Least Current News


News and Site Updates Archive 1999/12/28 - 2005/06/20

An archive is thought in cold storage.

- Herbert Samuel

bullet20 Jun '05 - The renovations of our house on Jessie Street in Wellington will be completed the end of July.  I need to lease the house until I can move back into it.  If you know of someone who might be interested, the website url is 25.Jessie.St (clever, huh?) - I would be grateful if you can help me find a good tenant.

     According to Harper's Index: A British hospital apologised to plastic-surgery patients for selling their surplus skin to the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency for chemical-weapons research.  Also from Harper's: the power of the average male heart declines between the ages of 18 and 75 by 20% [David Goldspink, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences Liverpool].  However, the average female heart declines by 0%...  According to Slate, Alaskan natives have a historically high incidence of hepatitis B as well as a high birth ratio of boys to girls; white Alaskans had a low incidence of hepatitis B and gave birth to the standard ratio.  After a universal vaccination program in Alaska, Native Alaskans' boy-girl ratio fell almost immediately to normal while white Alaskans' ratio was unchanged.  A vaccination program in Taiwan provided similar results.  The incidence of hepatitis B in the populations of China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh and other countries where mothers give birth to an unnaturally high number of boys show high rates of hepatitis B.

     From TradeTricks: When you want to avoid getting into an endlessly long and boring conversation with someone at work who doesn't know when to stop talking but you must talk to him, open up your cellphone, approach his cubicle, say into the phone, "hold on a second."  Tell your talkative friend exactly what you need to tell him (he feels important because you interrupted your other conversation), motion to the phone to disengage him from any small talk, and walk away while talking to your dial tone.  A tip for listeners when a station is having a call-in contest: radio hosts prefer winners who sound excited, so if you call a station and sound *fun*, there's a better chance of not only winning but getting on air as well - the whole "caller 9" thing is mostly a filtering trick, allowing the host to tell boring-sounding people "you're caller number 7, sorry."  Drawing a smiley face on the check increases a waitress's tips by 18% but decreases a waiter's tips by 9%.
     Wallenius Wilhelmson unveil plans to build a solar powered ship capable of transporting 10,000 cars from Britain to New Zealand...  World's top 10 tallest buildings compared side by side.  Incredible pencil carvings.  Detailed hand-made models of trucks, cars, busses and tractors made of hardwood.  A couch made of over 6400 welded nickels - he uses pennies, too - and jars...  How to make your own root beer and ginger ale.  The distance between any two cities in the world.  The Mandelbrot Explorer allows you to create your own fractals.  The world's most popular goals.  More folding chairs than you can imagine.  How much class do you have?  An unusual periodic chart - each chemical element contains a link to a page that explains its chemical properties, health effects, environmental effects, application data, an image and also information of the history/inventor of each element.

     Thomas Judd's memories of Operation Teapot nuclear test Yucca Flat Nevada 1955; Clark Calswell's memories of Tumbler Snapper (Charlie Shot) in 1952...  Avery Ant and his one minute rants...  Gorgeous landscape photography by Kenneth Parker.  Bangkok storms and sunsets.  A bad day for a good train crew (try not to stop on a trestle when one of your cars has overheated).  Were Americans misled into a war and why might that matter?  The upcoming bird flu pandemic - a what-if scenario.  The Wheelsurf - calling all thrill seekers.  One of the best website designs I've ever seen - and the content (coffins) is a bit unusual as well...   Basically, old stuff from the 50s including sales brochures and vintage ads.  Protect your privacy, save your job with Stealth Switch, a foot-pedal-operated way to hide your computer screen in a split second.  A Quick Reference Guide to Google Advanced Operators (surprisingly useful if you use Google a lot).  And finally...  If you witness a crime, it is your civic duty to report the crime to the police.  When a crime is committed, you have the right to make a "Citizen's Arrest".  Thus, if YOU commit a crime, it would be extremely helpful for you to perform a Citizen's Self-Arrest.  This is the form.
bullet25 May '05 - Vicki Silvers and David Kreiner, of Central Missouri State University, studied the effects of pre-existing inappropriate highlighting (often found in used textbooks) on reading comprehension.  "Textbook highlighting is a common study strategy among college students," Silvers and Kreiner wrote.  They had students read a passage of text - some students had text highlighted appropriately, some had it highlighted inappropriately, others had no highlighting.  Silvers and Kreiner then tested how well students comprehended the text: those with inappropriate highlighting scored much lower than the others.  A second experiment showed that even when students were warned about the inappropriate highlighting, they had trouble ignoring it.

     What IS that thing?  Gizmos to guess about (with answers when you give up).  Print your own graph paper.  Incredible photographs showing the curious beauty and overwhelming scale of consumerism.
     A trillion US dollars is roughly the size of the entire Canadian economy.  The world's 6 biggest oil companies had combined 2004 revenues just shy of US$1 trillion.  And if you piled a trillion dollars in $1,000 bills, the stack would be more than 109 km high.

     I don't have much today because I spent most of my time putting up a new section - this one is on history (mainly covering modern Europe).  Please visit and tell me what you think.

     "Anything that cannot go on forever, will stop." - Herbert Stein
bullet29 Apr '05 -  "Three months ago, they calculated that 365,000 Americans die of obesity every year, but that was a mistake.  Now they say it's more like 26,000.  Great!  Not only are we fat, but we can't do math either!  We're fat and stupid!" – Jay Leno
     From the book Freakomonics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner: Consider what happened one spring evening at midnight in 1987: seven million American children suddenly disappeared.  The worst kidnapping wave in history?  Hardly.  It was the night of April 15, and the Internal Revenue Service had just changed a rule.  Instead of merely listing each dependent child, tax filers were now required to provide a Social Security number for each child.  Suddenly, seven million children - children who had existed only as phantom exemptions on the previous year's 1040 forms - vanished, representing about one in ten of all dependent children in the United States.  From their book's website, see "What the Bagel Man Saw: An Accidental Glimpse at Human Nature" for a fascinating look into human nature and cheating in secret.

     Amazing things made with pennies...  How to paint rocks...  Vintage hair styles...  Skytopia: discussions of the many unanswered questions of science...  The sidewalk chalk guy...  Nonplace...  Have you lost your old school photographs?  Good news!  Try World School Photographs (via Presurfer)...  Toshiba has announced a new Lithium-Ion battery that it claims will recharge to 80% in just one minute, 60 times faster than conventional batteries.  A full recharge can be achieved in 10 minutes...  A product that reportedly improves your quality of life - a watch that wakes you with an alarm at the time when you are most nearly awake anyway.  It is reported that you awaken more refreshed, fully energised.  According to one user, "It is almost as if there is no lost time, and you just want to seize the day.  The product did exactly what it said it would do."

     The Dymaxion, a car designed by R Buckminster Fuller - includes video clips or visit a page of his unique inventions...  Nevada taxidermist Jeanette Hall offers an interesting alternative to stuffing and mounting a deceased pet: Petpillow.  Each pet pillow is handmade from the fur of your pet and made into a pillow that you can display.  On one side of the pillow is your pet's fur and the other side of the pillow is your choice of fabric.  These soft, huggable pillows are a great way to enjoy your cherished pet.  Pillows range from $65 for a domestic cat to $150 for a horse (via BoingBoing)...  An escort service for kids: RentMySon began operation in 1998 in San Diego with 2 boys who, by the end of the school year, had gone to over 20 local school dances and Proms.  As word quickly spread of their services, so did their team of boys and the range of events they catered to.

     Most of the granite for America's headstones comes from around Barre, Vermont.  The master artisans of Barre, many Italians who immigrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, worked the gray granite blocks into poignant memorial designs.  Hope Cemetery, first opened in 1895, is 85-acres spread across a hillock of well-manicured grass.  Despite the variety of memorial design, there is a uniformity not seen in other cemeteries.  That's because every one of the 10,000+ monuments (including chairs, beds, soccer balls and cars) is made of Barre Gray granite.  Visit the site for a few photos...  The Burj Dubai tower, when completed (at a cost of US$869 million), will be the world's tallest structure.  The final height of the building is a "well-guarded secret" (thought to be 800 metres), but will "comfortably" exceed the current record holder, Taipei 101, which is 509 meters (1,671 feet).  Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2008.  The design of the structural concrete tower is a "Y" shape to dramatically reduce wind forces on the tower, keep the structure simple and foster constructability.  The structural system is a "buttressed" core.  Each wing, with its own core and perimeter columns, buttresses the other via a 6-sided central core, or hub.  The resulting tower will be extremely stiff torsionally.  Each tier of the building steps back in a spiral stepping pattern.  This causes the tower's width to change at each setback.  This stepping and shaping "confuses the wind".  Wind vortices never get organised because each new tier is a different shape.  There are several things to which I find I'm inordinately attracted - very tall buildings, very strong winds (and here), very large dams and immense crowds of people.  I suspect it's the recognition of power in each.  What are your attractionss?  Let me know, please!

     URGENT! Please send 300 kilos of white mice.  No time to explain.
bullet21 Mar '05 - A brief history of Texas: First occupied by natives of the area, France claimed rights to the region in 1685.  While the French didn't settle, the Spanish did, occupying Texas in 1715.  The Louisiana Purchase brought much of the land into the US in 1803, but it was relinquished to the Spanish (still living there) in 1819. Two years later, when Mexico won its independence, Texas became their province. Not content, the state issued a Declaration of Independence from Mexico, becoming its own nation – the Republic of Texas – in 1836.  Texas ratified the Constitution and joined the US in 1845, but that wasn't the end of it.  In 1861, it became part of the Confederacy, legally disassociating itself with the Union.  It was readmitted in 1870, 5 years after the Civil War ended (via mentalfloss).

     Every year you gaze enviously at the lists of the richest people in world, wondering what it would be like to have that sort of cash.  Just where do you sit on one of those lists?  Here’s your chance to find out.  Just enter your annual income into the box and hit "show me the money."

     A bamboo bike?  Voodoo display with 5 kitchen knives by designer Raffaele Iannello - also check out his Pinocchio toilet brush, or the computer mirror by designer Luca Trazzi - although I'm not quite sure why a computer needs a mirror...  An excellent source of gamers, geeks and hackers t-shirts.  The world's most versatile computer chairInflatable Clothing made from rubber latex and shoe pumps that inflate as you walk around, allowing you to fall down with abandon and appear only marginally retarded...  Custom laser technology which projects the image of a full-size keyboard on any nearby flat surface.  The IR Beam and CMOS sensing unit allow complete detection of user finger movements and keystrokes.   Old carpet recycled into objects of art (surprisingly successfully) by Carpet Burns.

     The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime (assuming you live to be 80) are 1 in 3000; about 1/3 of all injuries occur during work.  Further, over the past 300 years, an average of between 800 - 1,000 people have been killed per year by volcanoes.  Why is there colour?  Believe it or not, there are 15 reasons...  Video game reviews by the Maoist Internationalist Movement - they are guaranteed to be different...  These are zinc-coated BB's stored in glass dishes, then spread on black cloth for photographing.  They are a physical representation of the Iraqi civilian casualties and the coalition casualties in the Iraq war as of 27 October 2004 - just so you have a better idea...  Walking around New York City's ethnic neighbourhoods.  One of the strangest homepages I've ever seen...  Apparently the personal website of the President of Syria.  Looks to be the first one he's ever attempted.  Must be seen to be believed.  Reminds me of the blind men and the elephant.
     The Philosophy of Liberty - an interesting flash presentation (bit long, though).  Google and Good NewsCenter for Inquiry: secularism, humanism and skepticism in action.  And, finally: A newly discovered life form, a type of bacteria, that froze into permafrost near Fox, Alaska some 30,000 years ago was apparently alive all that time and started swimming as soon as it thawed, NASA has reported.  The unicellular organism was discovered in 2000 but it took them 5 years to confirm that it was in fact a new form of life...

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
thank God! the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there's no occasion to.

"The Uncelestial City"  - Humbert Wolfe, 1930

bullet26 Feb '05 - I just looked outside and its snowing again.  It was sunny the last time I checked - I thought perhaps spring had arrived.  Sigh,  I read that on 14 - 15 January 1972, the temperature in Loma, Montana, rose 103 ºF (39ºC) - from 54ºF below to 49ºF above - the greatest temperature change ever recorded anywhere during a 24-hour period.  Spring could come suddenly - it's possible.  Another bit of trivia - this one about George Washington's teeth: there are four known sets of Washington's dentures.  The dentures are made from gold, ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were common components).  The dentures had springs to help them open and bolts to hold them together.

     I've been playing with Photoshop.  The photo on the left is what I would look like if I hadn't needed an eyepatch.  On the right is what I think I'll look like in 20 years...
     View the solar system (via Metafilter)- with everything in proportion.  1 pixel = ~1,000 km; images are to scale with each other.  (Page is said not to display properly in Safari or Opera as they apparently don't support super-wide images.)  Or see all solar eclipses until 2015 along with maps of where they can be best viewed.  Or check out the Tucker - the "Car of Tomorrow" was the vision of Preston Thomas Tucker (1903 - 1956) of Ypsilanti, Michigan.  51 cars were built, of which 47 survive now.  The car is called the "Tucker '48" (for its model year) - it was called the "Tucker Torpedo" as it was being designed and promoted.  It pioneered automotive features and ideas that became standard later.  The original (projected) price: US$2,450 (about US$20,000 in today's dollars).  Current value: from about US$250,000 - $500,000.

     Would you like to rent an inflatable church?  Get married wherever you like and they'll supply the chapel - holds 40 people comfortably and costs $5000 for one day's rental.  Allergic to cats but still like them?  Get a hairless sphynx cat - the perfect solution if you would still like to have one as a pet!  They are expensive and they're funny looking - but hey - they're still cats.  Or, if in your case the "patter of little feet" means a baby is on the way, visit NameVoyager - a truly fascinating interactive portrait of America's name choices; it begins with a "sea" of nearly 5000 names.  Type a letter and zoom in to focus on how that initial has been used over the past century.  Type a few more letters, or a name.  Each "stripe" in the "sea" is a timeline of a single name, the width reflecting the name's changing popularity.  Click on the stripe for a closer look.  Requires Java.

     Would you like to know how to make a wallet from folded woven $1 bills?  (Heck, use $20s if you're flamboyant.)  Want a ski mask with personality?  Take a quiz about California (via Information Junk).  Buy a new standard keyboard (via Monkeyfilter) - tell me - do you think it stands a chance?  Feeling down?  Want a laugh?  Visit Engrish - I don't mean to pick on English-as-a-second-language speakers, either.  Some of the 200 available phonetic representations of the name Coca Cola in the Mandarin language actually translate into phrases such as “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse fastened with wax.”  After much research, Coca Cola was changed phonetically into Coca Coler – which translates roughly into “to permit the mouth to be able to laugh.”  (These kinds of situations are every international marketer’s nightmare.)  And finally, a truly futuristic grand piano (which costs about as much as a Tucker automobile) or even a plastic one (which costs nearly as much).  Or this one - less than $200,000 and cute...  Chau (I'm learning Spanish).

bullet19 Jan '05 - My classes begin tomorrow.  I've added 50 pages to this site, bringing the total to about 1,250.  (It takes me 2 days just to page through them all.  To re-read them would take a couple of months full-time.)  I tried to delete most of the articles that are no longer relevant - except for the forestry trust.  I'll leave those pages up forever as a monument and a warning to future forestry trust investors.

    According to UN figures, the top 5 megacities now are: the greater Tokyo area with 35.3 million people, Mexico City with 19 million, New York-Newark 18.5 million, Bombay 18.3 million and Sao Paulo 18.3 million.  Tokyo is a concern because of its history of earthquakes and the impact on the world economy if a major quake devastates the capital.  Millions are at risk and experts say a major quake is long overdue - Tokyo was flattened in 1923 by a quake and fires.  (Doomsday scenarios somehow seem more plausible these days.)

    On such a serious note, you might want to check out the Ossuary in Sedlec where human bones become art... (Check the history of the church as well.)  You can buy a real human skull of your own in a black carrying case for a mere $850.  Buying one with few or no teeth, stains and "a little damage" (don't ask how) will save you $300...  Investigate the strange story of Napoleon's wallpaper.  Or read Sun Dog, a touching story about the life and death of orphaned April, part Labrador, part mutt.   And check out the information available to passengers who are either worried about air travel or wish to know more about the aeroplane on which they are travelling.

    More upbeat: Bore surfing is a very thrilling and unique experience.  The power and speed of the tidal bore can far exceed beach waves.  The experienced bore surfer must also develop an understanding of the wave and the river.  This leads to respect for and attachment to the bore.  Knowledge of a bore's irregular form takes years of dedication and the surfer develops an intricate passion for the tides...  Custom-Designed Lifetiles murals are animated - they move as you walk past (photo at left - hit reload to make him open his mouth 5 more times).  They start at a minimum of 50 square feet in size.  Depending on design and installation requirements, prices range from $700 to over $1,500 per square foot.  Beautiful landscape photography of the US - or perhaps you'd prefer a photo tour of Libya?  For those with a fast connection - a 10 meg aerial view of Disneyland (if you care).  Need armour?  Photos of various cross-species friendships, some quite touching...  Fascinating: Sometimes one driver can vastly improve traffic if he understands the concept of traffic wavesTurbulence Chess which shows waves of influence for each move.  (You just have to try it...)   I believe it requires Java.  True Mirror is a non-reversing mirror - at last, you can see yourself as you really are!  More Origami - mostly animals and insects - this site shows the folding pattern to produce each one (not that it did me much good - none are what you might call simple...)  Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature - did you know that 24 - 31% of currently accepted names eventually will prove invalid? And that you can buy the privilege of naming a newly discovered species yourself?

    Lastly: Invisible Trains - if you can, download the video and watch the game.  It had me puzzled - so simple as to border on the silly.  But it isn't the game, it's the technology that's significant here.  I predict that this is the wave of the future (perhaps I should buy stock?)... AND how to measure the popularity of a site.  This site ranked about 187,000th - not such a popular site - but then I don't know what the total number is.  How many websites do you think there are in the world?

bullet4 Jan '05 - I had meant to post in December but it took me too long to prepare an upload.  When we came to NJ, the US dollar was worth nearly 2 NZ dollars.  But by the end of this year, they may have parity - time to return.  Past time, already, I think.

    The most complete resource for maps I've ever seen - access to global, aeronoutical, digital, nautical, road, topographic, military and thematic - and that's just for starters...  Fabulous Facts about Australia (#1 It's there and I'm here...)  The Traffic Cone Preservation SocietyBanned and Challenged BooksMr Marbles, a life-sized prop dead cat made of cotton, latex, various plastics, fake fur and insulation foam...  Custom Taxidermy, where you can buy pickled weasel head, tarantula or scorpion - from as low as $19!  Food-ad tricks - What does a glop of Vaseline have to do with a burger commercial?  How to install Windows XP in five hours or less...  A website on - sand.  (I never realised how unusual sand could be...)  Weird foods from around the world - including bugs, drinks, vegetables, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, minerals and other.  Other?!  What's left?  The Midnight Society - New Jersey's tristate area historical society of the strange and unusual...  Abuse-a-Tron.  Some of the contradictions of George W Bush.  And remember: The airline industry loses an average of 7,000 bags a day.

     Pets or Food™ was founded by a member of Mensa, the high IQ society; they're dedicated to bringing consumers healthy, certified organic animals at wholesale prices. Whether you're getting a pet lizard for your son or a dozen Doberman flank steaks for a SuperBowl party, you won't find lower priced animals anywhere else that are better suited for Pets or Food™...  Or, conversely, The hidden lives of fish - A recent issue of Fish and Fisheries cited more than 500 research papers on fish intelligence, proving that fish are smart, that they can use tools, and that they have impressive long-term memories and sophisticated social structures...  And then there's Singing horses - click on each one... via The Dull Men's Club, a place — in cyberspace — where Dull Men can share thoughts and experiences, free from pressures to be "in and trendy," free instead to enjoy the simple, ordinary things of everyday life.

    Google Job Opportunities - Google is interviewing candidates for engineering positions at their lunar hosting and research centre opening late in the spring of 2007.  This unique opportunity is available only to highly-qualified individuals willing to relocate for an extended period, in top physical condition and capable of surviving with limited access to such modern conveniences as soy low-fat lattes, The Sopranos and a steady supply of oxygen...   One way to destroy the earth: Hijack control of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island, New York.  Use the RHIC to create and maintain a stable strangelet.  Keep it stable for as long as it takes to absorb the entire Earth into a mass of strange quarks.  Keeping the strangelet stable is incredibly difficult once it has absorbed the stabilising machinery, but creative solutions may be possible.  Jesus Never Existed - Why do I bother putting this up?  By now, you are either religious or you aren't.  Either way, you don't want to change your mind.  (Anyway, the site is well-researched.)

    The history of Daylight Saving Time from Benjamin Franklin to the present... Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, most of the Eastern Time Zone portion of the state of Indiana, and the state of Arizona (but not the Navajo Indian Reservation, which does observe - Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy due to its large size and location in three states).  From Random facts:
bullet In Canada, every province except Saskatchewan observes DST (it remains on standard time all year long).
bulletIt wasn't until 1996 that Mexico adopted DST.  Now all three Mexican time zones are on the same schedule as the United States.
bulletIn 1996, members of the European Union agreed to observe a "summer-time period" from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
bulletIn the winter months, Russia, which spans over 11 time zones, is always one hour ahead of standard time.  In the summer, Russians turn their clocks ahead one more hour.
bulletMost countries near the equator don't deviate from standard time.
bulletIn the Southern Hemisphere, where summer arrives in what those in the Northern Hemisphere consider the winter months, DST is observed from late October to late March.
bulletThree large regions in Australia do not participate in DST: Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland stay on standard time all year.  The remaining south-central and southeastern sections of the continent (which is where Sydney and Melbourne are found) make the switch.  This results in both vertical and horizontal time zones Down Under during the summer months.
bulletChina, which spans five time zones, is always eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and does not observe DST.
bulletThere is no DST period in Japan.
bullet30 Nov '04 - In two weeks I'll have a month-long break from school.  I hope I can get my huge file of accumulated updates to this site posted then.  But for a quick dump today: Why is a "not found" error called a 404?  See The History of 404 for the fascinating answer...  A perhaps useful site - Vacuuming the Lungs: How to breathe deeply when you're nervous.  Did you know that an ex-emperor of Morocco holds the world's record for the number of children fathered - with (yes!) 888...  A bit late, but... Annenberg Political Fact Check: Holding Politicians Responsible says "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts" (from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan).  From their website: "We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major US political players in the form of tv ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.  Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding... The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labour unions, political parties, lobbying organisations or individuals.  It is funded primarily by an endowment from the Annenberg Foundation."

    Did you know you can Experience zero gravity for as little as US$3,000?  (I'd pay that much just to reduce it by 10 or 20%.)  Feel the urge to kill something?  Do it from your desk on your break!  Live-Shot is a real time, online hunting experience...  I read where a toy factory in Beijing has invited 20 children to become their "product advisers", trying out the latest range of toys and making useful suggestions.  Is this life imitating an old Tom Hanks' movie?  If you haven't yet made his acquaintance, check out Lizard Man.  (They call him that for a reason...)  Or view Gorgeous landscape photos from Brazil.

      "A flourishing human life is not a life lived with an ageless body or an untroubled soul, but rather a life lived in rhythmed time, mindful of time’s limits, appreciative of each season and filled first of all with those intimate human relations that are ours only because we are born, age, replace ourselves, decline, and die — and know it...  Nothing hurts only if nothing matters.” from Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Human Happiness, report of the President's Council on Bioethics, headed by Leon R Kass, probably the most lyrical government report ever produced...   The most stunning photos of nuclear blasts ever.  Or Breaking the Gigapixal barrier - a photo made up of 196 separate photos stitched together (do I want to know that much about anything?)  Cool mural in Rotorua, New Zealand.  Another in Los Altos, both by artist John Pugh (see door at left, also a mural).  An extremely well-done British site selling expensive but trippy t-shirts.  A site offering alternative yellow ribbons.  Superman flips a switch and Lois magically transforms into a black woman for 24 hours.  Yes, for real - in issue no. 106. "At the hospital Dave needs a blood transfusion but, the hospital is out of O negative blood.  Realizing that she can help, Lois states in a very shocked way "I — I'm O-negative!"  Here we see the underlying theme of the book highlighted: Underneath, we are all the same..."  Whatever.

    Because I care.  And remember - physical, intellectual and economic equality are beyond human remedy.  So just get on with your life.

bullet16 Oct '04 - From “The Story of The Two Things” by Glen Whitman:
     A few years ago, I was chatting with a stranger in a bar.  When I told him I was an economist, he said, “Ah.  So… what are the Two Things about economics?”
     “Huh?” I cleverly replied.
     “You know, the Two Things.  For every subject, there are in actuality only two things you really need to know.  Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”
     “Oh,” I said.  “Okay, here are the Two Things about economics.
bulletOne: Incentives matter.
bulletTwo: There’s no such thing as a free lunch”...

What else can I offer?  How about the Earth Today worldmetre?  It ticks away births and deaths, giving totals for today and this year.  Or check out science myths in textbooks and popular culture.  Or see a collection of logical fallacies, most with excellent examples, or check out the developers of Manned & Unmanned Powered-Lift VTOL Vehicles (see their Dragonfly single person Vertical Takeoff and Landing [VTOL] aircraft - it's cute...) or visit a site with over 200 photographs illustrating how to build your own home.

     Then there's the Antarctic English Glossary or Pepe the two-tailed scorpion (as if one stinger weren't enough!), the best of the Hubble Space Telescope, a test for your senses, the Interface Hall of Shame (the unclear, undecipherable, unreadable, unbelievable and consequently unbearable) or what we know about aggressive drivers and how best to deal with them.

     On the artistic side see Teddy, an amazing sketching interface for 3-D design (try it!  All that's needed is Java...)  We also have the Zoom Project (a Shockwave Director file),  or stunning fireplaces which are works of art.  View twisted but inventive, very short and clever films, a fantastic, surreal production from Gary Jules and Michael Andrews (via www.milkandcookies.com) or look at American Oddities - odd buildings to be found in the US: there are buildings that looks like a basket, a bureau, a coffee pot and more (how ever did they get financing to build them?).  If you like them, you'll find more of the same in Bejing.

     Now for the unusual...  Check out Lab-Tested - not tested IN a lab, but BY a lab... including the bizarre  Humunga Tongue ("It's a great toy, but not for dedicated chewers like Labs.  Maybe we'll try it again when he's a bit older...).  There's also Elephant Polo (Predictably, alcohol figured in Erickson's elepolo involvement.  "I met Jim ... over a few drinks in London," he says.  "And I said, 'I'll bring a team.'  I had 4 daughters - a mixed blessing, that - and they played [as the Screwy Tuskers] for 4 or 5 years.  Then they got married.  I wanted to do something crazy." - And he DID - trust me.)

     Next, outstanding photos of the largest machines I have ever seen (mobile, at that) one makes strip mines and the other carries spaceships to be launched.  And finally - I hesitate to recommend this site for fear it may be misinterpreted.  It IS satire - and biting at that: Black People Love Us.

bullet1 Sep '04 - Back to school - not as much time for the Internet.  Or anything else.  Still, I suppose insufficient time is better than being continually bored by life.  If you find yourself temporarily bored, why not go to the world's most annoying webpage?  (Trust me, they really mean it.)  Or take the Photoshop or Photograph quiz (which proves you can no longer believe what you "see with your own eyes").  For a laugh, visit Straight Talk from White House West in Crawford, Texas (a parody).  To be amazed, check out flexible rock (the mineral kind, not the noisy kind).

     Need help with school?  Try randomly generated essays.  Something to wear?  View clothing that gives the illusion of tattoos.  Paranoid?  Refer to Her Majesty's Department of Vague Paranoia for what you need to know.  Or read Third Places to see why such places are important.

     Origamic Architecture consists of not just folded paper, but objects, like greeting cards, which combine both folding and cutting.  If you like it, also have a go at Origamic Architecture and Escher (the source of this photo):

     For interest, see the page I put up on Maurice McTigue.  For mild amusement, observe Cows with Guns or Spamusement (poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines).  To really laugh, see the Winnebago Commercial outtakes.  Hysterical.  Warning: some indelicate language used (lots!)

bullet11 Aug '04 -  Interior designer Jasper Sanders and architect Gavin Elliot had the idea of creating a compact apartment unit that could offer the option of low-cost city-centre living to those otherwise priced out of the market.  The concept, called Abito, is a hyper-efficient 347 square foot apartment priced around £85,000.  Each apartment features high ceilings, balcony, foldaway bed and storage wall, and a multifunctional pod (the "central living unit") in the centre of the unit which contains storage, laundry, kitchen and bath.  (Of course, Sears home kits once contained everything you needed to build a house, every piece precut [from 1906 - 1926] and cost only a few hundred to about $5,000.  Times have changed.)  At the opposite extreme is a site for those interested in building, purchasing, or designing a solid stone castle - built by structural masons with a love for castles and expert knowledge in physics, engineering, and chemistry.  While the old castles were cold, damp, and downright miserable, their castles are toasty warm, dry, and healthy to live in and will last for 100s of years just like the old ones.  They specialise in cold weather construction and difficult sites; solid stone castles, stone arched bridges, cathedrals, stone cottages, medieval villages, timber framing, woodworking, swimming pools/moats, drawbridges, trebuchets, battlements, keeps, portcullis, towers, loopholes, fireplaces, blueprints.

     Perhaps you prefer visionary designs in transportation engineering including automobiles, commercial aviation, hovercraft, helicopters, ships, monorail, SST, personal rapid transit, and "oddities" (as if the rest weren't!).  Or a sculpture that employs lightning as the major component - one that's 38 feet tall and is essentially a column with a sphere on the top.  Concealed within the sculpture is a 130,000 watt Tesla Coil.  The Tesla Coil is the largest of its kind in the world.  Lightning discharges up to 50 feet in length emanate in all directions from the top of the sphere. (This work was installed on his farm in April 1998 outside of Auckland.)

     Check out The Rise and Fall of Dorcus Menswear for Men or the other white meat - both are part of James Lileks incredibly original site (there are far worse things you can do with a weekend than wandering around his site!); be sure to follow the Pelfreeze link - you'll find theirs to be a stunningly curious company.

   Try ghost towns by state and region in the US and Canada (often with photos).  Or the Serpent's Wall: "There is no records of who built the Serpent's Wall and when, we only know it was built in ancient times to protect my hometown from nomadic tribes..."  A fascinating account of a town in the Ukraine...  Or The Red Primer for Children - a book of cartoons by Victor Vashi - note the "about the author" page - quite an interesting life he led...

     Finally, an explanation for international paper sizes, all too familiar instruction, Interesting flash math (1) and (2), flags and national anthems for 192 countries, The Engines of Our Ingenuity (more knowledge on this site than in a small library), energy efficient homes, apartments, offices, schools, a funny 404 error, and if you don't really like either US Presidential candidate.
bullet4 Jul '04 - Odd things on the web:
    ● Hunt Midwest SubTropolis is the largest underground business complex in the world, created through the mining of a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit.  In the mining process, limestone is removed by the room and pillar method, leaving 25-foot square pillars on 65-foot centres 40 feet apart.  The pillars’ even spacing, concrete flooring and 16-foot-high, smooth ceilings make build-to-suit underground facilities time and cost efficient for tenants...
    ● The Dressman can only iron one thing: dress shirts.  But maybe this isn't so bad - while even the most experienced ironers take about 8 minutes to iron a shirt, the Dressman robot promises to do it in seconds - well as long as it takes to button up the shirt and smooth out the wrinkles.  It’s basically a mannequin that you pull a shirt over (the shirt has to be still damp from being washed), and it inflates with air to press the shirt flat while warm air dries it.
    ● GPS Drawing in essence is about recording lines using one's journey as a mark making medium.  The GPS receiver automatically records the route like a geodesic pencil.  (Crop circles, anyone?)
    ●  Have you ever wondered why so many cultures have flood legends?  Perhaps you assumed it meant there had to have been a world-wide flood at some time in the past.  Well, there is at least one other clever explanation...
    ●  For anyone who has ever considered what might lie below the 48-acre Grand Central Station Building in NYC...
    ●  A/W 95 Affordable Helicopter - Build your own helicopter from a kit for a mere US$6-8 thousand (insurance extra)...
    ●  Welcome to EUROBAD '74, an exhibition of Europe's worst interiors of 1974... (And they're not kidding!)
    ● Powers of 10 [javascript] begins 10 million light years away and ends with quarks.
    ●  Meet Alice...
    ●  Horseballs® are a method of therapeutic recreation which provide a physical outlet for horses.  Because of their instincts, herd mentality, and fight/flight and grazing needs, horses were always running and moving.  Now they are stalled or in paddocks and fields.  They need to be stimulated in order to dispel the energy that causes them to pick up stable vices: cribbing, pawing, and weaving, not to mention destroying screens, stalls, doors, and fences.
bullet22 Jun '04 - Notice to Unitholders:
On 17 June 2004 Donald Hugh Simcock filed in New Zealand's Supreme Court leave to appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal dated 19 May 2004 upholding his fraud conviction.
bullet21 Jun '04 - According to the Guinness Book of Records - 1999, the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was auctioned at Christies, London, in December 1985.  The buyer paid £105 000 for a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafitte claret that was engraved with the initials of Thomas Jefferson.  Eleven months after the sale, the cork dried out, slipped into the bottle and spoiled the wine, making it the most expensive bottle of vinegar ever sold.

    Why not treat yourself?  The Central Maritime Hotel in Dilli Harbour, East Timor was originally a cruise liner.  It has been refurbished and transformed into a 133-room deluxe hotel.  Conveniently located in Dili's central business district, it is only a 5-minute walk to Government House...  Or perhaps you'd prefer a shot glass chess set?  A combination of two pursuits, the game of chess and drinking, each player fills 16 shot glasses with the beverage of his opponent's choice.  Capture an opponent's piece and you get to drink the contents of the glass.  Shot glasses come in 6 different shapes and sizes to represent each chess piece...  Or buy a friend a utility kilt.  Or an unbelievable carved guitar.

    But why spend money when there's so much entertainment on the web for free?  You might want to check out the Bizarre Architecture contest (they call it Bizarchitecture) if you've ever dreamed of the unique and fabulous place you'd build if you won the lottery.  In this contest, your task is to think of the most creative use possible for an endless home building budget...  Or visit John Dahlsen, environmental artist - his raw materials consist of plastic bags, driftwood, fishing line and more.  Or check out the novel photographs of... ice?  Or the page of ASCII bicycle art.

   Or stretch your mind!  Learn the best way to break up a dogfight without getting hurt.  Or check out the various routes climbers have used to scale Mt Everest.  Or find out how many seconds, minutes, hours, or days you have been alive.

    Finally: the largest permanent maze is the hedge maze in Ruurlo, Netherlands, which has an area of 94,080 square feet.  It was created from beech hedges in 1891.
bullet1 Jun '04 - April Fool's Day stems from the adoption, in 1582, of a new calendar which moved New Year's Day from 1 April (following the "rebirth" of spring) to 1 January (no good reason given that I could find).  Many countries resisted the change.  (England and what was to become the US held out until 1752.)  People began to make fun of those who hadn't yet heard that New Year's Day had moved - sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something else that was false.  I guess that worked - only the Internal Revenue Department in New Zealand still believes the year ends on 31 March.

     Interested in light-transmitting concrete blocks?  An electric saw that can't cut you?  (Be sure to watch the video!)  Cross sections of the body?  Computers as artWhat the future looked like at various times in the past?  The Dead Senator's Tertiary Homepage?

    You might want to check out Confuse-a-Cat (they've been in the business of feline bewilderment for over 30 years).  Or the site that gives the world's flags letter grades in terms of aesthetics.  Or check out a lovely holiday spot.  Or visit the budget simulation site and try to see if you can do a better job with the US budget than those responsible seem to be doing.

    Finally, for those who are interested, visit Greg's Digital Retouching Portfolio for some of the best work in the field I've seen.  And check out the forgotten benefactor of humanity for a different perspective on heroism: Norman Borlaug has saved literally millions of lives, yet hardly anyone knows who he is...  (And who has arguably killed more people than anyone else?  Probably not who you think!)
bullet19 May '04 - Notice to Unitholders:
The Court of Appeal, in its written judgment dated 19 May 2004, dismissed Donald Hugh Simcock’s appeal against conviction.  Accordingly, Simcock’s conviction on 3 counts stands.  The Crown’s appeal against Simcock’s sentence of 400 hours of Community Service is to be heard at a date yet to be determined.  (Time constraints prevented the Crown’s appeal against Simcock’s sentence and Simcock’s appeal against conviction from both being heard on 25 February 2004.)  Here is the judgment of Justice William Young, delivered on behalf of the Court.

     More information for Unitholders will be forthcoming soon.

bullet17 Mar '04 - Have you ever wondered what the world looks like to a bee?  Wished for an easy way to move an insect outside without harming it?  Wondered how a spider goes about making a web?  (This site includes a speeded-up Quicktime movie of a web being constructed - click the "web movie" tab near the top of the page.)  Seen a 60-acre spider web?  If you like lighthouses, visit photographer William Britten's site.  My favourites were of Block Island in Rhode Island, Hecata Head in Oregon, and Barnegat in New Jersey.

     You may prefer to read about the dangers of a Microsoft monoculture, play 20 Questions with a computer, check out some rather good optical illusions, or view stunning 3D graphics - I especially recommend his short animation, Snakes.  Last, you may be curious about what happens when you inadvertently throw dry ice in an airplane toilet.

     Unitholders - check back soon - I hope to have news.
bullet1 Mar '04 - I just learned how well Peter Jackson and his films were regarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at their 76th annual awards presentations.  Finally!  It couldn't happen to a more deserving person.

    If you have a fast connection, please check out the excellent short animation Cane Toad: What Happened to Baz(As a matter of fact, one of the creators now works for Jackson's Weta Studios.)  On a more serious note, you might try Existential Risks: Analysing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards.  Finally, you might see where my head has been this week (I guarantee it isn't what you think).
bullet27 Jan '04 - Notice to Unitholders:
Rod Templeton resigned from his position as General Manager-Corporate Trust of Perpetual Trust in late December 2003 and is no longer employed by that company.  Investigation and enquiries relating to the liability of Perpetual Trust to the unitholders of Flat Rock Forests Trust for the millions of dollars lost by the unitholders is ongoing...
bullet17 Jan '04 - I felt the "weapons of mass destruction" reason for deposing Saddam in Iraq seemed a subterfuge from the first and I resented the gross attempt at hoodwinking.  I must say, though, that Lawrence Wright's outstanding article, "The Kingdom of Silence", in the 5 January New Yorker has made me look at Islam countries with much more critical eyes.  The article is quite long, but WELL worth a read.  If the case for a regime change had been made purely on humanitarian grounds, I for one would have found it somewhat more palatable...  A funny song about fighting for oil (if such a thing could ever BE funny...) I'd Go Anywhere to Fight for Oil to Lubricate the Red, White & Blue  (Warning: the MP3 is 3.5 meg!)  We may argue eloquently that "honesty is the best policy."  Unfortunately, the moment honesty is adopted for the sake of policy it mysteriously ceases to be honesty (from Dorothy L Sayers).
bullet13 Jan '04 - In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in US cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.  (I thought I'd start the new year off with something important.)  I have to agree with Lily Tomlin - no matter how cynical you get, it’s almost impossible to keep up.

     On a lighter note, visit the Vos House - lit completely by LEDs.  Or Harvard's dialect survey - I'm sorry it doesn't cover New Zealand, but I was rather surprised to find that I don't have to leave US soil to feel I'm in a foreign country.  Wondering what to get that special person for a birthday?  Consider infectious wearables!  (these are ties, scarves, boxer shorts and notecards "...sure to spark conversation, all based on scientific images and designed to promote disease awareness.")

     Finally: girls - looking for a husband?  Consider Henry.
bullet21 Dec '03 - Holiday greetings!  To unitholders: thanks very much for all your words of support and for your patience.  Progress is being made.

     I hope your holiday plans are fulfilling your expectations.  I had wanted to be in New Zealand for New Year's but that didn't quite happen - maybe I'll make it by the end of the next school term.  I did get to New York, where I saw (among other things) Fresh Kills, a monstrous landfill where NY's history is "...buried in chronological order, along with wallets, a million dollars in loose change, flushed wedding rings, and effects too voluminous to comprehend."  Visit Oddball New York to find out more and for several suggestions of sites to see that are truly off the beaten path.  Or try Quirky Japan - a site dedicated to digression, kitsch, inessentiality, irreverence, irregularity, obscurity, idiosyncrasy, eccentricity, peculiarity, individuality, and most of all, originality (I think they've succeeded in their goals!).

     If you're creative and like to draw, you might want to enter the Concept Boat Competition.  The deadline is June 2004 (check out their 2003 shortlisted entrants for ideas...) and the prize is (what else?) - a new boat.  For creativity of an entirely different sort, visit The Brick Testament, where the Reverend Brendan Powell Smith is modelling major events of both the Old and New Testaments in - well - Legos.  His talent is impressive and his interest in, and respect for, his subjects is evident.

    Science News' site News of the Year 2003 is an informative site that describes the world's greatest achievements in science for the past year.  (If something shows up in the next few days, I suppose it will be included in next year's list.)

    Finally - it you're short on holiday gift ideas, how about a wind-up cellphone charger?  Enjoy life!
bullet30 Nov '03 - Notice to Unitholders:
Stephen Eaton has been removed from his position as Chief Executive of  Perpetual Trust and is no longer employed by that company.  Investigation and enquiries relating to the liability of Perpetual Trust to the unitholders of Flat Rock Forests Trust for the millions of dollars lost by the unitholders is ongoing.
bullet23 Nov '03 - In reviewing the search keys people have used to arrive at this site, I have been struck by some very unusual ones entered by US government employees.  An employee of the Treasury came looking for "Windows NT floppy drive disappeared" (containing - what, exactly?).  Human Services sought "cultural personal values" while US Courts looked for "family values" (best to check these out?).  The USDA came looking for "fowl fight"; the Dept of Transportation searched for "PSA flight 182 location now" (an air traffic controller new on the job?) and followed that with "bald tire jokes" (laughter might help).  Federal Emergency Management sought "Which Hollywood stars have done artificial insemination?" (a REAL emergency?)  Justice, it seems, came looking for Dr Steven Hatfield (did he or didn't he?) and also "female executions by hanging" and "Virginia capital punishment method" (just doing research?), followed by "dead bodies +naked +male" and "morgue +naked +splayed" (say, maybe this employee needs counselling?).  The Environmental Protection Agency wanted "Jesus in Oklahoma storm cloud" (a novel form of protection).  NASA came seeking "personal flying machines", "constructing a turboshaft engine helicopter" (can't find where they put those blueprints!) and "why does a full balloon fall instead of floating?" (not a bad thing to learn before building that helicopter!).  The Federal Aviation Administration looked for "jet belts" (a way to relieve airport congestion?).  A person from the US House of Representatives searched for "Congressman murder reelected" (do you think he's worried?) and "How to quit your job and move to Key West" (leave now!) followed by "renouncing citizenship to avoid taxes" (maybe Key West isn't far enough?) while Customs wanted "list of machine gun dealerships in Montana" (whatever for?).  The TVA looked for "3.9% of women say they don't" (I won't ask) and information on using propanolol for stage fright.  Alarmingly, the National Institute of Health sought "Burger King urine Rochester" - and these requests covered only a small part of November and only one person's website.  (When do these people find time to do their jobs??)

     For more amusement, try paper airplanes, spiky bras,  the world's worst album covers (on many of the world's worst albums!) or the world beard championships home page or gallery.  For enlightenment, try notable properties of specific numbers (actually an extensive and fascinating site), World Wide Words, or abandoned places (mostly Eastern Europe, mostly large, curious buildings).

     To unitholders - have a wonderful holiday season!
bullet3 Nov '03 - If you have about £8 million to spare, visit the Lee Castle site and place your bid on a 7-century-old Scottish castle - it comes with Baronial titles, 261 acres of land, all contents and 3 lodges.  Oh, and 3 electric gates, a safe room, a secret room, garaging for 20 cars, and a pack of watchdogs.  Or visit The Changing City to see what the past 25 years have done for the city of Vancouver. Or take the Neocon Quiz to find out where you stand politically (as if you don't already know).  Or check out this month's Harper's Index for their usual astonishing statistics.
bullet8 Oct '03 - Recent enquiries to the Court of Appeal have disclosed that the appeal filed by Donald Simcock against conviction, and the appeal filed by the Crown against Simcock’s sentence, will be heard at the Court of Appeal in Wellington on Wednesday 25 February 2004.
bullet28 Sep '03 - There are still a few unitholders who have not contacted me, but for the most part the response has been excellent.  Unfortunately, I neglected to put the name of our Trust in the last newsletter which caused a few of you some consternation.  Nor did I remember to include this website's URL for the many who now have access to the internet but who didn't when this site was launched.  I'm now updating the unitholder database with the current information you've sent.  Thanks.

     Would you like to have some fun with focal lengths?  If you've been spending too much time at the office playing spider solitaire, maybe it's time for the telescope game (hours of fun!)  When you get tired of that, try the RSVP Dinner Party game.  Mildly amusing is the PopCap game (connect virtual fuses to launch rockets - requires Flash).  Finally, check out Icon's Story (also requires Flash).

     I'll post more as soon as I hear something.
bullet21 Sep '03 - I've heard from about 50% of unitholders thus far.  I really appreciate the kind comments many of you included.  If you haven't contacted me yet, please do so!

     If you have Flash 5 or better, visit After Life - possibly the loveliest website I've seen - and the creator is from New Zealand.  (Be sure to click on each of the crosses which appear with the seasons.)  I wish my ideas were that creative and artistic!  One of the most informational sites I've found contains maps for practically every country and city in the world (the maps are old, but still useful).  How about a site that can calculate how many calories you burn?  For a silly site, check out Bow-Lingual, purporting to translate dog barks.  If someone asks you to name the smallest country in the world, will you say Sealand?  (Maybe you should!)  If you're interested, you can check out other micronations.  And finally, you might enjoy looking at the very first edition of The Economist, published 2 September 1843...
bullet30 Aug '03 - I've finally mailed/emailed the long-promised unitholder newsletter #10.  If you don't receive something in the next 10 days, let me know.

     If you're interested, here's a game that let's you construct a mobile (you have to make it balance for the next attachable object to appear), explore Vector Park (pointless but entertaining - especially if you continue until you reach the second scene!), or control a nuclear power plant (not exactly my thing, but you might enjoy it).  For subtle humour, see the "Next time you think, think Fertnel" site.  Example (Fontera, listen up!):
bulletFertnel's continuing effort to boost profits in our Diary Division has resulted in a bevy of new consumer choices:
bullet2.5% milk
bullet3% milk
bullet3.75% milk
bullet4.2% milk
bullet6% milk
bulletBlue milk
bulletClear milk

Be sure to check out the postcards (a slight link problem on the site causes you to need to click the back button, then the forward button, between each postcard).

     How about a walking tractor?  (If you have a fast-enough connection, be sure to click on the two mpg files on the lower right-hand side of the page - impressive!)  Or Napster's flash bio of why their site died (click the linked numbers on the left-hand side of the page for new installments; apparently they intend to add lots more - it's amusing, but biased).  Next up: Flow by Hoogergrugge and Wiggle - well.  You'll just have to see for yourself.  Click everything that's clickable for continuing action!  Or an incredible video taken in 6000 feet of water, showing an undersea robot sawing a 3mm wide slit in a pipeline; the pressure inside the pipeline is 0 pounds per square inch; the pressure outside is 2,700 psi.  Then along came a crab.

     Finally, some great mausoleum photos (plus I have one or two on my website) and a downloadable clip of what New Zealand will look like in 4 million years (Wellington gets smushed, Christchurch heads south).

     Did you know that if protons and neutrons were 10 cm big, quarks and electrons would be .1 mm and the atom would be 10 km - and up?

bullet15 Aug '03 - Having been found guilty of the first three counts of the indictment laid by the Serious Fraud Office, Donald Hugh Simcock was ordered to pay $150,000 as amends pursuant to s10(3)(d) of the Sentencing Act 2002, to be paid the Public Trust.  He was sentenced to the maximum non-imprisonment sentence of 400 hours of community service.  Unitholders will be receiving a newsletter soon with much more detail.  (You may wish to read an article on Simcock and also one on another lawyer who committed fraud for comparison.)

     For non-unitholders: would you like to find your birthday in pi?  (Mine began at location 938,266.)  Want to be amused?  See Dork Tower for an animation, Kevin Bacon for a game, read the worst beginning line to a novel, view a cartoon, or pick out the island you'd like to buy (including a couple in NZ!).  You can read a jaw-dropping article about Idi Amin, an ad for Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner, or have hours of fun with fractals (including some that are animated) and scribbles.  Finally, if you're thinking about donating money to a charity, you may want to check out the Charity Navigator to see just how much of your gift actually goes where you had intended (you may be unpleasantly surprised!).
bullet9 Jul '03 - I'm sure most unitholders have by now heard the news that Donald Hugh Simcock was found guilty on three counts of fraud relating to the Flat Rock Forests Trust.  Sentencing is set down for Tuesday, 12 August 2003 at 9am.  Unfortunately, I have two weeks left of summer school - I will be in a better position to write more at that time (including the long-promised unitholder letter!).  I have received preliminary information about the conviction and anticipate receiving additional information in the coming days and weeks.

     On the lighter side - are you interested in airplane homes?  Some beautiful and imaginative crop circles?  A man without a brain?  Stunning photos from NASA?  The magnificent geology of the earth as seem from space?  The earth's moving magnetic north pole?  Finally, dog talk, something completely different, a funny flash movie about dorks dating, and a short clip from Bozetti about the differences between Italians and other Europeans...

     Let me hear from you!
bullet21 Jun '03 - I've been out of school for a month.  I thought that would be enough time to upgrade this website but it now has so many pages that I only got halfway through.  Summer school begins tomorrow but lasts only a month, then I'll have another month before the fall semester begins during which time I should be able to finish the rest.  For hours of fun, try the soda straw constructor.  Or the magic cube.  Or letting your computer talk to you.  Are you a Google fan?  Have you tried their labs or zeitgeist pages?  A trivia fan?  Into body modification?  (Not for the squeamish!)  To unitholders - I may have news of a sort in the next couple of weeks.  Check back then, please.
bullet19 May '03 - Several things... First, I have a new email address (after 9 years) as Telstra recently decided to stop supporting the netlink accounts they bought from Victoria University.  (Not only that, they apparently sold the email list, as lately I've received spam sent to a long list of netlink customers.)  Henceforth, you can reach me at ruth@chaos.net.nz - and the subject of "reaching me" brings up another issue.  I recently backed up my stats and discovered a file of emails addressed to "info@flatrock.org.nz" - some dating back more than a year - which I had never seen - apparently the mail forwarder was not working properly.  There are about 160 emails and I plan to respond to them all.  If you had emailed me there and wondered why I just ignored you, please accept my apologies.  You will be hearing from me shortly!

     This site now averages between 800 - 1,000 visits per day.  One person in New York stayed on for 6 hours and viewed over 220 pages.  (If you are that person and are reading this, I'd just like to say thanks - you hold the visitor retention record by far.)

     For a stupendous ad, see Honda's.  For a scary story, try China Threatens to Execute SARS-Spreaders - or try Bear Bites Submarine for a laugh.

     As to the forestry trust - visit the SFO's website and check for events in June to see if anything looks like it might apply to unitholders.  I WILL send out a unitholder newsletter, but I figure I may as well wait until late June so things can be wrapped up properly and we can decide if a next step needs to be taken.

     Finally, I've uploaded my first animated short (this is one of the things I've been studying in school for the past year).  It's called Prince Felix.  At 28meg, it definitely requires a fast connection.  I have a smaller version for dialup connections - unfortunately, since the cartoon is just over 5 minutes long, it takes about 40 minutes to download at 56k.  (I hope you'll think it's worth it!)  I've also uploaded Brain Games, a series of 9 very short quizzes meant to entertain you.  It's 6meg, or 20 minutes download time if you have a slow connection.  Let me hear from you!
bullet15 May '03 - I apologise for not having updated this page in a long while.  Tomorrow is the last day of class.  I'll add several items over the next few days, including an update on the forestry trust.  Please check back!
bullet20 Mar '03 - A group called N2H2 is a company which "suggests categories for basic Children's Internet Protection Act compliance".  The US has passed a law requiring public libraries that accept federal funding to install Internet filters intended to block pornography.  How does the N2H2 rate this site?  As pornographic.  If THIS site is pornographic, and if no porno sites can be viewed, and if the library is a person's main source of Internet information, then a LOT of important information may now be unavailable to Americans.  That's sad - especially for citizens of a nation now at war (another sad thing).

    See The History of Britney's Breasts if you're interested (porno? they aren't bare).  Or A Particularly Relevant 404 Error.  Or an interesting flash movie about excess airplanes.  Or earthlights (especially if you have a fast connection).  Or even Chinese Try Mobile Death Vans.

     As to the trust - I said I'd get out a newsletter, then didn't.  I regret that because progress is still being made!  We may, in fact, still sue.  Contact me for details (no obligation will be incurred) if you're interested.
bullet17 Jan '03 - I've added a new page, How Many Countries in the World?  (The answer isn't clear.)  You might try The Wave for a droll review of the Turkish version of Star Trek.  An excerpt: "The movie goes back down to the surface of the planet where Nancy is licking the dead body of the green-shirted crew member.  It’s nice to know that the future’s idea of ceremonial burial is to leave your teammate’s corpse with a woman who licks everything, an eccentric mad scientist, and a pervert robot wearing tiny briefs and a pinecone..."  Or The Non-Work Side of the American Economic Association's Annual Meeting 5 January 2003.  Excerpt: "If he'd had that diagram, it would have made things much clearer."  "If he'd had that diagram, the seminar would have been over in five minutes, and then what would he have done with the rest of his time?"  "But it would have been a really impressive five minutes..."  How about a frequently-updated satellite view of the earth's cloud cover?  Or a list of all file extensions (which are the 1 - 4 letters after the dot).  Believe it or not, this knowledge can be useful at times.

     For unitholders only: familiarise yourselves with the name of our Inspector (see 20 Oct '00).  Then look under Broadcasting.  If you don't mind .pdf files (they require a free Adobe Acrobat reader), read an article from the August 2000 issue of Investigate Magazine, pages 2 - 7 (which correspond to the magazine's pages 20 - 25).  Then email me your thoughts (if you have a chance) as to whether or not you think there's any cause for concern.
bullet7 Jan '03 - I've re-read the forestry section as part of my ongoing effort to keep this website updated.  I found myself amazed anew that the trustee would refuse to have a final unitholder meeting despite being petitioned and despite the fact that no auditor would risk certifying the trust's books.  The Trustee stated in their 22 December 1999 letter that they "...will continue to monitor the investigation being conducted by the Serious Fraud Office"... and that they "will advise Unitholders if any material matters arise" from it.  They added that they would "initiate a meeting of Unitholders if it is in the interests of Unitholders to do so..."  I expect all unitholders reading this to remind the Trustee of their promise and their duty when the time comes.

     I've added News article on Land Information NZ and the Serious Fraud Office in the Forest- Related/Historical News section, two more pages on snakes in the Animals section, two more clips in the Animation section, a page on the beautiful baobab tree, one on common radioactive items and one on the decline of old barns in Canada in the Environment section, two new pages in the New Jersey section (as if you cared), a stunning picture of a fire in Montana in the Photographs section, pages on the proposed World Trade Centre replacements and pro and con arguments re: treating North Korea and Iraq the same in the Terrorism section.

     For a very interesting website, visit Movie Reviews of the Worst Movies of All Time or Molecular Expressions (the Web's largest collections of color photographs taken through an optical microscope) or Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame.  (If you really like chess, see the review of the book Shady Side: The Life and Crimes of Norman Tweed Whitaker, Chess Master - unfortunately this is a .pdf file.)  For mildly interesting sites see Dogs in Elk in Vegetables: A Halloween Tribute (I can't describe it, you'll have to see it for yourself) or Andreas' Personal Flying Suit Project.  Yahoo voted Rather Good as one of the 10 best websites of 2002 - it isn't at all to my taste, but you might like it.
bullet24 Dec '02 - First things first... Believe it or not, we're still making good progress with the forestry trust!  I'm not at liberty to discuss it publicly, but I'm hopeful the year 2003 may even see a conclusion.  Let me hear from you!

     I realise most of the people that come to this site (approximately 20,000 per month) aren't particularly interested in the forestry trust.  So, for the average visitor, I've added a new section, Animation.  Since this site now has more than 1,000 pages, I'm experimenting with breaking each of the main sections into subwebs.  This information will probably mean little to you other than that I've discovered making a section into a subweb removes it from the common table of contents.  (I'm experimenting with javascript to see if I can correct this.)  I'm amazed at how much this website has taught me - I appreciate having been presented this opportunity to learn.  For a lovely site, visit Katinka Matson - she creates works of art with common items - namely, fresh flowers and - a scanner.  Computer stopped working?  I've had hours of amusement this month reading through the search keys that brought users here - a small sampling from a single day includes "having sex 35 months pregnant", "dead rat tree", "star fish excretion", "eating their bad smells" and "10% homosexual".  (The funnier ones are often too embarrassing to post.)
bullet8 Dec '02 - I've been unable to access the SFO's website, so I don't know the status of the hearing.  If anyone has news, please share it.  I have two new websites in my portfolio, Six Easy Pieces and New Yorker Porker.  These sites require Flash, Shockwave and QuickTime plug-ins.  A fast internet connection would be helpful as well.  Feedback would be lovely.  By the way, according to our statistics, since 1 May 2002, we've been visited 104,557 different times by people who have viewed a total of 189,405 pages.  Thanks.
bullet11 Nov '02 - I've been decimated by a virus again which has disabled my computer for almost three weeks.  I apologise to anyone who has written to me and not received a reply - I should catch up on correspondence in another week.  I've been notified by a unitholder that Steve Reidy (the person who sold most of us our units in Flat Rock) died suddenly on 2 November.  I hope this has no impact on the deposition hearings, but it might.

     Want to see photos of flying objects magnetised by an MRI machine?  If you run across any rare and wonderful websites, send me the URLs, if you have a minute.  I've learned more than I ever expected about putting up multimedia websites (and still have only scratched the surface); I'll be producing my first site next month - an online newspaper for pigs (don't ask).  I'll put the address up here.  The site will contain my Flash files and animated gifs and I'd love to hear your opinions, so check back next month.  Please!
bullet23 Oct '02 - a very nice barrister has kindly pointed out to me that what are coming up (as stated on the SFO website) are deposition hearings, not the substantive trial. Deposition hearings are analogous to Grand Jury procedure in the US (once also used in NZ but now superceded) to determine whether there is a substantive case to answer.  Deposition hearings are heard either by 2 Justices of the Peace or a District Court judge.  If it is held that there is a case to answer the matter will proceed to trial at a future date.  I apologise for the misinformation.
bullet17 Oct '02 - The date for the trial has been postponed a week or so.  Nevertheless, it's only about 3 weeks away.  It's been a long wait.  Do I "hope" for a certain outcome?  According to Václav Havel, hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism.  "It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, no matter how it turns out."

     In the NZ Herald on 12 Oct 02, in an article entitled "Developer Brothers Leave Trail of Angry Owners" by Tony Wall, I read where a string of shelf companies which are liquidated to avoid personal liability is "a common... practice" in certain sectors.  My son tells me it's calling "gaming" when people or companies take advantage of flaws in the system to gain a private advantage - until those flaws are repaired, those advantageous actions are technically legal.  Some people think laws should enforce what's "right" (what's "natural") - if the courts are late in declaring an offense to be against the law, you still did something illegal by gaming because you should have known better (analogous to committing a sin).  Other people feel that what's right is what the law doesn't specifically say is wrong.  If the law doesn't say a particular form of gaming is illegal, then until the law is changed, that action may be selfish and considered distasteful by the majority - but it's not "wrong."  (Sometimes the experience of being a victim skews the perspective of members of the latter group.)

     On coldspringshops.blogspot.com I read of an informal survey conducted on the first day of class (26 Aug 02) by teacher Stephen Karlson wherein he asked what proportion of the (US) work force earns minimum wage.  Of the 83 responses, the mean was 32.6%, the standard deviation 17.8, the mode 25, the lowest estimate 0.73, and the highest 80%.  The reality is: less than 10% earn minimum wage.  He then asked if real living standards in the US were better or worse today than 100 years ago.  46 students said better, 34 worse.  [Actually, unless you were a wealthy white male then, standards are almost immeasurably improved.]  Last, he asked in a financial transaction, who benefits: the seller or the buyer?  35 respondents offered the seller, 8 the buyer.  Only 41 said both.  [By definition, the answer is both.]

     Would you like to live in an old silo?  No, not an abandoned grain silo but a no-longer-needed missile silo.  This is one of those items for the person who TRULY has everything.  See silo home.

     My website had a referral from a site called AllTooFlat - when I visited them, I found (among other odd things) a backward Google search engine (click on the "geeky" tab).  Later I read an interesting article in the Sept issue of New Scientist ("Google Mirror Beats Great Firewall of China") which offered a surprising explanation for why it matters.

     If you want a tongue-in-cheek guide for starting your own cult movement, see TimeCube.  And finally, the immortal words of Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, summing up his party's current position: "If the UN adopts the kind of resolution authorizing force to enforce the kind of inspections that they should have a resolution adopted for, then I believe this resolution should say: In the event the UN adopts a resolution authorizing member states to use force to enforce the inspections, I believe this resolution should say that under those circumstances we should authorize force to enforce that UN resolution."

     Remember: published articles and attractive faces are only average.

     I have exams this week.  I think I like seminars better - where you only have to prove what you know to your employer over time.  Still, I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn something entirely new.  Check back next month!
bullet2 Sep '02 - Strange search keys and phrases that have led people to this site.
bullet24 Aug '02 - Searching for proffesional proofreading on Google (note the misspelling) returned 96 results (although the first one, actually a page commenting on this fact, doesn't REALLY count).  If you're interested: an article on what's libellous and what's not on a website.  (Maybe I should be more direct in my comments about Flat Rock after all?)  It may seem this is a slow site with nothing much happening.  I expect that may change in November - be sure to check back then!  I've put up a new section on ageing and beyond, Older and Under, presenting a non-spiritual look at the ultimate future of us all.  "There are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who count in binary and those who don't."  I'm taking courses in digital media production and expect to be able to add a new dimension to this site (music, animation, film clips) in another year or so.
bullet23 Jul '02 - Did you know that the Serious Fraud Office has a web page where they list Pending Court Cases?  I found it to be quite interesting.
bullet12 Jun '02 - I received a bit of news - it seems things ARE still progressing.  Email me for details.
bullet29 May '02 - I received several copies of the Klez virus, one of which appears to have wiped out some of my mail files.  These included 19 emails from unitholders with updated contact information which I had not posted.  PLEASE - if you've emailed me this year with new data could you be so kind as to resend it?  I'll produce another unitholder letter soon and don't want to miss anyone.  Thanks!
bullet3 May '02 - News of Flat Rock - finally.
bullet13 Apr '02 - Another very interesting site!  This one, last updated 2 August 2001, lists under "Government Directories - New Zealand" this information:
State Agencies
Chairman of the New Zealand Enterprise Board ........ Donald Simcock
The New Zealand Enterprise Board is a state agency?  Could someone reading this verify this information please?  How do these rumours get started?
bullet12 Apr '02 - I found a very interesting site (which is now, unfortunately, archived) that mentioned several Flat Rock companies.  (Contact Gerard Hulst and inquire about a company called The Cure if you're interested.)  I wonder which director went overseas trying and failing to set up a venture capital firm in Sept '95?  It was at the end of Aug '95 that we first received the brochure for New Zealand Forests Trust - which also soon failed.  How many of the companies listed as "struck off" were liquidated or put into receivership?  A dozen?  More?  How much in lost taxes is involved in all those companies?  Some directors certainly seem to have more success than others.  One way or another.
bullet7 Apr '02 - Just so you know, I'm still receiving legal correspondence regarding the Inspection.  Should matters end up in Court, at least I'll finally be able to tell you what's going on as I can then publish all documents filed.  You would find some of them very interesting.
bullet15 Mar '02 - The Trustee's letter wherein they state that it is "appropriate" they "summarise the conclusions reached by the Inspector" just reached me.  Since unitholders, not the Trustee, got an Inspector appointed and since the Trustee contributed nothing toward the cost, why is it "appropriate" for the Trustee to say anything?  Is it because they grew impatient waiting for me to do it?  Why should they bother?  They didn't mention that both the results and the bill are in dispute.  Funny that.  Nor did they speculate as to why the Serious Fraud Office "investigation" is well into its 4th year - something we'd all like to have explained.  The Trustee is aware that I've been communicating with unitholders for the past 3 years yet they say an outdated register made available by the Manager is "the only record available" - and didn't even request address updates from me.  Why not?
bullet28 Feb '02 - I was told by the Inspector on 1 Dec that he would be "seeking directions" from the Court.  I've received no copy of any document filed, nor have I been contacted by the Court though 3 months have passed.  I am waiting to get this part over before taking further action.  I apologise for the (as usual) interminable delay.  I'll send another newsletter when I have news.
bullet31 Jan '02 - I've completely redesigned the site (making most of the larger photos easier to load) and added a much better search engine.  Have a look around and tell me what you think.  I've rewritten the Newcomer Page as well.  Also, if you missed Chris Lee's 21 Jan column, he had a few words to say about Flat Rock (which I very much appreciated).  I'm still waiting to hear from the High Court.  Thanks for all the friendly emails.  They really help.
bullet23 Dec '01 - I'll be mailing the unitholder letter tomorrow.  I haven't included a copy of the Inspector's report, but the newsletter (which probably won't say what you expect) explains why.  Feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss anything.  I thought this episode might be over by now, but fate has decreed things drag on a bit.
bullet13 Dec '01 - I've moved the website to a new host where I have plenty of room to upload new items.  Unfortunately, I've run into some unexpected problems whose cause is unclear.  First, about half the site "disappeared" and hundreds of broken links showed up.  I've worked for the past 5 days to restore the site.  However, when I tried to back it up, I got an unrecoverable error.  Though the site looks fine to me online, I heard from one of you that he sees garbage on several pages (including this one).  If any of you are able to read this, please check a couple of other pages besides this one and let me know if you see any problems.  Perhaps it would help us to figure out what's wrong.  (It may be mainly that we switched from an NT host to a Linux host - or it could be something much more esoteric.)  If you'd like to see pages you haven't seen before, try Something to Crow About, Bad Feather Days, The Beak of Perfection or My Job Is Killing Me.  As to the Inspector's report: I will mail/email a newsletter before the year is up, I promise.
bullet4 Dec '01 - As usual, I apologise for not getting the newsletter out as soon as I had expected.  I've made the assumption I need to "own" the Inspector's report before discussing its contents with unitholders.  If it takes much longer, I'll send out a newsletter anyway explaining my main concerns.  (It'll have some good news and some bad news.)  I found the report totally unsatisfactory for reasons I did not anticipate.  I haven't been able to add much to the site because I'm out of space.  That problem is now being addressed.  Thanks for your patience and support.
bullet22 Nov '01 - I meet with our lawyer tomorrow; I should find out from him how much I can say in uploads, and email/snail mail to unitholders, without undue liability to myself.  Morality matters: see Why Be Good?  Why Be Free?  Why Be Left Alive?
bullet8 Nov '01 - I'll be in Wellington from 12 November until the end of the month.  I'm coming to meet with our lawyer and to send out newsletter 9 with an update on the Inspector's report after which I'll post it online along with my responses to the points made and lots of other stuff.  We finished last month with 7,700 sessions.  For a look at the "shape" of this website, see A Glowing Report.  For more on America's War against Terrorism, see Talk, Questions, Silence, Grammar.  (The talk part is humourous - at least read that much.)
bullet29 Oct '01 - In the 7,000 sessions we've already had this month, people have viewed a total of almost 50,000 pages - many were forest-related; if those people return in December, they'll get to read how this affair turns out (and perhaps draw some lessons regarding immigration, investment, investigation, inspection and integrity?).  See Mistakes Happen? for information I think is crucial to everyone.
bullet22 Oct '01 - This website has used up the space allotted to us on our web host's server and there appears to be no more space available.  My son will be able to effect a move to a new server - but that won't happen until he comes to New Jersey the first of December.  Until then, I'm restricted in what I can upload to what I remove in exchange.  I intend to put up the Inspector's report, a few more documents, some email conversations, and a critique of both the Inspection and the process.  However, the enforced delay will allow me to consult with our lawyer, John Maassen, to hear from Justice Durie, and to send out a very detailed (and, I hope, informative) unitholder letter the end of November.  Meanwhile, please see Painful Lessons? and Guns, Gold and God as I had to sacrifice a couple of older articles to cajole the server into letting me upload them.  (Did you know some Egyptians have been told that American movie stars are cannibals?  And that the parents of "martyrs" get their debts paid and earn great respect in their communities?)
bullet10 Oct '01 - I'm sorry not to be more forthcoming about the Inspector's report.  When I send out a newsletter in November, the reason why will be made clearer.  Meanwhile, Fanning the Fires contains more articles related to America's War against Terrorism.  Kiwis (in my opinion) are very lucky to live where they do.
bullet1 Oct '01 - I've scoured the Internet, newspapers and magazines for out-of-the ordinary views of America's current political situation (that fit my own bias, of course).  See Response Ability and A Window: Pain.  I will be in New Zealand next month (where I can be reached easily by phone) and will send out a unitholder newsletter at that time.
bullet26 Sep '01 - For an update on the Inspector's Report, please see the report.htm page.
bullet22 Sep '01 - I have been informed that the report was filed.  I am awaiting a copy.
bullet17 Sep '01 - Sometimes I get discouraged, but I get over it.  I may take this site down for a redesign when my son the webmaster and I are reunited during the summer break.  Maybe then I can get people to visit some of the more obscure pages.  (What about it - would more bells and whistles help?)  Alternatively, I may just put my "Immigrating to New Zealand" journal up instead.  If I don't hear from the Inspector this week I will rethink whether my attitude should be positive or negative.  Until then, why not remain optimistic?
bullet12 Sep '01 - I've finally received an update from the Inspector.  Life doesn't come with any guarantees, but I do think the report will be filed next week.
bullet2 Sep '01 - For at least another week, I'm unable to place long distance calls as we've recently moved.  (The phone system in New Jersey - and maybe in all of the US - has transformed into something I find difficult to work with, but I'm learning.)  I emailed the Inspector's office 5 times last week (emails sent to three different people) but, as usual, heard nothing back.  However, during the month of July we had sessions with the State Department, the Pentagon, Parliament, the US Office of Management & Budget and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  In August, we had sessions with NASA, several law firms and two with the Executive Office of the President of the US.  None of these surfers left me any messages, though.  All together, we've had 30,000 sessions thus far this year and that's without promoting our website in any way.
bullet29 Aug '01 - I've been without an internet connection for the past two weeks while we relocated.  The delay in getting connected was unexpected.  I spent the time preparing a new section called Taking Flight.  (At least check out the pictures of strange aircraft.  There're also pages on the history of flight, present problems, unusual crashes, the future of commercial flight and space tourism.)  The Inspector says the report is finished.  I'm waiting for a copy.  I think this will conclude soon.
bullet8 Aug '01 - I sent out Newsletter #8 with the address of where I would put the report when I received a copy, but I neglected to put .htm at the end, so the address I included does not work as well.  It should be www.flatrock.org.nz/news/report.htm.  My apologies.  If you have any interest in what New Jersey is like, click here.
bullet3 Aug '01 - The report has been delayed while it's checked by all parties for accuracy.  I'll send out a newsletter this weekend anyway.  It may take a few days longer to reach you because I'm in the US (temporarily) so it has farther to travel.  Meanwhile, you might find Nothing to Do with the Truth interesting.
bullet27 Jul '01 - For the fifth time, a date the inspector has set has passed yet I've heard nothing.  (Only on the first occurrence of a missed date was I told ahead of time.)  On this occasion, I was told the report would be submitted to the court this week, but I can only presume that didn't happen.  I've sent them multiple requests for a new date but so far - no word.  There could be a perfectly valid explanation but I'll have to say that I'm beginning to lose hope that there'll ever be a resolution.  All I can say at this point is: try checking back next week.  On the subject of this website - the search function provided by ATOMZ can't handle a website as large as this one has grown.  The past few months of data I've added don't show up in the searches.  Now that I've realised this, I'm arranging for new search software.  My apologies to anyone looking for something they thought was here but were unable to find.  (We finally heard from Iowa.  We've exceeded 5,200 sessions so far this month.)
bullet19 Jul '01 - The Inspector says the draft report is now complete.  It is being peer reviewed and will be filed with the High Court next week.  We should receive a copy immediately thereafter, so I anticipate sending out a newsletter before the month is up.  Here's a proposal for a novel method of wealth redistribution to stimulate you mentally while you wait for the report.  (Contributions of a similar nature from anyone reading this would be greatly appreciated.)
bullet11 Jul '01 - No, I've heard nothing further from the Inspector, though I expect to any day.  In the past 3 months we've had almost 14,000 sessions from every continent - including countries such as Slovenia, Luxembourg, Gibraltar, Croatia, Romania, Bahrain, Jordan, Sao Tome, Samoa, and Tonga and also every state in the US (except, curiously, Iowa).  For a REALLY FUNNY webpage try this one.
bullet3 Jul '01 - It now looks like the unforeseen happened after all.  The report should be presented to the High Court the toward the end of July.  Thank you all for your patience.  (Thoroughness takes time.)
bullet29 Jun '01 - Unbelievably, I still have heard nothing from the Inspector.  I personally remain confident that progress is being made.  I've added a new section called Working.  Please at least look it over as I've spent about 150 hours - well- working on it thus far.  (Well, I had to do something to pass the time while I wait!)
bullet20 Jun '01 - The Inspection is proving to be much more complicated than I had anticipated.  Things are apparently progressing, it's just that I have no knowledge of what, exactly, is happening.  I understand that could change, possibly even by this Friday.  Stick around.  For a diversion, you might try reading the new pages I've put up on capital punishment (Justice or Vengeance?) or the page on homeschooling.
bullet8 Jun '01 - Barring the unforeseen, the Inspector's report will be presented to the High Court Friday 15 June 2001.  I'll send out a newsletter as soon as I obtain a copy.  It may be interesting...
bullet31 May '01 - Well, it's now the end of the month and I've heard nothing from the Inspector, though I've made attempts to contact him.  I don't know what to say except don't give up.  Instead, try reading this and send me an email with your thoughts.
bullet9 May '01 - I've now been told not to expect the Inspector's report until at least the end of May.  Sigh.
bullet28 Apr '01 - I've heard nothing further from the Inspector as yet.  I anticipate his report within the next week or two.  I'll send a copy electronically to each unitholder for whom I have an email address and snail mail it to the rest of you when I send the next newsletter.  If it's allowed, I'll also post a copy here.  I began investigating this trust almost five years ago: I never imagined it would take this long for us to reach this point.  We've had 3,250 sessions thus far this month - from every continent except Antarctica.  Here's a cartoon you might like.
bullet2 Apr '01 - On the last day of March, instead of receiving the Inspector's completed report as I had expected, I received a letter saying that more issues requiring investigation had arisen and the report is now due in 4 to 6 weeks.  That's a bit of a disappointment, but I suppose it can't be helped.
bullet26 Mar '01 - The month is almost up!  We should be hearing something soon.
bullet6 Mar '01 - I've heard nothing new regarding the Trust inspection (nor did I expect to quite yet).  I've uploaded a new section, Odds and Oddities.  (I hope you think it lives up to its name.  It took me twice as long as usual.)  This site has had visits from unusual places - I've included a few stats here.  (There's an interesting article on the "shape" of the internet there as well.)  The files are all renamed.  I shouldn't have to do that again.
bullet24 Feb '01 - I've spent a considerable amount of time cleaning up the website.  If you had any bookmarks (particularly to the forest-related pages), I've invalidated them by renaming lots of files.  This was done to eliminate spaces in their names (which confuses some search engines).  I didn't really understand preferred naming conventions when I began this site, and I'll rename the resources and archive files soon.  I haven't deleted any pages - a bit of looking around will turn up whatever you're missing and you can bookmark it again.  The inspector should have a report ready to present to the High Court sometime around the end of March.  I'll have a new section in a week or so.  Our stats are rising again.  I'll post them next week as well.  Check back here then!
bullet10 Feb '01 - For an update on the status of the Inspection of Flat Rock Forests Trust, click here.
bullet2 Feb '01 - I meet with the Inspector in Auckland 7 - 8 Feb.  I've uploaded a section on Wellington.  Do you see anything you recognise?
bullet22 Jan '01 - I've uploaded a new section, The Art of Playing Cards.  Go look.  It probably isn't what you think.
bullet20 Jan '01 - This Inspection is going much slower than I would like.  I plan to go to Auckland to meet with them before the end of January to see if we can speed things along a bit.
bullet11 Jan '01 - The Inspector will let me know next week (after everyone returns from their holidays) how much longer the inspection is expected to take, so check back next week.
bullet26 Dec '00 - Newsletter #7 has been mailed/emailed.  If any unitholder doesn't receive one, please contact me.  I blanket-emailed a text version because everyone can read that.  The Word document looks much better.  If you'd like a Word file, email me with what version you'd like.  Also, a number of you appear to have changed your email addresses in the past 2-3 months; if you didn't send me a new address, expect your newsletter via snail mail in the next couple of days.  Have a great New Year.
bullet16 Dec '00 - I've upload a new section, Men.  My replacement scanner is a significant improvement over the old one.  I'll continue to convert large image files to smaller image files + text over the next few months.  (This will make everything faster to load.)  Our website will soon be one year old.  I've learned a lot about about websites in that year!  Did you know this site has over 1900 files, including over 1400 images?  I won't add any more sections until mid-January (as I need a break) but I'll post news I receive from the Inspector.  Best wishes for the holiday season to all who are kind enough to drop by and read this.  The next unitholder newsletter will be out this week.
bullet11 Dec '00 - I've continued to send files to the Inspector.  Other than requests for files, I've had no feedback.  But I will say the files I've been asked for are some of the more pertinent ones.  I've also written an editorial whose subject encompasses white-collar crime, persistence, and old-boy networks.  To read it, click here.  I'm late with this week's Entertainment upload (on one of my favourite subjects: Men) because my scanner died.  I've bought another and should have the next section ready in a couple of days.  See you then?
bullet4 Dec '00 - I find I still have problems with the search function - not in the way it works, but in the way it's designed.  When I move a section from current week to previous week, and then to the archive, that breaks the search links until they're recomputed (apparently no more frequently than weekly).  If you get a bad link when searching, unfortunately the article is still there, though I have no way to tell you how to find it, except to try the Table of Contents.  This is very frustrating for me.  I'm looking for an alternate solution.  Also, if your browser caches, you might try hitting reload if you have reason to think a page has been updated, though it doesn't look as if it has been (this page included!).  Thanks.
bullet1 Dec '00 - The Inspector says he's making progress.  (That's not much news, I know, but better than if he said he was making NO progress.)  I've uploaded a new section, Relationships (only a couple of weeks late) - at least go there to read the jokes.  I think I've removed most of the website errors which have been plaguing me for the past year.  The forest-related pages should now (finally!) print properly.  I'm trying out new home pages.  Let me know if I put up one you especially like.  The newsletter should be out next week.  Sorry for the delay!
bullet26 Nov '00 - I've included a curious article (or two) about the director of the Serious Fraud Office, Mr David Bradshaw.  I hope Bradshaw's determination "to keep confidential any information relating to those who had been investigated but not prosecuted" does not bode ill for our Inspector's request for records pertaining to Flat Rock Forests Trust.
bullet 23 Nov '00 - The SFO still seems reluctant to turn over files, so I've sent the Inspector some of mine.  Things are progressing, but not much to report quite yet.  I've been late uploading a new section because I've spent about 100 hours standardising pages throughout the site and adding related articles and comments to almost every section.  I'll upload the section Relationships this weekend.  It's a bit out of sequence, but I'm further along editing it than some of the others.  Since it includes cartoons and funny articles, I think there'll be something for everybody.  I'm also working on the next unitholder newsletter which I hope to finalise next week.
bullet 15 Nov '00 - It was brought to my attention that this website's search function has been non functional for some time.  That situation has now been rectified.  Go on, try it - search for something.  (Did it work?)
bullet12 Nov '00 - I've uploaded a new section, Prisons and Legal.  Personally, I feel this is a topic which should be relevant to us all.  (Feedback, as ever, would be appreciated.  I believe Rod Templeton is flying to Auckland to meet with the new Inspector.  Rod wasn't at all eager to meet with unitholders, but this is different.  Stay tuned.  There should be a newsletter by the end of the month.
bullet4 Nov '00 - The SFO wants a request in writing to schedule a meeting.  Only the Inspector is invited.  There may be some quibbling over exactly which files get turned over.  Nothing is ever quite as straightforward as I anticipate.  But we'll get there.  I'll try to upload a new topic section (Prisons) by Friday the 10th.  Check back, please.  The delay is because I'm learning things about Front Page and browsers that I already should've known but didn't.
bullet29 Oct '00 - I've uploaded the new section, Education.  I hope you'll have a look as I spent lots of time on it.  When you're done, why not leave me your opinion of the page?
bullet27 Oct '00 - I've spoken to the Inspector.  He's setting up a meeting between himself and the Investigator at the Serious Fraud Office.  I'll fly to Auckland to attend.  I expect things to begin happening pretty quickly.  I meant to upload this week's topic (Opinions) today, but I deleted one of the files by accident and I've had to rebuild that first.  It'll be up sometime this weekend.
bullet20 Oct '00 - It's official!  Anthony McCullagh is our new Inspector.  Durie J's brief Minute may be read here .  This week's topic is Intellectual and Entertaining (mostly the latter and easy to cruise).  Thank you all for your supportive comments.  Thanks, even, to you pessimists who help us ensure all costs are justified.
bullet13 Oct '00 - The lawyer for the Trustee met with Anthony McCullagh and has said they will approve his appointment, though I've seen no letter verifying this.  As of today, even Justice Durie has heard nothing from the Manager to my knowledge.  I've added three documents for your reading pleasure.  The first is the Manager's lawyer's response to the High Court judgement.  Next is our lawyer's response to her letter.  Last, I have selected excerpts from unitholder letters I have received so you can see what everyone else is saying.  This week's topic is Immigration (which has been in the news a lot lately).  I forgot to mention last week's topic, which was Information and Technology.  I'll be enclosing detailed financials with the next newsletter.  We're still a bit short of our goal.  If you haven't yet sent in a donation, please consider doing so.  (At least consider leaving a message on our message board!)
bullet4 Oct '00 - This week's topic is the Environment.  (There are more articles and fewer jokes this week.  Sorry.)  We're still waiting for a response from the High Court.  I've also asked for permission to put the letter we received from the Manager's lawyer up on this website in which she acknowledges that the Manager (with the Trustee's permission) decided to "opt out" of whatever clauses in the Unit Trust Act they didn't like.  (Justice Durie has already expressed his opinion that they shouldn't have done that.  After all, what is the Act for if it can just be ignored?)  Things may seem to be going slow, but we ARE making tangible progress!
bullet 29 Sep '00 - I've added a section called New Topics.  This week's topic is Animals and I've included mostly cartoons and jokes (it's easy to skim).  I won't hear anything about the Inspector for at least another week and I hate for you to go away empty-handed.
bullet 26 Sep '00 - An article entitled "Unit Trusts: Misconduct and Mismanagement" appeared in the September 2000 issue of the Chartered Accountants Journal.  Click here to go read it.
bullet 20 Sep '00 - Most of you will have received Unitholder Letter #6 by now.  If you're a unitholder and you haven't received a copy, send me a message.  We have petitioned the Court to appoint Anthony McCullagh Inspector.  The Manager and Trustee will be given time to answer our petition with their objections (if any).  We should hear something in the next couple of weeks.  PLEASE consider sending in a donation if you haven't already done so!  We haven't quite reached our goal for the Inspector's fee.  I intend to send frequent email updates, so be sure you provide me with your email address if you have one.  I'm preparing several new pages for this site, but it's taking me longer than I thought (as usual) because I forgot a few things about updating web pages over the past four months.  Please check back weekly as I plan to post news items regularly (at least for a while).   Call me if you'd like my opinions on anything (they're freely given).
bullet21 May '00 - Wonderful news!  An inspector is to be appointed!!  Unitholders must be willing to agree to meet the inspector's "reasonable costs and disbursements."  However, I don't anticipate those costs being exhorbitant.  I've included a copy of the Judgment (which contains several very interesting comments) for you all to read.  I've delayed mailing the quarterly unitholder newsletter so that I could include news of the judge's decision.  You should be receiving your newsletter within the next couple of days.  Thank you all for your continuing support!  And I would especially like to commend our lawyer, John Maassen of Cooper Rapley in Palmerston North, who did a brilliant job of putting forth the unitholders' position.
bullet13 May '00 - The hearing was held as scheduled.  Justice Eddie Durie presided.  The Manager was represented by Gilbert Swan barrister Susan Peacock.  Perpetual Trust was represented by Buddle Finlay barrister Hamish Kynaston.  Justice Durie reserved his judgement.  We should hear his decision within the next few weeks (perhaps as soon as the end of the month).  Though PT "officially" took no position on whether or not an inspector should be appointed, they spent some time and money providing the judge with reasons as to why it shouldn't be done.  I believe a much better (and better prepared!) case was made FOR the appointment than against.  Folks, I believe we're about to get some very interesting answers to our very reasonable questions.  Stay tuned.
bullet1 May '00 - The Court date has been rescheduled for 9 May at 10am in the Palmerston North High Court.  I understand it might be boring.  Or not.  The affidavits are quite interesting, in any case.  I had meant to get a newsletter out before the end of April, but I'll likely wait until after the Court date now.  I will no longer be posting newsletters on the website.  (This will ensure they are viewed by participating unitholders only.)  The Trustee thinks an independent Investigator is a bad idea; the Manager thinks it's a VERY BAD idea and has used the rhetorical device of personal attack try to make that point.  Be sure to check back on, or after, 10 May for an update!  And if you're in the Palmerston North area on the morning of 9 May, you are cordially invited to drop by the High Court to show your support.
bullet18 Apr '00 - I've written a memo to unitholders - see I Wish There Were More to Say (because at this point there isn't much).  I've also added some items to the Resources page.
bullet8 Apr '00 - The Court date will likely not be rescheduled until May.  The Manager apparently isn't supportive of an independent Inspector and wants time to prepare a rebuttal.  The Trustee has stated (in their lastest letter): "We do not oppose the application neither do we have any grounds to support it."  (Not any at all?  No complexity?  No transactions not at arms' length?  No company name swaps?  No assets suddenly devalued, no millions missing, no unaudited accounts, no disadvantaged immigrants misled, no secrecy?  Not any grounds at all?)
bullet2 Apr '00 - I've added an article, Logging Online, which talks about timber tracking software (I think it's a step in the right direction) and updated Where Do We Go From Here (which currently includes the site statistics).  I've set up an Editorial Page.  I haven't written anything to put there yet, but I welcome well-written guest editorials, particularly if you'd like to express a view different from any presented elsewhere on this website.  I've also changed the Home page.
bullet1 Apr '00 - If you had planned to be in attendance at the High Court in Palmerston North when we hear if an inspector is to be appointed, don't come just yet.  That appearance is being rescheduled to give some parties more time to prepare and a new date hasn't been set yet.  I should know more soon.
bullet21 Mar '00 - Newsletter 4 at one time was added to the historical news archive in the forestry-related section.  However, I removed it and ceased posting them from this point on for privacy purposes.  Henceforth, unitholder letters are for unitholders only.  I will mail/email unitholders a copy starting today.
bullet16 Mar '00 - See the news archive for an interesting article on the muzzling of the Association for Migration and Investment's Board Chairman (Chairman of the Barred) for speaking out against schemes that rip-off would-be migrants, then calling for registration and regulation.  He's opposed by an "exclusive club" of immigration consultants who receive concessions from the Immigration Service.
bullet16 Mar '00 - I've added about 20 new items, (some embedded in old articles).  I dare you to find any of them.  They are mostly in the general Resources pages, a source of fascinating facts and viewpoints (trust me on this).
bullet1 Mar '00 - Site news: I've redesigned and/or updated practically every page.  Feedback?  Do you feel the illustrations make pages take too long to load?  There's a new topic for discussion on the Message Board, too.
bullet26 Feb '00 - Site news: I've updated the look and layout of the Resources section, I feel making it easier to navigate.  I've added dozens of illustrations, eliminated some articles and added others.  I plan to tidy up the look of the forestry-related pages next, so have a look at Resources and make sure you have no objection to the look-and-feel.  Question: do you think this website should be split into two, or leave it like it is?  By the way, a newsletter is the next project, coming soon.
bullet18 Feb '00 - We've filed an application for the appointment of an independent inspector in the High Court.  See Where Do We Go From Here for details.
bullet13 Feb '00 - The Table of Contents has been fixed along with the general navigation structure.  We've added new items to everything in the Resources sections (and intend to continue to do so on a regular basis).  I've added more to the Contact Us page (including better photographs).  While you're there, why not leave a Message?  And finally, I've updated Where Do We Go From Here.
bullet11 Feb '00 - The Search page is now (finally!) fully functioning, running a more fully-featured solution.  There were a few problems with the previous search engine - these should now be fixed.  As always, contact the Webmaster if you encounter problems, or just find something working slightly funny.
bullet09 Feb '00 - The Resources page has been redesigned.  I hope I've made it more useful - I've added thumbnail pictures and previews of the articles.  I've also updated the topic for discussion on the Message Board.
bullet09 Feb '00 - We've changed web hosting service provider.  To do that meant we were down most of today - I hope that didn't inconvenience anyone.  I think we'll have better stability from now on.  Other than that, the change should be invisible to you.  If you note any problems, please report them to the Webmaster.
bullet28 Jan '00 - A photo of one of our former trees being harvested was added to the page of news articles.  Read it and weep.
bullet28 Jan '00 - We've been experiencing difficulties with our web host.  The latest problem (soon to be rectified I hope) manifests itself as an inability to display pages constructed by a particular process - one we happen to have used for several of our pages.  We're deciding whether or not to move to a new host, however our current host is the most cost effective we've found - if the problems don't become too much of an impediment.  If you do experience a problem, please let me know, especially if it persists.  That way, we can make a more informed decision about the moving the site.  Thanks.
bullet24 Jan '00 - There's a new topic for discussion on the Message Board.
bullet19 Jan '00 - A new Flash introduction has been added to the List of Forests.  If you haven't seen it, check it out.  If you don't have the Flash plug-in, get it - it's free, and will be required for more parts of the site soon.
bullet16 Jan '00 - A few new articles have been added to the news archives.  Read them.
bullet16 Jan '00 - My general reply to those unitholders who are impatiently awaiting a personal reply from me.
bullet11 Jan '00 - The Search page is now up and running a temporary solution.  It should be fully functional.  Please email the webmaster with any problems.
bullet4 Jan '00 - The feedback page is now up and running.  We apologise for the delay.
bullet4 Jan '00 - The Message Board is now up and running.  We apologise for the delay.
bullet28 Dec '99 - Internet Presence Established

Had it not been for you, I should have remained what I was when we first met, a prejudiced, narrow-minded being,
with contracted sympathies and false knowledge, wasting my life on obsolete trifles,
and utterly insensible to the privilege of living in this wondrous age of change and progress.

- Benjamin Disraeli

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