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Showing posts from January, 2013

Earthquakes and Rural Churches

For the last year we have been dominated, in the Diocese of Dunedin by the fallout from the Canterbury earthquakes and the consequent need to seismically strengthen our buildings. We are the smallest diocese in the country, the least resourced and we have the largest number of  unreinforced masonry churches. Small parishes from one end of our diocese to the other have struggled with an impossible dilemma. Small congregations are faced with having to get their church, parish hall, and in some instances vicarage assessed by a structural engineer at a cost of, usually, $2-3000 per building. Then, once inspections have been made, there is the prospect that the buildings will have to be brought up to an acceptable level of strength, that is, 33.333% of the current building code. This is likely to cost a large sum of money, probably several hundred thousand dollars. The alternatives to fixing the buildings are 1) sell them; but this is problematic because obviously any new owner would als

Proposal 8

Exemptions and time extensions Proposal 8: Certain buildings could be exempted or be given longer time to strengthen, e.g., low-use rural churches or farm buildings with little passing traffic. Some earthquake-prone buildings are used infrequently by small numbers of people and are located well away from passers-by. In these cases, the costs of strengthening might be unreasonable in relation to the risks to life and safety they present. Examples might include farm sheds, small rural community halls or rural churches. It is proposed that owners of some specified types of buildings will be able to apply to local authorities for exemptions or extensions to the time required to strengthen or demolish them if they are assessed as being earthquake-prone. Criteria to allow local authority decide on exemptions or extensions would be set in law. Possible criteria are: • The building is used only by the owner, or by persons directly employed by the owner, on an occasional or infrequ


Over the past few years a small group of guys has periodically chartered a boat in Moeraki and headed out about 10 km offshore to fish for blue cod. I have sometimes gone with them. We each pay $100, leave the Moeraki wharf at about 7 am and return at lunchtime with a total of about 40 kg of fillets. Rods and reels and bait are supplied, help is given removing fish from hooks and the fish are filleted on board. It's a food gathering exercise, pure and simple, but the fishing is not the only reason I tag along. That far from shore, the bird life is astonishing. There are the usual red billed and black backed gulls, of course and also terns, petrels and prions. But what I go to see are the albatrosses. As we head out from shore they begin to follow in their ones and twos. There are the little albatrosses, the New Zealand White Capped Mollymawks, with a wingspan of a mere 2 metres. We chug out to sea doing perhaps 12 knots, and these glide past a twice that speed, rest on the wa

Life of Pi

I've read Life of Pi by Yann Martel 3 times, the last time being about a year ago. It easily makes it into my top ten list of all time favourite books. Well, top 5 actually. I didn't think it could ever be filmed successfully, so when Ang Lee's movie was released, of course I had to go and take a look just for curiosity's sake. The film, as it turns out, is a triumph. Not only does it accomplish the difficult task of presenting the fantasy adventure of Pi's unlikely ocean voyage in an open lifeboat with an adult Bengal tiger for company but it manages to present the philosophical undergirding which gives the novel such unsettling power. Life of Pi is primarily about religion. Note: it is not a religious book but a book about religion.  A young boy who shares his name with a mathematical symbol survives a shipwreck and a long period alone in a lifeboat. At the end of the book the reader is presented with two different versions of his survival and invited not


One the basis of one picture, a thousand words etc etc, I hope the following makes up for the lack of posts in December.

A Slight Change of Plans

We had planned to dawdle up the South Island towing a caravan, see my whanau in Nelson and then dawdle back again. But two nights ago I developed a dull ache in one of my molars which turned into a very bright ache indeed and within a very short time went on to qualify as a fully certified genius of an ache. Luckily my dentist started back from his holidays the following day and could see me first thing in the morning. One root canal later I am able to sleep without mainlining codeine, but will need to see him again in a week to get part two done: 90 minutes of staring at his ceiling and trying to reply to his chat with several thousand dollars worth of ironmongery in my mouth. So, we will be belting up the country, seeing some of the best and wisest people I know and belting home again. I'll try and keep you posted

The Hobbit

Since Christmas I have been rereading the Hobbit for the first time in, oh I'd say, about 40 years. It's an engaging little book but not really a demanding read. The plot is inventive but not very complex. The characters aren't very well developed, and are not meant to be, for, as the constant asides from the author to the reader remind you, this is a children's book. So I was intrigued to go to the Rialto last night and watch the Peter Jackson movie in glorious 3-D. To be frank, I wasn't expecting much, as the reviews have been muted and I couldn't see how the 315 pages recounting the doings of a small band of adventurers could possibly be spun out to cover the 9 hours or so of the projected 3 Hobbit films. I was pleasantly surprised. Very pleasantly indeed. We plonked down our $43(!) for tickets, coffee and glasses and sat in the fairly full theatre. The credits rolled and within a minute or two my eyes had adjusted to the technology. I found the 3-D ju