The Wing-Friends and Other Books

In Blogger's slideshows images are greatly reduced, so lose much of their impact. And captions added to them in Picasa Albums vanish, so the images shown above are: the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, Earth, Earth with New Zealand circled, New Zealand, Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, some native NZ forest, a Fantail and chicks, various doves, etc.

(If you want to see the first ten images in their original size, they are in a posting made on the 24th of November 2011.)

My book The Wing-Friends is an imaginative tale of a small brave boy, a magical adventure, a magnificent Pegasus and the wonderful Kingdom of the Pegasi. It has been given very good reviews, and virtually every reader on Goodreads has so far awarded it five stars. It is available here. Some of my other writings are available as e-books, such as The Lower Deck, which is an over-the-top take on Waiheke happenings--sort of.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Although in New Zealand we are still in the last weeks of winter two dove chicks have already appeared. One came down to the ground two days ago, the second today, so they must have emerged from the egg round about the turn of the month. The parents must have had their work cut out to keep them warm this weather.

They are pretty well fledged, so can keep themselves warm now, but cannot fly up into the trees to roost at night so are staying on the ground nestled together in forest leaves under the building. As you can see they like being close together, so they may well be siblings. I have yet to see who their parents are

As dusk fell on the 17th of June I saw a dove huddled on the ground by the little water-jars looking very unhappy. I picked her up and brought her inside because she obviously could not fly up into the trees. She was not eating, but did take water. She was still alive the next morning, but still not well. Late in the afternoon I picked her up and prayed over her and by the grace of God when I put her down she brought up three lumps of food that had stuck somewhere. After that she looked a lot happier, but she made no move to go outside so I kept her inside a second night. She went outside in the early afternoon, so she was obviously feeling much better then, although still not one hundred percent.

But she obviously liked the experience, because she came back in later, and has been coming in every day since, usually about mid afternoon, and goes out at about nine in the mornings. She knows the best place to be. There is always food and water, it never rains, and the temperature is always a comfortable 20 to 24 degrees Celsius. What more could a dove want?

Because she is one of the doves with wide circlets she always looks wide-eyed, so I call her WidestEyes1, following my usual habit of giving names based on easily identifiable physical atributes.

She is a very well-behaved lodger. She does not say much and stays in one place in my office most of the time. She has become very used to my movements. Most of the time she sits, or stands on one leg, watching me at work (from well-placed paper towels to keep things clean).

She seems to have lost full confidence in her wings. I have seen her come down from the roof a couple of times so she must be able to get up there. But when she was ill she could not get more than a few centimetres off the floor, and she still does not fly from there to her favourite place, which is only waist-high. I am sure she can physically, because she has flown greater horizontal and vertical distances inside, but she seems stuck mentally. She could not fly to that place when she was ill, and still thinks she cannot. So she takes it in three or four steps, scrambling from one foothold to another till she can flit across the final bit. Sometimes it takes her several attempts. Occasionally I take pity on her and lift her up, but she likes to do it herself.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013



Dolphins can remember each other's 'name' whistles for twenty years:
'Dolphins are able to remember one another's signature calls for at least 20 years making it the longest memory for "faces" among animals--perhaps even surpassing the ability of people to remember one another from their appearances alone. Every dolphin has a unique whistle which is used as a signature-call and stays with them unchanged throughout life. '

Friday, 2 August 2013


Albert Bierstadt (1830-1892): Looking Down Yosemite Valley


Graphene-based supercapacitors:
'Monash University researchers have brought next generation energy storage closer with an engineering first--a graphene-based device that is compact, yet lasts as long as a conventional battery.'

Splitting water with sunlight to produce hydrogen:
'A University of Colorado Boulder team has developed a radically new technique that uses the power of sunlight to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, paving the way for the broad use of hydrogen as a clean, green fuel.'

Climate-change is spreading disease:
'Climate-change is affecting the spread of infectious diseases worldwide, according to an international team of leading disease ecologists, with serious impacts to human health and biodiversity conservation. Writing in the journal Science, they propose that modelling the way disease systems respond to climate variables could help public health officials and environmental managers predict and mitigate the spread of lethal diseases.'

The hubristic theory was junk, not the DNA:
'Researchers from the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at Sydney's Centenary Institute have confirmed that, far from being "junk," the 97% of human DNA that does not encode instructions for making proteins can play a significant role in controlling cell development.'

Thursday, 1 August 2013


A one-word joke, two two-word jokes and a three-word joke:

Normal progress.
Government progress.
Normal government progress.

Now you know...


Our hotter, wetter, more violent future:
'Earth’s atmosphere seems to have found a way to get back at the human race. For almost three centuries, we humans have been filling the air with carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. Now, it turns out, the climate-change these emissions have wrought is turning people against one another.
'So says a review, published today, of 60 studies on how climate change helps spark conflict throughout the world. The researchers found a surprisingly close link between climate change and civil wars, riots, invasions and even personal violence such as murder, assault and rape.'
Original paper.

Climate-change happening ten times faster than at any time in the past 65 million years:
'The planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. Stanford climate scientists warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker than any climate shift in the past 65 million years.'

How to reset your internal clock:
'Our internal clocks are drifting out of sync, and indoor lighting may be to blame. A new study suggests that just a few days in the great outdoors puts us back in tune with the solar cycle, and reconnecting with the sun could make us less drowsy.'