Toilet Paper, then and now

Back in my day we had a thing called toilet paper. I mean in the 60’s and 70’s, in New Zealand.

Yes I know you think we have toilet paper now.  And yes I know with Covid and talk of holding things people have talked about toilet paper a lot. I just have not seen anyone talk about toilet paper vs toilet tissue.  I wonder now when we started calling toilet tissue, toilet paper. And when toilet paper disappeared, or did it?

But back in my youth there was just toilet paper, and the stuff we have now, when it came along, could not be called toilet paper. It was called toilet tissue.

I remember thinking toilet tissue would never take off as it was not substantial enough to do the job and it would just cling to you. I mean, think of how it would seem to use facial tissues in the loo. That is how toilet tissue appeared to me, even before I tried it.

From this you probably think that the toilet paper of my day was a harsh, dry, tough material. I have to say, I do not remember it to be so. But then when we were using it, it was all that there was.

Well to be fair there was a range of toilet papers around at the time.

From the dock leaf my father taught me to identify so if I was stuck in nature I had a safe broad leafed plant I could use in emergencies.

To the shiny, non-porous, sheets of brown paper interleaved like tissues in a box. But not anything like tissue paper. In fact, I have heard it compared to greaseproof paper, if greaseproof paper was brown and thicker.

Old advert for Jeyes' toilet paper
Old advert for Jeyes’ toilet paper










This Jeyes’ paper needed to be taken from the holder on the wall, balled up, flattened out, balled up again, rubbed together vigorously, assessed for how much shine you had crinkled away, and whether it would absorb anything yet and the process repeated way too many times before water would not bead off it. This was available not only at my grandmothers home but many of the pay toilets in town.

Let me just digress a little about pay toilets. How I mis them. The tiled sanctuaries with an attendant, one side with toilets the other with washing machines and driers, where the attendant washed the hand towels so they were alway fresh. 

Back to toilet paper. There was the standard toilet paper. Well what I knew as the standard then. What was in our home, at school and most homes I visited, barring my Grandparents.

How do I describe it to you. Thicker paper, than the current toilet paper, but not inflexible. More absorbent than the current toilet paper (here in New Zealand). More akin to that you find on the super large rolls of paper you find in toilets now, but more textured. No maybe halfway between that and the interleaved paper you get in public toilets to dry your hand on.

There was more on  roll too. Of this, I am sure. The rolls were sturdier, firmer and tightly wound.

I even heard claims from adults then that you only needed two sheets of toilet paper after going number one.

This was usually said with exasperation at how much toilet paper us kids used. So much so in fact that my Dad introduced a rationing device into our household that only let out 2-3 sheets at a time, depending how it felt.

The device flipped up and down to let out the sheets. So sure you could sit there flipping it up and down to get more allotments as often as you wanted. But little kids could not grab an end and run for the hills. And for the most part twice up and down was all the time you wanted to waste in the toilet for the bulk of the day.

On the flip side, the glue they glued down the first sheet with was diabolical. It sunk down several layers of paper. Starting a new roll was a task I did not enjoy. The first few layers of paper would be torn right where the glue was as you attempted to scramble your fingers under the paper to break it with the least wastage.

Am I feeling nostalgic for that toilet paper? I think I am. But would I actually like it now? Of that I am not sure.



Father of Quantum Physics – Max Planck

Max Planck – Father of Quantum Physics

Quick Facts

1958 was the 100th birthday of Max Planck. His birthday was 24 April 1858.

Max was one of the father’s of Quantum physics. Beyond the fact that I am amazed that quantum physics has it’s origins so long ago. There is also the fact that in 1958, on the 100th anniversary of his birth East and West Berlin cooperated on a celebration of him and his works.

Why is it amazing they cooperated? For that you need to look into the history of Germany after the first world war and probably up to 1989.

Max won a nobel prize for his discovery of the quantum of action, Planck’s Constant, in 1918.

Resources on Max Planck

    • Nobel
    • Brittanica:
    • Wikiquote

What information is missing from these articles?

What other resources can you find?

Questions to consider in your study of Max Planck

Pick 5 or more questions and make up a poster, book or slide show on Max Planck.

Who was Max Planck?

What was his family like?

What were Max’s personal qualities?

What notable events happened to him during his life?

What did he study?

What were his hobbies?

Who else did he know that you have heard of?

Why is he famous?

What did you learn about quantum physics in learning about Max Planck?

What laws are names after Max Planck?
– Do you understand them?
– Where could somebody go to learn more about them?

What areas of science did Max work in besides Physics?

Is there anything else about the science Max studied and discovered that you want to learn more about?

What can you infer from the information you now have but is not stated in any of the resources?

If you were to explain Max to a 5 year old how would you do so?

Can you make an artwork / poster that showcases part of who Max was or his discoveries?

What music do you think Max played?

How do you think the following effected Max’s life?

    • music
    • the outdoors
    • family
    • friends
    • war

Is there anything Max did that you would like to do this next week?

If you met Max and he was the same age you are, do you think you would be friends? Why?

In 1958 East and West Berlin cooperated in staging a celebration of Max Planck’s life and works. Why is this significant?

    • Why was there an East and West Berlin? Check out Germany’s history after World War II.
    • How did East and West Berlin treat each other in 1958?
    • What did they do to celebrate his life and discoveries?
    • Why was it Berlin that headed the celebrations?


Health Beliefs

I’ve titled this “health beliefs” when you may have expects “health facts”, or to be more click baitable, “Amazing Health Facts you Never Guessed are True!!!!!”

Why health beliefs? And not a more assertive title?

In the main this is as many “facts” are debatable even in the realm of science, without moving to the realm of supposition, confirmation bias and all the rest of things that makes us humans devinely uncomprehensable and yet highly successful as a species.

‘We all know the feeling of having learnt something is good for you, then a few years latter research comes out that says it’s bad for you, then a few years after that something comes out saying, no we did not quite understand the mechanism properly relax, it’s good for you.

The human body is complex and I am sure for many years yet to come there will be many discoveries and rediscoveries going on. Some of that will like you, change my mind. Some I will be more sceptical of. We each choose what we will believe in the end.

Sure there are some incontrovertible facts, but there is also a lot to learn,and some people’s bodies do work differently than others.

So I am going to try set out here what I think makes one healthy. It is my beliefs and as such they may develop over time as new fact come to my attention. Sometimes I will share some of these discoveries and others I will set out what in half a century on earth and interested in health has bought me to believe.

Half a century interested in health may be a bold claim. However my earliest memory on health was a lesson my Mum taught me on the value of calcium for a growing child. I was 5 or 6 years old.

I think the idea may have been to get me to drink my milk as I had developed a habit of giving it to my brother. He is 3 years younger than me and loved meat and milk. I got the habit when traveling. As we had been given horrid powdered milk, which he nevertheless-less loved.

Being curious as children are I asked what other foods had calcium in. In fact just about every food I ate I would ask “Does this have calcium in?”

One morning eating eggs my harried mother said I don’t know but the shells must have.

I then set on a course of crushing my eggshells in my mouth, crunchy at first then more and more grit like as the pieces got smaller. I convinced my (2-3 year old) brother he should eat the shells too.

My mother came back in the room, kept folding washing and spotted what we were doing. She questioned us why and I said for the calcium. Being a good mother she did not tell us to stop, but I could see on her face she was struggling with something.

A black hen sitting on top of a large pile of eggs.
Would you eat eggshells? Image from Library of Congress, Digital Collection.

After several times of eating shells I saw a light on my mothers face. She explained to me that while it was commendable we were looking after health by eating foods rich in calcium, shells were not human food. We did not have the teeth or the digestive tract for that. She said if we continued eating egg shells it was not bad for us but that it would wear down our teeth and we should probably stop. So we stopped.

I like that she tried to give us knowledge and work out from that what was good to do. That she trusted us to learn and make right choices.

It was from her I learned my first lessons on health and anatomy.

I remember her answering my questions on pregnancy even showing my photos of what my sibling looked like in the womb. Entrancing me so much that my drawings could be of my sibling in the womb, rather than more regular childhood subjects.

My mother was a pioneer, not only in learning about nutrition, anatomy and health while raising 7 children. But in introducing us to food from other cultures, ensuring we ate a wide range of foods.

Yes I have been interested in health for round 50 years, and for that I thank my mother for the great foundation she gave me and the infectiousness of her interest.

So with a devotion to my mother I now seek to set out what I believe is most healthy for us humans.

The Last Ship – Rant on the Book vs the TV Series

This is my rant on the TV Series and Book, The Last Ship.

********* This contains spoilers. *************

In essence my rant is this:

The story in the program has no relationship to the book at all.

Now that is a little too cut and dried you might say.

I do understand that everything in a book may not make it to a film or series. Somethings are just not directly translatable from one medium to another. I get that and I usually do not mind this if the basic integrity of the book is kept.

However, this adaption is totally different.

Okay, okay, to the ship has the same name, but a different propulsion method. Different plot lines based on this fact and different worries for the crew.

The captains name is the same, but everyones relationships are different. As in family make up of the crew (e.g. the captain in the book is single the other is married with two children). People’s relationships to each other and people on the land differ. There are NO civilians onboard and so no story line that the TV series has round these points.

Sure it is the same that there was a world crises but the nature of the crisis is different. The ships crew therefore have a totally different set of problems and adventures they face. The TV series has a virulent plague and the book a nuclear war with most places on the globe radioactive, most supplies shore radioactive and so the cannot scavenge like the TV series guys do.

And while we are on the TV series scavenging. I really, in my heart of hearts think that the navy would be a lot better at scavenging than they show. That there would be a system and discipline. They are instead sending in a small crew with a grocery bag and have them scramble round, and believe me they scramble worse than people in a grocery grab do. They thrust their hands into shelves make a fist and whatever is in their hand they pull out scattering the rest of the shelf on the floor. So yeah that annoys me. Anybody let alone Navy folks would be more thorough.

Anyhow, back to my main gripe.

The book vs the series.

In the book they sail places. In the TV series they sail places. Only there is not one place in the book that the series sails to or from. Mind I have not watched the whole series so they may in future.

Less overt but telling I think is the fact that the themes of the book are not displayed in the series. It is way less natural and of course for TV more confrontational. It is less about big ideas than of drama and conflict. Not that the book does not have drama and conflict. It maybe even has a little too many introspective musings of the captain. But for the core fibre of the book not to appear in the series is galling to me. I don’t know how the author (William Brinkley) feels about it RIP Bill (September 10, 1917 – November 22, 1993). I hope no one in the afterlife has bought it to his attention.

So that is my rant, I am trying to give there series and break. I repeat as a mantra its not the same story, let it go, its just a series with the same name as a book you just read. I am trying not to repeatedly say to my husband, that’s not how it was in the book.. oh and that, that was not either. However I think I am failing in the attempts.

in conclusion the TV series is nothing like the book, and it would be useful if they had had some navy consultants to get things ship shape and more like naval officers.


Plumbers "grease", graphite based

Video of How to apply hemp to a threaded joint
How to apply hemp to a threaded joint

Watching people work and asking them about it is one of my favourite things to do.

Today the Plumber came, so it was a good day.

Instead of plumbing tape to put in the threads to seal them tight, he was using an older way of doing things. A way I thought dead since I was a youngling. And, I have seen half a century of life. How did that happen?

He was using hemp and graphite paste to seal the pipes threads. He replaced a valve and there is an art to the use. He had different techniques I noticed for different sized joints. Some he spread the hemp threads wide and then spread graphite on. Some he twilled the threads to a kind of cord.


It is good to see some of the old ways come back.

As much as I love technology and long for more advanced tech, I do still love the old ways.

The Plumber said it was better to have the hemp as it swells when it gets wet. So if I joint starts to leak it seals it back up.

Also the plastic tape can move around and loosen, making it an ineffective sealer.

I find these things fascinating and learning a bit of the skills involved means I appreciate the work more. 🙂

Tyger Tyger Burning Bright

I hear poetry whispering through my mind. Thanks to my standard 4 teacher Mr Crimp. Sometimes those whispers are called up as they echo an event or emotion in my life. Sometimes they appear from nowhere just adding beauty to a day. Sometimes it crashes in deeply moving me.

I do not like all poetry, much of it never whispers to me at all. But the ones that whisper, call and seduce me I love well.

Mr Crimp was my teacher in my last year of Primary School, I would have been 9 at the start of the year and 10 at the end. He remains, for many reasons, my favourite teacher of all time. He will be dead now I guess, he was close to retirement when he taught me and that was 40 years ago. Making him near 100 if he lives still. Yet he lives still.

He asked us to memorise poems and you got some kind of reward for doing so. I can’t remember the reward, for me I remember the feeling of satisfaction at often being among the fastest to do so. That was the real reward for me. It was one of the first memories I have of competence. Of standing up in class surrounded by people wondering why I thought I’d learnt it already. Waiting to hear my voice fail as I reached the limits of my memory. Not that they were doing so maliciously, just it was the expectation based on performances of other tasks. That kind of mute sympathy you hold out for someone whose side you are on but whom you fear will fail. You feel for them and expend sympathy before they even fail.

That first poem lead me to a lifetime of enjoyment. How sad to have missed the feeling of majesty my favourite poem brings me. But more of that latter. The first poem was short and cute (The Poplar Tree) like it was made specifically for a first poem to learn. Mr Crimp had a folder of poems he had collected over the years.

The poems grew longer and more complex and we had lessons to understand the background of a poem before we were presented it.

One day my Mum shared her favourite poem. I am sure she shared it before. For the first time, though., it resonated with me. Like I had learned how to hear the cadence and rhythm inherent in the verse.

Kubla Khan

Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea. …
Just a few year later when reading a book of poems and quotes. Mostly for the quotes I must confess. I found what would turn out to be a life long favourite poem. A poem filled with power an majesty, threat and beauty. It had a strong rhythm that carried you along but such imagery that it burned in my chest.

Many years latter I discovered the poem was talking on the surface about an animal that turned out to be my Chinese year sign. The tiger. Although it spelling in the poem hints that it might not be deep down talking about a tiger. This association though did add a little something to my appreciation of the poem.

The Tyger

Tyger watching
(c) 2016 Michelle Bergersen


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Can you hear the rhythm of this piece. For me it is like a jungle drum hitting each time the word Tyger is spoken. Try it out loud sometime. maybe it is more meant to echo the tread of a tigers feet. But for me these are silent. I tiger could pass you by an arm-breadth away if you were in it’s jungle. It’s striped coat mimicking shadows of trunks and branches- Its large feet spreading out to take it’s weight soundlessly are padded for extra stealth. So the beat of this poem is for me of drums, slow and deep.

Maybe it is meant to mimic the strong powerful beat of a tigers heart. I can see that.

Always though this poem stirs me deep inside, with a heart swelling power. I tried to read the poem oft quoted as it’s older sibling, having been written first.  The Lamb. The lamb is in fact directly written into the poem “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”. It is harder to get into for me. What do you think?

The Lamb

Little Lamb who made thee
         Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
         Little Lamb who made thee
         Dost thou know who made thee
         Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
         Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
         Little Lamb God bless thee.
         Little Lamb God bless thee.
You can see Blake echoed also the question of who made the Lamb in the Tyger. This poem though is sweet and soft and contrasts starkly against the Tyger.
Whereas Tyger stirs me, it’s strong rhythmic lines give beat to the words and power to the lines. For me this is the poem that never fails to move me. Give me the sound of the drum beat any day. Give me the sound of the Tyger.

Poems from my childhood

When I was aged 9-10 Mr Crimp was my teacher at school. He was an all round cool teacher. You know the ones that motivate you to learn, keep good discipline and yet a sense of fun in the class. I miss those Fielding days.

One of the things he did was every few weeks he would add a poem to our poem book and our task was to first draw appropriate art work by the inscribed poem and second to memorise the poem.

Memorising was one task I took to easily in school. Nether indoor nor outdoor pursuits of any other kind could see me shine as well. Okay I could silent read well above my spelling level but teacher till then had mostly put this down to my pretending to be able to read at above my spelling level. Mr Crimp on the other hand quizzed me on what I had read and then was satisfied I was reading.

But, I digress.

Memorising poems was they way I could publicly be seen as successful in some regard. I was a late bloomer academically and maybe it was the confidence I gained with these poems that let me attack other learning skills at a later date.

I came across one of those poems today on twitter and it brought back the memories. I “lost” my illustrated book of poems many years ago in what I will call a sibling accident. Which sibling and how accidental the scissored pages and the destruction of those said pages were, I have no idea. But lets call it that.

Back to my original theme.

The poem I was referred to by twitter was contained in an article entitled “Why we should memorize Poetry” by Brad Leithauser, in the New Yorker. It was:

A drawing of an Eagle from the Smithsonian
The Eagle

The Eagle

by Lord Alfred Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ringed with the azure world, he stands.


The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.



It made me want to recreate that book, at least in spirit. I remember some of the poems well even now, but some have become hidden in the background of my memory, like the eagle. Once I had the first line most of the rest of it flowed back to me, bright and pure as first I learnt it and rich with the feeling of an old friend rediscovered.So here is my reconstructed book of poems and my thanks to Mr Crimp.

The first poem in the book has never left me. You always remember your first. But who wrote it is long forgotten, remembering names has never been my strong suit. I even forgot my own once, but that is another story. If you know the author, please let me know.

PoplarTree drawing


The Poplar Tree


If I were a tall tree,

I know what I would be.

I’d be a poplar growing high,

I’d grow so high I’d touch the sky.

I’d grow and grow and grow,

And wobble to and fro.

And how surprised a cloud would be,

To bump into a poplar tree.







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