Wednesday, 3 December 2014

'ɹɐǝp ɥo...

¡ sʎɐp ǝsoɥʇ ɟo ǝuo ǝq oʇ ƃuıoƃ sı ʎɐpoʇ 'ɹɐǝp ɥo

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Smile Time


My friend just shared the following joke which made me smile.  So...I thought I'd give you a little smile too.

"A little silver-haired lady calls her neighbour and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to get started."

Her neighbour asks, "What is it supposed to be when it's finished?"

The little silver haired lady says, "According to the picture on the box, it's a rooster."


Her neighbour decides to go over and help with the puzzle.

She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table.


He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says,

"First of all, no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster."


He takes her hand and says, "Secondly, I want you to relax. Let's have a nice cup of tea , and then," he said with a deep sigh ...

"Let's put all the Corn Flakes back in the box."

Friday, 12 August 2011

London riots, Norway Shootings..Horror & Hope

History continues to provide horrific examples of misguided idiots who destroy and kill for pathetic reasons.  Yet amid these disgusting scenes I see Hope.

The Youth of today....
I do not buy into the mentality that the youth of today are loafers, irresponsible, good-for-nothings.  What we have witnessed are the actions of a tiny minority of immature, weak-willed, and twisted individuals.  We should not allow their stupid actions to whitewash a generation of talented and able youth who are making a worthwhile & positive contribution to their families, schools and communities. 

I love this response from Ivar Benjamin Ostebo, a 16 year old survivor from those sickening Norway shootings. 
Please click through and read his response.  It will be the best thing you read today.


Lack of Direction
Do you remember this scene between Alice and the Cheshire cat?

Alice came to a fork in the road.  "Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."       ~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The wasteland souls we have seen looting, burning, beating, smashing and killing have lost their moral compass.  They have no idea where they are headed, and, as a consequence, anything goes.   The reasons and excuses have been flowing thick and fast.   Lack of funding, poor parenting, a weak education system, insufficient policing, budget cuts, mob mentality, boredom, organised crime, etc. etc..  On a couple of news reports I witnessed adults defending the rioter's behaviour and trying to place the blame elsewhere.


What a load of Rhubarb with custard on the top!


I am not pretending that there are not some major social problems to be sorted out, nor do I deny that there are pockets of society that seem to foster despair and wallow in self pity.  Those are very real issues, and for those who are born and raised in such pockets the roads that lead out appear limited.   Crime is often a quick fix answer that can quickly turn into a lifetime career of darkness.  A career that strips the conscience and creates a disregard for others.


But, these very real feelings of despair, bitterness, disillusionment, or revenge are excuses for lack of self control.   YOU are the master of your soul.  No one else.  Don't try and blame others.  You are the one who decides to smash a window.  You are the one with a loaded gun - be prepared to be shot at by police.  You are the one who decides to loot.  You are the one who decides to destroy.  You are the one who decides to drive your car into someone and kill them.  You are the one who beats someone to death.  YOU.


The mindset of always trying to point a finger at everyone else is unhealthy and unrealistic.
You may never be rich, you may never get a job, you may spend your life in a minimum wage job, but you can still be happy and live a productive life.


My punishments
 Give me a judge's wig and a gavel for a day, put me in a courtroom, and here is how things would roll.   I'll leave the jail terms & fines to other judges, but every rioter that passes through my court could be made to do the following:

  • read Man's Search for Meaning by  Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Holocaust.   It was in a concentration camp, where his family and freedom were stripped away from him, that he discovered the power of love.  YOU are the master of your mind & actions even when the odds are against you.  I like his statement about freedom and responsibility:

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast

  •  read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  Another Holocaust survivor who stepped up to do what is right.  
  • A course on freedom, responsibility and destiny.  Included will be field trips to victims, and community service projects.  I would love to include trips to places like the beaches of Normandy (but I'd hate to be rewarding them with a trip to France!).  
  • Or how about a few months living as an aid worker in some famine stricken / disaster area.   Even our British poor have an amazing standard of living in comparison.  That would soon instil an attitude of gratitude.
  • Abuse the system again, and you are automatically put into basic training.  You will put your life on the line and be made to defend the freedom of others in the world.  Freedom isn't Free.
In all honesty, I've got no idea if such things would have an impact.    But I do sense that just dishing out an imprisonment or monetary punishment does not get down to the foundation of the problem.  They need to experience a different way.  They need to witness the love and hope and goodness of others.  They need to count the blessings of living in such a great nation.

We are Great Britain.
I love my country.  We have Great youth, incredible heritage, stunning scenery, dynamic businesses, excellent infrastructure,  beautiful language, and millions and millions of good hearted, loving people.    I am proud to be British.   

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Why I love our monarchy. Common Sense Revisited

I, like millions of others, watched the royal wedding yesterday...and loved it.
BUT...amidst all the celebration there have been dissenting voices from friends, blogs, comments, newspaper articles, radio shows etc. complaining about the cost, the monarchy’s role, and the wasted manpower.  I feel quite passionate in favour of our monarchy, so I need to share my thoughts on why I think they deserve our support.
  
Common Sense
In 1776 Englishman Thomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote a political pamphlet called Common Sense which changed the world.  Paine brilliantly wrote about the tyranny of British power in America and the urgent need for the colonies to unite against their king.  His arguments were powerful.  This power came from the fact that he was highlighting an abusive and unjust  system - the Monarchy and government of Great Britain.
  
He called for Americans to “oppose not just the tyranny but the tyrant”,  and that is exactly what America did.  In that first year Common sense went through 25 editions; soon there was a copy for one in every five people in the American colonies.   They began to believe Paine’s words that 
...we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth.  We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
If I had been living in 1776 I would have raised my voice alongside Paine’s.   What he wrote was common sense.   If you read our British history it does not take long to equate British monarchs with oppression, cruelty, inequality, tyranny, civil wars and rebellion. 
Whoooaaa there nelly.   
Did I not say I was in favour of the monarchy?  So far it sounds like I’d be more suited to teaming up with Guy Fawkes or enlisting in Cromwell’s model army!    Am I stuck with my inbred ‘royalist’ blinkers or, as Paine put it:
The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government by king, lords, and commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason.  
Common Sense Revisited 
I do not deny our Monarchy has a colourful past.  
I do not deny that our current Monarch has amassed a great fortune & incredible privileges from the blood and sweat of my forefathers.
I do not deny that modern royals have made mistakes. 
Recent case in point: how on earth did Princess Eugene and Princess Beatrice get it into their heads that their wedding outfits were suitable?   In fact...suitable is not the word.   Wearable is a better choice. Did Will and Kate play a practical joke on them and tell them it was fancy dress?  What on earth was that pipe cleaner creation on her head?
And someone should have had the foresight to seat them anywhere else but right behind the Queen.  Every shot of our Monarch included a shot of the two ugly sisters behind her.  (In fairness....they are not ugly, but their costumes were hideously so.)
In double fairness, Royals were not the only ones to commit scary fashion statements.  Even with my limited fashion sense I was surprised at some of  the ‘things’ women choose to put on their heads.  Are they trying to provide comic relief?   Some of them looked like misplaced satellite dishes or failed junior school art creations.   
To get back on track.   
I believe that those who slander our current Monarchy do not understand how it works or what its worth is to our nation.  I work as a professional tourist guide and witness its pulling power on the front lines. We are not dealing with the same monarchy that Thomas Paine was fighting against.   Same lineage, but a dramatically different package.  Whereas I would have gladly joined ranks with Paine in 1776, I would object whole heartedly to such remarks in 2011.   
But still I hear those dissenting voices asking how can I justify the cost of the wedding and the cost of the Monarchy’s existence?
How Much???!!!!
Anyone can tell that the dress, the flowers, the invites, the receptions, the army, the security, etc. etc.  would have cost millions.  I’ve already told my daughters not to expect their weddings to be on such a grand scale.  We probably won’t have as many horses.
Lots of statistics have been thrown about.  On the con side of things there have been protests about the cost of the wedding and the lost revenue due to a national holiday.    On the pro side there are arguments that things like increased tourism, and extensive merchandising have benefited.
Many arguments against the Monarchy show a lack of understanding of how the Monarchy is funded.  Consider this:
The Crown Estate
Since 1760 the monarchy gave most of its traditional revenues to Parliament.   This is the Crown Estate made up of properties, land, forest and foreshore worth over £6 billion.   The annual revenue (around £230 million) from this goes into the Treasury.   This income does NOT belong to the Sovereign.  In return parliament pay £7.9 milllion for the civil list which covers the Royal Household expenses (70% on staff salaries).   This helps cover the cost of garden parties, receptions, official entertainment during State Visits.  The Queen entertains around 50,000 people each year!!   The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are the only Royals who receive payment from this.

Privy Purse.  
The Queen does own the Duchy of Lancaster with is the personal, inherited property of the monarch worth £300 + million, and providing an annual surplus of about £10 million.  And yes, the Queen pays tax on this.  This income is used primarily to meet the expenses of other Royals.
The Prince of Wales has a similar income from the Duchy of Cornwall estates.  The Duchy is tax exempt, but the Prince of Wales voluntarily pays income tax (about 40%) on his taxable income.

Last year (2010) the Palace determined that the Queen and the Royal family cost each taxpayer a grand sum of 62p a year.   Yes....62p.    An investment I am more than happy to pay, and which can hardly be called a great burden on any British family.
(Full reports on Royal finances can be viewed on the official website of the British Monarchy at www.royal.gov.uk  )
How much did the Queen pay for the wedding?  How much did the Prince of Wales put in?  And how about the Middletons?  And what came from the taxpayer’s pocket?  You know what.... I don’t care.  That must sound totally irresponsible of me.  Granted, if an official breakdown was released I’d be one of the first wanting to read it, but in the big scheme of things I understand that whatever the cost the return to us as a nation far outrides that cost. 
And in return...
So what do I get for my 62p investment?
  • A Royal family that is involved with over 3,000 organisations either as patron or president.
  • The Queen has over 600 patronages.
  • The Duke of Edinburgh has over 700 patronages.
  • The Prince’s Charities - a group of not-for-profit organisations of which the Prince of Wales is President.  18 of the 20 Charities were founded by The Prince.
  • Fantastic Royal Palaces that are not only beautifully maintained & preserved, but are still lived in by Royalty.  Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Holyroodhouse, Balmoral Castle, Sandringham House, 
  • The Queen also owns a set of former Royal residences and are run by an independent charity known as Historical Royal Palaces:  The Tower of London, Hampton court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.  These are stunning historical properties which draw in millions of visitors.
  • The Royal Collection is a stunning collection of art and artefacts many of which are on public display around the country.
  • Two young princes who not only take pride in serving in the armed forces, but are quite prepared to be put on the front line like any of their colleagues.
  • A family who are constantly on the go making our country a better place to live in.  They are at the forefront of encouraging, hosting and administering. 
  • They delight and entertain politicians and ambassadors from around the world.  Other countries have to create Ambassadors of goodwill and hospitality whereas we have ours all included in the price. 
  • In and of themselves they are the biggest tourist attraction in our country.  Even though tourists rarely see a royal at any of the palaces or the Changing of the Guard their presence holds a deep fascination and pull. 
  • A wedding service yesterday that was faith promoting and enthralling. 
  • A national treasure that appeals to old and young.  
But more than all of the above... the Royal family provide 
  • A pride in my Britishness.
  • A connection to my heart.
  • A stirring in my soul.
  • A smile on my face
That is 62p well spent.
Yesterday's wedding celebration was not mass hysteria or media hype?  
This was a national day of rejoicing.  And if you don’t get it... well, I feel sorry for you. 
 “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena
quoted by the Bishop of London in the Wedding service.
Sources:
Liell, Scott.  46 Pages.  Thomas Paine, Common Sense, and the Turning Point to Independence.   MJF Books, New York, 2003. 
Paine, Thomas.   Common Sense. 1776.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

...and I'm NOT a Mormon!

I just read an excellent article by a non-Mormon which discussed the prejudice many Americans have against voting for a Mormon as their President. You can  click through to the article here:  On Faith...

Anyhow, his column and the flow of comments afterwards made me think of a brand new ad campaign for the Church.  I suspect by now most of you have seen the "...and I'm a Mormon" ad campaigns.  If you haven't seen them click through and take a gander at Mormon.org
In a nutshell, a member describes their job, their values etc. and then at the end declares "...and I'm a Mormon."  They are very well done, and successfully portray the wide variety of Latter-day Saints.

Right here's my new ad idea...

First, you round up a load of non-Mormons.  When I say "round up" I don't mean like a press gang with baseball bats or wild Relief Society sisters with those lethal British handbags.  See  Don't mess with grannies with handbags  .  No, I mean a polite invitation to friendly folk....okay let me start again...
First, you invite friendly non-Mormons to share their thoughts.

Then you film them sharing the reasons they like Mormons, and to clinch it all off, they finish with the line "...and I'm NOT a Mormon."    So taking quotes (edited) from the article and the comments you'd hear things like:
"Mormons love America, they urge good behavior on their members, and promote many traditional American values. If that bothers you, vote for somebody else--but Mormons will fight and die in the American forces for your right to do so.  ....and I'm NOT a Mormon."
"The Mormon church is a free market model for private charity. I have personally seen Mormons help families that were not members. The charity gave work-centered help that met needs without sacrificing dignity. The commendable community found in Mormonism should be imitated not attacked.....and I'm NOT a Mormon."
"Being right is powerful and most Mormons are right on many of today's big issues: the nature of family, the protection of life, defense of religious liberty, and republican values.  Traditional Christians should learn from their example and patriotic Americans should celebrate their effective service....and I'm NOT a Mormon."
I don't know if any non-Mormons would feel comfortable enough, or brave enough, or convinced enough to put their convictions into such an ad in our defense, but I like the idea anyway.

Oh, and just for the record, I AM a Mormon.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Valentine's Dance

Last night was the Junior School Valentine's Dance, and since they had two sessions with the infants boogeying from 6:30 and then the juniors partying from 7:30...it basically meant I spent the whole evening ferrying four of my urchins to and fro (in my next life I'm going to have all 6 kids at once).

As I sat watching all these wee 'uns strutting their stuff on the dance floor it was interesting for me to see typical dance traits emerging at such a young age. 
  • The wallflower: not moving from this chair; here for the night thank you very much;
  • The can't-dance-got-no-rthymn-but-I-don't-know-it
  • The smoothies.  In time to the music, great moves etc.  Do they practise and practise at home?
  • The trying-too-hard-to-copy-every-move-of-the-smoothies, but not quite getting it.
  • The "I'm only here for the refreshments" (this is my kind of dance routine)
  • The "I want my mummy" complete with tears.
As I watched I suddenly recalled how uncomfortable I feel dancing.  I just do not like going to dances. 

I can just about handle set dances such as barn dances where the moves are prescribed, but disco danching... BLEAH.    I'd rather shave my head with a cheese grater, lick a hedgehog or insert bannanas up my nose.  It just feels so daft.   I don't get it.  This is my typical dance experience:

The music is beating (far too loud by the way)  and I'm suppossed to jiggle my arms and legs around.  After a few minutes of doing the same movement back and forwards with my feet I sense a need to somehow change the motion so it appears I might know what I'm doing, so I start side stepping to the side, and my arms...what do I do with my arms...I've held them at right angles for ages, maybe I should hang them down to the side, maybe a slight click of the fingers in time to the music...nope that didn't work, I so hope nobody noticed me doing that...now my wife is smiling at me...that is not an 'I love you' look.. I know that look...it's the pity look.. she's thinking "you poor miserable soul, someone hand me a gun now, so I can put him out of his misery"....please end, please, please end this song....I so hope the next song is a slow one - I can handle slow songs with a jiggle back and forwards for a few minutes.  Oh the pain.  Oh the misery.  How I suffer.

I wasn't always this way.  I blame my mission.  I entered the mission field with music in my blood.   I could listen to the same small vinyl record over and over again.  I even had a trendy tape cassette player (a reasonably portable one), so I could listen to music on the go (you could actually get about 15 songs on one cassette - can you believe that?  15 whole songs that could travel with me (amazing this technology stuff).  And I wanted to dance.   I knew the words, sensed the beat, and could easily be sucked into another world.   As a teenager I loved the idea of going to dances.  I'd could feel the beat of the music in my blood, I actually had rythm (at least I think I did) and could dance the night away.  I'd leave dances sweating.

But, my mission sucked the moves right out of me.  As an RM my first dance back was a nightmare, and I have no desire to move to the beat anymore. 

So just a warning... on those rare occassions that you see me at a dance you are welcome to nod in my direction and think something like 'Oh, look at poor Peter.  Sitting like a wallflower, slowly drinking some strange lemonade conncoction, and a nice pile of goodies balanced on a floppy paper plate'  BUT, if thoughts like 'I'm going to go over there and invite him and Nicola onto the dance floor. He's just a bit shy and hesitant and his wife so wants to dance.  Yes...that is what I will do."   Well, think again.  Do not meddle in our sensitive marital dance relationships.  Even if my wife looks like she is bored out of her mind she is not really.  She is loving just sitting next to me watching the world go by nibbling on a Pringle and making shapes with her napkin.  It is the way it should be.  All sports need spectators and we were born to spectate.

My next fear.... in 3 years time my daughter is 14!!  Please, please, please....whoever is in charge of stake dances remember that I want to be there to support her, but you really, really, really need my help to serve refreshments, wash dishes, park cars, dust hmyn books, and check toilet paper levels.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

where have I been?

It has been months since I last wrote a post on any of my blogs, so I'm back to repent.

August 2010 through to January 2011 was a whirlwind of activity. Six children, Three Church callings, lots of tours, some big events, the busiest time of the year for the shop + lots of 'other stuff' meant I had to do a Good, Better, Best system. Sadly this meant the blogs took a bit of a back burner, but now I'm back.

So....looking forward to touching base again.

See you soon.