better paying produce and the country may have to import meat.

    Inflation has hit food prices in India where the price of wheat, rice and other grains has risen by 12%,  fruit and vegetables gained 8.5% and the price of milk rose 6.4% and the price of sugar nearly tripled.

    Religious factors influence food prices in Jakarta with a rise in the price of chicken and meat at the end of the Muslim month of fasting. The price of rice has fallen and the government it delaying exports because of this.

    Russian food prices increased nearly 10 times more than prices in the European Union.

    The biggest rises in the four-month period were seen in prices for fruit – which spiked 17% in Russia while rising only 1.9% in Europe – and sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery goods, which jumped by 12.7% and only 1.5% in Europe.

    Prices for vegetables rose by 11.6%, while fish and seafood prices were up by 9.4%.

     Russia imports nearly a third of its food and the low value of its currency is one of the reasons prices have increased.

    Food shortages because of drought and political violence contributed to food shortages in Kenya.

    In the USA food prices went up by 5.5% last year but falls in the price of meat and diary products are expected to result in a smaller increase this year.

    World Service Average 18/05/09

    And you think we’ve got transport problems

    September 5, 2008

    Rush hour here means I’ve got the time or route of my walk wrong and meet the cows going back to the paddock after morning milking.

    When I went back to university five years ago I did experince Dunedin rush 15 minutes a couple of times and I have had the misfortune to find myself stop-starting my way around Auckland at the wrong time.

    I also got a taste of the frustrations city communters experience when I lived in London but fortuantely have never come across anything like this:

    Furious rail commuters in Argentina set fire to a train on Thursday in anger over delays during the morning rush hour.

    Television images showed black smoke and flames engulfing the train at the station of Merlo, in the western suburbs of the capital, Buenos Aires. At nearby Castelar, passengers hurled stones at the ticket office and blocked the rails.

    “We understand that people get angry when the service is delayed or cancelled, but they absolutely can’t attack a public service in this way,” Gustavo Gago, a spokesman for rail company TBA, told local television.

    And Sr Gago gets the prize for stating the obvious.


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