31 December 2009

"Auld Lang Syne"

"Auld Lang Syne" (Scots pronunciation: [ˈɔːld lɑŋˈsəin]: note "s" rather than "z") is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). Robert Burns sent a copy of the original song to the Scots Musical Museum with the remark, “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man". Some of the lyrics were indeed "collected" rather than composed by the poet; the ballad "Old Long Syne" printed in 1711 by James Watson shows considerable similarity in the first verse and the chorus to Burns' later poem, and is almost certainly derived from the same "old song". It is a fair supposition to attribute the rest of the poem to Burns himself.

See lyrics, comparisons, adaptations and pronunciation at Wikipedia.

There is some doubt as to whether the melody used today is the same one Burns originally intended, but it is widely used both in Scotland and in the rest of the world.

Singing the song on Hogmanay or New Year's Eve very quickly became a Scots custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. As Scots (and other Britons) emigrated around the world, they took the song with them. See the influence within cultures below.

Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is often credited with popularising the use of the song at New Year’s celebrations in America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television, beginning in 1929. The song became his trademark. In addition to his live broadcasts, Lombardo recorded the song more than once. His first recording was in 1939. A later recording on September 29, 1947 was issued as a single by Decca Records as catalog #24260.

However, earlier newspaper articles describe revellers on both sides of the Atlantic singing the song to usher in the New Year:

  • "Holiday Parties at Lenox" (Massachusetts, USA) (1896) – The company joined hands in the great music room at midnight and sang “Auld Lang Syne” as the last stroke of 12 sounded and the new year came in.
  • "New Year's Eve in London" (London, England) (1910) – Usual Customs Observed by People of All Classes… The passing of the old year was celebrated in London much as usual. The Scottish residents gathered outside of St. Paul's Church and sang “Auld Lang Syne” as the last stroke of 12 sounded from the great bell.

A manuscript of "Auld Lang Syne" is held in the permanent collection of The Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

And just to add a cross-cultural flavour to our New Year,

"Auld Lang Syne" in non-English speaking countries

  • In Thailand, the song Samakkhi Chumnum (Together in unity), which is set to the familiar melody, is sung after sports, and at the end of Boy Scout jamborees as well as for the New Year. The meaning is about the King and national unity. There, it is commonly believed to be a Thai traditional song.
  • In Poland the Braterski krąg (Brotherly Circle) song is set to the same tune. It is traditionally sung by the members of the Polish scouting movement as the penultimate song during their meetings. The lyrics, loosely based on the original, are widely known for their last two verses that could be translated as By another campfire on another night we'll see each other again.
  • In Pakistani Military, the band plays this song during the graduating parade of the recruits, and in Pakistan generally it is sung (or the melody played) at farewell events.
  • In Bangladesh and Bengali parts of India, the melody was the direct inspiration for the popular Bengali song "Purano shei diner kotha" (Memories of the Good Old Days) composed by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and forms one of the more recognizable tunes in Rabindra Sangeet (Rabindra's Songs), a body of work of 2,230 songs and lyrical poems that form the backbone of Bengali music.
  • In Japan, the Japanese students' song Hotaru no hikari ("Glow of a Firefly") uses the "Auld Lang Syne" tune. The words describe a series of images of hardships that the industrious student endures in his relentless quest for knowledge, starting with the firefly’s light, which the student uses to keep studying when he has no other light sources. It is commonly heard in graduation ceremonies and at the end of the school day. Many stores and restaurants play it to usher customers out at the end of a business day. The national broadcaster, NHK, also plays this during New Year celebrations.
  • Before the composition of Aegukga, the lyrics of Korea’s national anthem were sung to the tune of this song until composer Ahn Eak-tai composed a new melody to the existing lyrics. Like Japan and Taiwan, it is now used in South Korea as a graduation song and a farewell song to friends or at funerals.
  • Before 1972, it was the tune for the Gaumii salaam anthem of The Maldives (with the current words).
  • In Denmark, the song was translated in 1927 by the famous Danish poet Jeppe Aakjær. Much like Robert Burns' use of dialect, Aakjær translated the song into the Danish dialect sallingbomål, a dialect from the northern part of western Jutland, south of the Limfjord, often hard for other Danes to understand. The song Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo ("Should auld acquantaince be forgot" — Scots / "Should old acquaintance be forgotten" — English), is an integral part of the Danish Højskole tradition, and often associated with more rural areas and old traditions. Also, the former Danish rock group Gasolin modernised the melody in 1974 with their pop ballad Stakkels Jim ("Poor Jim").
  • In Zimbabwe, the melody is sung in Shona as a funeral farewell song, "Famba zvinyoronyoro, tichasanganiswa muroa ra Jesu", literally, go well, we will be united in the blood of Christ.
  • In Chile, the melody is sung in Spanish as a funeral farewell song, specially in the Catholic church: "Llegó la hora de decir adiós, digamos, al partir, nuestra canción". ("It's time to say goodbye, let's sing, while we leave, this song". In fact, the melody is known as "Canción del adiós" ("Farewell Song").
  • In Greece it is very commonly sung translated by the Scouts of Greece. It has the name "Τραγούδι Αποχωρισμού" meaning "Song of Farewell" and it is part of the ending ceremony of scouting Camping trips [lyrics url http://www.9sna.gr/songs.php].

30 December 2009

Quotes: on Contentment & Community

Death is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him is not at home.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)

Maybe the greatest challenge now is to find a way to keep independence while also committing ourselves to the ties that bind people, families, and ultimately societies together.
Jane O'Reilly

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead (1901 - 1978)

It hurts to find out that what you wanted doesn't match what you dreamed it would be.
Randy K. Milholland

29 December 2009

Organised & Ready to go!

Did you get a new PDA for Christmas? Did it come with batteries charged and ready to go? Fool proof or with the book PDAs for Dummies?

How about you go and get a pencil and create your own PDA online? You can carry it in your pocket and stay as organised as any human being needs to. PocketMod will serve you well and it is customizable.

Check it out. Fold and start using. What will you do with all the money you save?

rechurch: Christchurch

Check out an amazing web design and what we hope will be an amazing faith community in Christchurch.

28 December 2009

Overwhelmed by the messes

A young friend wrote to me about a brother who has chosen life without God because he did not know how to reconcile a present disappointment with his previous expectations.

I gave the friend some reading
suggestions to prepare for the
conversations we can only hope will come.

I wrote,
"I'm sorry for your sadness and heartache, but God is not done with your brother yet. This may very well be the refining of his faith, making it more real than it could have ever been without this crisis of belief.
Our churches are not well equipped to handle him right now as his questions undermine the formulas and programs we've adopted in place of thinking."

When I realised what I had written, I sighed deeply and did not edit or delete my statement. It stands, generally, true and all too dangerous.

" . . . his questions undermine the formulas
and programs we've adopted in place of thinking."

Discipleship is my passion; for people to follow Jesus so closely that the dust from His sandals settles on their clothing. For people to know Jesus, and be known by Jesus, so they can also know hope, joy and the comfort that, though life is messy sometimes, God is in the mess with them.

Sometimes people are overwhelmed by the messes. Because we do not preach or teach about a God who understands messes, people then tend to think there's something wrong with them or their faith and . . . . they chuck it all out rather than sort it out.

If or when they ask questions, they are often hushed, criticised or ostracised.
Can our God, your God, not withstand some serious questioning?

If not, He's a pitifully small god and not likely to cope with complications, confusion and controversy.

There are no formulas that fit all the time. There are no placebos or clichés or comfortable solutions. There is only a God who is big enough, understanding enough, faithful enough and loving enough to be with me in my messes and love me through them to whatever is on the other side.

There is no formula. There is only relationship with He who knows and who can be known.

27 December 2009

Foolishness or Faith?

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

Cat & Spider?

A bit of New Year fun, though it may not have been fun for the cats.

26 December 2009

Two-on-One: Guitar

Check out Tico Tico done at the Brazilian Music Institute earlier this year.

Amazing stuff and they put the video on Youtube for your viewing and listening pleasure.

It'll make you laugh and, possibly, hold your breath.

Enjoy. (Turn up the volume on your speakers!)

Not too late to be Effective Online

Seth Godin is talking to me, again. I've quoted him in Conversations@Intersections. I even have a feed in the left hand column so you can read his updates and go to his site easily. Notice the inspiration for my photo!

I have very little to say to ADD to the conversation Seth develops in his recent post, but several things to DO as a result.

Yes, I have a blog and am on Facebook. Yes I have been on email for several years and even have more than one e-address. Yes, I tweet now and then, but am new at it and still wondering the real value.

But have I connected my organisation or wider community with a website or email news updates in a systematic and effective way? Nope. Gonna learn new tricks in '10.

All of the following is Seth Godin.

Is it too late to catch up?

What if your organization or your client has done nothing?

What if they've just watched the last fourteen years go by? No real website, no social media, no permission assets. What if now they're ready and they ask your advice? And, by the way, they have no real cash to spend...

Here's a list of my top ten things to consider doing:

  • Use gmail to give every person in the organization that can read English an email address.
  • Use a free website creating tool or even Squidoo to build a page about your company. Nothing fancy, but list your locations, your people (with addresses) and make it clear you want to hear from people.
  • Start an email newsletter using Mad Mimi or Mail Chimp. Give the responsibility for the newsletter's creation and performance to one person and offer them a bonus if they exceed metrics in sign ups and in reducing churn.
  • Start a book group for your top executives and every person who answers the phone, designs a product or interacts with customers. Read a great online media book a week and discuss. It'll take you about a year to catch up.
  • Offer a small bonus to anyone in the company who starts and runs a blog on any topic. Have them link to your company site, with an explanation that while they work there, they don't speak for you.
  • Have the president post her (real) email address in every invoice and other communication the company sends out, asking people to write to her with comments or questions.
  • Start a newsletter for your vendors. Email them regular updates about what you're doing, what's selling and what problems are going on internally that they might be able to help you with.
  • Do not approve any project that isn't run on Basecamp.
  • Get a white board and put it in the break room. On it, have someone update: how many people subscribe to the newsletter, how many people visit the website, how many inbound requests come in by phone, how long it takes customer service to answer an email and how often your brand names are showing up on Twitter every day.
  • Don't have any meetings about your web strategy. Just do stuff. First you have to fail, then you can improve.
  • Refuse to cede the work to consultants. You don't outsource your drill press or your bookkeeping or your product design. If you're going to catch up, you must (all of you) get good at this, and you only accomplish that by doing it.

The problem is no longer budget. The problem is no longer access to tools.

The problem is the will to get good at it.

25 December 2009

Be All There

Wherever you are - be all there.

Christmas Plans

Keep in mind the Int'l Date line and how that affects the calendar . . .

I had lamb roast dinner with Mike & Heather on Wednesday and exchanged gifts with them.
Heather loves spiders & nativity sets. There probably were spiders in the stable Bound to be!

Then to an office Christmas lunch Thursday at an org with which I've volunteered.
Then to friends for the Christmas Eve evening. Maybe a carol service later.

I'll pick up old ladies to take to the Auckland City Mission dinner again this year on Christmas Day.

Then to beach in the afternoon with my book. Then friends coming round in evening.

Only thing missing is kids to
add squeals to the anticipation of what's in the box, but maybe I can get a recording or something . . . .

Lord willing, on 26th, Boxing Day, I'm off on a road trip with friends.

What have you been up to?

Santa's Camels

Santa's Camels Narrative Script

In a desert far away,
children dream of Christmas day.

Flying reindeer they've been told,
since they're two or three years old.

But desert landscapes usually host,
desert camels; billy goats.

Often there you'll also see,
Sand dunes full of mystery.

Cities here are far apart.
Roads are meant for donkey carts.

People here are dark from sun;
A place too hot for everyone.

Nomads here traverse the sand,
Herding goats across the land.

Camels are the car of choice,
Even with their braying voice.

They don't often have to drink.
But they mostly often stink.

But trusty camels are just right,
For crossing deserts in the night.

A night so dark as this one year,
Was sure to dampen Christmas cheer.

A night when wind blew hard the sand,
A night when sky looked same as land.

So dark the brightest reindeer's nose,
Failed to point to desert roads.

In this storm kids still had dreams,
Of Santa Claus and toys and things.

But mud brick houses, tents and huts
Are hard to see through all the dust.

So what could Santa do to make,
A pathway through this desert place?

Santa's in an awful rush;
He can't wait for sands to hush.

Nor can reindeer navigate,
Through the sand at such a rate.

Toys can't wait for storms to pass;
Christmas comes just once, alas!

Santa thought, what he could do
To make sure that he followed through?

"I'll use the camels one and all,
And leave the reindeer in the stall.

"For camels know the way for sure,
They'll lead me on my merry tour.

"And toys will still come to this land.
In spite of wind; in spite of sand.

"My reindeer sure did take their lumps,
for desert gear, I'll take the humps!

"And while the reindeer eat some hay,
Camels drive my sleigh away!"

On Akhmed, on Moshe, on Yosh and Amir,
He drove through the night and the sand without fear.

He slipped through the tents, the brick houses and huts,
He drank all the goat's milk and ate all the nuts.

He left all the presents for children to share,
He did it in seconds, then vanished in air!

The camels had proven their worth in this place,
They rode through the desert as if in a race.

They finished delivering the presents that night,
And Santa said this, before he took flight:

"Dear Akhmed, dear Moshe, dear Yosh and Amir,
I hope you can join me, year after year.

"Your speed in this darkness is way beyond doubt.
Your service to Christmas should earn camel clout.

"You must be exhausted it's making me think,
Go on now, you've earned it, come take a long drink.

"With all toys delivered you've given your best,
Now back to my reindeer who've had a short rest."

As Santa patted each camel's head.
He turned to the reindeer and here's what he said:

"Half of the world is ahead of us boys,
So many gifts; so many toys.

"Don't leave without thanking these camel guys,
If not for them you'd have sand in your eyes.

"So thank them and tell them what they mean to you,
'cause sand in your nose in uncomfortable too.

"So Donner and Blitzen thank Akhmed and Yosh,
And those who hate sand, thank Moshe the most.

"The bond between reindeer and camel is clear.
Wish them Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

"We leave the fair desert with hearts in our hand,
But one thing is certain, we won't miss the sand!"

The camels looked up to Santa and sky,
For camels this evening, learned they could fly.

Till next year they're waiting, their humps in a swell,
For one whole year passes before next Noel. ~

© 12/04/2003

24 December 2009


Hate spiders?

My friend Heather LOVES them!

Check this out!

Christmas Joke on Scrooge

What's Scrooge's favourite Christmas game?


23 December 2009

Israel's Identity Challenge: Questions apply elsewhere too.

This fascinating article by Nathan Sharansky started me on a path of national identity and the cohesive nature of people groups and tribes. The question I've quoted here applies to other countries, cultures and contexts beyond Israel. Your opinions on national and tribal identity?

Click COMMENT below.

Confronting the identity challenge

"What are the emerging threats, opportunities and needs that will occupy our attention and resources for decades to come? The most obvious answer is the existential menace to Israel coming from Arab terror and from Iran. But while that's true, I firmly believe there is another existential threat, too, and it comes not from the outside, but from the inside. In a word, the overriding challenge of the future will be posed by one innocent sounding phrase: identity. The great threat that faces us is mass assimilation, by default, into a homogenized, global culture.

In a world in which clerks in New Delhi answer the phone for Alamo Car Rental in San Francisco, in which national borders seem to evaporate in a blur of McDonalds and Twitter messages - in that world, Israel will be under greater and greater pressure to justify its existence as a Jewish state, and the Jewish people will be under greater pressure to maintain itself as a distinct entity. In such an environment, our future will rise or fall based on our ability to communicate to ourselves, to our children and to the world why the Jewish people must continue to exist as a unit unto itself. If we fail to meet this challenge, we will silently disintegrate from the inside, as surely as if we had been attacked from the outside."

"So, what do you want for your birthday?"

You've asked everyone close to you, "So what do you want for Christmas this year?"

Or you just bought 25 of the same thing and wrapped them all up and gave them out as people came across your path. Either way, you've entered in to the spirit of giving.

What of the birthday boy? Oh, don't be offended by
me calling him that! Loosen up and think about it.
Who's birthday are we celebrating? So how come he doesn't get any gifts? Not fair! Not fair, at all.

I have a young friend in India named Santhosh. He's a generous and kind boy, though life has been less than kind to him. He wrapped up a present for Jesus, just a few thing he liked so thought maybe Jesus would too. I've added a map so you can see where Santhosh is.

What do you reckon would be on Jesus' Christmas list? Hmm?

22 December 2009

Today's List

Car: Done.
Shopping: Done.
Parachute Tickets: Done.
Hair: Done.
Accounts tidied: Undone.
Blog: Done.
Many other things: Undone.
Today: Done

iPod Earbud Speakers

For someone who has everything?

I don't have everything but I think these are really cool!

Wonder what the sound is like?

So awesome. If bigger is better, then these are the best ear buds ever! A surreal sound solution, Giant Ear Buds connect to your PC, iPod or home system via standard headphone jack for stylish stereo playback. Powered by either USB, battery or wall adaptor (not included). Imported. Wipe clean.
* Each speaker: 4"w, 7"h, 3"d
* Plastic electronics

Giant Ear Bud Speakers
Overall Rating3.29 out of 5


Or how about this one?!

Glass act. This undercover flash drive hides 2GB of memory,
all while being disguised as a pair of thick-framed black wayfarers. Flat, lightweight design for portability. Imported. Wipe clean.
* One year limited manufacturer's warranty* Approx 6"l, 1.25"w
* PVC, electronics
* Web exclusive

USB Glasses


A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree

Sung to The Twelve Days of Christmas, but Kiwi Style by Kingi Ihaka 1981
Check the links for humourous or informative tangents
Remember to slow down the line " Five - big - fat - pigs ! "

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A pukeko in a ponga tree

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree

On the third day of Christmas
and so on, until...

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five - big - fat - pigs !
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!

The Waiata group sang this at the Massey University staff Christmas party and then I asked Paul to lead it for us at Carols in the Park @Little Shoal Bay. Super crowd pleaser both times!

Jesus Twitter


21 December 2009

Joseph Shopping for Jesus

Talk about blasphemy & controversy! Last year at about this same time I posted a humourous, though probably offensive to some, spoof on Joseph Christmas shopping for Jesus. The following is an excerpt, but click the link for the full version.

Don't go there if you're going to be offended and
don't be offended if you go there! I warned you!

Joseph to Mary on his iPhone?
"So I'm here now and, let me tell you, the whole concept of hell we've been working with up 'til now - it's all changed babe. I am standing in the middle of it and in hell, I know now, they play Feliz Navidad over and over again.

And there are angry people everywhere and everyone is stressed out and this is not doing my blood pressure any good. And, just to top things off on this most joyous day of days in the season, I have totally forgotten to bring the Lego list with me. I think I left it on the kitchen bench - can you go and have a look for me?

"Yeah, yeah, I'm still here. And guess what, they're not playing Feliz Navidad anymore - hallelujah! Instead we're being treated to Do They Know It's Christmas? Brilliant, when you consider Christmas is the only sodding reason we're all here, so I think we're pretty bloody well aware what time of the year it is, thank you very much! And if 'they' aren't, then they're the lucky ones.

"No, I am approaching this with an open mind and, yes, I did agree to do the boy's shopping this year - even though, as God knows all too well, he's not strictly 'my' boy, is he? No, I'm not harping on about the stepfather-of-the-Son-of-God thing again, I'm just saying, that's all. Can we stick to the Lego wish list issue, please?"

". . . and now they're playing I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus so just really don't tell me, right now, that you knew Santa Claus as well, because I can't be dealing with that stuff right now!

"Look, yes, I'm well aware that I'm buying for both Christmas and his birthday - funny how that turned out - but Christmas isn't all about our son! Okay, yes, on one level it is, but that's not what I'm talking about!"

Originally from James Griffin's, Seeking gifts, I traverse afar, New Zealand Herald, 15 December

20 December 2009

Identity Questions

Identity is an interesting concept to contemplate.

Am I more than my DNA? More than my ideas? More than my output or usefulness?

Am I more than my bank balance? More than the sum of my years, experiences or friends on Facebook?

How do you measure who you are?

An update on my profile:
  • my flower pots - needing attention & repotting.
  • neglected brushes - still neglected.
  • that stack of books - growing, sometimes toppling over.
  • traveling - done that and a bit tired of it right now.
  • Schooling . . . thinking about it.
  • Journalism - writing a blog and updates to project partners
  • InterCultural Communications - everyday in multi-cultural Auckland
  • Theology - focused on a dodgy billboard and the meaning of Christmas
  • last Gig - As Boots, Dora the Explorer's monkey, in a Christmas parade where I didn't mean to bean people with candy, but think I musta as I couldn't see except thru the mouth of the money suit!
  • next Gig - M.C. for L'il Shoal Bay's Carols in the Park on Sunday. What to wear?

Does this give you insight as to who I am?

Who are you?