15th November 1998
Once upon a time there was a man. His name was Fazackerly. He was a Colonel, so he was called Colonel Fazackerly. One day this Colonel bought an old castle, but it had a ghost. He didn't know about it and no one told him. One evening he was taking a fine sherry. Suddenly the ghost came with a furious flash and a flame. Then it shouted "Beware." But the Colonel didn't get frightened. "My dear fellow, that's really, first class," he said. Then the ghost gave a withering cry. But the Colonel didn't care for the ghost. The ghost shivered and shook with anger. He floated about between ceiling and floor and he walked through a wall. The Colonel was still not at all frightened by the ghost's performance. So the ghost rattled its chains and clattered its bones. And its filled the whole castle with 'mumbles' and groans. But Colonel didn't care and said "Encore." The ghost vanished, when it heard these words. The Colonel was never bothered by the ghost again.
By Maneesha Siriwardana
My favourite person is my grandmother. She is 65 years old. She is short and hunched, with a fair skin. My grandma has no teeth. She has very little grey hair. Sometimes she gets very angry with me but I know loves me at the same time. She also gives me money to buy story books and chocolates. I love my grandmother very much, and I hope that she will live to be a hundred.
My home town is Dambadeniya. It is situated in the Kurunegala District. It is a small and ancient town. There are four communities in my home town. There are Sinhalese, Muslims, Tamils and Burghers. It has many facilities, such as government buildings, shops, telephone booths, post offices, Banks, a public Library and Co-operative shops. It not only has a mosque but also a temple.It has famous historical places. It is beautiful and I love my home town.
M.R.F. Risma Madeena
The ostrich is a strange bird, the largest in the world. It eats stones and iron pieces in order to digest the plants, seeds and berries that form its usual diet. As far as eating is concerned, it is a very greedy bird. Its weight is approximately 130 kgs and it's 2.5 metres in height.
D. Hari Sudhan
To the world of imagination Often did I go I wandered... I roamed... Met the angels, sparkling stars. My palaces were made, Out of gold Thousands of miles In a minute I went The flowers full and fresh The birds in their nests all made me sweet and gay Thunderstorms were unknown to my world, But suddenly! A crash!! Infatuation! It poured like anything into my heart, into my soul, I became blind to all the beauty I became deaf to all the songs The world became more than it was I stopped roaming, I stopped wandering Gazed in one direction Where my soul yearned to go, I sat and waited, Nothing came back the world moved on, leaving me aside And I never saw those sweet things In my world of imagination!
Sunethra Kumari Karunaratne,
Sometimes I hate myself But not always Some times I love myself But not always Sometimes I do foolish things, But not always Sometimes I do important things, But not always. Why I can't I do important things? I try..! Try and try One day.. however I will win the world so till then, Don't laugh at my faults, Teach me everything, Help me everytime. Then I will someday win this world
They shall grow not old As we that are left grow old Age shall not worry them, Nor the years condemn, At the going down of the sun, And in the morning, We will remember them, (Taken from the war memorial in Colombo)
Sent in by:Anuradha Thilakarathna
Accent on shelter - Habitat II
By Uncle D.C.R
Everyone needs shelter. The prob lem of providing adequate housing has long been a concern, both for individuals as well as governments.
With the industrial revolution, a rapid transition from an agrarian to an industrial society took place. Thus by the 19th century people were moving to cities in unprecedented numbers. Workers lived in sheds, railway yards and factory cellars, often without sanitation facilities or water supply.
Housing in developing nations and poor parts of the developed countries continues to be of insufficient quality and does not meet the demands of some parts of the population. At present there is a demand for housing and in most countries, the supply is insufficient to meet the demand.
The primary function of housing was to serve the need for shelter, security and privacy but now it has become more complex. Location becomes an important aspect. Proximity to the workplace, shopping, businesses, schools and other homes has to be considered. Environment is another factor where the quality of the neighbourhood including public safety is of importance.
Most countries have initiated public housing, urban renewal and new town programmes. However, a critical shortage of affordable housing for low and middle income wage earners as well as for the poor and the numbers of homeless people has been on the rise during this decade. Higher home prices plus a reduction in low income housing led to greater demand for rented accommodation which resulted in higher rents and fewer available rental units.
In developing countries, housing demand is largely unmet and many of the population find themselves forced to live in shanty towns, settlements in which the houses are very poorly equipped to deal with basic human needs. Shanty towns offer very little by way of infrastructure; they are usually without water, sanitation, electricity or roads. The grave deterioration of living conditions the world over prompted governments to call upon the United Nations to hold the second United Nations Conference of Human Settlements (Habitat II). Designated as the 'City Summit', the Conference was held in Istanbul, Turkey in June 1996, twenty years after the first UN Conference on Human Settlements was held in Vancouver, Canada.
The overall task of the Conference was to generate worldwide action to improve people's living environments. Adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanising world were the two main themes of the Conference. A Global Plan of Action for human settlements development that addresses the issue facing us in the next two decades was initiated. The Plan focuses on immediate action up to Year 2000.
Human dwellings set in a pleasing environment formed the theme of 15 stamps (five from each UN Centre in New York, Geneva and Vienna) issued on 3 June 1996 to mark the City Summit. Each set of five stamps was a continuous scene and depicted people of different nationalities.
The overall colour used was green to indicate the closeness to environment.The designer was Teresa Fasolino from USA.
Birds have several different life styles. Some always live alone while others are to be seen in groups. Some can be seen only during the day and others emerge at night. There are seasonal changes too. Some birds remain faithful to a particular place all the year round while others stay for only part of the year.
Living alone or together
The one main factor that makes a bird live in a certain way is what it needs to eat. If a food is limited, the birds that eat it will tend to live alone. Birds of prey mostly live in this way. The animals that they require for food are spread out over a wide area, and so the birds spread themselves too. Also, a bird hunting alone is much more likely to take its prey by surprise than a flock of birds hunting together.
Birds that live on plants or on animals that are more numerous will gather in groups. Trees full of berries will attract flocks of thrushes; gulls are seen at harbours seeking fish and scraps of food; and swifts wheel over towns in search of flying insects.
Availability of food is not the only factor. Birds that live together find safety from their enemies. Although a flock may tend to attract birds of prey and other dangerous animals, the chances of an individual bird being caught are low. Furthermore even if danger does threaten the birds can band together and fight or scare away an enemy. Success depends upon some kind of communication between the members of the group. Birds have alarm calls that they give to warn the flock that an enemy is apporaching. They may also have markings that show up when they fly. Thus, if one bird takes to the air, the sudden display of markings alerts the others to the danger and they take flight too.
Day and night birds
Most birds like to be active during the day and to sleep at night. They need the light to find food, and they need the darkness to hide them when they are asleep and helpless. However, some birds like to be up and about at night, when there is no danger from enemies. These birds may not need light to feed. Owls, for example, have such good hearing that they can find their victims in total darkness. Wading birds probe for shellfish and worms and so do not need to be able to see to feed. Dusk brings out flying insects, and insect-eaters such as nightjars prefer to wait until the sun goes down before seeking food.
However, these birds may face a problem when dawn comes. Where are they going to be able to sleep in safety? Owls and large waders do not have much to fear from their enemies, but smaller waders and nightjars have to rely on camouflage to conceal them from predators.
Bird lifestyles often change in spring. Garden birds such as finches and thrushes, that often spend the winter in flocks searching for food, now split up into pairs to raise their young. Sea birds that roam alone in mid-ocean in winter come ashore to raise their families. Changes in food supply trigger off these changes in lifestyle.
In the winter many birds have to wander in search of food, but as the spring arrives, they can settle in one place because there will be enough food to feed their young. Other birds can stay in the same place all the year round, because they do not need just one type of food and will eat almost anything they find.
Many birds do not stay in the same region all the year round. They spend the summer raising their young at their breeding grounds. But as the autumn comes and it gets cold, they find their food harder and harder to find. Instead of wandering to pick up whatever they can find, they make a long journey to another part of the world where food is still plentiful. They remain in these winter quarters until the spring, and then fly back to raise a new batch of young birds. Many birds return to exactly the same place - perhaps even to the same nest - every year. These treks are called migrations.
Many migrating birds are insect eaters, for insects are scarce in winter. Swallows migrate from Europe to Africa, for example, so that they always live in places with a warm climate where it is neither too hot nor too cold, and insects thrive. Many sea birds make long migrations, often crossing huge oceans. The Arctic tern even flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again every year. Other birds make short migrations. Many waders spend the summer inland on moors and in fields, but as winter comes, they go to the sea shore where it is easier to dig for food.
Birds somehow know exactly the right direction to take when they migrate. They probably use the positions of the sun, moon or stars in the sky to find their way.
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