Friday Offcuts – 27 May 2022

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We’ve often covered the very real issues of skills shortages facing our industry - and other industries. Post Covid lock-downs, the situations only got worse. A few weeks ago, we carried a story where a medium sized NZ sawmilling operation said that they needed 30 more staff to get back to "business as usual" – and this right now isn’t unusual. The mill had had to close some days where worker shortages meant it just couldn’t operate. Same story with other mills. Same story with truck drivers. Same story with harvesting crews.

As well as worker shortages slowing or stopping businesses, desperation has also led to employers often settling for a candidate that doesn’t quite match up to the job description. More often than not, the wrong people are being taken on. Recent research has found that over 60% of employers have made bad decisions by not matching skills or rushing the hiring process. And, small and medium sized businesses have been feeling the pain more deeply than larger organizations, with 82% reporting "severe negative impacts" as a consequence. Read more below.

Related to employment, we’ve built in a number of articles this week on efforts being made to keep our work sites safe. Phil Parkes, CE of WorkSafe New Zealand talks about some of the root causes, “culture and “upstream duties” (the idea that responsibility for keeping workers safe extends far beyond the direct employer) required to keep our workers safe. As well as the usual “carrots, sticks and sermons”, they’re now using a raft of new tools that have been developed with industry to bring about positive change.

In New Zealand, Safetree is going to be working alongside industry to update the alcohol and drug guidelines to ensure that they’re effective and reflecting current best practice. In Tasmania, Forico is backing a local initiative to support the well-being of forestry and timber industry workers. The Cutting Through programme is being led by David Milne, a saw doctor with thirty years’ experience in the industry from Tasmania’s north-east. And in Victoria, legislation introduced this week means that much stronger penalties can be be imposed on protestors that have in the past put harvesting workers at risk as well as damaging machinery.

For an intriguing human-interest story this week, we’ve included a story about a CEO of a large US trucking company (200 employees with the company partnering with shippers and carriers representing over 38,000 trucks) who has recently made headlines. He’s decided to forgo his salary for a year! It’s his way of showing appreciation to those who had helped him achieve his early success. His annual salary and bonus are being used to set up Little Robots to support science and technology education projects for aspiring young roboticists and scientists. He can afford it though. Alex Rodrigues is just 26 years old, he has an estimated wealth of US$500 million – and is the youngest CEO of a public company as of 2022.

And finally, for those yet to sign up for this regions’ first Environmental Forestry event being held in Rotorua, New Zealand on 28-29 June and would like still to save a few pennies, today is the last day where you can access discounted early bird registrations. Registrations can still be made directly on event website. That’s it for this week.

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New Forests enters agreement for sale

New Forests, a global investment manager of nature-based real assets and natural capital strategies, last Friday announced Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui) and Nomura Holdings, Inc (Nomura), have entered into an agreement to purchase a 100% shareholding of New Forests.

The agreement, which is subject to regulatory approval and expected to be completed by December 2022, will see Mitsui become a 49% shareholder and Nomura a 41% shareholder, with the remaining 10% shareholding retained by New Forests’ staff. Mitsui has been a shareholder in New Forests since 2016 and will increase its shareholding from approximately 23% to 49%.

Mitsui and Nomura will provide capital to support New Forests’ strategic growth initiatives and the global expansion of its investment platform. In addition, New Forests will leverage Nomura’s global distribution network particularly across Japan and more broadly in Asia.

As part of this agreement, founder, CEO and Chairman David Brand will continue with New Forests until 30 June 2025 and focus on strategic initiatives and growth opportunities.

David Brand, CEO of New Forests said, “New Forests has achieved a great deal over the past 17 years, growing institutional investment in the forestry asset class and re-imagining the investment opportunities in rural landscapes. The rising need to substantially increase investment in sustainable land use, along with increasing investor interest is creating an opportunity to accelerate the growth of New Forests. I am delighted to have found two partners in Mitsui and Nomura who share in our vision and will provide us the support to further scale our business and provide new opportunities for our clients, stakeholders and our 100 staff.”

Two representatives each from Mitsui and two from Nomura will join the New Forests board of directors, along with two independent directors and an employee nominee director.

About Mitsui

Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (“Mitsui”) is one of the most diversified and comprehensive trading, investment and service enterprises in the world, with 129 offices in 63 countries and regions as of April 1st, 2022. For more information, visit

About Nomura

Nomura is a global financial services group with an integrated network spanning over 30 countries and regions. For further information about Nomura, visit

About New Forests

New Forests is a global investment manager of nature-based real assets and natural capital strategies, with AUD 7.8 billion in assets under management across 1.1 million hectares of investments. New Forests manages a diversified portfolio of sustainable timber plantations and conservation areas, carbon and conservation finance projects, agriculture, timber processing and infrastructure assets. Headquartered in Sydney, New Forests is a Certified B Corp and operates in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Africa and the United States. For more information, please visit:

Source: New Forests

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D&A forestry guidelines being developed

Safetree has been asked to update New Zealand’s forest industry’s alcohol and drugs guideline with a view to ensuring it is effective and reflects current best practice thinking. The existing NZFOA guideline focuses heavily on testing – which at the time it was written in 2008 was how people thought they could best keep alcohol and other drugs out of the forest.

Fourteen years later more is known about the best ways to manage this issue, and we want to include this knowledge into the new guideline. Initial research done for Safetree suggests there is no clear evidence that testing, on its own, provides a strong deterrent against drug use. There are signs of people ‘gaming’ the testing system and changing their behaviour to avoid detection, including swapping to ‘harder’ drugs like methamphetamines or synthetic drugs that are less detectable through testing.

Some responses to failed tests have the potential to damage trust and make it harder for workplaces to help workers who want to change their behaviour. Interestingly, the research also highlights that alcohol and other drugs are not just a problem workers bring into the workplace. Workplaces themselves can have a significant impact on alcohol and drug use.

Workplace stress – including long and irregular hours, job insecurity, low pay and boredom - can cause distress that is known to affect consumption of alcohol and other drugs. The availability of drugs and alcohol within the workplace, and attitudes in the workplace towards using them, also mean workplaces can have a significant impact on levels of usage by workers.

With that in mind, we’re developing principles to help guide us in the revision of the guideline. These principles will aim to help workplaces:

• Effectively manage the risks created by impairment from alcohol and other drugs in the workplace.

• Improve worker health and wellbeing, including educating workers on the risks, and options to get help.

• Keep alcohol and other drugs out of the forests and keep people working safely in them.

We will consult with the sector on the development of the guideline. But in the meantime, if you have ideas and experiences you'd like to share please get in touch. We’d also like to hear stories of new things people are trying to manage these risks and encourage healthy lifestyles among workers. You can contact us at

Source: SafeTree

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Matching regional biomass supplies to end user demand

With the increased interest in bioenergy and biofuels for replacing fossil fuels a focus of sector activities is now on showing potential users where the biomass fuel they need could come from. There is no doubt that there can be adequate biomass to meet demand. However, we have to undertake some work to ensure that the right type of biomass, with the right quantities, is in the right place, at the right time and at the right price.

The Bioenergy Association (BANZ) has developed a scenario of future bioenergy and biofuels demand (150PJ by 2050) which indicates where demand for biomass could come from. 150PJ is a trebling of current bioenergy use. The scenario also sets out where the biomass and organic waste supply to meet that demand could come from. The analysis is based on the recent updating of the work undertaken by Scion on Residual biomass fuel projections for New Zealand. The analysis also shows the areas where we need to focus attention.

A copy of the full 90 page report can also be downloaded here

Discussions with Government over future biomass supply work programmes is already resulting in new research and market development initiatives being developed. These will complement the demand side initiatives (such as GIDI) which EECA have been successfully running for some time.

The biggest barrier to efficient solid biofuel supply is the lack of information and knowledge of the regional solid biofuel supply market by both suppliers and buyers. To address that gap in information, potential buyers in a region need to aggregate their respective demands so that the suppliers can gear up their capabilities to respond. Buyers also need to know what biomass fuel is available in their region, and potential biomass fuel suppliers need to know what aggregated demand for 30 years ahead looks like. Any gap between projected demand and supply can be met by landowners providing more biomass.

Government has confirmed its policies for the replacement of fossil fuels use in schools and government institutions by low emissions fuels (electricity and biomass). This firmed demand for biomass is giving biomass suppliers greater confidence to build fuel supply capacity. The comparative advantage for biomass supply is that it is easier to plant more trees than it is to get consented and build more electricity power stations.

Wood residue availability, technologies and systems being used to harvest, handle, transport and dry wood residues from forest and wood harvesting sites and a raft of options for co-ordinating biomass supplies to meet end user demand are being detailed as part of the eagerly awaited Residues2Revenues 2022 event being run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 26-27 July 2022.

Details on the full conference, workshop and exhibition programme can be found on the event website. Registrations tell us that this is going to be another full event so if keen on ensuring you save a space, registrations can be made here. Note: Virtual on-line registrations for delegates outside New Zealand can also be made.

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Employers admit they're hiring the wrong people

The rush to recruit is leading to sloppy hiring decisions, with nearly half of business leaders making bad hires in the past year.

The worsening skills shortage is triggering poor hiring decisions by employers, with nearly half of business leaders saying they have made a bad hire in the past 12 months. Research by recruitment specialist Robert Half found that 61% of employers have settled for a candidate that did not sufficiently match the job role, ultimately hindering growth and incurring additional costs to businesses.

The New Rules of Work

In the office, hybrid or remote, here's what is changing about where, when and how you do your job. Meanwhile, more than half (53%) of business leaders feel pressure to pay new hires more than current employees, adding to the burden of making a bad hire. Economic resurgence following COVID-19 and businesses' appetite for growth has increased recruitment demand, particularly for technology professionals.

Robert Half's research, which combined data concerning 200 roles as well as a survey amongst 300 C-suite leaders, found that the pressurized hiring market was prompting urgency amongst recruiters that resulted in companies bringing the wrong people on board. Three in five (61%) respondents felt that settling for a candidate whose skills did not match the role requirements was the main component in employing a bad hire, closely followed by rushing the hiring process (56%).

Seven in 10 businesses reported that the impact of making a bad hire is worse than it was 12 months ago. Small and medium-sized businesses feel the pain more deeply than larger organizations, with 82% reporting "severe negative impacts".

More >>

Source: zdnet

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Exciting NZ wood processing education development

WIDE Trust advert to come There is still so much to learn in the field of wood science. Obviously, the forestry sector needs talented people who are really dedicated in this field to answer the questions.

The WIDE Trust is proud to have supported Thomas Lim’s appointment for an initial 3-year term as the WIDE Trust Senior Lecturer in Wood Processing at the University of Canterbury. Thomas has a Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Thomas has already made a massive impact in his new role. He has developed the new Advanced Wood Products Processing course at the University of Canterbury which he began teaching this semester. The course covers a wide range of essential concepts, including production yield, product evaluation, quality control management, manufacturing technology, and environmental impacts.

He also identified the need for an upgrade to the wood processing laboratory at University of Canterbury and approached the WIDE Trust with his ideas, having already identified the machinery needed. The Trust agreed to contribute to the upgrade, which, alongside the new course Thomas is delivering, provides students with practical skills in the processing of solid wood, wood-based composite, and modified wood products.

Thomas is keen to conduct comprehensive research on the performance evaluation of timber products, structures, building technology, and the development of engineered wood products, which would expand and strengthen the markets for NZ timber products.

Photo: Tom Wright, PhD Student and Thomas Lim

Source: WIDE Trust

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How NZ could become a decarbonisation world leader

Energy is the double-edged sword at the root of the climate crisis. Cheap energy has improved lives and underpinned massive economic growth. But because most of it comes from burning hydrocarbon fuels, we’re now left with a legacy of high atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and an emissions-intensive economy.

But what if we could flip the energy-emissions relationship on its head? We would need a technology that both generates electricity and removes CO2 from the atmosphere. The good news is this technology already exists. What’s more, New Zealand is perfectly positioned to do this “decarbonisation” cheaper than anywhere else on the planet.

And the timing couldn’t be better, with the government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan calling for bold projects and innovative solutions.

We research how to burn forestry waste for electricity while simultaneously capturing the emissions and trapping them in geothermal fields. Since forests remove CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, this process is emissions negative.

This also means a carbon “tax” can be turned into a revenue. With New Zealand’s CO2 price at an all-time high of NZ$80 per tonne, and overseas companies announcing billion-dollar funds to purchase offsets, now is time for cross-industry collaboration to make New Zealand a world leader in decarbonisation.

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage

Artificial carbon sinks are engineered systems that permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) achieves this by trapping the CO2 from burned organic matter – trees, biowaste – deep underground. An added bonus is that the energy released during combustion can be used as a substitute for hydrocarbon-based energy.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said climate mitigation pathways must include significant amounts of BECCS to limit global warming to 1.5℃. However, the technology is still new, with only a few plants around the world currently operating at scale.

Cost is a major barrier. New projects need expensive pipelines to move the CO2, and deep injection wells to store it underground. Because CO2 is more buoyant than water, there are also concerns that any gas stored underground might leak out over time. This is where geothermal fields can help.

Geothermal systems for BECCS

Geothermal is a reliable source of energy in New Zealand, supplying almost 20% of our electricity. We use deep wells to tap into underground reservoirs of hot water, which then passes through a network of pipes to a steam turbine that generates electricity.

Afterwards, the water is pumped back underground, which prevents the reservoir from “drying out”. New Zealand companies are world leaders at managing geothermal resources, and some are even experimenting with reinjecting the small amounts of CO2 that come up with the geothermal water.

Herein lies the opportunity. Geothermal systems already have the infrastructure needed for a successful BECCS project: pipelines, injection wells and turbines. We just need to figure out how to marry these two renewable technologies.

We propose that by burning forestry waste we can supercharge the geothermal water to higher temperatures, producing even more renewable power. Then, CO2 from the biomass combustion can be dissolved into the geothermal water – like a soda stream – before it is injected back underground.

More >>

Source: theconversation

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Subsidy for North Coast timber industry

The NSW government has announced a AU$10 million subsidy to help the flood-ravaged timber industry in northern NSW stay afloat.

The subsidy, AU$30 per tonne of timber, is designed to ease the cost of transporting timber – a task that has become more difficult this year due to soaring petrol prices and the wet. The subsidy is available in 18 NSW LGAs declared disaster zones.

Andrew Hurford, Chairman of Hurford Hardwood, said his mill in northern NSW had been hauling timber from as far as central Queensland. "Our company has been bringing some timber down from another operation we have up in the Burnett region in Queensland."

"That's a long haul, 700 kilometres, it's not really economically viable for us, but we have to do that to keep our staff working."

The NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said many plantations remain inaccessible due to wet conditions, and much of the machinery used to harvest timber can not be operated in the wet.

"Access roads to forests in NSW may take many months to repair, resulting in low or no harvesting activity and a critical lack of supply of hardwood resources that timber processing facilities would normally rely on."

Mr Hurford said the industry was feeling the pinch of rising cost of living pressures. "We're all running on the smell of an oily rag."

More >>

Source: ABC

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Autonomous drone swarm flies through forest

An algorithm guides the drones to avoid collision, fly efficiently and as a team. This is part of an experiment led by scientists from Zhejiang University in China. The drone swarm is the first to successfully fly in an uncontrolled environment.

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Forico partners with Rural Alive and Well

Forico is proud to be supporting the important work of Rural Alive and Well (RAW) and their sector-specific Cutting Through program, aimed at bringing critical support to Tasmanians in the forestry and timber industry. RAW is a Tasmanian not-for-profit organisation, building mentally healthy and resilient rural and remote communities.

‘RAW expertly delivers support services that address an essential and unfortunately growing need in our communities. We are proud to support their work in forestry and expect it to deliver tangible benefits broadly across our industry,’ said Forico CEO Evangelista Albertini, meeting with RAW’s CEO Barb Walters in early 2022 to consolidate the partnership.

RAW provides practical and tangible interventions, to promote positive mental health, reduce stigma, address life stressors and provide access to specialist support services for people who live in Tasmania's rural and remote areas.

RAW’s approach is non-clinical, genuine and non-intrusive. The service is confidential with no waiting lists or fees. RAW's team have a dynamic range of qualifications and lived experience, which enables one-on-one support to be authentic and personal. RAW works collaboratively with shared goals to get the best outcome for program participants.

RAW conversations take place where program participants are most comfortable, for example: in the timber yard, football field or a nearby local cafe. The Cutting Through program operates state-wide in rural and remote Tasmanian locations and has been developed specifically with the forestry and timber sector in mind.

The program is tailored to meet the unique complex nature of the Tasmanian Timber Industry, and is led by David Milne, a saw doctor with thirty years’ experience in the industry from Tasmania’s north-east. Cutting Through delivers a range of support including Fast 5 Talks in workplaces, referral pathways for individuals, one-on-one support and accreditation programs for workplaces and employer support.

To read more about the Cutting Through Program, please visit:

Source: Forico

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New legislation ensures safer forestry workplaces

To ensure all Victorians are safe at work, protestors engaging in dangerous activity will be now facing stronger penalties when putting the safety and wellbeing of forestry workers at risk. Introduced to Parliament this week, the Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022 will modernise enforcement measures to better deter dangerous protest activities within Timber Harvesting Safety Zones.

These zones are small and restricted areas where forestry activities are being undertaken. Protestors who illegally enter these zones and dangerously interfere with workers or their machinery, will be subject to stronger penalties including maximum fines of more than $21,000 or 12-months imprisonment.

PVC and metal pipes, which can be used in dangerous protest activities, will be added to the prohibited items list meaning they potentially attract extra fines if used to hinder or obstruct timber harvesting operations. To prevent repeated safety risks across multiple Timber Harvesting Safety Zones, Authorised Officers will be able to issue Banning Notices. The notices will aim to stop individuals from repeatedly engaging in dangerous activities in Timber Harvesting Safety Zones and other forestry coupe areas.

Authorised Officers will be given additional powers to search containers, bags and vehicles for prohibited items. This Bill will bring the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 in line with other similar pieces of legislation such as the Wildlife Act 1975. For more information visit

Source: Minister for Agriculture, Mary-Anne Thomas

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Worksafe: Close scrutiny or radical over-reach?

New Zealand workers are still being maimed and killed in huge numbers, but WorkSafe’s boss is ambitious to deliver change.

Phil Parkes was trained as a regulator in the ways of “the carrot, the stick and the sermon” - incentives, punishment and guidance. But two years into his role as chief executive of WorkSafe, he speaks of “root causes” and “culture”, “upstream duties” and “organisations with influence and control”.

Carrots, sticks and sermons are still essential tools, but they are insufficient to bring about the profound changes necessary to keep workers safe. He argues a modern “insights-driven” regulator needs to understand the business models, supply chains, terms and conditions, and contracting arrangements that determine whether work is good or bad for the people who do it every day.

Death, life-changing injury and illness at work are symptoms of “work done badly”, he says. Fixing New Zealand’s appalling record of health and safety is, therefore, about the quest for “better work”.

“Work is not just delivered by frontline workers and supervisors,” Parkes told Newsroom in an interview last week. “It’s delivered by people who set up organisations, leaders who set the culture, directors who make the financial decisions, the architects who design the buildings, the owners of forests who decide where to plant the trees ... There is a huge [number] of players in the work economy that have health and safety responsibilities, and influence and control, that don’t always sit in the business that carries out the frontline activity”.

These players are within WorkSafe’s reach, he says - whether through hard enforcement, persuasion and education, or public shaming. The directors of a corporation whose subsidiaries repeatedly harm workers can expect the regulator’s close scrutiny; so too can the supplier of dangerous equipment.

Parkes is even trying to get WorkSafe to the point where it can “shine a light” on - for example - foreign pension funds with shareholdings in forest companies in whose service logging workers are killed. That might mean a letter or a video call from him to point out that the toll on workers doesn’t square with said shareholder’s claims of ethical and sustainable investment, or perhaps some uncomfortable media exposure.

Parkes’ aspirations are a far cry from the banal reality of hard hats and toolbox talks, compliance forms and SMEs who fear the WorkSafe bogeyman will come after them for some minor transgression. “It is progressive,” he says of the direction in which he is trying to take the agency. “And it’s hard.”

More >>

Source: newsroom

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Legal Harvest Assurance Amendment Bill introduced

New Zealand is committing to trade only in legally harvested timber with the Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill that was introduced to Parliament on 18 May. Under the Bill, timber harvested in New Zealand and overseas, and used in products made in New Zealand or imported, will have to be verified as being legally harvested.

The Bill signifies New Zealand’s commitment to preventing the global trade in illegally harvested timber and establishes regulations and requirements to confirm timber sourced here and overseas is harvested in compliance with relevant laws.

An official press release from Minster Nash (which covers off all aspects of the Bill) can be found here.

The Bill itself can be found here.

Source: MPI

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The CEO who gave up his salary

Alex Rodrigues, CEO of Embark Trucks, donated his 2022 salary and bonus to fund Little Robots.

After a long career, many of us feel the need to help future generations find success. It seems that age might not be a requirement. At 26, Alex Rodrigues, CEO of Embark Trucks, didn’t want to wait years to show appreciation to those who had helped him achieve early success. “I’m really grateful to the people that have helped me along the way,” explains Rodrigues.

“From those involved with the first robotics team I was on who coached me and those companies who let us work at their expensive CNC labs, to a GPS company that took a bet on us when we asked to use their system for our golf cart. I wanted to say thank you to all of them and felt paying it forward was the best way to do that.”

To show that gratitude on March 16, 2020, he announced that he would forgo his salary and bonus in 2022 and use those funds to launch Little Robots, a grant fund dedicated to youth robotics and STEM education.

Rodrigues’ career has been closely tied to robotics. As a student at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, he and two friends had an idea for self-driving vehicles and so build an autonomous golf cart as a prototype. That led to their acceptance into Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley tech incubator. While at the incubator they began to develop software that allowed trucks to drive autonomously.

“It was a hard choice to leave college to pursue this dream, but I felt that the window of opportunity would pass if I waited,” says Rodrigues. Turns out his gamble paid off. Rodrigues became one of the youngest CEOs of a public company at age 26. His company, Embark Trucks, employs over 200 people, and partners with shippers and carriers that represent over 38,000 trucks. In 2021 it went public through a SPAC merger and now holds a value of US$4 billion.

More >>

Source: industryweek

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ... my job search

Since we are talking about job shortages, this is quite clever. I wonder who thinks up all this stuff.

1. My first job was working in an Orange Juice factory, but I got canned. Couldn't concentrate.

2. Then I worked in the woods as a Lumberjack, but just couldn't hack it, so they gave me the axe.

3. After that, I tried being a Tailor, but wasn't suited for it, mainly because it was a sew-sew job.

4. Next, I tried working in a Muffler Factory, but that was too exhausting.

5. Then, tried being a Chef - figured it would add a little spice to my life, but just didn't have the thyme.

6. Next, I attempted being a Deli Worker, but any way I sliced it.... I couldn't cut the mustard.

7. My best job was a Musician, but eventually found I wasn't noteworthy.

8. I studied a long time to become a Doctor, but didn't have any patience.

9. Next, was a job in a Shoe Factory. Tried hard but just didn't fit in.

10. I became a Professional Fisherman, but discovered I couldn't live on my net income.

11. Managed to get a good job working for a Pool Maintenance Company, but the work was just too draining.

12. So then I got a job in a Workout Centre, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.

13. After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as a Historian - until I realized there was no future in it.

14. My last job was working in Starbucks, but had to quit because it was the same old grind.


And on that note, enjoy your 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:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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