Tuesday, 30 July 2013



A man who had just died is delivered to a local mortuary wearing an expensive, expertly tailored black suit.

The female blonde mortician asks the deceased's wife how she would like the body dressed. She points out that the man does look good in the black suit he is already wearing.

The widow, however, says that she always thought her husband looked his best in blue, and that she wants him in a blue suit. She gives the Blonde mortician a blank check and says, 'I don't care what it costs, but please have my husband in a blue suit for the viewing.'

The woman returns the next day for the wake. To her delight, she finds her husband dressed in a gorgeous blue suit with a subtle chalk stripe; the suit fits him perfectly...

She says to the mortician, 'Whatever this cost, I'm very satisfied.. You did an excellent job and I'm very grateful. How much did you spend?'

To her astonishment, the blonde mortician presents her with the blank check.

'There's no charge,' she says.

'No, really, I must compensate you for the cost of that exquisite blue suit!' she says.

'Honestly, ma'am,' the blonde says, 'it cost nothing. You see, a deceased gentleman of about your husband's size was brought in shortly after you left yesterday, and he was wearing an attractive blue suit. I asked his wife if she minded him going to his grave wearing a black suit instead, and she said it made no difference as long as he looked nice.'

'So I just switched the heads.'

 An E-book to give your day a lift
Download it here: Fuddpucker

Friday, 26 July 2013


Teen pilot Ryan Campbell aims to
fly around world in 70 days
Teen pilot Ryan Campbell / The Daily Telegraph

MORE than 130 years after Jules Verne's seminal adventure novel Around the World in Eighty Days, New South Wales, Australia teen Ryan Campbell will be taking off on his own world record-breaking global journey.
Ryan Campbell / Photo Simon Bullard

But in his quest to be the youngest person to fly solo around the globe the 19-year-old from Merimbula will have to get it done 10 days better than Verne's protagonist, Phileas Fogg.
"I've always wanted to do it but I kept it a secret," Mr Campbell said.

"I got my commercial pilot's license just after my 18th birthday. After that I googled 'How to fly around the world' and got Dick Smith's (the founder of the Dick Smith electronic retailing chain) email.

"He replied saying how to find support like around the world teen sailor, Jessica Watson, (also an Australian) and we were writing back and forth for four weeks."

The trip, which has been two years in the making, will see the young pilot take off from Wollongong, near Sydney, at the end of the month. If all goes to plan he'll cover over 38,624km with 28 stops in 14 countries on five continents . . . .

For more go to: Daily Telegraph

Peter’s Piece

Best wishes, Ryan Campbell.

At his age I thought it was a huge adventure flying around New Zealand’s two main islands in a Piper Cub.

My trip took 15 days during winter and we had to stop several times to wait for better weather. The Cub was only equipped for visual flight rules and we had no radio. The total flying time was 24 hours and 25 minutes.

Flying was a fun way to fill my leisure time and I encourage young people to take up flying as a hobby, or a profession.

Monday, 22 July 2013


A novel of love, loss, and survival
The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas. HarperCollins, New York, 2013
Paperback: 384 pages

“What does it mean when someone calls you a swine?” Simon Horowitz asked suddenly, as his father’s black Mercedes-Benz rolled to a stop at the top of a blind alley off the Friedrichstrasse.
“Who called you that?” Simon could tell by the tone of his voice that his father was concerned.
“Not me. Joshua told us a story in school. A Nazi official passed his father in the street and said ‘swine’ and Joshua’s father tipped his hat and said, ‘Goldstein, pleased to meet you.’”
Benjamin Horowitz roared with laughter . . .

This is from the opening scene of the Keeper of Secrets, just published as a William Morrow imprint of HarperCollins, New York, and written by Julie Thomas who lives in Cambridge, New Zealand.

This is a story about a treasured 1742 violin, and a family of talented musicians. It is also a vivid portrayal of power and persecution, of bigotry and brutality, and of the horrors of Dachau.

This book should be compulsory reading for people who love to spread lies and half-truths about racial and religious minorities. It is a stark reminder that there is no glory in war.
Author Julie Thomas at the launch of The Keeper of
Secrets at Wrights's Bookshop, Cambridge, New Zealand

But The Keeper of Secrets is also an exceptionally well told story. This author has outstanding talent, and has researched her subject diligently. The scenes and the characters are alive in the reader’s mind, the sound of the music rises from the pages.

This novel has some parallels with Gone With the Wind, but at 384 pages is less long-winded, and certainly its equal as a literary masterpiece.

Julie Thomas is the chairman of the Hamilton branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors.

Friday, 19 July 2013


How the Commonwealth has changed since it was the British Empire

At its height the British Empire was the largest and most powerful empire the world had ever known. It was said that ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire.’ In other words, somewhere in the world, the sun was always shining on British territory.

It started with territories and trading posts that were colonized, conquered or otherwise acquired. Britain eventually ruled over almost 500 million people spread over every continent, and including one-fifth of the world’s population.

But rebellion in America, wars, and the loss of competitive industrial edge saw the gradual decline of the empire. In the twentieth century the transition to Commonwealth began with the granting of dominion status to some colonies and full independence to others.

As the former British Empire gave way to the new Commonwealth of Nations, declaring an independent republic no longer brought an end to membership. When Ireland became independent in 1949 it lost its membership, but the next year India became an independent republic and continued as a Commonwealth member.

Since 1950 there has been an inevitable movement toward democratically elected heads of state in the Commonwealth and full independence. However, all member states recognize Elizabeth II as the leader of the Commonwealth, and having their own elected heads of state no longer disqualifies them from Commonwealth membership.

The Commonwealth of Nations has 53 member states:

Member                                 Status                        Head of State           Head of  Govt.
Antigua and Barbuda          Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Australia                                Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Bahamas                              Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Bangladesh                          Republic                    President                  Prime Minister
Barbados                              Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Belize                                     Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Botswana                              Republic                    President
Brunei                                    Kingdom                   Sultan of Brunei       Crown Prince
Cameroon                             Republic                    President                  Prime Minister
Canada                                  Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Cyprus                                   Republic                    President                  
Dominica                               Republic                    President                  Prime Minister
Gambia                                  Republic                    President
Ghana                                    Republic                    President
Grenada                                Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Guyana                                  Republic                    President                  Prime Minister
India                                       Republic                    President                  Prime Minister
Jamaica                                Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Kenya                                    Republic                    President
Kiribati                                   Republic                    President
Lesoto                                    Kingdom                   King                           Prime Minister
Malawi                                   Republic                    President
Malaysia                                Kingdom                    King                           Prime Minister
Maldives                                Republic                    President
Malta                                      Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Mauritius                                Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Mozambique                         Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Namibia                                 Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Nauru                                     Republic                    President
New Zealand                         Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Nigeria                                   Republic                    President
Pakistan                                Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Papua New Guinea              Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Rwanda                                 Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Saint Kitts and Nevis           Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Saint Lucia                            Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Saint Vincent & Gren.          Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Samoa                                  Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Seychelles                            Republic                    President
Sierra Leone                        Republic                    President
Singapore                            Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Solomon Islands                  Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
South Africa                         Republic                    President
Sri Lanka                              Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Swaziland                             Kingdom                    King                            Prime Minister
Tanzania                               Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Tonga                                    Kingdom                    King                            Prime Minister
Trinidad & Tobago              Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Tuvalu                                    Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Uganda                                 Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
United Kingdom                   Monarchy                  Elizabeth II                Prime Minister
Vanuatu                                Republic                    President                   Prime Minister
Zambia                                 Republic                    President

32 Commonwealth countries are republics with a president.
16 Commonwealth countries retain Elizabeth II as their head of state.
5 Commonwealth countries have their own king.

In addition to the above states there are 14 British Overseas Territories (previously known as Crown colonies)  including Alrotiri and Dhekelia, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

In all the overseas territories the head of state is the British Monarch who appoints a governor on the advice of the British Government, usually a retired senior military officer. In some cases there may also be a premier and varying degrees of limited self-government.

As the move to full independence gathers momentum some people remain unconvinced. I like to ask them this question:

Would you like to see a prime minister, judge, police commissioner, brain surgeon, or any other person given a crucial role in society by inheriting the position from a parent?

They always answer with an emphatic ‘no,’ but insist that the role of head of state is somehow different and therefore the people should have no say in the matter.

With a new Royal baby arriving, the Royalists are having a field day and support for the monarchy has reached a temporary high. For the time-being emotion and sentiment are overriding logic.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Counting down to 
Oshkosh AirVenture 2013

Since meeting AirVenture founder, Paul Poberezny in Auckland in 1979, I’ve always wanted to see the world’s largest general aviation air show at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This year the dream comes true. Here’s the itinerary for my break from the New Zealand winter, and my opportunity to meet some old friends and distant relatives.

Thursday July 25: Depart Auckland at 8 am on Virgin VA51 (Boeing 737-800). Arrive Sydney at 9:50 am local time. At 1:40 pm depart Sydney on  Virgin VA1 (Boeing 777-300). Cross International Dateline and pick-up a day. Arrive at Los Angeles at 10:35 am local time on Thursday July 25.

Fri 26: Drive from Los Angeles to Flagstaff, Arizona via Interstate 10, US 60, and 89.

Sat 27: Flagstaff-Grand Canyon-Monument Valley-Durango, Colorado.  

Sun 28: Durango-Rockies-Lamar Colorado 

Mon 29: Lamar-Independence Kansas  

Tue 30: Morning Cessna factory tour, Independence, then to Mexico, Missouri.

Wed 31: Missouri to Madison, Wisconsin via Mississippi River scenic routes.

Thu August 1: Madison-Oshkosh AirVentue, Wisconsin. Staying two nights at a homestay10 miles from Oshkosh.

Fri 2: AirVenture, Oshkosh  

Sat 3: Winneconne, Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota to meet distant relatives connected through ancestors in England.

Sun 4: At Minneapolis

Mon 5: Minneapolis to Fargo, North Dakota

Tue 6: Grand Forks to Buffalo, South Dakota  

Wed 7: Buffalo to Mount Rushmore and the Devils Tower, Wyoming

Thu 8: The Devils Tower to Billings, Montana

Fri 9: Billings-Yellowstone National Park-Jackson, Wyoming

Sat 10: Jackson to Idaho and Richfield, Utah

Sun 11: Richfield to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park to Las Vegas, Nevada

Mon 12: Las Vegas to Los Angeles, completing 5,800 road miles.  2235 Depart Los Angeles on Delta Airlines VA6551. Cross back over the International Dateline and lose a day. Arrive Sydney at 6:35 am on Wed 14 August. 1035 Sydney-Auckland on Virgin VA52.  Arrive Auckland at 3:45 pm.

All the above is made possible by my loving and understanding life partner and best friend, Winnie. Thanks, Win.


Monday, 15 July 2013


My Little Nokia

My little Nokia is a friendly phone
When it’s with me I’m never alone

On the highway I’m hands-free
I’ve got a nifty Bluetooth, you see

It sits so comfy in my ear
Until it rings I forget it’s near

I’ll take a shower, shampoo my hair
With that little Bluetooth in there

But alas should it fall down the loo
Passers-by would see right through

My Samsung Galaxy

And now I’ve upgraded to a smartphone new
That little Nokia had things it could never do

I’m learning the new smartphone lingo
To remember it all I’ll need a long jingo

There’s maps and music and play store
Flipboard, Dropbox and features galore

It’s got a calendar, calculator, and radio too
Camera, planners, so much to learn and do

So I’ll stop now for a glass or two of nice wine
Because when I’m thru I’ll be as clever as Einstein

Sunday, 14 July 2013


Growing old 

A little poem, so true that it hurts.
Another year passed, we’re all a year older.
Last summer felt much hotter,
And now winter seems much colder.

There was a time not long ago,
When life was quite a blast.
And now I understand,
About living in the past.

We used to go to weddings,
Football games and lunches.
Now we go to funeral homes,
And after-funeral brunches.

We used to have hangovers,
From parties that were crazy.
Now we suffer body aches,
We’re sleepy and we’re lazy.

We used to go out dining,
And couldn’t get our fill.
Now we ask for a doggie bag,
And go home and take a pill.

We used to often travel,
To places near and far.
Now we get sore asses,
Just riding in the car.

We used to go to nightclubs,
And drink a lot of booze.
Now we stay home at night,
And watch the evening news.

That, my friends, is how life is,
And now my tale is told.
So enjoy every day, and live it up,
Before you turn to mold.

by Anonymous

 Here's a little something to keep you laughing . . .

Available as an e-book from: Smashwords.com

Happy reading