WoodWeek – 29 October 2014

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Greetings from your WoodWeek team.
It's a big week for forestry, and a big month of forestry events coming up. To start with, keep an eye on the TV news on Thursday night as the mainstream media will look to create controversy where there is none. The main event will be this Friday when the report of the Independent Forest Safety Review panel will be released publicly at the Distinction Hotel from 11am. It will also be aired live on Rural TV at www.ruraltv.co.nz.

The panel will recommend a package of practical measures that are expected to result in a significant reduction in the rate of serious injuries and fatalities in the forestry sector in the next five years.

The annual FICA Conference & AGM is coming up on 7th and 8th November, in Napier. Yes, NEXT WEEK. We have a fantastic couple of days planned, with a special guest Paul Ego joining us for the Saturday night dinner to add some comedy to the proceedings.

The following weeks feature the ForestTECH 2014 conference running again in Rotorua (19 and 20th Nov) and Melbourne (25 & 26th Nov). The technology associated with this event just continues to grow every year. Check out all the speakers and if you have not registered your people yet – better do so quickly. Do it now at foresttech2014.com

On the eve of the public launch of the Independent Forest Safety Review panel's report, it is instructive to look at some of the initiatives that are already in place in the forest industry in British Columbia - a province that has many similarities in terrain and tree size (in their second growth forests) to New Zealand. This week we provide a snapshot of their faller certification system.

Accident Compensation Corp, the state-owned accident insurer, reported a 57 percent drop in annual profit after it faced more claims than anticipated, and as its investment portfolio returns fell short of expectations. But, it still exceeded its budgeted surplus of $1.85 billion.

We’ve got loads more – read and enjoy!
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Watch IFSR Report Launch live on Rural TV

Due to the extremely high level of interest in the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel hand over of their Report to the Review Sponsors, the handover and release of the report will be shown live on Rural TV.

If you wish to watch the release, please go to www.ruraltv.co.nz from 11am on Friday 31 October. The release will take approximately 1.5 hours with speakers from the Forest Owners Association, Forest Industry Contractors Association, Farm Forestry Association, Wiremu Edmonds (worker representative) and Worksafe along with George Adams, Chair of the Review Panel.

Please direct any questions about the release to Glen Mackie, Technical Adviser at the Forest Owners Associations (glen.mackie@nzfoa.org.nz).

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IFSR - Panel set to Push for Change

The findings of the Independent Forestry Safety Review panel will be launched in Rotorua on Friday and are expected to recommend big industry changes.

The panel was put together in January, with three members appointed - businessman George Adams, health and safety lawyer Hazel Armstrong and safety expert Mike Cosman.

The purpose of the review was to identify the likely causes and contributing factors to the high rate of serious injuries and fatalities in the New Zealand forestry sector.

The panel has examined the health and safety structure and culture of the forestry sector and has consulted widely, including with those affected by serious injuries and fatalities.

The panel will recommend a package of practical measures that are expected to result in a significant reduction in the rate of serious injuries and fatalities in the forestry sector in the next five years.

The panel members, industry leaders, safety champions and representatives of bereaved families will be present at the report's launch.

According to the panel's media spokesman, the report is highly significant because it will recommend major changes to workplace culture and operations in the country's third largest export industry.

The spokesman said up to 300 people were expected to attend. "We want this to be the first step in getting everyone in the industry embracing the need for change."

This year, one person has died in the forestry industry, compared with 10 in 2013. There have also been 46 serious injuries this year, almost half of last year's total.

The review will be released during a public launch at the Distinction Hotel from 11am. It will also be aired live on Rural TV at www.ruraltv.co.nz.

Rotorua's Wiremu (Lee) Edmonds, whose stepson Robert Ruri-Epapara died in a forestry accident in 2013, will be one of several speakers at the launch.

Visit www.ifsr.co.nz for further information.

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FICA Conference - NEXT WEEK

The annual FICA Conference & AGM is coming up on the 7th and 8th of November, in Napier - NEXT WEEK. We have a fantastic couple of days planned, with a special mention to Paul Ego, joining us for the Saturday night dinner.

We also have some great activities planned, including a tour of a local log yard, white water rafting, and the option to take a full day winery tour.

Registrations close this Friday, 31 October for Conference and accommodation is going fast in Napier for the weekend, so make sure you get yours booked!
Download the brochure and registration form here, or call Tahlia in the FICA office on 07 921 1382.

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Learning from BC Forest Safety initatives

On the eve of the public launch of the Independent Forest Safety Review panel's report it is instructive to look at some of the initiatives that are already in place in the forest industry in British Columbia - a province that has many similarities in terrain and tree size (in their second growth forests) to New Zealand. This week we provide a snapshot of their faller certification system.

During the period of the independent review, both the review panel itself and the management of WorkSafe NZ made use of the 10-year headstart that BC had in taking affirmative action in forest safety standards. So, an excellent source of guidance on some key initiatives is the BC Forest Safety website. Here is an example of how they see tree faller certification: British Columbia Faller Certification Levels
These levels reflect the highest documented level that a faller has achieved. It is not intended to be a restriction, but simply reflects the conditions of the most recent evaluation submitted to the BC Forest Safety Council. In many cases, this is the original evaluation done at the time of the faller’s initial certification.

It remains the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the worker is qualified for the timber type and terrain through evaluation and documentation, regardless of the level listed on the faller’s card.

This level may be upgraded at any time by a Council-qualified Falling Supervisor or Qualified Supervisor/Trainer (QS/T).

To see the full section and links to navigate to further information click here

Source: BC Forest Safe
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ACC surplus down but ahead of budget

Accident Compensation Corp, the state-owned accident insurer, reported a 57 percent drop in annual profit after it faced more claims than anticipated, and as its investment portfolio returns missed expectations.

Net profit dropped to $2.14 billion in the 12 months ended June 30, from $4.93 billion a year earlier, the Wellington-based state organisation said in a statement. That still exceeded its budgeted surplus of $1.85 billion. While levy revenue was largely flat at $4.73 billion, investment income dropped 23 percent to $1.56 billion.

ACC's portfolio only just outperformed its benchmark and was the lowest since 2009 with an average annual return of 6.33 percent, a level it called "somewhat disappointing in the context of the strong returns from equity markets".

Claims paid rose 12 percent to $2.96 billion, ahead of expectations, and chair Paula Rebstock and her deputy Trevor Janes said that put pressure on ACC ability to maintain high levels of rehabilitation. "Actions will be taken over the next year to enable us to be more responsive to changes in claim volumes in order to maintain good rehabilitation performance," they said in their board report. "This is important, as research confirms that when people make a rapid return to independence after injury their overall health and well-being is significantly improved."

At the pre-election fiscal and economic update in August, Finance Minister Bill English signalled more reductions in ACC levies were on the cards on top of a plan to slash them by about $480 million in 2016.

ACC reduced its net liabilities to $108.3 million as at June 30 with the earners and work account books fully-funded, and the rest on track to be fully-funded by 2019, a position Rebstock and ACC Minister Nikki Kaye described in separate statements as being essentially fully-funded.

Cabinet has requested a review of ACC's funding policy across all levied accounts, led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which is underway and expected to be completed in the 2014/15 financial year, the report said.

ACC's $26.96 billion investment portfolio outperformed the market benchmark by 0.1 percent in the 2014 financial year, its 19th straight year of doing so, but for the first time that outperformance didn't exceed the cost of managing investments.

While the fund's returns were bolstered by strong global equity markets, a high New Zealand dollar eroded those gains.

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Local wood building company adding value

Exporting timber houses makes more economic sense than exporting logs ... that was Dan Tremewan's thought, as he watched, from his Lyttelton home, logs being stacked at the port below. Four years of thought later, the Christchurch property investor and developer has unveiled Welhaus, his own brand of modular, engineered timber homes.

Based on what he had seen in Europe, he has developed the concept in several low-energy designs. The first example has just gone up in seaside North Beach. Others are planned for Huntsbury and Lyttelton, with more orders on the books.

Realtor Harcourts will market the homes locally, and Tremewan is investigating national and offshore markets.

"We should be able to ramp up production to a couple a week, and we're looking at the export potential for next year," Tremewan said.

"I think we've got something quite special and if we can do it in enough volume, it's an answer to New Zealand's low productivity in house building. And it uses technology to add value to our wood."

The name is a contraction of well-being and the German word for house.

While New Zealand has companies making pre-fabricated or modular homes, Tremewan believes his concept has "a lot of firsts". The first to combine factory-built panelised housing and a swift eco-build. The first to do modular homes with lightweight timber panels and laminated solid wood. And perhaps the quickest to put up.

Tremewan developed the concept with fellow Lytteltonian and architect Simon Blencowe, Christchurch-based German-trained engineer Johann Betz and various architectural designers.

All the homes use New Zealand-grown timbers, such as pine and douglas fir, made into cross laminates and engineered plywood, and the panels are insulated with New Zealand wool. Every piece is factory made - the walls in a Christchurch factory, and the floors and ceilings in Nelson.

To read the full story click here

Source: Stuff.co.nz

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World leading robotics specialist for ForestTECH 2014

With a technology focus for forestry companies being planned for ForestTECH 2014, we’re delighted to announce that a world leader in robotics will be presenting as an after-dinner presenter in Melbourne on the first night of the conference, Tuesday 25 November. Professor Saeid Nahavandi who leads the Centre for Intelligent Systems Research at Deakin University will be opening delegates eyes to the opportunities open to the industry through the increasing use of automation and robotics.

As well as being renowned for his research and commercial applications, he is in high demand presenting at conferences throughout the world. He used to live in New Zealand and actually designed a robotic pine pruning machine many years ago for the NZ forestry industry. He also, for another project, won the NZ Engineer of the Year - beating the NZ America's cup team (who won the cup that year).

A couple of weeks ago he was in Boston with the company who made international headlines by designing a robot that runs like a cheetah ( check out this video) - which got bought by Google last year.

Prepare to have your eyes opened. Dinner and full registrations to the ForestTECH 2014 event in Melbourne can be made – with the other workshops being planned for Australian resource and planning foresters detailed – on the event website on www.foresttech2014.com

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New Forests hardwood forest acquisition

New Forests has just announced the acquisition of a 7,000-hectare blue gum plantation estate, which will be managed as part of Limestone Plantations, a hardwood estate previously acquired by New Forests’ Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 2 (“ANZFF2”). The acquisition includes 28 properties with approximately 5,500 hectares of net planted area located across south-western Victoria.

ANZFF2 closed in March of this year with more than AU$700 million of capital from institutional clients. Since then New Forests has completed three Australian and three New Zealand transactions on behalf of the ANZFF2 investment fund. This includes the acquisition of the original 21,000 hectare Limestone Plantations in March and purchase of a 175,000-hectare Tasmanian forestry estate in September of this year.

“These are attractive, high-productivity forestry properties,” said New Forests’ CEO David Brand. “The Green Triangle is a premier forestry region, with low operating costs, proximity to processing and ports, and excellent forestry management capacity.”

The combined estate of Limestone Plantations now comprises 28,000 hectares and offers high- quality forestry land with a mix of leased and unleased properties. As part of the company’s Social and Environmental Policy, New Forests will seek to certify the forests with the Forest Stewardship Council (“FSC”) as third-party verification of the sustainable environmental, social, and economic management of the plantation.

About New Forests
New Forests (www.newforests.com.au) is a sustainable real assets investment manager offering leading-edge strategies in forestry, land management, and conservation. Founded in 2005, the company offers institutional investors targeted opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States and has over AU$2.5 billion in assets under management. New Forests’ clients include pension funds, superannuation funds, and other institutional investors. The company is headquartered in Sydney, Australia with offices in Singapore and San Francisco.

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Parents' grief inspires others

A talk that relives the grief experienced by a Rotorua couple will be the keynote speech at a health and safety conference in South Africa in front of thousands of delegates.

Marsella and Wiremu (Lee) Edmonds lost their son Robert Ruri-Epapara in a forestry accident in March 2013.

Stand in the Gap, a principles and values-based presentation to encourage leadership, was born from their grief. The talk, which includes details of their son's death, has been delivered to more than 8000 people across New Zealand and is now crossing industries, but this is the first time it will be presented overseas.

The couple fly out on Saturday for a 10-day trip where they will give three presentations. The main event is the Focus on Forest Engineering conference, which the Edmonds will open in front of 3500 delegates.

They will also give presentations at Bell Equipment's head office and factory. The company is a world leader in forestry equipment.

"The message that we share isn't just for the forestry industry," Mr Edmonds said.

"It's become industry-wide. We're representing ourselves as parents and then representing our families and friends who have held us up. We're also representing industry leaders of this country, their workers and because of my role with the ACC steering committee I'm representing every man and their families in New Zealand and every soldier who has been lost in the industry before and after our son.

"It's not just about our son any more. It's about standing in the gap for the weak, the strong and the people who are looking for a little bit of courage - people who want to be inspired."

John Deere, Waratah and Bell Equipment have sponsored the trip.

After months of the talks being delivered by Mr Edmonds, Mrs Edmonds also now takes to the floor to share her experience. "Emotionally it's quite draining. We're reliving it each time we share the presentation. A lot of people have asked me as a mum, how do I do it?

'When you have been to the abyss of pain you don't want any other mum to experience that. It's something we will live with for the rest of our lives.

"If I can contribute to young men making the right decision and that helps save one life, then I've achieved something."

Major Nelson, the foreman in charge on the day of Mr Ruri-Epapara's death, admitted a charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 that he, as an employee, failed to take all practicable steps to prevent an action of his at work, namely felling a tree, from causing harm to Mr Ruri-Epapara. He was fined $35,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $15,000.

He has lodged an appeal against his sentence, which is due to be heard next year.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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Forico replanting strategy for Tasmania

The company managing the former Gunns Tasmanian timber plantations is embarking on a new investment phase, with plans to spend around $20 million on woodchip mills and plantation establishment.

The New Forests owned forest management company Forico will this year re-plant 1,000 hectares, but next year intends to spend between $10 and $15 million replanting up to 5,000 hectares of eucalypt plantations in the state.

Forico CEO Bryan Hayes says the industry is at the bottom of the economic cycle and they are positioning their company for the recovery.

In doing so, he's ruled out building a pulp mill.

"It's a huge investment, it is something best left to others to contemplate," he said.

"If a proponent came to us, as a major forest owner, and said they would like to talk about wood supply, our door is open.

"But we have absolutely no interest in downstream development in that area.

"It simply doesn't fit with the investment criteria of our shareholders".

Forico is now responsible for 100,000 hectares of Tasmania's total 240,000 ha of plantations, making it the single largest owner.

Mr Hayes says confidence in the Tasmanian forest sector has been shattered and that needs to be restored.

"Domestically we have to deal with some issues that we can deal with.

"Internationally there is an oversupply of woodfibre into the market place.

"That's going to take two or three years to wash out, so the industry generally is at the bottom of the curve in terms of the economic cycle.

"But that will change, what we do is position ourselves by having investment in our capacity, improving the forest health and productivity so that when things do swing up as they inevitably will, that we are ready to take advantage of that uptick."

Subject to board approval they will spend up to $15 million refurbishing their woodchip plants at Surrey Hills in Tasmania's North West and Long Reach on the Tamar in Northern Tasmania.

"In get sufficient processing capacity at those mills in order to process the wood out of the plantations that's growing and standing out there, we have to effectively double our capacity".

Mr Hayes says once confidence is restored, they see an ongoing role for plantations on private farmland.

"Trees in the agricultural landscape are imperative for amenity purposes and for creating value for the owner of the land and the owner of the trees," he said.

"We'd like to develop partnerships and alliances, strategies and programs to work with farmers in order to manage the trees, take the trees to market."

He says they are very mindful of the loss of confidence through the collapse of the MIS.

"We need to work our way through that, there is a positive future".

For more on this story, click here

PHOTO: CEO of Forico, Bryan Hayes

Source: ABC Rural News

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Global View for New Zealand Business Leaders

GE Capital provides insight to customer groups of global best practice

Following two business development trips organised by GE Capital, a group of New Zealand business leaders are tapping into international best practice in their respective industries.

In two recent trips where GE took clients to either the USA or China, business leaders were exposed to best international practice and developed networks which should benefit New Zealand businesses as a whole, said GE Capital General Manager Commercial Mitch Booth.

A group of 27 GE Capital customers travelled to the USA, while two more of their NZ clients visited China as part of a wider Australian and NZ party. Both trips were undertaken as a part of the Access GE programme, which gives clients the opportunity to tap into the company’s local and international resources.

“The benefits of trips like this are three-fold. Firstly, our clients are exposed to different industry techniques and practices in other parts of the world, secondly, they get to benchmark their own processes – which are at times world class, so it is a nice reassurance that they are on the right track – and finally, they are networking with other business leaders from New Zealand and abroad.

“This sharing of thoughts and ideas is invaluable and a key reason why we wanted to ensure these opportunities are available for our clients.
“With Access GE, we look to provide clients with more than just financing, and it is one of the advantages of dealing with a global financier like GE Capital. The programme includes everything from practical tools and industry experts to research papers and global insights.”

For Karen Forbes, of Waikato transport company Alan Forbes Transport, the insights gained on the North American trip sent her home with a refreshed perspective.

“It was fantastic to get into the different sites, which we would not have been able to without GE’s contacts. Those doors would never have been open to us, not only in the forestry industry but with our visit to the Boeing factory and GE Healthcare too.

“In our discussions we compared New Zealand and American forestry industries, and the US teams were amazed at how much regulation we have to work with. It is because of this that a lot of what we do is on par with or ahead of their own best practise standards; although they can work on quite different terrain to us.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a GE trip like this to anyone. We grabbed the opportunity with both hands and we will do so again. The whole trip was fantastic.”

As a global company, GE was able to ensure both the USA and China trips connected their customers with global expertise which would otherwise be unreachable, said Booth.

“In the USA, we went to several large scale forestry sites in Oregon and Washington State that were managed by leading industry operators: the Boeing aircraft factory, a Kenworth truck manufacturing plant and one of GE Healthcare’s manufacturing sites in Seattle. This gave our customers the opportunity to witness the development and use of leading edge technology and best practice processes. In China, our clients took part in a five day workshop with the topic of doing business in China. Through GE, we were able to connect them to key government officials, local business leaders and GE China’s leadership team.

“The intention for both trips was to give our clients different perspectives and views on how businesses are operating in other growth markets. We like to think we bring more than money to the table for our customers and trips like these really offer a great deal of understanding and added value.”

GE Capital New Zealand is part of General Electric, a global infrastructure and financial services company and the sixth largest brand in the world. GE Capital is the leading specialist financial provider in New Zealand, working with more than 500,000 customers and offering a range of financial solutions to a diverse range of industries and customers.

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Tasmania moves to amend protest laws

The Tasmanian government is moving to amend controversial anti-protest laws to more specifically target anti-forestry and mining activists.

The Protection from Protesters bill, which passed Tasmania’s lower house in June, proposed fining demonstrators who “prevent, hinder, or obstruct the carrying out of a business activity” up to $10,000. Second and repeat offenders would face mandatory jail terms of up to two years.

But after a backlash from unions, civil libertarians, the farmers’ lobby and a UN rapporteur who called the bill “shocking”, the state government is moving amendments to avoid what the state’s resources minister, Paul Harriss, has called “unintended consequences”.

Under the proposed amendments, the anti-protest laws would not apply to demonstrations on public roads and footpaths – provided they do not block access to a business.

It also removes references to protests against shops, markets, warehouses or offices, ensuring “the bill only covers those industries that have been identified as vulnerable to protest action namely: mining, forestry, agriculture, construction and manufacturing”.

The amendments also propose to “protect mum and dad type protesters” by allowing police to give demonstrators a warning before they issue fines or make arrests.

To read the full story click here

Source: The Guardian

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New emissions impetus from EU move?

A New Climate Deal for the EU, New Impetus for the World? - Late last week the EU's Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard called on other countries to follow Europe's example after EU member states successfully agreed a new emissions reductions target on Friday of 40% by 2030 (cf 1990 levels).

The new target gives the EU a credible commitment to take to next year's conference in Paris, where it is hoped that a new global deal can be agreed. There is also scope for the EU's target to be reviewed upwards depending on the outcome of those negotiations.

Europe's emission trading scheme remains its primary tool for driving emissions reductions. But other targets agreed as part of the climate and energy package will also help.

The summit also saw the adoption of a new binding target that 27% of Europe's energy should come from renewables by 2030, and an aspirational target of reducing primary energy consumption by 27% by 2030.

Finally, countries with surplus electricity should, by 2030, be able to export up to 15% of their generation.

Both of the latter targets, if achieved, would also improve Europe's energy security - a hot issue in the region given Europe's dependence on Russian gas. Now the focus must be turned to actually fixing the EU ETS, which has long suffered a surplus of allowances and a lack of flexibility to address these.

With prices once north of 30 euros a tonne and now around 6, both coal dependents and climate evangelists alike agree that EU carbon prices are too low to fund the transition to the cleaner infrastructure required.

Perhaps the key lesson learned by EU climate policy-makers has been that, even though regulatory stability is important, a supply of carbon allowances determined a long way in advance causes a big problem when fundamental demand is driven not by politics, but by the real economy.

Thus, flexibility is key. Enter the idea of the "market stability reserve”. This would work to preserve tension in the market (and hence support prices) by enabling the regulator to withdraw and return allowances to the market depending on the size of the surplus. It's a concept that many of our local free market economists in New Zealand might abhor, but in fact it's practical recognition that a carbon market is the most artificial of creations, and that if you're serious about ensuring it works, it's probably better to 'fess up and call it what it should be - a managed market, not a free one.

Not something we have often seen acknowledged in the rhetoric of NZ's own Climate Ministers to date, but perhaps that will change.


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Cellphone Tower Disguised as Tree

The tallest “pine tree” in Manteca is going to be “planted” along Button Avenue.

Verizon is seeking permission to erect an 88-foot cell tower disguised as a pine tree in the 100 block of Button Avenue within a small industrial park.

It’s just down the street from Manteca’s tallest palm tree — a cell tower designed to look like a palm tree behind the Manteca Christian Worship Center on Button Avenue near where it intersects with Cottage Avenue.

The pine tree is also several blocks away from the city’s tallest clock tower that was put in place earlier this year to disguise a cell tower on the southwest corner of Commerce Avenue and East Yosemite Avenue behind the McDonald’s.

One cell carrier was prepared to erect an 80-foot flag pole doing double duty as a cell tower on Wetmore Street at the city’s corporation yard until it was determined the garrison-style flag would interfere with municipal emergency communications transmitters that were also being placed on the tower. It instead went up as an oil derrick-style tower.

The Verizon tower is planned for the northeast corner of a storage area of an existing auto repair shop at 178 Button Avenue that is owned by Gerry Cargile.

The cell tower will be screened by branches of the fake pine tree fashioned from a monopole. A pine tree design was chose to blend in with existing pine trees on nearby properties.

Disguising cell towers whenever possible is keeping with a directive by the City Council to staff that they didn’t want to see stark cell towers popping up over Manteca if it could be avoided.

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Is Your Garage Door Boring…?

Remember, these are just garage door posters …

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... Marriage ... old-timer style ...

Getting Married: Old-timer style!
Jack, age 92, and Gill, age 89, living in Auckland, are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding, and on the way they pass a chemist shop and Jack suggests they go in.

Jack addresses the man behind the counter:
"Are you the owner?"
The pharmacist answers, "Yes."

Jack: "We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?"
Pharmacist: "Of course we do."

Jack: "How about medicine for circulation?"
Pharmacist: "All kinds "

Jack: "Medicine for rheumatism?"
Pharmacist: "Definitely."

Jack: "How about suppositories?"
Pharmacist: "You bet!"

Jack: "Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, and Alzheimer's?"
Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety. The works.."

Jack: "What about vitamins, sleeping pills, antidotes for Parkinson's disease?"
Pharmacist: "Absolutely.."

Jack: "Everything for heartburn and indigestion?"
Pharmacist: "We sure do..."

Jack: "You sell wheelchairs and walkers and canes?"
Pharmacist: "All speeds and sizes.."

Jack: "Adult incontinence pants?"
Pharmacist: "Sure."

Jack: "Then we'd like to use this store for our wedding presents list..."


Speaking of old-timers, here's another one about an old Irish farmer:

Paddy McCoy, an elderly Irish farmer, received a letter from the Department for Work & Pensions, stating that they suspected he was not paying his employees the statutory minimum wage and they would send an inspector to interview them. On the appointed day, the inspector turned up. "Tell me about your staff," he asked Paddy.

"Well," said Paddy, "there's the farm hand, I pay him £240 a week, and he has a free cottage. Then there's the housekeeper. She gets £190 a week, along with free board and lodging. There's also the half-wit. He works a 16 hour day, does 90% of the work, earns about £25 a week, along with a bottle of whiskey, and as a special treat occasionally gets to sleep with my wife."

"That's disgraceful" said the inspector, “I need to interview the half-wit."

"That'll be me then," said Paddy.

That's all for our mid-week wood news roundup.

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