Friday Offcuts – 18 August 2017

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We’ve already touched on the role that artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are playing on future business growth. According to McKinsey, a global consulting company, 45 percent of work activities could actually be automated using technology that was being demonstrated in 2016. This suggests that the advancement and adoption of automated technologies is likely to play out a lot quicker that many of us really appreciate.

PwC, in their recent report on Commercialising Innovation, says that that both AI and the IoT are already the most advanced of the emerging technologies in New Zealand. Some Kiwi companies are already banking the returns. Augmented reality, 3-D printing, drones and robotics will grow in disruptive significance in the next three years but PwC is predicting that AI is going to boost the global economy by US$15.7 trillion by 2030. In a report by Accenture (presenting this year at the ForestTECH 2017 series), they’re suggesting that the impact of AI technologies on business is expected to boost labour productivity by up to 40 percent by fundamentally changing the way that work is being done and reinforcing the role of people to drive growth in business.

The technologies are already being trialled and used in forestry operations. Virtual reality technologies for example are being applied to visualisation of point cloud data being collected from remote sensing. Hiab have introduced virtual reality goggles as part of a new system enabling log loading from the cab of a truck. VR is being used by engineers to design truck engines and in orchards and vineyards, machine vision and machine learning is being applied to automate such things as counting buds, shoots and fruits that are largely hidden from most sensors out in the field. Understanding the technology and just how it’s being integrated into forestry operations will be a key part of this year’s ForestTECH 2017 event being run in November. Details on the Australian and New Zealand programmes for both countries have just been uploaded to the event website this week.

Other good news this week. In New Zealand, on the back of Bob Jones announcement last week on plans to build the world's tallest wooden office building in central Wellington, we've got more good news on New Zealand’s building and construction market. The sector currently accounts for 10% of GDP, 10% of employment and 10% of all businesses. Two new reports out this week (see story below) are forecasting construction activity is expected to grow by 23% over the next four years to a peak of NZ$42 billion in 2020. What’s more, the increase in construction activity over the next six years is going to require an additional 56,000 people (is this an opportunity or a threat?).

In Australia, the Federal Government this week signed off on a new methodology to cover new forest plantations under their Emissions Reduction Fund. At last, it now allows forest growers to generate an additional income stream by participating in the carbon market through the ERF. Finally, registrations from sawmillers’ throughout the region have been flowing in this week for the WoodTECH 2017 series planned for both countries in September. If you haven’t yet registered, remember, today is the FINAL day to access discounted early-bird registrations. On this upbeat note, enjoy this week’s read.



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Australian forestry’s carbon storage potential recognised

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has congratulated the Federal Government for finalising the method covering new forest plantations under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Describing the development as a great outcome, AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said finalisation of the method marks the culmination of three years’ work.

“Scientists and foresters have worked closely with Federal departments to ensure that the method framework is sound and the carbon storage mathematics are bulletproof. New forest plantations are not just good for regional jobs and economies but also one of the most cost-effective tools for storing carbon and reducing emissions. With this new methodology, the Australian government will have a better chance of meeting its ambitious emission reduction targets,” Mr Hampton said.

The new methodology covers plantations which are in addition to those already growing. Under the ERF reverse auction, the lowest possible price is paid for reductions in carbon emissions. The forest plantation method will allow forest growers to factor the possibility of a carbon payment into the high cost of establishing areas of new trees.

“The commitment required under the method is for a forest grower to maintain the planting for at least 25 years – receiving a modest carbon payment each year for the first ten years. Based on previous ERF reverse auctions, the additional income will be small compared to the very high establishment costs incurred.

This, coupled with additional Ministerial oversight provisions contained in the rules which govern the method, should help ensure that only the most sensible choices are made about where to plant trees – such as close to major forest product processing facilities located around Australia,” Mr Hampton said.

“Sustainable forest product industries look forward to participating in future ERF auctions and are delighted to be given this chance to play their part in helping Australia meet its climate change challenge.”

The method is now available on the Federal Register of Legislation at legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L01038..

Information on the method will be available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website: www.environment.gov.au.

To find out more about the ERF, visit cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/ERF.

Source: AFPA

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Growing construction good news for timber industry

The New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB) has welcomed the release of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) sponsored ‘National Construction Pipeline Report 2017’ and its companion ‘Future demand for construction workers’ report. Together these reports forecast an increase in construction activity over the next six years necessitating the employment of an additional 56,000 people.

The National Construction Pipeline Report provides five-year and regional forecasts of residential, non-residential and infrastructure activity. It is produced independently by BRANZ and Pacifecon to help the sector’s forward planning.

The report forecasts construction activity to grow by 23% over the next four years, to a peak of NZ$42 billion in 2020. Last year’s report had forecast a shallower peak of NZ$37 billion in 2017.

NZIOB chief executive Malcolm Fleming said, “The Construction Pipeline Report forecasts construction activity of over NZ$37 billion per annum for the foreseeable future, implying a very positive future for building and construction in this country.

“More importantly, the forecasts show a higher peak with a longer duration than previously. The last two Pipeline Reports have shown increasing levels of activity spread over a longer period. This presents an industry that has great certainty, and one that is much less likely to be subject to the boom and bust cycles of the past. The steady growth forecast in the report will create job certainty for those entering the industry.”

Source: Scoop



FICA leadership & management change

After 15 years of service to the Association, John Stulen will retire from his role as CEO of the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) in New Zealand. He has served the contractors group since 2002 when it was first established. After 31st December Innovatek Limited will no longer be managing the activities of FICA.

On behalf of FICA Stulen acknowledged the group’s achievements were built on the long-term support of the many loyal contractor members. Furthermore, there has always been solid support from key industry suppliers as sponsors for FICA. This support was critical for everything FICA has been able to do to improve the profitability and sustainability of forest contractors in both logging and silviculture.

On behalf of FICA, president Ross Davis thanked John Stulen for his long service, which has resulted in forest contractors becoming an important voice in forestry nationally and well-respected internationally in logging contracting circles.

Davis says, “We are grateful to John Stulen for his long-term achievements. He positioned our contractors’ association so that we are respected and listened throughout our industry and with key Ministers in Government. They now know who we are and what we contribute to the economy and the environment.”

During his tenure Stulen started with a blank canvas and built a loyal following of professional and proactive forest contractors. With a supportive board and loyal industry sponsors FICA has been successful championing contractor sustainability with forest owners and managers, government officials and international forest organisations.

When the forest industry faced public scrutiny in 2013 over its workplace accidents record, FICA made the call for an independent inquiry. As a result, FICA led the forest contracting community to work with forest managers and workers to develop the cooperatively governed Forest Industry Safety Council that is now making positive change.

Recognising the importance of transforming to safer workplaces, FICA contractor members and engineering suppliers have transformed forest harvesting. In just four years the tree-felling task has been extensively mechanised. Over 80 percent of tree felling is done using million-dollar harvesters. The other high-risk work task of breaking out for yarders has been substantially automated with radio technology making way for remotely operated camera grapples.

FICA will now look to recruit a new Chief Executive to take over the role, starting in the New-Year.

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Artificial intelligence - The current face of innovation

PwC’s Commercialising Innovation Report shows that artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the most advanced of the emerging technologies in New Zealand and some Kiwi companies are already banking the returns.

Augmented reality, 3-D printing, drones and robotics will grow in disruptive significance in the next three years but PwC predicts that AI will boost the global economy by US$15.7 trillion by 2030.

“Smart organisations are already experimenting with incorporating AI driven solutions and propositions into their organisations. The successful ones will have a strong sense of their enterprise strategy and therefore how emerging technologies, including AI, will feed into the customer problems that they want to solve,” says Andy Symons, PwC Partner and innovation leader.

For forestry companies, AI, the IoT, robotics and automation and the integration of virtual and augmented reality into their operations has already started. Looking into this new technology and options for forestry businesses in this part of the world this year has been built into the ForestTECH 2017 technology series that will be running for forest resource managers, inventory foresters and GIS specialists in November.

ForestTECH 2017 will run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 15-16 November and then again in Melbourne, Australia the following week on 21-22 November 2017. Further details and the programmes for both countries can now be viewed on the event website, www.foresttech.events.



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Australia’s multimedia ad campaign delivers the goods

The recent series of 15 second commercials showing different applications of wood and their benefits, boosted by online content marketing, have achieved results that exceed media industry averages and increased the number of consumers who say they are more likely to choose wood.

Branded with Planet Ark’s Make It Wood and featuring award-winning architect and host of Grand Designs Australia, Peter Maddison, the campaign combined six television commercials that were shown on free to air and pay TV and online, with content and keyword marketing.

Consumer research, conducted with a national sample, towards the end of the campaign indicated that around half of Australians questioned claimed they would be more likely to use wood after seeing the advertising – a 20% increase on those who didn’t see it!

The core TV campaign ran nationally for 3 weeks across the 7 and 9 networks. Recall of all the TV spots increased considerably (over similar research during last year’s campaign), particularly the furniture, home and outdoor executions, more than 100% in several cases.

Online, the 15 second videos served a total of nearly 2 million impressions, with more than 95% of the viewers on 7 and 9 digital watching the whole videos – this far exceeds the media industry’s average completion rate of 68%.

“These are particularly pleasing results,” said Eileen Newbury, the National Marketing and Communications Manager of the industry services company, Forest and Wood Products Australia, “the recall of the messages, timber flooring in particular, was excellent and validates our decision to move beyond traditional TV into online and content marketing channels.”

The campaign was designed to drive traffic to the Make It Wood website (makeitwood.org), where consumers can find out more from Planet Ark – a trusted source of information about the environmental benefits of wood.

Ms Newbury said that the 15 second videos and other campaign materials are still available for FWPA members and members of the Wood. Naturally Better.™ Partner Program to use in their own communications or websites. She added that FWPA could provide assistance and advice to companies wishing to take advantage of the offer.

Source: FWPA

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Lessons from inclusion of forestry into an ETS

Suzi Kerr, Tom Carver and Patrick Dawson recently released a paper examining how forest owners have responded to the New Zealand ETS and the reasons to be optimistic about the future. You can find this paper and an executive summary here

New Zealand is the first, and still the only, country to include forest landowners as full and, in some cases, mandatory participants in a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading scheme (ETS), the NZ ETS. Carbon sequestration by forestry continues to be an important part of New Zealand’s contribution to its global obligations to reduce emissions.

This paper describes the policy changes to the NZ ETS since 2008 that directly affect forestry; assesses the effectiveness of the scheme; explores who is benefiting from it; and outlines issues facing forestry in the NZ ETS moving forward.

We find that forest owners have responded to the financial incentives from the NZ ETS in a rational way. Both afforestation and deforestation decisions appear to have been influenced by the emissions price and/or expectations about the emissions price in the future. However, the scheme has been beset by challenges.

The collapse in the global carbon price and, associated with this, the proliferation of international Kyoto credits of questionable environmental integrity, combined with the government decision to delay New Zealand’s delink from international markets until 2015, greatly reduced the price signal for forestry from the NZ ETS from 2012 to 2015. A weak price signal, coupled with ongoing policy uncertainty surrounding the NZ ETS, has limited the effectiveness of the scheme in achieving its forestry goals.

Prospects going forward are more positive particularly if the current reform of the ETS can create clear predictable price signals and better manage the complexity of forestry rewards and liabilities, particularly as faced by smaller landowners who are not professional foresters but could potentially participate and reforest.

Source: motu.nz




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New Chair of Sustainable Forestry appointed

A new forestry science and education partnership has been created in the central North Island of NZ with the establishment of a new Chair of Sustainable Forestry at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Creation of the role is a collaboration between Toi Ohomai and Rotorua-based Crown research institute Scion. The Chair will be based at both the Toi Ohomai and Scion campuses.

Professor Linton Winder, Academy Leader for Primary Industries, Science and the Environment, Toi Ohomai, says a key purpose of the role is leading the development of a Centre of Excellence for Forestry for the region and New Zealand as a whole.

“The opportunity for Toi Ohomai to work with Scion to meet the needs of our region is fantastic. Scion is a global leader in forestry and wood technology, and we look forward to building a stronger relationship with them to meet the needs of our industry”.

For Scion, this partnership between the two institutes will strengthen its linkages with relevant tertiary institutions throughout New Zealand and cement Scion’s position as a key player in the Bay of Connections economic development plan.

The first appointment to the Chair is Scion’s Dr Tim Payn, Principal Scientist and Research Leader Economics, Ecosystems and Climate. Dr. Payn took up his role as Professor of Sustainable Forestry on 1 August 2017 for a term of three years.

In addition to championing a new Centre of Excellence for Forestry, Professor Payn will facilitate collaborative student-based research projects between the two institutes, continue to conduct his internationally recognised research, and contribute to teaching programmes at Toi Ohomai.

Professor Payn has a background in soil science and has specialised in research on sustainable forest management more recently. He is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Forestry and is heavily involved in global efforts to support sustainable forest management. He currently chairs the 12 Country Montreal Process Technical Advisory Committee which supports policy aimed at defining and measuring sustainable practice. He is also Vice Chair of the Engagement Committee of Future Earth, a global sustainability initiative.

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Boral Timber Murwillumbah back in operation

One of the larger, purpose-built flooring manufacturing businesses in Australia – the Boral site at Murwillumbah – is now back in operation, following major repair work over the past two months.

The Hardwood Engineering Manager for Boral, Peter Robson, said the site had been significantly affected by the Cyclone Debbie flood in late March this year, which also caused major damage to the local community. Mr Robson said the reopening of the operations was a further sign that Boral remained fully committed to its timber operations in Northern NSW.

“Boral would like to thank all of our employees and the numerous firms that have worked tirelessly in the clean-up and re-establishment of operations,” he said. “It’s been hard work to get the site back into operation but we are happy to report that there were no injuries reported during the repairs and commencement of operations”.

“The Murwillumbah site is not only a major employer locally and a contributor to our local economy but also an integral part of Boral’s distribution network and the production of specialised timber products, including flooring. “

Source: Boral Timber


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Debate over foresters' share of roading costs

Forest owners have been paying Whanganui District Council rates for 25 years and all they want in return is the roads to bring their logs out, Peter Lissington says. He works for New Zealand Pine Management, which has 7,000ha of forest in the Whanganui District. It began planting in 1994, with the council and central government welcoming the investment.

The forest owners have paid about $100,000 a year in rates, subsidising services for others in the district. They don't want to pay an additional levy to maintain rural roads, Mr Lissington said. He's worried the council is discussing a levy without involving forest owners.

But he's mistaken, Whanganui councillor Alan Taylor said. There are no "secret meetings" and some forest owners are already engaged and have suggested a levy. He agrees that the council "wooed" forest owners in the 1990s, and acknowledges it has ignored rural road maintenance for 12 years - an act of "economic vandalism".

There are 30,000ha of logs to be taken out over the next 30 years, Mr Taylor said, and forestry does 90 per cent of the damage to rural roads. It brings out more tonnes of product than any other rural industry. There's a $2 million a year shortfall in the rural road maintenance budget. "The rate levy is nowhere near the level required to cover the cost."

The cost to foresters will be "scary", he said, but they should have expected it. "If they never expected to have to pay for the damage to our roads then they have been very naive."

The council is considering increasing rates for forest owners, and imposing a per tonne levy as logs are removed. It could also restrict harvest times and restrict where new planting can be done. No decisions have been made yet, and Mr Taylor said forestry interests will be consulted before they are.

Source: Wanganui Chronicle


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PM to speak at AFPA’s Industry Gala Dinner

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) is extremely pleased to announce that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be speaking at AFPA’s Industry Gala Dinner on Tuesday 12 September 2017 at the Great Hall in Parliament House. The Prime Minister will be delivering the keynote address to around 500 forest product industry representatives as well as many Government ministers, Members of Parliament and Senators.

AFPA will host the dinner with guests from across both Australian and New Zealand industry value chains, and Parliamentary Friends of Forestry who have shown dedication to the ‘greenest’ of industry sectors and its mission. ABC Radio National journalist Ellen Fanning will be hosting the evening.

Source: AFPA
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Using timbers – the right choices made easier!

Building with timber just got easier for the construction industry with the release of a new web-application, ‘QTimber’. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) partnered with the Queensland Facility for Advanced Bioinformatics (QFAB), a consulting unit of the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF), to develop QTimber.

DAF senior forestry development scientist Dr Susan House said QTimber was a digital tool for looking up the rules, specifications and restrictions for using construction timbers in Queensland. “The new web-application is an essential resource for every business specifying, treating or using timber in design, building and engineering,” Dr House said.

“It is a digital version of the publication Construction Timbers in Queensland (CTIQ) which is a significant resource for the timber industry. “CTIQ is a reference document for the Building Code of Australia and holds critical information about using the right timber for the job, depending on where in Queensland you are building and what you are building.

“QTimber allows you to select from a list of approved timbers when you input your location and type of building project. It also shows any conditional restrictions or preservative treatments that may apply to the project. “You can look up the wood properties, performance information and use specification of any Australian-grown or imported timber”.

Previously, CTIQ was only available as a PDF in two volumes that is inconvenient to consult. The web-application makes this information user friendly and accessible through smart phones and tablets.

Dr Xin-Yi Chua, QFAB’s Head of Informatics and the developer of the web-application said bringing the CTIQ resource into an online environment will increase user accessibility and improve usability. Additionally, the large data set is maintained in a database making it easier to keep the information updated and current, as informed by industry developments.

The site will be hosted by QFAB using QCIF’s QRIS cloud infrastructure. The QTimber project was funded by the DAF through the Queensland Forest and Timber Industry RD&E fund and advised by Timber Queensland and representatives of Queensland’s timber industry and businesses.

QTimber is available at http://qtimber.daf.qld.gov.au/

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State must focus on a long-term timber industry

The state body for the timber industry has called on the Queensland government to focus on the fundamentals of developing a long-term timber industry in Far North Queensland.

“There is significant potential to develop the timber industry in Far North Queensland and Cape York, given extensive areas of native forest resources and plantations and strong demand for timber products”, said Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens.

Speaking at the Tropical Forestry: Innovation and Change in the Asia Pacific Region Conference in Cairns, Mr Stephens is highlighting innovative forest industry development across the state.

“There is well-targeted public and private co-investment in R&D and innovation projects, including plantation genetics, native forest silviculture, wood processing technology, timber durability and advanced timber building design,” said Mr Stephens.

“However, a lack of focus on key policy settings is hampering future investment and value adding in Far North Queensland. Foremost amongst these issues is the need for greater resource security from crown leasehold lands.”

“Presently, there are large areas of leasehold grazing land with valuable woodland resources, but only a handful of short term wood supply contracts. Without new contracts, processors cannot invest and expand into the future. Some of these businesses may simply close within the next 2 years as the current contracts expire”.

“This is a missed opportunity as there are valuable timber species that can be processed into high-quality flooring, decking and appearance products, such as the Darwin Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta) that is extensive across northern Australia. Access to ports and timber outlets in key centres such as Cairns is also a positive.

“Many of these opportunities relate to Indigenous forestry development, with 30% of Australia’s forests owned or managed by Indigenous people with around three-quarters located in Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory”.

“Like most industrial users, timber processors are facing crippling energy prices. For the softwood plantation processing industry in the region, this is ironic as there is excess wood waste from forestry and timber processing to generate baseload renewable bioenergy that can take the pressure off the grid. Unfortunately, there are insufficient incentives to make this happen”.

“What is needed from state government is a clear focus to develop the industry in the Far North, through well-targeted infrastructure, energy policy and resource security. The benefits are significant and would deliver hundreds of new jobs based on a renewable resource across northern Australia,” Mr Stephens said.

Source: Timber Queensland




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Trump Forest created to offset 'Monumental Stupidity'

President Donald Trump’s name has been slapped on yet another organization. But unlike Trump Hotels, Trump Steaks and Trump Vodka, money invested in “Trump Forest” won’t land in his piggy bank. In April, three environmental activists in New Zealand launched the global reforestation project in an effort to counteract negative effects caused by the Trump administration’s dismantling of Obama-era climate policy.

Dr. Daniel Price, Adrien Taylor and Jeff Willis, all in their 20s, said they felt compelled to act after Trump signed an executive order in March that essentially prioritized the fossil fuel industry over the environment. “We wanted something tangible that people could do that would actually have a physical impact on what the U.S. government is doing,” Price, a climate scientist and glaciologist, told HuffPost.

The goal is for “Trump Forest” to grow so large that it can offset additional carbon released into the atmosphere should the White House roll back the Clean Power Plan, legislation enacted under the Obama administration to combat global warming. To hit that target, Price said over 110 billion trees, covering an area roughly the size of Kentucky, would need to be donated. It’s a lofty goal, Price said, but it’s not their only one. Read more

To learn more about taking action with “Trump Forest,” click here.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.ca

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New Go-To Resource for the UAV industry

There are many rapidly moving parts in the emergence of the new commercial UAV (UAS, drone…) industry. A new book (April 2017), Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Guide :Exploring Designs, Operations, Regulations, and Economics has just been released that explores these moving parts and looks to be a go-to resource for those looking to or currently participating in this new space.

“Beginning with the history of UAS and ending with how to prepare for the future of this fast-paced and innovative industry, this book contains descriptions of typical sUAS architecture, related technology, common uses, and suggested safety practices, while also providing a narrative to help you determine the most appropriate path forward through complex legal, business, operational, and support considerations. Understanding how these pieces fit together, from the technical and legal perspectives, will shape your own strategy for the safe, efficient, and effective use of this “(r)evolutionary” technology.”

This book according to the authors will help readers understand what a drone or UAS is, what forms are available (including multirotor, fixed-wing, and hybrid types), to make well-informed decisions regarding purchase and use. Readers will learn how sUAS and their various configuration options can be used to address or support evolving business needs. Ultimately, readers will have enough information to formulate a plan to acquire necessary certification approvals and operate sUAS in a safe, efficient, and effective manner.

The authors developed this book to share critical background, concepts, guidance, and lessons learned from their collective experience as researchers, operators, and academic instructors to dispel common myths and provide a starting point to explore how sUAS can be applied to solve challenges and support economic pursuits. Written for experienced aviators, as well as those new to aviation and operating in the National Airspace System (NAS). Illustrated extensively throughout, each chapter concludes with review questions for classroom and self-study use; glossary and index included. This book provides a solid foundation for keeping up with this fast moving and exciting aviation field.

Source: dronelife.com

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Jobs


Buy and Sell


...and one to end the week on ... the tartan wedding

Two Scots, Archie and Jock, are sitting in the pub discussing Jock's forthcoming wedding.

"Ach, it's all going grand," says Jock. "I've got everything organised already: the flowers, the church, the cars, the reception, the rings, the minister, even ma stag night...

Archie nods approvingly.

"Havens, I've even bought a kilt to be married in!" continues Jock.

A kilt?" exclaims Archie, "that's braw, you'll look pure smart in that!

"And what's the tartan?" Archie then enquires.

"Och," says Jock, "I'd imagine she'll be in white..."



And a few motivational thoughts to finish on....

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.

The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.

Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world.

Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.

Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.

All things being equal, fat people use more soap.

If you smile when things go wrong, you have someone to blame.

One seventh of your life is spent on Monday.

By the time you make ends meet, they move the ends.

The more you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets.

No amount of advance planning will ever replace dumb luck.

Anything you do can get you fired; this includes doing nothing.






And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page: www.fridayoffcuts.com


This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at www.fridayoffcuts.com

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