Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Generosity Counts

Generosity: It Doesn’t Cost a Penny to Pay It Forward

When we hear the words “giving” and “generosity” we typically think in terms of financial donations. Yet, we have far more to offer than money. For example, we can give people access to our personal network, or leverage our influence to help someone else gain an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have.

In 1792, on a chilly December day in Salzburg, Austria, an unmarried embroiderer gave birth to her third child, a baby boy named Joseph Mohr. The child’s father had deserted the mother immediately upon learning about the pregnancy. The abandoned mother, already short on money, was fined a year’s worth of wages for having conceived a child out of wedlock.

With an absentee father and an impoverished mother, Joseph’s life prospects were dim. This was especially true in the late 18th century, when so-called “illegitimate children” were socially stigmatized. They were routinely denied apprenticeships and educational opportunities.

One place where Joseph felt accepted was at his local church, where he sang in the choir. The cathedral’s vicar, Johan Nepomuk Hiernle, took notice of the boy’s musical talent, and intervened on Joseph’s behalf so that he could receive an education. Joseph did well in school, and he excelled musically, learning to play the guitar, violin, and organ. Eventually, he decided to enroll in seminary.

Joseph’s plans were blocked, however, as his illegitimate birth prevented him from studying for the priesthood. Hiernle again came to his aid, successfully seeking an exemption so that the young man could attend seminary. After completing his studies, Joseph was ordained, and then appointed as priest of a small parish in Oberndorf.

His second year at the church, Joseph scrambled to pull together a concert for Christmas mass. He had written a poem and shared it with a friend whom he asked to compose a melody to go with it.

Joseph’s friend obliged, and together they performed the song for the congregation on Christmas Eve. The tune, “Silent Night,” has gone on to become a holiday favorite, popular with churches and carolers almost 200 years later.
Thought to Ponder
If not for a kind-hearted vicar, who generously used his connections to aid a fatherless, underprivileged young boy, “Silent Night” would likely never have been written or sung. In fact, who knows what would have become of Joseph Mohr without the vicar’s support and guidance?

At some point, I’ll bet someone has generously intervened in your life in order to give you a better shot at success. As a way of honoring this person, take a brief moment to comment on the impact their generosity had on you. How might you be able to “pay forward” their generosity?


I obviously did not write this, but the thoughts are too pertinent to ignore.  I was especially touched in 2013 by the Typhoon Haiyan [ Yolanda] in the Philippines, as I have been through several cyclone events including one similar in intensity to this one.

Truly some thoughtful ideas at this time of Christmas and New Year.  And free!

All the best to readers for Christmas and New Year of 2014. Be generous - however you can.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Nutella - Produced from Australian Hazelnuts Soon

Nutella is a speciality food spread well liked by kids and adults alike.  And hazelnut chocolates are also a bit of a treat.  More of these will be locally produced over the next few years as new production of hazelnut trees start bearing nuts.
A new agricultural industry is emerging in Australia with more than two hundred thousand hazelnut trees now successfully imported from Chile.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said a second consignment of hazelnut trees cleared quarantine on 27 November 2013 thanks to several years of careful planning to ensure biosecurity risks associated with the introduction of new planting stock were managed.

“This sort of collaboration, between government and the horticulture industry, is a model other sectors could draw on if looking to create new agricultural industries and products in Australia,” Minister Joyce said.
“This is a good example of a committed importer who was willing to work through our biosecurity requirements in order to establish a sustainable industry here.

 “Their perseverance has created an opportunity for some of our farmers to diversify and grow this alternative crop, increasing their farm-gate returns and positively impacting their local communities.”
The Department of Agriculture has worked closely with scientists from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Chilean quarantine service and the Australian importer—Agri Australis, part of the Ferrero Group—to import the high-quality hazelnut trees.

The consignments of Chilean hazelnut trees were placed in mandatory quarantine and screened for pests and diseases of biosecurity concern. This group of trees now joins the first consignment which was released from quarantine at the end of last year, and will be planted near Narrandera, in NSW.
 Agri Australis General Manager, Alessandro Boccardo, said working through the biosecurity requirements had been important to fulfilling the business objective – to develop a reliable Southern Hemisphere supply to ensure counter seasonal availability of a high quality standard.

 “The intention is to develop a large scale hazelnut demonstration farm near Narrandera in the Riverina– planting a million trees over 2000 hectares – that will demonstrate the sustainability and profitability of the hazelnut business to Australian farmers and potential investors.
 “By 2022 the modelling forecasts about 5000 tonnes of hazelnuts will be harvested from the demonstration farm – and we’re hoping local growers can match that volume in the medium term,” Mr Boccardo said.  Ferrero, through Agri Austraia is keen to assist other local growers to also plant hazelnuts and to be part of the project to boost Australian sourced nut product for their Nutella production facility in the Sydney area.

 The hazelnut project highlights the role biosecurity plays in facilitating the safe entry of new plant and animal material to improve the competitiveness of Australia’s agricultural industries.
 The department’s role is to protect Australia’s biosecurity status and the environment from pests and diseases, and this underpins the productivity of our primary industries.

 Agri Australis was presented with a Biosecurity Award from the Department of Agriculture for its collaborative approach to meeting Australia’s biosecurity requirements.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Vegetable Powered Christmas Tree

It is getting close to Christmas and this is a good news story about vegetables doing their bit for society.  No, not as food but as a battery......yes, a battery!!
Scientists have used Brussels sprouts to power a Christmas tree in London. 

A battery, made up of a thousand Brussels sprouts, will generate lights on a Christmas tree through the festive season, only using the power harvested from the produce. 

Scientists created the worlds first vegetable powered Christmas tree for Britain's Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair. 

Please click here to read more information.

Brussels sprouts powering a Christmas tree in London