Thursday, December 31, 2009

Some old reflections for the New Year.

The following is an item doing the e-mail rounds that I thought could be appropriate for us all to reflect on and perhaps even to put some of it into use during the Coming New Year.
It is claimed to be, “Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.
It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone...
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay cheque.
10.When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16.Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion, Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
26. Always choose life.
27. Forgive everyone and everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give it time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42.The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."
Now I know that not all may be applicable to you, but I am also pretty sure that there are still plenty left that are so, now it is up to you to decide whether Life is a Gift or a burden, and what you can and should do about it.
So with that, I again wish one and all a fantastic and blessed 2010 and beyond.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Spider Solitaire.

Sometimes when working at the computer I get a little tired of concentrating so hard and so occasionally play a Computer game called “Spider Solitaire” to briefly relax. As it is to relax, I only play it at its easiest level. Which, amazingly, is usually easy!
However; there is the occasional game that never seems to want to work out no matter what I do. You know, you play it the way you always do, and then if that doesn’t work, you try all your normal tricks. But then it still never even looks like working out! So what do you do? Give it up completely. Leave it for a while and then try again later. Or try something different to what you always do or normally do?
I don’t know about you, but for me in this game, when it won’t work out doing any of the normal things I usually do, I have found that when I try the opposite to what I have been doing, it seems to both work itself out, and often so easily, that I wonder if it really was the same game that had me stumped for so long!
Now I know that not every thing in life is as simple as this game, but if you find yourself facing seemingly unresolvable obstacles and when you have unsuccessfully tried all your normal ways, instead of giving up completely, you may find it beneficial to take a little break, and then refreshed, try something completely different to what you are used to do doing, even if it is only as a one-off time for this occasion.
So as we all face another New Year, is there something that you have been trying to achieve unsuccessfully that you need to take a new and fresh approach to? Over to you now for your contemplation.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The 2010 Diary/ planner.

The wife and I and our two girls, took a cruise earlier this year and liked it so much that the wife and I are taking another one next year. In appreciation of us booking with a particular Cruise company, they sent me a lovely and impressive A3 size Diary planner, complete with a few maps of the main capital cities of Oz. A wonderful and seemingly useful little gift.
However I am a small size diary man myself. You know: the size that fits into my shirt pocket. So although very impressed with this diary, I could not really see myself ever properly using it. So when my son started to enthuse over it too, I offered it to him. However he refused, saying he already has a diary in the shape of his I-phone (Or whatever it is) and so didn’t need or wouldn’t be able to use my diary either. So here I am with a very impressive product that I have no real need of, and unlikely to actually ever use for its proper purpose either.
Which made me wonder how many otherwise wonderful and useful products or objects we might have that we really can’t or won’t use for their proper purposes, but neither can we find proper homes for them either, but are also reluctant to otherwise get rid off?
What about you now, what good things do you have that you can’t or won’t ever use, but you are still reluctant to do away with? Perhaps there is an Op-shop or some Charity shop near you that might benefit from your unusable Gifts that will otherwise be wasted if you continue to hang on to them now? What say you now?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Are You Hypocritical Too At Times?

This is another blog inspired by a “For Better or For Worse” comic Strip by Lynn Johnston. This one has the young son counting his haul of Candy after Halloween night. (“7 Gumballs, 3 Toffee bars, 1 Bag Cheeze –o’s, 30 jelly beans …”, when his father who is a Dentist comes in and says, “ Unbelievable! Just look at all that awful Junk and goes into a rant saying, “ As a Dentist, I should make a formal complaint about all the candy that’s consumed on Halloween!!!”
Meanwhile his young son is unperturbed and keeps counting His goodies, “! Minty stick, 1 bag of Liquorice loops, 1 bag of popcorn balls…”, as his father keeps ranting about the damage of junk food high in sugar, and then the son makes a discovery. “Hey just a minute.. Then after a bit of frantic searching comes the anguished cry, “ I ha d2 whoopee bars, they’re GONE!”
At which point the father becomes very silent and red faced! Yes despite his rants against Junk food Candy, he too had no real problems of eating it despite his professional knowledge beliefs and rants.
How about you and me? Are we too sometimes like that? No something is wrong, even if just in the excess of off, and even warn others even strongly of the dangers, but still continue to indulge in that hurtful or unhelpful deed? What say you now?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Be careful what you sow!

In this blog inspired by the “For Better or For Worse” comic Strip by Lynn Johnston the wife had, against her husbands advice, gone out of her way to play matchmaker between her best friend and her own visiting brother. Now after they are late coming back from their date, the wife is in a right royal tizz.
And the following agitated discourse to her husband is spread across the three panels: “ My brother is somewhere with my best friend…. So where ARE they?” Next comes: “I bet he’s swept her off her feet… I bet he’s taking advantage of her vulnerability!" Finally, turning to her husband, she says plaintively: “How could he do this to me!!”
Again I know that this is just a comic strip cartoon, but many people are like that in real life too.
They interfere, no matter how good-intentionally in some things that it would just be best not too, and let nature take its course. However they and often we do interfere, only to have it go all pear shaped on us, and then try and lay the blame on the other participants and not where it largely lays: With us.
So today, if you are in a similar situation, except what blame is due you, make amends where you can and don’t do it again. Likewise if you are not yet in such a situation but tempted to intervene, think again and make sure that your intended intervention is in fact the right decision to make or whether you should just step back and let the natural course run its natural course, without your well-intentioned but often unhelpful and possibly hurtful intervention. True sometimes it is to the best if we do intervene, but not always, so always carefully assess the options and go with the one which will be both most helpful and least hurtful to the person you are trying/supposedly helping!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Are You Too Enthusiastic At Times?

This older “For Better or For Worse” comic Strip by Lynn Johnston, has the young son encouraging his younger sister to walk unassisted and is gently and quietly encouraging her and when she succeeds, He screams out at the Top of his voice, “MUM! LIZZIE’S WALKING!”
At the sound of this “noise” Lizzie gets frightened and falls over and won’t try again, much to the dismay of all concerned when mum duly arrives.
Do you and I also see that happening sometimes when we are trying to help people or things along? Everything starts of fine, but instead of going slowly and even withdrawing quietly from the scene when success starts to come, we try and make a big fuss of things and push them along faster than either nature or they are comfortable with, and hence the whole thing often collapses in a heap like this child did on the floor when distracted by the noise of her brother’s enthusiasm.
Again, is there currently some situation now, where you have been helping out quietly and that you now want to shout about, when in fact, you should just withdraw quietly and leave them to go about their business, unhindered by your enthusiasm, thus allowing them to build up their own confidence and ultimately, their own enthusiasm? Again what say you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My unique style?

Went swimming back in Oz back in July, after over a month away. The little bit of Snorkelling I did while away in the South Pacific islands, must have helped my breathing, if not my speed, as that day I swam so much more easier as far as my breathing was concerned. So much so that I was able to swim 800 metres (16 Laps) without having to rest between laps or even touch the end of the pool. And I only stopped then because my swimming partner decided to stop after his 20 laps. (So I am still slower than him despite my ease in breathing.)
Anyway, as I was turning around in the shallow end without stopping after two laps, I saw someone else getting ready to swim. I did not originally recognise him, but he obviously did me, as he said, “I thought I recognised that unique Style.”
Later when I had finished, I told my swimming partner and the Pool attendant about this friendly dig at me, and they both remarked, “What style?”
So you can see by this, that my length of swimming may have improved but my style and speed hasn’t, and probably never will. But that doesn’t bother me too much as I can still swim further than a lot of other people can.
So today’s lesson is: “Don’t worry if your “style “ is not good enough for anyone else!” As long as it gets you where you want to go safely and comfortably, then be happy with it.
Either that or lash out and take swimming lessons! (Which I don’t intend to do anytime soon!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

How Disarming Are You Really?

In this comic strip by Brian Anderson called, “ Dog Eat Doug”, there is a little baby crawling along the floor near a dog, when the dog goes, “BOO-YAAAA!” At which point the baby jumps into the air and out of sight. To which the Dog replies quietly, “ That was not quite the hip, disarming greeting I thought it would be.”
Very funny when it happens to someone else, but what about us? Are we as careful with what we say to other people? And is what we say, really as Hip and disarming as we claim or think. And even when it sometimes can be, doesn’t mean t is always appropriate either. After all, often there is a time and place where a certain thing will be appropriate, other times where it will be tolerated, and yet other times where it will be totally inappropriate. So today when you try to be hip and disarming, do think before you both speak and act.
For what is hip and disarming to you might be frightening and offensive to others: As the producers of Hey, Hey Its Saturday found out recently! What say you?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What fits your busy Schedule Best?

In this single panel comic from Randy Glasbergen ( Copyrighted in 20003, he has a man who has just had his Medical Physical and apparently not happy with the Doctor’s pronouncement.
So the Doctor replies to Him, “What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?”
Isn’t life like that sometimes? So often we are not happy with what we are told we should be doing, but then find that the alternative is a lot, lot worse.
So today, what do you need to change in your life to get the most out of your life and to extend your life too? It may be you have to add exercise to your life or to simply cut out other habits, such as over eating or eating the wrong types of food, or it may be something totally different. I don’t know, but is there something that you have to do, either to include or exclude now that will help you live a long and healthy life, whereas the alternatives is being a long time dead?
Over to you for reflection and your thoughts now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Any Unnecessary Pianos In Your Life?

In the Comic strip, “The Doozies: by Tom Gammill on 6/10/2009, it has a salesman at a man’s door trying to sell him a piano. To which the man replies, “No one in the Family plays.” To which the salesman replies, “Doesn’t matter – It makes a great table for Picture frames.” And the last panel shows a piano in the driveway complete with half a dozen Framed pictures on it.
And under the comic were these three comics from previous readers. One said, “How did the guy get the piano to that place”. Another said, “If the pictures were included I might make an offer”. And the final; said,” It’s a shame no one plays the piany no more.”
Again this is just a reminder that different people can see the same thing but come to completely different conclusions depending on their own personal interests and likes.
However what I wanted to focus on here today was how many things do we have in our homes or lives that are not being properly used for their intended and proper uses? And what should we do about them? Just keep them to prop Pictures on? Learn to properly and fully use them to their proper end? Pass them on to someone else who can. Or just get rid of them and replace them with something more appropriate to your needs?
Again I cannot make any decisions for you. All I can do is to encourage you to look at your life and see if you have any “Pianos” there just propping up pictures, and whether you need to pass them on to someone who can make proper use of them or just get rid of them altogether and replace them with something more practical and more suitable to your needs. So will you do that today? Will you look at what is unnecessarily cluttering up your life and how you can best dispose of it? And then do something about it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Are you really that desperate?

This “For Better or For Worse” comic Strip from 7/2/09, by Lynn Johnston has the wife’s best friend busy at the computer tapping away. Then we read her thought bubbles, which say: “Lonely divorcee, age 35, one child, seeks companionship…”
“No! Make that: Sincere single woman with child seeks relationship with…”
“AAGH! It’s no use!! I’ll probably attract some crazy NUTCASE!” Now had she stopped there, it would have been fine, but the final panel ends with her continuing to tap away at the computer saying: “Then again… A weird relationship might be better than nothing!”
Now you will know from my previous blog, Are you this type of Friend? “ that her friend talks her out of posting this letter, but have you ever felt like this? So desperate for something that you will be tempted and strongly tempted to do what you know is the wrong thing, but are still prepared to do so, because of your perceived desperation?
If so, stop for a while and really think about what you do have. Sometimes in cases like this, one focuses on what they don’t have, forgetting all that they do have, and often things that others would just love to have.
Now I know that this is just a cartoon character, but as yesterday’s blog pointed out, she really wasn’t that badly off. She had a great kid, a great job, a home of her own and stability. She had all these good things but had forgotten them in her obsession for something else.
Again this is only a comic strip, but what about you in real life? Have you also become obsessed with what you don’t have and forgotten all the Good things you do have? The good things that many others would just love to have!
So today, don’t focus on what you don’t have but focus on and appreciate that which you do have.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are you this type of Friend?

In this “For Better or For Worse” comic Strip from 10/2/09 by Lynn Johnston, the wife is reading a letter handed to her by her best friend and responds, “Don’t tell me you were actually going to put an ad in the personal column!”
“Connie, this is just too much! Your need for someone has become an obsession!”
“You’re got a great kid, a great job, and I think you’ve been acting like an idiot”.
Wow! How do you think you would react if your best friend spoke like that to you? Well, let’s see how the comic strip ends, shall we? There in the last panel it has Connie reply with her hand on her friends shoulder saying:” Thanks El… I knew I could count on you to say the right thing.”
What El said to her friend was tough but true, and sometimes we just have take a deep breath and speak up when we see people about to do something stupid and seeking our council.
I am not saying here that we should become busybodies with an opinion on every subject, but at times and especially when it is brought to our attention, we may need to risk our friendships and maybe even our reputations by being called busybodies, to say what is right, and what is needed. Needed to be said and needed to be heard! What say you?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Think after you speak too!

In response to my blog “Think before You Speak,” I received the following response from my American friend in South Africa: ”I'm not sure that once you have made a decision you have to stick with it. I think it is often a sign of pride. I can think of instances where people in authority stubbornly held to decisions even when faced with the facts that showed that the decision was ridiculous. Why not simply admit that in light of the new information you have decided to make a change?”
Actually, I couldn't agree more with my friends comment. However that is dealing with the problem after the event. My blog was an attempt to get us all to think more carefully before making each and any decision. If that were done more often, there would be fewer occasions where we would need to correct ourselves. Which, as my friend implies, does occur more often now, than we would like.
So, as the topic is now on the table, is there some area in your life right now where you not only need to, but should re-evaluate your initial decision, even to the point of humbling yourself and saying, that in light of new information, you have decided to make a change?”
Again I thank my friend for his input on the topic. And if you have something you would also like to comment on or even correct, please feel free to do so.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Think before You Speak.

This “For Better Or For Worse” Cartoon Strip by Lynn Johnson from July 13, has the mother “out gardening when her Boy comes up and asks, “Can I play in the Sprinkler, MOM.” To which she replies, “No!” He then replies, “But it’s hot out and I’m not sick or anything! “To which his mother replies sternly, “ I said NO!” To which he replies, “ That’s not fair! There’s’ no reason why I can’t play in the sprinkler!’ Then in the final frame we see the mother's thought bubble: “I know …but once you’ve said no … you've got to save face.”
Now I don’t actually agree that she has to save face, but I do agree that once you have made a decision, you do have to stick with that, no matter how uncomfortably it makes you. Unless it is either immoral or illegal.
However getting back to the above illustration I think that there are two clear and distinct lessons to be learned from it. One for each party.
Firstly, the Boy put up a good argument at the end, but sadly He left all his pertinent points until after the answer was no.
So from this we should learn to marshal all pertinent and relevant facts before hand, and present them upfront, and not wait until after the decision has been made.
And secondly we learn form the mother not to be too hasty in rejecting a request, just because it’s timing is inopportune or its presentation is initially lacking in content.
So please think before you speak! Whether it is to ask for something, or whether it is too respond to any such requests, or for any other matter too!
Now of course if one of my children were to ask me that today, I would also say no! Not just because they are adults and would look funny running in and out of a sprinkler! But because we have severe water restrictions and can only run a hose for 2 hours, twice a week! Even now in our Winter/spring!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How are you feeling today? Crapulous or not?

Yes, are you feeling fabulous, Crapulous or somewhere in between?
I don’t know about where you are, but here in Oz Crappy is often used to describe not feeling very well. Now up until September 14th of this year, I had always assumed that crappy, although still not a nice word, was still a more politer form of a not so nice word, with a different original meaning (albeit slightly connected.).
Not so it seems, and feeling “crappy” is really a legitimate abbreviation from the noun crapulous. Yes, according to the word of the day for September 14Th Crapulous means
1. Given to or characterized by gross excess in drinking or eating.
2. Suffering from or due to such excess.
So again how are you feeling today? I am neither fabulous or crapulous. But okay nonetheless. And trust that you are likewise, if not fabulous.
But if you are crapulous today, I hope that you will soon get over it and be well again, and that next time, you will watch you eat and drink, okay?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Talking about Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.

No I am not making that word up! It really does exist. And no, it has absolutely nothing to do with Hippopotamuses either. Although not a serious ailment, many people do suffer from it. I obviously I don’t, (some would say I suffer from the other extreme though!) but I do suffer from two related phobias: such as pronouncing and spelling ones like this!
Yes, according to a question in the Herald Sun Quiz page on September 15, hippopotomonstroses quippedaliophobia is the “fear of long words”.
As said above, I am happy to use long words once I know what they mean and thus I don’t fear them once I know how to at least pronounce them. (Just don’t ask me how long it took me to properly pronounce hyperbole!)
What about you? Do you fear long words, by either skipping them or ignoring them? Or do you embrace them enough to at least find out what they mean, even if you never use them again, like I suspect with the above word?
Putting this into general terms, what do you do with things that are unusual or strange to you in everyday life? Ignore them completely, work around them, embrace them or simply deal with them in the appropriate manner when they arrive and then move on?
Just something simple to think on for today! Have a great one too!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Are You Currently Noisome?

The Word of the Day for, September 10, 2009, is “noisome”. No, noisome does not mean what one would naturally thing it should. Nor is it a particularly nice thing to be called either!
For Noisome means:
“1. Noxious; harmful; unwholesome.
2. Offensive to the smell or other senses; disgusting.”
Is that how most people see you and me? Not as nice people or even as just noisy people, but as someone who is harmful and unwholesome? Offensive and disgusting to be around, even?
If you struggle to keep friends, maybe, just maybe mind, and not necessarily, but maybe because you are actually “noisome” rather than “refulgent” like you may feel!
So, if you struggle to be liked and to keep friends, please do not condemn the others, till you have seriously looked at yourself, to see whether you are truly refulgent or just seriously noisome.
Over to you now for some self analyse while I do the same.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Refulgent, Black Holes and Middle Ground

In my recent blog, "Are you refulgent today?" I mentioned that often, rather than being refulgent and reflecting Light back to others, we often become Black Holes and swallow all the light that comes our way with our negativity. I then went on to encourage people to be more refulgent, and to let their light shine out and reflect back on others.
Now I know that we can’t always realistically do that; nor do we really want to go through life with only Rose coloured glasses. However there is still a lot of Middle Ground that we could and even should, be occupying.
Again, I know we can't always look on the bright side of life, but that doesn't mean we have to always look at the negative either. As my illustration of the Glasses shows, there is often a lot of middle ground that we miss too, by arguing if a glass is half empty or half full.
So today, how do you see your glass of life? As Half full or half empty? Or are you like me and just very happy to have a glass with something in it? What say you?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Refulgent again.

Recently I asked, “Are you refulgent today?” The following is one reply I received to my/that question.
“Hi: Another great one. I was sitting here feeling rotten again today and feeling sorry for myself but reading your little article made me stop and think. Instead of feeling bad I should be feeling grateful for the fact that I am alive and able to do lots of things other people are not able to do. I certainly have been guilty of feeling sorry for myself but I will try to follow your advice and think positively.
Thanks: ****?
Not printing this to push my own barrow, but as this example shows, we can all be refulgent without really trying, simply by communicating with people with a positive response or reaction, rather than a negative one. So today, who can you be refulgent to, even if only with e-mail or blog, if not a phone call or even better, verbally face to face?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Are you Refulgent today?

The Word of the Day* for September 8, 2009 was refulgent. An adjective that means: “Shining brightly; radiant; brilliant; resplendent.”
Apart from the minor fact that I had never heard of the word before, I couldn’t help wonder if we, you and I, are refulgent? Or simply Black Holes that rather than reflect light to others, suck it all up and smother it? What think you?
“Refulgent comes from the present participle of Latin refulgere, "to flash back, to shine brightly." Again are you and I flashing back the light that comes our way or are we killing it with our negativity and despair? If so what can you and I do to become refulgent and let our lights and our lives shine brightly if not refulgently again?
For starters I think we all can be a little more positive to the negative things in life. Some people argue incessantly over whether their glass is half full or half empty, whilst others are simply glad to have a glass with something in it.
Another thing we can do, is to be more appreciative of what others are trying to do for us, even if they never achieve that, or at least achieve it to our preferred standards.
Talking of which, when was the last time you said thank you for anything, big or small done for you, whether it was “their Job” or not? Just something to think on for today, hey?

* Word of the Day

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How old is, As Old As Heck?

Ever wondered how old something is, when it is described as, “as old as Heck”? Well now you will know that the answer is/was 108 years old!! For that is how old Benedictine Father Theodore Heck was when he died on April 29th 2009. Yes, Father (John Henry) Heck, who had been the world's oldest Benedictine monk passed away at 108, in Indianapolis USA.
So now you know how old heck is don’t you? Or do you?
Not really for as I reported in an earlier blog (What the heck is a heck?), “Heck” apart from later referring to actual things such as a heck–gate/door etc, “heck” was simply an earlier/softer/politer way of saying “Hell” without saying hell!
So all this is just a reminder not to believe every story you first hear but to always check out the true story, no matter how probable or improbable (Just as my first explanation) before you both believe and propagate these alleged Facts as the truth, just because “you heard it said somewhere!”
Again today’s lesson is to make sure of your facts before passing them on as facts. Do you do that and if not, will you start doing so now?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sand Paper

Received an email recently with a picture of a very tatty piece of Sandpaper. With it came the following message:
“When you have to put up with mean people, think of them as sandpaper. They may scratch you; even rub you the wrong way. But eventually …You end up smooth and polished. And the sandpaper …? It’ll be worn out and ugly!
Makes you think doesn’t it? Never loose sight of who you are, because you are the best thing God ever created? Embrace the gift.”
Not sure one can add too much to that, as it is a very simple yet clear reminder that the things that happen in our lives shape us. Yes they do, so whether you let them shape you for good or bad is up to you.
Remember, a piece of wood rubbed all over, will be smooth all over. But a piece of wood rubbed continually in the one spot, will simply be flat and worn out in that spot, making the whole product useless for its original purpose!
So Keep moving with the sand paper and don’t fight against it, but allow it to smooth you all over. Again, forget the sand paper and leave it to it’s own natural end at its own devices!
What say you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Soup Kitchen Economics?

You may know that recently, Michelle Obama went to serve food to the homeless at a government funded soup kitchen in America. I just received an email with a picture of Michelle serving two young men. One of whom was taking her picture with his mobile phone. Under the picture ran this Caption:
Cost of a bowl of soup at homeless shelter : $0 dollars.
Having Michelle Obama serve you your soup: $0 dollars.
A homeless person receiving government funded meals, taking a picture of the first lady using his $500 Blackberry cell phone ... Priceless.
Now one could perhaps argue that the phone was stolen or some such other excuse. But one still has to wonder if sometimes all of us don’t quite have our priorities right when we will put possessing possessions, (No matter how handy) over our own physical well being and health.
And even if a mobile phone is seen as a necessity, is it really necessary to have a $500 one, when you can get a cheap one for under $50?
What say you about Soup Kitchen economics?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Fox In the Hounds!

Recently received an e-mail titled “Great advice”. With it, there was a picture of about 20 or so fox hounds in a tightly knit pack, moving forward. And right in the middle, looking forward and moving with them, was a fox! And over the top of the picture ran this caption:
Quite a humorous scene, but the caption really is good advise, and sometimes, even when you are totally surrounded by your enemies, you can both survive and escape, by following the advice of keeping your mouth shut and both looking and moving forward.
Is there some situation like this that you are currently facing today, maybe not as desperate or as dangerous as this, but one where you just need to keep your mouth shut, whilst both looking and moving forward?
If so please consider the above advice, and if appropriate, apply it and move forward. t may not always work, but if you have tried everything else without success, it just may be worth a shot too? What say you?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What Constitutes a successful Day For You?

This “For Better Or For Worse” Cartoon Strip by Lynn Johnson from July 25, has a series of panels where the mother is busy playing, looking after and cooking for her children. Then there is a panel of her tucking her son into bed and saying to her, “ Well, I’d say it’s been a very successful day.” Then in the final panel she adds tiredly, “…The kids wore out before I did!!!”
Is that how you too are currently assessing a successful day? That things or other people, wear out before you do?
Or are you really on top of things, and rather than always running after others, are you able to get on top of things first and then work to some sort of plan, (even a very rough one) where you can run things to some sort of organization and desired end result, other than where someone (whether you or them) simply wears out first?
Yes what do you need to change either in your life, your planning or your application that you need to work on now? Your thoughts please?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

From where do you draw your Incentive?

In this carton from “For better or for worse” by Lynn Johnston, we see the wife sitting on the couch in a daze with her young son standing near her, and her house a complete mess, with fingerprints and ice-cream on the wall and everything out of place! To which she announces: “ I don’t want to clean up this place … It’s a dump … but I have no incentive.” In the next scene she is on the phone dialling a number and her son asks, “Whatcha doin”, Mom?” To which she replies, “Inviting someone critical over for dinner …”
So how do you draw incentive when there is none? Do you just ignore the situation and wallow in it? Or do you, like our character here, do something positive and create incentive where there is none?
So if, like our character above, you are feeling down in the dumps today with no incentive, don’t stay there, and please, definitely don’t moan and complain to others about it, but get up and do something positive about it, even if you have to create the incentive yourself!
What say you now?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rightly Using The family Name.

Heard just recently of the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the age of 88. Unlike her more famous brothers and her even more famous daughter, (Maria Kennedy Shriver Schwarzenegger) one didn’t hear all that much of Eunice during her lifetime in the popular press or media.
Yet she evidently used her family name and clout to achieve much for a once forgotten part of society, the mentally ill. Yes It was initial concern for her own sister Rosemary, that got her interested in this group, but it was genuine concern for others like her, that attracted Eunice to try and do something for their upliftment. And it was due in no small part to her support, that the Special Olympics came into being in America (from 1971), and internationally (from 1988).
Yes what was started as a small Summer camp in1962 with the support of Eunice and many, many others, this small project became an international event that now has almost 3 million athletes in more than 180 countries.
Talk about using your family clout for the popular good! With her family’s great wealth and fame, Eunice didn’t need to do anything, (Akka Paris Hilton) or she could have used her family name and wealth for Political or personal achievements, but she chose to do otherwise. To help the unhelped!
What about you and I? We may never have that clout or success, but like Eunice, we too can start off small and see where it leads. Yes we too can use our family name (such as they may be), for our own good, or for the common good. Which will you use yours for?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Les Paul Rocked.

For a man who didn’t really play or record rock music, (He released his first rock album 4 years ago,) Les Paul did indeed rock the Rock Music scene, (as well as all other branches in the music and recording genres!) Growing up into Music during the late 60’s, I was aware of Les Paul and his then wife, Mary Ford, although I really wasn’t into the traditional Country music scene. (Then or now, although I like Hillbilly and some outlaw and some modern Country music!)
Anyway, I was aware of him and his wife (Les Paul & Mary Ford) as recording artists; and that he had a Guitar named after him, but it wasn’t till his death recently (Aug.13) that I discovered how instrumental (Pun originally unintended) he had been to the music scene and in particular, to the Rock music scene. So much so that they even made him a member of their “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”.
It seems he was one of the pioneers who perfected the Electric guitar and also developed the technology for Multi track recording and over dubbing, so commonplace today. Also, along with his wife Mary, they also instituted the first live reality shows on TV, way back in 1951 when they broadcasted weekly, from their own home. I believe it was only for a few minutes at a time, once a week, but it continued for 7 years still!
I was initially surprise at the time of his death too, to find that he hadn’t been dead for years before that, as he was old even back then, but had just succumbed now at the ripe old age of 94. But I was even more surprised and even greatly impressed, by his greatest achievement, which was none of the above to me. Yes, as ground breaking and innovative as these other achievements were, what impressed me the most, was to find that even at 94 years of age he had still been performing weekly at a nearby New York Jazz club, playing “his” music. Right up until about 7 weeks before his death.
I would like to think that, that would also be true of you and me too, if we should live that long! To still be doing what we loved to do, despite any and all past achievements, no matter how great they may have been! To keep doing what we love and sharing it with others, no matter how small the number or how forgotten by the majority!
Yes Les Paul was still enjoying His life, and plying his trade the way he wanted, right up till the end. Will you and I? I pray so!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fancy Foods Vs Simple Tastes.

This “For Better Or For Worse” Cartoon Strip by Lynn Johnson from July 8 has the Husband and wife discussing food issues as she places a bowl of fruit on the Bench and then feeds the Dog.
He says, “ Look, it’s not that I don’t appreciate fancy dishes! I like simple food, that’s all! I could probably eat the same thing every day! Surely there are others like me!”
At this point the strip ends with the dog hoeing into his doggy food like only dogs can do!
Leaving aside the obvious connotation that plain food is no better than dog food; I have to basically agree with the husband. Although it is true that one would quickly get sick of just the one variety of food very quickly, there is nothing wrong with simple foods.
Yes fancy dishes often look nice, but do nothing to fill you up or sustain you. And sometimes they just taste terrible. (Even if they only taste bad to you and not others!) Some people love fish! So do I when they are swimming around my Fish tanks or pond. I will admit that I do not mind a piece of Grilled Flake anytime I have it, and occasionally even Fish Fingers, but most other fish tastes off to me. I’m not overly fond of Chicken either but give me a Roast any day with Pork lamb or Beef and I’m yours. So you can see I stand largely with the husband depicted above. Where do you stand on the great food divide? Fancy or Plain?
I understand and even appreciate the fact that a lot of time and effort and even love that often goes into producing this fancy food, But would prefer that time, love and effort be transferred to something that will be both pretty and pretty darn nice for me too. (If in fact it is being primarily produced for me!) Again what say you?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Be prepared For Payback!

This blog comes from the “Heart of the City” Cartoon Strip by Mark Tatulli from July 2, and has the little Girl (Heart) lying on the floor reading a comic with a cat sleeping comfortably on her back. Comfortably for the Cat it seems but not for Heart, who comes up with the devious idea of scaring the life out of the Cat with a loud Bang. Which works. For a few seconds at least as the cat jumps high in the air, but then comes down fast, claws extended and lands on Heart’s butt, much to her pain and sorrow.
Another case of comics imitating life isn’t it? For how often have we come up with so called ingenious, but devious ideas to solve our perceived problems, only to have our solutions turn around and, if not bite us, certainly stick their claws in, like in this illustration?
So when trying to deal with annoying problems, think carefully and try and come up with effective solutions that won’t turn around and claw you too and make your own problems worse!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Difference Between Knowledge And Wisdom.

Found this little Gem in the Text Talk section of the Letter pages in The Melbourne Herald Sun on July 8th. It simply states that” knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it fruit salad.”
Thanks Clinton from Hawthorn, for that brilliant illustration. Although very simple, I found this illustration very illuminating, because it shows that just having knowledge is simply not enough. No. You also need to have the wisdom to know how to use, it too! Or, as in the above case, how not to use that knowledge!
So today’s question for you is, what current knowledge do you have, that you still need the proper wisdom of, in regard to its appropriate, if not proper, usage?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Your Opinion Depends On From Where You See Things.

Having lived in South Africa for nearly 12 years, we still have some contacts there and occasionally get News Items from there. A recent article from there, told about a Taxi (Read 12 –15 seat mini Buses here,) that was extremely overloaded with Kindergarten children being picked up by Traffic officers.
Having seen it first hand during our own time in South Africa, I had no trouble with the e-mail Title of: “Crazy Taxi! --- ONLY IN SOUTH AFRICA”.
However when I sent it to a former South African, (Now living in Australia), his reply was, “not just South Africa, all over Africa.”
So, not having experienced this gross overloading of Passengers in Australia and not really having travelled much elsewhere in Africa, (other than briefly in Zimbabwe and Swaziland,) I, like the author of the article, tended to see this problem as only a South African one. But one who has seen much more of Africa than I have, has been able to put it into the broader perspective.
This still doesn’t excuse it, but shows that it is not exclusively a South African problem, but also happens elsewhere in the African Continent. Just like I’m sure it happens in other parts of the world too, like India and even some other Asian and even South American countries.
So today’s’ lesson, which I am still learning is, when something is wrong, look around you and do not blame just one guilty party but look to all guilty parties where they are wrong; and then rather than just blaming them, try and help them solve or resolve their problems. What say you?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Which End Are You At?

Another from the “For Better Or Worse” cartoon strip. This time from July 2nd. This one has two little boys playing with a big furry dog. One at each end!
And one says,” Sniff? Bleah! What is that? The other says, “I don’t know!” The first says, “Gross! Get him away from me!! I’m gonna BARF! I’m gonna HURL!” To which the second Boy says, “ Lawrence… It’s not that bad!!! To which Lawrence replies, “ That’s cause you’re sniffing the wrong end!!!”
How like real life is that? Each of us often has a different opinion, (whether to the good or bad,) than another, all because of which end of things we are currently at, at any particular time.
So today’s lesson is, whenever you have doubts about another’s opinion, change ends with them for a while and see, or in this case experience, things from their end!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Difference Between Knowledge And Wisdom.

Found this little Gem in the Text Talk section of the Letters pages in The Melbourne Herald Sun on July 8th. It simply states that” knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it fruit salad.”
Thanks Clinton from Hawthorn for that brilliant illustration. Although very simple I found this illustration very illumination, because it shows that just having knowledge is simply not enough. No. You also need to the wisdom to know how to use, or as in the above case, not to use that knowledge.
So today’s question for you is, what current knowledge do you have, that you still need the proper wisdom of, in regard to its appropriate, if not proper, usage?

Friday, July 10, 2009

My unique style?

Went swimming back in Oz today, after over a month away. The little bit of Snorkelling I did while away, must have helped my breathing, if not my speed, today, as I swam so much more easily as far as my breathing was concerned. So much so that I was able to swim 800 metres (16 Laps) without having to rest between laps or even touch the end of the pool. And I only stopped then because my swimming partner decided to stop after his 20 laps. (So I am still slower than him despite my ease in breathing.)
Anyway, as I was turning around in the shallow end without stopping after two laps, I saw someone else getting ready to swim. I did not originally recognise him, but he obviously did me, as he said, “I thought I recognised that unique Style.”
Later when I had finished, I told my swimming partner and the Pool attendant about this friendly dig at me, and they both remarked, “What style?”
So you can see by this, that my length of swimming may have improved but my style and speed hasn’t, and probably never will. But that doesn’t bother me too much as I can still swim further than a lot of other people can.
So today’s lesson is: “Don’t worry if your “style “ is not good enough for anyone else!” As long as it gets you where you want to go safely and comfortably, then be happy with it.
Either that or lash out and take swimming lessons! (Which I don’t intend to do anytime soon!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Net verses the personal approach.

In the “between Friends” comic strip in the Melbourne Herald Sun on May 14th was this fascinating insight into how the Net is taking over in some people’s thinking. In previous strips the lead character Susan has been trying to get her friend Mauve to join Face book. Mauve has been actively resisting these approaches.
In this strip, they are both sitting on a park bench drinking a coffee, and Susan says to Mauve, “ If you set up a Face book page, we could check up on each other and see what’s happening in our lives!” To which Mauve replies brightly, “Wow… that would be a Bonus …’ then goes on to say, “…Then we wouldn’t have to actually meet and bother with personal interaction!”
Of course the response was sarcastic and meant to be so. But how often do we let the time and energy spent on modern technology and especially the Net, to interfere with our already existing personal interactions? Don’t get me wrong here, as I am all in favour of modern technology and especially e-mail. I am also on Face book too, (even if I rarely use it) and do recognise it has some benefits, but it is still meant to be a tool to help us in personal interactions, and not take the place of personal interaction, all because we spent too much time on it. What say you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Negative motivation.

In a recent blog “From where do you draw your Incentive?” I commented on a positive motivational idea, from a For Better or For Worse Comic strip. Today I am motivated to be thinking on the negative side from another comic strip. This time from the Garfield strip. In this strip, Garfield is lying flat out on his back saying, “ I need motivation.” To which Jon comes along and says, “ Get up and do something; you lazy bum!” And in the final scene we find Garfield in the same original pose, saying sarcastically, “Yep. That was life transforming.”
This got me to thinking on just how much of what we think is motivational, is actually positive motivational and not just abuse, or worse, simply threats?
I think that most of us will appreciate positive attempts at motivation; just like I am pretty sure most of us resent and even reject (openly or otherwise) negative attempts. So, in future, when you try to motivate others please stop and think whether you are being, are you positive and even hopefully life changing? Or whether simply negative with your words and actions? Just something to think on for now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kangaroos, Emus & the Australian Coat of Arms.

In a recent blog, “A Couple of facts about Kangaroos”, I mentioned the fact that they cannot back up. To which I received this further information about that fact: “Dear Walter: More information for your education. The reason (I believe) a kangaroo and an emu is on the Australian coat of arms is that neither can take a backward step. Cheers: ***
Again I was not are of this trait with emus too, until told. However I can understand why this trait of never backing down, would appeal to the early Australian mindset as a then emerging nation in its own right, and thus a suitable statement for our Coat of Arms.
I also think it admirable too, to be of the mindset of never backing down when you are in the right and everything of value stands or falls on your decision, not to back down. But I think if you carry that mindset into everything you do, whether you are right or wrong, that formerly admirable mindset, can become a mighty liability and mighty fast too.
Yes when you are in the wrong, that inability to back down graciously, can cause as much destruction as a kangaroo in a small caravan as it can’t back out and then becomes frightened and panics, lashing out at anyone and anything within reach. And inside a caravan, that is just about everything isn’t it?
So, is there some area in your life today where you need to both step up and not back down because every thing that is right and good depends on it? Or is there some area in your life where it would be beneficial to all, including yourself, for you to just quietly back down and retreat. Even if to only to come back more prepared next time? What say you now?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Who was the Donkey?

In a previous Blog: (“Who’s the Donkey”), I told the e-mail story of a donkey who fell in a well, and how the owner decided that as it was old anyway, and the well needed filling also, that he would simply bury the donkey there and then, and fill in the well at the same time and thereby solve two problems at once. Now, of course the donkey had other ideas and shook off the dirt as the well was being filled in and kept stepping up, until eventually it was able to walk out to freedom. The moral of the story being that you can either let your problems bury you or else you could use them as stepping stones to success and even life itself.
Today I will pass on the follow up to that little “story.” The story continues: ”The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.
*MORAL FROM TODAYS' LESSON: * When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.”
Yes, with every action of ours, there is always the possibility of a counter action and as today’s moral indicates, the more we try to hide a problem, the more it can come back to bite us. So if you are facing any problems today, it is usually wise to face them head on and own up to them; and then address them properly. Not by hiding them, but by correcting them as best you can even if that means getting professional help. Your thoughts please?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Who are you Talking too?

In a recent Fred Basset comic strip, Fred is asleep on the floor and his master reading the paper in his chair nearby, when a voice from afar says, “ Dinner – come and get it!” In the next panel, both Fred and his master simply look at each other with a quizzical look on their faces. And in the final panel, they both turn towards the unseen voice and say, “Me or him?”
This led me to ponder on how well we actually communicate with others? Are we as accurate in doing this as we think? In other words, do we do it clearly, so that there is no doubt as to who is being referred to? Or do we simply do it in a generic or lazy fashion like in this comic strip; so that there is confusion in everyone’s mind as to whom, if any, you are actually talking to?
Again just something to think about when communicating with others, whether dogs, cats, or people!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fred’s thought for the day.

Reading The Melbourne herald sun’s comic page on May 13th I was quite taken by the Fred Basset comic strip. It was a very simple two- panel one.
The first Panel had an illustration of the dog out in a wet and miserable day with rain falling heavily and water everywhere, and he/Fred says in a thought Bubble, “Here’s my thought for today!” And in the next panel, while he is still standing outside in the wet, inside the thought bubble is an illustration of him stretched out nice and comfortable on a couch in front of a roaring fire.
I thought then that this is often so very typical of most of our thoughts isn’t it? That most of our daily thinking is often taken up with our daily living and often our thoughts don’t get a chance to rise far above that, do they?
In the Bible in Philippians chapter four, verses eight to nine, it says “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. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Again great advice, but how often do we do that as opposed to the Fred type thoughts of just immediate comfort instead? Something for all of us to think on I think. Yes, you may not like the God references here, but the advice still stands firm, (even if to a lesser degree) in ordinary life too. And that advice is that we need to stop thinking of all the Bad things that have or might happen, and to start focusing on the Good things instead. And then, not just thinking about them, but actually putting them into practise as best we can.
Getting back to Fred above, just thinking about the fire will not get him there, will it? No! He still has to move from where he currently is, in the direction of where he wants to be; otherwise all it will ever be is a thought, and not a reality.
So, where are your thoughts focused today? Just on getting by in life? Or on the good and right things of life? And what are you doing about those good thoughts now? Still just thinking on them? Or moving in their direction as best and as fast as you can?
Over to you now for your action.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who’s the Donkey?

Received this delightful little e-mail with its own admirable moral challenge: “One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up... Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up. *
* Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.”
I love the above story because it shows quite clearly that often we can choose whether a problem becomes a stepping-stone up to success, or whether we let it, often literally, to bury us.
Yes I agree that sometimes there is little or nothing we can do in some situations: but often there is, and that old saying about every Cloud having a silver lining, often holds true too. So today, are your problems starting to bury you? Or can you use them as a stepping-stone up and out of your own little wells of despair?
There is another not so delightful moral to this story, but you are going to have to wait till the next blog for that. In the meantime, don’t allow yourself to be buried but step up and step out to life!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To Blog Or Not to Blog?

Received an email from a friend commenting on the lack of response to her Blog site. To which I wrote the following excerpted comments:
“I know what you mean about Blog site lack of open responses. Apart from you, I rarely get any response from my blogs posted on-line. Of those that do, most of the other responders are usually Spam or self-promotional ones, (although I did get a couple of positive corrections to my Easter Blog). And so sometimes I too feel I am basically writing just for myself. And in fact I had been thinking that this very morning before your e-mail arrived. And my response was, "So What?" After all, I am, in truth, writing only what appeals to me, and hopefully sharing a bit along the way about myself, which may be of interest to my children and grandchildren. (If we ever get any!)
The other thing is, that with a blog site you don't know how many really look at it unless they leave a comment. Up until last week (when I had my son add two new specific blog sites for me), I had a Blog counter on my site (Which he accidentally disconnected and I need to wait until the friend who originally connected it for me visits to do it again.) But that blog counter showed not only how many visited, but what posts and on what day. And so I was averaging 5 or 6 hits nearly everyday, and so even taking you and me off that number I was still getting 3 or 4 hits that I would otherwise never have known about.
Now one could argue that just writing for 3 or 4 people is not worth it, to which I would reply with two responses: One. As already stated above, I am not really writing for other people anyway, but for my family and myself.
Second. Although only 3 or 4 may read it, who knows who else among them, (like you) get something out of it. So, even if only one other person gets something that truly helps them, then I have in reality, achieved even more than I originally set out to do, haven't I? After all, it is much better to help just one person, than slightly amuse 100, isn't it?”
What I wrote above to my friend I believe was appropriate, now what about you? Why do you do what you do? To titillate the many, or to help the few? Again, what say you now?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Being Cautious Vss Being too Cautious.

Received an email from a friend in which she commented that she was always cautious about risking getting hurt again. What about you? Do you have similar restraints to reaching out to other people and trying new things for the same reasons?
It is good and right to be cautious but there is such a thing as being too cautious, and doing nothing for fear of exposure and hurts. Sometimes we do have to take some risks, but that risk taking does need to be evaluated up front. For instances, the blog I wrote recently “Andre Rieu Visits Eastland Again.” The Shopping centre took a great risk having him come back again after the disruption of his first visit there as an unknown, and I am sure even with the later time spot now, many of the shops in the immediate precinct, suffered loss of business on Saturday, yet an estimated 6,000 people turned up to see him play just two tunes and sign autographs for an hour and a half or so.
This resulted in free mass exposure for the shopping centre in the major Newspapers and even mentioned on the TV news for 3 nights running. Exposure and advertising that they could not afford to buy!
Yes, for some shops, there would have been some short-term loss due to the massive crowd blocking their customers gaining access to them, but overall and for the centre, there was massive immediate and long-term free exposure for them.
Like wise for us too at times! Yes, sometimes all of us need to take some calculated risks; otherwise we will never experience many, many truly lovely blessings. Again that doesn't mean becoming a foolish risk-taker all the time, like some. But occasionally, we do have to put ourselves out to get something back.
Well enough preaching for now. Now is the opportunity for your say/reply.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Andre Rieu Visits Eastland Again.

The last time Andrea Rieu visited Eastland Shopping Centre the Dutch violinist and Conductor was relatively unknown by the populace at large and yet even then, caused a major scene with the large crowd assembled to meet him. So much so that since then the rules and planning and times of promotional visits have been changes to avoid a similar situation.
We normally go to Eastland on Saturday mornings to have a late coffee, and often lunch with one or both of our daughters, as well as do our shopping. On May 9th, in light of Andrea’s latest impending visit, now that he is the top selling artist of Musical CD’S & DVD’s in Australia, we decided to go an hour, to an hour and a half earlier than our usual time, and just for coffee, to avoid the crush, even though Andre was not scheduled to appear until 1 pm.
Well we arrived about quarter past nine and there were barricades and security guards everywhere and even a first aid centre set up nearby. And even then, with nearly 4 hours still to go there were at least 60 people already there and queued up including half a dozen in wheel chairs which, they has provided a special place right up front. Talk about being keen! And of course the crowd steadily increased during our time there! So much so, that by the time we left for home, the place normally sufficient for promotional events, had already filled with some 2 hours still to go.
How would you have handled this event? In light of Andrea’s even greater popularity now, and the experiences of his previous visit, would you have even allowed a second visit, with or without changes to the protocol? Or would you have simply not allowed it to continue at all?
Yes are you not prepared to change at all, or if you do, just go with the flow? Or are you prepared to not only continue on, but prepared to fully step up and make the appropriate changes, even if these changes come at considerable cost and effort for you, and for others, such as the nearby shopkeepers who had their shopper access considerably hampered? What say you? Are you prepared to not only change but also to step up and prepare properly before hand, for the rewards that are out there?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lord And Lady Lamington.

Marvellous what interesting titbits of information one picks up fro the newspaper. In an article in the Melbourne Herald Sun on May 2nd, was an article about a series of stamps put out by the Australian Post office of uniquely Australian foods. And that these stamps will be issued with a first day Cover at the also marvellously appropriately named town of Eaton in West Australia. Among the foods being featured on these Stamps, is one of my favourite treats, the humble lamington.
I call it humble, because when we were young and Mum had a stale sponge cake that hadn’t been eaten, (Didn’t happen all that often with 5 kids), she would cut it up in to small rectangles and dip it in some liquid chocolate mix and then dip or otherwise cover it, in desiccated coconut.
Little was I to know then, and only just found out now, that was in fact how the original lamingtons also came to be. It seems that Charles Cochrane-Baillie was the 2nd baron of Lamington and served as Governor of Queensland between 1896 & 1901.
And the story goes that one day Lady Lamington was taken unawares when some unexpected guests dropped into Government House for afternoon tea. And the only thing on hand was some stale sponge cake. Which lady Lamington dressed up with chocolate and a sprinkling of shredded coconut. And supposedly that is how the humble Australian Lamington was born.
It is now loved by countless Australians including yours truly. However not all love or loved them it seems. And Lord Lamington himself, was among them! He is reported to have referred to the cakes as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits.”
As already said, I definitely don’t agree with him there, but what fascinated me, was how a simple necessity, took some otherwise unsuitable product and with some repackaging, made it into an Australian household delicacy.
So what otherwise good things are we currently wasting, that with a little ingenuity and creativity, can be turned into something desirable and sought after? Over to you for now.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Are You A Silent Letter In The Alphabet Of Life?

Ever hear a question asked and think, “That is an unusual question. I would never have thought of asking that!” But then can’t get the question out of your Mind? Well that happened to me recently when my niece, on her Face book site said she: “wonders about the usefulness of silent letters....”
As mentioned above, that was not something I had ever wondered about myself before, but once heard, had to find out. So out on to the Net for their answer. Found a few replies. The main gist being:
1.The English Language in particular is full of silent letters. This is because English is a developing language, that has always stolen words from other languages. Local pronunciation then often changes the way a word is said. This has been the case ever since England was settled almost simultaneously by the Angles, the Juts, the Saxons, the Danes and the Vikings. These people then had to communicate with the original peoples of Britain, such as the Britons, the Picts and the Celts. Tied into this was the remains of Latin (brought by the Romans, and kept alive by the Church). Then, in 1066, Norman French was introduced into the equation. If you had to try and speak all those languages, odds are you'd mispronounce words as well.
2. There are two uses for silent letters in English. One is to indicate the pronunciation of other letters. For example, in the word "tinny," the second n is silent; its purpose is to show that the i is not pronounced like the i in "tiny." Likewise, a silent e makes "hate" sound different from "hat."
The other use is something of an historical accident. As relics of past pronunciation, silent letters often contain clues to the history of the words they are in. Thus we can tell, just by looking at it, that the word "knight, with three silent letters, is probably connected to the German word Knecht, (which has no silent letters).
3. Attempts to "reform" English spelling are always dismal failures. For one thing, let's say we wanted to spell all our words the way they are pronounced. Well, pronounced where? In Boston we would write cod for what they spell card in Pittsburgh, and cawd for what they spell cod.”
And what goes for America, goes for Australia too, even if not as obvious. So now I know why we have silent letters. Now I have to ask, what sort of Letter are you? A useful one? A loud one? Or a silent one, who is only relevant on the odd occasion and useful only to those who know your code? Again just something for you to think on for now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Couple of facts about Kangaroos.

In my “Living With Magpies”, Blog, I concluded with this statement: ” Well! You have heard my memories of Magpies, what are your memories of wild birds or animals that you would like to share?” To which my friend **** replied with this:
“Hi Walter, We had an experience at a caravan park in Queenscliff where we left the door of our caravan open and had Magpies come inside the van looking for a handout. They were not aggressive, but they did leave some calling cards on our carpet. They are very tame down there and will actually come and sit on your knee while you feed them. There is something very rewarding in having a wild creature show enough confidence in you to come as close as that but it can cause problems as you have said. Just last year we were away in the caravan again and we went to a place called Duross in NSW. It is a National Park and there are dozens of Kangaroos there that are also quite tame, although they gave us a couple of warnings about them when we booked in. Don't stand directly in front of them because that is confrontational to them, and don't allow them into your caravan because a Kangaroo finds it almost impossible to back up and they tend to panic and can wreck the interior of your caravan.As I said before, it is nice to be around these creatures but we must treat them as still being wild animals and enjoy them but from a distance.”
Although I grew up not far from, and went to school at a place called Kangaroo Ground, there weren’t many Kangaroos around then as the area was mostly farmland and kangaroos were actively discouraged. However as the land as slowly become Hobby farms, the kangaroos have increased and spread to the point where once there was none even seen on my parents farm in its heyday, there are often many seen there now. And no one really bothers them now. Which is not a bad idea either, for if one does attack you, you will most definitely come off worse for wear and shredded very badly with their Paws/claws.
So my friends advice about not standing in front of them makes a lot of sense, yet it would be the most natural stance for most of us to take against any animal, if you didn’t know better wouldn’t it?
So while I didn’t know it was dangerous to confront a kangaroo front on, I am grateful for that information, and truly believe it might be really handy to know for any possible future confrontations with a kangaroo. (My late mother once came suddenly upon one in her front garden, but fortunately it turned and went away.).
I also did not know that a kangaroo cannot go backwards (although thinking about it later, It does make sense, what with such a big tail to move backwards.) However there is one thing I can tell you with all surety, dumb as I may otherwise be, I would not invite a wild Kangaroo into my house let alone a caravan. (If I owned one that is!). No I know enough about kangaroos and have enough sense to know that if I found one in my house, I would open all the exit points I possibly could safely and then get as far away, and as quick as possible, and wait till it leaves on its own accord. Why? Because I do know that those things are bad news to tangle with. Many a dog has been drowned in water and humans clawed quite badly by these seemingly docile creatures.
What about you? Are there some things, if not animals, that you just might come into contact with that just won’t, or can’t back up? And you just have to treat differently to what you normally would? Or do you still try and apply the one rule fits all solution. Just something to think about before you get all clawed up over something.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kilroy was real.

Growing up in the late 50’s & 60’s, one became accustomed to the Graffiti reminder that “Kilroy was Here”. However I had always assumed that this was just some rubbish written by someone that just caught on, like the other popular graffiti of the time: ”Foo was here”.
However it seems that the original Kilroy was real at least. I took the following from the net:
James Kilroy was also a Boston City Councillor and state representative. He died in Halifax, Massachusetts. Born: Sep. 26, 1902 Died: Nov. 24, 1962 . He is/was also an American Folk Figure. He was the originator of the ubiquitous World War II expression and doodle "Kilroy was here." The "Kilroy was here" phrase seemed to appear everywhere during World War II. Its origin was not widely known until after the war had ended when the American Transit Association ran a contest in 1946 to find out where and why the phrase originated. The winner was James J. Kilroy of Boston who had been hired by the Fore River shipyard on December 5, 1941, two days before the Pearl Harbor attack, as an inspector. His job was to count the completed rivets and then leave chalk marks where he had left off. It was on this basis that the riveter's daily piece work counts were calculated. Some of the riveters were not too honest and would erase the mark left by Kilroy resulting in some of the rivets being counted twice. James Kilroy got wind of this practice and began to scrawl "Kilroy was here" on his rounds and added the head peering over a wall. Reportedly he left his mark on such famous Fore River vessels as the battleship USS Massachusetts, the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington (II), the heavy cruiser USS Baltimore, as well as numerous troop carriers. Millions of service men saw the slogan on the outgoing ships and all they knew was that "Kilroy" had been there first. Service men began placing the graffiti wherever the United States Forces landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived. This was the origin reported by the New York Times in 1946, with the addition that Kilroy had marked the ships themselves as they were being built - so, at a later date, the phrase would be found chalked in places that no graffiti-artist could have got to, such as inside sealed hull spaces, which then fed the mythical significance of the phrase ("after all, if Kilroy could leave his mark there, who knew what else he could do?").
You might find the above meaningless nonsense, but I am constantly amazed at how many of our “Nonsense’ sayings and stories, all have a true original base to them, even if over the years it gets elaborated on quite considerably. What true stories do you know about otherwise presumedly made up nonsense?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Only One Piece Missing!

Our Church meets in a Public hall in Kilsyth. As there is little room for storage there, we purchased a specially designed Trailer to hold what equipment that we couldn’t store at the Hall. As the person responsible for this were going to be away over Easter we did what we normally do when they are away: set up in a smaller Hall there, with just the Keyboard, but not the rest of the sound system.
To do that, I take the Keyboard and material necessary to operate it with me, home to my place instead, and take it up the following week and set up myself. As well as they being away over Easter, our Worship Leader and family were also away, so with a third of our number away and not being good singers at the best of times, we/I decided to have only one well-known Hymn. So well known in fact that we decided not to even set up the music System then, and everything worked well.
Then the week after Easter, the family with the trailer set up, were again away, but the worship family were back. Well, with our worship leader back, we went back to our normal four items and the music. Sadly when the Music set-up was set up; we found one cord was missing. So even though 99.99% of the equipment was there, we had no music, because, it couldn’t operate with out that .01%. Nevertheless we continued on without it and dare I say it, although normally our singing is pathetic, even with music, it didn’t sound half bad and everyone seemed to lift to cover for the missing music.
However, how often do we find ourselves in a situation where despite having 99.9% of all that is needed, we just can’t continue without that missing 1%? So please, in future, make sure you have the Whole 100% of the necessary equipment you need and have it where you can find it too! *
(* I add that last little bit because the following week, I found the missing Cord in my car hidden under something else. Because it was not where I expected it to be, I didn’t even properly look for I! Please don’t you make the same mistakes too!!!!!!!!)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Strange Incidents – Accidents 2: With Ladders.

In reply to an earlier post: “ Strange incidents – Accidents 1.” I received the following reply from my American blogger friend, Lynx.
It reads: “Here's one for you. It was one of my last few days on the job before I was moving away from home. It had rained the day before, so when I went to change my convenience store's gas sign (we had to manually remove the plastic numbers), the pole's rubber suction cup just wasn't sticking. So I went to get the ladder to climb up and remove the numbers so I could get the new ones up. Well wouldn't you know, the ladder gave from underneath me as I'm switching numbers. Luckily I grabbed onto the skinny@rse rod that we used to hang the pole off of, as we got ready. Luckily a customer saw me and grabbed me so I could let go and not fall to the ground! Now granted, I wasn't that high up, but I was high enough I would've definitely broken bones had I lost my grip! Can you imagine driving 1300 miles all casted up? HAHAHA! Glad I had a customer pumping gas right as it happened!”
Although I have spent most of my secular working life in the Retail industry, I have at various times done a few jobs involving ladders and the outdoors environment. Either painting or general orchard work, and there, either pruning or fruit picking, both of which involves quite a bit of ladder work. Yet, despite much usage of ladders and more than a few spills, I really haven’t had too many thrills or any real damage, apart from the odd bruise here or there.
In fact the most interesting incident with a ladder was when odd Jobbing on an Orchard at Warrandyte shortly before heading of to South Africa in 1990. And like most of m incidents with ladders, it was caused by having the ladder on an un-even surface. I was up about 20 feet on the sloping side of a weatherboard house painting it, when the ladder slowly slipped sideways. Fortunately it, surprisingly, slipped uphill and not downhill! Anyway it slid along the weatherboards and onto the window. Much to my surprise and amazement, the thin glass did not break: then. Eventually the ladder slid right across the glass until it stopped up against the window frame, still without breaking the Glass! However at that point, collecting myself and still hanging onto the tin of paint and the paintbrush, I shifted my weight to climb down the Ladder. That is when the Glass Gave way!
So then I had to stop painting and buy and replace the Glass. Not that I could have done anything about it then, but isn’t it funny how often when we get away with something one wouldn’t normally expect too, that we try and push our Luck just a little further and come unstuck? Perhaps you too are pushing your luck a little too far today? Maybe not with a shaky Ladder or a ladder on uneven ground, but maybe there is something in your life where you just need to step back and not push your luck! Otherwise you just may not be as Lucky as Lynx and I.
What’s you funniest/ worst/ luckiest incident with a ladder or even ladder substitute?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

There Are Other Types Of Magpies Too!

There Are Other Types Of Magpies Too! 27/4/2009
Just to finish off this series on the Australian Magpie, I have to add that there is also another type of Australian Magpie too. Originally a Victorian one, but now one that flies all over Australia now, even if it has to use an aeroplane to do so!
Although long aware of them, (like every other Victorian,) I hadn’t intended to write about them. Well not until my good friend *** reminded me of them with this comment: “ I have a friend who barracks for the Collingwood Football team (called the Magpies) (Oh how sweet it was for Essendon to beat them with 10 seconds to go on Anzac Day.) ******* taught his son to barrack for them also until one day a swooping magpie cleaned him up properly!! Now the boy barracks for the West Coast Eagles!”
I replied with:” It gave me a good laugh but I am sure *******'s son didn't think it funny at all. Rather strange, if not funny too, that he has gone for another team with another Bird symbol with a savage reputation?”
Not defending the Collingwood Football Club here, but talking strictly about birds, while I would much rather not be attacked by either, I would rather be attacked by a magpie than an Eagle.
Without going into the rights and wrongs of supporting the Collingwood Football Team (Which I don’t, and which is the most hated Club in Victoria, if not the whole of Australia), what do you do when you find fault with your old team/Job/partner? Do you, like the Boy above, just change to a similar team? Or do you go and look for one completely different, if not totally opposite? What say you?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Living With Magpies.

As you will have seen from my earlier blogs on Magpies, we have chosen to not only live with magpies, but to encourage them to visit us too. Like many things in life, this may seem like a simple thing to do at the time, but is one with long term repercussions, even if not commitment. As already shared, we started to feed just a couple of magpies and soon had up to 20 squabbling over the food. So far, apart from a mess on one sheet, we have not had too many negatives out of the experience, but not all are so lucky.
My sister, when I asked her of her memories of the Magpies Mum raised or attempted to raise, wrote this: “I think you are correct that they were usually called George. I don't remember how many Mum raised over the years. I do remember at least one dying and Mum was upset as she always tried hard to raise the little ones.
I don't remember how many there were but when our youngest sister was small, I remember one particular George hung around much longer that the norm and came back the following year as Georgina with her own babies.
Thinking about this in later years, she cursed the magpies as they would come onto (the closed in) the veranda looking to steal the cat food and would get trapped in the bathroom and cause havoc and make one hell of a mess, what they didn't knock down they pooped on!”
So, just remember, when you take on an animal, whether a wild one or a pet, (as well as some other projects) it often has long term repercussions. Some, like Georgina coming back with her babies, are nice ones. Others, like stealing the cat food and messing everywhere, not so good.
Well! You have heard my memories of Magpies, what are your memories of wild birds or animals that you would like to share?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Further Experiences With Magpies In the Croydon Area.

In my Blog about “The Magpie tree” I told you of discovering a few magpies who had begun to gravitate around our back yard. Then one or two of them began to come closer and closer to the backdoor including a couple of smaller ones, of whom my wife started to feed with bread and Meat scraps and even porridge and pretty soon word must have passed around because we have at times counted up to 20 Maggies there. (& a couple of Indian Minors and even a Crow, along with a jay, and a couple of Doves – strange combination that!)
Sadly the smaller Magpies started to get bossed about by the bigger ones and one big one in particular. Also now, one cannot even go out into the backyard with out attracting a hovering crowd of flying black and white feathers. That or else having them perching on the roof and fence, looking menacingly at you, hoping you have something for them, even when you haven’t.
This too is a common occurrence in the human world too isn’t it? One starts to help out the real needy and soon the program is swamped by many others, often nowhere as needy, who begin to take over the whole program.
So what do you do? Do you give up on all completely? Do you try and restrict the bossy, greedy ones? Do you try and provide a safer alternative for the needy ones, like my wife tries to do by throwing some basic food for the greedy ones far away, while feeding the more needy ones up close with better quality food?
Yes, what do you do? Give up completely? Or try some alternatives? Your thoughts please?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Magpie Tree.

We had been living in this house for over a year when one day early this year, I went out into our back yard to take some compostable material to the compost Bin, hidden in a small triangle area behind a garden shed and in the vee of the back and corner fence. In this rather confined area a tallish privet tree/bush has grown up rather tall and shades the whole area. Because of the smallness of the Yard at this point, there is only about an 18inch entry point into this small area and so one tends to keep ones head down to make sure one doesn’t trip over the empty flower pots I also store in this “dead; area”. Anyway, as I was putting the compost material in the Bin I heard Magpies overhead singing. Having finished what I was doing, I looked up and saw one about 6 feet away sitting on the fence. Then, looking up I saw one bird sitting literally an arms length above me. I then counted 6 others in this tree. Normally Magpies hang out in tall Gum trees and not in small privet bushes; but there they were!
I think that it was not I, or even the tree, but the worms in the compost bin below it, that was the attraction. Whatever! . Henceforth it has become known as “The Magpie Tree.”
What about you? Do you have a tree or object in your yard that attracts birds or animals it would not normally be attractive to? And Why?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Earlier Experiences With Magpies In the Croydon Area.

During our brief stay at our then recently acquired flat in South Croydon in 1999, our adjoining neighbour had some tamish magpies that used to come and be fed out of his hand off his small porch. I thought that this was cool and wanted to do the same, but our oldest daughter kinda frowned on that. Which was fair enough, as, while we would be leaving shortly after to go back to South Africa, she was going to remain there and thus did not want, not only the job of feeding them, but the problem of them hanging around and messing up her washing when it was hung outside and they perched on her small outside clothes line.
I still think it would have been great to have befriended some Magpies there and then, but do realise that it would not have been fair on our first born, nor the magpies, to start something she did not either want, nor intend to finish or even carry on, especially when we did leave it was in the winter time when extra food would have been extremely scarce, making it hard on the magpies too.
What about you? How much thought do you give to the future or long-term results of things that you can start now, but often will not be able to finish? Do you start on the anyway, without any thought to the consequences that will follow? Just something to think on for now. b

Monday, April 27, 2009

Earlier Experiences With Magpies.

I grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of Melbourne and so grew up with magpies always being around. And especially watching out for the males in Breeding Season, “swooping” on you. Mostly this was a bluff and they usually miss, although when they do hit they leave a bloody reminder of their ever-present danger. So much so, that many people wear helmets if they have to go regularly near a magpie nesting area. That or a big stick and continually turning to check your back. I can’t actually remember any of us Kids being actually attacked, but all of us had been swooped more than once then.
Despite being aggressive during mating/nesting the birds do have a beautiful song and can become quiet if fed, so they were never seen as a real problem or a problem to chase away.
In fact many times a baby magpie would be found having fallen out of its nest and abandoned by its parents, and Mum would take it in and feed it on porridge. Thus they became quite tame and followed us kids everywhere. That actually became the problem, as they were quite tame and following everywhere, they had a habit of getting stepped on or a cat or dog would get them. I can’t remember how many actually survived to adulthood, but mum always named each bird. However for some reason that escapes me now, they were all called George.
All this just explains my sense of comfort with magpies, and that no matter how hostile some may be a mutual living arrangement between us can be accommodated.
So, who around you that you are more naturally enemies than friends, whether human or animal, can you get along with, with a bit of cooperation and accommodation from you? And will you try? More to come later on magpies...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Australian Magpie.

The Australian Magpie is a largish, black and white bird, but the plumage pattern varies across its range. Its nape, upper tail and shoulder are white in males, grey in females. I’m not an expert on “Maggies”, but according to an article from the Web, across most of Australia, the remainder of the Maggies body is black, but in the south-east, centre, extreme south-west and Tasmania, the back and rump are entirely white. The eye of adult birds is chestnut brown.
Although I have only heard them referred to, as Magpies or “Maggies” apparently there is an uncommon alternative name for them as the “Flute Bird”, which refers to its loud musical flute-like song, often performed as a duet or by groups.
Another article described this song as “a beautiful "Warbling Carol" (carolling) which is heard across Australia every day in the bush, on farms and in Urban backyards They call for partners, and also to warn other birds this is their territory The notes become shorter when distressed, and a young magpies "begging for food" call is most insistent.”
They are common and conspicuous birds, found wherever there is a combination of trees and adjacent open areas, including parks and playing fields. They are absent only from the densest forests and arid deserts. Groups of up to 24 birds live year round in territories that are actively defended by all members of the group. The group depends on this territory for all their feeding, roosting and nesting requirements.
The Magpie walks along the ground searching for insects and their larvae. Birds will also take handouts from humans and will often venture into open houses to beg for food.
Although the “Music “ from these birds is beautiful and they can become tamish, they are also quite aggressive at breeding season, and especially males who fiercely defend their nest and territories by basically dive bombing any perceived threat whether in the air on the ground including humans, sometimes resulting in a jab to the back of the head, or at the very least a huge fright. They prefer to wait until the quarry is not looking, so often the first you know of it is when wings are beating beside your ears.
Now you can get fuller and more complete information on our magpies by checking out the Web for yourself. All the above is for, is to try and set the scene a little for you if you have no idea of what a Maggie is, so that I can tell a few stories of our own backyard and magpies, in subsequent blogs.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Whose Fault Is It Really?

Another inspired by a “For Better or For Worse” comic Strip by Lynn Johnston. This one has the two boys playing outside watching water gushing out of a drainpipe. One says, “Lotta water Mike. You really going to stick your hand under there?” To which Mike does. And the first boy says, “Neat! Try the other Hand.” When Mike does, the first boy says, “Why don’tcha take a drink?” And of course Mike does. And then the first boy says, “ Put your Head under. Ha. Go right under.” And of course Mike does.
And at this point Mike realises, “ I’m soaked. Mum’s Gunna kill me!” And then Mike says: “AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
Ever been in a similar situation where you have allowed another to egg you on to do something foolish, while they have remained safe, but leaving you to bear the consequences? In a sense it is all partially their fault. But the full responsibility still remains with you for your own actions. So what past foolishness to you have to stop blaming others for, face up to your own responsibilities?
Sure, they may have egged you on, but it was still your choice to proceed or not to proceed.
Maybe even now someone is egging you on to something that they themselves won’t do, but want you to. Well, stop blaming others and start taking responsibility for your own actions. And stop letting others dictate to you if you don’t really want to do what others want you to do. Start taking responsibility for your own actions and let others take their own actions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What The Heck Is A Heck.

Was reading in the Melbourne Herald Sun Newspaper an article on April 23RD about Heck cattle being introduced to England from Germany and so I started to wonder what the heck a Heck was.
Looking at some on line Dictionaries, I found that a heck was a lot of different things. According to the “Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper” it is a euphemistic alteration of hell, first recorded 1865.
As such it is used as an interjection like:
1. (Used as a mild expression of annoyance, rejection, disgust, etc.): What the heck do you care?
2. Something remarkable of its kind (usually used in the phrase heck of a): That was a heck of an impressive speech. Have one heck of a good time.
3. As heck (used as a mild intensifier): I say he's guilty as heck.

Then according to “Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.” It can be: Heck\, n. [See Hatch a half door.] [Written also hack.]
1. The bolt or latch of a door. [Prov. Eng.]
2. A rack for cattle to feed at. [Prov. Eng.]
3. A door, especially one partly of latticework; -- called also heck door. [Prov. Eng.] --Halliwell.
4. A latticework contrivance for catching fish.
5. (Weaving) An apparatus for separating the threads of warps into sets, as they are wound upon the reel from the bobbins, in a warping machine.
6. A bend or winding of a stream. [Prov. Eng.]
Half heck, the lower half of a door.
Heck board, the loose board at the bottom or back of a cart.
Heck box or frame, that which carries the heck in warping.
1. Then according to the “Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.” It Is: A comblike attachment on a loom, for guiding the warp threads as they are dressed for the warp beam.
2. A device that guides yarn onto the bobbin of a spinning wheel.
3. A gridlike arrangement of glass or metal rods below the hooks on a Jacquard loom, used for lifting all harness eyes equally or evenly.

So after reading all that, I learnt a heck of a lot more about heck than I previously knew; but still didn’t know what the heck a Heck cow was. For that I had to leave the On-line Dictionaries and go back on Line where I found the following about Heck cattle. And found that their name had nothing to do with the other heck, except in their spelling.
Heck cattle were developed in the early 20th century by the Heck brothers in Germany in an attempt to breed back modern cattle to their presumed ancestral form, the aurochs, Bos primigenius primigenius. Heinz Heck working at the Hellabrunn Zoological Gardens in Munich began creating the Heck breed in about 1920. Lutz Heck, director of the Berlin Zoological Gardens, began extensive breeding programs supported by the Nazis during World War II to bring back the aurochs. The reconstructed aurochs fit into the Nazi propaganda drive to create an idyllic history of the Aryan nation.
Heinz Heck crossed Hungarian Grey Cattle, Scottish Highland, Murnau-Werdenfels, Angeln, German Friesian, Podolic cattle and Corsican breeds. In Berlin, Lutz Heck crossed Spanish and French fighting cattle with other breeds. The resulting animals’ configurations were largely similar. The Berlin breed was lost in the aftermath of World War II. So modern Heck cattle are descended from the Hellabrunn breed. At the end of the 20th century, other so-called primitive breeds were crossbred with Heck cattle to come closer to the aim of creating a cattle breed that resembles the extinct aurochs in external appearance.
Characteristics: A typical Heck bull should be at least 1.6 m (5'3") high and a cow 1.4 m (4'7"), with weight 600 to 900 kg (1,300 to 2,000 lb). Heck cattle are twenty to thirty centimeters shorter than the aurochs they were bred to resemble. However, cross-breeding efforts continue to increase the size and weight of the breed, particularly in Germany.
The Heck bulls were not much larger than the bull of most breeds of domestic cattle, while wild aurochs bulls are believed to have often exceeded 1000 kilograms (2,200 lb), half the size of a rhinoceros. So the African Watusi cattle were then brought into the herd. The result was a somewhat larger animal, but it also caused infertility among the cows, a sign of the genetic divergence that had occurred between these populations of Bos over the millennia. Heck cattle were first bred outside of a zoo in 1980. There were 88 registered at that time. Continued crossbreeding with these animals resolved the infertility in the cows.
Distribution: There are about 2000 Heck cattle in Europe and few elsewhere. Although there are now 13 In the Devon countryside of England too!
Controversy: Even though trying to bring back extinct species may seem commendable, "breeding back" is a controversial procedure in the scientific community (see also Quagga). The general consensus among biologists today is that the Hecks' original methodology used to "recreate" the aurochs was flawed: once a genetic lineage is gone, it cannot be "bred back". Some go as far as to consider it outright deceitful. For example, Professor Z. Pucek of the Bialowieza Nature Preserve has characterized the Heck cattle as the "biggest scientific swindle of the 20th Century. Professor Pucek has devoted his life to the conservation of the surviving native Wisent (European Bison) which is seen by some as competition to Heck cattle development.
On the other hand, Heck cattle are considered by some the most suitable cattle breed for low intensity grazing systems in certain types of nature reserves, due to their ruggedness and lack of need for human care. Heck cattle today are propagated in some places to fulfil the role of extinct megafauna in the ecosystem. However, there is uncertainty as to what ecological niche the aurochs itself filled. Dr Frans Vera claims that the aurochs lived in open parkland and supports their inclusion in nature reserve management. Cis van Vuure, however, in his book, Retracing the Aurochs: History, Morphology and Ecology of an Extinct Wild Ox suggests that the aurochs dwelled in dense forests and marshes while the Wisent dwelled in the open landscape. Wisent supporters claim that Heck cattle landscape management is a public relations ploy in order to illegitimately garner support for Heck cattle at the expense of a genuine native species, the Wisent.
Nevertheless, in view of today's farm breeding programs (primarily to increase milk and meat production), the Heck cattle represent an important source of vital genes. Since a single breeding bull with good genes can be a sperm donor for a hundred thousand offspring, inbreeding becomes a serious problem in modern farm animal management, potentially resulting in diseases that rarely affect Heck cattle and other old farm breeds.
Now you may be wondering what the heck all this has to do with you today? Well all I can say is, that a heck of a lot of people went to a heck of a lot of trouble, and expense, not to mention spending a heck of a lot of time, to bring these Hecks into existence. Whether it was worth it may be never known, but I can’t help but wonder what our own heck cows are?
In other words, is there something that we too are spending a heck of a lot of time, effort and expense on, which is also controversial in whether the end results are really worth the time, trouble and expense? Or would we and the world, be better off if we spent all that time, expense and effort on more purposeful projects?
Oh, what the Heck! Your thoughts please?