My Views on the Problems in the Ukraine

by norman on July 1, 2014

I really do need to make a qualification right at the beginning.  The more that one knows, the more that one knows how much they don’t know.  I go into this discussion with a lot of trepidation, it is impossible to not sound like a fool, a tool of some group or community or nation, to not upset nearly everyone.  However, I’ll give my 10 cents worth.

Norman Wood in the Slavyansk area of the Ukraine. Norman Wood in the Slavyansk area of the Ukraine.


Personally I think the Ukraine should build stronger links with the European Union, possibly joining some time in the future.  It is a huge market for its products, if they can sell them that is.  Russia’s nominal GDP is not significantly larger than Australia’s (2.1 trillion USD v  1.5 trillion), and the Ukraine’s is actually slightly smaller than New Zealand’s economy (0.181 v 0.176 trillion USD) , these are not large economies.  While the European Union is a massive juggernaut of an Economy with a nominal GDP, the largest in the world of $17.4 trillion USD, 99x larger than Ukraine’s and 8x larger than Russia’s.  It is true that Russia has significant energy resources that Europe finds very very useful, Russia also has significant military power, and is willing to use these assets, for instance the resent invasion of Crimea, albeit at the invitation of the majority of the people in the Crimea.  I’ll talk on this now.

You can see the Ukrainian flag everywhere. You can see the Ukrainian flag everywhere.


It was this that had so many people in the West worried.  Like many in Russia, we too feel a deep sadness about the horrors of the last World War.  World War 2 suffering is not “owned” by the Russians.  My mother’s brother was killed over Germany when his plane was shot down, my father was injured in the Pacific theater.   Russia’s World War started a lot later than in the West, our war started in 1939, we fought for a lot longer, and people in Russia, probably know very little about how it started for us.   Nazi Germany first invaded another country, Austria, in 1938, although they were “invited” in by the Austrians, then it was repeated shortly after with the German “invitation” into Czechoslovakia, largely, to “protect” the interests of German people.  Hence, when Russia was “invited” into the Crimea in other words, an Anschluss occurred, all the alarm bells were ringing in the West.  What was around the corner?  In 1939, after Czechoslovakia, Germany and Russia invaded Poland.  We are still worried in the West, is it all starting again for us.  We are very worried.

Happy Days in Kharkiv. Happy Days in Kharkiv. 



Polyphasic Sleep Log

by norman on December 13, 2012

I sleep for 6 – 8 hours per day, so a little less than average.  Like most people I’d like to enjoy more of the awake life.  Polyphasic sleep offers the possibility of achieving this.  Essentially, it is taking more naps during a 24 hour period.  I first became aware of this technique after reading Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body. As an aside, I like to say I have no financial or personal interest in any of Tim’s work or products, but I would certainly recommend his two books, the other being the Four Hour Work Week.

I’m not too sure how I’m going to go about this, but this is what this log is all about, to help lead you down a path that others can follow, you might even meet me coming back saying dead end ahead.  Who knows, so read on.

In the Four Hour Body Tim outlines a number of methods, the chapter in part is written by Dustin Curtis, the following diagram appears in both the book and also in Dustin’s blog

It would be good to dive right in and go for the Uberman 2 hours sleep per day scenario. While this is the goal we will start at the 4 hour Everyman 3 nap stage and then progress from there.



First Few Days

The most difficult part I found in the first days of the programme  was that I didn’t want to nap.  I didn’t feel sleepy at these times.  This makes it exceedingly difficult for all other things to fall into place.  However, it is important to get into the habit of laying down at these times, relaxing, shutting your eyes and counting the sheep so to speak.  Many people who find it difficult to go sleep in the first place will find it 4 x more difficult because you are trying to fall asleep 4 x a day (on my adopted Everyman 3 Nap – 4 hours sleep per day).

The regime is broken up like this for me.  Go to bed at 1 am, sleep 3 hours, get up at 4am.  Nap at 8am, Nap at about 12noon, Nap at 5pm.  I’ve chosen these times as it works around my working lifestyle.  The Nap at 5pm has proven difficult to get going – possibly my body doesn’t have a history of sleeping at this time ever.  The mid day nap, is an early version of the afternoon “nana nap”.

The most difficult of all is the 4am wake up.  Sure you can wake up, but heck.  Getting up and starting to “live” is almost impossible at the moment.  Mostly a motivational issue.

Consequences so far: I’m a bit more dozy and “out of it” at different times of the day than usual, but my total exhaustion if you can call it that, or exhaustion bubbling to the surface is no more than usual.  This is a real surprise I’ve been on the 4 (and to be honest) sometimes 6 hours sleep pattern for a week now, and feel fine.  It is just that I feel a bit sleepy in the mornings at say 11 am, this is odd for me.  However, afternoons are more productive after the nap.  Haven’t noticed much in the evenings, go out like a light at 1am, sleep solidly.

So the hurdle now is the 4am – 8am shift.  AND!! of course I have 4 hours of extra time in my day, and to be truthful it is actually 6 hours as no one is up to disturb me after 11pm.  Wow, to have this time to myself when I can concentrate and not be diverted by other peoples objectives. Wow again.

Over 1 Week In

From time to time things come up, or more correctly, you forget that you have a different sleep/wake cycle to other people, and things get booked in to periods that you should be napping.  When you are in a long meeting, it is difficult to say, “don’t mind me I’m going off to have a nap” people just don’t get it.  So you skip it, and boy do you pay the price.  Exhaustion, then over-tired  and hence possibly even effecting the next nap.  The other thing I’ve found, is getting up after 3 or 4 hours of solid sleep is hard.  I don’t mind it after 7 -8 hours, 7am in the morning, sun is up, breakfast is calling… rise and shine.  But 3 or 4 am in the morning after 3 hours sleep, 2nd or 3rd day in… hard work, so easy to just fall back to sleep. The motivation to get up is near impossible.  First thing I’d say, get something really cool to do, a favorite job, task, book to read, quality time, not some drudge.

Also, I’m going to change the Everyman 3 Nap regime to possibly suit me better.  I’d recommend some experimenting to get what fits you the best.  So I’m now going to sleep at 4am, sleep 3 hours, get up at 7am like normal, suns up, birds are chirping, breakfast is calling, phone is a ringing… rise and shine like normal.  Have a nap at noon (lunch time, so no disturbances), nap 5pm, just after work, stay behind, ear muffs on… I could make some suggestions for you – in your car in the car park, on the  train on the way home etc (another good natural time for a nap), then 10pm, when your body is thinking nap time anyway, often people fall asleep watching TV.  Then wake up and another blast of 5 hours of conscious life when other people would normally be comatose.  The new experimental sleep pattern can be illustrated as below -

The above 24 hour clock indicates when I am napping and having extended sleep.  00 is midnight 13 is 1pm, 18 is 6m, 23 is 11pm, 24 is midnight, 1 - 12 is 1am to 12 noon. The above 24 hour clock indicates when I’m napping and having extended sleep. 00 is midnight 13 is 1pm, 18 is 6m, 23 is 11pm, 24 is midnight, 1 – 12 is 1am to 12 noon. Total 4 hours per day.


A Huge Shift away from the English Speaking World to “Other Asia” by Norman Wood

Hulmes Court was founded in 1997 and is one of the largest bed and breakfasts in New Zealand.  It has had the same ownership structure and as such a continuity of data collection and analysis.  This article focuses in on the country of origin of guests to Hulmes Court looking particularly at two snap shots of data, guests staying in September and October 2003 as compared to guests staying in September and October 2012, 9 years later.  There is a huge and interesting shift.

Back a number of years ago Statistics New Zealand required accommodation providers to supply to the government department information on the country of origin of their guests .  Hulmes Court accurately and diligently collected this information.  It is interesting to note that I know of many accommodation providers that found it to be onerous, that the information, once analysed and supplied back was of no use and essentially worthless, and as such the accommodation providers just “made up” or at best had an educated guess at the figures.   Possibly because there was a significant degree of GIGO (garbage in garbage out) the information supplied was in part fictional, enough said about the waste of tax payers dollars, however, Hulmes Court’s information was accurate.  This information is no longer collected or analyzed, surprise, surprise (maybe it should be a surprise that this government department is still not collecting the fictional data).  However, we continued to collect and analyse our own data.

Looking now at our accurate data, during these same periods September/October 2003 and 2012 a similar number of people stayed, 610 in 2012 versus 547 in 2003, but the nationality of those guests could hardly be more different.  Back in 2003 468 (86%) were from the English speaking world of New Zealand (186), Australia (119), USA/Canada (95), UK (68).  Move 9 years forward, not really that much time, but it shows how fast the sands of global trends are moving, the English speaking guests of Hulmes Court has fallen to only 63%, the most startling thing is that New Zealand (243 guests) has grown, Australia has fallen a bit (71), but international travelers from the USA/Canada (52 guests down from 95) and especially the UK (25 down from 68) has had a huge fall.

But Hulmes Court continued to grow even though the traditional international markets of the USA and the UK collapsed.  How did we do it?  We targeted the new markets, the markets Statistics New Zealand called rather naively or even arrogantly “Other Asian”.  This group increased from 6 guests in 2003 to 115 guests in 2012.  Not surprisingly the biggest group in the “Other” category is China with 83 guests, sadly we don’t know how many Chinese were in the “other” back in 2003.


Chinese guests are now a significant part of our business.

Another growth area is in another “other”.  Other Europe, also not seen as important by Statistics New Zealand has grown from 37 guests to 50, the growth coming from Russia, Spain, but also Italy, France and the like.  Germany (seen as important and recorded separately in 2003) fell from 16 to 10 guests.  There seems to be a bit of a trend here, any winners, or countries seen as important by the Statistics NZ, are less so now.

The good thing about the significant growth in New Zealand guests for Hulmes Court is that these guests are more consistent travelers throughout the year, whereas international guests tend to come more in summer when we are already busy. It is much better to have guests in winter when we have capacity.  So the 31% growth in New Zealand guests is great news for us.  This is surprising since our dollar is so strong making international travel so much more appealing for New Zealanders.

The actual raw data is as follows -

610 guests in the months of September and October 2012 made up of (and using the old Statistics NZ categories) as follows:

1. New Zealand 243 guests (40%), 2. Other Asian 115 guests (19%) of which 83 where from mainland China (14%) 3. Australia 71 (12%) 4. USA/Canada 52 (9%) 5. Other European (excluding Germany) 50 (8%) 6. UK/Ireland 25 (4%) 7. Japan 20 (3%) 8. Germany 10 (2%) 9. All Other Countries 24 (4%).

547 guests in the months of September and October 2003 made up of (and using the old Statistics NZ categories) as follows:

 1. New Zealand 186 (34%) 2. Australia 119 (22%) 3. USA/Canada 95 (17%) 4. UK/Ireland 68 (12%) 5. Other European (excluding Germany) 37 (7%) 6. Japan 18 (3%) 7. Germany 16 (3%) 8. Other Asian 6 (1%) 9. All Other Countires 2 (<1%).







House for Sale Dunedin New Zealand

by norman on September 1, 2012

Hulmes Court Bed and Breakfast, Home and Business For Sale. Click here to my Hulmes Court Website, or click here to go directly to my home for sale website.

Price is by negotiation (plus GST if any) and is for the land, buildings, furniture, contents and business, sold as a going concern.    I am planning to have open homes each Saturday morning between 11am and 2pm.  You are also most welcome to phone me to arrange a time convenient for yourself.

A truly amazing property, ideal for a New Zealand or International Investor.

Due to the expansion of his plastics factory, this beloved property is now available for the first time in 15 years.  Also, I’m recently married and have a lovely new daughter, this often, as you will appreciate a time when things change in your live.
Wood Family Photograph Dunedin New Zealand

Time for a change. Take this unique opportunity to invest in Dunedin New Zealand.

The stunning architecturally designed 1860s Victorian home of the then provincial surgeon Edward Hulme is the perfect location for a comfortable relaxed stay as many of our repeat clients both local & from around the globe will lay testament too. Now its your chance, move fast and avoid disappointment so you can secure this unique opportunity and make it your very own.


Norman Wood

Contact The property and business is being sold by Dunedin Historic Resort Limited Contact Norman Wood Mobile 021 270 5319 (from overseas +64 21 270 5319) Office 03 477 6258 Fax 03 477 4898 Postal PO Box 6361 Dunedin Email

Floor Plan and Detailed Information

This is a very large property.  Recognised by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust for its significance to our history.  It was the home of the first Provincial surgeon, Edward Hulme, who helped found the Medical School at the University of Otago.

It is 4 stories high, with the basement (although not below ground) level being a separate apartment occupied by the site manager, the lower level that has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen and the large breakfast room; the upper level provides access direct from the street (note there are 4 exits on the lower level) and comprises 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. The very top level is the room in the Turret, this is accessed from the “Turret Room” below. Hence, across the whole building there are 9 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 2 lounges, attic type room in the turret and 8 car parks.

Click here to download a pdf of the floor plan.


Staircase Hulmes Court

The beautiful staircase in my home.

The Property

Hulmes Court is located at 52 Tennyson Street on 814m2 (8762 square feet) of land. Frontage 23m (75 feet), depth 36m (118 feet).

The property has views over the city centre to the North East and overlooking the beautiful Otago Girls High School grounds to the South West.

The rear of the property is accessed by a tarseal driveway to a large carpark for 8 vehicles.  There are established gardens with courtyard areas and well developed trees including cottage garden plantings a pear, olive, lemon and plum trees.

The Business

The property is being sold as a going concern.  As such it comes with a huge number of assets (see attached pdf for a full list and value).

Maximum Gross Yield Calculation (excluding sales of tourism product, telephone calls, merchandise, and with no extra person charges). Currently the following rooms have a per night rack rate (see and note that the Hulmes Too annex is not part of this sale): Art Deco $145, Book $115, Turret $145, Flower $115, African $145, Persian $115, Forest $145, Apartment $175 (note Rose room used by staff and the staff apartment sold on a per night basis) giving a maximum yield of $1,100 per night or $401,500 per year including GST.

It must be remembers that during certain times of the year there is some room vacancy, in addition there are discounts given to single occupancy, regulars etc and also commissions/discounts to various distribution channels.  On the other hand there are significant opportunities to sell tourism product, merchandise, phone services and the like.

There are other methods of utilising Hulmes Court, it could be used as a beautiful family home (although the sale here is for the property as part of a GST registered going concern and is plus GST if any – note as a going concern the transaction is GST zero rated).

Hulmes Court Aerial Photograph

Hulmes Court is located only 3 minutes walk from The Octagon, the city's town square. Within 5-10 minutes there are a huge number of shops, restaurants, theaters, art gallery, public library, City Council and Town Hall.



Books Are Very Expensive In New Zealand

by norman on June 14, 2012

I’m at the International Airport in Auckland. I always like to look at book shops, titles etc as I own a book importing business. It does surprise me how expensive books are in New Zealand, with the only excuse being the profiteering of some parts of the distribution chain, and probably not the poor book shop owners. I of course speak with some bias as we are trying to fight this. As a case in point, and a bizarre example, the New Zealand author Joe Karam’s book Trial by Ambush, published in New Zealand printed in Australia is $39 excluding tax in Auckland, but I can have it flown to me from the UK and hand delivered to me at home for $38. This rip off of consumers has been going on for decades, but now we have a choice.


Plastic Bottle Manufacture

Dunedin manufacturer Norman Wood smiles as employee Barry Gibbs creates plastic containers at Passion Plastics EPI Ltd.

This article is from the Otago Daily Times published in Dunedin New Zealand.  Written by Sally Rae and Craig Baxter.  Published in the business section 28 March 2012

When Norman Wood saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a toy factory for sale eight years ago, he decided it was worth checking out.

After all, his father had a small woodworking factory and, as a child, he spent a lot of time in it. He thought he would quite like to own his own factory.

With a background in advertising, marketing and philosophy, along with a degree in planning, Mr Wood, originally from Auckland, bought EPI Plastics and became the third owner of the business, which was established in Dunedin in 1974.

Passion Plastics EPI Ltd manufactures plastic products using injection and blow moulding – everything from jerry cans and bottles to strawberry and herb planters and children’s ride-on tricycles.

Promotional products are also made at the Hope St factory.

There had been “tremendous” changes over the eight years, Mr Wood said. Staff numbers had gone from 12 to four, although turnover had increased.

A major boost to business came during the Christchurch earthquakes, when orders for plastic containers came flooding in.

The factory was temporarily ramped up to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep up with demand.

While the financial return was welcome – it allowed the company to pay off debt and also opened up new customers – there was also the altruism element and working “extra hard” because it was “our brothers and sisters up the road” who were affected by the tragedy, Mr Wood said.

That was another advantage of being a New Zealand supplier – the containers were needed immediately and it would take too long to source them from the likes of China.

Plastic suppliers and freight companies also worked hard to help. “That’s what you lose if you lose local manufacturing,” he said.

At that time, the company was going through about a shipping container-load of plastic a week, whereas that quantity would normally last about two months.

By August-September, things had settled down and business returned to normal.

He described the plastic, which was food-grade and made in Thailand, as being “like beans in a bean bag”.

While the plastics industry was increasingly being monopolised by a few big players, his business was “pretty cost-effective”.

He enjoyed working with small customers, saying he cared about his customers and their businesses.

About 95% of the company’s products left Dunedin but only a very small amount was exported. That was a real opportunity in the future, however, and something he was exploring.

He believed growth for his business was in importing, exporting and product development. He was also looking at moving to more modern premises in the future and investing in new equipment.

Mr Wood believed Dunedin boxed above its weight in terms of its business skills, saying there were some “pretty grunty” businesses in the city. He was grateful to the various mentors who had helped him in business over the years.

Life was busy for Mr Wood, who also has a small advertising business, owns Hulmes Court Bed and Breakfast and co-owns a book-importing business, while he and wife Zina are expecting their first child in several weeks. The key to juggling so many balls in the air was having “great staff”, he said.

Click here to see the article on the Otago Daily Times website


I started designing my own websites back in 1997 using Claris Homepage on my mac, then I moved to Microsoft Frontpage, but that sort of disappeared, then I tried to use Adobe Dreamweaver, but I hated it.  I’ve tried lots of things, but now I use WordPress.  My two big sites and are static html coded sites.  However, my newer sites (this one!) and use WordPress.  I suppose the best way to describe it is a type of cloud computing community that help each other design cool websites right inside your browser.  It started off as facilitating blogging (a web log, hence blog… a type of online journal that facilitates debate and exchange of ideas)

Anyway, it took off and now there are lots of cool people designing themes, so you just download one and bingo, you’ve got a cool website.  Many of the themes are free.  However, there are little businesses all around the world who have got little thing going designing professional sites and also offering support.  Anyway, for my new site I hunted and hunted and hunted to find one that had great themes especially one that would make a good business directory.  The one I choose – Woothemes.  If you are after a great theme then I recommend that you check out their site by clicking on the link below.  I’ve found their support to be excellent, because their themes are larger and complex sometimes people (especially if you are a little bit like me) need lots of help with them.  They get back with answers quickly (usually with 24 hours).  Also you can search their forums as your question might have been asked before and answered already.

AND here is a plug from me.  If you decide to buy, do it by clicking below and I make some money as an affiliate.  However, I’d like to say, the recommendation I gave above is truthful and heartfelt, but I might as make some coin from it too.



Russians go fishing in New Zealand (Русские на лодке рыбачат в Новой Зеландии). Just after Christmas 2011 I (Norman Wood) went with Valia Lasovskaya, Danila Tashlanov(from Vladivostok) and my wife Zina went fishing with my nephew Wayne and my brother-in-law Robin on their boat the Taranui. This was in the Hauraki Gulf off the coast of Auckland New Zealand. We went fishing and caught some Snapper that we had for dinner that night. We also visited Kawau Island, although that is the topic of another video.

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I have a new cast.  This is a relief, the full stiff leg length cast was driving me crazy as you would have read about in my previous post.  Now I have a below the knee, at least at the rear, cast that allows me to bend the knee and also I can walk on the leg without the aid of crutches.  Although these last few days I’ve used crutches to ease into walking again.

Click here to see a video of this

However, the third cast is similar to the second.  It is made from a fiberglass type material that sets in air and water and is very hard and can be sharp on the edges.  Sure it has some padding, but this cast is moulded over the knee at the front, and when the leg bends and then comes forward again it can rub and also dig in.  After a period of time this can cause the skin to chaf and be rubbed raw, this is an issue as an infection could lead to some unpleasant complications.  Plus it doesn’t aid recovery and learning to walk again and not look as if you’ve had two many drinks.

My solution, get one of my sister’s bras, cut it up, and grab the  great rubber padding in them plus the have an excellent preformed cup shape, fits lovely over the knee and provides excellent padding, comfort and protection.  I’d recommend this to any other budding rehabiliating walker.


Norman Wood Has Second Broken Leg Cast Replaced

by norman on December 22, 2011

About 4 weeks ago, I was standing on a table getting books down from a high shelf, I placed these books on the table, crouched down and hopped off the table. I’ve done this many hundreds of times, from chairs, other tables, banks onto the seashore, from boats. This time however, one leg got caught and held back so that I landed awkwardly on one leg with the foot at an angle.

Initially I was more concerned that I’d knocked the wind out of my lungs and also my elbow hit and might have broken a rib or two. Thisis what hurt the most. However, when I tried to get up my ankle and upper calf muscle gave me a great deal of pain. I thought it was a strained ankle and maybe a pulled or torn muscle. I walked in a great deal of pain and finished, albeit it very slowly, the tasks I wanted. I put ice on the injury and elevated it, however, my whole leg started to swell. This is the body’s natural way of immobilizing the leg. The next day I woke in tremendous pain and wasn’t able to move with out this ramping up even more. Initially I was thinking this would be embarrassing, having to call an ambulance to take me out on a wheeled gurney “just for a sprained ankle” as I was convinced it was nothing more. A visit to my doctor and then the Dunedin Fracture Clinic was to prove otherwise. A fractured upper fibula and lower Tibia with a variety of other cracks and spiral fractures. A rare injury today, normally seen after cavalry battles and jousting, one eyebrow raised by me at being told this.

As an aside, being an accident, essentially all the costs of my treatment and rehabilitation, 80% of my wages will be meet by New Zealand’s socialised ACC compulsory accident insurance scheme. In the early 1970s, New Zealanders lost the right to sue each other, and instead of wasting money and paying lawyers a small amount of money was set aside by everyone into a large pool. The scheme is no fault and covers every single person in New Zealand, this includes tourists, illegal immigrants, mums and dads, young and old. It doesn’t matter if you were trying to escape prison, it is just simple, with as little administration taken up on deciding if you are covered, you just are and your injury determines your cover. I’m a great supporter of the scheme, I’ve seen it do a great deal of good, this would make me a bit of a liberal lefty. However, there is a bit of welfarism with a number of bludgers and spongers off the hard work of others who try to ride the system as much as they can, but I think there would be these critters in a private system too, they really should be dealt to when caught as it brings the whole system into disrepute.

Yesterday was a great relief as I had my full stiff leg cast removed after three weeks. I actually had two versions of it. It was making life very difficult. When you don’t have a license or a car at least you can walk or ride a bike. With those casts it was a bit like home detention and because I needed both arms to operate the crutches it was also home detention without arms. Having said that, and although I was allowed 3 weeks off work from ACC, I only took 3 days off to rest up. Then I was back into it, so didn’t claim any lost wages. This last cast is a lower leg cast that allows me to bend at the knee and to walk without the aid eventually of any crutch.

You can see from the video that this purple cast looks like it is made from a fabric mesh. In fact this is the cast. A very interesting fabric that is dipped in water and then wound around the leg, and after a while it warms up and with exposure to the air starts to set hard, a bit like fibre glass. It is a wonderful light weight cast, and much better than the first, heavy and bulky plaster cast. It is removed by using what looks like a skilsaw that could cut through both cast, skin and bone. However, it is a vibrating saw that actually cuts through anything hard like a warm knife through butter, but just tickles the skin. Although as you can see from the video you wouldn’t think so if you didn’t know so.

While the cast is starting to become rigid the nurse starts to mould the new lower leg cast around the knee, although it cuts down below the leg joint behind to provide support while allowing movement. However, there is the potential to cause significant pain and discomfort from chaffing of the moving skin against the very hard cast. I came up with a unique solution to this problem and this is discussed in the next blog.

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