Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Lonely Planet: Auckland is world’s
10th best city for visitors

Auckland. A beautiful city by the sea
Auckland is often overlooked by travelers eager to head for the stellar alpine and lake landscapes further south, but food, arts and exploring the coastal hinterland are all excellent reasons to extend your stay in New Zealand’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city. New restaurant areas continue to emerge, often repurposing heritage buildings and precincts, while the funky City Works Depot adds a hip edge to Auckland’s culinary scene with craft beer and food-truck dining. The extensive refurbishment of the Auckland Art Gallery now includes a stunning glass-and-timber atrium. Venturing outdoors, check out the Wynyard Quarter for front-row views of raffish fishing boats and ritzy super-yachts. - Lonely Planet
Peter’s Piece

Visitors to Auckland are never short of things to see and do in The City of Sails .Most leave wishing they had planned for more time in New Zealand’s largest city.
Seventy per cent of New Zealand’s international visitors start in Auckland and most travel south after only one day in the harbor city with its great shopping, dining, museums, galleries, parks and gardens, magnificent architecture, boating and outdoor activities.
Perhaps too many Aucklanders are qyuick to praise the southern scenery and the friendly people of the south. Unfortunately, southern people don't always return the compliment. A typical comment from visitors moving north is, "We were told not to bother going to Auckland. There's nothing there. But we think that Auckland is the best city we've seen anywhere."
I’ve traveled extensively, in New Zealand and abroad, and to me New Zealand, all of it, is a world gem that can never be promoted too much.

It’s refreshing to see Lonely Planet setting the record straight. Auckland is a wonderful city in a beautiful country.

Read more: Lonely Planet

Thursday, 24 October 2013


Chester Carlson’s hard road to
Xerox invention
Seventy-five years ago Chester Carlson invented xerography and changed the world. But his achievement was no easy push-over.
Chester Carlson with the first Xerox

Carlson was born in Seattle, Washington State on February 8, 1906 to Olaf and Ellen Carson, a poorly educated couple who suffered multiple illnesses including tuberculosis, arthritis and malaria soon after Chester was born.

At the age of eight Chester started doing odd jobs for money. At the age of ten he hand-produced a newspaper called This and That and his friends helped with distribution. By the age of thirteen he was the family’s main breadwinner working two or three hours before school and another two or three after school.

While working for a printer after school he began to think of better ways to copy documents instead of making a special master copy, or stencil, and duplicating extra copies. At high school he did the typesetting and production of his own magazine for science students, but it appears not to have been a success.

Meanwhile, Ellen died when Chester was seventeen and Olaf died when he was twenty-seven.
He studied at Caltech in Riverside, California where his tuition fees amounted to more than his total earnings from three jobs. He also paid the rent for a cheap apartment that he shared with his father. His jobs included work in a cement factory and lawn mowing.

In 1930, at the start of the Depression, he graduated with a degree in physics and promptly wrote to almost 100 prospective employers without success. Eventually he was hired by Bell Telephone as a research engineer and latedr as a patent assistant, but was fired for participating in a failed business venture away from the company.

At this time his notebook contained over 400 ideas for new inventions. But central to his thoughts was the problem of how to copy printed documents. While at P R Mallory and Company (later part of Proctor and Gamble) he spent some time in the patents department where patent applications were re-typed again to make copies.

Chester decided to study law, but could not afford to buy law books, so he copied what he wanted by hand at a library in New York. Again he thought about easier ways to copy documents. In 1939 he graduated LLB from the New York Law School.

He read an article by a Hungarian physicist and started experimenting in his kitchen with crystalline sulphur, zinc plates and flames, almost burning the house down more than once. He rented another room and hired an assistant.

Eventually, Carlson had a crude machine that could reproduce documents and he tried to sell it. The first twenty companies approached rejected it.

Meanwhile the Haloid Company had been working with a process that amounted to photographing a document to reproduce it. Chester Carlson approached them with his technique of passing an electric current through the original document and submitting it to light.
Haloid took it on and made it a commercial success changing their name to Haloid XeroX. Later the company changed its name again to just Xerox, which means dry writing.

Carlson’s assistant resigned early during the development of the Xerox, but they remained friends and later Carlson gifted his former assistant 100 Xerox shares. Carlson himself was a billionaire by today’s standards when he died of a heart attack aged 62.

An action thriller from Downunder

To download a free sample or the entire ebook
click here: Murder at Wairere

Monday, 21 October 2013


They were raised by their bootstraps
A brief read from Nathaniel’s Bloodline by Peter Blakeborough

Martin Fell gave a little cough to remind the court that he was waiting to continue his cross-examination.
‘Turning to the Lithgow murder again. You said it was self-defense. Were there any witnesses?’
‘There weren’t no one else there. It was just the two of us.’
‘Really! How amazingly convenient for you. So, because there was no one else there you didn’t have to flee the scene of the crime, and you were able to ascertain the identity of the victim. Is that what happened?’
‘More or less. But I knew who he was before we fired.’
‘Really! Who was he?’
‘Will Bethune.’
‘You mean Will Bethune the notorious bushranger?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘How many shots were fired?’
‘I suppose you are going to claim that you shot him in a gun duel in which you both fired at precisely the same instant but your shot was more accurate than his?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘That’s really quite astounding. How old were you at the time?’
‘About fourteen.’
‘Remarkable! So you want the court to believe that, when you were fourteen, you were such an accomplished marksman with a gun that you were able to win a gun duel with one of the colony’s most notorious killers. Is that what you want the court to believe?’
‘It wasn’t a duel like that. He tried to steal me horse while I was asleep an’ when I woke up I pulled me gun so I could take him in for the bounty. He saw me an’ we both must ‘ave fired together. I don’t remember pulling the trigger. It just went off in me hand.’
‘How very convenient, Asker. It just went off. That’s not what happened at all, is it? You murdered the man in cold blood, didn’t you?’
‘No, sir.’
‘Come on, Asker. Murder runs in your family, doesn’t it?’
Whatman sprang to his feet.
‘Really, your honor. I must object to this line of questioning. My client is on trial only for the murder of the persons named in the indictment.’
Martin Fell remained on his feet ready to defend his strategy and launched into his counter attack as soon as Whatman resumed his seat.
‘Your honor, I’m astounded that my learned friend can have the audacity to pass off a brutal and heinous triple slaying as only murder. Surely this crime, the most serious imaginable, deserves to have all things considered which are relevant whether they are events of today, last year, or fifty years ago. The previous history of the accused is such as to show a long history of repeated violent offending including numerous murders. That must be held to be relevant.’
Whatman rose to speak again but Sir Thomas cut him short.
‘I’m going to allow it Mr Whatman. I think it’s relevant. Please continue, Mr Fell.’
‘Please tell the court your father’s full name.’
‘Andrew Sidney Asker. I’ll bet yer can’t tell the court who your father was.’
‘Was he the Andrew Sidney Asker referred to in this edition of the Sydney Daily Times published last year?’ Fell held up the newspaper for Freddie to see and then turned it so the jury could see it too. It was the feature that was published after the Glengyle rape trial.
‘That was me pa an’ he was a good man.’ Freddie Asker could feel his anger rising again.
‘What would you say about the allegation made in this paper that your father, Andrew Sidney Asker, murdered Lawton Handley at the Hastings River during a dispute over a black woman called Ginalong?’
‘My pa was a good man an’ I say to hell with any man who says otherwise. I might be old an’ sick but fer talk like that I’d still knock yer friggin’ block off if yer stepped outside.’
‘Silence, Asker!’ the judge roared again. ‘I won’t tolerate threatening language in my court. If you don’t control yourself you’ll be dealt with most severely.’
‘Oh, yeah? That’s three times yer gonna hang me now, is it?’
For a moment Sir Thomas was at a loss for words while Fell smiled conceitedly from a safe distance.
‘Don’t you think that your outbursts confirm that you, like your father and grandfather, are an exceptionally violent man and capable of murder at the drop of a hat?’
‘No! It confirms that I respect me parents but fatherless bastards like some I know wouldn’t understand that.’
‘I’ve had enough of this!’ Robb bellowed from the bench. ‘Take the prisoner to his cell immediately and give him nothing to eat or drink until he comes to his senses. Meanwhile this court is adjourned until tomorrow morning.’
‘It ain’t fair. It ain’t fair,’ Lizzie sobbed at the back of the courtroom. ‘He’s a good man.’
Whatman was on his feet.
‘With respect, your honor, that would be inhumane and I will not allow it to happen.’
‘Call it what you like, Whatman, and if you don’t like it I can always lock you up too with your foul-mouthed client. You’re as insolent as each other.’
‘Then lock me up, if you dare!’ Whatman glared defiantly at the crimson-faced judge.
‘I will if you don’t back down immediately,’ Sir Thomas shouted.
‘I won’t back down. I demand that you declare a mistrial. These entire proceedings have been a farce and a travesty. The jury could not possibly reach a fair verdict now.’
‘Mistrial denied!’
‘In that case you leave me with no alternative but to go to Government House and plead for your immediate removal.’
As Whatman gathered up his books and papers he took a parting shot at his long-standing antagonist.
‘Not only have you treated my client in an outrageous manner, but you’ve done it, as usual, in a drunken stupor. Your behavior,’ he bowed mockingly, ‘has been a profound disgrace to an honorable profession.’
Whatman turned on his heel and strode towards the door with his head held high. Suddenly he stopped, spun round and jabbed a defiant finger at the judge.
‘Meanwhile, if anything untoward should befall that unfortunate man you will have me to deal with and I promise you that won’t be easy.’
‘Arrest that man!’ Sir Thomas Robb bellowed.

To download another free sample,

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Thursday, 17 October 2013


New Zealand author wins top Commonwealth prize

New Zealand authors, publishers and booksellers are celebrating a major success for one of their own. Eleanor Catton, 28, has been awarded the most prestigious Commonwealth literary award, the Man Booker Prize.
Author Eleanor Catton with her award winning novel
Her historical novel The Luminaries is set on New Zealand’s West Coast gold fields in 1866 and it’s a mammoth 832 pages, making it the largest book to ever win the Man Booker. But the records don’t end there.
Catton, who had her 28th birthday last month was the youngest ever author to be short-listed at 27. Her win makes her the youngest by four years to win the Prize which was first awarded in 1969.
This is a major success for Eleanor Catton and New Zealand literature. Catton not only receives prize money of £50,000 but she can also expect a ten-fold increase in book sales. Her previous novel The Rehearsal can also expect increased sales.
Catton was born in Ontario, Canada, raised in Christchurch, New Zealand and lives in Auckland where she is a teacher of creative writing at Manukau Institute of Technology.

Monday, 14 October 2013


Asparagus cures cancer:
Claim by Richard R. Vensal
This is from a circulating email

Several years ago, I had a man seeking asparagus for a friend who had cancer. He gave me a photocopied copy of an article, entitled, 'Asparagus for cancer' printed in Cancer News Journal, December 1979.

I will share it here, just as it was shared with me: 'I am a biochemist, and have specialized in the relation of diet to health for over 50 years. Several years ago, I learned of the discovery of Richard R. Vensal, D.D.S. that asparagus might cure cancer.

Since then, I have worked with him on his project. We have accumulated a number of favorable case histories.

Here are a few examples:

Case No. 1,
A man with an almost hopeless case of Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymph glands) who was completely incapacitated. Within 1 year of starting the asparagus therapy, his doctors were unable to detect any signs of cancer, and he was back on a schedule of strenuous exercise.

Case No. 2,
A successful businessman 68 years old who suffered from cancer of the bladder for 16 years. After years of medical treatments, including radiation without improvement, he went on asparagus. Within 3 months, examinations revealed that his bladder tumor had disappeared and that his kidneys were normal. 

An informative E-Book for just $0.99 USD

Case No. 3,
a man who had lung cancer. On March 5th 1971, he was put on the operating table where they found lung cancer so widely spread that it was inoperable. The surgeon sewed him up and declared his case hopeless. On April 5th he heard about the asparagus therapy and immediately started taking it. By August, x-ray pictures revealed that all signs of the cancer had disappeared. He is back at his regular business routine.

Case No. 4,
A woman who was troubled for a number of years with skin cancer. She finally developed different skin cancers which were diagnosed by asking specialist as advanced. Within 3 months after starting on asparagus, her skin specialist said that her skin looked fine and no more skin lesions. This woman reported that the asparagus therapy also cured her kidney disease, which started in 1949. She had over 10 operations for kidney stones, and was receiving government disability payments for an inoperable, terminal, kidney condition. She attributes the cure of this kidney trouble entirely to the asparagus.

I was not surprised at this result, as 'The elements of Materia Medica', edited in 1854 by a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, stated that asparagus was used as a popular remedy for kidney stones. He even referred to experiments, in 1739, on the power of asparagus in dissolving stones.

We would have other case histories but the medical establishment has interfered with our obtaining some of the records. I am therefore appealing to readers to spread this good news and help us to gather a large number of case histories that will overwhelm the medical skeptics about this unbelievably simple and natural remedy. For the treatment, asparagus should be cooked before using, and therefore canned asparagus is just as good as fresh.

I have corresponded with the two leading canners of asparagus, Green Giant and Stokely, and I am satisfied that these brands contain no pesticides or preservatives.

1) Place the cooked asparagus in a blender and liquefy to make a puree, and store in the refrigerator.

2) Give the patient 4 full tablespoons twice daily, morning and evening.

Patients usually show some improvement in from 2-4 weeks. It can be diluted with water and used as a cold or hot drink. This suggested dosage is based on present experience, but certainly larger amounts can do no harm and may be needed in some cases.

As a biochemist I am convinced of the old saying that 'what cures can prevent'. Based on this theory, my wife and I have been using asparagus puree as a beverage with our meals.

We take 2 tablespoons diluted in water to suit our taste with breakfast and with dinner. I take mine hot and my wife prefers hers cold.

For years we have made it a practice to have blood surveys taken as part of our regular checkups.

The last blood survey, taken by a medical doctor who specializes in the nutritional approach to health, showed substantial improvements in all categories over the last one, and we can attribute these improvements to nothing but the asparagus drink...

As a biochemist, I have made an extensive study of all aspects of cancer, and all of the proposed cures. As a result, I am convinced that asparagus fits in better with the latest theories about cancer. Asparagus contains a good supply of protein called histones, which are believed to be active in controlling cell growth. For that reason, I believe asparagus can be said to contain a substance that I call cell growth normalizer. That accounts for its action on cancer and in acting as a general body tonic. In any event, regardless of theory, asparagus used as we suggest, is a harmless substance.

The FDA cannot prevent you from using it and it may do you much good.. It has been reported by the US National Cancer Institute, that asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, which is considered one of the body's most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants.

Please spread the news...

...the most unselfish act one can ever do is paying forward all the kindness one has received even to the most undeserved person.

Peter’s Piece

Here is the truth about asparagus curing cancer:

There is no truth!

I’ve searched the internet for Richard R. Vensal and, except for this circulating email, no-one has ever heard of him. Perhaps he is an asparagus grower somewhere out in the boondocks who just wants to sell more asparagus. He certainly knows how to produce the manure to make it grow. The DDS after his name could be for Dung Distribution Services.

I checked Snopes and several other anti-hoax sites and all agreed that Richard R Vensal is probably a fraud, if he exists at all.

There is plenty of evidence that asparagus is generally a good thing to have in your diet and, like many fruits and vegetables, could help ward off cancer and other undesirable illnesses and diseases. But for people who already have cancer, taking asparagus could actually be harmful. Asparagus may lead to an increase in cancer cells and be counter-productive to authentic treatments.

Hoax cancer cures have probably been around for as long as cancer, and still people fall for them.

There does not appear to be a single authentic body anywhere that supports the Vensal claim. In fact the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and organization that would be expected to endorse natural treatments, warned against using asparagus as a cancer fighting remedy.

Meanwhile, I shall continue my search for Richard R Vensal, but because his treatment first appeared in print almost 40 years ago, he may have already died from cancer, or Diarrhea Asparagusus.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


J Blakeborough & Sons was a household name in Brighouse

Company founder,
Joseph Blakeborough
For more than a century the Brighouse foundry of J Blakeborough & Sons was one of Yorkshire's best known industrial landmarks.

The founder of the business, Joseph Blakeborough was born at Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire on October 27 1817, and his ancestry can be traced from Richard? Blakbrough who was born in Gisburn, Lancashire (Yorkshire then) in 1512.

It is not known who Richard married but he had a daughter (Alice) and two sons (Walter and John). John (1540-1584) had seven children and the youngest one Roger (1580-1643) married Anna Ratcliffe at Gisburn. 

Roger and Anna had eleven children and two of them died the same year they were born and another five children may have also died early. Their births are the only recorded events that can be found.

The seventh child born to Roger and Anna was Christopher Blakbrough, born 1608, who married his first cousin, Dorothy Blakebrough at Gisburn. Christopher and Dorothy had two children, Agneta Blakebrough and Thomas Blagbrough. At that time the records of births, deaths, marriages and baptisms were hand-written by officials, and spelling and legibility seemed to have been unimportant.

Thomas Blagbrough was born in 1649 at Gisburn and married Maria Parker. They had two sons; another Roger and another Christopher, born 1685. The records don’t show a date of marriage or death for this Christopher, but a son, Jonathan born in 1719 at Bolton and married to Jane? is recorded.
Joseph's son, Robert
was the driving force

Jonathan, possibly an only child, did better when he and Mary produced eight children, among them Roger Blackebrough who married Elizabeth Topham, both dying at Pateley Bridge in 1796 and 1815. They had ten children and three of them may have died in infancy including a Francis born in 1780 and dying in 1782. Their next child they also named Francis, a not unusual thing to do at the time.

We are now getting closer to Joseph Blakeborough. Francis was born at Otley in 1785 and married Margaret Reynoldson in 1805.  Like his father, Francis worked as a cordwainer (leather worker) until he married when he became a tea merchant and grocer. Their seventh child was Joseph, born at Pateley Bridge on October 27, 1817. Francis left a considerable estate when he died in 1847.

About this time several generations of Blakeboroughs closely related to the Otley family were in business as clockmakers and stonemasons.

Joseph became a plumber in Otley and had a shop that sold plumbing fittings.  On April 14, 1841 Joseph married Ann Barker at Otley and they had seven children; Catherine, Robert, Thomas, Francis, John, Peter and Annie.
The shop where J Blakeborough & Sons
started in Otley, Yorkshire

In 1855 Joseph moved his business to the industrial town of Brighouse, where son Robert became a driving force in the business. Robert started designing and casting brass fittings in the shop basement and encouraged his father to expand. They moved to a larger site, purchased another company and registered J Blakeborough & Son.

The new company grew rapidly and soon four sons were involved in managing the business and J B & Sons became a major employer in Brighouse. With the development of town water and sewage systems the Blakeborough foundry was well positioned for a big future in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Joseph died at Brighouse on June 3, 1886 aged 68. But the sons, Robert in particular, had by then been running the business for many years. By 1900 the company employed 200 people. Robert died in 1912 and was mourned by workers and townsfolk alike.

WW1 was a challenging time for the company when the Admiralty took control of the works. The workforce increased to 500 and the range of products included conning towers for submarines.

After WW1 another generation of Blakeboroughs, Robert, Walter, John, Thomas and Leslie, were involved. The core business was the manufacture of water valves, but in the 1920’s and 1930’s they expanded to include cast-iron fire hydrants, man-hole covers and fire-fighting equipment.

In 1928 one of Walter Blakeborough’s last projects before retiring was to organize the centenary celebrations for the business, but the date seems a little odd because old Joseph was born in 1817 and it is doubtful that he started in business at the age of eleven. However, it would not have been unusual in those days for him to apprenticed to a plumber at that age. Walter organized two trains decorated with bunting and flags for a day trip to Blackpool for 2,000 employees, family and friends.
J Blakeborough & Sons celebrating 100 years in business

During WW2 the company reached its peak and was heavily involved in war production at Brighouse and in South Africa. At about this time over 1,000 people worked for Blakeboroughs. 

In 1965 J Blakeborough & Sons was taken over by Hopkinsons of Huddersfield. The next year there was a major fire at the Brighouse foundry and the works closed permanently in 1989. The firm of J Blakeborough & Sons no longer exists but products are still being manufactured with the Blakeborough brand name.

The Blakeborough Social Club still exists in Brighouse and Blakeborough Bridge across the River Calder may soon re-open after being closed many years ago due to safety concerns. The bridge opened as a private bridge between two parts of the Blakeborough works.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Asker Trilogy now available from Amazon for Kindle, iPhone and iPad

Click on a title below to preview or buy. If you are quick you may be the first to write an Amazon reader’s review for one or more of these books.

Nathaniel's Bloodline (The Asker Trilogy) by Peter Blakeborough (Oct 8, 2013) - Kindle eBook
Nathaniel's Bloodline, a compelling first novel by Peter Blakeborough, is about Australia's First Fleet convicts and their families. Based on historical events in the earliest days of European settlement in New South Wales, Nathaniel's Bloodline is an action-packed, gripping, fast-moving drama that will have readers hanging on every word. And hanging is a word that is frequently found in the narrative. 
The Askers are a downtrodden couple thrown together by their homeless, convict past. They believe that life will be easier under the Australian sun, but that is before they become the arch-enemies of the aristocratic, power hungry Glengyles. 
Nathaniel's Bloodline is a well researched story of Australia's rise from a harsh convict outpost to full democratic nationhood.
·         $4.99 Kindle Edition
·         Auto-delivered wirelessly

Murder at Wairere (The Asker Trilogy) by Peter Blakeborough (Oct 9, 2013) - Kindle eBook
·       It’s 1902 and newlyweds Cedric and Doris Asker’s dreams of a life as farmers in New Zealand are shattered when their ship sinks off the coast. 
Murder at Wairere is a fast moving, plot-twisting roller coaster with vivid characters that readers will feel for and remember for years to come. 
This amazing story is well researched and told with a gritty realism that few storytellers can match. It has all the ingredients of a rattling good yarn; adventure, romance, family, tears and laughter, hard times and good, all based on real history. 

           $4.99 USD Kindle Edition·        
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A Twist of Fate (The Asker Trilogy) by Peter Blakeborough (Oct 10, 2013) - Kindle eBook
It’s 1954 and sixteen-year-old Bob Asker is running for his life – running from the New Zealand hangman, a corrupt cop, and a rigged jury. 
Asker is the bright star and the fledgling businessman in a struggling family beset by hard times and a string of sudden deaths. Then Heather, his girlfriend, is murdered. 
Asker is certain that Bryce Russell is the murderer, but while Asker is being arrested, Russell is already fleeing the country. But before Bob can escape to Australia to hunt Russell down, he must first survive alone in the hills and bush of South Auckland. 
A Twist of Fate is the final book in The Asker Trilogy and is perhaps Blakeborough’s best yet. It is another plot-twisting, roller coaster ride all the way to an amazing conclusion. 
·         $4.99 USD Kindle Edition
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Happy reading,
Peter Blakeborough