Monday, 31 May 2010

Curiosity & The Priest

Author Unknown

A priest, in urgent need to use the bathroom, walks into a local bar. The bar is jumping with loud music and lively conversation, but every few minutes the lights abruptly go off.

Every time the lights go off, the bar crowd bursts into loud whoops and applause, but when they see the priest enter the bar, the place becomes absolutely quiet.

The priest walks over to the bartender and asks, "Can you please tell me where your bathroom is?"

"Sure, but I have to tell you, father, there's a statue of a naked woman in it and she's wearing only a fig leaf."

"No problem, I'll just avert my eyes, then," Said the priest.

The bartender then shows the priest to the far side of the bar where the bathroom is located. After a short while, the priest comes out of the bathroom and the bar crowd pauses only long enough to give him a rousing cheer.

Perplexed he goes over to the bartender and asks, I'm puzzled. Why did they cheer for me as I came out of the bathroom just now?"

"Well, father, it's because your curiosity has made you human and likeable, just like us," said the bartender. "May I pour you a drink?"

"No thank you, but, I'm still puzzled," said the priest.

"You see, father," chuckles the bartender, "every time somebody moves the fig leaf on the naked woman statue, the bar lights go off. Now, what do you say to that drink?"

Sunday, 30 May 2010

How Does God Show Up?

By Tony Haynes

People ask me how does God show up
When He can't be seen?
Facetiously I reply "How does God show up?
Whatever do you mean?"

Let me sit you down
And talk to you
Let me pull you 'round
And walk you through

How God shows up - He does it through people & situations
In which He uses them as vivid illustrations
Of His handiworks
How His Plan B lurks
When man besmirched Plan A
And the planet is in disarray

We are drowning - so He sends a boat our way
We say "That's okay, I'm waiting on God to show up"
We sink deeper so we pray
Then He sends a plane that day
Again we say "I'm waiting on God to show up"

We drown we die we're in Heaven now
And we ask the Father "Why'd you let us down?"
"Father we called out your name
We cried for you and you never came!"

God replies "I saw you, so I sent a boat
You didn't board it, you just let it float
I heard you, so I sent a plane
You ignored it and you drowned in vain

I showed up in paragon skies
In a twinkle in children's eyes
I showed up in a stranger who brought a meal
And in the danger I did not let you feel

Even when you did I was there
I was a paramedic in urgent care
That's how I show up, through people & situations
In villages, cities, throughout all nations
You kill, you lie & you blow up
Still I live, I love & I show up

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Rigging Up Controversies

By Pandora Poikilos

As with any catastrophe, the BP oil spill issue is rigging up more than just oily sea waters. Criticisms of all sorts are flowing in from various channels concerning the lack of effort and enthusiasm for the matter from BP and the Obama administration. Some have even gone to the extent of demanding a boycott for BP.

The anger, concern and frustration are understandable as various people are coming to terms with different issues stemming from this tragedy. But why the boycott? Yes, it’s BP’s rig. But neither BP nor the Obama administration willingly allowed this to happen. An accident occurred. Then came its aftermath which unfortunately we are all coming to terms with from the oil slicked shores to all over the world.

Boycotts and pickets wont’s stop the oil from spilling or help those affected to move forward with their families equipped with the necessary support they actually need.

Could all of this have entirely been avoided? Maybe. But we’ll have plenty of time after the spill is cleared to analyse the fault lines and the many lessons that this catastrophe is here to teach us.

Is BP doing enough? They are doing what they can with what they have. We all wish problems that occur, automatically appear at our doorstep with a red ribbon parcel that’s marked “solutions”. With any problem, it just doesn’t work that way. No solution, especially for something this enormous happens overnight.

There is constant speculation that BP scientists are not giving accurate figures and that they are undermining the actual situation. But then again, no one person can provide completely accurate figures all in one go, when something compelled to other exponents such as sea, current and depth are involved.

Instead of analyzing the situation’s mistakes, criticizing those who have claimed responsibility, all energy should be diverted and focused on wildlife preservation, the fishermen whose income is hanging by threads, their families and the families who are mourning for their loved ones who lost their lives at the very beginning of this tragedy. There so many more pressing issues at hand than to go around voicing boycotts and splashing fake oil on BP signs.

While this may be far larger an environmental disaster than the Exxon Valdez spill or the present spill at Singapore, we should be focused on helping where we can, however we can. Accurate findings, judgement and everything else can come once the spill has been cleared and lives of those affected restored.

There are many difficult decisions to be made by BP and the Obama administration. Decisions that you and I, unless appropriately qualified and sitting in their shoes, would never come close to making. Anger and frustration might get you heard and noticed but it doesn’t always get you anywhere near what you need.

Friday, 28 May 2010

All Because You Smiled

Author Unknown

If at times you feel you want to cry
And life seems such a trial
Above the clouds theres a bright blue sky
So make your tears a smile.

As you travel on lifes way
With its many ups and downs
Remember its quite true to say
One smile is worth a dozen frowns.

Among the worlds expensive things
A smile is very cheap
And when you give a smile away,
You get one back to keep.

Happiness comes at times to all
But sadness comes unbidden
And sometimes a few tears must fall
Among the laughter hidden.

So when friends have sadness on their face
And troubles round them piled
The world will seem a better place
And all because you smiled.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sometimes The Day Comes

By Joy Sankhala

Sometimes the day comes
when you try your level best
to achieve something
but you fail

Sometimes the day comes
when nobody understands you
and you feel that you are isolated
from the world

Sometimes the day comes
when you want to help the needy
but find yourself unable to
because of some reasons

Sometimes the day comes
when you are hungry and have a few bucks
but you see the child laborers and buy food for them

Sometimes the day comes
when Mom comes up with one answer
and Father with another
and you have to make your own decision

Sometimes the day comes
when you see that some people ditch others
because of their selfishness

Sometimes the day comes
when you want to tell something to your parents
but find yourself unable to because
you think that they might get hurt or misunderstand you

Sometimes the day comes
when your friends drift apart
not because you were not able to understand them
but because they were not able to understand you

Sometimes the day comes
when you want to smile
but can't find a place to even weep

Sometimes the day comes
when your beloved can't understand your feelings
and leaves you alone
and you look down and feel ashamed or embarrassed

But sometimes the day comes
when you learn from all your failure and think
"Those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly."

Don't look down, look up.

You are one of the persons to whom GOD is closest
and He loves you.

Remember GOD also has a son (Jesus) on the earth
but not without sufferings, peril and agonies.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Not So Plain Crashes

By Pandora Poikilos

It was the Sunscreen Song by Baz Luhrmann in the late 90's that said, 'the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.'

Tragedies like plane crashes definitely fit the bill often seizing the world by shock and related families by overwhelming grief. There will always be the rush, first - for the black boxes and then - the fault line.

In some cases, after much publicity and pressure, a compensation will be awarded and that brings up ultimately more important questions. What is the value of a human life? How much is the price of grief in this age and time?

Irrelevant of pilot, airline or airport error, who holds the hands of those who have lost their loved ones? Parents will have to do the unnatural act of burying their children, and in the case of the gentleman who has lost 16 members of his family (in the recent Air India - Mangalore crash), a family stands the chance of losing its legacy altogether.

It will be a long time before their lives resemble anything close to 'normal'. The media purposefully highlights their plight at the point of the tragedy. Whose to know what happens beyond that? Everyone forgets the tragedy or simply assume that those affected have healed.

But seriously, do they ever really make it through? How much help do they actually need beyond their monetary needs? So much time and effort is often spent on the mechanics and financial aspects of a plane crash, taking away lessons to prevent from such tragedies again, but who are the watchers for the not so plan factors? Definitely, worth a thought isn't it?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Unbaked Chocolate Cheesecake

Sourced from Cheesecake Recipes

What You'll Need
125g plain chocolate biscuits
60g butter, melted

250g cream cheese,softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs, separated
1 cup cream, whipped
125g dark chocolate
pinch salt

Method To Savour
Crush biscuits in food processor or with the end of a rolling pin. Add melted butter and mix well to combine. Press mixture onto the base of a 20cm springform cake tin. Refrigerate.

Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Make sure the water doesn't come into contact with the chocolate.

Beat cream cheese until smooth, add half the sugar and the vanilla essence. Beat well. Add lightly beaten egg yolks and melted chocolate and mix well. Gently fold in whipped cream. Refrigerate until set - three hours minimum.

To serve, decorate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

My outcome
All in all, a wonderful result! But the base could have had a firmer form.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Never Giving Up

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him and every day he scanned the horizon for help but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up in the sky. The worst had happened, everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger.

'God, how could you do this to me?!' he cried.

Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

'How did you know I was here?' asked the weary man of his rescuers.

'We saw your smoke signal,'they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and siffering. Remember, next time your little is burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunscreen Song Lyrics

The lyrics to Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen, by Mary Schmich:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

I Wanted To Show Dad

Author Unknown

This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game.This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to.

But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.

When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roste because he always puts his heart and soul into every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games.

This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in the game.It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big play off game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?" The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, "Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come back to the game on Saturday.

Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon."Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today," said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in. "All right," he said."You can go in."

Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown.

The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you've never heard! Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"

He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?" The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"

Friday, 21 May 2010

Waves of Violence

By Pandora Poikilos

Almost half a decade after the devastating Tsunami, Thailand’s waves of destruction are far from over. At a first glance, it almost appeared as if Thailand, although one of the worst hit at the time, was relatively fast in making a recovery.

While Mother Nature took a backseat, political indifferences waged on. Admittedly, waves of violence are nothing new to Thailand. Despite having the longest reigning monarch in the world, each prime minister for decades has had problems with protests and attempts at being driven out of office.

It seems almost habitual that when a new prime minister enters, a group of people see it as their given right to gather and attempt to drive out the prime minister irrelevant of his capabilities to perform his duties.

In recent months, this duel took a very different time compared to previous times. They were finally faced with someone who was listening (but not necessarily giving in) to their demands. As Bangkok became close to a ghost town in a matter of four weeks amidst the Red Shirt protests, Abhisit Vejjajiva had media, peers and general public criticizing him for not putting a stop to their protests. When interviewed, he always bore these criticisms with grace despite the obvious invisible weight that had kept loading itself on his shoulders.

Ironically, the Red Shirts demanded that they be given a compromise for themselves but made very little effort to offer compromise from themselves. They kept insisting for immediate elections. The government proposed elections for November or September but were turned down. They stormed a hospital. They barricaded themselves (woman and children included) creating a worldwide sensation as countries around the world started issuing travel advisories for Thailand. As the dead and injured piled up, Abhisit regained ground while the Red Shirts lost theirs.

What stirred me most about this entire episode, despite the unfortunate death toll, was that Abhisit stood his ground, patiently. Beware the fury of a patient man, indeed. He accepted the criticism, first – for allowing the protests and then for knocking down the protest site.

We have never been of the opinion that democracy is about going against your government in a violent protest because you are angry, unhappy and frustrated. Those are sentiments we feel everyday. Think Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela. They dealt with issues of segregation, slavery, apartheid. They came from a time when the generation of today probably wouldn’t survive in. They fought for what they believed in not because they expected a majority following or to rise against a running government in a violent manner but because as individuals, they wanted change, for the better.

Perhaps we are merely ignorant but here’s a change of logic that makes me clueless as to why people act the way they do. In Thailand, buildings such a shopping mall was torched. Who benefits from this?

The government would probably need to rebuild it, compensations might need to be given out, all likely scenarios. Here’s another. The building is torched. The public loses jobs. Tourists shun Bangkok = Less revenue = less income for people of Bangkok. And somehow, it’s the people that are complaining that the government is causing destruction to their lives. Sometimes, I really wonder.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

You Hurt Me Too

"but you hurt me too”
- often used in an argument where both parties are trying to justify who has hurt the other more or who has contributed more towards the relationship.
- actually means, I’m not angry about right now. We’ve really not been communicating for a long time. This can be remedied with a CALM, sit down talk but if there’s no chance of this happening, then well, a mediator or some time away from each other might be required.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I Am Blind

Author Unknown

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: "I am blind, please help." There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.

That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?"

The man said, "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way."

What he had written was: "Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it."

Do you think the first sign and the second sign were saying the same thing?

Of course both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so lucky that they were not blind.

Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story
Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively.

Live life with no excuse and love with no regrets.

When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile.

Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Keep the faith and drop the fear.

Great men say, "Life has to be an incessant process of repair and reconstruction, of discarding evil and developing goodness! In the journey of life, if you want to travel without fear, you must have the ticket of a good conscience."

The most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling. And even more beautiful, is knowing that you are the reason behind it!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

You Never Lose Your Value

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked "What is this piece of paper and is it worth anything?" "It is a $20 bill, which can be cashed in international & national markets for it's quoted value?" replied one of the many participants who raised their hands.

The speaker proceeded to crumple up the $20 bill using both his hands until it became a bundle of wrinkled paper. He then unfolded it again and making an unsuccessful attempt to keep it straight he asked, "Would you still be able to negotiate it for it's quoted value?"

" Yes !!" was the echoing reply from the participants.

"Well," he said, "Looks like I haven't done enough! What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, which was now all crumpled, dirty, defaced and not easy to recognize from a distance. "Now will some one like to trade it for its quoted value?" Many hands went in the air.

"I think that piece of currency is still holding its quoted value" replied a participant in an unsure voice. "This bill can still fetch goods worth 20 Dollars" said the other participants. Every one agreed.

"My friends, there is a very valuable lesson in this exercise that we are just through with. It may have appeared to some of you, that I was able to deshape, deface, mutilate & alter the $20 bill during the process as the effects were quite visible".

"However, No matter what I did to this piece of paper, you still upheld its negotiability because you were sure in your mind that my actions did not actually decrease its value. It was still a currency note worth $20".

"Many times in our lives, we feel as though we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and/or the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. It may also appear to onlookers as if it has really happened to a certain extent. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, please remember you never lose your "Value".

Monday, 17 May 2010

A Story To Live By

By Ann Wells
Sourced from Los Angeles Times

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion." He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician.

His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.

I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.

I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends'.

"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing-I'll never know.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good Friends whom I was going to get in touch with-someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write-one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.

And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.

Every day, every minute, every breath truly is, a gift from God.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Influential Characters Around Pip

Book ... Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Analysis ... Influential Characters Around Pip
Year ... 1996

The novel Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens who although being a promising writer had an unpromising childhood. His parents, even before he was born, found it hard to make ends meet and the whole family had a hard life. Further devastation occurred when Charles’ father was sent to prison for massive debts. Charles, a mere child, was taken out of school and sent to work. After his father was released and wished that Charles be sent back to school, his mother declined the suggestion and this might have been the greatest wound in Charles’ life. From the experience of these hardships and short childhood, grew a writer whose published works touched the hearts of many.

Great Expectations is a narration by a young lad named Pip and the first chapter opens with him telling us about the family he really belonged to - his parents and his five brothers who are all dead and buried in the churchyard. It is while he is visiting their graves one day that he meets a man he comes to fear the very instant Pip sets his eyes on him. Pip does not know that this man is a n escaped convict. But Pip does know that he is strong and is capable of carrying out the threats he has issued to Pip. Young Pip is to tell no one about the man in the marshes and needs to assist the man by bringing him food and a metal file to break his prison chains. Pip’s fear is obvious when he thinks that this man is capable of murder and the convict does nothing to ease Pip’s fear but merely worsens it when he turns Pip upside down. “His eyes looked powerfully into mine; and mine looked helplessly up at his.”

Pip scuttles home as soon as he is let go, promising the convict assistance and secrecy of it. Upon Pip’s return home, we are introduced to Mrs. Joe Gargery and Joe.

Mrs. Joe Gargery is Pip’s sister who has brought Pip up “by hand”. To a reader, we simply understand that she was solely responsible for his upbringing. Pip, however, amuses us by telling us his perception of being brought up “by hand” is that Mrs. Joe whacked had whacked him a lot with her hand and thus he was raised by her hand. Mrs. Joe is portrayed as tough, stern, moody and grumpy person. If she does not beat Pip with her hand, she uses Tickler, the cane. Mrs. Joe is praised by those around her for raising Pip single handedly although Pip feels that she treats him like an orphan. Unlike Joe, Mrs. Joe has got no patience with him and chides him for asking ever so many questions. “Ask no questions and you’ll be told no lies.” However, Mrs. Joe is a well-versed housewife who cooks and cleans with an almost scary efficiency for she believes “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Her presence is well-noted throughout the story and when she does get hurt later on, Pip and Joe miss her greatly, for although death does not take her, she appears to be turned into a vegetable from the heavy blows struck by her assailant. Her death and the sadness that surrounds it brings, brings us to see that in each one of us, as much as there is the desire to be strong; we are all made weak by circumstances. We also see a gentler side of her in that although described as a difficult person, she loved passionately and was loved in return.

Pip also tells us about Joe, the man he knew as good as he might have been his father. Joe is portrayed as a true Christian and the-ever hardworking blacksmith who helps his wife in raising her brother. Joe is a simple man and we also learn that he cannot read which is why he is probably adamant in encouraging Pip in what the lad wants to do while at the same time, taking the opportunity to instill unforgettable values. It is a touching moment, when after Pip, arriving at his inheritance is visited by Joe, the latter insists on calling Pip “Sir”. Pip, uneasy at this title insists on being called otherwise. Joe sticks by Pip although Pip, at times is so caught up with himself and his wants does not realize this. Dickens strongly highlights this point when Pip is ill after being involved in debts and Joe is at his bedside throughout the entire time, receiving no thanks but leaving with gratitude. It is obvious that even when Pip felt Joe too simple and Joe’s profession disdainful, Joe only had love for Pip. We see this towards the end, when Joe after remarrying, names his own son, Pip.

Yet another important character in Pip’s life is Miss Havisham who is the owner of Satis house (satis means enough). She invites Pip to her mansion which appears dull, old and musty inside, to play with her daughter whom we later learn is actually her step daughter. The girl, Estella, who looks older but might be around Pip’s age has been brought up to hate men. This slowly unfolds to the time after the death of Miss Havisham’s mother, her father denied her nothing. She grew to be a woman, fell in love and decided to marry. Everything was bought, the gown, the cake, jewellery and more to make it the most splendid wedding ever. The day arrived but unfortunately not the groom, Compeyson. He wrote her a letter having no decency to face her to break off the engagement of the marriage. Emotionally torn apart at this heartache, Miss Havisham hated men till the day she died and continued to live in a dream world where everything was left just as it was before the wedding. The clocks were stopped, the cake though never eaten rotted in the dining room and she wore her wedding gown. She pays Pip for coming to play with Estella and apprentices Pip to Joe. When Pip receives news about his inheritance, she makes him believe that she is anonymous donor and it is her plan for him to marry Estella. She dies in a tragic way but not before telling Pip that she forgives Estella for her wrongdoings.

Estella, it seems is portrayed as Pip’s greatest expectation of all. At their first meeting, while playing cards, she calls him “rough, coarse and common.” These words without a doubt send tears to his eyes and hatred for her in his heart. This changes years later, when Estella after returning from abroad, appears to be the most beautiful thing Pip has ever set his eyes upon. He grows to love while she grows to hate him and instead falls in love with Bentley Drummle., Pip’s steadfast enemy. Dickens points out Pip’s love for her at many different parts of the book. It seems that he has appeared to have taken Miss Havisham’s words seriously. “If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – lover her, love her, love her!” Pip goes through much pain, first for the girl that she is and later for the young woman she has become. She does marry Drummle but it is years later when Pip finds out that the marriage has failed and the Estella he now sees and still loves is a kind, mild, tender-hearted woman who learns that after all, she loves him too.

Abel Magwitch @ Provis @ the convict at the Marshes has his character revealed in an unlikely plot. It appears that it is he who being so grateful for Pip’s assistance at the marshes is the real benefactor. It is his most sincere wish that Pip has no sufferings in life and be groomed as a gentleman. Pip is at first disappointed that his benefactor is not Miss Havisham but is grateful for all that Provis has done and helps him get away from Compeyson upon his return to home ground. However, Magwitch is finally convicted of the crimes he has done and he breathes his last, old and tired, in prison with the gentleman he has made, Pip, by his side.

It is around these characters that Pip’s entire life revolves around. His expectations made upon each one of them and their expectations of. “The strongest will win in the end but the strongest must be discovered first.” Pip lived his past, present and future around these people these people. He influenced their lives as much as they influenced his. In different bonds and in different relationships but at the end of it all, Pip’s great expectations were realized, sought after and won.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

This Is My Story

By Kim Johnson

I have found that each day does get a little easier, simpler; I find that when you don't sit around and think about the possibilities or purpose, that life just... well happens. I am finding that with this journey comes many lessons learned, some good, and some bad but all in all a lesson.

They say that you should live in the moment, live today and not focus on your past or what the future holds. They say you should open your heart and arms to new experiences, take risk and embrace life. They say that if you are too busy talking about your past then you aren't living.

That was me, afraid of risk, yet I find that everyday for me in my life lately is a risk. I don't ponder about possibilities, or destiny, or whether or not I'm living life the way it's supposed to be. I don't question or over analyze what it is that is supposed to happen, or why it doesn't. The strange thing is I am finding contentment. I am finding me.

There once was a voice never often to be heard inside of me that now is not afraid to speak. I find that answers do appear when you pull back from asking, and that all things find a way of resolving themselves if you have just a little bit of faith.

Faith, now that is a good one. I use to blame God for things that happened in my life, for I could not understand for the life of me why it was I had to endure so much pain, or what the meaning was for certain events in my life. I questioned everything and often wanted to give up not only on myself but God.

Many would remind me often that God only gives to you what he knows you can handle, my response was always "well then he does not know me very well". But then as time heals pain, and I began to open my withered broken heart I realized something so simple, something that was always in front of me but so afraid to see.

"God did not make those things happen to me, people did. For it was through people's actions that made me feel a certain way. People make you feel happy, sad, they push you to be a better person, or bring you down, they can motivate you, open your heart and your eyes to new experiences and life long memories, or they can steal every ounce of strength you have... if you let them."

Did you get that last line.... "If you let them".

It finally dawned on me, I had let them. I allowed and enabled people to dictate how it was I was supposed to feel, live, and experience life. Instead of my choice, I gave them opportunity to break me, to second guess who it is I am, and more importantly help me to lose faith; faith in God, faith in myself and faith in living. Always too willing to please everybody else that I lost track of what it was that made me happy, and who I was within.

I thought if I focused on everyone else's problems that mine would somehow go away, or that I could shove them in corner and not worry about what it was I was going through or what it was I needed. It was easier to be a clown with a smile on my face and disguise what it was I was really feeling. It was easy to laugh, and wear my mask; it felt better, more secure.

I reached out to everyone else and that is how I liked it... anything than having to focus on my own needs. I would not allow anyone to enter those gates I kept locked down so tight. I would not allow anyone to get a hold of the key, and if they tried, I made sure that task was not easy for them.

Funny, you find that living that way makes it very lonely. You begin to settle and think that you need to be accepting of how it is. You shut yourself from everyone and everything for fear that something may make you feel the slightest bit of happiness, and you find that your self worth has hit rock bottom.

Instead of focusing on the positive things that surround you, you choose the alternate path and would rather criticize yourself for all the things that have gone wrong as opposed to looking at all of the right. Your emotions play on you and like the seasons in a year your feelings change from love, to hatred, to just plain resentment.

Bitterness will begin to consume you if you let it. Then one day you awake and you find that enough is enough. Suddenly life is not all that bad and as you begin each day you find and focus on the many things in your life to be thankful for. You begin to realize just how fortunate you are, and each day becomes easier, and you begin to breathe. You exhale, and you breathe.

Then out of no where, when you least expect it the guard comes down, a door opens and someone finds their way into your foyer. Next thing you know you are experiencing life and love for the first time with arms wide open, eyes shut, and suddenly your driving on a road unpaved taking each mile with caution, yet enthusiasm to see where it is your journey takes you.

You begin to allow your heart to open and you find gratification in the smallest of things. You view your experiences differently and begin to build that bridge as opposed to tearing it down. Again, you find you begin to breathe, you exhale, and you focus on the moment.

You find that love is unconditional and hopeless. You believe in dreams and that love can conquer all.

You believe that good will overpower evil, and you put trust not only in yourself but also in others, and find the courage, the strength, and the empowerment to learn.

Life is not a fairy tale, in fact just the opposite. I do know that we are in control of writing our own story; that each page is blank until we create the words that are to be imprinted on the paper.

We have the right to change our ending at anytime, and we find the courage to take risk, to fail, to fall, and most importantly to get back up and to try again. Without failure there are no lessons learned and without lessons learned you do not truly live life to your fullest.

I have been writing my story for a long time, my ending has changed multiple times. It is with each change that I find new awareness and answers that I have longed for. I may not always like the answers but then again, if life could be predictable where would the adventure be? Everyone would be the same and there would be nothing that separates one from the other. What kind of life would that be?

I have come a long way, and although I may not have liked every curve or bend that I have traveled, I know that there is a meaning and a purpose behind each one.

I know that people come into your life for a reason or a purpose and just maybe, if you open your heart to some of those possibilities, you can begin to get a better understanding of what it is you are truly searching for, truly need.

It takes great discipline to stay on track and not be afraid to find what it is that makes you happy, what it is that makes you want to soar and open up to those around you.

The hardest task for me to overcome is to trust. You think that if you trust someone and that trust forsakes you that it is a mistake, in reality it is just another lesson learned.

You write your own destiny, you write your own story. Trust is a heavy word, for with trust you can sink or you can swim.

You choose who sits in your theatre and with this choice you can move those seats many times rotating, weeding out the weak, and putting in front of you those that make you strong and give you the confidence to be the best that you can be.

You learn to shake away those that break you and replenish them with those that make you strive to be better, those that make you strong.

People use to say that a dreamer wastes him time and energy on things that are never attainable. I think that without dreams there is no vision. Without vision there is no faith. I have faith and vision and know that with determination I will always dream of possibilities, and of chance.

I certainly do not have all the answers, but what I do know is that I am no longer afraid to ask. I may not always get an answer right away, but with patience and persistence eventually they will come.

I have learned that in order to get answers one must seek and search out the truth and although not always easy, the truth will come, it always does.

Many use the things in their past as a crutch, they justify their actions on what they have gone through or what they have experienced. I am just the opposite. I am stronger, and I am who I am because of my past.

Truth be told, if I had to do it all over again, there are many things that I would not change. I have never used my past as a crutch or a means to make excuses for the choices I have made in life.

Reality is that I have and will always be in control of my decisions, and what it is I want to achieve. I put my two feet on the floor each morning and it is there that I, and only I, decide what kind of day it is that I am going to live. Attitude is everything!

You have a choice to either embrace life or hide from it. I no longer want to hide. I have many things to learn and may roads to travel. I want to embrace it and hold it tight!

Fear is an evil beast and it takes much determination to conquer it. It begins with confidence and faith within yourself and if you do not have those qualities you must search until you find them.

They say leave your fear on your doorstep at night. If only it were that simple.

I use to be afraid of many things whether it be the dark, chance, or loneliness. I was so exhausted thinking about the "what if's" that it distracted me and kept me from what really was or could have been. I always thought that all I needed was myself, that I did not need any help, and that there was nothing I could not do alone.

Reality is we are never alone, we may try to choose it, but we are not. If you look closely on the ground you will always see two sets of footprints everywhere you go.

The truth of the matter is that everyone needs someone. Whether it is to be a friend, a confidant, lover, a mentor, a teacher, leader, a follower, or philosopher, we all need someone. We teach and share with one another our strengths, and we learn from one another how to overcome our weaknesses. We all need someone, at sometime in our life; we do.

What baffles me the most, and to share with you one of my weaknesses, is this:

Why is it that I know how to say all the right things to someone else that I can feel their pain, have compassion and know what it is that troubles ones heart?

How is it I can look inside a person and know that they are in pain that they need someone to confide in?

I can be their support and I can give them loyalty and friendship. I can help them find themselves and give them direction to get back on the path they have stumbled from.

I ask this because for the life of me I cannot understand why it is at times I do not take my own advice. I can remedy a situation and offer love and understanding yet when it comes to myself, I look into the mirror and the reflection looking back is one that cannot comprehend what it is I should accomplish or what it is I need to do to get resolution to my circumstances.

It is there that fear begins to consume me and I must focus on my faith to pull me through. It is here that I find that I do need someone... that I want someone to assist me with my struggles to overcome this fear, this trust.

It is here that I await patiently, quietly for the answers. I know that they will come. I hold onto the faith, I believe... and I wait.

Maybe this is my gift that I have been given, and just maybe... this is my purpose.

We all have many gifts in life, we are unique and hold many talents and are each blessed in different ways. The key is to find that gift and ways that you can extend it to those around you.

I know that life will never be perfect and it is because of its flaws that make life worth exploring; every obstacle, every crack to be viewed as yet another challenge in creating a page in our life long story.

What compels me to continue my journey is that I have come to the realization that I have more to learn, many things to offer, and many failures and mistakes to make.

I realize that at this time I have not lived long enough nor made enough of an imprint on who I am and how it is I want to be remembered.

What I do know is this: that I rely on as well as am thankful for the "someones" in my life.

The philosopher who states that, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away".

The spiritual influence that states, "Faith is not trying to believe something regardless of the evidence. Faith is daring something regardless of the consequences".

To my mentor, my grandfather, who use to say, "Life is not about what you do each day, the treasures you have, or how much money you can earn, but by the imprint you leave behind on those that surround you, and all that you are remembered for when you are gone".

To my confidants, my friends,( and you know who you are), I thank you for giving me the courage and the strength to continually look forward, for understanding my past, believing in my future and always accepting me for who I am.

It is here I leave myself to complete the pages of my story, to continue to strive towards taking risk, to overcome fear, and open my heart to new experiences, to trust, and continue to open one door at a time as well as to focus on only positive things.

To continually surround myself with those that allow me to see the goodness within and the beauty in life that mystifies each and every one of us. To take in all of life's aromas and savor each and every moment that I have been blessed to take yet another breath.

I know that I will waver, and may even fall, but I will be determined to get back up and live strong. Again, attitude is everything and I will not be content until my story is complete.

I will not be afraid of my journey, I will not be afraid of defeat. I will open my heart as well as my arms to embrace life. I will find the freedom to sing a new song, and dance even when there is no music. I will rewrite and rewrite and never ever be afraid of consequences.

This is my story and I choose the characters, the plot, I choose the beginning, the middle and the end.

This is my story.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

When God Created Mothers

Author Unknown

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said. "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one."

And God said, "Have you read the specs on this order?" She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head slowly and said. "Six pairs of hands.... no way."

"It's not the hands that are causing me problems," God remarked,
"it's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have."

"That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. God nodded.

"One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, 'What are you kids doing in there?' when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. 'I understand and I love you' without so much as uttering a word."

"God," said the angel touching his sleeve gently, "Get some rest tomorrow...."

"I can't," said God, "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick...can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger...and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower."

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft," she sighed.

"But tough!" said God excitedly. "You can imagine what this mother can do or endure."

"Can it think?"

"Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

"There's a leak," she pronounced. "I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model."

"It's not a leak," said the Lord, "It's a tear."

"What's it for?"

"It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride."

"You are a genius, " said the angel.

Somberly, God said, "I didn't put it there."

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Don't Judge What You Don't Know

Author Unknown

The train has started moving. It is packed with people of all ages, mostly working men and women and young college guys and gals. Near the window, sat an old man with his 30-year-old son.

As the train moves, the son is overwhelmed with joy because he is thrilled by the scenery outside.

"See dad, the scenery of green trees moving away is very beautiful."

This behavior from the thirty-year-old son made the other people on the train feel strange about him. Everyone started murmuring something or other about this son.

"This guy seems to be a crack," newly married Anup whispered to his wife.

Suddenly it started raining. Raindrops fell on the travelers through the opened window. The thirty-year-old, filled with joy said, " See dad, how beautiful the rain is..."

Anup's wife became irritated with the raindrops, as they were dropping on her new suit and spoiling it.

"Anup, can't you see it's raining? You. Old man. If your son is not feeling well, get him to a mental asylum soon and don't disturb the public henceforth."

The old man hesitated first and then in a low tone replied, "We are on the way back from hospital. My son was discharged this morning. He was blind at birth. Only last week he regained his vision. Rain and nature are new to his eyes. Please forgive us for the inconvenience caused."

Monday, 10 May 2010

Remember The Small Things

By Mother Teresa

Some of my sisters work in Australia. On a reservation, among the Aborigines, there was an elderly man. I can assure you that you have never seen a situation as difficult as that poor old man's. He was completely ignored by everyone. His home was disordered and dirty.

I told him, "Please, let me clean your house, wash your clothes, and make your bed."

He answered, "I'm okay like this. Let it be."

I said again, "You will be still better if you allow me to do it."

He finally agreed. So I was able to clean his house and wash his clothes. I discovered a beautiful lamp, covered with dust. Only God knows how many years had passed since he last lit it.

I said to him, "Don't you light your lamp? Don't you ever use it?"

He answered, "No. No one comes to see me. I have no need to light it. Who would I light it for?"

I asked, "Would you light it every night if the sisters came?"

He replied, "Of course."

From that day on the sisters committed themselves to visiting him every evening. We cleaned the lamp and the sisters would light it every evening.

Two years passed. I had completely forgotten that man. He sent this message: "Tell my friend that the light she lit in my life continues to shine still."

I thought it was a very small thing. We often neglect small things.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Citizen Journalism vs. Making Up Your Own Mind

By Pandora Poikilos

Journalist, Maziar Bahari was jailed for his 'politically incorrect' behaviour and later released with a lot of help from other parties. In a recent interview with Al-Jazeera's Listening Post, he remarked that 'citizen journalism like modern art is crap. Very little of it is good but mostly it's crap."

Honestly, I wholeheartedly share that opinion. Most people take it on themselves to express. That's fine. But when that expression is an expression solely led by emotions, now that's slander in the door and journalism out the window.

Journalism carries it with a sense of objectivity. A sense of purpose. Just as Van Gogh, Michaelangelo, Da Vinci or Picasso who painted with a passion but always with a purpose. Else the world would never have been privileged to share the likes of Mona Lisa and other treasures.

The role of journalism is to inform, not to offer someone else'd decision on a platter. No, wait. Let us rephrase that. It's SUPPOSED to be objective. It's supposedly not ruled by emotion. But over the years, that is a midset that has dramatically changed.

Emotions sell better.

There's more money to be made through facts. Watching news these days is almost like watching an episode of Gossip Girls.

Very few citizen journalist offer emotion free news filled with objectivity. They insist on their opinions and then will not sit easy until their words have demanded followers, have grasped the most dramatic action.

People on the other hand embrace this new way of reporting. Its much easier and so much less work than going through the processes of making your own decisions. If someone else says so, then so be it. Why think on your own?

Ironically, that's probably what Adolf Hitler was counting on as he gathered up the Jews.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Congo's Wounds Of War

By Rod Nordland, Newsweek
Sourced from Stop Demand

13 November 2006 - The atrocity reports from eastern Congo were so hellish that Western medical experts refused to believe them - at first.

Warning: Do not read this story if you are easily disturbed by graphic information, or are under age, or are easily upset by accounts of gruesome sexual violence.

This is about fistula - and rape, which in Congo has become the continuation of war by other means. Fistulas are a kind of damage that is seldom seen in the developed world. Many obstetricians have encountered the condition only in their medical texts, as a rare complication associated with difficult or abnormal childbirths: a rupture of the walls that separate the vagina and bladder or rectum. Where health care is poor, particularly where trained doctors or midwives are not available, fistulas are more of a risk. They are a major health concern in many parts of Africa.

In eastern Congo, however, the problem is practically an epidemic. When a truce was declared in the war there in 2003, so many cases began showing up that Western medical experts at first called it impossible—especially when local doctors declared that most of the fistulas they were seeing were the consequence of rapes. "No one wanted to believe it at first," says Lyn Lusi, manager of the HEAL Africa hospital (formerly called the Docs Hospital) in the eastern Congo city of Goma. "When our doctors first published their results, in 2003, this was unheard of."

It had been no secret that nearly all sides in the Congo's complex civil war resorted to systematic rape among civilian populations, and estimates were as high as a quarter million victims of sexual assault during the four-year-long conflict. But once fighting died down, victims began coming out of the jungles and forests and their condition was worse than anyone had imagined. Thousands of women had been raped so brutally that they had fistulas. They wandered into hospitals soaked in their own urine and feces, rendered incontinent by their injuries. "Pastors would say to me, 'Jo, I can't preach because the church is too smelly," says Dr. Jo Lusi, a gynecologist and medical director at HEAL. (He and Lyn Lusi are husband and wife.) "No one wanted to be around them. These women were outcasts even more than rape victims usually are. They would say to me, 'Dr. Jo, am I just a thing to throw away when I smell bad?' "

The rapes—and new reports of fistula damage—have not stopped. Even now, "It is still happening, even today," says HEAL's medical director, Doctor Lusi. "Every space we have in the hospital is very, very busy with people." Most of the dozen or so militias in the country have signed on to peace terms, and their battles with each other and with the Congolese Army have mostly stopped since the arrival of United Nations peacekeepers. But many of the armed groups—even those that have made peace—continue to attack civilians, especially in rural areas. "They won't go ahead and fight each other, [but] they attack that village that supports the other group," says Lyn Lusi. "This is a horrible perpetual movement of militias. They join after their families are killed, sometimes right in front of them. They see their women raped, and then they go and do the same thing. It's a cycle of violence."

Ordinary rapes, even violent ones, do not usually cause fistulas, although it's not medically impossible. Doctors in eastern Congo say they have seen cases that resulted from gang rapes where large numbers of militiamen repeatedly forced themselves on the victim. But more often the damage is caused by the deliberate introduction of objects into the victim's vagina when the rape itself is over. The objects might be sticks or pipes. Or gun barrels. In many cases the attackers shoot the victim in the vagina at point-blank range after they have finished raping her. "Often they'll do this carefully to make sure the woman does not die," says Dr. Denis Mukwege, medical director of Panzi Hospital. "The perpetrators are trying to make the damage as bad as they can, to use it as a kind of weapon of war, a kind of terrorism." Instead of just killing the woman, she goes back to her village permanently and obviously marked. "I think it's a strategy put in place by these groups to disrupt society, to make husbands flee, to terrorize."

The worst perpetrators call themselves the Federation for the Liberation of Rwanda. They were the Hutu militiamen—also known as the Interhamwe—who carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide. That bloodbath ended when the Interhamwe were forced to retreat across Rwanda's western border into Congo, where they remain to this day, deep in the forests, armed, deadly and with nowhere else they can go. But the tactic of violent rape is used by many of the other armed factions in the area, including the Congolese Army, according to relief workers and United Nations officials.

"It has been used as a weapon of war for so long it's become almost a habit," says Ross Mountain, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for the Congo. "All sides are doing it, and the national army is by no means immune from that." "All the armed men rape," says Doctor Mukwege. "When we see a lesion, we can tell who the perpetrator is; there are special methods of each group, types of injuries. The Interahamwe after the rape will introduce objects; a group in Kombo sets fire to the women's buttocks afterwards, or makes them sit on the coals of a fire. There's another group that specializes in raping 11-, 12-, 13-, 14-year-old girls, one that gets them pregnant and aborts them." The youngest victim of fistula from rape his hospital has seen was 12 months old; the oldest, 71.

The fistula wards at HEAL Hospital are overflowing, with two women to a bed and patients tucked into every possible corner in the 150-bed center. Doctors there say two-thirds of their hospital's fistula cases are the result of sexual violence. Since 2003, when the hospital had to be completely rebuilt after a volcanic eruption buried the town in lava, HEAL's doctors have seen 4,800 rape victims requiring medical treatment; last year alone, surgeons there performed 242 fistula-repair operations. Panzi Hospital, in the town of Bukavu, some 70 miles southwest of Goma, is an even bigger medical center specializing in fistula surgery and treating rape
victims. Its surgeons did 540 fistula repairs last year; its two fistula wards, 25 beds each, are usually full. Doctor Mukwege estimates that 80 percent of his hospital's fistula cases are the result of sexual violence, either directly from sexual assault or from rape-induced pregnancies that were forcibly aborted in the bush; the rest were normal obstetric complications. "It's an epidemic," he says.

Panzi is running at capacity, with 250 to 300 admissions a month due to rapes, most of them new cases. Other hospitals run by aid groups in eastern Congo report similar statistics; the Medecins Sans Frontieres Bon Marche Hospital in Bunia, in war-torn Ituri province, northeastern Congo, normally admits between 10 and 20 rape victims daily—a minimum of 300 a month—again, mostly new cases, according to MSF officials there. "IRC and its partners in South and North Kivu provinces registered 40,000 cases of gender-based violence [since 2003], and we're not even counting everyone," says Brian Sage, a coordinator for the International Rescue Committee, which helps support both Panzi and HEAL hospitals. "This is just the tip of the iceberg." Many more cases take place in the interior where aid workers still haven't reached. When Doctor Mukwege sent a mobile team under U.N. protection to the village of Nzingu, the group was prepared to treat 200 rape victims. Instead, 1,400 women came forward asking for medical help.

The only hope for these women is a difficult operation. It usually takes several hours, followed by a recovery period of two or three months. Even then, the doctors may have to try again. Sometimes the surgeons never manage to restore the patient's continence. "We've had a hundred fistula cases where there's no hope of recovery," says Doctor Mukwege. "We tried and tried but were unsuccessful. Psychologically, it's difficult to bear these cases. They come in here with great hope, it's very difficult for them but also for me, they come full of hope, it's so difficult to bear." Last April, he says, a 5-year-old girl was brought to him. Her tormentors had raped her and then fired a pistol into her vagina. She was operated on twice at Panzi Hospital without success before being sent to a hospital in the United States where surgeons tried twice more to repair the damage. They failed, too. She'll spend the rest of her life with a colostomy bag.

The doctors have a hard time coping with the anguish they see every day. "I no longer question the women about what happened," says Doctor Mukwege. "It's hard to listen, it's very hard to see them—children without vaginas, without rectums, their bladders destroyed. The questions they ask. The girls say, 'Is it not possible for me to have children?' 'Why don't I have menses?' These are questions to which you cannot answer."

But those questions are relatively easy. The really difficult question is posed again and again by fistula patients like 20-year-old Bahati: Why? When she arrives to be interviewed in an examination room off the main fistula ward at Panzi, she is carrying a basin; which she keeps at her feet as she talks. Her fistula has left her incontinent. She and the other patients interviewed here were chosen to speak by a counselor who believed they could benefit from telling their stories.

Late one evening a group of Interhamwe gunmen raided her village in South Kivu, killed 10 of the men, and abducted 10 women and girls. She says she and the other captives were kept chained except when they were unbound to be gang-raped. She became pregnant after five months, and her captors gave her a crude abortion by shoving something into her—she says she doesn't know what they used. Her doctors say the abortion probably caused the fistula. Eventually she escaped and found her way back to her home village after three days. At the Interhamwe camp, sometimes as many as 30 men would rape her, she recalls. Whenever she resisted, she was beaten. "I'll never understand why they could do that to me," she says.

Benga, 16, and Masoro, 17, ask themselves the same thing. The two friends were abducted along with their mothers from the remote South Kivu village of Nzingu. Their captors dragged them to an Interhamwe camp. "When we got there," Masoro recalls, "they said, 'This is a horrible place where girls and women suffer, and you will suffer also'." They were kept tied to trees except when they were doing domestic chores or being raped. Their mothers were raped in front of the girls. Benga bursts into tears recalling the experience. "Their purpose is simply to ruin people, to rape people," she says. "I don't know why."

No one can say why. The answer is almost too awful to consider, and impossible to understand.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Until I Love Me

Author Unknown

I keep my paint brush with me
Wherever I may go,
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn't show.

I'm so afraid to show you me,
Afraid of what you'll do - that
You might laugh or say mean things.
I'm afraid I might lose you.

I'd like to remove all my paint coats
To show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand,
I need you to accept what you see.

So if you'll be patient and close your eyes,
I'll strip off all my coats real slow.
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show.

Now my coats are all stripped off.
I feel naked, bare and cold,
And if you still love me with all that you see,
You are my friend, pure as gold.

I need to save my paint brush, though,
And hold it in my hand,
I want to keep it handy
In case someone doesn't understand.

So please protect me, my dear friend
And thanks for loving me true,
But please let me keep my paint brush with me
Until I love me, too.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

5 More Minutes

Author Unknown

While at the park one day, a woman sat down next to a man on a bench near a playground.

“That’s my son over there,” she said, pointing to a little boy in a red sweater who was gliding down the slide.

“He’s a fine looking boy” the man said. “That’s my daughter on the bike in the white dress.”

Then, looking at his watch, he called to his daughter. “What do you say we go, Melissa?”

Melissa pleaded, “Just five more minutes, Dad. Please? Just five more minutes.”

The man nodded and Melissa continued to ride her bike to her heart’s content. Minutes passed and the father stood and called again to his daughter. “Time to go now?”

Again Melissa pleaded, “Five more minutes, Dad. Just five more minutes.”

The man smiled and said, “OK.”

“My, you certainly are a patient father,” the woman responded.

The man smiled and then said, “Her older brother Tommy was killed by a drunk driver last year while he was riding his bike near here. I never spent much time with Tommy and now I’d give anything for just five more minutes with him. I’ve vowed not to make the same mistake with Melissa.

She thinks she has five more minutes to ride her bike. The truth is, I get five more minutes to watch her play.”

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Too Blessed To Be Stressed

Author Unknown

Although things are not perfect

Because of trial or pain

Continue in thanksgiving

Do not begin to blame.

Even when the times are hard

Fierce winds are bound to blow

God is forever able

Hold on to what you know

Imagine life without His love

Joy would cease to be

Keep thanking Him for all the things

Love imparts to thee

Move out of "Camp Complaining"

No weapon that is known

On earth can yield the power

Praise can do alone

Quit looking at the future

Redeem the time at hand

Start every day with worship

To "thank" is a command

Until we see Him coming

Victorious in the sky

We'll run the race with gratitude

X-alting God most high.

Yes, there will be good times and yes some will be bad, but

Zion waits in glory...where none are ever sad!

Remember, the shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything. Be Blessed.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Rules For A Good Day

Author Unknown

Today I Will Not Strike Back
If someone is rude, if someone is impatient, if someone is unkind...I will not respond in a like manner.

Today I Will Ask God To Bless My "Enemy"
If I come across someone who treats me harshly or unfairly, I will quietly ask God to bless that individual. I understand the "enemy" could be a family member, neighbor, co-worker, or a stranger.

Today I Will Be Careful About What I Say
I will carefully choose and guard my words being certain that I do not spread gossip.

Today I Will Go The Extra Mile
I will find ways to help share the burden of another person.

Today I Will Forgive
I will forgive any hurts or injuries that come my way.

Today I Will Do Something Nice For Someone, But I Will Do It Secretly
I will reach out anonymously and bless the life of another.

Today I Will Treat Others The Way I Wish To Be Treated
I will practice the golden rule - "Do unto others as I would have them do unto me" - with everyone I encounter.

Today I Will Raise The Spirits Of Someone I Discouraged
My smile, my words, my expression of support, can make the difference to someone who is wrestling life.

Today I Will Nurture My Body
I will eat less; I will eat only healthy foods. I will thank God for my body.

Today I Will Grow Spiritually
I will spend a little more time in prayer today: I will begin reading something spiritual or inspirational today; I will find a quiet place and listen to God's voice !

Monday, 3 May 2010

Give Me The Simple Life

Author Unknown

Satan called a worldwide convention.

In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else.”

“We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles but steal their time, so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day.”

“How shall we do this?” shouted his angels.

“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.

“Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work six or seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.”

“Over stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, the VCR and their CD’s going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music constantly. This will jam their minds and break the union with Christ.”

“Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24hrs a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues and every kind of newsletter and promotion, offering free products, service and raise hopes.”

“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week.”

“Don’t let them go out to nature. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled conscience and unsettled emotion.”

“Let them be involved in soul winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes, they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause.”

It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christian everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there. Has the devil been successful at this scheme? You be the judge!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

We're Friends

“you know we’re friends”
- often used by one party to reiterate friendship or relationship when seeking trust / benefits from the other parties.
- actually means, I need to keep telling you this because I’m not really your friend. I’ll get close to you and will betray you at every opportunity I feel necessary. Hence, the famous quote we always hear, “ A close friend of the actress was quoted as saying…” Honestly, real friends do not need to reiterate their friendship and when confronted would rather go to the extent of saying, “I don’t know.”

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Megan Meier, MySpace, Bad Parents & Sick Adults

When should cyberbullying be considered a crime?
By Nordette Adams

17 November 2007 - "I know that they did not physically come up to our house and tie a belt around her neck," Tina says. "But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a 13-year-old - with or without mental problems - it is absolutely vile.” (Tina Meier to The St. Charles Journal, regarding what happened to her daughter, Megan Taylor Meier)

Tina and Ron Meier of O'Fallon, Mo., mourn their daughter, Megan. In 2006, while her mother prepared family dinner, Megan hung herself with a belt in her bedroom closet after being tormented on MySpace, the victim of cyberbullying and a prank so heinous that it's turned some bloggers and Net readers into a "cyber lynch mob." According to the November 13 story by Steve Pokin in the St. Charles Journal, Megan was a 13-year-old, chubby teen, who had been diagnosed with ADD and tended toward depression, but she appeared to be turning her life toward an upswing. She'd lost weight and was busy handing out invitations to a party for her 14th birthday. Contributing to her positive outlook on life was the stirrings of young love. For the first time in Megan's life she had a "hot" boy enchanted by her. She'd met this "hot" boy, Josh Evans, on

One day, however, with little explanation, the "hot" Josh turned on Megan. Suddenly he didn't want to have anything to do with her. He accused her of not being nice to her friends, of being a mean person and a slut. His disgust with her spread to bulletins and a flame of insults from others. Right before her on her computer screen, Megan's life spiraled into a pit as quickly as it had zoomed upward.

Why on earth would this 16-year-old boy attack this 13-year-old so viciously?

Bigger problem and better question: Why would the mother of another young teen pretend to be a "hot" boy, befriend Megan, who she knew was a troubled 13-year-old, and then orchestrate a hate campaign aqainst her? That's right. The "hot" Josh Evans was not a 16-year-old boy but the grown mother of another young teen. She allegedly started the fake MySpace profile to gain Megan's confidence and find out what Megan may have been saying to others about her daughter. It's reported that her daughter and Megan were frenemies who had drifted to the permanent state of out-of-friendship.

Since Steve Pokin broke this story in his "Pokin' Around" column, it's prompted one burning debate after another. The most fiery has revolved around the decision of his newspaper, The St. Charles Journal, to not reveal the identity of the MySpace mother who originated the phony profile and concocted the horrific plan to humiliate Megan. Its editorial staff said that in order to protect the daughter of the pranksters it wouldn't reveal the identities of her mother and father, who were behind the page. This reasoning has not impressed some Netizens who remind readers that the parents involved their daughter in the fraud and campaign against Megan.

The St. Charles Journal staff isn't the only media outlet that chose to protect the culprits. If you watch the CNN story at YouTube, it seems that that network also opted not to reveal the identity of the offending parents.

Bloggers have had no such qualms. The parents who tormented Megan have been outed by bloggers who've printed both their names and address., according to letter from David Crook to Romenesko at Poynteronline, "stirred up a reader hornets' nest" about Megan's case. In one post naming the parents, a Jezebel writer asks "Are the Parents who MySpace-tormented Megan Meier ready to atone?" And Bloggin' in the Suburbs writer cuts the offending parents no slack either in the post "Justice for Megan Meier."

The outrage, according to Death by 1000 Papercuts, only grew when readers learned the MySpace-faking parents filed a police report against the Meiers, who, upon stricken with grief and upon learning who was behind the MySpace page, chopped into bits a foosball table, a Christmas gift they'd agreed to store at their home for the MySpace-faking parents. The families are neighbors, you see, and despite the disagreement between their daughters, the Meiers thought the other parents were their friends..

A writer at minces no words, speaking of the adults behind the fake page:
There are sick acts that occur on the internet and then there are others that go beyond words and logic. We always warn children and teens that there are consequence to their actions. In the case of adults … there is no excuse. The following account is one of the most depressing and heinous acts of cyber-bullying and internet fraud against a teen ever. The tragedy that followed, almost makes the story impossible to read. However, everyone should and most read it and beware of those that would be such cowards on the internet to pretend to be someone they are not and to harass others. (Scared

And Suncoast Scribe has a question some of you may be asking:
When children are being raised by parents who are immature and evil, do those children even have a chance at a life where they will ever know right from wrong? (Suncoast Scribe)

I first learned of this story through blogger Contributing Editor Professor Kim Pearson, who teaches journalism. She learned of it through A USC Anneberg Online Journal Review in the post by Robert Niles, "The readers will have the final word," which is about crowdsourcing. In it, Niles discusses how bloggers went beyond traditional journalists and revealed the names of the offending parents.

While many readers may agree the parents deserved to be outed more than they deserved protection, others may wonder whether ostracizing the parents online isn't equally harmful. After all, online shaming, even when the deed is worthy of shunning and shame, is also considered to be a serious problem that may lead to someone's physical harm:

Public shaming is used without much thought in cases like registered sex offender databases online. In Megan’s case it was public outcry from an international news item, but shaming can include people posting info about their exes, bosses and other intimate situations. Even with sex offenders, who might seem to deserve exposure, Internet shaming is a problem that has led to vigilante murders. It might seem okay for Megan’s tormenters to be harassed as punishment but we don’t know all the facts. I’m not at all sympathetic to the cyberbullies but Internet shaming ought to be discouraged. (Sandra Kiume at World of Psychology)

I tend to agree with Ms. Kiume. Internet shaming should be discouraged, but the Megan Meier case would make almost anyone's blood boil. As one reader at The Peoria Chronicle suggests, perhaps Megan's case illustrates why cyberbullying should be considered a crime. The parents of Megan's former friend involved their own daughter as well as other people's children in tormenting Megan, and it appears their actions contributed to her suicide. If nothing else, shouldn't the adults who orchestrated tormenting Megan Meier be charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors?
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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom



Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife


My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo



Powered by

Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun


Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

Powered by

Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max

Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry


My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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