Monday, May 29, 2006

Fair Trade

Yesterday I bought some "Trade Aid" Dark Chocolate. It is marketed as being organic and fair trade. It was $5.80 for a 200 gram block. I bought it because on the weekend I got the 50g version and suddenly discovered it wasn't half bad and it had a reasonable price. At Trade Aid shops those ones cost $1.90 which is equivalent to a service station price for non-fair trade chocolate.

For me, organic products are one of the higher criteria for buying. My desire for organics is greater than my desire for vegetarianism, and my desire for vegetarianism is far more than my desire for fair trade. Only financial constraints and transport stop me from buying more organics.

Fair trade is yet to logically filter through with me. With my rudimentary knowledge of economics, if you split a market taking all the buyers who would be happy to buy something for a higher price, and also remove the sellers who'd prefer to sell it at a higher price, you make the price crash. That means non fair trade chocolate, regardless of its origin, suffers a drop in price. Though this may 'punish' those who use slavery to produce their goods it also harms many farms which are not selling their cocoa/coffee through fair trade channels but are ethically fine. Ideally this would lead a trend towards all sellers moving toward getting registered as fair trade, as it means a higher premium, isolating the non-ethically produced cocoa. But this would also mean a higher price, lower demand, lower production so fewer sellers benefiting from the trade (as you get with higher prices).

And there is always a market for cheap cocoa. The rogue sellers who use slavery will always have a market because cheap goods always sell.

Anyway, I'm happy with my premium Dark Chocolate as it is delicious foremost, and organic secondly. Yum.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My voice is my passport

I was delivered my new passport today, marginally bigger, more expensive, shorter validity and all. They also deprived me of my wonderfully easy to remember passport number, sigh. I suddenly was struck by the realisation that I had no intention of travelling anywhere outside the borders of this country. Why did I have a passport? Why fork out the money?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

World Tennis Federation

Allow me to quote myself: "It seems ironic that a year in which getting my health and fitness has turned out to be rather horrific in terms of my health." Oh, how the Health and Fitness god(s) taunt me so. On Monday night, a slight discomfort became a rather heinous pain in the ass ailment. So much so that I was compelled to go the doctor the next day. Apparently it is an ailment which 80% of people suffer from in their lifetimes. So what was I supposed to do? Well, the doctor gave me what was to be supposited. Oh deary me. I am still suffering so.

But Monday was good for other reasons in that between dilly-dallying over what I would do about my troublesome back I managed to click it into place myself. Since then I've had virtually no pain. And my ankles are good - I think. So soon all parts of my body will be in their intended places and like will return to a semblance of normality. I haven't been in normal health since early September (unless dysfunctional health is the norm...).

And then Tuesday, the Work and Employment gods decided to give me some relief by quite possibly giving me my second client... Well, not quite giving but it is open for me to seize and I will. Funny life this.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Crossword Trial

Last week I decided to give my crosswording skill a comprehensive test doing both Herald crosswords (straight and cryptic) everyday it was published and also the Kropotkin crossword on the weekend, to have some quantitative test of how well I can do them. I'll try it again later to see if I improve.

Here are the results:

Straight crosswords
Finish rate: 100% (6/6)
Error rate: 4 mistaken answers in 6 crosswords
Assistance: 2 answers provided from outside sources (A friend suggested vaunted for boasted, and also a comment from my mother made me realise a mistaken answer was something else).

Cryptic crosswords
Finish rate: 5 crosswords out of 6. Due to a mistake, one crossword was rendered impossible.
Error rate: 3 mistaken answers in six crosswords
Assistance: 1 answers provided using outside sources (I didn't know what a parvenu was).

I would have included timing to do them but I am often interrupted by work ;-) And besides some of them take me almost 24 hours to complete...

Kropotkin crosswords
Fortunately for my Crossword trial, I finished this crossword for the first time ever. That being said, I did have a lot of guesses, and occasional assistance. His clues are the most evil cryptics possible and the answers are occasionally words you'll never see anywhere else (not even on the internet). Last week I got one answer. I have to wait till next weekend to get the answers but so far I can say:

(out of 28 clues)
Error rate: At least 1 (I guessed an answer for a dressage movement, got it wrong, it was 'piaffe')
Assistance: Only to confirm answers

The evil of the clues are everywhere e.g.

  • Charlie cutting the duck up - back end discarded while meditating (7,3,3) = C+hewing the [k]cud
  • Is tenor featuring in opera? Order one to appear (8) = Is+op(t)era (the Order of termites, I found out later...)
  • Queen with straight wrist - wife leaves - mate comes around (9) = (to get this I needed cockney rhyming slang, as another word for mate is China i.e. china plate = mate so...) Ch+[w]rist+ina, apparently there is a Queen Christina...
  • Film someone eating around noon (a little bone) - had meal by the sound of it (6,2,5) = This is classic - 'Diner' insert the 'n' from noon, a small bone is 'a t bone' reduced to 'at' and sounds like had a meal is ate/'eight' = Din(n)er at Eight, a movie I found out, according to my mum...

I'll take it easy this week, but I'd like to try a few for speed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Another week, another challenge, another success

It seems ironic that a year in which getting my health and fitness has turned out to be rather horrific in terms of my health. Just on the weekend I suddenly noticed that something was attacking one of my toes. It is likely to be one fo the evil uncles of the mushroom family, not that magical though. And last week I almost had to cancel classes as a tongue infection caused me pain and to thpeak funly. It is when you are in the most pain to speak that people do you the slap in the face of "What did you say?" after you have carefully and slowly managed to make a semi-intelligible sentence. Ah, well in all that commotion my ankles enjoyed their time outside the limelight and slowly but surely they are getting better and better.

Health aside, I have had two breakthroughs for English teaching and a job opening out of the blue. The two breakthroughs occurred during my neverending cold-calling to find another company. Now I am meeting with two companies in the next week and a half, one seeming to be rather promising. And the job opening, which was slide under the door and into my inbox, confidential like, so I'm not allowed to disclose. Unfortunately, although it is a job I wouldn't mind doing, and could be quite capable of doing, regrettably I have little in the way of qualifications to suit it. Drat. Won't stop me applying though (which I fired in quick).

In other pursuits, my first charge in preparation for the Speech Therapy qualification next year has begun with training to be a Stroke Scheme Volunteer. Strokes, as our facilitator says, are really fascinating if it weren't for them being a personal disaster for someone. Some of the symptoms seem strangely familiar. Maybe I've had a stroke. Naaah, but it is surprising how something as severe as a stroke can cause manifestations we can relate to such as "tip of the tongue" feeling and struggling to thpeak poply.

Monday, May 08, 2006


A lady from Frankfurt either has a serious problem with her phone, an intellectual difficulty or just wants to annoy me. For the third time she has called on my cellphone at 5:30am. When I first had this for the first time, I struggled to get wakeful enough to deal with a phone call and managed a "Hello, Daniel speaking". I could hear some muffled German and then she hung up. Cheers. Since then, at least once every week for the last three weeks she has called. After a rather messy night of sleep with surreal dreams and restlessness, again I got a call. I looked at the number and sent it to answerphone. Wish I had spoken to her now. Now, I have decided that I will gather enough German from a german speaker and call her or answer her call with it.

Either way, this has to stop.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Before sleep, before dreams

One of the interesting zones of semi-conscious awareness is the time when your mind is falling into sleep but you are also half-awake. Xin, heard me once tell her "So this would be good for your research" (was that it Xin?) when I had almost fallen asleep. This was not connected at all to what was being said or what Xin was doing. She was doing some of her art work at the time. I can vaguely remember that there was a reason for saying it but I can't remember it.

Again tonight, while I was lurking on the verge of sleep I could have sworn that Xin asked me a question, I remember having a really visual answer and was going to try and express it in words, something like "If the soldiers in Nazi Germany can, ..." suddenly I couldn't remember my answer nor the question and asked Xin to repeat her question. She said she hadn't ask me a question.

Anyway, that is my musing before I go down into my dreams for tonight.

P.S. About a month ago, I told many people that I had a dream about a tsunami hitting Auckland. Strangely enough a tsunami possibility scenario arose in the last few days when a 8 magnitude earthquake hit Tonga, although there was no tsunami.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A third down

Well that was quick, one third of the year has been completed, now where am I? Where am I going?


An annoying start to the year but has been getting better. My eyes are fine, my teeth are fine, my back is no longer chronically sore (only a very localised problem occasionally), and my ankle is not majorly sore and should be back in working order in a week or two. I feel fitter than I did at the beginning fo the year. My plans are to go to a chiropractor, and do yoga and/or alexander technique for my back. Allow my ankle whatever time it needs and slowly build up strength and stamina through walking and possibly running nearer the end of the year.


Since the start of the year I haven't applied for any jobs and no particular other jobs have appealed to me. My In-Company Tuition has been useful but whether it is sustainable is still debatable. My current plan is to keep tutoring till the end of the year, although keeping an eye out for possible advertised positions. Market hard now for a new company to tutor to and try to work as close as I can to full time. Apply for Master of Speech Language Therapy (SLT) at University, and if selected do that for the next two years. If not selected, re-evaluate.


After sorting out when I will be paying two large wads of money to tax, I figure that to have enough money to do what I want I had better earn much more money and to cut a few expenses which may require some budgetting. Fortunately a few big expenses have already been paid such as medical bills (including wisdom teeth), trailwalker money, insurance.


Xin is nice. Planning to move in quite soon.


I will concentrate on what is required for SLT first. The chinese advanced test can be my challenge another year. For SLT, they have a restriction of 16 students, so there is a selection process and my qualifications are not directly what they are looking for but I would like to do some preparation throughout the year and have a go at applying in November.

Little projects

Despite there being a huge number of little projects I have on the back-burner, I have not done any in this third of the year. Trailwalker has been my only undertaking of any size. So I will be prioritising and scheduling the others wisely throughout the year.