May your Christmas be happy

December 24, 2013

For many years Christmas Eve has been one of my favourite days.

I knew I was growing up when I was allowed to go to the late night church service which finished with a candle-lit procession outside, singing the last carol, to take Christmas to the world.

When the children were small, when they were sound asleep, when the pillow cases had been filled,  I revelled in the peace as I was left to make the pavlova and complete other preparations for Christmas Day, uninterrupted, to the quiet accompaniment of carols.

One of the most memorable recent Christmas Eves was spent in Argentina, with our friends and their large extended family. There the major celebration is on the evening of the 24th, culminating with the arrival of Papa Noel, at midnight, carrying a sack with one present for each child.

Christmas Eves there, and here, have provided the opportunity to be grateful that for the gifts that really matter, and not just on Christmas Day – loving family and friends.

Wherever, and however, you’re celebrating, I hope you’re similarly blessed.

May your Christmas be happy and may 2014 be kind to you and yours.

 


Word of the day

December 24, 2013

Meraki – doing something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself into your work.


What’s your favourite carol?

December 24, 2013

There are some beautiful Christmas carols.

Silent Night, O Holy Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Away in a Manger, When A Child is Born, Little Drummer Boy . . .

But if I had to choose just one, it would be Te Harinui.

My mother chose it for her funeral, and I always remember her with love and gratitude when I hear it.


Rural round-up

December 24, 2013

Proactive approach prevents dog fight – Sheryl Brown:

As a battle about water quality rages between farmers and regional councils throughout New Zealand, a group of farmers in the Lake Rerewhakaaitu catchment have drawn nationwide attention through a proactive approach.

Nestled under Mount Tarawera, Lake Rerewhakaaitu is the southernmost of the 12 Rotorua lakes and is surrounded predominantly by dairy farms.

In 2001 a report by Bay of Plenty Regional Council showed nutrient levels in streams flowing into the lake were increasing.

The report suggested tightening dairy disposal consent conditions and setting a ceiling level of nitrogen fertiliser application. . .

Talley’s to lift Open Country stake to as much as 70.5%:

(BusinessDesk) – Talley’s Group, the privately-held maker of foods ranging from frozen fish to ice cream, agreed to buy up to 14.99 percent of Open Country Dairy from Singapore’s Olam International for as much as $46.5 million.

The deal would lift Talley’s holding of the dairy company to as much as 70.5 percent from 55.5 percent, increasing its control of a business that returned to profit in 2012 while tapping shareholders for funds to repay debt. The sale price is close to the current carrying value of the investment in Olam’s accounts, it said.

Olam’s stake would reduce to as low as 10 percent, leaving it as the second-largest shareholder just ahead of Dairy Investment Fund on 9.99 percent. Talley’s is required to make a partial takeover offer under the terms of the Takeovers Code and its transaction with Olam will be a combination of direct sale of shares and acceptance of the offer, Olam said. . .

Santa delivers farmers the perfect weather present:

While holidaymakers may not be relishing widespread rain over Christmas, it will certainly bring a smile to many farmers one-third of the way into summer.

“The guy in the big red suit is delivering farmers the best present; widespread rain,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson.

“Farmers won’t have an excuse to get out on-farm but will instead have to get stuck into wrapping last minute presents. Aside from essential jobs on-farm, a few day’s weather enforced relaxation with family is the best way to recharge the batteries. . .

Scholar slams stubble burning as bad for soil – Tim Cronshaw:

A Nuffield scholar visiting Canterbury, who would never burn crop stubble on his farm, has criticised the worldwide practice.

Arable farmer Tom Sewell, who grows crops on a 400-hectare farm in southeast England, was one of two scholarship holders studying the long-term benefits of no-tillage in New Zealand.

He left for Australia a week ago convinced farmers could avoid stubble burning, banned in his home country.

“There are loads of problems with it. In the UK it would be a [non-runner] in public relations and would be a shot in the foot. The public perception is it’s bad for the environment, creating carbon dioxide and it’s burning a valuable carbon source for the soil and losing organic carbon.” . .

30 animals on offer at NZ’s first annual game sale

The efforts of South Canterbury man Neville Cunningham, to have game animals such as red deer and white tahr recognised as being of value rather than simply termed a pest to be eradicated, came to fruition yesterday when he staged New Zealand’s first annual game animal sale.

The sale, held at his Timaru property, offered 30 animals by tender including a black tahr and a white tahr, chamois, trophy elk bulls, trophy red stags, a highland bull, two bison and arapawa rams.

All the animals have been bred by Mr Cunningham at one of his two properties, at Timaru or Aoraki/Mt Cook and some, such as the white tahr, have come from animals originally recovered from the bush, but now part of a managed breeding programme. . .

Two new farmer directors elected to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board:

Two new farmer directors will join the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board after the annual meeting in Feilding on 14 March 2014.

They are Waikaka Valley farmer, Andrew Morrison who will represent the Southern South Island electorate and Wairarapa farmer, George Tatham who will represent the Eastern North Island electorate.

They were both elected unopposed.

They replace Beef + Lamb New Zealand directors who had not sought re-election. . .

Bumper crop boosts NZ apple and pear exports:

The largest crop in nearly 10 years has allowed apple and pear growers to crack the $500 million mark for exports.

The pipfruit industry believes the result has placed it on track to reach its export target of $1 billion by 2022.

Pipfruit New Zealand Incorporated (PNZI) chief executive Alan Pollard said the economic impact of apple and pear exports on regions was “extraordinary”.

“North Island centres such as Hawke’s Bay received $350m in export receipts, up $100m on 2012, and South Island centres such as Nelson have received $150m, $50m more than 2012,” he said. . .

The master has not finished just yet – Hugh Stringleman:

The world’s greatest competition shearer believes he has at least one more successful year left in him.

Five-time world champion David Fagan, 52, wants to add to his tallies of 16 titles each at the Golden Shears and New Zealand Shearing Championships.

At the Te Kuiti-based NZ championships David has reached the open final 28 out of 29 times, and the 30th edition in March will provide the best-possible stage for his last hurrah. . .

How do politicians manage to believe such things? – Tim Worstall:

I’m slightly boggled by this statement:

Tim Farron, South Lakes MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary hill farming group, said: “We need to do all we can to support our farming industry, particularly in the uplands where life can be a real struggle. This support and funding could make a massive difference to upland farmers throughout Cumbria and help show the next generation that there is a real future in a career in farming.”

It appears to me to be an example of cognitive dissonance. For we’re also being told this about that same occupation: . .

Vineyards on sustainable, diverse path:

A rapid rise in exports fuelled New Zealand wine industry growth in the 1990s and the industry recognised it needed a proactive approach to sustainable production.

Considerable research led to a holistic programme that eventually became known as Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.

All but 6% of NZ’s producing vineyard area is certified under the Sustainable Winegrowing NZ approach, with a further 3-5% of operating under certified organic programmes.

Members are committed to protecting the unique places that make the country’s famous wines by reducing the use of chemicals, energy, water, and packaging and wherever possible reusing and recycling material and waste. . .


Last Minute

December 24, 2013

https://i0.wp.com/www.storypeople.com/productImage/SPP0296.jpg

I have to buy all my presents at the last minutes, she said, or I get too excited and just give them away.

Last Minute

©2013 Brian Andreas

From Story People by Brian Andreas.

You can sign up for a daily does of whimsy like this by clicking on the link above.


200m hours

December 24, 2013
Glass ceilings aside, millions of women are prohibited from accomplishing little more than survival. Not because of a lack of ambition, or ability, but because of a lack of safe water and adequate sanitation. Millions of women and children in the developing world spend untold hours daily, collecting water from distant, often polluted sources, then return to their villages carrying their filled 40 pound jerry cans on their backs.
An estimated 200 million hours are spent each day globally collecting water.
Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the vast majority of households (76%). This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family members, or attending school.
In A Town Like Alice, the main character Jean uses some of her inheritance to dig a well for the women of the village where the British women prisoners lived because she realised the difference it would make.
That book is fiction and was written more than 60 years ago but there are still all those millions of hours wasted now in real life because people don’t have easy access to water.

5/12

December 24, 2013

A sorry 5/12 in NZ History Online’s Christmas quiz – most questions are pretty obscure, would help to read the references first.


For someone who has everything . . .

December 24, 2013

A tubemaster from Brix.

It’s a simple idea and it works, not just to get the most out of a tube but also to save arguments about who squeezes it how.

blix 2

blix 3

blix

blix 1

It does not, however, solve the problem of people not putting the lid back on.

That will have to wait for another clever invention.


Police give new alcohol laws green light

December 24, 2013

Police have given an interim green light to new liquor laws:

Inspector Ben Offner said Police were called out to less alcohol related harm events over the weekend than in previous December weekends.

“It is very early days,” Mr Offner said. “But the signs are positive that the legislation will reduce alcohol related harm in our community.”

“Police’s focus is very much on prevention rather than enforcement. The new legislation gives our officers more tools to prevent violence and alcohol related harm from occurring. ”

“We believe shorter opening hours, on-the-spot fines and stricter enforcement of under-age identification will in time all reduce alcohol related harm.”

The new legislation came into effect from one minute past midnight on Thursday 19 December.

The most visible changes include:

· off-licenses must close by 11pm

· on-licenses must close at 4am

· Police officers will be able to issue alcohol infringement offence notices (AIONs) for a range of new offences, including breach of local alcohol bans, lending ID to an under-18 year-old, and presenting a fake ID ($250 per offence).

Bars that serve intoxicated people, or allow them to remain on the premises while intoxicated, risk a fine of up to $10,000. Police throughout New Zealand will use an “alcohol assessment tool” to make consistent assessments of whether a person is merely under the influence of alcohol or “intoxicated” as defined in the Act.

Mr Offner said it is too early to evaluate the cumulative effects of all these changes but it is clear that young New Zealanders will need to adjust their schedules to accommodate the new laws.

“We expect there to be a period of adjustment and our focus will be on education and prevention during the busy summer period ahead.”

Mr Offner said the Auckland and Wellington City Council’s had been instrumental in creating a smooth transition over the weekend by providing more public transport and helping to educate bar owners and customers of their new responsibilities.

One change not mentioned in this report is the ability for police to give spot fines to drunks.

That puts the responsibility where it should be – with the person who’s drinking too much and causing problems because of it.


Presbyterian approach to recovery prudent

December 24, 2013

The ODT opines:

Even though the Treasury forecasts have been notoriously cautious for many years, there is a general feeling within the business and economic communities that New Zealand is about to start a purple patch of economic growth.

With the economy set to grow by 3.6% in the coming financial year, followed by annual growth of between 2.1% and 2.4% for the following two years, New Zealand’s economy may well be the envy of many in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. Mr English is rated with restoring the Crown accounts to surplus and doing more than his fair share of the heavy lifting on policy by the publication Trans Tasman. The deputy prime minister has driven reform in the state sector to use resources more effectively and deliver higher quality services. In the House, he has become a commanding performer, blunting Opposition attacks. . .

In past times of good fortune, government finance ministers have come under strong pressure to try to ensure re-election by making big-spending election promises. Those times have hopefully passed. The importance of having a sound economy, the growing of employment, certainty for businesses and households must overshadow the individual ambitions of politicians. . .

We must take the opportunity the sunnier outlook provides to make hay and put away a good harvest like good ants rather than squander it like grasshoppers.

The Southland Times also combines praise with the need for caution:

A slew of economic reports in the past week or two have shown an ever-sunnier view ahead for New Zealand, and especially Otago and Southland.

Business New Zealand’s latest surveys of services and manufacturing sectors showed strong expansion under way across the country but with stellar scores Otago-Southland region far eclipsing all other regions. In Westpac’s survey of regional economic confidence Southland scored second highest. . .

It is not hard to pick the source of the extra optimism here in the south. Take a bow, Mrs Cow. . .

The glow from the white gold is spreading throughout the economy, earning money and creating jobs not just on-farm but in servicing and supplying them and the people who live on them.

Treasury is forecasting economic growth next year of 3.6 per cent.

Barely a day later Statistics NZ announced that a 17 per cent surge in agricultural production had helped growth to hit 3.5 per cent already. Higher than Australia.

We can laugh at that, but it should be remembered that it is not unusual for New Zealand to grow faster than Australia, or even beat them at cricket. The problem is that it always proves a one-off. While the Kiwi economy puts on bursts of speed, the Aussie trucks along steadily and just like the fabled tortoise, wins the race.

Just as on the rugby field, the champion team is the one that performs consistently, week-in, week-out, not the one that plays the occasional blinder, then falls apart a week later. Graphs of New Zealand’s growth rate tend to be too much like Fiordland’s landscape: leaping and plunging in a fashion adventure tourism operators might appreciate but stolid Southlanders should not.

In the past, the attitude of both individuals and Governments has all too often been “Great! Crisis over. Lets go back to the bad habits that created it.”

That would be easy and wrong, not just for individuals but the country.

That is an important  message for the run-up to next year’s election.

A change in government would undo all the good that’s been done and take us back to the over taxing, over spending policies of the Labour-led government which put the country into recession before the rest of the world.

We still carry too much debt. We continue to run nasty current account deficits. And the evidence is that Aucklanders at least have not yet cured their mania for property bubbles.

It is easy to go on a diet, to quit smoking, to start saving for the future. The harder part is to keep doing it. The reward for losing a kilogram is a cream cake. And all too quickly, the old habits return.

The secret to sustained economic success is not a bottle of miracle oil, or a lucky puff of the economic trade winds. It is discipline and perseverance.

Solid southern men and women know that. We should set an example for those northerly types: eat the cupcake, but sell the cream.

We can celebrate the purple patch but can’t afford to squander the opportunities it will provide to strengthen the economy and help people most in need.

As the ODT says:

. . . Balancing the budget is important. Taking on less debt is important. Ensuring business confidence leads to job growth is important. Ensuring social justice remains a key part of the country’s psyche is important. Mr English knows the challenges. In 2014, he must balance the needs of the Government with the needs of the people.

A Presbyterian approach to the recovery is prudent and necessary to ensure we don’t return to the bad habits of the past and to provide weather-proofing to help us withstand the next storms.

The need for this isn’t just economic but social. A strong economy is the only sustainable way to provide first-world health, education and other services that address the needs of the people.


December 24 in history

December 24, 2013

1754 George Crabbe, British poet and naturalist, was born  (d. 1832).

1777  Kiritimati, (Christmas Island) was discovered by James Cook.

1814  The Treaty of Ghent was signed ending the War of 1812.

1822 Matthew Arnold, British poet, was born (d. 1888).

1865  Several U.S. Civil War Confederate veterans formed the Ku Klux Klan.

1880  Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist, children’s book writer and creator of Raggedy Ann was born (d. 1938).

1893  Harry Warren, American composer and lyricist (Chattanooga Choo Choo – I Only Have Eyes for You), was born (d. 1981).

1905 Howard Hughes, American film producer and inventor, was born (d. 1976).

1906  Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.

1914  World War I: The “Christmas truce” began.

1922 Ava Gardner, American actress, was born (d. 1990).

1923 George Patton IV, American general, was born (d. 2004).

1924  Albania became a republic.

1927  Mary Higgins Clark, American author, was born.

1941  World War II: Hong Kong fell to the Japanese Imperial Army.

1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander.

1946  France’s Fourth Republic was founded.

1948 Frank Oliver, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

1951 Libya became independent from Italy. Idris I was proclaimed King.

1953 Tangiwai railway disaster – The worst railway disaster in New Zealand’s history occurred on Christmas Eve 1953 when the Wellington-Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River, just west of Tangiwai in the central North Island. The accident happened after a railway bridge was destroyed by a lahar.

Tangiwai railway disaster

1955  NORAD Tracked Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.

1957 Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, was born.
1961 Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, was born.
1968 The crew of Apollo 8 entered into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures that became the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history.
1969– Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, was born.

1974  Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin.

1979 – The first European Ariane rocket was launched.

1997 – The Sid El-Antri massacre (or Sidi Lamri) in Algeria killed 50-100 people.

2000 – The Texas 7 held up a sports store in Irving, Texas,  Police officer Aubrey Hawkins was murdered during the robbery.

2003 – Spanish police thwarted an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid’s Chamartín Station.

2005 – Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declared a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.

2008 – Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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