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The Book of VIrtues - 20th Nov 2017

The Book of VIrtues Stop reading now if you don't think these traits are important: responsiblity, courage, compassion, loyalty, honesty, friendship, self-discipline, and perseverence. However, most of us hope that our children will develop all these qualities. For that to happen, they need examples of good and bad, right and wrong, cowardice and bravery and so on.

A good place to find them is in great works of literature. William J Bennett in The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Sories has collected hundreds of stories into an anthology which offers a rich vein of moral stories dealing with the above character traits; nice clear examples of the ideals by which we wish to live.

The stories come from sources as wide as Aesop's fables, Greek mythology, Aristotelian philosophy, fiction, the Bible and many more. A huge resource for parents and children alike.

Tiny Houses - 17th Nov 2017

You may have read an article in the Otago Daily Times this week about a new series of television programmes featuring British architect George Clarke. He is already well known to many through his various building programmes which have been broadcast on TVNZ over recent years. His new series is set in New Zealand and wants to inspire Kiwis to design and build their own tiny houses.

He has a few tips for making the most of small spaces: storage is crucial; planning carefully is vital; letting in as much light as possible is a must; and think of building up rather than out .

To get in the mood before the programme starts, why not get a copy of Lloyd Kahn's
Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter
It is a real feast for your eyes and it will fire your imagination and feed your dreams. You'll be more than ready for George Clarke.

New Zealand Poetry - 16th Nov 2017

New Zealand Poetry If happiness is a goat with a violin
or any such other
improbable thing,
sadness is always and only 
a man with a guitar, 
his fingers touching its neck,
slowly brushing its strings.

Whose collection of poetry does the above poem come from?
Peter Olds: Under the Dundas Street Bridge
Hugh Lauder: Over the White Wall
Elizabeth Nannestad: If He's a Good Dog He'll Swim
Anna Livesey: Good Luck
Bill Manhire: Milky Way Bar

Not sure? Then pop in and have a look at all or any of the above books and the many more in our New Zealand poetry section (or browse in the online catalogue).

Travel - 15th Nov 2017

Journey into Russia By Laurens van der Post; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy
By Laurence Sterne; Apples in the Snow: A Journey to Samarkand by Geoffrey Moorhouse

What these volumes have in common is the word 'journey'. They all deal with genuine journeys: I mean when someone travels somewhere or goes on a voyage. The word makes one think of historical explorations or feats of physical bravery and endurance, treks, tours, expditions or even cruises. You get a sense of adventure and, essentially. travel.

What kind of journeys do people make these days? They seem to go on fitness journeys or learning (aaargggh) journeys or spiritual journeys or self-improvement journeys or weight-loss journeys. You even hear of journeys through the City Council Planning Department to get a building permit or journeys through the health system to get a consultant appointment.

Let's save the word 'journey' for movement between different physical locations that involves actual travel with some luggage (or even without). Try using a bit of the huge vocabulary offered by English and choosing a more appropriate word for the learning journey.

Men / Women - 14th Nov 2017

Men / Women Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps
by Allan & Barbara Pease

Have a look at this list and decide if you think men or women are better at them:

  • reverse parallel parking
  • doing more than one thing at once
  • driving at night
  • map reading
  • mathematics
  • listening
To confirm that your prejudices are correct and to get a supposedly scientific and biological but humourous explanation for the differences, you need to get a copy of the above book. It's an easy read and claims you will discover the truth about men and women and learn what to do about it.


Would she be proud of you? - 13th Nov 2017

Would she be proud of you? Tamara Sheward and Jenny Valentish (eds)
Your Mother Would Be Proud of You: True Tales of Mayhem and Misadventure

Just as I started to write today's item on the above book, my brain wandered off at a tangent (which it does quite often). The positive thing is that it was a vaguely related topic, which is sadly not necessarily normal for me. This tangent concerns the use of the expression 'I'm proud of you'.

Your mother and father can certainly be proud of you (as they have had a lot to do with most things you achieve). A teacher could be proud of you for passing an exam, for example, as he/she has had a hand in that A grade. You can definitely be proud of yourself as in the main you are responsible for the successes in your life, although it would be rather odd to be proud of yourself for winning the lottery as you've done nothing to deserve it.

Which brings me to the heinous crime of saying "I'm so proud of you" to someone you hardly know. An example is Jesse Mulligan interviewing a world famous classical musician on National Radio recently and saying "I'm SOOO proud of you" when she mentioned a competition she had won. It is condescending, sycophantic and cringe-making. Make sure you avoid this unctuous, oily, insincere use (which just makes everyone think of Uriah Heap).

What's the connection - 10th Nov 2017

What's the connection What connects all of these: a roof, a dunny, a cowshed, a haybarn, a feed silo, a postbox, a mountain hut, a boatshed, a crib, and an architectural fashion statement?

Even those who guessed the connection immediately will enjoy Stuart Thomson's
Wrinkly Tin: The Story of Corrugated Iron in New Zealand
and those who didn't get the answer will be amazed at this A to Z of corrugate. It has far more uses than I've mentioned and if you cast your mind back to any tiki-touring you've done around the country, you can probably add another 10 examples of your own straight away. 

This is a much more interesting read than its title might lead you to believe and given that it is impossible to imagine New Zealand without corrugated iron you might as well learn some more about it.

Art and bookshops - 9th Nov 2017

Art and bookshops There is a lot to be found at 20 Dowling Street. On the ground floor sits the Milford Gallery with lovely windows out onto the street so you get a peek at their current exhibition. On the floor above the Gallery is the wonderful Hard to Find Bookshop where you are always welcome to pop in and browse. On the floor above the bookshop are some artists' studios.

One of these studios belongs to the well known Dunedin painter Sam Foley. He is not only a good upstairs neighbour but he is also a very good artist who is about to have an exhibition. If you are not familiar with his work, you are really missing something. The image on the right of this piece is not a photograph - it is one of Sam's amazing works, a lifelike representation interpreted subtly and uniquely by Sam's eye and hand.

His latest exhibition is called Dowling Street: Paintings In, Of and Around About. You can visit it at his studio (20A Dowling Street) this weekend Sat 11th and Sun 12th November between 12 and 2pm or from Monday 13th to 30th November at the Artist Room Gallery, 2 Dowling Street.

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