Hey Potter fans, save the date: your word wizardress, JK Rowling is gifting your own personal advent calendar of sorts. From 12 through 23 December, Rowling will publish a new story on the Pottermore site every day at 1pm GMT.
Among "moments from Half-Blood Prince, shiny gold Galleons and even a new potion or two," Rowling's brand spanking new material will include a look at Harry's nemesis, Draco Malfoy. A sworn enemy to Potter throughout the series, Malfoy "later turns away from dark magic as an adult."
This past Halloween, Rowling pulled a similar trick out of her hat and published six essays, including a 5,000-word piece all about that nasty Hogwarts teacher, Dolores Umbridge. Rowling claimed Umbridge was based on a "piece of work" she came across, and thoroughly despised, in real life. Authors get the ultimate revenge, don't they?
As per the Halloween release, giddy fans of all ages will have to answer riddles to unlock the new material online. And in even more Potterific news, Rowling is polishing off screen adaptations of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Every now and then something happens in the the world that causes me to wish for a spaceship to magically appear outside my window, and suck me up. Today is one of those days because the Discovery Channel purported that a man would be eaten alive by a giant snake on TV. And then, when it didn't go as planned, all hell broke loose online because how dare a network lie to its viewers!
Giving charitable presents that keep on giving after you hit "buy" certainly have appeal. I'm a big supporter of items that empower families—like that proverb about giving man a fish and you feed him for a day... "Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." So charities like Plan Canada are close to my heart. But it begs the question: just how ethical are those so-called ethical gifts? And what the bleat happens after you buy a goat?
Plan Canada has seen a few goats in its day, having raised 40,000 goats for families in developing countries in the last decade. But what goes on behind the scenes? Are such gifts all they're cracked up to be?
Goats make a sound investment because they're relatively low-maintenance creatures that can generate wool, milk, and ultimately food. The goats are sourced in local communities, and given to select families within a few months of purchase. The families are then given all the tools and training to build a pen for their 'pet.' Veterinary training is provided, thereby squeezing out the middle man, and giving the owner full power over their animal.
And how does Plan work out the $75 price tag per goat? Well, the dollars and cents don't add up neatly. Rather, the donations are pooled, and families are identified according to need. While, in Zambia for example, male goats cost $200, females cost only $25, and usually three females are bought for every male. The cost also factors in said vet training and pen materials.
Goats are pretty resourceful and hearty creatures. They graze on virtually anything, and have low incidences of sickness, so they're a good livestock choice in terms of return.
“Most programs have a pay-it-forward aspect," said Plan's VP of donor marketing, Jeff Cornett. "The families most in need are delivered a number of goats to start a breeding program. Quite often the requirement is the first baby goat is passed on to the next family in that community, and then the next family benefits from the second generation of goats.”
So goats really are the gift that goes on giving, with goats passed on from one family to the next. And according to Cornett, the communities make "a real celebration" of it."
No kidding! I can now tell my 6 year-old with confidence that we can go ahead and get the goat. He's so tickled and taken by this idea. Though we can't afford the whole herd like he wanted, at least we can buy a goat—or two—in good conscience, knowing the program is well managed from start to finish. And that is something worth celebrating.
Goats not your thing? Check out Plan Canada's gifts of hope.