Ready Steady – Tax Refund?

March 31 marks the end of the financial year. In these times of paying tax by remote control (i.e through PAYE) it can be easy to overlook the fact that you may be entitled to a refund. It is  a good idea to check that you haven’t overpaid your tax or there is something you can claim back like charitable donations.

Before you rush off to the mall and pay someone to do the exercise for you have a go with help from the IRD website. If I can do it so can you.

If you want do delve deeper into taxation matters we have more useful resources to recommend. In fact a quick browse through the catalogue revealed some fascinating titles – Trump University Tax Asset Protection 101: tax and legal strategies of the rich, Tax avoidance law in New Zealand, We’re Here to Help (the film about Dave Henderson and the IRD) and The Paradise Conspiracy.

See our page on tax for more information on taxation.

Don Peebles – Painter (1922 – 2010)

Many other people (such as the formidable Barrs, or William McAloon) will eulogize on the late Don Peebles and his place in both the story of Canterbury/New Zealand art and of his very special role as a teacher and mentor for many artists.

Upon induction as an Arts foundation icon Peebles was described as

A key figure in the emergence and evolution of New Zealand abstract art, Don Peebles was known as a leading force in contemporary New Zealand painting and is one of New Zealand’s most senior and respected practitioners.

Don Peebles: the harmony of opposites Don Peebles: the harmony of opposites is a 1996 catalogue of  a major retrospective of the work of Don Peebles at the then Robert McDougall Art Gallery. With text and curation by Justin Paton, it also contains many plates illustrating the work. Of course if you don’t want to read it online you can also borrow the catalogue in paper.

The Peebles catalogue is one of the many  gems that the Christchurch Art Gallery has digitised over the past few years and offers an insight into a career of one of New Zealand’s pioneering abstract artists.

To find  images of Peebles work you can browse the collections of Te Papa, Christchurch Art Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery via Matapihi.

Farewell Don Peebles.

I’m going to have a Glee-ful Easter

MicrophoneI’m sure I don’t have to tell you again how much I love Glee.  Some of my colleagues share my glee  for Glee and think it’s awesome that I have a desktop background with Mr Schuster and Sue Silvester, while others walk past my desk rolling their eyes and wonder why a guy in his mid-twenties has a fascination with a musical TV show set in a highschool.   I’ve never really cared what other people think of me and I’m happy to admit that I’m slightly obsessed with this show. 

While other people will be going away for their Easter weekend, going to the mall to shop or catching the remaining rays of Summer sunshine,  I will be lounging on my couch having a Glee marathon.  The season one DVD is released this Thursday in New Zealand and I’ll be lining up to get my copy.  I’ll have to apologise in advance to my neighbours who’ll be subjected to catchy pop songs (and my singing) one after the other for an entire day.  I can’t wait!

We have Glee: Season One on order at the library so if you’d like to have your own Glee marathon, or maybe take it one episode at a time, you can place a reserve on it now.

Armageddon – cosplay, comics and cat ears

Photos from Armageddon Expo

So we’ve made it through Day One of possibly the most unusual convention that Christchurch sees each year.  For those who don’t know, Armageddon is a yearly sci-fi/ fantasy/ comic /anime /manga /gamer /f an-based event that runs in two or three cities around New Zealand.  It’s a chance to dress up (or cosplay), to see tv and movie stars, watch anime on a big screen, buy really cool stuff, beat people up with giant inflatable sticks, or just hang out and talk nerdy.  There are teenagers EVERYwhere, and I am very jealous.  They get to wear cat ears, bear suits, capes, wigs and wings, while us grown-ups have to make do with buying steampunk jewellery and talking to internationally famous authors. 

Robert Rankin is here, promoting his latest book Retromancer, and happily having his photo taken with librarians.  We talk about kiwi book events, and he says he is astonished and appalled at book prices here.  No wonder we don’t buy his books in the shops here, he says – he wouldn’t either, at more than $40 for a paperback.  He is charming, and witty, and we rush off to the library to get a FREE copy of one of his books to take home. 

We also stop by the main stage to hear Paul McGann talk about Doctor Who, Hornblower, Withnail and I, Aliens and dozens of other movies and shows he’s been in.  The level of fan love is scary, but also kind of inspiring. 

There are signing tables with voice actors from Naruto, X-Men and Dragonball Z, comic artists Christian Gossett, Michael Allred and Francis Manapul, and, mesmerisingly, a large wrestling ring with mostly naked men leaping around and yelling a lot. 

Best costume of the day:  my pick is L from Death Note, just because he really does look just like him.  Most classic moment:  a fan asks Paul McGann to sing the Doctor Who theme tune, AND HE DOES. 

Day Two brings the cosplay competition, panels with Star Trek and Heroes stars, an Easter Egg Hunt and a giant pillow fight.   And possibly some more of that steampunk jewellery …

Vegetative Anticipation

I’m number 12 on the waiting list for a copy of food writer  Nigel Slater’s book Tender. What a great name for a book about vegetables (in fact classic British vegetables). I love Nigel’s recipes that have appeared over the years in Zest – the Press food supplement. He is also a prolific and excellent writer about food – Toast; the story of a boy’s hunger, Eating for England, The Kitchen Diaries, Thirst, Nigel Slater’s Real Food.

Recently at the Ellerslie Flower Show, New Zealand gardening guru Lynda Hallinan was waxing lyrical about Tender. Lynda is a real enthusiast for growing your own fruit and veg and worked her way through an amazing list of varieties – both modern and heritage.

I’ve just been promised some kale plants to grow over winter – I’m sure Nigel will have some nice suggestions for cooking kale.

Writing advice from top children’s authors

James Moloney and his story board

Last week when I was at the Somerset Writer’s Festival I listened to lots of really great authors talk about their books and writing in general.  I collected some great writing tips for children (and adults) throughout the week and thought I’d share some with you.

  • James Moloney – Just sit at your computer and brainstorm ideas.  When you brainstorm you’re mining for ideas.  You have to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes – this is the key to a great story (and also reminds me of my favourite quote from one of my all-time favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird).
  • James Roy – Entertain your audience by making your characters miserable – conflict is exciting.
  • Patrick Ness – If you have a good idea, wait – ideas always attract other ideas.  No matter what age you are, you are never too young to have ideas.
  • Melina Marchetta – Names are really important in a story and can tell you a lot about a character.
  • Anthony Eaton – Be an absolute eavesdropper and sticky beak, that way you’ll pick up lots of ideas from the world around you.  Also, look at real events and ask WHAT IF?
  • Gus Gordon – Spend lots of time looking out the window daydreaming and imagining weird things happening.
  • Markus Zusak – Take things that happen to you or other people around you and use them in a story, but don’t make it autobiographical.

All of these authors made writing sound really easy to me and I’m sure the children that attended their sessions were inspired.  So if you or someone you know wants to write all you need to do is start collecting ideas and write, write, write.

Hot topic

Earth Hour is just round the corner this Saturday 27th March at 8.30. It has snuck up on me this year, perhaps it’s the disappointment of Copenhagen all the posturing and no result. Although even the most optimistic of those around us did not expect much from that summit.

Skeptical though we may be that world leaders will get it right, we can do our own little bit to show we care. It’s time to turn out the lights and try not to burn down the house by lighting all those candles the kids love.

Did you miss Bob Parker’s free public forum Hot topic – are we being climate smart? It’s not to late have your say on our Christchurch’s draft Climate Smart Strategy at a series of information meetings being held between 24th of March and the 20th of April.

Become informed on these issues and explore our Earth Hour and Sustainable living pages and check out catalogue resources on climate change.

Carbon Neutral by 2020Search the catalogue for The Long ThawGetting Green Done

Come on Christchurch get involved, have your say! Can we make a difference?

Keep in the loop with our newsletters

Everyone wants in on this!
Everyone wants in on this!

There can be no denying that life is busy out there. With the invention of cellphones and email there is no longer any excuse for not being at everyone’s beck and call. Is there no means of a quick escape?

That is where the library can step in. From thrillers to armchair travel, biographies to DIY, we can keep you up to date on the latest titles and recommended reads.

Getting a newsletter gives you the control – find a great read in an area of interest to you and can place a hold on it before anyone else gets their sticky fingers on it.

You can also use our New Titles to find out about new books, new release DVDs, audiobooks, and large print titles. Each Friday our feed of What’s new on our website lists fiction and  non-fiction that has just arrived in the library and titles which have just been ordered.

Come towards the light – subscribe to a library newsletter, check our New Titles and find out what’s new on our website. Reading is your escape and we are the X  that will mark the spot.

Knock me over – it’s the Image of the week

Reconstruction of T. Armstrong & Co. premises, corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets. Circa 1930.

Reconstruction of T. Armstrong & Co. premises, corner of Colombo and Armagh Streets

Do you have photos of Christchurch buildings being demolished, changed, or constructed? We love donations. Contact us

Also contact us if you have any further information on any of the images. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.

Blog on A Blog

I can’t resist anymore – I have to share my enthusiasm for Sciblogs. This New Zealand based network of scientists post on a wide range of topics. What I really like is the standard of the writing. I feel informed about quite complex things. There is sometimes an element of fun  and also some out there controversy. Sciblogs is run by the Science Media Centre which was developed by the Royal Society of New Zealand and is government funded.

As someone who struggled through School Certificate general science with a furrowed brow (although I have memories of a lively and varied learning programme – frog dissection, worm dissection, mixing colourful things over bunsen burners, operating the weather station at primary school) things scientific often were put aside as too hard. But this is wrong – we need to be informed about so many things in our world that affect our everyday lives and good, clear science writing is vital.

Today is Ada Lovelace Day and Sciblogs does include some women scientists and science writers. What they have in common is that winning combination of a passion for science and great skill at communicating it. Try misc.ience (Aimee Whitcroft), Science Life (Rebecca McLeod), Building Blogs of Science (Fabiana Kubke) and more.

In 2006 Britain’s Royal Society published a list of Best Science books ever. Our libraries have many of these titles and some other great science writing. Subscribe to our Next Reads Nature and Science newsletter and we’ll keep you in touch with some of our newest science books.