Complete understanding and witty communication

Brilliant countertenor Derek Lee Ragin and Britten’s simplicity made a night of music in the Great Hall memorable, writes Michael J. Easton. JIGSAW PUZZLES need to be both challenging enough to hold the attention and artistically rewarding enough to make the whole thing worthwhile. Much the same may be said of Britten’s Lachrymae for viola and piano. It is a beautiful work in variation form, but in reverse order with the theme, a song by Dowland, stated at the end of the work. Britten’s music is unusual for the 20th century in that its main stylistic attribute is extreme simplicity in which common chords pile up to produce astringent but accessible harmonies.



The strength of this approach is the ease with which one can hear Britten’s ideas develop, but the weakness is that the performers must be on Britten’s highly individual wave-length. In this performance by visiting violist, Paul Silverthorne, there was complete understanding of the music and although the work is of a generally subdued nature, he gave great contrast to his tone and played the swifter movements at a very brisk pace. Britten can, at times, sound rather mannered, but this was not the case and the large audience was silently appreciative throughout the work. Stephen MacIntyre, who must have summoned Promethean energies to do all that he is scheduled to do in the coming week, discreetly accompanied the Britten and re-appeared with the rest of the group in Faure’s early piano quartet in C minor. It is a very difficult work, not least because of problems of balance and the tendency for even the most virile themes to transform themselves into long, elegant but harmonically wayward melodies.

What was most appealing about this performance was the way the rest of the ensemble stood back to allow the melody instrument to speak. The impish scherzo was well contrasted by the stunning Adagio which is probably Faure’s best music from his early period. The group played as one, and the majestic coda in which the main theme ascends the piano only to dissolve in a coruscation of glittering arpeggios was intensely moving. THERE WAS A TIME when anything to do with early music seemed to involve lots of earnest and worthy people being obsequiously deferential and ultimately dull. Happily, good sense now prevails, and we are able to witness authentic performances of early music that give appropriate emotional rewards.



This was very much the tone of a delightful recital by countertenor Derek Lee Ragin in music that stretched from Dowland to Handel. He has an impeccable sense of communication and a delightful voice that has such a range of tone colors, and is so technically secure, that one never tires of listening. The brilliant stroke in this program was the range of accompaniment that started in an understated way with lute accompaniment to Dowland songs and a wonderfully witty performance of Sweeter than Roses that re-affirmed Purcell as the supreme word setter of the English language. The evening concluded with two accompanied cantatas: Handel’s brilliant Lungi da me pensier tiranno and Vivaldi’s less inspired Pianti, sospiri. Throughout, Paul Dyer provided an idiomatic but high-spirited continuo part at harpsichord. Occasionally the cello, playing without vibrato, had intonation problems and in the instrumental excerpts from The Fairy Queen there were some ensemble weaknesses, but these were of little consequence in what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The Chamber Music Sunset Series is sponsored by Sussan Corporation, YAmaha Music Australia and Hilton Lingerie. Derek Lee Ragin in recital is sponsored by AMP Financial Services.

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The jig-saw pieces of a little girl’s murder

On a crisp and cold winter Sunday in 1991, the annual football match between the homicide squad and State Forensic personnel was light relief from the rigors of working life. The match was described later as uneventful: homicide won the game. For Paul Hollowood, then senior sergeant at homicide, the victory was marred by the abduction of a young girl the day before. The six-year-old from Rosebud, on an errand for her mother, had ridden her pink bike to the local milk bar – a chore she had done many times before. But she never returned.



Her photograph was given to the media in the vain hope someone might know her whereabouts. Sheree Beasley’s image became indelible. The following day at the football game, Mr Hollowood asked if homicide would be involved. They weren’t. Instead, the case was initially handled by the rape squad, because they investigated abductions, and the local criminal investigation branch. It proved a costly decision. It was an investigation many officers claim that should have been handled by homicide from the beginning. When they officially took over the investigation three months later, valuable time had been lost and so much ground needed to be retraced. The Zenith Taskforce was hastily set up the day Sheree was abducted.

About two months later detectives interviewed a suspect, ironically at the homicide office. He was allowed to leave but Mr Hollowood noticed that man in the interview room and never forgot him. Robert Arthur Selby Lowe would soon become the consuming focus of Mr Hollowood’s life and work for the next couple of years. A month later, Sheree’s body was found. A storm water drain was her pathetic grave. Five days later Mr Hollowood was given the responsibility of solving Sheree’s murder. Mr Hollowood describes a homicide investigation as a huge jigsaw puzzle. From the outset, it was imperative for him to have his team of experts with him. Despite the ground covered by the Zenith Taskforce, the focus had changed and the homicide crew were left to reassemble, reorganise and rethink the case and prepare their own strategy. Under Mr Hollowood’s direction, it didn’t take long to work out a thorough plan. It was one that lasted 17 months and it successfully involved the elimination of every piece of irrelevant information,leaving only Mr Lowe accountable.



All that remained was a water-tight case ready to be fought in court. During one police interview, “slowly, bit by bit, (Lowe’s) story was broken down and as the interview progressed, you could see his world was coming apart. Certainly his deceitful story was,” Mr Holloway said.”He became so frustrated that at one point he jumped up and started yelling. “When he came back into the interview room, he was extremely apologetic. He wasn’t apologising to me as such, he was apologising because he was thinking `they’ve seen me upset’ and his facade was slipping. “Overall, perhaps the hardest part I had on the job, was to actually get people thinking that Lowe was just a very good suspect and that it doesn’t stop you from investigating everything else.” To comprehend the enormous task of building up the evidence that convicted Lowe, 1000 suspects were eliminated, more than 2500 houses in the Rosebud, Macrae and the Red Hill area were visited, more than 1000 cars were screened.

As each shred of information was checked and rechecked, the case against the suspect grew stronger. After seventeen months building the jigsaw puzzle, Lowe was charged with Sheree’s murder and abduction on 31 March last year. Mr Hollowood admitted that “anyone who has ever dealt with a homicide involving children will always tell you they are the worst. It’s very hard when you look at somebody who is starting out on the great adventure and it’s just been cruelly cut short.” Mr Holloway has a broad sense of who the victims are. “I’ve never taken the attitude that everybody on the accused’s side, his family, are the enemy,” he said. “I take into account they are victims as well. “I’ve seen the pain and anguish on their faces when they’ve come along to court and hear about their loved one who has committed a terrible crime. They are caught in his guilt when they have to look at the family (of Sheree) in court. “There are victims scattered everywhere.” At the end of the six week court hearing yesterday, Mr Hollowood said: “The worse part of any trial is the few seconds before a jury delivers its verdict.” For now, Mr Hollowood’s involvement with Mr Lowe has finished.

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Sheppard subway expected to gain backing of council

Construction of a $500-million section of the Sheppard line east from Yonge Street to Victoria Park Avenue represents one piece in a Metro jigsaw puzzle on development and mass transit.

The first section of the Sheppard subway is given priority in the report of a two-year Metro Toronto- Toronto Transit Commission study, which ranks a north-south downtown subway second and an Eglinton Avenue West busway third in importance.

But the focus of the coming political debates on rapid transit priorities is likely to be the contest for second place between the downtown and Eglinton routes. It will pit the interests of politicians in East York and Toronto, who favor the downtown relief line, against those of Etobicoke and City of York politicians, who say the Eglinton busway deserves priority.

The first section of the Sheppard line is scheduled to open in 1993, 13 years after the TTC opened its last section of subway on the Bloor- Danforth line. The 7.6-kilometre section of the Sheppard line would have station stops at Bayview Avenue, Leslie Street, Don Mills Road, Consumer Road and Victoria Park.

In the year 2005, according to recommendations of the Metro-TTC study, work would begin on completion of the Sheppard subway line. It would have stations west of Yonge Street at Bathurst Street and Dufferin Street. East of Victoria Park Avenue in Scarborough, it would have stations at Warden Avenue, Kennedy Road, Brimley Road and McCowan Road.

The Metro-TTC study indicates that the current Sheppard and Finch Avenue bus routes are carrying more passengers in rush hour than most downtown street car lines. The Sheppard bus is carrying twice as many passengers as the Queen Street car.

Six of the 10 busiest surface transit routes are in the suburbs and none of the city’s street car lines is listed in the top 10 in rush-hour ridership, said Juri Pill, TTC director of planning.

Toronto councillor June Rowlands said it will be extremely difficult for Metro Council members to argue against the technical logic put forward in favor of the Sheppard subway line. The study indicates that without the subway, transit service on Sheppard and Finch would be unreliable, leading to an underdevelopment of both the North York and Scarborough city centres.

Meanwhile, the downtown subway line favored by some civic leaders, as outlined in the rapid transit development plan presented in May, would run underground, south from Pape Avenue station on the Bloor- Danforth subway line to Eastern Avenue, then west under Front Street to Spadina Avenue. There would be seven stations on the route. The line would be expected to relieve overcrowding on the Yonge subway.

The other contender for second place is a busway on Eglinton Avenue West, described as a transit bridge between Mississauga and Metro, which would extend easterly from Renforth Drive near Highway 427 to Jane Street on a surface level median strip similar to the street car line on the Queensway. East of Jane, it would enter a tunnel to the Eglinton West station on the Spadina subway line or in part follow the CN Rail Belt Line to the station.

Support for the Sheppard line is coming from a mixture of Toronto and suburban civic leaders who have diverse interests in seeing that Metro’s policy of decentralizing development is maintained.


North York and Scarborough members of Metro Council are almost solidly in favor of starting work on the line. They are supported by a majority of Metro councillors from the City of Toronto and Metro Chairman Dennis Flynn.

The Toronto politicians do not want to see disruption of stable residential neighborhoods within the city by transit or road construction and would like to slow the pace of downtown development. Suburban representatives are anxious to improve the level of transit service in their municipalities.

The Metro-TTC study will be considered by the councils of each of the six Metro municipalities, which are required to report to Metro next month. Public reaction to the study will be received at joint meetings of the Metro economic and development and transportation committees.

Scarborough Alderman Maureen Prinsloo, chairman of the transportation committee, said the worst thing that could happen would be for Metro to allow the recommendations to die. Both Mrs. Prinsloo and East York Alderman Peter Oyler, chairman of the economic and development committee, expect factionalism and parochialism to dominate the political debate over transit priorities.

There has been no debate on the question of whether there is a real need for a costly expansion of the transit system. Instead, the debate has been dominated by the question of which line should be built first and which should be built second.

The cities of Etobicoke and York are developing strong positions in favor of a $395-million Eglinton Avenue busway.

The mayors of both cities have taken the unprecedented step of enlisting the support of the neighboring City of Mississauga and the Regional Municipality of Peel for the Eglinton busway. In response, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications has formed a technical committee to review Metro’s new transit plan and in particular the role of an Eglinton busway.

Metro deputy planning commissioner Roman Winnicki acknowledged recently that neither Peel nor York regional municipalities had any direct participation in the new rapid-transit plan. The Metro- TTC team that drafted the scheme, he said, examined the growth pattern in Peel Region and concluded that development in Mississauga was not taking place fast enough to justify giving an Eglinton busway any higher than third priority.


East York representatives on Metro Council and some Toronto councillors support building the downtown line first. Such a north- south subway would reduce some of the overcrowding on the Yonge line and also serve the domed stadium and future development in the railway lands south of Front Street.

East York Mayor David Johnson said he does not know how the downtown line slipped from first place in priority. Two years ago, he said, the TTC was advocating top priority for the line because of the overcrowding on the Yonge subway.

Mr. Pill acknowledged that as early as 1981 the TTC favored the downtown line because the Yonge subway was reaching peak capacity. The volume of passengers declined, however, by 1982. At the same time, the TTC sensed that the City of Toronto was becoming more receptive to the idea of improved surface routes in the downtown area and less supportive of building a downtown line.

The Metro-TTC study, Mr. Pill said, persuaded him that if the downtown line was built before the first section of the Sheppard line, ”we could kiss Metroplan and its decentralization policy good-bye.”

Without a Sheppard line, the North York and Scarborough city centres will become local business centres rather than the hub of commercial activity in the two municipalities, he said.

Mr. Pill acknowledged there was a trade-off made between the continuing discomfort of downtown- bound transit riders and the long- term gain of retaining the metropolitan concept of decentralization.

Mr. Pill said improvements and expansion of the downtown surface transit system will permit Metro to postpone at least until 1993 any thought of building a downtown line. Metro Council has already approved construction of a Harborfront streetcar line down Bay Street and along Queens Quay and will shortly consider an extension north on Spadina Avenue to the Bloor-Danforth subway. The $93-million Harborfront-Spadina line is designed both to serve the central waterfront area and take passenger pressure off the Yonge subway.

Other downtown transit improvements will include operation of an express Sherbourne Street bus from the Castle Frank station on the Bloor- Danforth subway line and the widening of platforms at the Yonge- Bloor subway station.

Elected officials in both Etobicoke and York favor transit over roadway construction as the solution to mounting traffic congestion in northwest Metro. York also views the Eglinton section of the route as imperative to attracting urgently needed redevelopment in the city.

York Mayor Alan Tonks said the objective should be the simultaneous construction of the Sheppard subway and the Eglinton busway. The alternative, he said, would be granting the Eglinton busway second priority.

The Metro-TTC study team has estimated that the volume of transit and road traffic inbound from Peel Region has increased by 28 per cent since 1977, with more than 65 per cent of the increase being motor vehicles.

Etobicoke Mayor Bruce Sinclair said traffic from Mississauga on Etobicoke streets will double over the next 10 years and the bus service in northwest Etobicoke is deplorable.

Mr. Tonks said that unless there is an Eglinton busway, both Etobicoke and York may be forced to advocate an extension of Highway 400 south from Humber Boulevard to the Gardiner Expressway on the lakefront. The Metro- TTC study predicts that the road system across the Peel Region-Metro boundary will not be able to accommodate the increasing numbers of motor vehicles.

Mr. Pill said any debate over an Eglinton or downtown rapid transit line can wait until the year before the opening of the Sheppard Avenue subway line. He expressed concern that the decision to proceed with the Sheppard line could be clouded by political wrangling over the Eglinton and downtown routes.

A suggestion for the future is an extension of the Eglinton line to the Mississauga city centre and a branch to Pearson International Airport. Mississauga is prepared to develop a busway connection to the Eglinton line.

Mississauga councillor Larry Taylor, chairman of the city’s transit committee, said the Eglinton busway, which would cross the Metro boundary into Peel Region, will be needed in the next five to 10 years. He said Mississauga is very upset that more support is not being shown by Metro politicians for an Eglinton line.

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Monessen School directors pleased with tech-ed return

Seventh-graders Monica Wavrek and Chelsey Billick confessed to the Monessen School Board they never used a handsaw — or any handtool for that matter -before this school year.


The girls turned out to be two of technical education teacher Michael Cirner’s star pupils and showed off their work to the board last night, along with eighth-grader Ian Abrahamsen and senior Josh Perry.

Cirner attended the board meeting to showcase the students’ work and to enlighten the directors about the program’s success.

The district reinstated the tech-ed program this school year, and brought back home economics in the 2005-2006 school year. Both courses were eliminated under the administration of former Superintendent Dr. Alex Warren. Dr. Cynthia Chelen replaced Warren and resurrected the programs.

Cirner, a rookie teacher following in the footsteps of his father, retired Monessen tech-ed teacher Steve Cirner, said the students take pride in their work and are excited to be in the class.

He explained that middle school students learn the basics, including measurements and how to use handtools before undertaking their first project, a wooden greyhound.

The eighth-graders are a little more advanced. They move from handtools to machinery, and designed wooden cars.

Abrahamsen sought permission to design his own custom-made, wooden car in the shape of a cartoon character, the Roadrunner. High school students incorporate computer generated software, drafting and other technical components to create wooden DVD cabinets.

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Perry and Cirner presented cabinets as gifts to high school/middle school Principal Randy Marino and Chelen.

Board members praised the students’ work and Cirner for successfully bringing back the tech-ed class. Board President Marilyn Pivarnik said the money for the program was “well-spent.”

In other business, the board approved:

– An agreement with Jack Pavella, of Washington, to provide drivers’ education for a fee of $310 per student. Each participating student will pay $240.

– Accepted the resignation of high school social studies teacher Amy Mendicino and hired Scott Hillen as her replacement. Kathleen Pallo was hired as a base substitute teacher.

– Hired Mary Dodaro and Donald Madzey as middle school summer school instructors.

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Silent killer that waited for decades

FOR most of their 29-year marriage, the cancer lay dormant — mesothelioma can be passive for 30 to 40 years.

But Reginald Day’s teenage job of building poultry sheds using material containing asbestos cost him his life, and his widow Eileen lays the blame squarely at the feet of James Hardie.

“James Hardie knew the product they made was a dangerous thing and they still continued to make it,” Mrs Day, the mother of four, said yesterday.

“He cut supersix (used in roofing) with a handsaw.”


It wasn’t until October 1999 that Reginald first started to fear something was wrong. He experienced a shortness of breath, his hands were weak, he couldn’t lift anything, Mrs Day said.

Initially Reginald was diagnosed with bronchitis. But later, when admitted to Blacktown Hospital, 4.5 litres of fluid was drained from his lungs and the asbestos-related disease was confirmed.

“He was given six weeks to two years to live,” Mrs Day said.

Her husband made it for another 18 months, which included undergoing chemotherapy. He died in 2001 when they were both 54.

Once active, mesothelioma grows rapidly and victims undergo a particularly awful end, losing weight until they die. Reginald died of a heart attack, which Eileen described as “a blessing”.


Reginald won his compensation claim, but it’s blood money, according to his widow. “Money’s not everything. I would rather be poorer and have my husband,” Mrs Day said.

The special commission of inquiry into James Hardie’s asbestos fund has heard evidence that due to the time lag before the asbestos-related cancer manifests itself, there could be thousands of as-yet unknown victims — a situation ACTU secretary Greg Combet described as “a national disgrace”.


“Over the next fifteen years as many as 18,000 Australians are likely to have died from the deadly cancer caused by asbestos — mesothelioma,” Mr Combet said.

“The incidence of mesothelioma is not expected to peak until 2010.”

Mesothelioma sufferer Ella Sweeney said James Hardie had acted immorally, and that her cancer, contracted more than 30 years ago when she worked at a Sydney hospital, was getting worse.

“They were putting the roof back on the maternity ward,” Ms Sweeney said.

“I know as days and months go on, my breathing gets worse … you’re puffing and panting like you weren’t months ago.”

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At work and play, it’s all in the hands

BARBARA HOOKS reports on a surgeon who swaps scalpels for spokeshaves in his leisure time. WASN’T he afraid of hurting his hands?, I asked Frank Ham, plastic surgeon and secretary of the Hand Tools Preservation Association of Australia? “Quite the reverse, that’s why I’m interested in hand tools. As soon as we’re through here, I’ve got to operate on a man who chopped off half his fingers in best miter saw this afternoon. Power tools don’t stop when you put your hands in them. Hand tools are much more controllable.

Closeup of mature man sawing lumber with sliding compound miter saw outdoors.


The only power tool I own is a drill. Much as I would love to have all the machinery, I spend my time repairing people who do. Frank Ham began collecting hand tools 14 years ago when he inherited his grandfather’s tool chest, via his uncle. Both were tradesmen who taught him how to use most of the basic tools as a boy. In fact, his grandfather taught at the Working Men’s College, later RMIT. One of Frank Ham’s finest planes, acquired coincidentally, was presented to a prize-winning student at the college in 1891.

The Hand Tools Preservation Association was formed 10 years ago. Today, its 93 members come from a range of occupations and are interested primarily in preserving wood-working tools (timber was the cheapest and easiest material to work with at home). But as their library attests, they are also interested in the tools of many tradespeople, including basket makers, thatchers, mill wrights, glass workers, saddlers, printers, cobblers, clog makers, coopers, wheelwrights, coach builders and textile workers. Members meet six times a year, publish a regular newsletter, and mount displays in conjunction with the National Trust, the Science Museum and various craft groups.

They also hold an annual tool sale (open to the public) where there is a lively trade in tools with names that might have been invented by Lewis Carroll: sash fillisters, trammels, spoke shaves, draw knives, pole lathes, froes, claves and crozes. The names may sound unfamiliar to the lay ear, but even to the lay eye many have a beauty of form that transcends function, with their brass attachments, handles in mellow beech and boxwood, old English stamped lettering, and decorative embellishments of grape-vines, wreaths, and scrolls. Frank Ham has so many planes (some 200 years old) and measures (for just about everything _ paper, rubber, buttons, rope, shoes, iron) he has lost count. But among his more unusual or treasured pieces are an ebony and brass brace, violin-maker’s planes as small as a thumb pad, a folding ivory rule that would have been given to a foreman to check workers’ measurements or as a presentation on retirement (like a gold watch), and an architect’s folding rule with bevelled calibrations for accuracy. He also has an ironmonger’s rule inscribed with weight-by- length tables, a wrench from the tool kit of a Tarrant, one of the first cars built in Victoria, and how’s this for macabre _ a coffin- maker’s ratchet screwdriver with one-way action only! As tools tend to be passed down rather than discarded, Frank Ham finds most of his collection in antique shops, second-hand tool shops, garage sales, and farm clearances.

At one trash and treasure market, he picked up a timber scribe with the few dollars he had left in his pocket. On closer inspection at home, he found that the name John was spelt with an “I”, which put its manufacture in the 18th Century. It was an amazing bargain in light of current prices. At a large international tool auction in London recently, a 100-year-old brace sold for $10,000 while planes sold for $4000-$6000 each. In Australia, quality braces are selling for $600 while the tiny Stanley No 1. plane, of which there are only three known in Melbourne, is worth $1000 in perfect order. Frank Ham also has 200 books on tools and tool collecting and can identify most tools. But he and fellow association members still come across some tools whose purpose and operation have been long forgotten. So how do you know if the back shed harbors a secret fortune? In age, pre-World War II is the cut-off point for tools. And they must be in good condition; no rust or borer. A skilled operator, Frank Ham says, can make a hand tool do a better job than a power tool. “But most people haven’t got the time or the knowledge these days. The association would welcome new members with either at its next meeting on 20July at 7.30pm, at the Meat Market. (Contact: PO Box 1163 Carlton, 3053). If you have an unusual collection you would like to share with readers, contact Barbara Hooks on 601 2494.

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Revenue Canada amends its information circular 74-6R2: “Each employee will be required to file, with their income tax return, a statement setting out in detail the actual cost of operating a miter saw.” Receipts and vouchers “must be kept on file for later examination if requested.”

Kurds: some history

The Kurdish rebellion in Iraq, which began after the Persian Gulf war, is fizzling out. Tens of thousands of Kurds are trying to escape to Turkey, and various newspaper reports say some of them are damning U.S. President George Bush for not finishing off Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Some notes about the people: The Kurds are former nomads who speak a language related to Persian. They now live as fragmented and persecuted minorities in Iraq, Iran and Turkey, with smaller enclaves in Syria and the Soviet Union. Estimates of their number range from 15 million to 25 million – which would make them four times as numerous as Palestinians. Census counts are thought to be fudged for political purposes. (In Turkey, for example, Kurds were once designated as “Mountain Turks.”) They make up 25 per cent of the populations of Turkey and Iraq. They have a reputation for military prowess. The best-known Kurd is Saladin, the 12th-century Muslim hero and arch enemy of the Crusaders. Nationalism arose in this century, as Kurds acquired the concept of private property and the Turkish empire was dismembered. In 1920, a pact between the victorious Allies of the First World War and the Ottoman Turks provided for an autonomous Kurdistan, but it was never ratified. Britain and France grabbed oil-rich territories by backing the creation of Iraq and Syria. When Kurds rebelled, the Royal Air Force bombed them. In Turkey, Kurds have lived for 46 years under martial law. Their crimes have included speaking or writing Kurdish or owning cassettes of Kurdish music. In Iraq, Kurds have been behind every coup. In 1988, Saddam Hussein used poison gas against them in Halabja, a city of 75,000. Five months later, troops returned to the city to dynamite every building and burn the orchards. Iraq has destroyed 4,000 Kurdish villages. There is an old Kurdish proverb: “The Kurds have no friends.” Sources: The Encyclopedia Britannica, The Observer, The Wall Street Journal.

sawdust flies as a construction worker uses a sliding miter saw
sawdust flies as a construction worker uses a sliding miter saw

Equality, fraternity

Paris transport authorities have decided to abolish first-class carriages on the Metro. They say higher prices for first-class tickets are no longer justified since subway cars in both classes are now identical. A generation ago, first class had padded seats and second class had wooden ones. Source: Reuter.

Ketchup correction

Top-quality ketchup would take at least 75 years to flow across Canada. An incorrect figure was given yesterday, owing to an error in the thinking process.

Where the sheep are

New Zealand’s best known statistic – its ratio of sheep to people – fell again in the year to last June, the country’s Statistics Department says. Sheep now outnumber New Zealanders by a mere 17.5 to one, down from 18.3 to one in 1989 and more than 21 to one in 1982. Droughts and tough economic times on farms cut the sheep population to 57.9 million last year from 60.6 million the year before. New Zealand, a farming-based country of 3.3 million people, saw its sheep numbers peak at 70.2 million in 1982. Source: Reuter.

Give that goat smelling salts

A special breed of goats that keel over when they are frightened are prized by the American Tennessee Fainting Goat Association. The jittery creatures, first noticed in the 1800s, are near extinction. The association ranks each animal on a scale of 1 to 6, with “6 being the highest, meaning they lock up most of the time and fall over,” said founder Kathy Majewski. Good fainters can sell for up to $1,000 (U.S.). A drawback is that as the goats become accustomed to their owners, it is harder to scare them.

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FORMER Test rugby union coach Daryl Haberecht has shrugged off what he describes as “a miter saw down the chest” in a triple by-pass heart operation and hopes to be reappointed NSW Country coach for a third year again next season.

detail of fixed circular buzz miter saw blade and table
detail of fixed circular buzz miter saw blade and table

“I feel fantastic. I don’t have an ulcer problem from work or from rugby. I’d like to carry on,” Haberecht said. Haberecht had his triple by-pass on August 12 last year in the first season of his comeback as Country coach. The former Scots College product and son of a Wagga cordial maker is not satisfied he has completed his mission with Country. He describes with quiet pride the comradeship developing in his football”family”.

“I’m pleased we have come this far together as a group, and obviously we have to develop as a unit still further,” he says. “The blokes looked at me when I first used the term ‘family’ for us. But we are developing a commitment to one another, a spirit which is essential if we are to be successful. “It is the hallmark of all good teams and clubs. “Every game we have played better. I have seen progress in every match. “Sometimes it has not been as marked as I would have liked, but there is a growing awareness among the players that if they want recognition and success then they have to work for it.” Haberecht pointed to the Test selection of Quirindi backrower David Carter and Orange three-quarter James Grant as “a deserving reward to two of the hardest trainers in Australian rugby.

“David Carter realised after the knee injury earlier in his career that he had to become faster. He made that his great commitment. “Now he’s as fast as some of our backs. He does not talk about it. He simply worked at it.” Country will play a NSW Suburban clubs XV in a curtain-raiser to NSW’s representative game against the Englishmen at Concord Oval beginning at noon today, which provides no joy for Haberecht. “That’s the sort of thing we have to put up with until we get better. We can’t change the world overnight,” he said. “The team must get better until people have no alternative but to recognise us.”

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JIM and Alice Rockwell hardly know how they found time to work. Retired life is keeping them busy with a wide range of activities. Mr Rockwell, 62, spends a good deal of time in his workshop under the house where he “plays with wood”, according to his wife. But the new miter saw and other fancy machinery make it look more than just a hobby.

At 56 years old, Mrs Rockwell is keen on “getting fit and healthy” and spent last weekend at a yoga camp. But the right to enjoy this new way of life has been earned through hard work and sensible financial planning. Mr Rockwell retired more than a year ago after working as a chemist at NSW University for more than 35 years. He paid into his employer’s super fund during his working life.

On retirement, he received one-third of his

Closeup of mature man sawing lumber with sliding compound miter saw outdoors sawdust flying around
Closeup of mature man sawing lumber with sliding compound miter saw outdoors sawdust flying around

super payout in the form of a pension and the rest as a lump sum. He held on to the money until his wife retired shortly after. Mrs Rockwell retired at 55 after working at Sydney University’s law library for more than 12 years. She also paid into an employer-sponsored super fund on the assumption that she would retire at 60. “The contributions would have been too high otherwise,” she said. But she retired at 55 instead – and was sorry to miss out on some of the extras she would have received if she had waited until 60. The Rockwells had been to seminars at the Superannuation Board. “They didn’t actually tell you what to do with your money but they let you know how to go about finding out,” said Mrs Rockwell.

The couple then made visits to a number of investment advisers at insurance companies, building societies and banks. But they were “very discriminating”in making their choice and kept on searching until they found someone they were completely happy with. Enter Mr Terry Farrell, a representative from Tricentac Securities Limited. One of Mr Rockwell’s good friends recommended Mr Farrell as an investment adviser to be trusted. That was good enough for them – so they gave him a try The Rockwells got in touch with Mr Farrell more than a year ago and have been more than impressed with his keen interest in planning their retirement finances. Rolling over the lump sums was seen as the best option for the couple.

Mr Rockwell has his money invested in three different funds and Mrs Rockwell has hers in two. The funds include BT, Australian Eagle and Associated National. “We went for security,” said Mr Rockwell. “We are happy to be in financial plan which is a lawful way of minimising tax.” Although the Rockwells left their retirement planning late in life, they think “it is a good idea to go along to an adviser as soon as possible”. “When I was 40 there wasn’t the same information available as there is today,” Mr Rockwell said. Mrs Rockwell thinks that in retirement you should be aiming to “maintain your lifestyle, keep ahead of inflation and afford some of the things you always wanted”. The Rockwells treated themselves to a trip around Australia and hope to do a bit more travelling in the future. That is if they can find time in between going to the theatre and the movies, dining out, reading, gardening, yoga, and woodwork. Their daughter, who still lives at home, must find it hard to keep up with them.

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De Havilland speeds design of aircraft with a saw

BY KEN ROMAIN The Globe and Mail Next July, engineers at De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. will take a miter saw and begin cutting up a Dash 8 aircraft into three pieces.

Mitre Saw in White Background Blade Teeth in Focus
Mitre Saw in White Background Blade Teeth in Focus

There will be a front section, a centre piece with the wing, and the rear. Then the parts will be rejoined by two fuselage plugs – one 72 inches wide in front of the wing section, and one 63 inches wide behind it.

And voila – a new prototype test aircraft for the stretched, 50- passenger Dash 8 Series 300 aircraft that de Havilland hopes to have ready for the market by mid-1988.

The twin-engined stretched version will then join the standard 36- passenger Dash 8 Series 100 now entering commuter airline service, the four-engined 50-passenger Dash 7 short-take off and landing airplane, and the 19-passenger Twin Otter.

The new addition to the de Havilland family will be 11 feet 3 inches longer, 6,600 pounds heavier, have a longer range (780 nautical miles, compared with 550), and will carry 14 more passengers than the standard Dash 8.

But before that happens, a myriad changes have to be made – in addition to adding plugs – for the stretched Dash 8 prototype, an aircraft that was built for the standard Dash 8 flight test program. The prototype will never see airline service, but will be used as a flying test bed. “We will fly it very gently, of course, because it is not a production airplane, and only on calm days,” said Mike Davy, de Havilland’s vice- president of engineering.

Before the cutting begins next summer, a 21-foot quarter-scale model of the airplane will have undergone three months of wind tunnel testing at the National Research Council’s wind tunnel in Ottawa. “This will confirm what we have already decided to do, and if we have loused up someplace, it gives a chance to back off and avoid it,” Mr. Davy said.

Building an airplane is a series of compromises, trading off between weight, drag, payload and range, between what engineering can do and what marketing wants. “But the key to a successful stretch is the engine,” Mr. Davy said. The Dash 8 has the new PW120 turboprop engine built by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of Canada Ltd. in Montreal, producing 2,000 horsepower. Pratt & Whitney has promised to take it up to 2,400 horsepower. With greater power, carrying 14 more passengers in the stretch craft appears to be largely a matter of providing more room in the cabin, and of strengthening the wing.

But when an aircraft maker alters an already-successful plane, it is tampering with a finely balanced package. Every change has to be made with caution. The aircraft is “flown” many times on paper before any metal is cut or parts ordered.

The aircraft engineer has two options, Mr. Davey said. He can derive a new design based loosely on the existing aircraft or he can extend the present design by more modest modification, using the existing tooling and fixtures.

The first option gives the designer more freedom, but is more expensive. Simply stretching an existing design minimizes construction costs and leads to a less costly development program, because much of the expensive ground and flight testing needed for certification has already been done and still applies.

More frequently, Mr. Davy said, the intelligent business decision is to take the second option and exploit the airframe that already exists.

The decision to design a stretched version of the Dash 8 was made before Ottawa announced the proposed sale of the company to the Boeing Co. of Seattle. The most optimistic estimate of the cost the of 2 1/2-year development program is $75-million to $100-million. The most pessimistic is $200-million.

Flight testing of the new airplane still will make up one of the highest portions of the cost. The prototype will fly for a year during 1987, proving the concept. In early 1988, there will be another six months of test flying by the first production aircraft and any problems that turn up will have to go all the way back to the production line for change. It is a dicey game, because a multitude of secondary problems can be created. “But it can be done, if you keep a cool head,” Mr. Davy said. “If we had put all of the stretch behind the wing, there was the possibility that you would scrape the tail on the runway when the aircraft rotates for takeoff. “You could make the landing gear taller, but that means a new landing gear. You could put all the stretch in front of the wing, but the airplane may then want to fishtail (swing from side to side) or porpoise (move up and down). So you compromise, and put a plug in front of the wing and a plug behind it. “And because the airplane is going to be heavier, you now have to reinforce the wing to support the extra weight, and you have to reinforce the landing gear, because the airplane is heavier and on some occasions it is going to smack down hard on landing.” Of the 6,600 pounds in added weight, 2,800 pounds will be the extra 14 passengers, plus their baggage, at 200 pounds each; another 900 pounds will be additional structural weight. “We will probably fiddle away another 800 pounds on other things. That leaves an extra 2,100 pounds which can be used for additional fuel, or still more passengers. But we also get an airplane for half the cost of building a new one, and we will have it 18 months sooner,” Mr. Davy said.

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