You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

I will be offline until after the New Year.  I hope 2011 will bring you peace, health, many laughs, and much good cheer.

1) Pictures of the Day – December 30th

a. a. Landscape – From the Guardian’s “24 Hours In Pictures slide show” – http://tinyurl.com/23j4z9o
 
British Columbia, Canada: The sun sets over the mountains and waters surrounding Howe Sound near Horseshoe Bay
 
b. People – LA Times “Pictures of the Day slide show” – http://tinyurl.com/29aedr4
 
  
Wanjak, Sudun. Boys smile as World Food Program staffers distribute food to refugees returning from Northern Sudun.
 

c. Humor – From the Cute Overload site – http://cuteoverload.com/

“And your little dog, too! [paws rubbing together]  OK OK I’m no witch—The hat is just a Petunia.”  Picture contributed by todorrovic.

d. Food – A Twinkie cake from the Cake Wrecks site – http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/

2) Ed’s Doctrine of Faith

Please send me buckets of money so that I can spread my doctrine.  I guarantee it will bring peace, love and understanding to the world, or better yet a waterfront mansion, shiny big Limo, and some “healthy” chorus girls to help me preach my word.

a. My faith is in the unlimited potential for the human race to do good, to live with love and compassion.

b. The only doctrine, code or rule that will bring peace to the world is to live with love and compassion.  Without that all other doctrines won’t make any difference.

c. My faith is not in any one group, religious, non-religious, ethnic, or nation.  My faith is in the unlimited potential for all of humanity.  As long as that potential exist, which it will until the last humans breathe their last breathes, then I have hope.

d. If you want the perfect life in Heaven that the worlds different religious faiths promise you must follow their doctrine.  To live the best life you can in this world you only need one doctrine, live with love and compassion.

Please make your checks out to, “Ed’s Diamond Place of Faith”, but cash is preferred.

3) Predictions for 2011

The vast majority of people in the world will do their best to make the world a better place.  They will have some success, which will be ignored by the mass media, in favour of the murder, mayhem, and gossip, that most people seem to prefer to read about.

The world will change, and many will grumble about that change, no matter how, or if, it affects them.

Through the process of science we will make significant advances to our body of knowledge about the world. This will help us greatly in understanding our world, and help us do a much better job of living in it.

Sadly the New York Mets will not win the world series.

Have any predictions that you would like to share?

1) Children at play
 
From the Christian Science Monitor’s Photos of the Day – Dec.28.
 

Pakistani children play as the sun sets in a slum in Lahore, Pakistan.(CSM)

 

Bangladeshi children walk through a mustard field in Shingair village on the outskirts of Dhaka.(CSM)

From the Guardian 24 Hours In Photos – http://tinyurl.com/2dkvnd9

Srinagar, India: Kashmiri Muslim children play hopscotch outside their house on a cold day

2) The Snow Storm by Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

 

Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,

The frolic architecture of the snow.

3) Charities organized by children.

I wanted to post about a charity organized by a minor.  I had a problem, there were too many to choose from.  I can’t think of anything that shows the potential of the human spirit to live with compassion then the work being done by all these kids.

I am a optomist.  When I go through the list of the thousands of organizations that are helping to make the world better my optimism about the future grows.

Question – How optimistic or pessimistic are you about the future of humanity?

Maybe its time us adults got out of the way and let these kids run the world.  🙂

I randomly pick one organization, Free the Children.  Here is its story:

One morning before school, Craig Kielburger was looking for the comics section of the newspaper when he noticed an article about a 12 year-old Pakistani boy who was murdered for speaking out against child labor. Craig was only 12 at the time and didn’t even know what child labor was, but soon learned there were 250 million child laborers in the world! Wanting to put a stop to this, he started Free the Children with a group of classmates. Craig is now 23 and Free the Children has become the largest organization of children helping children, with partnerships with the United Nations and Oprah’s Angel Network.

http://www.freethechildren.com/

1) The face of winter.

Winter Goblin – Zurich, Switzerland: A fountain sculpture covered with ice

Winter in La Jolla, California – A surfer in a wetsuit leaves the water with his surfboard as the sun sets on the Pacific Ocean

What winter looks like in my part of the world – Snow removal crews work to clear runways at Philadelphia international airport after a powerful blizzard shut down major airports and railways, stranding would-be travellers

2) Our future

From the Christian Science Monitor, the stories of five young people who are making the world a better place.  These are the kids who represent out future.  I have no doubt they will do a better job than we have.

http://tinyurl.com/2bub79h

a. Wyatt Workman, seven, from Glendale, Calif., is a budding environmentalist, clay sculptor, book author, blogger, and auteur. His colorful, six-minute clay-animation movie (“Save the Sea from the Trash Monster!”) is attracting hits on YouTube and at his website, wyattsworks.com.

 

b. Alexa Peters, twelve, from Andover, Mass, has illustrated a picture book for children called “Cooper and Me,” the story of a young girl very much like Alexa who longs to take her dog with her to her first day of school (cooperandme.com).  Three dollars from the sale of each book goes to the Happy Hearts Fund (happyheartsfund.org).  Alexa hopes to raise $10,000 to help build three schools in Haiti through Happy Hearts.

c. Dylan Stock was in first grade when the Gulf oil spill began last April. He created a website, onestartsmany.com, with help from his mother, Carrie Silver-Stock. “I was really worried about the sea creatures,” Dylan says. “My mom asked me if I wanted to make a website, and I said ‘sure’. And I came up with the name One Starts Many.”

At a November fundraiser he collected $1,145 to send to two Gulf charities, Kids in Need During Disaster (kindd.org), which buys clothing for children in a fishing town hit by the oil spill, and the Audubon Institute in New Orleans (auduboninstitute.org), which treats stranded and injured marine wildlife.

d. Danielle Gram spent her childhood in Maryland in the years following the 9/11 attacks.

In 2006, together with Jill McManigal, a mother of two young children, Gram, then 16, founded Kids for Peace (kidsforpeaceglobal.org), a nonprofit, child-led group that inspires kids to work together toward a more peaceful world.

Today Kids for Peace has more than 75 chapters in several countries. In August, its Great Kindness Challenge, where children try to see how many acts of kindness they can perform in a single day, drew thousands of participants in 50 countries.

e. Jordyn Schara was shocked “to see the insane amount of medication people have in their homes that have been lying around waiting to be abused or stolen.”  But when the 14-year-old in Reedsburg, Wis., asked state officials what she could do to help, they told her she was too young.  That didn’t stop Jordyn. She founded a Wisconsin branch of Prescription Pill Drug Disposal (p2d2program.org). She organized a drug drop-off day for her town, and recruited pharmacists and police officers to supervise the event.

 

“I was the youngest person, at 14, to apply for and receive a state grant in Wisconsin” to help fund her project, she says.  The Save a Star Foundation (saveastar.org) in Highland Park, Ill., donated a prescription drug drop-off box, the size of a street-corner mailbox, that’s been installed at the police station. Her project has now become an ongoing part of the community.

Question – Thinking about all the people under 18 that you know, or know of, did you think out future will be in good hands?

We got a little lucky here in Seymour, only 8″ of snow, not the 2+ feet some places received. Also while we got slammed by 50 mph winds, we did not lose power, as happened to thousands in CT.

The winds did create deep drifts in some places with only a few inchs on the ground in others. I had maybe an inch on one side of my car, and a three foot drift on the other. I was able to dig my car out without too much trouble, but my old bones will need some Ibuprofen to make it through the night. 🙂

1) I don’t own a camera but here are some local pictures:

The winds were strong enough to knock down a sign at a car dealers

Also at a gas station

Kids loved all the snow

Parents not so much

2) New York City also got hit hard where wind gust of over 65 mph were recorded.

From a slide show on the New York Times “Winter Snow Storm NYC” – http://tinyurl.com/24j3pq8

Several subway trains were marooned overnight after losing power, stranding hundreds of passengers in frigid carriages for nearly seven hours

Buses were stuck in the snow just north of 105 Street in Manhattan

Some New Yorkers are lucky enough to be able to rely on wings, not feet, to get around

How is winter treating you so far where you live?

As I write this we are having our first snowstorm of the season, 50 mph winds, 2 feet of snow expected.  In the morning I can look forward to looking out at the carpet of white from my warm, comfy condo, while my unfortunate neighbors will have to try drive to work on the slippery roads.  Of course if you do have to drive to work it also means you are lucky enough to have a job.

My worst commute in the snow was on a Friday afternoon from Newark, NJ back home to Seymour, CT, a nine hour, knuckle white, ride.  I am very happy to leave that kind of adventure to the young folk.

What has been your worst drive in the snow?

1) Christmas weekend pictures found on the Net:

Sofia, Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s Patriarch Maxim leads the traditional Christmas mass at the golden-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (Guardian) 

Heilongjiang, China: Tourists look at ice sculptures during a light test prior to the opening of the Harbin international ice and snow festival on 5 January 2011. (Guardian) 

From Landscape photographer of the year awards – Hordron rainbow, Derbyshire, England by Adrian Ashworth (Guardian)

Xian, China: A Christmas tree installed with lanterns, measuring over 10 metres high, is illuminated beside sculptures of ancient people in the background of the Big Wild Goose pagoda (Guardian) 

2) “Snow” by Carol Anne Duffy,  Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom

Then all the dead opened their cold palms
and released the snow; slow, slant, silent,
a huge unsaying, it fell, torn language; settled,
the world to be locked, local; unseen,
fervent earthbound bees around a queen.
The river grimaced and was ice.

Go nowhere-
thought the dead, using the snow-
but where you are, offering the flower of your breath
to the white garden, or seeds to birds
from your living hand. You cannot leave.
Tighter and tighter, the beautiful snow
holds the land in its fierce embrace.
It is like death, but it is not death; lovelier.
Cold, inconvenienced, late, what will you do now
with the gift of your left life?

Do you look forward to seeing snow in winter?

The Christmas spirit represents the unlimited potential for mankind to live with love and compassion.

Everyone have a very joyus Christmas.

1) Christmas Spirit in Pictures

Amman, Jordan: An Iraqi Christian girl attends a Christmas mass at Chaldean Catholic church (LA Times)

Druids, led by Arthur Pendragon, leave Stonehenge near Amesbury, England, after taking part in the winter solstice on Dec. 22. Built between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, Stonehenge is one of the world’s most recognizable sites. (CSM)

 

Chandigarh, India Students dancing to celebrate Christmas at a school in India. (LA Times)

2) Christmas Spirit In Music

Mahalia Jackson – Silent Night

Johnny Mathis – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

1) Winter Landscapes – Thursday

 

A lunar eclipse over the minarets of the Horton Park mosque, Bradford.

 
A snow covered United Kingdom taken from a NASA satellite named Terra
 

2) Christmas Spirit At Its Best

 

David Pearson (l.), with his stepmother Susan Pearson (c.) and his mother Amanda Haddock, unpack gifts the family purchased for area children diagnosed with cancer.  David, who has been diagnosed with brain cancer, wanted his family to shop for gifts for others instead of for him.

 
Program Director Marsha DeHollander (r.) of Access of West Michigan, is briefed by United Church Outreach Ministries volunteer Joyce Start on the inventory of food in the pantry open to the needy Tuesday through Friday in Grand Forks, Mich.,
 

3) Some Different Christmas Traditions, via the Christian Science Monitor – http://tinyurl.com/285yzu7

a. Czech Republic and Slovakia

Christmas is a time in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for traditions that are reputed to shine a light on the year ahead.  Apples are cut crosswise, and if you can see a star in the core, the next year will be a good one. Women wondering how much longer they’ll remain unmarried can toss a shoe over their shoulder, and if the toe points at the door when it falls, marriage is in the near future. One tradition, which probably shouldn’t be tried at home, entails pouring molten lead into water and guessing the future based on the shapes in which it hardens.

b. Mexico

On each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas, Mexicans hold a posada, a procession and performance that re-creates Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. Participants form a procession in the streets that takes them to the door of an inn. The procession often involves caroling and candles, and ends in a party that often features pinatas and tamales.

3) The spirit of Christmas is alive and well, even at a shopping mall:

“On Nov.13 2010 unsuspecting shoppers got a big surprise while enjoying their lunch. Over 100 participants in this awesome Christmas Flash Mob”

1) Winter Sunrise, Snowy Nun and Pilgram in Bethlehem

Sunrise over Slemish mountain in the Braid valley, Co Antrim, Ireland, during the total lunar eclipse (Guardian)
 
Dinklage, Germany – Sister  Monica of the Benedictine abbey of the castle of Dinklage walks through the snow (LA Times)
 

Russian pilgrim lights candles at the Church of the Natvity, Bethlehem (LA Times)

2) Christmas Tree

 

Osborne House Christmas Tree illus. in Godey’s Lady’s Book” December 1850

Decorating a tree is a ritual that helps keep the traditions of the Christmas season alive.  It helps us relive memories of exchanging gifts that symbolize the love and friendship between families and friends.

Trees are symbolic of faith.  The roots provide a strong anchor when our lives are in turmoil.  It’s branches provide shelter and protection from the storms that are a part of living.  Their endurance and perseverance are the examples we need to get back up off the ground when life has knocked us down.

I don’t have many happy memories from past Christmas, an unhappy childhood, my mother, father and sister all died during this season, but looking at a lite up Christmas tree still puts a smile on my face, and helps fill me with the spirit of love of life that Christmas represents.

I hope the spirit of your faith fills you with the joy that Christmas symbolizes.

3) Christmas Music

Greek Orthodox Christian Byzantine

Louisiana Christmas – Aaron Neville

I plan to do as little thinking as possible for the rest of the Holidays.  I want to focus on just filling up with Christmas spirit.  So no questions, just hopefully some pictures and music you will enjoy.  I would of course love to hear what you think of them.

1) Frozen Forms of Winter

Thick ice coats the lighthouse at the entrance to Cleveland harbor. While northeast Ohio got a respite from the winter storms earlier in the week, ice-slicked roads prompted warnings of treacherous driving conditions and delayed school openings across a swath of the country, mainly in the South, while the East Coast braced for more snow.

Benches on a sea bridge are covered with ice at the Baltic Sea village of Scharbeutz, Germany (CSM)

Two yellow roses covered in ice protrude from a frost cloth cover at Dewars Nurseries in Apopka, Fla., on Dec. 14. (CSM)

2)  Pictures from the amazing Cake Wrecks site get the most hits by far from visitors to my blog. 

I loved the following two cakes from the December 19th post on that site, Sunday Sweets: Holly and Jolly- http://tinyurl.com/2bzkg8s

This Grenchy looking Christmas cake was from the appropriately named “Bleeding Heart Bakery” 

 

A beautiful Blue Christmas cake from the Highland Bakery

3) Christmas Music

A favorite Irish Christmas carol is the “Wexford Carol’ sung here by Allison Krauss, with Yo Yo Ma:

The beautiful Norweigan singer Sissel Kyrkjebo with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir “Vitae Lux”

Question – When you hear the word Christmas what is the first song you think of?

1) Pictures of Winter and Christmas

 

Monserrate church is covered with lights for the Christmas season overlooking Bogota, Colombia (CSM)

 

Munich, Germany: A child is reflected in a shop window adorned with Christmas decorations and toys

 

Glastonbury, England: Mist forms across fields as the sun sets over the snow-covered Somerset levels near Glastonbury Tor

2) Last week I posted a slightly different version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Twisted Sister.  Here is the orignal version by Judy Garland, from the 1944 movie “Meet Me In St.Louis”.   I think we can agree that Judy Garlands voice carry’s the spirit of Christmas in it a tad better then the Twisted Sister one.

3) Noel by Anne Porter

When snow is shaken

From the balsam trees
And they’re cut down
And brought into our houses
 
When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows
 
We hear and sing
The customary carols
 
They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common
 
But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet’s message
 
Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices
 
They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

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