O Mio Babbino Caro


Giacomo Puccini would have been 151 today.



Maurice and Robin Gibb were born 60 years ago today.

UPDATE: For something completely different, check out The Heebeegeebees’ Meaningless Songs at Quote Unquote.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1.  Who wrote “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house/ Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .?

2. Who said, about Christmas, “Bah! Humbug!”?

3. What is Peraxilla colensoi?

4. What is a Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae?

5. What was the origin of Boxing Day?

Andrei gets four and a bonus because he was first but his links diverted it to the spam and it didn’t get rescued until late afternoon.

Kismet gets three.

Paul Tremewan gets four and a bonus for imagination.

David Winter is this week’s winner with five and a bonus for humour.

PDM gets one and a bonus for restraint.

Thanks to all of you who’ve taken part, hope you and yours have a happy Chirstmas and that next year treats you well.

Quzes may or may not appear in the next couple of weeks and if it’s not they will resume sometime in January.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

School closure inevitable when roll drops


Thirty years ago there were four primary schools in our valley. Now there’s just one.

The closures weren’t without emotion and often most of it was from people who didn’t have children at school.

One of the reasons cited most by these people was the importance of the school for a community focus.

That might be a benefit of schools but it’s not a good reason for keeping one open when the roll’s dropping, the costs of keeping it open outweigh the benefits and the pupils can get as good an education somewhere near by.

Once a school roll starts dropping it tends to snow ball. Parents become concerned about their children having the same teacher for more than a year and see more opportunities for sport, cultural activities and friendships at a bigger school near by. They transfer their children, the roll drops and more parents become concerned.

By the time our local school closed there were only about 10 pupils at it but it employed a full time principal and four part time staff – a principal relief, teacher aide, secretary and someone who looked after the grounds. The expense of paying them and maintaining the school made the cost per child much greater than when the school closed and the pupils moved to a bigger school just a few kilometres away.

The parents, staff and community here accepted the inevitability of the closure. Some at Aorangi School in Christchurch have fought their school closure all the way to the High Court which ruled that the closure should go ahead.

If the people opposing the closure really care about the pupils and their education they should put the closure behind them and put their energy into making sure the children get the best education possible at their new schools.

Hospices get more money


Otago Community Hospice has received an extra $65,000 in government funding.

National’s Dunedin-based MP Michael Woodhouse said hospices got an extra $15 million in this year’s Budget, and the extra for Dunedin came from the $1.3 million of that which was put aside for addressing difficulties in accessing palliative care services.

Mercy Hospice in Auckland, Franklin Hospice, Hospice South Auckland, Hospice Eastern Bay of Plenty, Waipuna Hospice in the Bay of Plenty, Rotorua Community Hospice, Taupo Hospice, Gisborne Palliative Care Trust, Nurse Maude Hospice in Canterbury, and the South Canterbury Hospice also received a portion of the $1.3 million.

That’s another campaign promise kept.

Summer solstice


Today’s the summer solstice which gives us our longest day and shortest night.

In Dunedin the sun will be here for a second longer than it was yesterday and 4 seconds longer than it will be up tomorrow.

In Auckland the sun would have risen at 5.58 and it will set at 8.40. 

In Invercargill it rose at 5.50 and will set at 9.40. (If everyone lived down there we wouldn’t need daylight saving).

If memories from school geography serve me correctly the earth heats and cools faster than the sea. That explains why it’s usually warmer after the longest day and why it’s hotter in Central Otago than on the coast.

The sun’s shining as I type – for the third day in a row – but it’s only 10 degrees so there’s a lot of warming to do before we have summer weather.

December 22 in history


On December 22:

1550  Cesare Cremonini, Italian philosopher, was born.

1639  Jean Racine, French dramatist was born.

1805  John Obadiah Westwood, British entomologist, was born.

  1807  The Embargo Act, forbidding trade with all foreign countries, was passed by the U.S. Congress, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson.

 A political cartoon showing merchants dodging the “Ograbme”, which is ‘Embargo’ spelled backwards.

1809 The Non-Intercourse Act, lifting the Embargo Act except for the United Kingdom and France, was passed by the U.S. Congress.

1819  Pierre Ossian Bonnet, French mathematician, was born. 

1851The first freight train was operated in Roorkee, India.

1858  Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer, was born.

1885 Ito Hirobumi, a samurai, became the first Prime Minister of Japan.

1888  J. Arthur Rank, British film producer, was born.

1901  André Kostelanetz, American popular music orchestra leader and arranger, was born.

1907  Dame Peggy Ashcroft, English actress, was born.

1909  Patricia Hayes, English actress, was born.

1914 Swami Satchidananda, Yogi and Spiritual teacher, was born.

1916 Peter Fraser, who later became Prime Minister, was charged with sedition following a speech attackign the government’s military consription policy.

Future PM Fraser charged with sedition

1942 Dick Parry, English musician (Pink Floyd), was born.

1948 Noel Edmonds, English game show host, was born.

1949  Maurice Gibb, English musician (The Bee Gees) was born.

1949 – Robin Gibb, English musician (The Bee Gees), was born. 

 1956  Colo,  the first gorilla to be bred in captivity was born.

1962 Ralph Fiennes, English actor, was born.

1963 The cruise ship Lakonia burns 180 miles north of Madeira with the loss of 128 lives.

An early photo of the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

1964  First flight of the SR-71 (Blackbird).

1965 A 70mph speed limit was applied to all rural roads in Britain, including motorways, for the first time. Previously, there had been no speed limit.
1974  Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli voted to become the independent nation of Comoros.

1978 The Third Plenum of the 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Beijing, with Deng Xiaoping reversing Mao-era policies to pursue a program for Chinese economic reform.

1989 After a week of bloody demonstrations, Ion Iliescu takes over as president of Romania, ending Nicolae Ceauşescu‘s Communist dictatorship.

1989 – Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opened after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany.

1990 Final independence of Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia after termination of trusteeship.

  • 1992Archives of Terror  – archives describing the fates of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay – were discovered by  Dr. Martín Almada, and a human-rights activist and judge, José Agustín Fernández. This was known as Operation Condor.
  • 1997  Acteal massacre: Attendees at a prayer meeting of Roman Catholic activists for indigenous causes in the small village of Acteal in the Mexican state of Chiapas werre massacred by paramilitary forces.

    2001 Burhanuddin Rabbani, political leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, handeed over power in Afghanistan to the interim government headed by President Hamid Karzai.


  • 2001 – Richard Reid attempted to destroy a passenger airliner by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes aboard American Airlines Flight 63.
  • Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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