Me Myself I


Happy birthday Joan Armatrading – 59 today.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey


Jonathan Tommey was called Mr Gloomy by the village children. He thought Christmas was pish-posh.

Then seven year old Thomas and his widowed mother knock on his door and ask him to carve a set of Christmas figures.

This is a simply worded, beautifully illustrated book which won several awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Bisto Irish Children’s Book Award.

It’s another on my list of annual reads.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch. Published by Walker Books.

A better brand of blue


Not all the the criticism which took the shine of three successive National governments isjustified but there is no doubt the blue brand of the 1990s was tarnished.

If you’re interested in how the party polished itself up again, Bryce Edwards gives an acadmeic view of Rebranding National, based on a paper by André Broome of the University of Birnimgham: Rebranding the Right: Political Baggage and the Redefinition of Party Identity.

Both Broome’s paper and Edward’s comments on it are worth reading in full.

Acts of cow


A Tennessee man has been a victim of an act of cow.

Jerry Lynn Davis called the Hawkins County Sheriff’s office, complaining that a neighbour’s cows had been licking his house.

In the process, Davis says the curious bovines did about US$100 in damage by ripping off a screen window, cracking the glass and pulling down a gutter.

These cattle just poked their heads through a fence, it could have been much worse.

Friends woke up one night to the sound of mooing. When they looked outside they discovered a herd of cows had come up their drive; passed under an arch pulling it, and the rose which had been growing up it down in the process; trampled their lawn and were lined up at their verandah as if they were in a milking shed.

We’ve had a herd or two of cows find their way in to our garden but they made enough noise to alert us to their presence before they did any damage.

Sheep tend to be quieter and when the fence between the garden and the pet lamb paddock wasn’t as secure as it needed to be we often found wandering stock had done some radical pruning of favourite plants.

One such incursion happened just after I’d had one of the children and was still in hospital. A friend had picked a huge bucket of roses and given them to my farmer to down to me. He’d put them on the porch where he’d be sure to see them on his way out but when he opened the door he was confronted by a bucket of stalks and lots of sheep droppings.

Top 10 travel loves and hates


House of Travel has come up with a list of things New Zealand travellers love and loathe.

My love list is:

1. Lots of time to read.

2. Being able to communicate in the local language.

3. Different food.

4. Different cultures.

5. Different people.

6. Heat without humidity.

7. Exploring.

8. Nothing to do and all day to do it.

9. Different things to see and do.

10. Arriving home and seeing it through fresh and more appreciative eyes.

My loathe list is:

1. Getting there and back – I’m not from the journey is better than the destination school.

2. Not being able to communicate in the local language.

3. Waiting – at check ins and check outs, for transport . . .

4. Fruit and vegetable deprivation.

5. Inadequate lighting in hotels.

6. Loos – not being able to find them, the state of them once found.

7. Adjusting to time differences.

8. Living out of a suitcase.

9. Too many people in too little space.

10. Air conditioning.

The House of Travel love list is:

Your own entertainment system – and starting movies as soon as you board.

Counting down the number of sleeps until you leave.

Standing in front of Big Ben, the Pyramids or Taj Mahal and realising that you’ve made it

Getting entrenched in the local customs and culture.

The blast of heat you feel on arrival for a tropical break.

Copenhagen Airport.

The super cheap Thai foot massages at Bangkok Airport.

Not having to make your bed every morning.

Curries, “real pizza”, pastries, ceviche – authentic fresh local cuisine.

Getting home and planning your next trip.

And the loathe list:

Passport photos.

Virtually every airport in the country “making some changes”.

Early morning international flights.

Having to take your laptop out going through security.

Having to “fight” for the arm rest.

The realisation that you only have one more sleep before you go home.

Hotels and beaches that are nothing like their website pictures.

The “bad hair days” caused by humid holiday spots.

Unpacking and finding that your toothpaste, moisturiser or shampoo has leaked.

Tipping – why is that porter just hanging around?

Spot the confusion


The NBR has spotted a spot of Green confusion.

Party co-leader Russel Norman has been stridently criticising the proposals for dairying operations in the Mackenzie Basin which house cows inside.

But on the party’s own website, former Green party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is extolling the virtues of herd homes – sheds erected to house dairy cows and keep them from damaging pasture during wet winters, and reducing nitrous oxide emissions.

The two operations aren’t exactly the same, but the concepts are similar.

I have reservations about the Mackenzie plan but not on environmental grounds. I think Ftizsimons is probably right on this, and if she isn’t any environmental problems will be addressed during the resource consent process.

Reduce, reuse but don’t always recycle


It would be difficult to counter the contention that reducing what you use and reusing what you can is better for the environment than consuming and dumping more.

But the environmental and economic benefits of the third R in the environmental mantra – reduce, reuse, recycle are more questionable.

Marion Shore of the Waitaki Resource Recovery Centre reckons recycling is like aspirin for the headache of over consumption.

In talking Sense on recycling Offsetting Behaviour questions the cost of recycling.

He also quotes Kevin Libin in the National Post who finds that claims on the benefits of recycling often fail on both economic and environmental grounds.

San Francisco’s Department of Waste recently calculated it paid $4,000 a tonne to recycle plastic bags. Its resale price for the recycled product? $32. . .  “Besides the financial, the economic cost, you’ve got the environmental cost” of recycling unwanted material. “The trucks running out there, burning fuel … you have to use energy, you’ve got CO2 emissions.”

That’s why curbside recycling requires, wherever it’s implemented, millions of tax dollars to stay afloat: the inputs required are greater than the savings.. . . 

Often the effects of aggressive residential recycling programs harm environmental goals. Citywide blue box programs typically mean a whole new fleet of trucks: Calgary now has 64 more diesel-burning rigs retracing the same tracks its garbage trucks did just a few days earlier, roughly doubling carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants.

Libin gives several more examples of how the benefits of recycling don’t stack up and quotes a study which found that incinerating rubbish with energy recovery was often a better option than recycling.

The article is worth reading in full and confirms my contention that there are good reasons to reduce and reuse but there are serious questions about the benefits of recycling.

December 9 in history


On December 9:

1608  John Milton, English poet, was born.

1787 John Dobson, English architect, was born.

1886 Clarence Birdseye, American frozen food manufacturer, was born.

 Birdseye’s double belt freezer

1897 Activist Marguerite Durand founds the feminist daily newspaper, La Fronde, in Paris.

1899 New Zealand troops fired their first shots in the South African war.

1902  Margaret Hamilton, American actress, was born.

1905 In France, the law separating church and state is passed.

1922  Gabriel Narutowicz was announced the first president of Poland.

1929  Bob Hawke, 23rd Prime Minister of Australia, was born.

1931 The Constituent Cortes approves the constitution which establishes the Second Spanish Republic.

Flag Coat of arms

1933  Ashleigh Brilliant, American writer (Pot-Shots), was born.

 Ashleigh Brilliant

1934  Dame Judi Dench, English actress, was born.

1941 Beau Bridges, American actor, was born.

1950  Joan Armatrading, St. Kitts-born English singer, was born.

1953 John Malkovich, American actor, was born.

1957 – Donny Osmond, American singer and actor, was born.

1958  Nick Seymour, Australian bassist (Crowded House), was born.

1960 The first episode of Britain’s longest running television soap opera Coronation Street was broadcast.

Coronation Street Opening 2002.jpg

1961 Tanganyika became independent from Britain.


1962  The Petrified Forest National Park was established in Arizona.

 Chinle Formation

1968 NLS (a system for which hypertext and the computer mouse were developed) was publicly demonstrated for the first time in San Francisco.

 Videoconferencing on NLS

1979 The eradication of the smallpox virus was certified, making smallpox the first and to date only human disease driven to extinction.

1988  The Michael Hughes Bridge in Sligo, Ireland was officially opened.

1990  Lech Wałęsa becomes the first directly elected president of Poland.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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