Friday Offcuts – 6 July 2018

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The aftermath of the log slash pile-up on the East Coast of the North Island continues to hit the headlines. The forestry industry after initially being slow out of the blocks and uncertain as to exactly how to respond to the devastation following the Queen’s birthday deluge, has really picked up its act. It’s made a much-improved effort (meeting with local Councils, land and property owners and contributing to media coverage both through papers and through radio) to respond and to work with the local community.

The industry has now made itself accessible to the media at both a local and national level. Rather than blame past activities or the steep terrain and instability of the underlying soils, it’s owned up, it’s helping local land owners with the massive clean-up and is already suggesting options and revised guidelines to manage forestry blocks, to look more closely at forest engineering practices and to better manage resultant slash from harvesting operations in regions like Gisborne. The status quo – obviously isn’t an option going forward. We’ve also included this week a commentary and time lapse images of the region sourced from Google Earth between 1984 and 2016. The imagery illustrates just how land use changes have impacted on the landscape around Tolaga Bay.

Last week we covered moves by the NZ Government who were calling for interest from local and overseas companies to set up new or expand existing off-site manufacturing factories to meet the dire housing shortages facing the country. This week we build on the theme with a video from the other side of the world, Finland. It outlines just what off-site wood construction has to offer. Prefabricated modules are being assembled in industrial factories and then delivered to building sites for quick installation. Prefabrication is also going to be used in the just announced AU$56 million timber commercial office building, the first planned for Melbourne.

Mental and physical health again is a focus for forestry workers with a series of FISC sponsored workshops being run throughout New Zealand right now. Health campaigner Dr Tom Mulholland, an emergency department doctor, best-selling author and motivational speaker has been building on his recent work with his ambulance/pop-up medical clinic that's been testing the health of forestry workers around the country. Five workshops ran in the South Island this week. Around 400 have turned up so far. More are to follow. Health and safety and the culture being implemented by forestry companies is also being showcased in the upcoming Forest Safety events being run in mid-August for forestry companies and contracting crews. FISC, AFCA and ForestWorks are involved in a series of additional workshops running in both New Zealand and Australia. Registrations to this latest series are rolling in. Registrations can now be made on the event website.

Finally, the Northland Wood Council, is running its third annual forestry awards programme this evening. This is the fourth Wood Council in New Zealand this year to run these very popular annual celebrations of regional training and business success. Already, record ticket sales of 530 have been sold and 46 nominations received across fourteen major award categories. It’s going to be another big night in Whangarei. Details on all the winners from the evening will follow. That’s all for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Melbourne’s first timber commercial office building

Melbourne will get its first timber commercial office building with a wood engineered structure and with an end value of AU$56 million reports the Sydney Morning Herald. It will join Australia’s first multi-storey timber apartment tower and a landmark wooden public library in the Docklands urban renewal precinct which has become a focal point for sustainable buildings.

Sydney-based developer AsheMorgan has launched a leasing campaign for tenants to occupy a multi-storey office which will straddle an existing two level concrete building in The District, a shopping centre next to Footscray Road best known as the location of Melbourne’s Star Skywheel.

About two thirds of the new structure will be made from cross laminated timber (CLT). Diversified developer Lendlease pioneered the use of CLT in Australia when it constructed the 10-level Forte apartment complex in the Docklands in 2012. Lendlease has since built another commercial timber office, the six-storey International House Sydney at the gateway to its multi-billion dollar Barangaroo development, and has plans for a second timber office in the same project.

“We are building over an existing structure so having a lightweight material is important for us,” AsheMorgan founder Michael Moss said. “Both employers and employees were focusing on the sustainability and health impacts of their offices. “That’s becoming an increasingly important factor for employees in choosing where they work.” Wooden buildings had proven performance in both areas, he said.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Photo: AsheMorgan

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Storm clean up expected to take up to a year

It will take up to a year for the forestry industry to find a solution to the amount of wood left over in Gisborne blocks, the Forestry Owners Association says. Heavy rain and flooding in Tolaga Bay last month left millions of tonnes of forestry debris strewn across farms and blocking rivers.

The clean-up is expected to cost about NZ$10 million, with the New Zealand government providing some support. With affected farmers seeking redress through the courts, some have also been looking to the future and trying to find a solution to the problem of slash - wood debris generated by forestry and left sitting on the land.

FOA president Peter Weir said part of the problem was most Gisborne forestry blocks were too far from plants that could process leftover wood. "That's a bigger conversation that'll take a year or so. If there were markets for this stuff, there would be no wood left on the hill. If there was a pulp mill or medium-density fibre plant, people would take it and sell that stuff to it”.

"Maybe at break-even cost or maybe even losing ten dollars a tonne, but it would be gone and places where the facilities exist, there is no slash left on the hills," Mr Weir said.

The priority work now would be cleaning up the streams within the forests and rebuilding slash traps that stop debris going into streams, a number of which were destroyed in the storm. Forestry owners have been encouraged to build larger traps or second traps to mitigate for big storms in the future, which Mr Weir said are only set to increase as climate change takes effect.

The FOA will release a set of revised guidelines for slash management in the next few weeks. Changes to the Resource Management Act introduced in May give the district council power to decide what is planted, and when, in forestry blocks at a high-risk of erosion and slippage.

Over half of these "red-zone" forestry blocks are in the Gisborne area, Mr Weir said. Most of the clean-up had been completed with local forestry companies helping locals to clean up debris from beaches, fix fences and remove silt, Mr Weir said after his visit to the town.

The association has left it up to the three local forestry companies to conduct their own individual investigations into the slash that washed into the Gisborne community of Tolaga Bay on Queen's Birthday.


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Satellite images tell the story of Tolaga Bay

The impact of forestry on the East Coast came to the fore last month as Tolaga Bay was deluged with offcuts. How did it come to this, asks Michael Smith

Satellite images show how the disaster in the forests at Tolaga Bay on New Zealand’s was a long time in the making. The length of time and the extent of the damage rendered to the East Coast and its vulnerable communities serves as a warning for the government as it plans a new surge in tree planting to meet its promises on carbon.

The images, sourced via Google Earth, illustrate how land use changes from farming to plantation afforestation and wood harvesting have impacted the landscape around Tolaga Bay, near Gisborne on the East Coast of New Zealand.

Covering the period from 1984 to 2016, the images start out showing a landscape laid bare as indigenous forests were cleared in the previous century, followed by increased planting of fast-growing pine plantations through the 1990s and the rapid deforestation as fast-growing softwood timber was harvested.

Responsibility for disaster around Tolaga Bay and the restoration of the land have become contentious issues since torrential rain delivered widespread flooding in the Gisborne area. Concerns have been raised that “slash”, timber left over from logging operations, was forced down the flooded Mangaheia River during the storm.

As the images from 2010 and 2016 illustrate, steadily increasing areas of once-forested land have been laid bare, making the area susceptible to quickly eroding in a high-rainfall event.

More >>

Source:, Michael Smith is the editor of The Mud, a Rotorua-based news site

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Canada includes EWP to retaliatory 10% surtax

So, it's started. Canada has implemented countermeasures on U.S. imports of steel, aluminium and other products including plywood, effective 1 July in response to U.S. tariffs. In a statement, Canada's Dept. of Finance said it had taken into consideration feedback received from Canadians through over 1,000 submissions during public consultations.

The surtaxes are to be imposed on C$16.6 billion-worth of imports of steel, aluminium and other products from the U.S., representing the value of 2017 Canadian exports affected by U.S. measures. Included in the 10% surtax are plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood.

The notice stated that the countermeasures would remain in effect until the U.S. eliminates trade-restrictive measures against Canadian steel and aluminium products. To view the notice and tables listing imports that are subject to 25% and 10% tariffs, click here

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Swedish Image Systems acquires Finnish Limab

The parent company of the Swedish mechanical engineering company RemaSawco, Image Systems, acquired all shares in the Finnish scanner manufacturer Limab Oy on 8 June and renamed the company RemaSawco Oy. All 22 employees at the Mikkeli and Helsinki locations were taken on.

Limab's product portfolio includes measuring and scanning systems for round and sawn timber, lumber sorting and wood drying. In 2017, the company generated sales of around SEK 56 million and net income of SEK 15 million.

As part of the upcoming WoodTECH 2018 series being run in September in both New Zealand and Australia, RemaSawco in conjunction with LMI Technologies will be outlining innovations around wood scanning, optimisation, digitalisation and IoT technologies for dry-mill or wood manufacturing operations. Full details on the series can be found on the event website,

Source: EUWID

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When the warning lights come on, get a check-up

You wouldn’t ignore a warning light in your car. So why ignore warnings about your health? That’s the message health campaigner Dr Tom Mulholland is giving New Zealand forestry workers at free events being held as part of a national roadshow in June and July (Photo: Balclutha workshop on Wednesday).

“We wouldn’t drive around in a car with a red, ‘check engine’ light on, because we know that could lead to serious trouble,” Dr Tom says. “Yet a lot of us ignore red warning signs from our own body – like high blood pressure or stress,” he says. “That’s a big mistake because ‘blowing a fuse’ in your head can be more dangerous than blowing a fuse in your car - especially if it results in a deadly stroke”.

Dr Tom is an emergency department doctor, best-selling author and motivational speaker who began his career in forestry. With an understanding of the industry and a passion to improve the wellbeing of people working in it, he has teamed up the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) and the Forest Industry Contractors’ Association to deliver the roadshow.

FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says she sponsored the roadshows because mental and physical health are really important to improving health and safety in forestry. “The work we do can have a big impact on our physical and mental health,” Fiona says. “Equally, our health can affect our ability to do our jobs safely and professionally. So, these events are a really important way to look after our people.”

In early 2018, Dr Tom and his team travelled the country in his ambulance/pop-up medical clinic testing the health of forestry workers with Rayonier Matariki. During the roadshow he’ll talk about common health issues found among forestry workers. These included type-two diabetes, high blood pressure, and stress and anxiety.

People who come along will get tools and tips to help them improve their own health, and the health of the people who work for them. This includes physical and mental health. There is also the chance to get a free copy of Dr Tom’s health and wellbeing app, KYND.

The events are open to everyone working for forestry businesses, from crews to office workers and management. They are running in Stratford; Whanganui; Greymouth; Invercargill; Balclutha; Kaiapoi; Timaru; Nelson; Blenheim; and Masterton.

See a full list of events, with dates and venues.

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John Bain, entomologist, farewelled

Sadly, John Bain, a long standing New Zealand forest entomologist, passed away earlier last week. John started back in the late 1960s and over the years worked on a number of insect groups, covering wasps to wood borers. It was John’s broad and deep knowledge that distinguished his long career. John shared that knowledge willingly and took great pride in training others, especially young researchers, in insect identification, pest risk analysis, forest insect ecology and taxonomy.

John will be remembered nationally and overseas for his skills in cerambycid identification, particularly of larvae which is considerably tricky. He was also well known overseas for his work on other wood- and bark-borers and gypsy moth. He made a significant contribution to the successful eradication of white spotted tussock moth and painted apple moth and the very nearly successful Dutch elm disease eradication campaign.

Amongst those that had the privilege to work with John they will remember– a brilliant sense of humour and quick wit, an aggressive bowler who played business house cricket, a give it everything prop on the rugby field, and a person with a keen interest in social interaction who people gravitated to. John will be missed by many.

Messages of condolences can be sent to and will be passed on to family and colleagues.

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NZ conference on building technology disruption

With housing minister Phil Twyford last week publicly lamenting lack of productivity and innovation in the construction industry, it appears he or his officials are blind to the rapid disruption in timber building happening in Australia, USA and now here. Wood structures detailed with design software are now a key competitive advantage for commercial building in New Zealand as well.

A national conference on engineered wood for commercial and multi-residential building is set to attract hundreds of early movers. Timber construction has advanced rapidly with new design modelling software known as "building information modelling" (BIM). It fits perfectly with manufacturing engineered wood structures using accurate computer machining technologies.

"For construction companies and developers in the know, wood leads the way. We've seen companies like XLAM and Naylor Love embrace the materials and technology," says John Stulen, engineer and conference director for the 3rd annual "Changing Perceptions" engineered wood conference.

Stulen and his team at Innovatek say they are delighted to have a technical conference programme that's 100% devoted to engineered wood projects in New Zealand. The technology is advancing rapidly too – wood buildings are modelled completely during design. The new method has won the respect of all of the tradespeople who have worked on a wood building project using BIM.

The conference will include case studies for both wood and BIM:

- Cross-laminated timber producer XLAM has joined forces with Housing Corporation to deliver emergency housing solutions faster than ever before;
- Leading property investor Sir Bob Jones has committed to timber structures for his multi-story office complex in downtown Wellington;
- Multiple single housing projects have been developed and delivered by a growing number of networked businesses including architects, engineers and developers working closely alongside each other;
- Increased use pre-planning and detailing by multiple trades using commercially-available software for building information modelling (BIM);
- National construction firm Naylor Love has committed large project teams to both the Otago Polytechnic student accommodation building and the new Nelson airport terminal.

The conference has grown since 2016. It now attracts a wide audience of architects, engineers, developers, quantity surveyors and specifiers, as well as building officials and leading specialist trades, focused on commercial buildings; like electricians and plumbers and heating/ventilating/air conditioning specialist and leading practitioners.

The "Changing Perceptions" Conference has a full one-day programme on Tuesday 28 August at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua. The event begins with an evening reception on 27 August. Further information and registrations can be made on the event website.

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Off-site wood construction future of building

Urbanisation is accelerating and creating pressure to increase housing construction. To answer this global challenge, construction needs to be quicker and more ecological. In Metsä Wood's new video, Mikko Saavalainen, SVP, Business Development, and Juha Kasslin, VP, Product Management, explain what off-site wood construction has to offer.

At the moment, construction produces 30 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, and it is clear that the course must be changed. We need more ecologically sustainable solutions. Wood is the only major construction material that stores carbon. Wood is a renewable material, and when the wooden parts are no longer used in buildings, they can be reused or recycled.

Another key factor in urban construction is speed. The construction industry is undergoing a major transition, with construction moving from building sites to off-site manufacturing. Elements and modules are assembled in industrial factory conditions and delivered to building sites for quick installation. The lightness and strength properties of engineered wood products, like Kerto® LVL (laminated veneer lumber), make off-site construction a very attractive option.

Using prefabricated wooden elements significantly reduces time spent at the construction site. As most of the construction work is done indoors, there are no delays due to weather conditions. The turnaround time on building sites is shortened as the amount of errors is reduced and work safety is improved.

Open Source Wood collaboration platform To make use of wood elements easier, Metsä Wood has launched a ground-breaking platform: Open Source Wood. There is plenty of innovation, but it's often not very easy to find. Open Source Wood brings together wood construction experts and their innovations, free of charge. Read more and start sharing at


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India - a market to watch

India’s wood products market continues to expand rapidly. Today, softwood is gaining market share over hardwood, assisted in part by limited volumes of renewable or certified hardwood fibre. At the same time, a variety of initiatives are pointing to huge future increases in Indian wood products demand: India’s goal of growing the share of manufacturing in its GDP to 25% by 2022; proposed massive infrastructure investments (e.g., 500 new cities, 50 subways and 250 airports by 2030); and a backlog in housing construction (up to 65 million units).

There is a “Make in India” campaign that is well on its way to making the nation a haven for investment and a propeller of economic growth. On the threshold of major reforms and poised to become the third-largest economy in the world by 2030, Make in India has announced a variety of initiatives that will facilitate the indigenous manufacturing of furniture, and ease the way for doing business in India.

Indian dynamics are somewhat like China’s were some 10 years ago: constrained domestic production and a likely eventual surge in imports to meet domestic demand. Despite notable differences, India compares favourably to China and the U.S. Ranked as one of the top three most attractive investment destinations in the world, India is also one of the fastest-growing global economies. According to a study by the World Bank, India’s organized furniture industry is expected to grow by 20% per annum over the next few years, crossing the US$32 billion threshold by 2019.

Foreign direct investment in India’s real estate sector, the government’s “Housing For All by 2022” initiative, and development of 100 smart cities to accommodate a growing urban population are some of the growth drivers reviving the real estate and construction sector. The anticipated increase in the tourism, hospitality, retail and hospital sectors is also expected to spur furniture demand in the country. The rise in demand for residential realty is a huge 20%, and the home furniture market should witness the fastest growth of all sectors in the next five years, followed by the office and institutional segments.

According to a World Bank study, the Asian market is thought to be the biggest consumer of furniture worldwide, and India holds a major slice of the pie. The foreign direct investment enterprise under Make in India has already resulted in 60% growth in inflows, and it is this government campaign, along with the objective of high standards of quality, that is steadily attracting international capital and technological investment in the country, facilitating local production.

With rapidly depleting global hardwood supply and huge consumption growth anticipated in India, the demand for imported softwood will only expand. One forecast is calling for massive softwood expansion: from ~2.5 million m3 in 2017 to over 65 million m3 in 2027. There are several developments that support this type of growth rate projection. For one, government and consumer perceptions around sustainable supplies (as opposed to illegally sourced lumber) are starting to change (India is currently considered the third-largest world market for illegal timber, following China and Vietnam). There is also the so-called “Ikea effect” that is allowing more consumers to be exposed to the look and use of softwood furniture. In fact, Ikea is planning to open 25 stores in India in next five years, with about 30% of the business volume to be sourced locally.

“Is India the new China?” That’s a question that continues to be asked and the answer, simply put, is yes. It is only a matter of time. Many game-changers support this premise:

- India has a young population, with a median age of 30 from now until 2050;
- 100 million students graduate every year;
- India has the fastest-growing GDP (7.4 %), surpassing even China;
- The country is the world’s largest democracy, led by a growth-oriented leader with a majority government;
- For the first time in India, corruption is being dealt with decisively;
- There is a robust and transparent financial sector in the country;
- India is leapfrogging to a digital economy, with almost 1 billion people now having biometric identification and 300 million smartphones;
- The domestic construction industry in India is US$1 trillion in scale;
- The country has industrial corridors and smart cities; and
- India’s real estate market permits direct foreign investment.

As a result of all of the factors noted above, India will continue to be a softwood market to be watched. As of now, its growth prospects look mammoth!

Source: Jacob Mani Mannothra, Managing Director, Zindia and Zindia Forestry, New Zealand and Russ Taylor, Managing Director, FEA–Canada

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Australia’s emissions highest on record

Australia’s emissions over the past year were again the highest on record when unreliable data from land use and forestry sectors are excluded, according to new data from NDEVR Environmental.

If the country’s greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory, Australia will miss its Paris target by a billion tonnes of CO2, which is equal to about two years of Australia’s entire national emissions.

NDEVR replicates the federal government’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) quarterly reports but releases them months ahead of the official data. Previous NDEVR reports’ figures have been within 1% of the official figures when they are eventually released.

The latest figures include the first three months of 2018 and show Australia’s national emissions up to March were the highest since records began in 2002. It projects that emissions for the year to March, excluding land use emissions, will be 556.9 m tonnes.

Even with land-use data included, it projects emissions would continue their upward trend, taking Australia further away from its Paris commitment of a 26% to 28% reduction in emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.

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Increasing investment in continuous forestry

An investment of €12.5 million in sustainable Irish forestry has been announced by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said that with controversy growing about monoculture and clear felling policies in Ireland it is a welcome support for the more sustainable “continuous cover forestry” projects which would better support biodiversity and landscapes and the challenges associated with climate change.

The funding will go through SLM Partners, a company which invests in Ireland in forestry management and green energy projects. The money comes from a new €125 million EIB natural capital finance facility (NCFC) which is expected, the bank says, to generate up to €400 million in green investment and conservation. Recently, the EIB also announced €15 million NCFC funding for Croatian green and conservation projects.

Irish EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell said that such investment was “a marriage of best business practice while meeting social and environmental concerns” and would produce “a good financial rate of return because the model of continuous cover forestry produces enduring and stable returns”.

Continuous cover forestry, also known as “close to nature” forestry, replaces traditional clear felling by felling individual trees or in small groups by cycles so that forest cover is maintained on a permanent basis, with less damage to water sources or soil erosion. The forests maintained in this way are also claimed to be better resistant to disease and the effects of climate change and more able to sustain biodiverse habitats.


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Weed for hempcrete?

The Romans have been using it since the days of Julius Caesar, but not to get high. Both Washington and Jefferson grew it. Now, that several states have legalized the use of marijuana for some recreational and medical purposes, one of the biggest untapped markets for the cannabis plant itself — at least one variety — could be as a building tool.

The most sustainable building material isn’t concrete or steel — it’s fast-growing hemp. Hemp structures date to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed back in the 6th century, when France was still Gaul.

Now a wave of builders and botanists are working to renew this market. Mixing hemp’s woody fibres with lime produces a natural, light concrete that retains thermal mass and is highly insulating. No pests, no mould, good acoustics, low humidity, no pesticide. It grows from seed to harvest in about four months.

The first modern hemp house was constructed in 2010, in North Carolina. There are now about 50 such homes in the USA. But not much hemp is grown in the USA, a little less than 10,000 acres so far, enough for about 5,000 single-family homes. Cultivated acreage in Canada is double that, and in China’s Yunnan province, 10,000 farmers grow it. Roughly 30 nations now produce hemp, including Spain, Austria, Russia and Australia.

Hemp was rediscovered in the 1980s across Europe, where cultivation is legal, and France has become the European Union’s largest hemp producer. Hundreds of buildings across the continent use the substance as insulation to fill walls and roofs, and under floors in wood-framed buildings.

Manufacturers say it’s ideal for low-rise construction, a product that’s stucco-like in appearance and toxin-free. Its promoters also boast that it has a lower carbon footprint, requiring three times less heat to create than standard limestone concrete.

More like drywall than concrete, hempcrete can’t be used for a foundation or structure; it’s an insulation that needs to breathe, said Joy Beckerman, a hemp law specialist and vice president of the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group.

There still aren’t international standards for building with hemp, or codes regulating how it should be used structurally or safely. ASTM International, a technical standards organization, formed a committee to address this in 2017. Nonetheless, the use of hempcrete is spreading. A Washington State company is retrofitting homes with it. Left Hand Hemp in Denver completed the first permitted structure in Colorado last year.

Down south, New Zealanders turned 500 bales of Dutch hemp into a property that fetched around $650,000. In Britain, HAB Housing built five homes with hempcrete last year. Canada’s JustBioFiber recently completed a house on Vancouver Island with an interlocking internal framed hemp-block inspired by Legos.

It’s a niche but growing sector of the cannabis market. In 2015, the Hemp Industries Association estimated the retail market at US$573 million in the United States.

Source: The New York Times Company

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Buy and Sell

...and one to end the week on ... the art collector

A New York attorney representing a wealthy art collector called and asked to speak to his client.

"Saul, I have some good news and I have some bad news."

The art collector replied, "You know, I've had an awful day, Jack, so let's hear the good news first."

The lawyer said, "Well, I met with your wife today, and she informed me that she has invested only $5,000 in two very nice pictures that she thinks will bring somewhere between $15 and $20 million . . . and I think she could be right."

Saul replied enthusiastically, "Holy cow! Well done! My wife is a brilliant business woman, isn't she? You've just made my day. Now, I know I can handle the bad news. What is it?"

The lawyer replied, "The pictures are of you and your secretary . . ."

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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