Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Surprising facts about Happiness

I was reminded this morning about a lot of resources that can help us be happier whether times are tough or whether they are good.  They all work on the premise that happiness is a practice rather than just good luck.
Here are some great resources from psychologists and others to help you find out more and try out some of these ideas and enjoy life that little bit more. 

Here is psychologist Dan Gilbert being interviewed by Chris Anderson of Ted on the surprising science of happiness  

And here are thirteen of the best TED talks on happiness  There is a link in this article to even more talks on the same topic.

This podcast series offers heaps of ideas about being well and keeping it that way. 

This video A good day is hard to go past if you want to see day to day things in a new light

And of course there is our very own All Right campaign for tips on maintaining your wellbeing whether in difficult times or in good ones.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Economy in post lock down

As the economist Kate Raworth puts it in this video discussion , the economy is the way we provision for our wants and needs and that can be done through:

  •  Public provision (what local and central governments provide),
  •  Market exchange (what we buy and sell),
  •  Household relations, and
  • The commons – all the activities that involve communities and resources created and /or held and maintained by those communities for those communities -

This means that we should think not of The Economy but rather of many different economies that we participate in.  Not all economies are purely money based – In some cases they may be gift based and /or reciprocity based.  The way these different economies collectively provide for our wants and needs varies over time and we are seeing that clearly now.  Household production and public provision are much more important than they were before lockdown.  

We are seeing more focus on household economies.  Examples are more people baking rather than buying bread, people are painting their houses rather than getting someone in to do it, and an increase in the numbers who are starting to grow veges in the back yard. 

Public provision:  Likewise, we are seeing government step in to provide a lot of public resources to provide for the needs of people who find themselves unable to work.

Over the last decades, the market economy has taken over things that used to be supplied by our commons. For example, we often pay for babysitters rather than reciprocating with our neighbours.  We buy recreation that clubs once provided, we throw out food or produce when it could be shared – we buy rather than borrow tools or books which then sit in our sheds or on our bookshelves unused or unread for months and sometimes years at a time.  It is no longer common to share transport with people. 

All this has increased our need for money.  However as the market and our just-in-time systems struggle to deliver what we need, it might be a good time to remember that a lot of our needs can be taken care of by getting to know and trust people around us, by working with others to set up local share resources and even to share work that needs to be done.   All this is essentially starting to think about how to build (or perhaps rebuild) local commons. 

Communities around the world have developed a wide range of commons - much wider than the ones we saw in past generations.  For example, we might be able to develop financial commons (such as the Grameen Bank or local savings pools),  We could use a Timebanks to ask for and offer time and skills.  We could grow more locally produced food in community settings, increase access local food growers through local markets,  share knowledge and skills, create recreational opportunities through clubs,  share tools and make our local book and food sharing spaces hum.   

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Creating Commons

In my last article, I talked about commons as physical resources - Water, land, air etc.  
In this post, I will talk about how we as a community create commons and how we might create more.   

As we come through this period of lockdown, it is becoming clear that many of the things that we might think of as individually owned are actually often part of a commons.  Our health is an example - Maintaining the health of people who already face health issues turns out to require collective action.  Likewise, our collective work (which many of us haven't been able to do during lockdown) creates and maintains our economy.   In many different ways we rise and fall with those around us in our community.

Our capacity to work together and pool resources is a superpower that we can learn to use more!   Our collective adherence to lockdown has halted the spread of the Corona Virus that has overwhelmed health services and led to people being buried in mass graves in other countries.  Our capacity as a nation to do this has made a huge difference to the quality of life and death in this country at this time.
Now we need to use that same superpower to recreate an economy that supports all of us.  And we can help with that, like other communities through history, by creating and maintaining our commons.
Some examples of the sorts of commons that communities have created include:

Food commons:  
Community gardens and similar are an obvious example of this.  Incredible Edible Todmorden is another example as you can see in the video below.

Alongside this, it is good to have ways for people to share or swap any surplus, and/ or to learn new skills associated with preserving food. 

Financial commons:  
For most of us, our money and the way we manage it is something none of us talk about and that we do in a very individual way.  That means we never learn anything new and we are confined to what we can do as individuals.  This doesn't have to be way it is!  

A growing number of people around New Zealand are working together with people they know (families, groups of friends, groups of neighbours) to help each other save, and to pool resources so that they can do things like:
  • Helping each other cover unexpected costs like having to go to the doctor or fixing a car or a house.  
  • Helping members to pay off highly expensive credit card debt (and save on the huge interest that credit card companies charge when you don't pay in full each month) 
  • Investing in resources that might save money that could be then reinvested in saving for similar resources - eg funding electric bikes (which save heaps on car running) or electric cars (which save on petrol costs).
  • Helping with funding to set up a new business.
Check out Savings pools on this website to find out more.

These kinds of pooled resources don't have to be money - Some communities are setting up sharing schemes that might work a little bit like cheap hire schemes but where members can borrow or rent anything from cars from a shared pool, tools, kitchen equipment, craft equipment or whatever members are interested in.  This can save people a huge amount of money and yet provide good access to the sorts of resources people might only need from time to time.

These are another way people have joined together to help their members by sharing costs and profits while also providing goods and services.  You can find out more about these on the Living Economies Website

These are just a few examples of the kinds of commons that may be useful particularly in economically tough times.  

If you have found any of this interesting check out this NZ doco which provides some examples of the things people are doing and have done around this stuff. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Marshmallow Easter eggs recipe

Make moulds by spreading flour into a meat dish, make the mould indentations by using an egg (boil the egg first and cool if little ones are making the moulds) or deep dessert spoon.

1 T gelatine
½ C hot water
1/2t vanilla
1/4C cold water
1 cup sugar
1 t lemon juice

Put cold water in a bowl, gradually stir in the gelatine, let stand 5 minutes. Put hot water and sugar into a large pot, stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the gelatine mixture, stir over low heat until the gelatine has dissolved. Bring to the boil, boil gently for 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm. Add vanilla and lemon juice, beat on high speed till thick and creamy but still pouring consistency. Colour if desired.

Spoon or pour the mixture into the hollows and leave to set. Put into the fridge to help them firm up. Lift off gently and shake off excess flour. The tops will still be sticky to join them together.

Chocolate coating.

125gm dark chocolate and 60gm kremelta.
Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler, add kremelta, stir till melted. Remove from heat, cool till lukewarm. Using a fork, dip each egg in to coat evenly. Drain off excess. Roll in coconut or decorate as desired.

Refrigerate until set.

Other recipes can be found on Yummly, a site that searches the web for recipes so you don’t have to.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Online resources for kids

Here are a few resources that you might find useful or fun or both to help with staying at home over the next few weeks with kids.  Many of these link you to multiple resources and are well worth exploring.  My personal favourite is the Radio NZ link althought the lockdown diary is pretty cool too.  If you have other sites you have found useful then share them in the comments below.  We'll try and update this page when new stuff comes to light.

https://blog.doublehelix.csiro.au/       Australian science site great things for kids to do. Scroll to bottom of the page and click through – 64 pages of interesting things to do.

http://www.microbehunter.com/online-virtual-microscopes   Online free microscope

https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/578-sound-detectives     Science learning hub

https://www.ted.com/playlists/86/talks_to_watch_with_kids     TED Talks for kids also for adults

https://www.wisebread.com/8-amazing-board-games-you-can-diy  Make our own boardgames

https://familyeguide.com/boredom-busters-110-fun-at-home-activities-for-families-kids-2/ Ideas for Kid’s activities

https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/diy-board-games-4173048 Some interesting games to make.

youtube   has links for just about anything you want to hear, learn or watch https://www.youtube.com/


Thanks to Sylvia Lukey for sending in the above links

Check out this lockdown diary put together by a local Christchurch artist.  It can be downloaded and printed free of charge  from https://www.mylockdowndiary.com/

Check out Radio NZ's  resources   This news item provides links to a huge range of resources for kids from art to science and from stories and cooking.

Check this out for some inspiration - an article on cooking when you are stuck at home during a coronavirus quarantine

This link has some advice about helping kids to be active

This is a site National Geographic has set up with activities and articles for kids to read, see and do.

Kidspot has a whole bunch of stuff for both mums and kids from fun activities to advice on how to look after yourself


Google Animal Cams or animal webcams to check out live animals in zoos etc around the world.  Remember thought that you may need to time these right - If you can't see much it's because it is dark!  This site provides a collection of animal cams

This comes into the by kids for kids category.  Eight year old Sophia has set up a youtube channel with some ideas for activities over the period of the lockdown.



Resources for everyone at home for an extended period


Although the Halswell Library Te Hāpua is now closed for the next month at least,there are still many resources that you can access with your library card online.  AND you can also get a library card if you don't already have one!
You’ll need a library card and PIN number to access most of the eResources. No card? No problem, sign up online now.

If you need help, use the online chat service, LiveOnline, or call 03 941 7923. 



Christchurch City council sport and recreation have a number of online classes available to help you work out at home.  Scroll down this page to check out the different options and if you like these you might like to join in real time each day.

https://youtu.be/gHUVJKkjmSY   dance exercise


Check out thousands of podcasts on every imaginable topic here
and listen to a few of them.

Here are some interesting sites sent in by Sylvia Lukey 



Te Papa Museum 

Christchurch Art Gallery

Guggenheim Art Gallery

Tate gallery London

New South Wales Art Gallery

Learn about our night sky from these websites:


World wide telescope

Skillshare  and Creative Live both offer a range of options for trying new stuff and learning how to do new things some free and some paid.  ‎  

 An article from Consumer on self–isolation and how to survive using technology. Good tips!




Sign up free with Duolingo  or other language learning platforms and try learning a new language

www.coursera.org Some of the world’s leading Universities and organisations offer nearly 4000 free courses on science, arts, engineering, health, languages and more (including these new ones on COVID-19). Taught by enthusiastic lecturers who like to teach, they go from beginner through to degree level. 
Hint – most courses are free, but even the courses with a fee can be taken for free by selecting the ‘audit’ option at the enroll page.

Free on line learning at MIT-  Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Harvard University – some interesting free courses.

From a Stanford University experiment

here are some links to music 

NZ musicians 

Documentary about Cellist YoY o Ma. A wonderful documentation of what music is all about. 



Like movies?  Check out this website here and search for any movie to find out where you can get it and what it will cost.  



Thousands of topics and speakers to choose from here


Check out these craft projects