Sunday, March 19, 2006

Rational Consumers

Two of the six men seriously ill after a disastrous drugs trial last week have been taken off organ support after responding to treatment. Doctors at the Northwick Park Hospital in London, where the trial took place, yesterday confirmed that the condition of two other patients had also improved. They were both "fully conscious and chatting with their relatives", a hospital statement said.

Bizarrely, medical groups are reporting a huge surge in the number of volunteers keen to take part in drug trials. Private companies who carry out clinical trials of drugs said they were experiencing a sharp rise in the number of calls from would-be volunteers. The Medical Research Council had been concerned that the plight of the six men would put off potential volunteers. Instead, it appears as if the four-figure payments on offer to willing guinea pigs has attracted hundreds of people prepared to take the risk.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Origins of Daylight Saving in New Zealand

New Zealand’s earliest daylight saving advocate was Parliamentarian Hon Sir Thomas Sidey. As early as 1909 he argued for putting clocks forward by one hour during summer so that there would be an additional hour of daylight in the evenings. In that year he introduced a Member’s Bill to put this idea into effect. The Bill was rejected, but Sidey was persistent, reintroducing it every year for the next twenty years. It almost became law in 1915 and again in 1926 when it was passed by the House of Representatives, but was rejected by the Legislative Council (which was New Zealand’s upper house of Parliament until 1951). During the second reading of his Summer Time Bill in 1926, Sidey argued that:

the extra hour of daylight after working-hours during the summer months is of especial value to indoor workers and the community as a whole as it gives one additional hour for recreation of all kinds, whether playing games or working in garden plots…one cannot overlook the economic advantages that will also accrue. There will be a saving in the consumption of artificial light.

Much of the debate in the House of Representatives centered on the impact on people in rural areas and women in particular. Opponents of the Bill commented that:

[Summer Time] will bring no happiness to the women of New Zealand who live in the backblocks. [the Bill] does not make the case for now requiring the wife of the working-man to get up an hour earlier in order to get her husband away to his work.

Latest Email

G’day everyone. Well for those to whom I have been very slack…I am back in NZ and have been since December. It has been a pretty busy few months. Etusko and I arrived in NZ jobless and homeless. We quickly took up residence at my parents house which mum and dad just loved!!

We decided to make the most of the weather (well what the weather should have been like) and do a little bit of sight-seeing. We visited Rotorua and Taupo/Turangi (for new years) and also did a trip north to Auckland/Paihia and the Cape. Unfortunately shortly after our Northland trip the bubble burst and I began work which was initially full time over January and then part-time in February.

The job is at IRD in the Hamilton Call Centre. Answering calls on the general and family queue. Which is basically people having questions about their personal tax and family assistance. We had a whole month of training which is pretty amazing considering that the contract is only for six months. It is pretty good as they have been pretty cool about my requests for differing hours as I can’t work Tuesday evenings. I am in a team of about 10 people. We have lost a few people since training for various reasons but the bunch I work with are pretty good value, a real range of ages and backgrounds. All in all the job isn’t too taxing (sorry I had to.)

The thing which is taking up most of my time is university. I have been back at uni since the middle of February. I am doing a graduate diploma of teaching (secondary school). This has proved much busier than I though it would. Also much more academic. I thought it would just be a very practical course but we are focussing on a lot of learning and pedagogical theory. Although I am not sure that much of the theory is assessed other than an assignment. Basically the course runs from February to early November. We have to have about 14 weeks practical experience at a school. I will be doing half of that at Hamilton Boys High School and the rest probably at a school in the Bay of Plenty (although I wont find out exactly where until later in the year). I am doing social studies both senior and junior and business studies as the subjects that I am studying at uni but my first stumbling block is that at Hamilton Boys High they don’t actually have a senior social studies class but I have been trying to get involved in the legal studies class, which I think I have some knowledge in…but possibly too much. On my first week of observation I got a little carried away on explaining burden of proof…when their eyes glazed over I realised that maybe I had gone a into a little too much detail.

Classes are for me on Monday to Thursday usually around 3 to 5 hours per day. Tuesday is a long day as I have a three hour class from 4-7pm which is a bit tiring. It is pretty good being back into the uni groove. Although it is quite strange taking it so seriously. I have not developed a theory that going straight from school to uni is not a good thing. It is a pity that this course is a pass fail course rather than a graded course as I am sure that my grades would be slightly higher this time than my last attack at uni.

On the social front things have been reasonably quite due mostly to the fact that I have been so busy working 16 hours a week and attending uni for the balance of it. The major highlight was Dave and Pip’s wedding in Wellington. It was a very nice service and the aftermatch wasn’t too shabby neither. Etsuko took full advantage of the location to do some reminiscing from her time in Wellington. We have also had a visitor from Japan, Tomomi, who is Etusko’s friend from junior high school. She just left on Friday morning.

Etsuko has also found a job cleaning at a motel just two blocks from our place. It is quite flexible and the owner of the motel seems to be quite friendly. It is actually a motel that we have stayed at before. Generally Etsuko is working 4-5 days per week for about 4 hours per day. Just enough to keep her out of trouble and still let her go to the gym.

On the geeky side of things I have been expanding my geekiness factor. I have my own website which you can find at and I have even been doing a podcast…well actually I have done two of them. For those of you who don’t know what a podcast is it is basically an audio file that you can download and listen to on your computer or on your mp3 player etc. They are the antithesis of exciting but if you are dying to hear my voice then please have a listen!! I have also put a few photos and stuff on there. Of course I have been making an attempt at continuing my blog which you can access from my home page.

Of excitement soon will be that a couple of my students from Japan are visiting, Mika and Satomi. So I have been organising with them a plan that gives them as much a taste of New Zealand as possible without leaving them completely exhausted in the week that they are here.

It was also interesting to get an email from one of my students at High School in Japan, young Mr. Tani who did an excellent speech on motor sport in Japan has just graduated. Congrats!

Also of note is Alex (my little blister) is returning to NZ soon due to immigration issues with the US govt. who for some reason are pretty strict on immigration lately…not sure why??

I will email at some stage with my plans for the future but at this stage I really don’t know what I will be doing.

So I apologise if I have not managed to catch up with you since I have been back but I have been a little busy. I hope to see a few people over the Easter break…but please don’t hesitate to contact me. Ph. 07 839 0055 or cell 021 542440 or email or on my website .

Until then….


Friday, March 10, 2006

Greetings from Waitomo

Hi there!!

I am sitting in the cafe in Waitomo near the famous Waitomo Caves. Etsuko and her friend Tomomi are venturing into the caves..(well hopefully exiting the caves) as I type.

I have spent the past week at school obversiving a teaching the odd class and part of classes as part of my uni course. I saw a few interesting things. I was explaing to one class of year nine students (3rd form 13 year old students) that i lived in Japan. I asked if they had any questions most of them realised that if they didn't ask a question that the lesson would continue and they would have to do work. So most of them had of the more interesting ones was "Sir! Sir! Is it true that there are heaps of hot asian chicks in Japan?" Of course I didn't answer his question or his follow up question of "Did you go out with any hot chicks in Japan?"

Anyway Etsuko and Tomomi are off to the Chiefs game tonight while I am at work. Then we are hitting the bay tomorrow.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I owe, I owe, it's off to IRD I go...

My Work

Though I'd just say a few words about my job. G'day if you are one of the (un)lucky people I work with!

As I may have said I am working at IRD in Hamilton. It is a pretty good job because one of the perks is that we don't have to pay tax and if anybody overpays their tax we divy it up at the end of each month. Of course the downside is that I no longer have any friends and had to report myself for failing to pay my student loan while I was in Japan. But it all works out ok because they have really nice pens!!

Basically my job is answering the phone on the GEN/FAM line which is mostly poeple asking what their IRD number is and asking about family assistance.

In case my boss is reading this...I was just kidding before!! The pens arent that nice really.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Podcast tastic


Well I am now a bona fide geek. I made my first podcast last night. It is super cheesy but I think I will do a few more…it seems to be the way of the future. If the university has its way I think all teachers will be doing podcasts rather than teaching.

Anyway, have a listen

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New Website

Greetings all, I am currently in the computer lab at the School of Education...we had to do an exciting powerpoint presentation on podcasting!!

Boy oh boy talk about fun!!

Anyway, to expand my continuing geekiness I have devloped a webpage of my own! The site is reasonably easy to remember.

If you check it out please bookmark it. It is a bit rubbish at the moment but I will be making it a bit better as time passes.

If you have any ideas for it please send me a message, either an email or a message through the website on the feedback page.