The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

December 6, 2009

 Nobody was able to name the author of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in last Monday’s quiz.

They’ve missed a treat because this little book (108 pages) is a gem.

The narrator is one of the quiet kids whose mother gets landed with producing the annual nativity play when the woman who’s done it for ever breaks a leg.

The day that parts are being chosen the Herdmans, lured by the promise of food, turn up and bully all the other kids into letting them have the main roles.

Other parents aren’t happy but the more they question, the more the producer is determined to produce the best Christmas pageant ever.

She does it both in spite and because of the feral children who bring a whole new meaning to a very old story and help the other characters, and the reader, see Christmas with fresh eyes.

It’s a delightful story told with warmth and humour; enhanced by the narrator whose genius for understatement provides an object lesson in the art of show-don’t-tell.

I’ve read this book to very young children and given it to grandparents.

It’s one of the books on my annual-read list and I re-read it at about this time every year to get me in to the spirit of Christmas.

The Best Christmas Present Ever  by Barbara Robinson, published by Harper Trophy. (The sticker on the back says $14.95 but my copy was bought years ago so it will probably cost more now).


Bewitched

December 6, 2009

Agnes Moorhead would have been 109 today.

Older people knew her in many roles but those of us who grew up in the 1960s knew her best from Bewtiched.


Good reasons to return

December 6, 2009

 Kevin Roberts, CEO of Satchi & Satchi  met John Key in Japan recently and was impressed.

 I resisted the temptation to copy his praise, you can follow the link above if you want to read it. But I want to discuss this paragraph:

John Key is also committed to seeing more of New Zealand’s young people realizing their potential in New Zealand. I agree with this but I also feel that it’s necessary for New Zealanders to go overseas to stretch their legs, find their feet, and learn more quickly. My three children have all experienced this positively and successfully. The trick for New Zealand is to offer them a combination of lifestyle and opportunity so they will eventually return.

Creating an environment which enables more young people to realise their potential here would be good not just for them but for the country as a whole. Like Roberts, I don’t think that means we shouldn’t encourage them to travel.

We gain a lot from the young people who go away, work, learn and return.

The problem is not those who go and do that, nor even those who make a positive choice to stay away. The problem is those who make the negative choice not to return, not because of what they can get in other countries but because of what they can’t get here.

The recession which has caused jobs losses overseas has helped to bring more New Zealanders home. But we need to make sure this is still an attractive place to live so that they have good reasons to return when other countries’ economies recover.

That means ensuring the rhetoric about our much vaunted lifestyle matches reality and unless we stop borrowing for luxuries it won’t.


Prof Barry Taylor honoured

December 6, 2009

Professor Barry Taylor has received the Montgomery Spencer Memorial Oration.

It is awarded by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and recognises a New Zealand paediatrician’s contribution to child health.

Barry is a specialist in paediatrics and child health and was the consultant who cared for our sons.

They had degenerative brain disorders. Barry went many extra miles to find a diagnosis and when that wasn’t possible, to make sure they had as good a quality of life as was possible.

It is of immense comfort to us to know that everything possible was done for our sons in their short lives. Barry as the leader of the team who looked after them on their repeated visits to Dunedin Hospital, played a very important role in that.

Cot death was a major concern at that time and Barry was one of the leading researchers into what caused it and how to prevent it.

The award comes from his peers. He has also more than earned one from the children he treated and their parents.


Is there carbon in the fleece?

December 6, 2009

Is there carbon in wool and if so does it constitute a carbon store which could offset farm emissions?

Federated farmers is keeping a close eye on the Australian-led Wool Carbon Alliance which may provide answers to those questions.

The Australians may be clutching at wool on the issue of wool carbon but we need to keep a watching brief on what the Australians are up to,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“The Australians claim that carbon makes up to half of wool’s composition and if true, it would represent a carbon store of 64,000 tonnes walking around New Zealand’s farms right now.

This sounds too good to be true. Even if it isn’t, Wills said the complexity and expense needed to verify the idea provides another reason to seek the exemption of emissions from the production of food and fibre at Copenhagen.

Regardless of whether or not the carbon in wool could be counted, Wills sees “green” opportunities in the fibre.

“Yet aside from generating non-compliant Kyoto carbon, it’s time we get out and shout about what is a 100 percent natural and renewable resource. . .

“If you’re truly clean and green, you should be insulating your home with wool products.  It takes significantly less energy to produce wool products than artificial fibres, meaning CO2 and other emissions are very low.  Best of all, it won’t cut you like glass fibres will.

“In Europe, they’ve shown an average household can cut its annual CO2 emissions by up to 300 kg and its energy bill by 5-10 percent if heating is dialled down by just 1° Celsius.  Wool can play its part.

“What we have here is eco-insulation and it’s time we trumpet it at home and overseas.  It’s time to talk up the environmental and sustainable properties inherent in New Zealand’s natural fibres.

“But wool is much more than that – you can wear it, walk in it, sleep in it and who knows what else you can do with it.  It’s time to unleash wool and a lot of that rests with us farmers,” Mr Wills urged.

Merino, by itself or with possum fur, has found a lucrative niche in clothing but no-one has yet found a similar way to increase the demand for the fibre from breeds with courser wool.

Wool insulation from companies like Terra Lana has a good reputation but in spite of its environmental credentials it’s not nearly as well known as its synthetic competitors.

The environmental credentials of wool are well established. Whether or not wool provides a carbon sink, the growing demand for “green” products provides an opportunity to sell the virtues of wool carpet and insulation and farmers need to lead by example.


December 6 in history

December 6, 2009

On December 6:

1534 The city of Quito in Ecuador was founded by Spanish settlers led by Sebastián de Belalcázar.

                                                        

1648 Colonel Pride of the New Model Army purged the Long Parliament of MPs sympathetic to King Charles I of England, in order for the King’s trial to go ahead; came to be known as “Pride’s Purge“.

Colonel Thomas Pride refusing admission to the Presbyterian members of the Long Parliament.
Colonel Pride refusing admission to the Presbyterian members of the Long Parliament. (Engraving, c. 1652)

1768 The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published.

Encyclopædia Britannica logo.jpg  

1849 American abolitionist Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery.

1877  The first edition of the Washington Post was published.

WP01092008.jpg

1884 The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. was completed.

1897  London became the world’s first city to host licenced taxicabs.

1900  Agnes Moorehead, American actress, was born.

 

As Endora in Bewitched (1965)

1917 Finland declared independence from Russia.

1917  Halifax Explosion: In Canada, a munitions explosion killed more than 1900 people and destroys part of the City of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

1921 The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in London by British and Irish representatives.

1922 The Irish Free State came into existence

Flag Coat of arms

1933 U.S. federal judge John M. Woolsey ruled that the James Joyce‘s novel Ulysses was not obscene.

UlyssesCover.jpg

1935 New Zealand’s first Labour government took office with Michael Josepph Savage as Prime Minister.

1947 The Everglades National Park in Florida was dedicated.

1989 The École Polytechnique Massacre (or Montreal Massacre): an anti-feminist gunman murders 14 young women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal.

commemorative plaque in polished stone, deeply engraved with in circle with 14 small silver disks distributed around the circle. Inside, and under the university's logo and the legend "In Memoriam" are the names of the 14 victims and the date of the massacre 

1998 Hugo Chávez Frías, Venezuelan military officer and politician, was elected President of Venezuela.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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