Monday, June 30, 2008

Deadly Fish And Other Poisonous Things.

There was an article in the herald Sun Newspaper on June 19 about a couple of deadly critters at the Melbourne Aquarium. One was a beautiful eclectic blue poison arrow frog; whose skin oozes a toxin lethal to anything it touches. The other was the puffer Fish, which contains a poison up to1200 times deadlier to humans than cyanide, with no known antidote.

Now at first glance that sounds real scary and something for us all to be very careful of, doesn’t it? However, on reflection, your, and my, chance of even coming into contact with either of these animals in thew wild or even in captivity, is very minimal to being almost impossible isn’t it? But what about other deadly and dangerous things that we come into contact with often, that we should be aware of and even more scared of?

On the very same page and right above this picture and article of the fish on page11, was an item headlined, “Pancakes Poison Four”.

In this article 4 elderly residents of a Nursing home were accidentally poisoned. Not fatally fortunately, but still caused great pain and suffering; all because someone used caustic soda to clean some dirty fry pans and didn’t wash them properly afterwards, before someone else used the pans to make Pancakes for the residents.

A pretty basic and simple accident concerning an everyday item, one would think, wouldn’t you? However it turns out that because the dangers of caustic soda are so well known, it was in fact ‘supposedly’ banned from use in that Home’s kitchen. A wise move it would appear, but a move that someone else arbitrarily ignored, it seems. A terrible thing I am sure you agree, but how often do we do the same or similar?

Oh yes we know a certain action is wrong but of course we think we know what we are doing, so it is quite safe and responsible for us to do it, isn’t it? But somehow, something occasionally goes wrong and it all blows up like this thing, doesn’t it? And at times like that, we begin to wish we had listened and followed all the rules, don’t we?

Remember, rules are there for everyone’s safety and while they may be a pain and a needless pain at times, they are there to protect everyone, and therefore it is best to follow the rules and protect both yourself and those you serve isn’t it? What say you?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Keeping Some In Reserve?

Another comment inspired by the comic, “For Better or For Worse” by Lynn Johnston.

This one has the mother scraping off the old Bubble gum from her little son’s wooden bedposts, and then saying, “That’s it!! No more GUM “, as she storms out of the room.

The next panel shows him complaining and the final panel has him going to his wooden Dresser. Peeling a piece of old Gum of it, he says, “ Good thing she didn’t find the ones on the dresser."

Is that how we are with our sins and bad habits? Reveal and even allow some of them to be removed, but also keep some of them in a hidden reserve elsewhere? What say you? Will year finally and fully deal with those problem areas in your life once and for all? Or will you continue to insist ion keeping some in reserve? Over to you now!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

When You Don’t Want Pigeons, Don’t Feed Them.

Back to FBOFW today for further inspiration! This one has the little boy ask his mum for a cookie, upon receiving permission, he asks if his friends can too. Mum replies with a reluctant, “ I guess so”. To which her son yells around the corner, “Hey Guys! COOKIES!”

The next/last panel has mum at the window looking out at 6 little boys hoeing into her cookies, while she, with a happy look on her face says, “If you don’t want pigeons …Don’t start feeding them…”

Now some of us like pigeons and some don’t. Some will buy extra food just to feed the pigeons, others won’t. The point I am trying to make today is that we often make a rod for our own backs by “feeding” something and then start complaining about them, don’t we.

Oh yes, I know that wasn’t our original intention. We just started to feed one little “Pigeon” then a couple more and then suddenly we are inundated with them aren’t we?

That is why we often have to be both careful, wise, and long seeing, to start with don’t we?

Feeding one or two pigeons is fine, and a couple of pigeons in the garden are no problem and maybe even something to be desired if not completely pursued.

However when the original one or two develop into 20 or 30 or more, as pigeons often do, then they become both a problem and destructive too. Don’t they?

Here I am not saying don’t feed the pigeons at all but do be aware of where it could lead and to be prepared to put a stop or limits on it before it gets out of hand and becomes a real problem for you and to you. What say you?

P.S. For the record, I feed pigeons!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Do we Really Want Our Freedom, Or Do We Only Think We Do?

Another blog inspired by my current favourite Comic Strip. This one has the husband luxuriating: first in the bed by himself and then in the Bathroom without any interruptions from the wife and kids. Them ruminating on the freedom he had to wear anything he wanted and to eat anything he wanted and finally to do anything he wanted. Then the last frame shows him stretched out in front of the TV sighing, “I hope Elly and the kids are home soon.”

How often does that happen to us too?

We strain and fight against all the things restricting us and long for our freedom, but as soon as we get it, we realize that we really didn’t t want it at all and we find ourselves missing those things that were previously considered as constricting our “freedom” only to find that it is only in those things that we really feel free and truly living?

What about you now? Is there something that you currently feel is stifling your freedom that you really need to just take a momentary step back from to see it for what it really is? Maybe there is something stifling your freedom and maybe you can and should do something about it. But mostly I suspect, you will find that rather than stifling your life and freedom, that, like the above example, you will find that it is truly all that your life is truly about. What say you? Will you take the time to fully analyse those things in your life that you feel are stifling your freedom to see if it is really true, or whether in fact you need to give those things even more of your attention? Over to you now!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A life Of Their Own.

This is another thought inspired by a carton by Lynn Johnson called, “For Better Or For Worse.”

The engaged couple are walking along and she says, “I don’t want this wedding to be big or lavish or complicated, Anthony.” To which he replies, “Neither do I.” And then you see his thought bubble, where it says,” But weddings are like Woodstock … sometimes they take on a life eof their own?”

Ever had an occasion like that ? A situation where you started of with something seemingly easy and simple that suddenly seems to have a life of its own and even more suddenly, heads in a totally different direction to what you planned, anticipated or ever wanted in the first place? Personally, sometimes you have no choice but “to go with the flow” and to just hang on and endure, if not enjoy the ride. At other times, you may just have to pull the plug on the whole thing and just walk away and try something else completely different.

I don’t really have any answers but would be interested in your responses. Walter.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Aussie verses U S A Spelling.

In my original Blog, “Spellinmg and Othe rMistakes”, I mentioned a recent spelling mistake and thanked the person who corrected me and asked for future corrections when appropriate. Which I soon received. However most, but not all (See previous blog - Cursory Spell-Check verses the Real Thing.) were not really English spelling mistakes but only wrong from an American English viewpoint. Following is the comment I received from one of my American friends. He wrote: “Okay, I'm politely and courteously pointing out the following mistakes: “I” should be “it”, “reversed” should be “reversed”, “damming” should be “damning”, and “perpetrated” should probably be “perpetuated.”

So I (I hope) politely responded that most of the mistakes were not in fact mistakes but variances between English and American English.

However, thinking about the difference in spelling between American and Non American English does raise the issue of where and when to use either.

Do I remain obdurately Australian and write only in Australian English? Or do I go all the way the other way and use just the American spelling? Or better yet, choose my language to my main target audience.

I like to think that I have chosen the latter step as, so far at least, most of my known reading audience, seem to be non-American and have no problem with my English. Of course if I were to write to a mainly American audience, then I would happily converse in the language that they are more familiar with.

What about you now? Do you know what is the common denomination between you and your audience/market? And are you aiming for that or simply and maybe even arrogantly just going your own sweet way? Well I have had my say now, what say you? And in what language?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cursory Spell-Check verses the Real Thing.

In my recent Blog, “Spellinmg and Othe rMistakes”, I mentioned a recent spelling mistake in a previous Blog and thanked the person who corrected me and asked for future corrections when appropriate. Not quite anticipating the response I got.

Following is the comment I received from one of my American friends. He wrote: “Okay, I'm politely and courteously pointing out the following mistakes: “I” should be “it”, “reversed” should be “reversed”, “damming” should be “damning”, and “perpetrated” should probably be “perpetuated.”

Without carefully reading all that he wrote, I picked up on his ‘Spelling mistakes” and the following is my reply to him: “Hi: Thanks for your corrections, however they have actually raised another problem for me and for all non-American writers for that matter. And that is, the spelling mistakes that you pointed out are only spelling mistakes for Americans. For everyone else, they are in fact not only correct but also English, as it has always been written. I have been aware of this problem before, but as I am an Australian writing in Australia for mostly Australians, I have so far refused to use the American spell-check and thus stick to the Aussie spelling. So while I do thank you for pointing this out, for the moment at least I will be sticking to The Aussie way of spelling for now.”

Having said, that I now realise that he was in fact right about me spelling “reversed” wrong and also using “I” instead of “It”. Somehow they did slip through my Aussie Spell-Check, and now that I have checked it properly I appreciate his corrections even more. However at first I could not see past his “obvious” mistakes, to see my own. Does that ever happen to you too?

You are so busy seeing others mistakes that you can’t even see your own, even when, like in this case they have been carefully and politely pointed out to you? Perhaps like me, you were both busy and tired and only gave it a cursory glance and not the proper attention it truly deserved?

If so, that is my plea for today. Never ever, even in the simple things, just give them your cursory attention. Always, and even in the ‘”simple “ thing, give them your full undivided attention the first time and you won’t have to spend much more time later, fixing up your problems caused by too much hast at first. What say you?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Do you Always Pass The Test?

From my original blog, “Spellinmg and Othe rMistakes”, I received a response from an American living and teaching in South Africa, offering corrections to my spelling, to which I responded quickly, pointing out that not all were Australian spelling Mistakes but in fact the difference between English and American English. I then went on to acknowledge that there really were a couple of mistakes in it originally irregardless of whose Spelling you used. To which my friend replied, “Yes, spelling is a problem for me, too. I've decided for the most part just to stick with American spelling and not try to use South African spelling (which I would not get right consistently). My rationale is that the UBI students read a lot of books with American spelling so my notes will just be more of the same!

You passed the test. I was just seeing if you really did want correction!”

Following is one of my replies to this comment “Thanks for your e-mail. Yes I really did want corrections; I just wasn't expecting them so quick, (says he ever so humbly). I am actually working on two blog responses to your original response, before this one. One on the American vs. Non-American spelling, and the other on how quick I was to pick up on the American Spelling aspect that I originally failed to see that I had indeed made two obvious mistakes. Thanks again for pointing that out.

As to South African spelling, there is nothing wrong with it from an English, Australian, New Zealand etc, etc, perspective. One just needs to use what is best for the occasion, that is all”.

However today what I wanted to actually focus on was my friend’s last line. “You passed the test. I was just seeing if you really did want correction!”

I truly am glad I passed the test, but I hadn’t realised that I was even being tested in the first place?

So as I close today, I have 2 questions for you.

1. When you say things are you serious or just being polite? Do you, as in my case, really want correction? Or are you just mouthing empty phrases? Fortunately for me, I passed the test. Do you?

2. Although we may not know we are being tested in any one thing, actually everything we say and do, is being checked and tested by someone, so the real question is, “Do we do everything that we do, to the best of our abilities, so that it will pass any and every reasonable test anyone might apply to it?” Over to you for reflection there.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Could your Work stand this appraisal?

Received the following e-mail recently.

“A little boy went into a drug store, reached for a soda carton and pulled it over to the telephone. He climbed onto the carton so that he could reach the buttons on the phone and proceeded to punch in seven digits (phone numbers).
The store-owner observed and listened to the conversation:
Boy: "Lady, Can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?
Woman: (at the other end of the phone line): "I already have someone to cut my lawn."
Boy: "Lady, I will cut your lawn for half the price of the person who cuts your lawn now."
Woman: I'm very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting my lawn.
Boy: (with more perseverance): "Lady, I'll even sweep your curb and your sidewalk, so on Sunday you will have the prettiest lawn in all of Palm beach, Florida."
Woman: No, thank you.
With a smile on his face, the little boy replaced the receiver. The storeowner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.
Store Owner: "Son... I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job."
Boy: "No thanks,
Store Owner: But you were really pleading for one.
Boy: No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady I was talking to!"

This is what we call "Self Appraisal”

Now I wonder how many of us would be prepared to put our current work performances to this test? And even more importantly, I wonder what would be our employer’s response?

What say you? Do we really give the best efforts that we can or are we simply time-fillers and boss pleasers, and when they are not around, do we go missing too?

What say you about your work ethics? Would they pass this test? In all humility, I would like to think so, but I’m not sure I would be prepared to put it to this test just the same, would you?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

All things in Moderation.

I received the following reply to my Blog, ”Paper or People?

“Hi Walter: Good point but there is also a case for a man losing himself in other things at times otherwise he can become too much engrossed in the problems and it can effect his judgement in advising others on how they should cope.

What I'm trying to say, (and I'm not doing it very well) is that a man needs the escape from everyday life now and then in order to maintain the brilliance that we all have. Now that should be good for a comment especially from the women.

Thanks ****.”

Now as he (Oh yes only a man could have written that!) implies, that is a subject that I, as a man, want to steer well clear of completely. However he does make three good points;

  1. One (Which is pretty close to my original Point,) is, we do become too engrossed in what we are doing and do need to regularly look elsewhere for inspiration and refreshment, if not total renewal.
  2. All of us, men and women, do need to regularly escape from our normal routine, and in my original blog, my point was that we should not always be spending all our time in that escape.
  3. The point that he doesn’t make “very well” but it is there, is that all things are good for us if done in Moderation. Excess in either direction – too little or too much – is equally bad for us in the long term and often also in the short term.

Well my friend has had his say, what say you? But please, don’t be too hard on him, after all today is his Birthday.

So my friend, Alan, a Very Happy Birthday to you!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Life. A time Limited Offer. 12/6/2008

Back in my last job, selling newspapers at the Railway Station Kiosk at Croydon, I used to avail myself of the opportunity to scan each of the 4 main Papers that were sold there each day. Checking out the world news, the Cricket and my Footy team, and of course the comics.

One I came across then that I had not known before was in the Age Newspaper and called, “For better or Worse”: by Lynn Johnson. It was /is one of those comic strips based on one family’s life. Not the sort of comic that normally appeals to me but this one did. And one of the losses of my past job since too, as we don’t buy the Age ourselves, preferring the other major Melbourne paper. So for the past 12 months I have missed out on reading this interesting comic. The other day I was looking something up on the Net and came across a site for comic strips, and on this site was one for “For better or worse” and offering free daily comics, so I have now re-acquainted myself with the strip.

On June 12 the strip was about the family’s ailing grandfather and one granddaughter said, “I wish he wasn’t so frail. I wish he would just live forever.” To which her father replied,” That’s what makes life so precious Hon…We …all of us… are a “Time-limited offer.”

Is that how you also see life? As a time limited offer, and one that needs to be taken full advantage of now while we have the time and energies? Put another way are we really making the most of our lives now or are we simply coasting and putting off some of the more serious things that we know we should be doing now while we can and while this time limited offer is still on offer? What say you?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stir it up and serve it, Tommy Roe,

Recently bought a box set of CD’s Called “The best of the 70’s” It was a collection of 20 CD’s for only $18, so it was bought with no great expectations, especially as although I had heard of most of the Artists before, I had heard of very few of the songs, or recognised them as having been made famous/sung by other artists.

Even before I bought the collection, I was aware that it was a mixed bag but there were some interesting songs on it plus some songs that although I had never heard them before, rather liked the Artist performing them. One such artist/singer, was a guy called Tommy Roe, who had classic hits with "Sweat Pea" and "Sheila" and notable air play with other songs like “Come on everybody”, "Heather Honey", "Dizzy", and even “Jam up and Jelly tight”.

One of the songs from him on this 70’s collection was called, “Stir it up and Serve it”. Not what even I, an admirer of his, would call a great song, but I think it summed up this collection of songs in this complete set. It seems whoever compiled this collection, just took a collection of “B side” songs from some then well known recording artists of that era, stirred them up and served them. And then had to sell them “Dirt Cheap” as no one was really interested in them.

I couldn’t help but wonder if that is how we do things sometimes too? Just take a half-hearted collection of our works, and just, “Stir it up and serve it” and then expect people to “Buy it” enthusiastically?

When we present our efforts and ourselves /works, to the world, do we really and always present our best all the time? Or do we sometimes try to take our lesser efforts and, “Stir it up and serve it", and then wonder why no one will buy it? This is, as much a memo to me as to you but I would urge you in future to always give and present your best to the world all the time. What say you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Guppies are Fish too!

Although I had had Gold fish a few times back over the years, I had not gotten into Tropical fish until our last few months in South Africa back in 2002. And even then, as we were in a semi tropical climate at Port Shepstone, we kept them in a bowl in the lounge at room temperature.

Till then, I had also not known much about Guppies other than that they were very popular and easy to keep; and that unlike most fish who lay eggs, Guppies were among the handful of fish that give birth to live babies. It was during our brief time as Guppy owners in South Africa that we bred our own first little Guppies and became interested in them.

So it was no surprise then when we returned to OZ later that year, that when my niece asked if I wanted some of her Guppies that she was also rearing by the numbers, that I said Yes. Of course we still had to both get a fish tank and a house to put it in then, but eventually we did both and we started to go into Tropical fish a little bit more seriously.

These days we are more into little sharks and Catfish than Guppies, but when we first started out with the Guppies, we went to lots of trouble to raise the little ones and protect them from the other fish until they were big enough to be out of danger of being eaten as “Live food”.

However one thing we quickly learned, was that that really wasn’t that necessary as they soon started to fill and over fill the tank with their little ones. And it was only because the larger fish were eating a lot of the little ones that the Tank was not completely overrun with Guppies.

In fact some people breed Guppies simply as feeder fish for bigger ones, and many serious fish Fanciers hold them in contempt and distain as the mice and sparrows of the Fish World and do not take them seriously. One such person was my niece's husband, who liked his Catfish and cichlids and turned up his nose at his wife’s guppies. However I used to think that he was in the minority. Not so it seems now!

In June 11’s Herald Sun Newspaper there was an article about one particular Guppy at a fish show. The article read: “ A Guppy _$2 tiddlers often fed to more exotic fish _ has upstaged rivals 10 times its size to win “grand champion” at a country show. And rival fish breeders are in a frenzy.”

The article went on to showcase other fish breeder’s contempt of Guppies. Even the Guppy’s owner said he was surprised to win with a Guppy and said, “ I wasn’t expecting a guppy to get it. I had some nice cichlids, some catfish and goldfish … but I’m happy with the result.”

And so he should be. Although I have usually had to pay twice or even trice the $2 price mentioned, to buy my guppies, the prize money this Guppy brought home was $150. “Which is not a bad return on your investment”, as some one was quoted as saying.

And that is my thought for today. It doesn’t matter what you are into, whether the big things/fish or the small despised things/Guppies, but if you do your best and present your best, you too can be winners too. You may not always scoop the Grand prize, but you too will do all right in your chosen field, and get a good return for your investment, if you always give it your best shot. So this blog is dedicated to all us guppies out there. Keep swimming folks. We too, can be winners too if we persevere.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Paper, or People?

Was recently having coffee in our local shopping Centre Food court and reading my newspaper, while my wife and first born had gone off to do some shopping.

I was sitting there peaceably minding mind own business, engrossed in my paper when all of a sudden I was grabbed from behind by a strong young man who said, “Give me your Paper or your Life”. To which I replied, “Hmmm, I will have to think on that!” To which our son just laughed and sat down with me.

I/ we were not expecting him there and so my mind was occupied elsewhere. Had he not approached me, I would not have noticed that he was there. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other opportunities I have had to connect with other people there, all because I have been engrossed in my paper and not alert to what else is going on around me?

My youngest is always complaining of this fact with me, and claims that I concentrate more on my paper than I do on her. Which is not true by a long shot but I do have an active mind and need to employ it in activity and often do miss some things, because I am engrossed in something, like the paper that can be easily put aside for a while and picked up later. Some people are forever being told to “Stop and Smell the Roses”. Some of us, I think, need occasionally, to be told to leave the Roses alone and move our attention to the rest of the Garden.

I am not saying that I need to do this all the time, but a little bit more would not hurt me and might even help me. What about you? Are you too, to busy doing “things”, to spend time on and with people? Like me maybe you may need to spend more time with people than with activity, no matter how informative it may be? Just a thought! Over to you for now. Walter

Monday, June 16, 2008

Humour Verses Violence: Your Say?

Recently received the following e-mail purportedly from a Speech at the UN:

“A representative from Israel began: 'Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath!' He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished.

A Palestinian had stolen them.' The Palestinian representative jumped up furiously and shouted, 'What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren't there then.' The Israeli representative smiled and said, 'And now that I have made that clear, I will begin my speech.'

That one is both funny and clever. (If you accept the right of the Jews to their old inheritance, if not you will find it offensive, but please do read it to the end to get the point that I am making. Now, I do realize that not all will find this story funny or even clever. However what I really liked about this “Joke”, is that it also shows that even in humour, one can get their point across, in a way that attracts many more people’s attention, than by many other means. For example this e-mail has been passed around to thousands if not millions on the Net, but how many would have passed on even a simple statement from either side at the UN? Not many I think and so to me at least, the lesson here is, that there is no need to be loud or aggressive to get your message across if you just think a little more before you speak.
Many Palestinians really struggle to understand why the rest of the world won’t listen to their message. Well maybe that is because the rest of the world doesn’t like how that message is being delivered and maybe the Palestinian side should consider Humour more and bombs and bullets less? What say you?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Do you suffer from Paraskavedekatriaphobia?

Just in case you think that the word above is made up and all Greek to you, let me assure you that it is both a genuine word and is in fact derived from three Greek words. Translated into English, the Original Greek words meant, Friday thirteenth Phobia, hence the above word and Malaise of Paraskavedekatriaphobia.

And in case you think that that is a crazy malaise, it would appear that around 67 Million Americans suffer from this malaise to some degree whenever one appears, like it did this June.

And if you are unlucky to suffer this impediment, next year looks like being a bad one for you with three of them then.

According to the Herald Sun Newspaper of that date (June 13th) “Psychologists believe that Friday the 13th will become a day of bad luck if you focus on it too much. They say that you can create your own bad luck by paying attention to a superstition."

Now I don’t suffer from Paraskavedekatriaphobia and I hope you don’t either, but I do think that the message that the Psychologists are trying to get across in this case, also applies to most things in life that cause us concern too.

Many of our concerns become self-fulfilling prophesies because we concentrate on them too much and they can often be mostly avoided by putting our time, energies and concerns elsewhere. Now while I don’t believe a positive attitude will solve or avoid every problem, I do believe that a positive mind-set and work effort will produce a better way of life for us, than one of always fearing the worst and then being held back by that fear.

So whatever your fear today, whether it be Paraskavedekatriaphobia, or any of the countless other phobias, including the fear of the unknown, let us all be a little more positive in future and far, far less negative. Indeed let us focus on the positives in our lives and not the negatives! What say you? What phobia is holding you back today?

For a change, let me conclude with a little scripture that reinforces this little thesis of mine: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”(Philippians 4: 8.) Will you do that instead of thinking of your fears all the time?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Spellinmg and Othe rMistakes.

Recently I did a couple of Blogs on Healesville Sanctuary and inadvertently made the same spelling mistake about 7 times in both Blogs. I seems when I came to Healesville, I reveresed the order of the “s” and “e”.

And it was only after the second blog was posted that a dear friend wrote and corrected it, for which I thank him gratefully.

I hadn’t picked it up myself not being a particularly good speller at the best of times and having an American Spell Checker not familiar with the Location of Healesville it slipped through the system, and I would most likely have perpetrated the spelling mistake again if I ever did another article with Healesville in it, if my friend had not taken the trouble to inform me of my error.

What about you when you see errors by others, whether written or physical? Do you take the time and effort to inform, politely of course, like my friend, or do you just ignore them and leave it for somebody else to do so? The problem with that is, if all of us do that and leave it for another or “somebody” else to do this, it usually ends up that “nobody” ends up doing anything and the mistake is perpetrated on and on. Fortunately in my case it would not have been too damming but in some case it might be.

So whenever and where ever, you see some mistake, whether spelling or something else, no matter how minor, and it is within your power and abilities to do something about it, please do try to do so, but courteously too like my friend.

Your efforts may not always be appreciated, but at least you can try and do the right thing. Some may reject your help but others will appreciate. Well I hope so! I did! So in closing, “Thanks again Ian”: Walter

Friday, June 13, 2008

Leaning Tower Of Pisa Stabilized.

Read in the Paper recently that the Leaning tower of Pisa has finally been stabilized and should be out of danger for another three hundred years. Sadly I won’t be around to verify that or not, but one can only hope that they are right at last. After all, it would be a shame to see something built (in several stages) between 1174 and 1370, fall down because of faulty foundations, wouldn’t it? The recent major engineering work that actually began in 1990 and finished in 2001, seems to have worked as there as been no further movement since they moved it back 40cm then.

Of course this hasn’t been the first time that much money and effort has been spent to correct original shoddy work. So let us learn from this exercise of taking shortcuts on the foundation works of ever project that we do. Let us not take short cuts or reduce that foundational work, like the original builders did. Just think how much time and money has been spent on stabilizing the leaning tower since it first started to lean, and how that time and effort could have been put to other and possibly even better use, if the original foundations had a bit more time and money spent on them at the beginning, instead of later.

So, is there something that you are currently involved in that you are tempted to take short cuts with or skimp on the foundational work? If so, please listen to my plea and not only don’t take shortcuts, but put even more effort into the foundational work, so that what you build now, will stand forever and not bring shame to you or your descendants. Over to you for now.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

World’s Scariest Beach.

Came across the following article on the Net recently, by David Whitley.

Maho Beach on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten (Dutch spelling for St Martin) has to be the least relaxing stretch of sand in the world. In fact, it manages to turn sunbaking into something of an adrenaline sport.
Extreme bronzing on Sint Maarten. Most people who attempt to catch some rays on the beach place their towels on the far left or far right hand side. Don't be tempted to opt for the spare spot in the middle though — that's where the planes fly over.

Juliana International Airport. The beach is a very narrow strip. This is followed by a very narrow road. And that is followed by a great big runway. Yup, what makes Maho Beach so interesting is that every few minutes, a plane lands at Juliana International Airport. It's one of the biggest and busiest hubs in the Caribbean and the planes fly so low over the beach that any minor misjudgement could see the landing gear dragging through the sand.

Jet blast warning signs. Maho is probably the only beach in the world with such a dire warning sign. Forget sharks and strong currents, the notices have a simple, stark message. "Jet blast of departing and arriving aircraft can cause severe physical harm resulting in extreme bodily harm and/or death." Nice. As the locals say, a pebble caught by that jet blast may as well be a bullet.

Sunset Beach Bar. It’s undeniably cool, though, especially when the huge Air France Jumbo comes into land. Luckily you don't have to be on the beach itself. Right next to it is the Sunset Beach Bar , which is something of an institution. It has top burgers, cheap-ish drinks and a party vibe. More importantly, though, it makes an excellent viewing platform. The sunsets here are awesome, but watching the planes come in is even better. They look like they're coming straight at you, especially at night when you can only see the lights, before diverting away at the very last second. And that requires a stiff drink or eight...”

Talk about turning a liability into an asset? As the island is so small and Land at a premium, they have had to make the best of a scarce commodity and use the ocean and beachfront as part of the aprproach to the airport, thus making one of the main attractions of the island a little off-putting. So instead of letting this be a liability, they have in turn, made this “liability” an asset and attraction in its own right.

How about us? Are there some necessary things happening currently in our lives that we just can’t physically change, but can adapt and adopt our attitude and approach too, and turn them (it) into a positive? Personally I can’t think of any right off-hand, but what about you? Any comment?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What does it take to get through to you?

Recently received an email about a High School that was recently faced with a unique problem.

Apparently “a number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night the maintenance man would remove them and the next day the girls would put them back.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it.

Priceless! Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror. There are teachers.... and then there are educators!”

Again, I have no idea if it is true or not, but I thought it priceless myself, but also so typical of people’s attitudes these days. It reminded me of an old cartoon I saw many moons ago, that had a sign on a Bridge saying." Please don't feed the Sharks", and then had two men talking with one saying, "Of course there are no sharks there, but it is much more effective than the old sign that said, "No jumping off the Bridge".

Many times it seems, we are happy to ignore rules and regulations when it suits us, but when we find that there is a personal cost to pay or a personal health implication for ourselves, we are not so keen anymore, are we?

So what rules are you breaking today, and is it really wise to be doing so, or should you be setting a better example to all who watch or observe you? Again, what say you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Life in a Foreign Environment.

It is always a strange feeling and even a little daunting when you have a change of environment, particularly if you are going overseas to a different culture and practices. This experience even has its own name and is called, “Culture Shock”, and many books have been written about it, and we had to read quite a few, before we headed to South Africa way back at the end of the last Century (1990 actually.) Probably because we were primed and prepared before hand, we didn't experience too much Culture Shock upon arrival there. Also, we had pretty low expectations of what we would find life like there and thus was not too surprised at what we found. And I think that that attitude will help you too if you ever find yourself in a strange environment, even if you never go overseas.

If you go to a new place or environment, expecting everything to be really different, even difficult, you won’t be too surprised or shocked if it turns out that way, and if it doesn’t, then you will be pleasantly surprised when it is not. Either way, with a little foreknowledge and warning, you will not be completely overwhelmed by what you find in your new environment.

Even with all this, there will be difficult times, just not that many if you are prepared and expecting them. (Of course there will be lots and lots more happy times too that you will look back longingly on later and know that you would not have wanted to miss them even if you had had to go through much more worse things than you did.) The main thing is that when you are going through tough times, is to remember why you are there and what you are meant to be doing there. This will also help you to stick at your task until completion.

Back to Culture shock: We, (and many other Missionaries we found out later), suffered more culture shock when returning to Australia, 4 years later expecting it to be the same as when we left and finding it had moved on, but we hadn't. Our first break back home was difficult to say the least, and we were quite glad to get back "Home" to South Africa after it, but by the second and third break, back in Australia, we knew what to expect to a degree and it wasn't nearly so bad. So whether you are going overseas, interstate, inner country, or just to a new area or Job, to lessen the chance of Culture shock, learn as much as you can about your new environment before hand, and especially about the negative things, so that you can plan to accommodate or adjust to them, and make the shock a whole lot less shocking. Over to you: Walter

Monday, June 9, 2008

Begin Again? I don’t think So!!

Recently received an e-mail where the sender was pondering the question, “If I could go back and change my entire course of adulthood, would I?” Her response was, “Probably not...”

My response is in the title above and I am obviously a little more emphatic about it, but I hope not arrogantly so.

I have over the years looked back at times in my life where changes were made, that, although not then realised or even expected at the time, have greatly changed my life. And so I have sometimes wondered what may have happened had I not taken the course I did take. But I have never really regretted too much any of the choices I have made.

Some of them may still have happened anyway, like meeting my wife. Arguably I only met her because I stopped working for my dad on his smallholding, and took a job in a Hardware store where she was a customer in their gift section. However as my sister married her brother and they were going out before us, we would have met anyway, eventually.

But others, like becoming a Christian the way I did, may not have happened and that would have been a big loss to me in many ways. Before I became a Christian I just drifted along in life with no real directions or Goals. Becoming a Christian gave me both direction and goals and has given me a purpose in my life.

I left School when I was 15 without any qualification, so I might like to Change that if I did have to do it all over again, but then, even there, I went to Bible Collage when I was 35 and received my Bachelor’s degree in three years, and I have gotten by all right with that since. So no, I wouldn’t really change anything too much. And as for our three kids, (now young adults) I wouldn’t change them either. Not one little bit! So, no, I wouldn’t even be half tempted to begin again, thank you. Thanks, but no thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well that’s enough about me. What about you now? How has your life shaped up to original expectations? Although one can never go back and change ones beginnings, one can, even now change their direction in life, if they really want to. Yes, it is never too late to change, if you really want to, that is. Do you really want to, is the real question isn’t it? Over to you for your comment: Walter

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Who can you be a Susie too?

Received an e-mail called, “Who is your Susie?” It starts off with, “Come with me to a third grade classroom..... There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It's never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they'll never speak to him again as long as he lives. The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, 'Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I'm dead meat.'

He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered. As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy's lap. The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, 'Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!'

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful. But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else - Susie.

She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. You've done enough, you klutz!' Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, 'You did that on purpose, didn't you?' Susie whispers back, 'I wet my pants once too.'

It then finishes with the admonition,” May God help us see the opportunities that are always around us to do good.”

I don’t know if it is true or not, but I wonder at the title of ‘Who is your Susie” for as you can see from my title, I feel that rather than wait and look for people to help us out of our troubles, we should be, not so much looking, but always ready to be a Susie to others, where and when we can. What say you? Are you prepared to be thought a Klutz to help somebody else? For there is always plenty of opportunities around us to help others, if we so wish, and often with out going to the extreme that Susie did. What say you? Again, Are you prepared to be thought a Klutz to help somebody else?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Same Thing Is There For All To See!

Received this response to my recent Blog on “Charles Kingsford Smith”, which said, You are a minefield of information my friend. You know about me when it comes to aviation but I had no idea that Smithy had those hang-ups. I obviously knew about his flights but nothing about the fact that he was wrestling with fears etc.

You really should be writing a column in a newspaper because lots of you little titbits would fascinate people. Thanks for that.”

To which I had to honestly reply with, “Thanks for that. I thought you might appreciate it. Actually I got that information out of Yesterday's Herald Sun Newspaper, which is actually the source of a lot of my material.”


So, what I had made interesting or known to him, was not really unknown or even known by a small number but was also available to nearly half a million people who bought that day’s paper.

It is not so much that which is out there on show to the world, but what you do with it. Some would have seen that article and that particular part that I picked up on as just part of “Smithies” history and thought no more on it. Others might have picked up on it like me but come to different conclusions than me. However I picked up on the fact that he had major obstacles to overcome to do what he wanted to do. He tackled and over came obstacles than many, maybe even I, would have quite happily used as excuses not to do things and maybe even to gain sympathy from. Not Smithie. He overcame not insignificant handicaps to achieve his goals and desires. Maybe you can to. I honestly don’t know, but I do know, that you won’t know unto you give it a go. And Give it your best shot too?

As is always, you may not always succeed, but you can always try can’t you? Can’t you?

The only question to ask as I close is, will you do that? Will you give your current project, your very best shot and see where it goes from there? Will you? Have a great Day: Walter

Friday, June 6, 2008

Kirk Douglas Plays Up at 91.

There was a picture in our Newspaper recently of Kirk Douglas stretched out on a Kiddies slide in a Playground in a Los Angeles School. It turns out that Kirk and His wife had just donated a playground set to this School. Something his wife and he have been doing for schools there since 1997.

A lovely gesture don’t you think of giving something back to the community? But what makes this really special it seems, is that this is the Four Hundredth that they have donated since they started. It appears that they have spend some $8 Million to build or refurbish play areas since they started to do this in 97.

Now I don’t really know about you but I am fairly confident that I will never have $8 million, let alone $8 million to give away to the community, but I am also equally sure that all of us could give something of worth to our own local communities if we truly wanted to, either in work or in Kind, if not in outright monetary gifts.

What say you? What can you do to benefit your local community right now and will you do it? Over to you for now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Deal to be Signed to Ban Cluster Bombs.

Read a headline in our paper recently that read, “Deal to Limit Cluster Bombs." It then went on to say that delegates from 111 nations including Australia and the UK have agreed to ban cluster Bombs. Sounds terrific doesn’t it?

However it went on to say that the agreement lacked the backing of the major producers and stockpilers of these self-same lethal weapons? All of which kinda makes the whole decision kind of irrelevant doesn’t it? After all what is the point of agreeing to something if your voice adds no real weight to the situation, and will have no relevance whatsoever?

However, isn’t that exactly what we often do too? Add our approval to things that don’t really affect us, but at the same time withhold our voice and real weight from the things that we really believe in.

Now I am not saying that it is not a good thing to speak up and be counted when needed, but I also think we need to add weight to our voices and try and prod our friends and enemies to also agree. For without their agreement, nothing is going to happen, is it? Sure 111 countries are for it and only half a dozen or so, are opposed! But as long as those half dozen continue to produce and stockpile these things, nothing is really going to change is it?

So don’t just speak up for or against a certain cause, but also back it with all you have, too. I say lip service alone is pointless: What say you?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Indiana Jones upsets Peru.

Was reading in the Paper that the latest Indiana Jones Movie has upset the people in Peru because of all its inaccuracies in the placing of places in Peru, and for playing a little loose with all the facts.

I was a little surprised by all this, as I have long known that Movies often take large liberties with the facts and locations they use. In fact my mother, when we would comment on something not being quite right on the TV, would respond with, “Well, what do you expect? It is only a Movie and they never let the facts get in the way of a good story, do they?”

What about you? Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story? Or are you always looking for the truth in all that you see and do? Do you just trust in, and take as the Gospel truth, everything you see in a Movie, or even all that you read on the Net? Or do you just use these things as a starting point to look up and find out the real truth on those things that interest you?

So my question today is, how much trust or faith do you put in the things seen in Movies? Over to you for your response.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kevin Mason: 48 Years at Healesville Sanctuary.

On May 30th, the Healesville Sanctuary, celebrated its 74th anniversary of caring for and preserving Australian native animals. Quite a proud achievement I think, but what also impressed me, even more was that one of its employees, the above Kevin Mason, has been working there for 48 years. He started off working on a dairy farm across the road before starting at the Sanctuary (because his then Girlfriend/later wife, was working there) and started as an animal keeper. From there, he went onto be a head keeper and then on to be a Special Projects Curator, and is currently the Customer Relations Manager. Not bad for a young 68 year old is it?

Despite his humble beginnings and lack of specific qualifications, Kevin succeeded at his job and was the first Keeper to ever breed a Lyrebird in captivity. Of his humble beginnings, Kevin recently said the following “To be a keeper these days you need a degree, but it’s just paper experience. People like me have learned through fieldwork and hands-on experience. Today’s keepers learn from our experiences.”

As one who left school at the end of Year 9 (&not year 12 like most today, before even then going on to University,) I know what it is like to struggle to find work without the necessary “Piece of Paper”. Now I cannot boast quite the same successful Resume as Kevin, but I do know what it is like to learn the hard way and to succeed from the bottom up.

So if you are out there wanting to improve your position in life, but don’t have the necessary piece of Paper, that everyone seems to demand these days, don’t let that put you off if you have the desire to do something. Like Kevin, go out and start at the Bottom and work your way up to the Top, anyway you can.

Kevin got his qualifications on the job and for one employer. I worked for many employers before I found what I wanted to do and then went back to School, (even if it was a Bible College) at age 35 (With a wife and 3 Kids) and did a University Level Bachelors degree in Theology, in just three years. Admittedly the pass rate each year was not high, but it improved with every year, and I graduated from it in the minimum time, and the Degree allowed me to go and work overseas for 12 years.

So again, if you have a goal and desire, don’t let your lack of qualifications put you off, but do work on it and do what you have to do to succeed. Learn from the experiences of others who have gone before you. Start at the bottom and stick at it. If both Kevin and I can do it in different fields, just think what some one like you can do in your field, if you really put your mind to it. What say you now?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Herald Sun Voteline.

The Melbourne Newspaper, the Herald Sun has a customer base of over 300,000 Purchasers. (The exact number escapes me but I am pretty sure it is much higher, but I am playing it safe for now.)

Each day it has a voteline question where they ask readers to respond to a specific item in the news, and also posts the previous day’s question’s results in a percentage graph.

I always check out the questions and responses, but I don’t really take much notice of the actual winner or it’s percentage points. No, what I look at is the actual number of people who respond to a specific question, to see how people really feel.

I have seen some questions where there was a clear winner, but only 80 or 90 people have bothered to respond to the question. A reasonable response, as far as I can gather is when somewhere between 200 to 500 people respond. You know a lot of people are interested when the responders number between 1 & 2 thousand voters.

So I was not surprised to see that 56.4% disagreed to the Question asked on May 29th. No not surprised at all, but what really surprised me was that 10,094 people felt strongly enough to vote and voice their opinion. Quite the largest response that I have seen in watching the numbers.

So what was this item that triggered such a massive response? The situation in Zimbabwe? The Burma Cyclone? The Earthquakes In China? World Poverty? The War in Iraq? Well actually it was none of the above, nor Euthanasia, Abortion, Aids, Gay rights. Not even the recent Budget or even the current Petrol prices, both major topics of late. No! All it was, was whether one agreed or not with a TV Station’s decision to axe an ex- Footballer from their “The Footy Show:”

Sure the Guy is controversial, but he always has been and if you don’t like him you could always do what I did, and never watch Him or the show. However, obviously many did and are upset about his axing, but another large number, just 12% below them agreed with the decision.

Now I don’ really care one way or the other on this rather trivial matter, but obviously many do! So, today I am asking you, what is really important to you now? What topic would provoke you into responding to a Poll like this one? Something of worldwide implications? A local national Item? Or something as trivial as this? Which could be simply resolved by people switching their sets off or watching something else. And in fact that is what prompted this “resting” of this “Personality”. While the ratings were high, he was kept on, when they dropt, so was he.

So today I am just wondering, “What is it that really stirs some real emotion in you?” And is that subject really worth it or would everyone be better served, if you were to channel your emotions and energy elsewhere? Over to you for your view please.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Naked Priest verses the Naked Cowboy.

There is an American (who was recently in Australia a couple of weeks back as part of a Myers Store promotion,) who has been Busking for the better part of Ten years in New York and gains upwards of $300 an hour for his trouble. As a traditional Country singer, and even as a singer, he couldn’t even make a living Busking until he stripped off to his jocks, and now he is infamous and popular for doing so. He actually goes around in Cowboy boots and hat and brief underpants, thus avoiding arrest for being naked, yet he still proudly claims to be “The Naked Cowboy” and has even registered the Name.

Reading in the Book of Isaiah recently I came across again in chapter 20 in verses 2 & 3, a passage where it states that Isaiah walked barefoot and naked around Jerusalem for the better part of three years to symbolically pronounce what was going to happen to the rich and powerful, of Egypt and Ethiopia (Cush) when they would eventually be taken into Captivity by the Assyrians.

Now while it is possible that the word translated Naked in Isaiah, means that Isaiah went buck naked, it can also mean that he was only as naked as the Naked Cowboy today, as he most likely wore, not white jocks, but a brief linen cloth instead.

Now I could not but help wonder what would happen if today, someone else were to do an Isaiah, complete with underpants and nothing else, and went around proclaiming God’s word to all who would listen? Would they also be as freely accepted as being normal, as the Naked Cowboy is and rewarded with money and fame? Or would they be scorned and even locked up as another typical raving luniticial religious nut?

It has been said that what is sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander too! But is that how we truly look at things? Or do we have one set of rules for one group of what is acceptable, but yet another for another group, which makes what they are doing, although the same as others, totally unacceptable?

What say you? Do you too have double standards? Or do you have one standard of what is or isn’t acceptable for all? Again what say you?