Open your mind to the possibilities in Dunedin

Even walking through the University of Otago campus leaves me feeling a bit more intelligent. Photo: Paul Gorman
Even walking through the University of Otago campus leaves me feeling a bit more intelligent. Photo: Paul Gorman
Making decisions is not always the easiest task in life. Yet our lives are basically the sum of our decisions.

I'd like to lay even some partial claim to having come up with that last statement, but it was too profound for me. Instead, I heard something along those lines at the University of Otago on Monday evening, at economist Paul Hansen's inaugural professorial lecture.

The Archway lecture theatre was packed with Prof Hansen's family, friends, academics, students, professional staff and members of the public. Everyone was expecting a good show - and got it.

You've got to love an academic in regalia who begins his IPL - which you might think would be quite a serious affair - by asking: ''What do you think of my new outfit?''

Prof Hansen, also a keen surfer, specialises in decision-making and is co-inventor of the 1000Minds software system, used around the world by government and industry to help prioritise and allocate resources. It has been especially useful in the health sector for ranking the need for certain pharmaceuticals and for drawing up elective surgery waiting lists.

These free lectures are one of the great things about having a university just down the road. It was the best part of my day - I came away feeling I'd learnt something.

In terms of intellectual heft, we are so lucky in Dunedin - we must have more academics doing interesting things per capita than any of the other main centres.

Next time you're at a loose end, check out the seminars and lectures on offer. Make a sound decision.

Malapropisms

I must be turning into my nana. She and Hilda Ogden shared a wonderful ability to substitute the correct word with one very similar, turning an everyday sentence into something completely ludicrous.

A pink blossom-splattered car drove past in the rain yesterday afternoon. Thinking of spring weddings, I remarked: ''Look at that car covered in graffiti.''

A numbered souvenir cup from the 1925-26 exhibition with its accompanying booklet, A Key To The Mysteries Of Divination, by Willis MacNicol. Photo: Carol Montgomery
A numbered souvenir cup from the 1925-26 exhibition with its accompanying booklet, A Key To The Mysteries Of Divination, by Willis MacNicol. Photo: Carol Montgomery
Of course it should have been confetti.

Anybody got any great malapropisms to share?

Dunedin Exhibition 1925-26

Thanks for all the great feedback on, and your photos of, the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin in 1925-26.

Carol Montgomery sent the image of her ''cup of knowledge''.

''Seeing the photo Daphne McLay sent in of her cup of knowledge made me go and look at mine.

''It was inherited from my grandmother, who would often tell me stories of earlier times. Mine is also a numbered cup - and it is Aynsley-made in England.

''The interesting addition to mine is a booklet called A Key to the Mysteries of Divination by Willis MacNicol. It was printed in 1924.

''It says women are more superstitious than men but goes on to disprove that, quoting sailors, Napoleon, gifted men of the East, Lord Lytton and Pythagoras!

''Most chapters are about using the cup to read tea leaves and then going on to use tea leaves, along with cards, to read fortunes.

''I have memories of my grandmother and mother having a hilarious time trying to read their teacups.''

The Big Snow

Monday's snow caused plenty of chaos around Queenstown, even though it looked pretty.

Gordon Johnston of Oamaru visited the Oamaru Mail office earlier this week to share his memories of the July 1939 snowstorm with Sharyn Pope, who has passed them on (thanks Sharyn!).

''It was the year I started at the Mt Stuart School, which was two miles up Johnstone Rd. I started just before the winter.

''The school was closed for about two weeks.

''We used to have about two miles to walk around the road, but this was made shorter by going over neighbours' paddocks. At the boundary fence, that was mostly gorse with gaps in the netting which we could squeeze through.

''The snow had drifted and when the school opened my father and older brother had dug a track through the snow. The first days back at school were very scary, looking up through the snow cutting to see the blue sky, about 7-8 metres above.

''The snow lay around for well over a month. Mt Stuart School was about four to five miles from Waitahuna on State Highway 8.

''The school opened in 1882 and closed in 1941. The families further away all rode ponies to school.

''My parents told me that in Ophir, where their relations were, sheep were buried in snow drifts for six weeks and were still alive eating the wool off themselves. Although they survived, they were affected by the wool in their gut and died later.''

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