Sunday, 31 October 2010

Prayer For Women With Breast Cancer

Author Unknown

Father, for the strength you have given me I thank you. For the health you have blessed me with, I thank you. For the women who are going through breast cancer and their families I ask you to strengthen and to heal as you see fit.

Lord we know you want us to be in good health and to prosper.

Lord use us to do the work you have for us to do. For we know time is getting short on this earth.

Lord be with every woman who is sick and encourage them as only you can.

I know how faithful you are. You have shown yourself to be everything you say you are in your Holy Word. I praise you for you made this body and you can heal this body. In Jesus Name I pray.

The List

By Sister Helen P. Mrosia

He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischieviousness delightful.

Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving - "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice-teacher's mistake. I looked at him and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!" It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it.

I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room.

As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister."

At the end of the year I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instructions in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in the third.

One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves - and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand.

So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend." That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much!"

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.

That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip - the weather, my experiences in general. There was a light lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a side-ways glance and simply says, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important.

"The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend." To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.

I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me. The church was packed with Mark's friends.

Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water.

I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who had acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's mathteacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said.

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that" Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put this in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists." That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

Keep Your Fork

Author Unknown

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. One of her requests was to be buried with her favorite Bible.

Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. "There's one more thing," she said excitedly. "What's that?" came the pastor's reply.

"This is very important," the woman continued.. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand." The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. "That surprises you, doesn't it?" the woman asked.

"Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor.

The woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,"keep your fork."

It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: "Keep Your Fork. The best is yet to come"

The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come.

I Have A Dream

By Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC - August 28, 1963)

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon of hope to millions of slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the colored America is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the colored American is still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the colored American lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the colored American is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is not time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.

Now it the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now it the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of it's colored citizens. This sweltering summer of the colored people's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the colored Americans needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the colored citizen is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the colored person's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for white only."

We cannot be satisfied as long as a colored person in Mississippi cannot vote and a colored person in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of your trials and tribulations. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality.

You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our modern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you, my friends, we have the difficulties of today and tomorrow.

I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day out in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

"Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Devil's Curry

Literally meaning very spicy, one may opt to substitute the chicken for pork.

What You'll Need
1.5 kg chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
6 shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 red chillies, slit lengthwise
500g potatoes, quartered
3 tomatoes, quartered
2 large onions ,quartered
1 1/4 cup (300 ml) water
1 1/2 tablespoons (25 ml) vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dark soya sauce
20g mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking

To Blend
20 dried chillies, soaked in water and deseeded
20 shallots
4 cloves garlic
2 cm tumeric root
2.5 cm galangal
4 cm ginger
8 candlenuts
15 g coriander seeds

Method To Savour
- Season chicken with salt and set aside. Blend all spice ingredients until fine.
- Heat a little oil in pot and lightly brown the sliced shallots and garlic. Add the spice blend and fry until fragrant. Then slightly crush the mustard seeds and add to the pot, blending the ingredients and fry for another 3 minutes.
- Put in the chicken pieces and mix well. Add water and cook over medium heat until the chicken is tender.
- Add quartered potatoes, onions, tomatoes, vinegar, soya sauce, fresh chillies and season with salt. Cook until the potatoes and chicken are cooked through.

Things To Do On An Airplane

By Kent Ninomiya

Traveling on an airplane is forced personal time--you have no choice but to sit quietly for hours. People who fly often develop efficient ways to pass the time and be productive. Of course, the types of things you can do on an airplane depends a great deal on the length of the flight and the amenities provided by the airline.

Meals are usually served on flights longer than 4 hours. Eating fills time and keeps passengers occupied. Unfortunately, airline food service has diminished in recent years. The food isn't very good and airlines are cutting meals from flights that used to have them. Some sell expensive snack boxes. If you want to eat something good on an airplane, bring it with you. Non-alcoholic drinks are free on airplanes. You can buy alcohol, but drinking heavily is not a smart way to pass the time, as alcohol dehydrates the body, which at a high altitude can cause severe discomfort. Plus, intoxicated passengers are sometimes taken off airplanes in handcuffs for unruly behavior.

Time Frame
A flight can be a great time to catch up on some sleep. However, many people find it difficult to sleep sitting up. Other passengers and flight attendants can also be a distraction. If you want to sleep on a plane, come prepared. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a blindfold and ear plugs if you are easily disturbed. Ask for a window seat so you can lean against the wall and no one will disturb you if they need to go to the bathroom. If there are empty rows on the plane, claim one and stretch out.

Airplanes provide an array of entertainment features to distract passengers. All flights offer several channels of music. Longer flights show TV clips and full-length movies. This can be fun if the programming is something you like. If you want to guarantee that you will like the entertainment, bring a portable DVD player or laptop computer. Make sure you have enough battery power to last the entire flight.

Several hours of quiet time is a great opportunity to get some work done. The key is to be prepared. Have all your work materials easily accessible in your carry on luggage. Keep materials to a minimum since you only have your tray table to work with. Drinks and food will be handled near you on potentially bumpy flights. Keep important documents and laptop computers shielded from these things. Be realistic about the kinds of work that you can do in a small seat with people sitting around you.

You meet all types of people aboard airplanes. If you are friendly and curious you can meet someone you would ordinarily never have contact with. This can be fun, educational and fortuitous. Many business dealings and personal relationships develop from random encounters aboard airplanes. Strike up a conversation. You never know where it might lead.

Time on an airplane is an opportunity to be alone with your thoughts. Bring a book and quietly read. Thumb through the magazines the airline provides. Close your eyes and ponder all the things you never have time to think about. Bring a pad of paper and jot down creative thoughts and spontaneous ideas. Many eureka moments occur on airplanes.

It is important to move around and get the blood flowing on a long airplane flight. Long periods of time sitting has been known to cause blood clots to form in the legs. Every hour or so, get up and walk around. Do some light stretching and take a few deep breaths.

Top 5 Places To Visit In Thailand

Sourced from Travelmaharishi

Thailand has emerged as an ultimate backpacking destination. The mere mention of the country makes you think about pristine beaches and exciting night life. If this is your perception of Thailand, I promise you will not be disappointed. However, this small country has so much else to offer which makes visiting this country an awesome experience. These are the places which will beckon you to return, again and again. If you are hard pressed for time, then here is my list of top 5 places to visit to taste all the flavors this country has to offer:

The Capital city. If you are coming from abroad, chances are that this will be your first destination in the country. The city is bustling with energy and charm. This city epitomizes the urban glamor in the country. Visit Khao San road and Sukhumvit Soi for the exciting night life. The city also has modern shopping complexes with very reasonably priced goods. Go ahead and splurge.

For satisfying the history buff in you. This historic city was founded in 1350 AD by king U-Thong. The city features beautiful palace, ruins and gompas. While you are there, do not forget to visit Wat Mahathat, where you can see a Buddha head statue lodged in a tree trunk. It has many famous Gompas such as Wat Phu Khao Thong. The city is full of old world charm and spirituality.

Chiang Mai
For exercising your body. Chiang Mai is one of the most beautiful trekking spots in the country. The city is located in the northern corner of the country. It is blessed with beautiful mountains some of which offer treacherous paths to traverse while trekking. These hills are also home to many tribes such as Karen, Akha and Hmong. You can see tribals busy in their daily chores during your excursion and get to experience their culture up close and personal.

Koh Samet
Thailand experience is not complete without visiting its beaches. In fact, Thailand has beaches to meet everyone’s need. I love visiting Koh Samet for enjoying nature and of course, sun and sand. Unlike the more popular beaches, Koh Samet is relatively unscarred by the growing tourism. Its beaches are as beautiful as the more famous beaches of Pattaya and Phuket, but are not as busy. Therefore, you can relax and mingle with nature here.

Koh Phangan
The land of full moon party. So far, you have satisfied your appetite for urban sophistication, spirituality, nature and water sport and now is the time for raw and wild fun. Koh Phangan has amazingly beautiful beaches and exciting beach life. Even if you are not in time for the full moon party, you just cannot help getting enthralled with exuberance of this beach spot. The island also features half moon party in addition to full moon party. Although, I would venture to say that every night is massive party night in Koh Phangan.

So tell me, do you still think Thailand is only about beaches?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What You'll Need
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs,beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Optional - 1 cup chopped pecans, or chopped walnuts

Method To Savour
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. The dough will be very stiff.
- Stir in chocolate chips. You can add the pecans, or other nuts, at this time if desired.
- Keep stirring and folding the chocolate chips and nuts into the dough until they are evenly dispersed.
- Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. The chocolate chip cookies need to be this far apart because the dough spreads during cooking.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.
- Allow cookies to cool before storing.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Baked Christmas Ornaments

Being a freelance writer, Mondays are usually crazy deadline days when last week's assignments will usually be due 'first thing Monday morning'. When I first heard this, I used to find it very amusing, with various time zones, whose 'first thing' was it going to be?

These days, to keep it simple, I've made it mine. With all assignments out of my way before 1000 hours, the rest of the day is all mine to behold and to try something new, well, every Monday at least.

Today, it was 'Baked Christmas Ornaments' which I got from Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Great Gifts.

Things I used included
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 cup salt
- Mixing bowl
- Newspapers
- Paper clips
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Cookie sheets
- Paintbrush
- Arcylic paint
- Arcylic finish spray

- Mix flour, salt and water
*If mixture is too dry, add water. If mixture is too wet, add flour.
- Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch and make ornaments with cookie cutters.
- Place ornaments on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
- Place hole in ornament (with paper clip).
- Bake the ornaments in oven, 8 to 15 minutes.
- Paint with acrylic paints. Spray clear spray.

My outcome
- The cutters I used were approximately 5cm (height) x 2cm (width).
- I had a little teddy bear cookie cutter which turned out to be a real cutie!
- I used silver and tied them with a gold string. (I am camera-less at the moment, so I have only my words)
- On a down side, some of the ornaments had little bumps in them, maybe from the baking or the flour mixture, not too sure but it would be worth to try again and find out!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The American President

5 Thoughts On The Job I'll Never Want
By Pandora Poikilos

The words of John Kennedy best describe the idea of becoming an American President - Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process. With the senate elections around the corner, there is so much under review and of course everyone, everywhere is being bombarded with popularity results. There is always this constant debate about how social media encourages blind followers, that the more 'followers' you have, the more popular you are in the online world. Let me ask you, how is this different from what's happening in the world of politics? Yes, their tools may be different, their budgets certainly much more extensive and of course, they are dressed in better brands but it still comes back to the same point - I need more people behind me. It's alright if they don't really get what I'm doing but I need the numbers to prove it.

But what is it about this job that has so many in a frenzy about getting to it and when they don't, they'll never stop lashing out at the one who did? Is it that mental state of mind in knowing that you have so much power at changing other people's lives or is it just the sheer satisfaction of telling the world, "I have arrived, and it doesn't get any better than this." Because from where I stand, turning it all around, personally, it's a job I'll never go near. Yes, I am that courage-less and here's why.

There's just no pleasing, anyone
Now, ANY decision you make will be so scrutinized, you'll probably never have the comfort of knowing if it was the best thing to do, even if you've given your best shot. For every 100 people who come to you and say, "Thank you. It's just what we needed", you'll have another 200 screaming at you because you've messed up their lives. Bad enough you're affecting citizens of your country, sometimes, you'd need to consider the citizens of another country, diplomatic relations with that country and of course, how all of this has to come together to form - one proper decision. Before coming to a decision, you'd have to put up with the numerous discussions in all forms of media about the decision that you are going to make and when you do, you'll have to put up with even more discussions about how someone else could have done better. Which makes me wonder though, if so many people have such strong, powerful ideas about what to do and how to do it, how come only person ends up winning the race?

So, this is what 'actually' happened
You may be the boss to take the fall, (oh wait, I meant to say, to take responsibility) or to give the final answer but that also makes you a colleague when dealing with so many different situations. Can you imagine what the office politics within the job scope of the president must feel like? Bad enough, some of your 'colleagues' will openly voice out their satisfaction and lack of faith in you, down the line, even after your presidency, you'll have someone publishing a book that provides their version of all the nitty gritties that took place behind the scene. Add to that, you'll have the numerous issues (people) that come with the job. The ones who think leaking military issues is right or the ones who think spending as much as USD4 billion on election campaigns without declaring its sources are in the best interest of the people or even the ones who for every election promise you've honored, whisk out a piece of paper and say, "but there's two more here, you haven't honoured."

But I really feel like ice-cream
I have a huge issue with cravings. No, I'm not pregnant. It's always been like that. It can be 3am and I'll be thinking of this particular brand of orange juice or this particular ice cream flavour. And I know, I'm not the only one. Across the world, there's probably loads of people like me. Even Peas, gets cravings for the weirdest things and he has obviously no pregnancy issues to deal with. Different people. Different cravings. Different food. But we all have these moments when we just have to taste what's running through our heads. What's it like for the family at the White House? Of course, they probably have really great kitchen stocking skills but there's no chance of making that quick dash to the nearest ice cream corner or that even quicker junk food dash. Imagine, even if you could somehow get to the store and someone spots you with junk food, then you'd have probably have to deal with issues that will resemble, the president doesn't support healthy eating.

I'm not human
Becoming president also somehow becomes a silent vow in saying, "I give up being human." You are expected to be the emblem of perfection. No mistakes, no faults, no chance of ever saying, "I need more time". Never mind that everyone has a different sense of this perfection and you'll be expected to live up to each one irrelevant of whether you have a set of your own standards. You will need to perfect the art of being in at least 3 places at once and succeeding in each meet. Having time to yourself means you're being selfish and liking a particular brand means you're being supportive of everything the brand does and stands for. Spending time with the family is a question the world needs to see you answering. It becomes a necessity to some to know what you do with your family, where you go and what you eat or where during these outings. Slip up once, and the world watches.

Keeping it together
There are these few lines in the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling - If you can keep your head when all about you, Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken, Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools - which serves as a small idea of what the president's world may seem like. True, it's a job that the president has chosen to get into and must take (gracefully) what comes with it. But for every plan that has been made, more incidents happen outside the circle of planning. Nature will throw a tantrum. Another country will decide to show the world its important. (Wait, is that the other way around?) And yet, there you are. There are no "Dummies Guide to being President" and of course you can't just Google, "Making a the right, best and ideal decision for all." It's just you and how you keep it all together to show the citizens of America and the world, that this is exactly where you're supposed to be.

If I could choose my favourite American presidents, I would divide them into - Presidents Past and Current. For past, I can only stand in awe of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt for their perseverance during such times which would shape so much of the world that we live in today. And for current, it would be Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Bill Clinton, for showing the world, that you may be president of the land of the free but that doesn't make you any less human and any less a family man. And Barack Obama, for reiterating what has been said by so many before him - Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Irrelevant of their political standings and the decisions they make that can sometimes make me raise an eyebrow or two, I'm grateful that there are people like them who stand their ground to take up such a challenge of a job that takes your a lifetime, to finish.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays - Weeks 1 & 2

Once again, yet another a collection of amazing blogs to be read and passed around!

To participate in Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays, please leave your link at the bottom of this post.

And if you missed Week One, here's another look.

What Can Someone Like Me Do?

Author Unknown

Dr. Frank Mayfield was touring Tewksbury Institute when, on his way out, he accidentally collided with an elderly floor maid. To cover the awkward moment Dr. Mayfield started asking questions, "How long have you worked here?"

"I've worked here almost since the place opened," the maid replied.

"What can you tell me about the history of this place?" he asked.

"I don't think I can tell you anything, but I could show you something."

With that, she took his hand and led him down to the basement under the oldest section of the building. She pointed to one of what looked like small prison cells; their iron bars rusted with age, and said, "That's the cage where they used to keep Annie."

"Who's Annie?" the doctor asked.

"Annie was a young girl who was brought in here because she was incorrigible - which means nobody could do anything with her. She'd bite and scream and throw her food at people. The doctors and nurses couldn't even examine her or anything. I'd see them trying with her spitting and scratching at them. I was only a few years younger than her myself and I used to think, 'I sure would hate to be locked up in a cage like that.' I wanted to help her, but I didn't have any idea what I could do. I mean, if the doctors and nurses couldn't help her, what could someone like me do?

"I didn't know what else to do, so I just baked her some brownies one night after work. The next day I brought them in. I walked carefully to her cage and said, 'Annie, I baked these brownies just for you. I'll put them right here on the floor and you can come and get them if you want.' Then I got out of there just as fast as I could because I was afraid she might throw them at me. But she didn't. She actually took the brownies and ate them.

"After that, she was just a little bit nicer to me when I was around. And sometimes I'd talk to her. Once, I even got her laughing. One of the nurses noticed this and she told the doctor. They asked me if I'd help them with Annie. I said I would if I could. So that's how it came about that every time they wanted to see Annie or examine her, I went into the cage first and explained and calmed her down and held her hand. Which is how they discovered that Annie was almost blind."

After they'd been working with her for about a year - and it was tough sledding with Annie - the Perkins Institute for the Blind opened its doors. They were able to help her and she went on to study and became a teacher herself.

Annie came back to the Tewksbury Institute to visit, and to see what she could do to help out. At first, the Director didn't say anything and then he thought about a letter he'd just received. A man had written to him about his daughter. She was absolutely unruly - almost like an animal.

He'd been told she was blind and deaf as well as 'deranged'. He was at his wit's end, but he didn't want to put her in an asylum. So he wrote here to ask if we knew of anyone - any teacher - who would come to his house and work with his daughter.

And that is how Annie Sullivan became the lifelong companion of Helen Keller.

When Helen Keller received the Nobel Prize, she was asked who had the greatest impact on her life and she said, "Annie Sullivan." But Annie said, "No Helen. The woman who had the greatest influence on both our lives was a floor maid at the Tewksbury Institute."

History is changed when one person asks, what can someone like me do?

Threads Of Life

By Betty Bergstrom

When Wynne, my daughter, asked me if I would go with her to a display at one of our local hospitals called Threads of Life, my first thought was that I have better things to do on a Sunday afternoon.

And then I saw the look on her face and realized this was something important to her.

Wynne's husband, Mike, died unexpectedly over two years ago from a massive heart attack, at the age of 44. I was sitting across the room from her when the doctor and chaplain came into the hospital waiting room filled with Mike's relatives and gave her that terrible news.

I'll always remember the look on her face. And then, she spoke up almost immediately saying, "I would like Mike to be a donor."

It became most comforting to her when she received thank-you notes from the donor programs telling her that many people were helped. Because she and Mike had made this decision, someone could see again and others were helped with skin and bone grafts.

Wynne and I walked into the Providence Hospital event to discover an overflow crowd. We signed in and were given a ribbon that said, "Donor Family." We saw other ribbons that said, "Donor" and "Recipient."

I was amazed at the upbeat feeling in the air. There was a short program where two recipients talked about receiving their new hearts. We all laughed when one person said that her first thought when the hospital called and told her they had a new heart for her, was "I have to wash my hair," as she knew it would be some time before she would be able to do that.

We were amazed when a young woman told how she received her new heart and ten months later she had a baby -- something she thought would never happen. And we all fought back a tear when she also told how several months before her own transplant her mother had died and had become a donor.

And then, they unveiled the "Threads of Life". A quilt. A quilt of 7-inch squares all lovingly designed to honor special people. Families of transplant donors and recipients had made these squares. Some said "Thank You." One had a picture of a very young girl with the dates of her birth and death. Some were embroidered, another was a patchwork of different materials. All were beautifully done. I stood in awe of the love that quilt generated throughout the whole room. Donor families took pictures. Recipients smiled. Some of us wiped away tears.

This "Threads of Life" quilt will be on display at the hospital for a short period of time and then it will be carefully packed and FedExed to the next location. It is an emotional reminder of the donors who have saved or enhanced hundreds of lives. They've started a new quilt and Wynne is already planning a design for a square honoring Mike. I hope she lets me put a couple of stitches in it.

We left that room smiling, with a donated bouquet of tulips in our hands, a small green painted ribbon pin that we will wear and a warm spot in our hearts. I've made sure that my family knows of my wish to be a donor. Who knows, maybe some part of me may some day help one of those thousands of Americans who are on organ and transplant waiting lists.

Are you a donor? You, too, could leave your loved ones knowing that a part of you is still making a difference.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

How's That Again?

5 Mind Boggling Issues (At The Moment)
By Pandora Poikilos

You know the funny thing about watching the news is that while you may feel blessed at not having to go through something in particular, there will be moments when you think, "Now, how is that even possible?" While I dislike armchair politicians (the kind who'll drone on about how things are supposed to be and how everything and everyone is doing it wrong but will never even bother to get up from the chair to do anything about their opinions) intensely, I do have a few issues turning cartwheels in my head. Maybe it's because I'm not that knowledgeable or maybe I'm just ignorant, nevertheless, I'm thinking how did these things get so far?

Vote For Me
All around the world, you hear of people who are homeless, who are so very sick and yet cannot afford the medical care they need. I say, forget about all around the world. Look down the street we live on and there are probably at least two people going through the same issues. So, this is one of the biggest issues doing cartwheels in my mind. How can a group of approximately 50 people (maybe even less) spend USD4 billion on election campaigns (US Senate Elections November 2010) when there are so many families probably trying to scrounge together USD400 for their households. I (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) have problems imagining what USD4000 would look like sitting idle in my savings account so what does USD4 billion look like? How can people vote for someone who says, "I need to spend all this money to get your attention and then may not necessarily be able to give you what you need"?

There Just Isn't Any Money
Now, when the Great Depression sneaked up on the world way back when, the world got through it. Very slowly but surely enough that some people out there can afford USD8,000 dresses and have enough spare change to buy accessories and handbags for an even higher price tag. So, when I keep seeing, reading and listening to how countries are struggling to stabilise their economies, I'm thinking, with all our technology, with all our expertise, what have we learnt? It's at the end of a different war, in different times and still we have the same problem. It's almost like being thrilled at making two steps forward and then very confusedly realising we are actually four steps backwards. Did we assume that money has an infinite value or did we become so full of ourselves that we thought we'll always be the ones able to control money at our whim and fancy?

There's A "Mad Dog"
I remember hearing about rabies as a child and obviously it's been around for longer. There was always this constant warning about not playing with stray animals or learning how to handle one instead of squeezing a hurt puppy with affection and ending up with a bite. I understood that it predominantly came from dogs and as I read more on it, I learnt that you could die from it if the proper vaccines were not given to you within a certain time frame. On 5 October 2009, the Overseas Security Advisory Council issued a warning that rabies had become an issue in Bali, Indonesia. Fast forward to 15 October 2010, the 100th rabies victim dies. In a span of one year, that's approximately 8 people a month and short of removing the destination from your holiday plans, what's being done to stop the figure from growing? Or maybe it's just better to sit around wait and let it grow into the pandemic that the H1N1 influenza grew into.

It's A Green World
Here's another one, I grew up watching Captain Planet and I loved it. I could tell my pen pal in Italy about it and she knew about it too, without the luxury of You Tube by the way. This was easily more than a decade ago. We learnt about recycling, waste separation, pollution and the simple things that can be done towards keeping it clean. So, while the kids were getting educated on Captain Planet, what were the adults doing? Why is there this mad rush, only now, at conservation and recycling? Have people only just realised that trees take shorter time to cut down than they do to grow. Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad that at least some efforts are being made towards keeping trees out of being viewed only in a museum but again, with all our abilities of being able to tell the simple things about weather to our great political debates about whether President Barack Obama will run for another term to even the very expensive equipment at forecasting the likes and don't likes from people using social media, what's the push that needs to be given before this a primary concern for all?

Knock, Knock
Do you know Tyler Clementi? I don't, although I would have liked to. But he has brought to us an issue that has been boiling on the stove for a long, long while - privacy. Tyler Clementi (like it's been said so many times before) was a student who jumped off the George Washington bridge after his roommate publicly streamed a video of him being intimate with another man. What got to me about his death, had nothing to do with what he did in his room but that he felt so ganged up on, that suicide became his only option. The other more glaring issue is, a lot of people using social media these days act as though their parents raised them in a house without doors. The first thing you're taught to do, when entering any room is to, knock because everyone is entitled to having their own space. So, how does putting someone else's personal information or degrading someone for the heck of it in a public space become correct? However, the best part is yet to come, when my friends and I come across degrading pictures, comments about people or even reading material that's not quite age appropriate for all, on social media like Facebook, it so correctly says - "You can report this." When you do click "Report" it says, the content may not necessarily be removed and when you go back to it, three months later, there it is, still there for the world to see. Like wow, how 'smart' is that?

Something For Stevie

By Dan Anderson

I tried not to be biased in hiring a handicapped person, but his placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. I had never had a mentally handicapped employee, and I wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy, and had the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers, because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meat loaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ;" the pairs off-white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with.

I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie, so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. I shouldn't have worried.

After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot. After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a regular 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to attend to his duties.

Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table. Our only problem was convincing him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus the dishes and glasses onto a cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks.

Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie had missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Down syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery and doing fine. Frannie, my head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.

Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look. He grinned. "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked. "We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay." "I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him."

"What was the surgery about?" Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed. "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be okay," she said, "but I don't know how he and his mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is." Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables.

Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do. After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

"What's up?" I asked. "I didn't get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off, "she said. "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup."

She handed the napkin to me and three-$20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Stevie". "Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper napkin that had scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds.

Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply "truckers." That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking lot, and invited them both to celebrate his day back. Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.

"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate your coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me." I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. It's surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins.

"First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell on to the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired.

Never Underestimate The Power Of Your Actions

Author Unknown

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd." I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend the following afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes.

My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him, and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, I saw a tear in his eye.
I handed him his glasses and said, "Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.
He looked at me and said, "Hey, thanks!" There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. It turned out he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before coming to this school.

I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him. Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Damn boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!". He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.

When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class.

I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day arrived - I saw Kyle and he looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him!

Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!"

He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. "Thanks," he said. As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. "Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach... but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story."

I stared at my friend in disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. "Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable."

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person's life. For better or for worse.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Life Is The Cookie

By Rachel Naomi Remen

Another of my patients, a successful businessmen, tells me that before his cancer he would become depressed unless things went a certain way. Happiness was "having the cookie."

If you had the cookie, things were good. If you didn't have the cookie, life wasn't worth a damn. Unfortunately, the cookie kept changing. Some of the time it was money, sometimes power, sometimes sex. At other times, it was the new car, the biggest contract, the most prestigious address.

A year and a half after his diagnosis of prostate cancer he sits shaking his head ruefully. "It's like I stopped learning how to live after I was a kid. When I give my son a cookie, he is happy. If I take the cookie away or it breaks, he is unhappy. But he is two and a half and I am forty-three. It's taken me this long to understand that the cookie will never make me happy for long.

The minute you have the cookie it starts to crumble or you start to worry about it crumbling or about someone trying to take it away from you. You know, you have to give up a lot of things to take care of the cookie, to keep it from crumbling and be sure that no one takes it away from you. You may not even get a chance to eat it because you are so busy just trying not to lose it. Having the cookie is not what life is about."

My patient laughs and says cancer has changed him. For the first time he is happy. No matter if his business is doing well or not, no matter if he wins or loses at golf.

"Two years ago, cancer asked ne, 'Okay, what's important? What is really important?' Well, life is important. Life. Life any way you can have it. Life with the cookie. Life without the cookie. Happiness does not have anything to do with the cookie, it has to do with being alive. Before, who made the time?" He pauses thoughtfully. "Damn, I guess life is the cookie."

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Wallet

Author Unknown

As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.

The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the dateline--1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago.

It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him anymore because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him.

It was signed, Hannah.

It was a beautiful letter, but there was no way except for the name Michael, that the owner could be identified. Maybe if I called information, the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.

"Operator," I began, "this is an unusual request. I'm trying to find the owner of a wallet that I found. Is there anyway you can tell me if there is a phone number for an address that was on an envelope in the wallet?"

She suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment then said, "Well, there is a phone listing at that address, but I can't give you the number." She said, as a courtesy, she would call that number, explain my story and would ask them if they wanted her to connect me.

I waited a few minutes and then she was back on the line. "I have a party who will speak with you."

I asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She gasped, "Oh! We bought this house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago!"

"Would you know where that family could be located now?" I asked.

"I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home some years ago," the woman said. "Maybe if you got in touch with them they might be able to track down the daughter."

She gave me the name of the nursing home and I called the number. They told me the old lady had passed away some years ago but they did have a phone number for where they thought the daughter might be living.

I thanked them and phoned. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.

This whole thing was stupid, I thought to myself. Why was I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that had only three dollars and a letter that was almost 60 years old?

Nevertheless, I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living and the man who answered the phone told me, "Yes, Hannah is staying with us."

Even though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see her. "Well," he said hesitatingly, "if you want to take a chance, she might be in the day room watching television."

I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor of the large building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me to Hannah.

She was a sweet, silver-haired oldtimer with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye. I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, "Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael."

She looked away for a moment deep in thought and then said softly, "I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor."

"Yes," she continued. "Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And," she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, "tell him I still love him. You know," she said smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, "I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael..."

I thanked Hannah and said goodbye. I took the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, "Was the old lady able to help you?"

I told him she had given me a lead. "At least I have a last name. But I think I'll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet."

I had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, "Hey, wait a minute! That's Mr. Goldstein's wallet. I'd know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He's always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times."

"Who's Mr. Goldstein?" I asked as my hand began to shake.

"He's one of the oldtimers on the 8th floor. That's Mike Goldstein's wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks." I thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse's office. I told her what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and got on. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would be up.

On the eighth floor, the floor nurse said, "I think he's still in the day room. He likes to read at night. He's a darling old man."

We went to the only room that had any lights on and there was a man reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said, "Oh, it is missing!"

"This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered if it could be yours?"

I handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet and the second he saw it, he smiled with relief and said, "Yes, that's it! It must have dropped out of my pocket this afternoon. I want to give you a reward."

"No, thank you," I said. "But I have to tell you something. I read the letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet."

The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. "You read that letter?"

"Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is."

He suddenly grew pale. "Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me," he begged.

"She's fine...just as pretty as when you knew her." I said softly.

The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, "Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow." He grabbed my hand and said, "You know something, Mister? I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I've always loved her."

"Mr. Goldstein," I said, "Come with me."

We took the elevator down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened and only one or two little night-lights lit our way to the day room where Hannah was sitting alone watching the television. The nurse walked over to her.

"Hannah," she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in the doorway. "Do you know this man?"

She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn't say a word. Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, "Hannah, it's Michael. Do you remember me?"

She gasped, "Michael! I don't believe it! Michael! It's you! My Michael!" He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our faces.

"See," I said. "See how the Good Lord works! If it's meant to be, it will be."

About three weeks later I got a call at my office from the nursing home. "Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael and Hannah are going to tie the knot!"

It was a beautiful wedding with all the people at the nursing home dressed up to join in the celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me their best man.

The hospital gave them their own room and if you ever wanted to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like two teenagers, you had to see this couple.

A perfect ending for a love affair that had lasted nearly 60 years.

What Is Love?

Author Unknown

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen," Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6

"There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them." Jenny - age 8

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore," Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine -age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen - age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross." Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget," Jessica - age 8

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Please God, Let Me Die

By Pandora Poikilos

Apparently, it seems that it would be easier to talk about such a procedure, before the surgery than after. As with most things in life, given any situation, we quickly draw a mental picture of what it is supposed to be like alongside its outcomes and reactions. When something falls short or turns out differently, we forget about questioning our expectations and instead run head-on to blame the factors, we think, contributed to the outcome. And so, I did the same. I convinced myself that the surgery would be a small procedure (as mentioned by my neurosurgeon, who of course does far more complicated procedures and probably needs a calm patient instead of one who would freak out to the moment of general anesthesia) and neglected (but thankfully, learning) some very crucial bits on the road to feeling better.

It's normal
After seven years, not days, not weeks, not months, seven years of having regular lumbar punctures barge into my life and make a mess of it, I got it in my head that the surgery would be my permanent fix-it. Like it would become a better brand of band aid than I was used to. A short span of healing would see to it that my life is all back to 'normal'. I could see well enough to drive without having to worry about some major blindspots. I would be able to see a full colour chart and not mistake colours. I was wrong. See, having a device in your head and a tube running from your brain to stomach (otherwise known as a VP shunt), is really anything but normal. The first difference that I did feel was that my headaches were gone and my eyes felt so much less heavy and I thought, "Wow, it's great." But then the first time I looked in the mirror, I saw a bald headed patient, with surgical dressings on her head, right side chest and right side abdomen, so yes, it's not normal that you would need to have all that done just to have a chance at being less hazardous when driving. And as often as I may sometimes feel down or make a bitter remark at wondering why I would have to go through this, there are even more times when I think, what's the use of being normal anyways, you lose out on every single chance of being extraordinary and being in the company of even more extraordinary people.

Pain like never before
Now, as detailed as everyone (neurosurgeon, assisting doctors, anesthesiologists) will be about how you're going to feel immediately after the surgery and how you're supposed to feel, nothing prepares you for the pain you do feel those moments when you're regaining consciousness, wondering if it's all over. I remember asking the nurse if it was finished, asking her if it wasn't finished if we could stop for awhile, telling her that there was so much pain and pressing her hand so tightly, that she automatically guided my fingers to the little knob that had been placed between my fingers to press for the little drops of morphine that would function to ease my pain. But even as you wait for the morphine to drip through from IV to blood or in the moments when the pain comes back again, this is pain so bad that you don't want to imagine another five minutes of it. As your fingers and toes curl up, the only thought running through your head is, "Please, God, let me die." Yes, the anesthetic and the beginning stages of morphine might make the rest of the world incoherent but until you have those precious drops of medical miracle in your system, nothing keeps you from the pain. Nothing. After more than three weeks of recovery, I'm thankful that I've not had to cross paths with such pain like that again. Yes, there is pain on a day to basis as the surgical wounds heal. There are moments when I am torn between the discomfort of lying down to the pain of keeping my neck upright when I sit but because something far worse has landed on me, I know these moments of 'discomfort' will pass.

Yes, it's really better not to know
I can't remember how long after the surgery before I regained complete consciousness but I remember as I was waiting for the nurses to sponge me the next morning, I felt very small tiny trails of dried blood at the sides of my face from forehead to ear, I felt little scratch marks on both side my forehead, literally in the middle of my temples. When I got home and got to have a proper bath, standing in front of a full length mirror, I saw more scratches on the inner part of my left arm with a little needle mark. I remember thinking, "Wait. All these are new. And I don't remember these bits." Then again, as I watched the Manchurian Candidate (Denzel Washington), really bad choice by the way if you're recovering from brain surgery, they show this bit where your head is clamped down with a metal piece when having brain procedures done, obviously to keep you still but it also has this jarring Frankenstein image drilled into your head, and I thought, "You know what, never mind." The scratches and the marks would heal even before my first surgical check up, the surgery was an overall success and I didn't want to smear that image by thinking of what was done and even more so, how it was done, it's just not going to help me recover in any way.

This is me
As delightful as it is to have well wishers when going through a difficult patch, I think its far worse when people around you don't understand what you're going through. Not only do they misinform themselves on what you need or what you've just been through, they take immense pleasure in spreading the wrong information. So, from having a VP shunt I can probably end up as having had a brain tumour or dying from one as incorrect as it may all seem. I had a VP shunt. Period. Only the ones who really care will make it a point to find out what this means and what it entails. Which is why as nice and as sweet as some people have offered to be, I have not been keen on all visitors. Not to mention, that even with a scarf and proper clothes, I still feel that I look like something the cat has dragged in. Yes, people may think this is rude, insensitive and even a little nutty. But how would they know? Nobody knows the pain or discomfort I can and may feel. Nobody can tell me how to feel at any given time. The only one who literally has insider information, is me. Also, not everyone is mind readers. At some point, I know I have to voice out and say, "This is how I feel, I need to rest." We are each different. For instance, there was another lady who had her shunt surgery on the same day as myself. As I got up and started talking, with no blue black marks on the surgical areas, started feeding myself and got discharged, her shunt got blocked. Within a short period of time, her skull bones suffered an infection and the right side of her forehead sunk in. Same shunt type. Same day. Same surgeon even. We really are different in our own way. And in a moment of weakness, when I think I would rather be anyone else than me, I have learnt to seek solace in knowing, this is me. I may not be what someone else wants me to be but I can be what I want to be.

What's the rush?
I remember hearing somewhere that getting sick is the body's way of telling your mind to slow down. You cannot believe how accurate this is, especially when it's your brains that have had a little 'awakening.' I was so confident in thinking that I would be able to resume my normal tasks within two weeks. Nothing like brain surgery to wake up your senses, isn't it? I found the computer screen way too bright, almost as though I needed sunglasses just to sit in front of it. An hour of sitting up, got me feeling tired enough to lie down at least for a little while. I even had problems with spelling! When having a conversation, I would need to literally give myself a minute before composing a sentence. Very thankfully, I am blessed to be surrounded by people who didn't laugh or raise an eyebrow when they realised these little differences. Even when I brought it up with Peas, knowing I had yawned through many a conversation with him and him not saying anything, all he said was no one expects you to bounce back after something so big. I remember having asked my neurosurgeon before the surgery, when I would be able to do my normal tasks, his answer was very simple and to the point, "If you're up to it, you're up to it." And really, that is the absolute truth. Unless it is immensely vital to rush around and get things done, (which if you're doing, then I think, you may want to reconsider) there is really no harm in taking things slow and doing what you have to, one thing at a time. After all, is rushing going to make it any more perfect or provide our bodies with any extra energy that we may need?

The most important thing of all in knowing that no matter how difficult a situation is and in knowing that we learn from it, is also in believing that it will pass. As much as you're having a "Please God, let me die moment" or when everything has just caved in and you feel weighed down by all that rubble, when someone says it will pass, don't take it as an insult or think the person is being rude. But consider who its coming from and most times, it'll be from someone who has seen a little or even a lot more than you have, so when they say, it will pass, it's their short but gentle way of saying - It really does get better, even if it takes longer that you expect.

Love Can Build A Bridge

Performed By The Judds

I'd gladly walk across the desert
With no shoes upon my feet
To share with you the last bite
Of bread I had to eat
I'd would swim out to save you
In your sea of broken dreams
When all your hopes are sinking
Let me show you what love means

Love can build a bridge
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a bridge
Don't you think it's time?
Don't you think it's time?

I would whisper love so loudly
Every heart could understand
That love and only love
Can join the tribes of man
I would give my heart's desire
So that you might see
The first step is to realize
That it all begins with you and me

Love can build a bridge
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a bridge
Don't you think it's time?
Don't you think it's time?

When we stand together
It's our finest hour
We can do anything, anything
Anything, anything
Keep believin' in the power

Love can build a bridge
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a bridge
Don't you think it's time?
Don't you think it's time?

Love and only love
Love and only love

Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays - First Time Around

Here's a list of blogs that I have come across this week which can be described in three words.
- Awesomeness
- Interesting
- Pass-It-On (alright, that's not one word, but you get the idea)

This also marks the beginning of my Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays, where I'll have the chance to pass on more blogs, hopefully for your reading pleasure and you can join by dropping your links at the bottom of this post.

Read more about

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Reductil (Sibutramine) Banned Across Europe For Patient Safety

I remember being given this to increase metabolism and as a 'happy pill' when I first got sick in 2003. Now, considering that increased intracrannial pressure can cause a stroke and this is now being taken off the market because it can cause a stroke, the only thought running through my head is - I'm glad I never listened when they said I had to be on this for a year. Sigh. What is the world coming to indeed.

Sourced from Slimmimg Pills

One of the most commonly prescribed weight loss drugs has been banned across Europe for patient safety.

According to health regulators in the UK, the prescription drug can cause heart attacks and strokes.

A European review of the medicine sibutramine, marketed as Reductil in Europe and the US, has concluded that it is potentially dangerous and that anyone taking it should seek alternative ways of losing weight.

Reductil was the drug of choice for doctors, and nearly 330,000 prescriptions were written in Britain in 2008.

But recently a clinical trial involving 10,000 patients during the past six years found that the drug could be tied to an increase of the risk of developing heart problems.

Reductil was only available on prescription for patients who are clinically obese (BMI over 27), who naturally are in a high risk heart disease category. But a previously known heart condition would have excluded patients from taking the drug.

As always, we recommend using natural weight loss supplement combined with a healthy lifestyle, a good diet, and regular exercise for best results.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Coffee, Tea Or Me?

5 Ponderings On Which Is Better
By Pandora Poikilos

Here's a debate that has been a guest at many a breakfast table. When all you need and crave for, one groggy morning, is that sweet flavour of caffeine, sliding down your tongue and hitting your nerves in that soothing and warm manner you're accustomed to, but instead someone picks this very moment to give you a series of long lectures on how coffee is bad for you. Sound familiar? Well, if I'd have to pick a side (without a moment's hesitation) my pick would be - coffee. Even as I spell the word, I know Peas will be cross eyed as he reads this post seeing he can never get through a day "without a few cups of tea." For me, good and bad factors taken into consideration, I just love the way coffee goes with anything. You can have it after a super spicy dish or as you savour that delicious slice of blueberry cheesecake. Coffee is also not complicated to match unlike tea that has some types that need to be served with a slice of lemon and others with milk. Just in case you haven't decided on your favourite beverage, here are some pointers that might help you choose which beverage you'd like to sip.

Is coffee really bad for your health?
I'm no scientist but what I do know is that for every study that says, don't touch that cup of coffee there's another that says, drink it. What I can tell you from my own experience is that a drink that has you craving for more, gives you the perception that you need to keep sipping it while working or to stay awake and when after regularly consuming large amounts of it on a daily basis has your fingers shaking when you can't drink it in the same quantity, it can't be the perfect ingredient for good health, so controlled intake is necessary. Bear in mind also, that it's the caffeine in coffee that gets you going and some people opt to enjoy decaffeinated coffee, which is not necessarily a caffeine free version of coffee, it just has less caffeine. This makes it less evil but taken in enough large quantities, it's like drinking normal coffee isn't it? If you're re-reading this bit with raised eyebrows, think of another two words - Diet Coke. It doesn't say sugar free Coke, it doesn't say good for you Coke, it says Diet Coke which means there's a little less of what everyone else is getting but it doesn't necessarily make it good for you which is probably why they finally came up with Coca Cola Zero.

Tea has caffeine?
That it does. So do soft drinks and chocolate. What makes each item different is the caffeine levels contained in each raw item are varied alongside the process of each product resulting in different levels of caffeine remaining in the end product to affect your body. Also, in the case of chocolates it may not necessarily be the caffeine that's giving you that little 'kick' it may be all that sugar that'll have you thinking its Christmas morning again. I may be way past the Trick or Treat age group but I know given the right unhealthy amount of chocolates, I can still get a sugar rush. So what's the grand difference? If tea and coffee both have caffeine, why is coffee singled out to be the bad boy of a breakfast table? In comparison with tea, caffeine in coffee moves through our system much more rapidly than caffeine in tea. For instance, and this is not based on any particular study, 50mg of coffee might react within minutes while 50mg of tea will take two hours. Just like coffee, different types of tea have different caffeine levels so each type will have a different time frame of when it reacts in your system.

Coffee as a brand
With the advent of outlets like Starbucks coupled with the wireless era, coffee became a 'cool' badge. I say "coffee" because it was no longer, "Let's go for a drink", it became, "Let's go for a coffee". It was no longer "Coffee for breakfast" it became "After dinner coffee". Either tea got left out in the popularity contest or it just didn't qualify as 'cool' word. But this where I'm a little curious. Imagine this, a couple walk in. Obviously they are a couple, they are holding hands, whispering in those little tones that lovers reserve for each other as they order their coffee beverages and then when their order is served, they sit opposite each other, slide out a laptop and spend the rest of their outing communicating to each other and others through their laptop. So maybe this is the only place they can get internet connection together or maybe its a new form of communication that's lost on me because I just wouldn't understand how if you were lucky enough to be holding someone's hand why you would want to spend the rest of the time texting through a laptop? Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against these outlets. Personally, I adore a Caramel Machiato from Starbucks. Different countries on different continents and you know this will taste the same. But it does make me wonder, why all the funding and hype about coffee and not tea? We know its addictive and you'll come back for more so let's keep reminding you?

Tea provides more cures
Even as some studies point towards findings that drinking tea can prevent heart diseases and cancer, we're back to turning this into a debate. While I know that tea has fixed some severe colds and flus for people I know, the only thing that worked for me when I had a ghastly cold when I was about 10 was an even more ghastly mixture that an aunt made using a teaspoon of brandy, eggs and coffee. While some people say that coffee works better to fix a tummy upset, a cup of tea (no milk or sugar) does that for me. While some studies point to tea acting as a soothing agent when having a migraine, even more studies say that caffeine in any dosage (coffee, tea, chocolates) can aggravate migraines. Tea components are also said to be beneficial when used in skin care products, I personally have to disagree. Having tried it at varying stages as a teenager I ended up with much bigger spots then when I tried the products with clear skin.

Coffee or tea for baby?
While I cannot speak from personal experience on this point, caffeine during pregnancy has also been the source of many studies and even more misunderstandings with some saying a maximum of 3 cups of tea and 1 cup of coffee and others saying that any amount of coffee is fine during pregnancy. Some studies have pointed out that coffee leads to miscarriages early on in a pregnancy while others have shown that, even getting pregnant when drinking large amounts of coffee everyday, is going to be difficult. The best remedy for this is of course to check with your family doctor. Then comes the question of how old is appropriate for children to have coffee. Some are given sips as early as 8 and others are not allowed anywhere near tea or coffee till aged 16. There are studies that point towards caffeine being a contributor to stunting one's height. And yet, there are the 6 footers who've been sipping away at coffee since they were 7.

Maybe like so many things in life, our preferences about tea and coffee are decided from how we're brought up or about what we end up feeling comfortable with. Whatever the beverage, moderation is still necessary and if you're drinking caffeine to the point of yellow-rotting teeth and fingers shaking the minute your body lacks caffeine, then maybe, just maybe it might be worth trying a different beverage? If you're still deciding, what will it be? Complicated tea or simple coffee? Sip.

Google Me

3 Simple Reasons I'm Thankful For Google
By Pandora Poikilos

"Honestly, I don't think Google needs any form of advertisement. It's a tribute and more importantly a reminder of a message that so many people choose to forget, "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE". I love it. And its very inspiring."

I made this remark yesterday after watching the John Lennon Google Doodle. For the first time, I became a member of You Tube (so I could watch it again) and for the first time since starting this blog, I got told off in language I would not care to repeat.

Maybe it was predominantly a Public Relations exercise for Google to once again remind the world how powerful it actually is or a very subtle, good natured poke at China but I thought it was perfection in motion. Significantly placed to commemorate John Lennon's 70th birthday (with enough time for people to play, replay and tell the rest of the planet), and even more conveniently placed on the announcement day of Liu Xiaobo's controversial Nobel Peace Prize, accompanied with the lyrics - You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will be as one and finished with the caption "Join us in celebrating John Lennon's 70th birthday! Give peace a chance." - it became so much more than just a doodle, it also reminded me on what a world without Google would actually be like.

In this town called Social Media that we choose to live in, internet connection has become the roofs over our heads with Skype functioning as telephones, Facebook as the largest shopping mall in town and Google functioning as electricity. Nobody says, "Give me a sec, I'll Yahoo! it or I'll MSN it", they say, "I'll Google it". Even if you've tried two or three faulty websites, you don't blame your internet connection as long as you can see the words G-O-O-G-L-E on your screen. Like it or not, Google is a common connector among so many of us. Yes, I'd like it more if I had better control of my memories than placing it in no man's land with terms and conditions I sometimes need to read at least two times just to understand, but here are the people with answers to making it easier to connect. For emails, you have Gmail. For diaries (and in some cases of showing off writing talent), you have Blogger. For watching and listening, you have You Tube. For viewing the world and armchair traveling, you have Google Earth. For photo albums, you have Picasa. You can share 40 pictures across 7 continents at the price of your internet connection, so while I'd love to have pictures stored in a hard cover album, I cannot help but appreciate the convenient connectivity that Google provides on a daily basis .

For me this factor is very simple to stand by. Everyday is a reminder of how Google is a blessing when it comes to convenience. Seven years ago, I would never have known that having excessive Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) is an existing condition if it hadn't been for Google. I wouldn't have been able to read up on lumbar punctures and share this information with family and friends who needed to know or people who had the same problem as myself, sometimes needing more reassurance than actually giving it. I didn't have to travel to 10 doctors in all corners of the world, I was able to find them and read up on the progress of finding other means of draining excessive CSF fluid. Down the road to September 2010, I wouldn't have been able to ask other people what a VP Shunt felt like or to tell other people, brain surgery is something you can get through. As an online writer who is always seeking more writing jobs, I don't need to commute up and down to libraries and buy as many different newspapers as I can, Google gives me this and even when the information can't be obtained on Google for free, I'm pointed as to where to look.

I think the best sharings the world has seen, from the Beatles to Harry Potter to Twilight phenomenon to Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey, have actually come from those who never believed it when told they cannot do something. Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page are no exception to this. When Google started way back in 1996 as a research project for their PhD studies, I can only assume the backlash that must have come their way and I'm immensely glad they didn't listen. For instance, in 1999, when they tried to sell the concept of Google to Excite for USD1 million, CEO George Bell rejected the offer and wouldn't even buy it for less. Their perseverance paid off in 2004, when Google's share sales gave the company a market capital of approximately USD23 billion having Brin and Page requesting that their base salary be cut to USD1 as their main compensation continues to come from owning Google shares.*

Yes, Google may have loads of issues to deal with, from invasion of privacy to the lack of privacy measures to harbouring at least one irresponsible user out of every two users but until they do something far worse than being two people implementing a great idea, a task so many of us choose to sit on while waiting for the 'perfect' moment or someone else comes up with something far better, its two thumbs up to Google with a big thank you, from me. They've spoilt me in some ways and taught me to have better locks on my virtual doors in others but a world without Google, would be a very difficult world indeed.

*Referenced from Google Inc
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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

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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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