Saturday, 31 March 2012

Educating Our Future Politicians...

A friend sent me an email recently. It made me laugh out loud...
But it also shows an alarming state of affairs.
This email is the questions and answers in a 'GED' exam.
'GED' is' General Education Development' test. These tests are a group of five subjects tests, which when passed, certify that the student achieved high-school level of academic skills.
The American Council of Education is the sole developer of these tests.
The questions are multi choice and designed to measure the knowledge and skills that a student should have acquired after four years in high-school.
There are plans afoot to introduce these tests into New Zealand...
Here is the email:
The following questions were set in last year's GED exams.
These are genuine answers from 16 year olds............ and they will breed.

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar 

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. A flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What causes the tides in the ocean
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on
A. If you are buying a house they will insist you are well endowed

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a man gets an election 

Q. What are steroids
A. Things for keeping carpets on the stairs    (Shoot yourself now, there is little hope) 

Q. What happens to your body as you age      
A. When you get old so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery   (So true) 

Q. Name a major disaster associated with cigarettes  
A. Premature death

Q. What is artificial insemination
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk going sour
A. Keep it in the cow   (Simple but brilliant)   

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts - the branium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The branium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I, O, U...

Q. What is the fibula
A. A small lie

Q. What does 'varicose' mean
A. Nearby

Q. What is the most common form of birth control
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a   condominium     (That would work)  

Q. Give the meaning of 'Caesarean section'    

A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure
A. A Roman Emperor     (Julius Seizure - I came, I saw, I had a fit)

Q. What is terminal illness
A. When you are sick at the airport   (Irrefutable)

Q. What does the word  benign mean
A. A benign is what you will be after you be eight    (Brilliant)

Well could you answer these questions or do you need to go back to school?
Is this one reason for our global problems?

Friday, 30 March 2012

Rubbish... Trash... Garbage... Whatever You Call It...

There's plenty of it...
When I walk along the beach, as I do most days, I take a bag, anticipating
I will find 'treasures' of some sort.
Often I fill my bag with rubbish - as we call it in New Zealand.
It's not hard to find, it's everywhere and my bag overflows.
My picture today shows one bag of rubbish I picked up along
Tokerau Beach during half an hours walk.

I left lots behind because I couldn't carry any more.
I could do this every day and still there would be more...
It's a global problem.
The worlds biggest garbage dump is a floating one!
The 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' or trash vortex is the largest of five major oceanic gyres.
It lies in a high pressure area between the US state of Hawaii and California - in the middle of
the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre - a circular ocean current formed by the earth's wind patterns
and the forces created by the rotation of the planet. The centre is very calm and stable and the
circular motion draws the debris in and prevents it from escaping.



 This particular North Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered by  racing boat captain Charles Moore in 1997. He continues to promote awareness through his own Algalita Marine Research Foundation.
There are various estimations on the size of the North Pacific Garbage Patch - as big as the USA?
Twice the size of Texas... Whatever - it's huge...
It is 100 million tonnes of flotsam...
Covering 5 million square miles
A plastic soup...
It can be compared to a living entity...
Moving around like a big animal without a leash.
Held in place by oceanic currents.
About 1/5th of the junk - which includes everything from footballs and kayaks to lego blocks and carrier bags - is thrown off ships and oil platforms. The rest comes from the land.
(from an article in the Independent)
Every year about 100 million tonnes of plastic is produced. Of this about 10% ends up in the sea...
For every square kilometer area of the ocean an estimated 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating in it... In the gyres there are 750,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer.
In the Great Pacific trash vortex there is an estimated 6kg of plastic for every 1kg of natural plankton, which along with other slow degrading garbage, swirls slowly around like a clock choked with dead fish, marine mammals and birds who get snared.
A lot of these plastics over a long, long time break down into smalller and smaller particles until they become small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms.
Some of  these long lasting plastic particles end up in the stomach of marine birds and their young
including sea turtles and the Black-footed Albatross.

Albatross Carcass


 Albatross carcass full of plastic

Mother and chick

 Another Albatross carcass - Photos from Algalita Marine Research

On a microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants.
When ingested some of these are mistaken by the endocrin system as estradiol causing hormone disruption in the affected animal/fish.
Also the toxic pieces of plastic are eaten by jellyfish which in turn are eaten by larger fish.
Many of these fish are eaten by humans resulting in their ingestion of these harmful toxic chemicals.
(from Wikipedia)

Some plastics in the Gyre will not break down in the lifetime of the grandchildren of the people who threw it away.

The most polluted river in the world is the Citarum in Indonesia - a bank to bank graveyard of debris where locals risk their lives to scavenge for bottles and anything else that might sell for a small profit.
And where does the debris in this river end up?
Yes of course, in the sea.

Five million people live in the Citarum  river basin and most rely on the flow
for their water supply

Will the Citarum River in East Java ever be clean?

The Citarum River is to get a $500 million clean-up
backed by a loan from the Asia Development Bank



YOU can made a difference, to save the planet. You can decide to walk to the nearest rubbish... garbage...trash... bin instead of just throwing your rubbish in the sea or on the ground where the rain washes it into the storm water drains and...
Yes into the sea.
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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

It Was An Early Misty Morning...

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I was parked in a little cul de sac amongst the bush, right beside the water, at Whangaroa Harbour.
The sun didn't reach me till nearly 10am so the early mornings were still and on this particular day quite misty.
I love the bright sunny days but there is a certain beauty about the early morning stillness
before the day is disturbed.
Two birds also came to contemplate, what were their thoughts I wonder?
Breakfast - like mine!
The boats and hills were also just waking up, nobody was about.
And then the sun and reflections.
It was a lovely start to my day.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Early Bird Catches... The Fish

 It was fresh fish for breakfast today.
It was out of the sea, into the pan and onto my plate.
Couldn't get much fresher than that!
I'm at Tauranga Bay now. Spent two nights at Whangaroa Harbour on the way.
This is a divine spot. I'm in a camping ground that monopolises the whole water front. But it's so beautiful I don't mind paying to stay here.
Look at the new maps and you will follow my journey from Awanui where i turned onto State Highway 10, then from Whangaroa followed the road to Tauranga Bay. It's another  place that I could stay forever, but not this time. I need to get my hair cut and do some shopping so tomorrow will journey on...

Posted by PicasaPictures:
1. My fish in the pan
2. On my plate for brekkie
3.  Where I am parked - rod out
4. Some others here
5 & 6. This beautiful beach
7. Sunset and the new moon
8 & 9. Maps

Monday, 26 March 2012

I wandered in my garden...

Posted by PicasaMy garden being, of course, the great outdoors wherever I am.
I've been at Huketere, as I told you yesterday.
I walked up Utea Mountain to look at the 180degree view from the top...
Just vastness and wilderness for a long, long way.
Then I got wondering...
What grows up here, what manages to survive this salt laden,
wind blown climate.
What has planted itself and lives here?
As I looked I discovered all sorts of things, most of them familiar to me...
Most of them imported weeds, only one native, I think, that I could identify in a book I have.
But in this wilderness I admired their tenaciousness.
They have a beauty all their own...
Weeds or flowers, scrub or shrubs - whose to say...
Some botanist or is it all in the eye of the beholder?
Who created them anyway - God?
Have they evolved through random mutation and natural selection,
as  Darwinian theorists would think?
Is there some from of 'intelligent design' behind their existence?
All food for thought and if it interests you the possibility to research...
Science, knowledge, creation design.
Here's a web site that might interest you -
It's amazing what is being discovered.
Anyway enough about all that...
The photos show you what I found - all happily co-habiting together...
As I wandered in my garden...
1.  Broom - I think an imported weed.
2. The track I was walking down - the stunted environment!
3. Dandelions. I think the seed head is the edibe root sort
4. Some sort of swamp reed/grass
5. A spiders nest created around some dry bracken
6.  Green, growing bracken
7.  Flax - native or not?
8. A beautiful little green leaf
9. Twiggy Coprosma - I think - a native
11. Gorse - definitely a pest here in NZ
12. Ice Plant.
If you know more about these plants than me  - and that wouldn't be hard - please comment.
When I visited Ireland I was shown hillsides of masses of beautiful purple Heather and yellow Fir Bush.
On closer inspection I discovered the yellow flowers were...
None other than...
Yes you've guessed it - gorse bushes.
But in Ireland they were compact little bushes shyly growing amongst the heather.
Is it all in the eye of the beholder?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

West Coast Wilderness...

Posted by PicasaI'm at  this tiniest blip in New Zealand called Huketere. 
It's on the West coast marked with a square on the map.
It wasn't far from Houhora on the East coast but the difference
in terrain  is unbelievable...
From gentle lushness to vast, barren, windswept wilderness.
To get here (look on the map) it's 35km north of Awanui then 10km west along a shingle road through the pine forest which took me to 90 Mile Beach and this little camping place called Utea Park, so called because it's the name of the 'mountain', really a small hill, nearby.
Parking is in a lumpy paddock on a property owned by a young Maori couple who live here with their daughter who have made this place available for a Koha (donation) to stay.
They have built a community/ablutions room with a kitchen, hot showers and toilets and tiny chalets so that groups can come here.
It's tucked into the sandhills in the most isolated deserted place.
I'm the only person here apart from the owners house on a nearby hill.
A short walk to the beach that is vast and empty and stretches endlessly...
And the pounding west coast surf.
In the evening I climbed a small hill and sat on a flat rock
on the top and watched the sunset.
Amazing as this big ball of fire sank into the sea...
Then it was SO dark and apart from the roar of the sea
muffled by the sandhills,
and the sound of distant wild horses...
Totally silent.
The clear night sky of millions of stars was spectacular,
It's probably the most isolated wilderness place I have been to.
Being there by myself with all the vast expanses around me was both
awesome and a very strange feeling of insignificant smallness.
I was told the fishing was good, surf casting off the beach.
I wanted to try but on Saturday it rained and the waves were wild...
So next time.
I did go for a walk up Utea Mountain though,
from the top it was endless stretches, as far as I could see,
of stunted scrub and flaxes and a long, long beach.
1. Map
2. Me, parked by mysef, Utea in the background in the setting sun
3. Utea Mountain, the walking track and the shingle road
4 & 5. From the top of Utea
6. Wild horses, there are more than 700 of them in the forest and along this wild coastal strip
7. 90 Mile Beach looking south
8. 90 Mile Beach looking north
Ninety Mile Beach is actually 103km (60 miles) long, but it must have seemed 90 miles when the only way up it was on horseback. It's now the 'alternative' road north for 4WD vehices - when the tide is out.
In January 1932 Australian Norman 'Wizard' Smith set the world 10 mile land speed record on 90 Mile Beach travelling at
164 miles (264km) per hour.
This same beach was also the take-off strip for early aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith on his Trans-Tasman flight to Sydney in 1933.
Nowadays the most exciting event is the annual five day fishing competition every February which has been running since 1988 and offers NZ's biggest prize money of $250,000 NZ. Hundreds take part and catchng a 7kg Snapper could win you $50,000