Okay - the time has come to actually put action to the need to look after the planet. NZ has over 80% renewable energy in the form of (primarily) hydro and (to a lesser extent) wind generation. While the hybrid Toyota Prius V was looking good and had the 7-seats that would be useful, it had no plug-in capability! I know it uses a battery to run the engine but using petrol exclusively to charge that battery seems insanely stupid.
The next model investigated was the Tesla-S. The closest supplier to New Zealand is the Sydney team. However, they are unable to supply the "7 seater added option" because the Australian rules disallow the two back-facing car seats. The Sydney office failed to respond to my email query about whether a car shipping directly to New Zealand cound be exempted. I guess they have more-important people, like Australians, to work with rather than sell to minor countries like New Zealand. The next option is to purchase directly from UK where prices start around 40K including V.A.T. but shipping is bound to be quite expensive. Tesla are an excellent EV with ranges between 400-500km and superb battery technology. We will be hearing much more from Tesla in the future with all sorts of features related to energy storage options.
So, back to an old favourite I've heard a bit of. Nissan made (quiet) headlines when they cut their new car prices by half a year or so back. $40K is the cost of a brand new late model Nissan Leaf which, while not the "machine" that the Tesla is, certainly deserves a look in for New Zealand medium-distance commuters.
Nissan in Hawkes Bay offered $10,000 of their ex-demo model with only 3,500 on the odometer and agreed to ship it down to the South Island free of charge. An equivalent model in Timaru was also available for $7000 off, but I like big discounts so... Mention my name if you read this and contact them - they'll be pleased to know that what they offered me is now public knowledge!
So, this car has a maximum range of 160km (but I intend to beat that with some pretty good driving and car loading). The cost of a full charge is around $6, so that's a pretty good $ per km rate. The cost of getting a 15A plug into the external garage was looking quite steep because of the 600mm trench but JuicePoint have recently imported 8A chargers that plug into any standard NZ plug. They're a bit pricey at $545 (plus delivery and GST!) but effectively double the range of the car's journey as long as you have a friend at the far end. The other thing to improve range of EVs is the network of charging stations being rolled out by ChargeNet - 25 minutes to charge an empty battery to 80%. Also, a group of people have made electric plugs available for slower charging through PlugShare.
Organists throughout the world, unite! Well, maybe starting next month. One of the most committed sins for a professional musician is falling for, "I'll do it, and no - I expect no contribution towards the $33,000 loan I took out to study the instrument." And now, after finally getting my head around the fact that the qualification which cost me so much to gain should start paying its own way, I fall for an old trick from Television New Zealand.
TVNZ are bringing the cameras down to Timaru to do some recordings for Praise Be. As part of that recording, they're recording a combined congregation in the Sacred Heart Basilica. They've been informed that the organists are Josh Anderson, and me. The assumption is made is that, unlike the camera operators, production team, musical director, post-production, actors, fill-in Uncle Tom Cobley who are NOT volunteering their services, obviously the local musicians are! Really? What made them think that? Filming an apple in a TVNZ studio for an hour costs thousands of dollars! Having ME perform on their Sunday morning performances gives me nothing!? I wonder if the local accommodation providers are providing free lodging for TVNZ during their stay?
It is unreasonable for TVNZ to ignore the costs incurred in using professional musicians in their recordings, and I know that I shall not be contributing to their programming in the future.
...starting next month!
Following a less-than-useful application for a series of concerts, at least we're able to proceed with one. The local St Vincent de Paul are fundraising for a new building in Timaru and I think an organ concert could provide a chance to share the message with the folks out there and get some hands into pockets. An hour of organ music - a few serious things and a few fun things - as well as a couple of up-and-coming student performers from Timaru. Also today, Carole Kenealy, a Soprano from Auckland has indicated her desire to come down and sing for the concert - in fact she's already gone and booked her tickets! Says she's been keen to sing inside the basilica for a few years now.
As it happens, the local Community Arts Council is seeking to give out some funding for events "after 18 September" - so this falls into that category. St Vincent de Paul are doing the advertising and other promotion, so I've forwarded the details to them.
Any other keen performers who would like to join in an afternoon of great music making? Now would be a great time to make contact.
So, after the 2013 trial and one year consolodation, Craighead Diocesan School is going with compulsory ownership of iPads at Year 10. Now, before anyone gets upset about cost, these are available new from the Apple Store for $450, which amounts to $110 a year for each of the four years of use they'll use it - less than $20 per subject per year.
Now the serious "fun" begins. Last year's trial team need to convince our colleagues that iPads, when used carefully and thoughtfully, can actually become a seriously useful learning and teaching tool. Teachers are going to have to devote a majority chunk of their PD in the second half of 2014 and through 2015 to learn how to make effective use of these devices.
We will be training teachers to measure the effect of any trials they undertake, how to store and distribute resources (Google Drive and iTunes U), how to communicate with classes (iMessage and Facebook probably), how to provide junior tutoring from senior students (small group iMessage), allow students to record notes, video clips, etc on their devices in one place (Book Creator) and how to manage time and questioning that increases so much when students have access to their teachers so much more easily.
In the 2013 trial the big discoveries were a significant increase in collaboration and communication (face to face as well!) between the students; the students knowing exactly where they were in their learning and where everyone else is - so that they know who to talk to in order to reach their "next stage of learning" and are more engaged in their learning journey; and a more developed ability to use a wide variety of applications to achieve a goal.
The school now has the infrastructure to deal with this next stage in educational technology and learning. 100Mbps (upload and download) over a free Network For Learning fibre connection, as well as 22 Ruckus wireless APs providing Internet coverage throughout the campus and Boarding Facilities.
What a perfect time for the Ministry working group to release a report on Future-focused Learning...
It seems that things have changed since I last applied for funding to support a concert series in Timaru. Way back, I organised a concert for Martin Setchell in Timaru and it was an incredible success. Radio, newspaper and poster advertising around Timaru - it took some big money but was more than paid for by the ticket sales. As well, a free concert for Primary School children filled the basilica and every child got to go up to the organ and play on the manuals as they slipped across the organ bench in a long line, blew in a organ pipe and returned downstairs to their buses.
That concert was supported with a "guarantee against loss" from Creative New Zealand, and that allowed us to be confident that our risk in advertising would not cause personal financial disaster! Twenty years later and now the requirement is that I apply to Creative Communities - supported now by regional councils. Guarantee Against Loss no longer exists - you can only apply for cash.
So, I duly prepare my budget and get quotations for modest advertising, assuming that the best option is to run a SERIES of concerts - surely advertising 4 concerts together can be more effective than advertising only one. Turns out that, with the possible disaster of only getting 60 people for each concert, the budget suggests a shortfall of $1710 for the series! Creative Communities offer $700 ($166 per concert). This is just over half of the normal $300 per concert they've given others recently.
A $1000 personal risk remains. I think it's better to apply for individual concerts in the future...
There's a pretty amazing Pipe Organ in the Sacred Heart Basilica and, following requests from some guitarists, I have inquired about the appropriateness of guitar music in the basilica. It is interested how it is approached by people who have been involved in the two different churches in the parish. Those at St Thomas' Church cannot see anything wrong with having guitars in the basilica; but those from the basilica are vehemently opposed! - in one case, citing writings from Various popes stating that the music must be appropriate for the building.
From Saint Pope John Paul II: Today, the meaning of the category ‘sacred music’ has been broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself. Not all the expressions of music are able to express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church's faith. Consequently, not all forms of music can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations. (Chirograph on Sacred Music, 2003)
Recently, I visited the Catholic Cathedral Parish in Palmerston North, which has a similar building. They have a guitar group, along with other instruments and play some quite "happy-clappy" music - and the congregation seem to enjoy it. (I was hoping for a glorious pipe organ and a choir, as the Musical Director has had plenty of experience in both). Maybe it was only because of school holidays - but the large organ in the gallery remained silent. Pity.
As it happens, there are two weeks at the beginning of July and at August where the 5pm Mass has lost its "organist" and I wonder whether some guitar music might be good for them?
How often do people say, "you have a good ear" I wonder? Well, obviously it refers to your ability to recognise tuning, notice mistakes and general musical skill.
How scary is it when you consider that "a" good ear implies that only one of your two ears is good (an ongoing joke, I have) - but that was something to genuinely worry about last weekend. I lost 80% of my hearing in my right ear for two days. Why? Don't know. Going to find out though.
In the meanwhile, what I noticed was how debilitating it was, musically, to only have "a" good ear. I have decided that my right ear is the one that can hear mistakes and my left ear is that one that only notices good things. During a Sunday Mass, I was playing a number of grand old hymns and I could not hear any mistakes, despite the fact that I occasionally found my fingers sitting on the wrong keys! I wish I had been recording it, because no doubt I developed some interesting harmonies that obviously fitted in somehow.
I've decided that I don't want to become deaf. It is stressful enough being half-deaf, temporarily. No wonder Beethoven was grumpy!
So the Sacred Heart Basilica Choir and Orchestra have been thwarted by an early winter storm with Cantores not able to join us tomorrow evening, due to falling trees, power lines and snow already scattered on the hilltops - as well as a severe weather warning for snow to "near sea level" on the night of the Mass. Well, I say thwarted, but really, that's not a problem for us - it's just a postponement - and we shall be in strong voice tomorrow evening ourselves. I suppose that a delay until about 15 June will give us time to go through Parry's "I Was Glad" and join Cantores in that.
The Sacred Heart Basilica Choir and Orchestra Facebook fan page already has disappointment expressed, including a lovely comment, "I Was Sad" (haven't laughed so hard in a long time!), since a number of the Cantores choir members were friends and family of Timaru folk. Be calm, everyone; we shall prevail! And there is still a stunning choir singing tomorrow night, after all!