Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cards

I used to be so diligent with Christmas cards.  I'd send them all in the first two weeks of December.  About 40.  And this year?  I've managed 3.  Written just now.  And so some will arrive late at that.  Oh dear.  I think it's time to give up and admit defeat.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Desk roundup

This should have been posted yesterday but here we are.  Amongst the clutter on my desk today you can find:

1. A bag of rubber bands confiscated from the children.
2. Several Christmas cards that need acknowledgement by the sending of a card in return.  When will that get done?
3. A kids' CD that should be safely stored somewhere but that is wandering loose on my desk
4. Next year's work diary
5. This year's work diary

So what's your desk randomly holding today?

I trust you have nothing better to do with your time

Make your own Christmas tune with the Festive Funk Machine.  Go on.  You know you want to waste two minutes or you wouldn't have opened to my blog page in the first place.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Interview between a mother and son

This clip comes from StoryCorps - an American oral history project.  Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome, interviewed his mother, Sarah and then it was animated.  And it's lovely.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Magical piano

A piano in Chicago that's been rigged up to respond in real time to passers-by.

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday desk patrol

Friday desk patrol: where we list our top five why-is-it-there items on our desk at the end of another week.  Join in down in the comments section.

My desk today includes:
1. Christmas present sticky name labels.  All the good ones from the sheet are gone and I'm left with the tacky Santa ones.
2. Woolworth animal card folder.
3. Headphones for calling my mum on Skype.
4. A slightly-cut-up paper doily which someone brought home from a school craft.
5. A 2014 laminated A3 calendar with a lovely kinder picture on it drawn by one of our resident artists.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On candy canes

Dear Parents of other children,

Look, I don't want to appear ungrateful on behalf of my kids.  They love the candy canes, really, they do.  But you do realise if we all give each other candy canes, they will amass a hoard that will drive us all insane?  Please, for the love of sanity, stop with the candy canes already!

Yours in Christmas madness,

Deb.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Onions

Onions make you cry when you chop them.  For that reason, my daughter won't eat them in anything at all (even cooked) in case they make her cry.  I can't get beyond that logic with her at this stage.

But what I really wanted to say was that, thanks to Gary posting the video below on his blog a while back, I've found a solution to the whole onion-crying thing.

It's chewing gum.

Yes, chewing gum while you chop prevents the pain and the crying (unless you chop your finger, of course, or you are just having a really bad day - it only works on the onion part of the sadness).  I have been holding off on telling you while I road-tested it myself.  After a number of onions chopped over the last couple of weeks, and then one big one grated yesterday evening, I can now say for sure that a packet of gum should be on your next shopping list for onion-crying prevention.

I know.  That's a pretty big life hack!  Here's the rest.  And thanks, Gary!


Monday, December 9, 2013

This Christmas

I don’t like what God is doing in my heart this Christmas. I have never really liked Christmas. I like to keep it at a distance. Easter, I get. But Christmas seems all babyish with the manger and shepherds and angels. And overdone. How many times do we have to sing and hear those same old songs? Over and over again.

But this December is wrecking me. I’ve sat with the suffering. I’ve listened to friends in pain because of life’s sorrows and disappointments. I’ve been told off for helping. I’ve watched people head off to hospital yet again for things they don’t want to do. I’ve cried as someone else’s child faces a life of treatments and therapies.

And the fact that this world is not right – not right at all – has slapped me in the face. And I’m part of it. I’m part of the sin and the selfishness and the muck of it all. I can’t point the finger at the rape and the greed and the destruction and then hide in my corner taking my little fix of selfishness and pretending that I’m not an addict as well.

I feel like I’m hearing each Christmas carol for the first time. The mess of the stable. The scent of scandal as a teenage girl gives birth beside a man who is not the child’s father. The danger of the night and the soldiers’ swords that would soon come for this little helpless king who must rush across the border into Egypt or be slain. Born into this wreck of a world to save the world.

As I’ve cried with nearly every carol I’ve heard this in the past week, I’ve thought of this king who did not send help to our world. Instead, he came. He came himself. To see more of the wonder of that, I’ve had to see more of the mess. And now every carol seems to be shouting - no, singing - that fact out for joy, pure joy, in my head.

I don’t like what God’s doing in my heart this Christmas. But it’s good.





Friday, December 6, 2013

Get off the phone

My phone is not cool enough to even half the stuff in this video, but I loved it anyway!


HT Take Your Vitamin Z

Friday desk patrol


So what' on your desk at the end of another week?  Along with our laptop, printer and supposedly-neat paper filling system, there is always strangely random stuff that ends up in this corner of the house.  Here's a tribute to 5 random items I see on my desk this morning.

1. Slow-cooker recipe book from the library
2. Four teacher end-of-year presents neatly wrapped but without cards.
3. A large-print Revised Church Hymnal held together with tape.
4. Honey's packet of flea & worm medicine
5. This year's Fathers' Day present from the school stall (a sand picture thingy)

What's your top five random desk items today?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On being told off

To use a very Australian expression, I copped a serve today at work. I mentioned I was helping out some refugees who had arrived by boat. My colleague then gave me an animated explanation of why boat people are illegal queue jumpers who are burdening the Australian tax payer and preventing the resettlement of genuine refugees. They are all, apparently, economic migrants rather than genuine refugees, because they must very rich to afford to come here in the manner in which they did.

Sadly, I did not say something smooth and impressive on the spot but stood there much like a stunned mullet and thought of my replies about 20 minutes later. There are lots of statistics I could quote and elements of the UN Refugee Convention that I could point out. But this is all I really wanted to say:

Their immigration status is not up to me. It’s going to be decided by the government according to whatever rules and tests they are applying on that day. However, regardless of how they got here, these people are my ‘neighbour’. There are two little girls who need school books and shoes and uniforms. That is my business and I’m just going to go about it as best I can.

Thank you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The year's political highlights

Each year, the Insiders award the "Matt Price moment" to the political moment that would have given their late colleague, Matt Price, the most fodder for his column.  This year's is a beauty, but you'll enjoy last year's winning moment too.  You just couldn't make this stuff up!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas calm

Proof that I'm being very laid-back and calm about the tree that we put up a whole day earlier than scheduled....


Can you find....
  • the pasta-and-cardboard star that was spray-painted with gold?
  • the wooden kinder triangle decoration?
  • the silver star that's about to take a very dramatic dive from the top and possibly hit someone on the scone?
  • the wooden door greeting decoration that's been randomly shoved in amongst the branches?
It's all so festive!  We did decorate to the lovely sounds of a Future of Forestry advent CD.  Regrettably, it did not prevent sibling rivalry and this photo was taken after everyone had been crossly sent to their rooms by their mother for fighting over the musical reindeer antler headbands.

Yep, deck the halls with joy!  It's all happening around here.  How's your decorating going?  Anyone so excited that they've embarked upon outdoor decorating?

12 Days of Christmas

The Concert Pianist sent me this gem the other day...

Friday, November 29, 2013

End of year crazy

Signs that we have gotten to the end-of-the-year crazy:

1. I am letting my pre-schooler spend way too much time in front of the telly and telling myself they'll work him really hard at school next year so it will all even up.
2. I am running the dishwasher with strange items in it and less than scrupulously full because it just needs to be done.
3. My mother-in-law rang my husband this morning to ask if I was working today and he replied truthfully that he had no idea.
4. I heave a huge sigh of relief for every Christmas-related event that gets cancelled due to poor weather (hooray for one less thing!)
5. I keep thinking I've come to the end of the present list and then remembering with a sinking feeling the ones I've forgotten.
6. I'm actually contemplating letting kids decorate the tree entirely without my pedantic supervision to save time (this might be a good thing all round).
7. Yesterday, I used blank envelope mailing labels to stick the wrapping paper on my parents' Christmas present (that must be posted this week) because after 10 minutes of trying to find the sticky tape roll in my seven-year old's bedroom I gave up.  No bones were discovered, however, which shows we are making progress.

There's more.  So much more.  And we are still not even in the advent calendar countdown season.  Please feel free to add some of your own crazy to the list in the comments below.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nothing's working right

Computer disasters.  I'm posting in a brief moment of opportunity when my laptop is talking sensibly to my modem.  The rest of the week they have been in some kind of electronic spat that has left me intermittently isolated from the online universe.  You would think I've used this down time to construct some meaningful posts about the nature of life and the universe.  I haven't.  I've done washing.  Because sometimes it's unavoidable and the people in my household demand clean clothes.

So to make up for that, I've found you cute puppy photos.  Yea, verily, so much cuteness you may just be able to skip dessert for the next week.  Go here.

See.  Told you so.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Kittens

A local cat has had kittens in the only spot in the backyard that Honey cannot reach.  Aghghghg!  Frustration.  I suspect it is one of Sparkles kittens now grown and having kittens of her own.  Have to wait till next door comes home to ask them about it.  For now, we have a very frustrated dog (who can see the kittens but not get through a wire fence to get to them) and some very excited children (who have cuddled the kittens and found them adorable).  They must have been there a while - they already have their eyes open.  Sweet but...... I don't want kittens!!!!

Slow-whinging

The Concert Pianist has lent me her slow cooker to try out.  I'm excited about having a go at two slow cooker recipes this week and getting a feel for whether I want to invest in one of my own.  I've just put on a pineapple chicken recipe.  In the process, I've discovered a side-effect of slow cookers I had not anticipated.  At 11 am on a Saturday morning, the children can already start discussing how much they are going to dislike tonight's meal.  Sigh.  Usually that doesn't start until 4.30 at the earliest.

Friday, November 22, 2013

'Kristallnacht' and William Cooper's protest

Here's a story of protest that I knew nothing about before today but which deserves wider recognition.  'Kristallnacht' is the name given to the coordinated Nazi attack on Jews that occurred on the night of 9 - 10 November 1938.  The brutality was undeniable and it marked a clear turning point in the German treatment of Jews.  It provoked condemnation from governments around the world but the only private protest against this event was made by William Cooper of Melbourne.



Via CPX

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Not fair!

Fairness is such a hard-wired concept that even monkeys get it.  Watch for the reaction of the monkey who doesn't get the grape.

 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The 'invisible' bike helmet

Instead of a bike helmet that messes up your hair, how about a scarf with airbag technology that deploys in the event of a crash?  Really.  See here.

Guess what the checkout chick told me today

Woolworths is planning another round of collector cards at Christmas time.  Haven't said yet whether they will be the same animal cards (with a new folder presumably missing the swear word) or a totally new set.  Either way, it sure to make them extra-extra busy.

MSG is back in vogue?

Apparently, it is!  This article at the Smithsonian gives you a history of the infamous additive and explains how 'umami' is now making its presence felt as a hot new food trend.


What do you think?  Has MSG just been given a bad rap or is it the arch villain of food?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The haircut

There's a saying I heard somewhere that you should never let your mother brush your hair when she's mad at your brother.  Very true.

I'd like to add that you should never let someone cut your hair when they are upset about their daughter's Year 11 subject choices. Made the mistake of mentioning I was a Year 11 teacher. Obviously, she had been bottling this issue up a bit.  And so she started vigorously cutting away and telling me all about the lack of support and cooperation from the school (not mine - another local establishment).  I was making sympathetic noises while watching in a slight panic, desperately wondering if there was anything I could do to slow her down, as my locks disappeared in all directions.

Worst haircut ever.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Albanian blood fueds

This is a bit off the beaten track, but I was reading a really interesting article the other day about Albania's modern blood feuds.  Since the fall of communism, the resurgence of adherence to the ancient law of the Kanun - a 500-year old medieval code of conduct - has meant that up to an estimated 800 children and 1500 families are caught up in blood feuds.  The male children of families can only find sanctuary in their own homes and they remain virtual prisoners for as long as it takes for the feud to be resolved.  Here's a clip about it.


Stuck At Home In An Albanian Blood Feud from Storyhunter on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ha...ha....hachooooozsch!



Pass the tissues, please.  I'm sorry I've been so quiet.  It was a combination of a nasty cold and a hugely busy week.  In short, I had a mountain of things to get done and in between I lay around the house, gloomy and moaning.  My long-suffering husband tended to me kindly while putting up with my frequent complaints about the state of my health and predictions of the end of the universe as we know it.  I have a genetic default towards pessimism at the best of times but give me a decent cold and I can break out into a full-scale case of the Eeyore.  "I have no real friends.  Everyone is no doubt just putting up with me because they are too nice to tell me to get lost."  "This cold will never end.  I will be snotty forever."  "I'm a terrible wife and mother. I don't know why - hachoooooh! - you put up with me at all."  "It's all going downhill.  Nothing will ever be sunny and happy again."  "It's all too difficult.  Too difficult for words."  Thankfully, he is much more of the Christopher Robin type and just chuckles at me and says, "You really are a glass-half-empty kind of gal, aren't you?"  And he makes good tea.
 
On the mend now.  Life may go on after all.  I might even blog occasionally.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Messy life

The Ministry of a Messy House by Amanda Robbie is a deeply encouraging book.  No, not an encouragement to develop more mess.  And, no, not an encouragement to get super-organized and deal with all the mess.  It's rather a look at the reality of mess in our lives (both the physical and the immaterial) and a reminder to look to grace and not our own super-efforts when dealing with mess.

The Ministry of a Messy House: Grace in Place of Guilt
I really feel like I can't do the book justice other than saying I was so impressed that I bought three extra copies once I'd read it.  It's not earth-shattering or the exposition of some profound mystery.  It's just that it hits the nail on the head so well.  Robbie is a vicar's wife in the UK and I related to lots of the craziness that comes from living next door to a church (ah, memories!).  But it's not focused on ministers' families by any means.  If you are in charge of any combination of home, work, children, ministry or life in general, you will be faced with mess at some point and this book gives a very sane and helpful perspective on how to deal with it without getting overwhelmed with guilt or perfectionism.  It has a lot to say about hospitality and how we work to make our home a place of grace for those living in it and those being invited into it.

I felt...
* a renewed desire to get out there and share my life with others
* a lifting of the burden of guilt for letting the place get messy and failing to be the perfect housewife
* a helpful reorientation as to the purpose of the time I spend caring for my family and my house
* reminded that life - including relationships and church life - is always going to be messy this side of heaven and that God's purposes are not the least bit thwarted by that even if I sometimes feel the whole thing has gone terribly pear-shaped

Terribly, terribly encouraging.  Well, for me anyway.  Maybe it just hit my nail on the head.  But you might like it too!  There's even a couple of recipes in there to boot.  Borrow my copy if you like. 


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Almost the end of another week

It's been a strange kind of day.  Not the day I was planning to have.  But okay in the end.  Here's a grab-bag of stuff from today:

* I discovered I had been defrosting my freezer for the last day or so without knowing it.  Sigh.  The plug had been knocked out some time unknown.  Thankfully, I didn't lose too much as it is a small upright freezer and it was shopping day today anyway.  But it did mean a block of cleaning up I hadn't planned on.  My freezer is now frost-free, very clean and beautifully empty organized.

* The Jehovah's Witnesses were door knocking our area today.  On Halloween.  Maybe they were hoping for candy?

* My friend Erin works in Kyrgyzstan.  Her blog post today wrecked me. So much suffering in the world.

* Before The Freezer Incident, I was planning to write a review of The Ministry of a Messy House.  It's a job for another day now.  But I will say that after finishing it on Saturday, I went and ordered three more copies to share and give to friends.  It's that good.

* Only two kids have rung the doorbell so far.  I still have a lot of lolly bags left and the light is fading.

*  We are doing three lots of "having people over" on the weekend.  Hoping we won't be too exhausted to face the working week.

* On Wednesday I have my first Legal Studies class.  Incidentally, I have only one girl in my class.  I need to get in touch with my blokey side somehow.  And one student has a parent who is in the police force.  I'd better know my stuff.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Messy house

Very excited that the postman delivered my hot-off-the-press copy of the Ministry of a Messy House today.  Looking forward to reading it and being encouraged that serving others is not an act perfection but ministry of grace.  I got my copy from the bookdepository.

The Ministry of a Messy House: Grace in Place of Guilt

Inside Amazon

Amazon uses 'chaotic storage' to stock, locate and ship their quizillions of products.  Check it out here.  It's possible that my children are already on to this superior business model.  I see evidence of them using intuitively in their bedroom randomness organization.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's all in the eyes



How easily can you read people's expressions?  Take the New York Times quiz.  I got 34 out of 36 so you better not come looking reflective around me and thinking you can hide your true self.
 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Random thoughts

Being a series of this week's not-profound thoughts (well, some of them).

1. I have come to realise that I have been in deep denial about the state of my sneakers.  The holes in the fabric on the top are becoming big enough to see the colour of my socks.  I must face reality.  But I can't bear to start again.  These sneakers are comfortable.

2. I have no heels to wear to the Valedictory Dinner next week.  The serious troubles of teaching Year 12.  I must go forth soon and find heels to match my dress.  They will not be comfortable.

3. I have found out I will be a Legal Eagle next year.  That is, I am teaching Year 11 Legal Studies.  I shall have to devote time in the summer holidays to improving my knowledge in this subject so that I might be suitably useful to my students.  I have begun drafting a list of must dos.
   1. Re-watch as many episodes of Rumpole as I can.  Undoubtedly, he is the legal mind to which to aspire.  I have fond memories watching Rumpole on the ABC with my dad when I was in high school (after which we would sometimes flick over to the black and white samuri film on SBS and make up our own subtitles).
   2. The Castle.  So that I can say, "It's the vibe of the thing" with proper emphasis if I get a tricky question in class.

 
Any other suggestions for my list?
 
4. We think we need to upgrade from a keyboard to a piano.  Do we buy a digital piano or invest in an acoustic?  What if our darling child suddenly quits piano in two years time?  Is a cheaper second-hand acoustic worth it or would it be better to buy a digital for that same price?  What do you reckon?
 
5.  Funny cat video.  Language warning however.  The internet and cats were made for each other.
 
 
6. Also made for each other were the internet and those of us who are indecisive.  So do you think I should get a slow-cooker?  It might help things run more smoothly with my increased teaching load next year.  Or would I use it a couple of times and then keep it at the back of my pots cupboard as a memorial to my lost enthusiasm?
 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gratitude is not contingent

'Well, it's not been a great day, but at least I'm not starving and living in a cardboard shack.'

That's not gratitude.  It might be something you are glad about, and it might seem like a positive thought, but it's not gratitude.  Gratitude is not based on looking outward to other circumstances, but rather gives thanks for what is already right in front of you.

When I am thankful that 'at least I'm not starving' or 'at least I'm both my legs are working' or 'at least I don't have cancer' what I am unintentionally saying is that I am happy because I have not suffered those things.  Gratitude is something different.  It's being happy for what you do have, not being happy that you've avoided something you don't like.  Gratitude is not contingent upon things going my way.  It doesn't look sideways to see if others have it better or worse than me.  It simply looks at what God is already doing, right now, in whatever circumstance I am in.

There's a world of difference between my children saying, "I am thankful that you've cooked us this meal and I appreciate it," and my child saying, "Well, at least it's not fish, that would be even worse!"  Yet, we sometimes give thanks unwittingly in just such a manner.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's a trap - the fake house



In the UK, they've got a clever police scheme going where they set up fake houses to catch burglars.  See here.  My question is, how neat do they make these apartments?  Surely without residents, the uncanny tidiness would be a give-away.  Or do they decorate the house and then have someone do a last walk-through and muss it up just enough to look real?  That could possibly be the perfect job for my natural skill-set.  There's a bonus in the comments section where someone suggests that if they set the house up like a fully-fledged IKEA store, the burglar would be forced to wander around forever and never get out anyway....
 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I was wrong about 'boat people'



A couple of years ago, if you asked me about 'boat people' I would have told you that I thought it was unfair for them to get here illegally and take the place of those people waiting so long in camps who don't have the means to get here first.  I'm not against refugees.  In fact, I want Australia to do more.  I thought 'boat people' were dodgy queue-jumpers who were possible security-risks.

Then I learnt a few things.

1. The 'boat people' are not illegal immigrants.  The UN Convention on refugees, which Australia has signed up to, allows anyone who needs refuge to cross a border to seek asylum.  Since the horrors of the second world war, we have agreed, at least on paper, that when people flee their homeland for reasons that would classify them as "refugees", they are free to come across our border by whatever means necessary to reach safety, even without paperwork of any kind.  They are legal asylum seekers provided they meet the UN criteria.

2.  There is no queue.  Our intake of refugees does not run on a 'queue' system.

3.  The UN definition of a refugee is not means tested.  Having the means to pay to get yourself out of a country does not mean you are any safer in that country than someone without funds. 

4. Offshore processing is ridiculously expensive.  Currently budget forecasts indicated that our current policy will cost $2.3 billion (yes, that's billion not million) over the next four years and that figure is rising fast.  The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees' regional spokesman, Richard Towle, pointed out that UNHCR's budget for this year is $3.7 billion and with that money they will care for 25 million globally.  In other words, after screening people for security reasons, it would be much cheaper (as well as much, much more humane) to bring refugees into the Australian community.  In May this year, Martin Bowles, the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, stated that processing asylum seekers in Australia costs 20% of the amount required to process someone offshore.

5. And finally I met a few refugees.  Nothing kills a stereotype like sharing a meal together.  Honestly, if I was in a situation where my whole family and their future was in danger, I would use every asset at my disposal to try to get them to safety.  Wouldn't you?

And so I came to the conclusion, that I was wrong about 'boat people'.  And in fact I've never met a 'boat person'.  I have only met people who came by boat.

Of course, I don't want to see people forced to make a perilous crossing in a leaky boat to get here.  I want to see an end to people drowning at sea.  I want to see an end to the boats because the boats are not safe.  But I think we have to find a better way to stop the boasts than by applying extraordinarily punitive measures to extremely vulnerable people.  And we're Australians.  We should be able to do better than this.

If you have time, watch this video 'Ishmael'.  It looks at the situation that a certain group of asylum seekers - those who arrived in Australia by boat after August 2012 but before 1 July 2013 - now find themselves in due to the politics surrounding the previous government and the inflammatory rhetoric leading up the election.  We've recently become friends with a family who fall into this special category and the stress of living with the restrictive conditions placed upon them is truly heartbreaking to watch.  Have mercy!




HT for the clip St. Eutychus

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Killing Hitler

Killing Hitler: The Third Reich and the Plots Against the Fuhrer


Killing Hitler is a look at some of the significant plots to assassinate Hitler.  Each plot, or group of plots, is dealt with in a chapter. While they overlap and move backward and forward in time, the chapters are essentially sequential so that as the book goes on you move chronologically towards Hitler's end. It's not an easy read: lots of background information and troop numbers surround the more compelling details about the individual plots.  But it is an interesting vantage point from which to look at the progress of the second world war. No, Bonhoeffer does not get a mention.  It's made me determined to get hold of Metaxas' book and read that before too long.

So it's a book that would appeal to those who like a fair bit of detail in their war history.  The most interesting part was actually my own reactions as I read the book.  Obviously, I knew in advance that none of the plots succeed.  And yet each time I felt my hope rising as they made their plans and I had to keep reminding myself that I already knew it would not work.

Another odd thing was that I was sitting there, reading a book, and willing someone dead.  That was very odd.  And that was part of the same dilemma that each individual assassin faced.  When, if ever, is it right to assassinate someone?  I admired some of the assassins more than others depending on their motives. You can't help but wonder how many lives could have been saved if one of those assassinations had succeeded.  And yet what are the criteria that must be met before you believe someone should be killed?

Finally, it helped me to understand a bit more about how much the people of Europe suffered during that war: death, brutality, starvation, the total destruction of normal life and the long-term implications of living after the war when almost all of the infrastructure needed had been destroyed.  There was horror - true horror - on a scale impossible to grasp from where I'm sitting distanced by both time and geography.  Many people were therefore forced to flee as refugees, across borders, without paperwork or visas, to save their lives.  Some of them would have had to pay very shady characters to do so.  The needs of these refugees for asylum informed the development of the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The reality is we often only understand the horror of these situations, and therefore the very real dangers people are fleeing from, after a significant regime change and the passing of some time.  I wonder how history will reflect on the refugees around the world in 2013 and the reactions of the nations to whom they applied for shelter.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Postmodernism - why we can't say nothin' no more

Can we please start talking about truth as if it still exists?  Great clip below.  Sounds like some of my students.

Halloween

It's not long until Halloween comes around again.  An uncelebrated holiday in Australia when I was a kid, this tradition is definitely making itself felt in our local shopping centre and each year we have a few kids coming to our door in scary costumes.  This year we'll have some serious bags of lollies and a few of The Good Book Company's Halloween tracts.  It's not too late to order tracts yourself - just make sure you are on the UK site not the Australian site as they are not available here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Doggy do-do

Dog ownership tip #1 - get one of these.  Makes my life much more civilised and uses up my plastic grocery bags.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Things I'll miss about teaching Year 12s

1. Trying to explain world history to people who think 1990 was a long time ago.
2. Being called 'Miss'.
3. Trying to keep them on track while enjoying their wonderfully divergent stories.
4. Watching their ever-changing hairstyles.
5. The excitement of seeing them understand something for themselves that you didn't actually teach them.
6. Hearing them singing old retro songs that they find hilarious (not so retro to me).
7. Forcing my brain to grapple with Socrates, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Weil, Descartes, Armstrong, Popper, Kuhn and Hume all in the space of 10 months.
8. Discussing what courses they might do next year and which uni would be best.
9. Watching them improve.
10. Being amazed that such competent, compelling individuals would still bother to ask my opinion on anything.

And (drumroll please....)

11. The student who came into my class and said, with fabulous randomness, "Hey, Miss, do you know the show 'Charles in Charge?" and then sang the theme song with me. Crazy.

Oh, I'm going miss those guys.

Books for boys

I've listed before some of the best read-aloud books we've read so far with our kids.  I thought I'd suggest two that have been winners for our boys in particular.  No doubt, they'd be enjoyed by a lot of girls too.  If you have a strong independent reader, they could read these on their own.  But where's the fun in that?  Read 'em aloud!  Then you can enjoy them too.
Fintan Fedora: The World's Worst Explorer

Fintan Fedora: The World's Worst Explorer - Clive Goddard

A really fun read.  Very humorous and the main character is fantastically lovable.  A highly accident-prone 14 year-old goes on a quest to the Amazon rainforest to find a mysterious and supremely valuable fruit.  Lots of slapstick humour that keeps boys hooked but with a strong plot and a better standard of writing than you find in some of the other "boys humour" books.

How to Train Your Dragon

How To Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell

The books in this series are very witty and the characters become larger than life and (in our house) family friends.  Cressida Cowell creates a Viking world with dragons, warring tribes and treacherous enemies.  The hero, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, is the chief's son and is burdened with trying to live up to his dad's expectations, avoid the local bullies and complete his training to become a fully-fledged member of the tribe.  Lots of lessons about standing up for your friends, sacrificing yourself for others and not judging others too quickly. Don't be put off by the fact that this series has been made into a film.  The books are completely different (and much better) even though some of the same characters are featured.  There is a bit of toilet humour in this lot but it's not overwhelming.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Crab migration

Thanks, Gary, for the link to this interesting clip on the crab migration on Christmas Island.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

In work we trust

I lost my job about a month ago.

That's being rather melodramatic really.  What actually happened is that I found out the student subject selection numbers for next year were not sufficient for my subject to run again.  And seeing as I'm currently employed just to teach Year 12 Philosophy, I don't have a job if the subject doesn't run.  In fact, I only have about five classes left with the current students until they go on exam study leave.  Usually, that would mean I would begin an 'early start' program with next year's students but as there isn't going to be a class, I'll be floating relief for the rest of the year.

Believe me, I have moped a fair bit over this.  It came at the same time as I was finishing up marking and reports and while I was being audited in order to renew my teaching registration ("Surprise!  You are one of the lucky few who have been randomly selected to provide proof of your teaching and pd for the last five years!").  It was a heavy couple of weeks.

But I'm feeling bright and snappy again now.  I will have at least one day a fortnight's work next year and I'll pick up whatever relief teaching they offer me and that should keep me busy enough.

However, the whole thing stirred up a mountain of questions for me about family and work.  In the mix was the opportunity to apply for a job that would take me up to four days a week work.  Was it the right time to work so many days?  Should I wait and see what else was offered?  What if nothing else was offered?  How much work is too much?

And that stirred up a second round of perhaps more fundamental questions.  What if I don't work?  Or don't work at my chosen career?  How important to how I see myself is work? When I first left work to stay home, it was all exciting and a new adventure.  Years in, and although I am still very glad to be caring for my family, the gloss has well and truly worn off.  Paid employment then looms tantalizing on the horizon.  Not so much the money but the "value" that comes with it.  You are seen differently when you work.  And it's hard not to buy into that.

So if I don't work, what does that mean?  Is what I do outside of work valuable?  I have had to struggle with that all over again.

And in the middle of all of this, I watched this clip from the Harvard Business Review (because where else would you turn to find out how to measure your work?) with Clay Christensen.  He also has a longer TED talk on the same subject.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's school holidays



And like me you might be simultaneously basking in the wonder that is not having a tight schedule and drowning in the mayhem that is small beings suddenly home and demanding entertainment and a ridiculous amount of food or else.  Or maybe that's just my house.

Anyhow, tempers do invariably become frayed when living in more-than-usually-close quarters especially as 'experiments' and 'craft projects' and all manner of craziness involving liquids, carpets, pets, food, rocks or all of the above seem to be the order of the day.  Add in squealing and occasional sibling-baiting and it's a real party.

So today I re-read an old favourite article: Masking anger as justice.  I need reminding of this fairly often.  You might enjoy it too if you are the all-day boss of some little or not-so-little ones at present.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What to wear: the dramas of shopping for tweens

If you have a daughter who is wearing a size greater than 6, you will know exactly what I mean when I say there is a big change in the type of clothing available once you go from "little girl" to "big girl" sizes.  I could rant on and on about it.  Your daughter turns seven and suddenly instead of rainbows and kittens, the tops have black cats, pouts and chains.  Similarly, I could give you a good rant about little boys' clothes and why I object to shirts that proclaim my son "baddest", "toughest" or "naughtiest".  How about "helpful", "clever" and "thoughtful"?

But I'll spare you my rant because I'm sure you've heard it before.  The other day, I logged on to Target and found this ad "Grow up! Uh uh, stay young!"  Obviously an appeal to those of us who have long been complaining about the tarting-up of their girls' range, the ad presents a selection of their range that they believe would appeal to mums like me.  Interestingly, it's not their full range - just some selected pieces to show me that it is possible to buy Target clothes of that kind.  It's a good start at least.  Shows that retailers are becoming aware of a slowly changing (please, let it be changing!) attitude in this area.

An alternative that we've tried a couple of times is Land's End.  It's an American retailer that ships to Australia.  The shipping is expensive - yuck - but if you buy during a sale (right now) it kind of evens out a bit.  They have a boys, men's and women's range but it's the girls clothing we've had the most trouble with so we've bought more girls clothing than anything else. The sizes go up to 16, and while the clothing is cute, it is still styled for children rather than young adults.  If you are especially looking for modest girls' clothing, or slim or plus sizing, it may be a help to you.  They also have a product on some of their boys' and girls' pants called 'Iron Knee' for those kids who wear through pants.

The current 30% off sale finishes Oct 1.  I don't want to be inciting anyone into spending so let me just say what my bank sometimes says: "Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you." And, no, sadly I did not get a discount for this post.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Best friends already


There's this scene in Notting Hill, where Will's sister, Honey, meets the famous movie star Anna Scott for the first time.  She's totally giddy with excitement and says,
 

Thumbnail
"...this is one of those key moments in life, when it's possible you can be really, genuinely cool - and I'm going to fail just 100%. I absolutely, totally and utterly adore you and I just think you are the most beautiful woman in the world and more importantly I genuinely believe, and I've believed for some time now, that we could be best friends. So what do you think?"
Sometimes I feel that way when I read blogs.  I find a new blog and after a bit of reading, I come to a well-reasoned conclusion: this person and I would definitely be besties if only we met in real life.  We were totally meant to be friends!
 
Which is ridiculous.
 
It seems superfluous to point this out but here goes anyway: people's blogs are not the same as the people themselves.  Even those bloggers who are super-revealing about their lives and want to present themselves as true-to-life as possible are still only able to give you an edited representation of their lives.  It is never the same thing.
 
And yet it's really tempting to forget this and think you "know" the person at the other end.  And I'd like to say I think that's a really dangerous thing.  And I'm not talking about stalkers or online predators of some kind.  I actually mean the nice stay-at-home-mom-type blog and the Christian-wife-and-lifestyle-type blog.  It's these kinds of blogs that we by nature tend to warm up to and then go and imitate.  We see a great parenting idea, recipe, craft, solution to life's deepest problems, and we think, "Oh, wow.  She really gets me.  That's exactly what I need to do."
 
In times past, we would have talked to a person.  A person whose life we knew (at least to some extent), and whose family, habits and decisions we'd observed over time.  And we'd weigh that all up before we took their advice or copied their decisions.  Bring back the person, I say.  I find some of the whole internet influence pretty scary - I think most of the time we don't realize how deeply we are being etched by people who we only think we know.
 
But not my blog of course.  You and I: we'd totally be besties.  What do you think?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Midnight delivery

Mixed Rose Bouquet (Midnight)My parents live in India.  From time to time, I send gifts online.   And sometimes I see some funny options. But I think this latest offering is fantastic.

Midnight Surprise
Gifts multiply the happiness and are the best medium of showering love and care to the person you value the most. At GiftstoIndia24x7.com, we offer Midnight Delivery Systems. Send gifts to your dear ones in India, when they least expect it. The feelings conveyed through the gifts and the moment of surprise will be cherished by your dear ones in India, for a longer time to come.

Oh yes. "The moment of surprise" would "be cherished by" my "dear ones in India, for a longer time to come" alright. I doubt it would ever be forgotten.

Because who wouldn't want a large black forest cake arriving at the stroke of midnight? Taj Black Forest Cake - 1Kg (Midnight)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The dying gum tree

Aghast!  That's what I was when I drove home from church a couple of weeks ago and saw our royal gum tree had been knocked over by strong winds.  One of its support ties had ripped under pressure.  Though we propped it back up and didn't see any initial damage, we now realise that it had suffered a massive snap at the base.  It's leaves have been slowly drying out and turning brown.  It's gone.  Two years' growth gone.  Sigh.  We'll have to start again.  But it won't be the same because it won't be planted on the royal wedding day and it won't have bloomed at the birth of Prince George.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How did I not know about this?

 
I did a fair bit of Australian geography in school.  How was it that no one mentioned that Australia has an underground fire that has been burning since....who knows!  It was certainly already burning before European settlement.  Burning Mountain Nature Reserve is located on the New England Highway, about 300 km north of Sydney.  A two-metre thick coal seam is continually on fire about 20 -30 metres under the surface of the ground, releasing heat and toxic fumes from outlet at ground level.  That's amazing.  And I can't believe no one ever mentioned it.  Or maybe I just wasn't listening at the time.  You can read more information here.

So, did anyone else out there know about Burning Mountain?

Friday, September 13, 2013

At last

At last, my reports are done and my mountain of official paperwork due today is sorted.  It's been a very, very busy last three weeks.  But the end is in sight!  Here's a little amusement to celebrate the moment.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This is probably only fun if you are Presbyterian..

..and know a bit about who some of these guys are.... but I've baited Gary into taking selfies at the GAA.  Great fun!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Work, work, work

I'm afraid I'm all work and no play till my essays are marked and my reports written.  I promise to return soonish.  Feel free to talk amongst yourselves while I'm gone.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A fleeting moment

Have you ever received a totally unexpected and overwhelming gift?  I did today.  In my letter box was a gift I hadn't even imagined existed.


When I was a little girl, I spent a year at boarding school.  I have only one or two photos from this time in my life.  Today, I was blown away when I discovered my oldest friend had sent me a book of photos from that year.  Precious beyond explanation.  Her parents were my dorm parents.  I never even thought about the fact that they would have photos from that year!  Her kindness in bothering to go through those photos, scan them and have them printed for me is such a gift.  I don't have words.  Thank you, my dear friend!


This guy



This photo was taken in June 1936 in Hamburg.  It shows a gathering of workers at the official launch of a naval training ship.  The guy refusing to give the Nazi salute is thought to be August Landmesser, although no one is completely certain.  Whoever he is, he's one courageous guy.  He makes me want to stand up and cheer.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gravestones

This is a list of early American grave inscriptions (via how about orange).  Specifically, details of the different ways they say 'die'.  It's an interesting read (really).  And I've found mine!

"Changed a fleeting world for an immortal rest"

See?  Just right. What about you?  Any that you particularly like?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I washed my hair

After about five months of 'washing' my hair with only bi-carb and vinegar, I gave in and grabbed the shampoo bottle.  I think I hung in there pretty well.  On the plus side, my scalp issues completely disappeared.  But the ends of my hair were becoming extremely dry and brittle.  After a failed attempt at reviving the dry ends with a homemade recipe (which left me wearing my hair in a French roll all day trying to look sophisticated when really my hair was not fit to be seen), it was time to bring back the shampoo.

I'm a bit sad - I liked the benefits to my scalp and the low cost and my hair felt clean and normal.  The dry ends weren't evident at first.  But as the months wore on, I could feel them getting worse.  I think if I had shorter hair and it was cut more often, I probably wouldn't have had a problem with it.  Anyway, here endeth the experiment (at least for now).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Spare me the phone

We headed off to another church yesterday afternoon for a special church service to welcome a new minister.  I couldn't help but notice that there were phones, phones, phones everywhere during the service.  Now admittedly, it was a special "event" service and people wanted to take some photos to remember the moment.  But it was weird looking up to the front and trying to see past the phones people were holding up.  Thankfully, I didn't see anyone taking selfies so that's good.

It all felt a bit like this ...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Found

My friend Jean is awesome.  And she likes to make lots and lots of lists of links.  That's one of the many reasons why she's awesome.  The downside is she gets me hooked on lots and lots of blogs.  So she's awesome but I may soon need to start a 12-step program if my blog list gets much longer.

Jean recently linked to a newish blog called LRM.  I like.  But what I most wanted to share from there is a post called 'Lost and Found'.  Go read it.  It's about a brother, loss and remembrance.  I found it really moving.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kevin's song

Trust problem, Kev?  You could try singing this one.  Might help.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God and our kids

If you want to stir things up, make a statement about parenting. If you really want some controversy in your life, make a statement about Christian parenting. Here’s hoping this post doesn’t call down a hornet’s nest upon me because I do want to say something about Christian parenting.

One thing I’ve been chewing over lately, is whether you can parent in such a way as to guarantee the outcome. The key word there is guarantee. I think the answer is no, for reasons I’ll point out in a minute. The spark for this thinking was a blog post I read a while ago on Femina. Now, the Femina writers come out of the Federal Vision theology movement so I’m not fully on board with all of their views but a lot of their stuff on motherhood is really very, very helpful. However, it was this blog post – July 9: Simple, but not easy – that got me scratching my head. I’ve read the article several times now and thus I hope I’m not misrepresenting the views of its author but it seems to suggest that God promises believers that their children will be believers also. Here’s the section I’m talking about:
The point is that God makes promises to His people regarding their children. Believe them! I can see it with my own eyes now, so it isn’t my faith that is seeing it. But my faith has been enlarged as a result of seeing His faithfulness to me and to my children and to my grandchildren.
and
We serve a God of great glory and goodness. He loves our children. He loves to see our children brought up faithfully to love and serve Him. He loves to promise us our children. And He loves it when we believe Him. I guess it is simple. But it’s not easy.
So does God promise our children will also be faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus? Well, I am a minister’s daughter so I’ve known a good few Christian families in my time and I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that not all kids raised in good Christian families will go on to love and serve the Lord. I don’t think anyone’s fainting from surprise as a result of that revelation. So, if that’s the case, we are left with only three logical options:

A. God does promise believers their children will believe, but he also breaks his promises quite a bit.

B. God does promise that, but only some Christians parent well enough to earn the benefits of those promises.

C. God doesn’t promise that all children of believers will be believers. Some people have read stuff into the Bible that they shouldn’t have.

Greater minds than I have agonized over this issue and I certainly don’t claim great theological knowledge but for what it’s worth, let me tell you what I think is going on.

Firstly, I don’t think it’s Option A. If it is, I want out. God is not God if he doesn’t deliver on what he says he will. And I guess that’s why some Christian folk, who have firmly believed that God makes iron-clad promises about parenting, have walked away when their families have fallen apart despite all their efforts. I do think God keeps his promises – always, every time – so let’s cross this one off the list.

Let’s turn then to Option B. Whether people would be willing to admit it or not, I think many, many Christians believe in Option B. Which would explain why sometimes there can be a lot of smugness exhibited by families whose kids do present the model Christian image and conversely explains the judgmental whispers about families whose kids turn away from the faith and the accompanying pain and shame for the parents of those kids.

In the case of the Option B family, God’s call of salvation is dependent on whether the parents are doing a good enough job of raising their kids according to the Scriptures. The parents are saved by faith but the kids are going to be saved by faith and good parenting! I don’t think that fits with what the Bible says about salvation. The Bible does command parents to raise their children well, to teach them the truths of Scripture and so on. But this does not bring about salvation. Salvation is entirely God’s own gracious work and it is not dependent on the work of man.

Option B also gets wobbly when you introduce some real-life examples. Let’s say Mary and Scott spent 20 years raising little Jeannie, Freddie and Sammie to love Jesus. While Jean and Fred, now young adults, are still believers and faithfully raising their own family in the church, Sam has decided he wants none of it and has totally renounced his commitment to Christ. What’s happen there in the Option B scenario? How do we get an outcome that’s different for one kid who has been raised in the same home, with the same parents, as the other two? Were Mary and Scott only two-thirds faithful to God’s instructions? Did God weigh it up and say, “Well, you haven’t done too badly but not quite what I’d hoped. I’m grading you a C+”?

There are plenty of Christian families in which the situation has played out just this way. I know from my own first-hand observation that the parents did an outstanding job of sharing the gospel with their kids and raising them to know the Bible. And yet, not every child from that home continued in the faith. And when we come to look at the examples of Biblical families we see just that very thing happening all over the place in the history of the Bible! Godly parents did not always manage to raise godly offspring. Likewise, ungodly parents did not prevent their children from growing up to seek God.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not for a moment saying that how we parent doesn’t matter. It matters a great deal and we ought to seek to glorify God in doing it. But I don’t think our theology, our Biblical history or our real life experience hold up the idea that God gives a guarantee that “good” parents will get godly kids or that there is some set of illusive parenting ninja skills that will guarantee you pass the heavenly parenting test so that all your kids will trust in Jesus.

So I think the answer is Option C. God’s word does tell us (and Proverbs is where we find a lot of this) that certain behaviour is likely to lead in predictable directions. God’s word commands us to raise our kids in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. But a promise of success is not given for the simple reason that success is not in our hands to deliver.

I think an illustration of all of this might help make the point clearer. When a farmer sows his seed, he usually does a lot of things to try to help that crop along. Maybe he’s ploughed up the ground and prepared the soil. He probably fertilizes it, waters it and keeps the weeds from growing. He’s takes care to plant at the right time in the season and he’s heavily invested in seeing this crop grow well. Now, in the normal course of things, that farmer can expect to see a good crop. Certainly, he is going to expect more than if he’d just wandered out to a patch of ground one day, thrown a bag of seed around, left it be for a couple of months and hoped for the best. So all that work is important and the farmer knows he should do that if he wants the best for his crop.

But he can’t make that crop grow. He can stand beside his rows and sing or shout or plead and it will have no effect on the outcome whatsoever. He is totally reliant on God’s grace in providing that crop, despite all his work. And most times, he’ll see a good harvest. But sometimes a great calamity will strike a crop. The day before the farmer plans to harvest, a hail storm will pound his produce into the mud. A plague of locusts will come over the horizon and eat every stalk. Or whatever. And despite his work, there is no crop. It is not because he hasn’t farmed well any more than he could claim the credit when the hail did not fall on his crop the year before. It is God who calls the shots at the end of the day. And sometimes, God does not do the things we expect. God is sovereign and he alone writes the story of our lives. He does not give parents the ability to write their children’s days for them. You plant, you sow, and you commit them to God. And you rejoice in his mercy if they come to faith and you pray till you reach glory if they haven’t.


So that’s my two-cents’ worth on the matter. Here’s a helpful link if you’d like to chew on the ideas a bit further: ‘Broken homes in the Bible’ by Richard Pratt Jr. And if you’ve got two-cents you’d like to add, join in with a comment by all means.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Inspector Singh Investigates

Inspector Singh Investigates: a Most Peculiar Malaysian MurderInspector Singh Investigates: A Bali Conspiracy Most FoulInspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School of VillainyInspector Singh Investigates: A Curious Indian Cadaver
My weekend reading at present is the Inspector Singh mysteries.  The novels are your classic whodunnits with an idiosyncratic investigator whose unorthodox manner irritates his superiors but always gets results.  The main character is a blot on the otherwise organized and spotless image of the Singaporean police force.  His speciality is murder.  The series uses various locations in Asian as backdrops - Singapore, Malaysia, Bali, India, Cambodia and China.  As well as providing a murder mystery that must be solved, the author uses each novel to explore the cultural diversity and flavour of each different setting.  The plots are carried along by the human interest in the story rather than by tension or suspense so those looking for a gripping and grisly crime novel should look elsewhere.  But if you enjoy your crime fiction not-too-spicy then this might work for you.  I'm up the third in the series and I think the plots have gotten better as the series has progressed.  Think 'south-east-Asia meets No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' and you're on the right track.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dog dramas

I had to buy more flea and tick stuff for Honey today.  I also needed to get her weighed so she came with me to the vet.

However, although it should have been a quick dash in and out, there was a nasty surprise about to be uncovered. In the course of randomly chatting with the vet nurse, we discovered Honey's desexing operation has not been entirely successful!  She can't have any more puppies but she can go on heat.  Agh!  It looks likely that they are going to have to operate again to try to fix the situation.  She was desexed about a month before we got her from the rescue organization.  We are going to try to contact the original vet that did the first operation but I doubt there will be any compensation for the cost of the second operation.

Poor Honey!  Two major operations in less than six months.  What a headache for all concerned.  I really don't want to play nurse to a recovering doggy but I'm probably going to have to.  I see the head vet tomorrow for a proper consultation.  In the meantime, Honey is outside in the cold (because I don't want her in the house while she's on heat) wondering what she did wrong.

**UPDATE** We saw the head vet today and for the moment we are going to leave Honey as she is.  We can change our mind at a later point if we want to - there's no hurry.  To try to fix the situation would require a bigger operation than her first one and really it would be about making things more convenient for us rather than any health benefits to Honey.  So I went out today and bought her a pair of dog undies (!!!) so she can come back inside.  She's such an easy-going dog that she hasn't even protested about having to wear clothing.  That's the current plan; we'll see how we go.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mine Kafon

It's a super-sized version of the home-made toys he played with as a child in Afghanistan.  But Massoud Hassani's "Mine Kafon" is designed to safely detonate the landmines that still litter his country.  It's still in the design and testing stage but looks like it has the makings of an ingenious solution to a deadly problem.


Mine Kafon | Callum Cooper from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Life expectancy

It probably wasn't a great idea for me to go and check out my life-expectancy. I'm a glass-half-empty kind of girl already. But I did it and now I'm a little deflated. It was less than I thought!  Admittedly, there's a wide range of variables for each individual. But still, I thought people my age were living longer than that on average. 

Anyway, at the risk of getting depressed over how short it all is, hop over to Google and check out the life expectancy for someone born in your year. This link will take you to graph and by moving your mouse over the graph, you can pinpoint your year of birth. Then you can change countries by changing the country in the search field at the top of the page. That will add a little perspective back.
"All flesh is like grass
    and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
    and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever."
1 Peter 1:24,25

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The 'Door to Hell'

The 'Door to Hell' is a fire that burns in barren wilderness of the Turkmenistan desert.  A sink hole was created when a drilling rig collapsed. Dangerous methane gas was released and it was decided that the best course of action was to set it on fire to rid the area of the gas.  But the gas reserve was far larger than they estimated and, over forty years later, it is still burning.  Read in more detail here.

courtesy John Bradley

Image by John Bradley, accessed at sometimes-interesting.com on 13/08/13.