31 December 2008

Steps. Lessons.

The hardest lesson is the one that comes last -
the smallest step sometimes the largest.

Read this on Tash McGill's blog and liked it. Thought you might too.

Chew Slowly! Practical Nutrition Advice.

Jenny Bowden, from Thinking Nutrition, encourages s-l-o-w-i-n-g down as we consume food.

Pausing Between Bites At Lunch Equivalent to Starving For Two Weeks

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island recruited 30 women and asked them to visit their lab for lunch twice. Each time they were given a large plate of pasta and told to eat as much as they wanted. The only difference in instructions was that on one occasion they were told to eat quickly - and they did, consuming 646 calories on average in nine minutes. Whereas, on the other occasion they were told to pause between mouthfuls and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times - during this session their meal took 29 minutes and they consumed only 579 calories, that's around 67 calories less.

If you did that at every lunch-time for a week you'd save 469 calories or nearly 2,000kJ for the week!! (Note: 1 calorie is equivalent to 4.2kJ). Eating slowly every lunch-time for a year would add up to a 104,000kJ energy reduction over the course of that year. An average sized woman would normally consume around 8,000-9,000kJ of energy each day or 56,000-63,000kJ per week. So slow eating at lunch-time for a year is basically the same as starving yourself completely for about 13-14 days!! And I know which one I'd rather do.

Practical Tips for Slow Eating

All very well, I say. But, how am I going to change the habit of a lifetime and slow down my eating? I've realised that I'm very susceptible to eating fast when other people around me are doing the same thing. But, by forcing myself to pause between each mouthful and chew it 15 to 20 times I'm hoping that I can reduce that influence. Other ideas for slowing ourselves down include:

  • Pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table - frustrating but effective
  • Eat sitting down - no meals while multi-tasking
  • Focus on our eating - switch off the television, ditch the newspaper and get away from your work-desk and that computer screen you're staring at right now
  • Eat with your non-dominant hand - could be messy but give it a try!
  • Set a minimum target meal-time - aim to make a healthy sized plate of food last 20 minutes
Click on Jenny's link for more great advice from her website.
Spring Clean Your Eating Habits plus more!

My favourite info source for all things useful, Lifehacker has much the same advice about eating slowly backed up by similar studies and links and such. Jenny has different ideas on the French Paradox and has a fascinating article in The NZ Listener on alcohol and the studies that expound wine's virtues without a balanced view of the dangers.

30 December 2008

Non-Digital PDA: 3 X 5 cards!

Much of the following was taken from Levenger's How To articles.

Many people have used 3 x 5 cards, though measurements vary around the world, but where did they come from? Surprisingly, their origin dates back a thousand years. Also known as index cards, their evolution is rooted in the concept of cataloging, or indexing, key words in a book.

The monks of medieval times employed a hands-on system for marking a manuscript’s key words: they would use a symbol that indicated a finger pointing to the term—that digit being the forefinger, or index finger. Index traces its roots to Latin and the concept of informer, or pointer. Its Greek forbear means to show.

Eventually these pointy fingers found their way to the back of the book in the form of an index of terms.

But how were books themselves being catalogued? In fits and starts, it seems, with the Alexandria Library using an alphabetical system in the third century B.C. E., but the European libraries using a peculiar rhyming system 11 centuries later. Things got better organized in the nineteenth century, and in 1820 the first card catalog appeared in a library in London.

The American hero of the library index card was Melvil Dewey. He introduced his decimal classification system in the 1870s, in the library at Amherst College in western Massachusetts. The card he devised for his catalog drawers was approximately 3" x 5". The typewriter had been invented a few years earlier, and ultimately the card and the keys met and married.

The Library of Congress started printing its catalog index cards in 1901. For the next eight decades or so, the library index card and its attendant cabinets would serve as the Google of their day. Nicholson Baker, in his elegiac essay on card catalogs that appeared in The New Yorker in 1994, reported that the New York Public Library harbored 10 million cards.

With all these cards in libraries, perhaps it was only a matter of time before they segued into general use. Thrifty librarians primed the pump by setting out discarded cards for patrons to use for notes. Seeing the cards’ usefulness, stationers began offering blank cards for sale. Business and professional people, writers and students adopted the cards as standard tools for researching, filing and organizing information.

And then, of course, computers struck. Card cabinets in libraries were dismantled and the cards discarded. There simply wasn’t enough room anymore to capture all our knowledge on a 3" x 5" descendant of papyrus. The once ubiquitous little cards, whose origins are so closely linked to cataloging knowledge, teetered on the brink of extinction.

The index card is still a handy palimpsest, the screen on which one can quickly capture first ideas, reminder notes, titles of books friends recommend, your grandmother’s recipe for pumpkin pie. Index cards, with their scratch-outs, imperfect erasures and caret insertions, jog our memory as only the tactile can.

By contrast, electronic systems live a perilously finite existence. Better operating systems, application software and search engines will come along and the current hero will be banished, forgotten, trashed.

Get your digit out, the English are fond of saying—meaning, get cracking. Get your digit out—and your pen—and jot a note on an index card. It still has a place in the digital world.

“A key tip: try to limit what you write on cards to a single topic or subject, such as a grocery list on one card, a hardware list on another. For work, keep cards for different people or areas of responsibility.”

“I use a very fine-point pen to get lots of information on one card and I write neatly—most of the time.”

“I almost never write on the backs, and this saves me from always having to turn cards around to see if there is writing on the back. Occasionally, when I’m taking a bunch of notes on one topic, like during a speech, then I’ll write on the backs. But I number each card side, 1, 2, 3, which is my cue to look at the backs.”

You can also use them to make daily lists of to-dos that you add to and cross off as you go through the day.

How to thrive with the power of 3 x 5

They have been around for a century, they’re as low-tech as they come, but 3 x 5 cards can fill an exalted role among twenty-first-century thinkers. Within the realm of capturing ideas and acting on them, they fill a niche that notebooks and electronics can’t. What could be...

  • simpler to use
  • easier to shuffle around
  • handier to keep and pull from a pocket
  • more disposable—or lasting—than a simple index card?

Three-by-fives are better than back-of-the-envelope yet engendering that same freewheeling kind of thinking that often leads to the Great Idea.

And they’re not only for taking notes on the run.
They’re for anywhere and any way you capture, develop and organize ideas.

“Getting Things Done” with your Hipster PDA

Merlin Mann writes, "Recently, I got sick of lugging my Palm V around, so I developed a vastly superior, greatly simplified device for capturing and sharing information. I call it “The Hipster PDA.”

Fellow fans of Getting Things Done will instantly see the application here. Try using a separate index card for each potential inbox item you want to track. This requires carrying a few more spare cards around, but it helps ensure you “close the loop” as soon as the thought occurs to you.

When you get back to the office or home (wherever your physical inbox resides), you can toss all your new notes into the pile and process them like you would any other incoming items. Alternatively, you can base a whole GTD system around index cards, sorting them into piles for “Next Actions,” “Waiting,” “Sometime,” and so on. Whatever works for you."

Check out LifeClever and Indexed. Both are well worth a click!
43 Folders: Index Cards - All 43F posts pertaining to index cards.

29 December 2008

Tea Test

As you can tell, I'm a friendly geocaching, amateur ornithologist, tea drinking, Jesus freak logophile who snorkels, blogs, gardens, reads and loves to travel. There's more to me than that, but much of what I write about touches on those interests or passions.

Tea touches on several of those and enhances most experiences.

To love a good cup of tea, to hold it and inhale the fragrance, to look deeply in to the amber colour, does not require a huge knowledge of tea, but maybe you'd like to see how much you do, or do not, know about tea?

I'd first take a look at The History of Tea and then click over to the Tea Test.

Share your test scores in the COMMENTS below. You'll either impress other readers or you'll just make us feel better because we didn't know much about the history of tea either.

One of my favourite sayings in Zimbabwe was applied to tea. It was called,
"that which you hold carefully and blow across." I'm sure I'll get the spelling wrong as
I only ever heard it spoken, but it was something near to tsutugadzike.

Is this blog a Spring or a Well?

Tall Skinny Kiwi spoke at Blog World Expo on the idea of blogs being springs and not wells. He was talking about the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. We, and our blogs as extensions of ourselves, should be dynamic springs and not stagnant wells.

His comments spawned comments online.

"My big take away from Andrew's talk (slides) was ~ A blog should not be a well. It should be a spring. ~ Although Andrew put it into a religious context, his concept makes perfect sense to me not only for blogs but for social media in general. Think about it .. a well contains stagnant waters. Stagnation occurs when there is no new flow of water. Blogs, social networks, wikis and all the other tools/tactics allow for and encourage fresh water or new ideas to flow." Diva Marketing Blog
TSK continues:
Another thought:
Sometimes wells are used to just store things. In Genesis, Joseph was hidden in a cistern by his brothers because they didnt know what to do with him. Eventually some merchants came buy, purchased him as a slave, and hauled him off to Egypt. Some blogs are like that - old articles awaiting a publisher, old thoughts awaiting an entrepreneur, old memories awaiting someone to hear them. Better to be a spring - a reticulating dynamic source of life that comes from God and constantly streams out to whoever needs it. A spring that never runs out. Oh . . what streams may come?

Andrew Jackson commented: I liked this analogy as well. Static vs. Dynamic. Although, we probably do not want to make a huge contrast here.

Hopefully, a quality blog also has historic content depth (in other words it is a well). A person should be able to go to a blog and not simply get wet in the contemporary moment, but also dig deep into the historical well of its archive.

Conversation@Intersection readers,

Do you ever go back in to the archives here, dip in to the well that has accumulated over the months?

The archives are there, listed chronologically and with vaguely sketched topics, but I'm not sure who goes back there. The SEARCH feature at the top might be of use to some. I know I use it when I've lost my train of thought. Tell me how it is with you. I'm usually thinking ahead more than behind.

28 December 2008

Online searches reveal our real home truths

By KIM KNIGHT - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 28 December 2008

Aucklanders are looking for love.

Cantabrians are looking for The Flight of the Conchords.

And in Otago, they're looking for Jesus.

The top local (NZ) Google search terms of 2008 were released this month: games, Bebo, YouTube, TradeMe so far, so predictable. But when the Sunday Star-Times drilled deeper, the results painted a curious picture of our year on the internet.

Surfing for porn? You're more likely to live, in this order, in Taranaki, Auckland and Manawatu-Wanganui. Searches for Shortland Street were highest in Auckland and searches for Coronation Street were highest in Manawatu-Wanganui. Bill Hammond was our most searched artist (followed by Tim Wilson and John Reynolds), and when we went looking for recipes, it was in this order: cake, bread, pie, soup, chicken and muffin.

Many of the terms we wanted to check out had not been searched enough to produce a data report. Sorry, we can't tell you where people are looking for information on making pipe bombs or robbing banks. We can tell you, however, that Auckland was the only area where "genital warts" searches registered in any number (spikes were recorded in April and September).

In the nationwide battle for search supremacy, we discovered Ford beat Holden, Marmite beat Vegemite and romantic beat pragmatic. Hayley Westenra was more searched for than Kiri Te Kanawa, art topped sport and the National Party came out ahead of Labour.

We wondered where in the world people were looking for us. The top three country searches for the word "kiwi" came from New Zealand, Mongolia and Norway. Turns out the kiwi is both a flightless bird and the name of a very popular Mongolian girl band.

We regionalised our American search for Flight of the Conchords, and found our funny men were biggest in Utah.

New Zealanders were the fifth most likely nation to search for "Princess Diana", the first to look for "Lord of the Rings" and, less salubriously, the first to search the word methamphetamine (we beat the United States, Australia, Philippines and South Africa). Internationally, we came fourth in searches for "beer".

* Curious? Do your own research at: www.google.com/insights/search/

For what do you most often search?
I was just on here looking for an art exhibit in Manly Beach on the Hibiscus Coast when I came across this article. Go figure.

Geocaching Video

Kid Humour- Calvin

Keep a Food Diary.

Ever think about keeping a food diary to see what you are eating? Just like with budgeting or trying to see how many miles to the gallon, you must have information to make informed decisions.

You may already have one on your computer. In Microsoft Office's Project Gallery under Planners you'll find Meals-Diets. There is very likely a Food Diary there you can print off and use to record your daily consumption.

You can download any one of several online versions. A Mac shareware program, Diet Sleuth, might serve some, but I'd rather have a bit of paper in my pocket. Also try Nutrition and Exercise Manager 4.1 a Food and exercise diary for Mac users coupled with a database.
Cleveland Clinic offers some tips and a form.

A U.S. News & World Report article says . . .

There's a reason so many doctors and nutritionists recommend keeping a food diary when you're trying to lose weight: It actually appears to work. The case for food diaries (or food records or journals) got a little stronger today, when weight-loss researchers reported that a large, multicenter study suggests that tracking what goes in your mouth can double the amount of weight lost. The findings were part of a weight-loss maintenance trial whose initial results were reported in March. After analyzing the data on weight loss to see which factors made a difference, researchers concluded that the more days a person kept a careful record, the more weight he or she lost. . . .

It's eye opening. In fact, some people will be so shocked at how many calories are in their thrice-daily Coke that the "aha" moment will make going on an actual diet unnecessary. Being forced to be aware of what you're eating can often be enough to help people drop weight, says Wadden.

It helps you track your progress. Use the diary as a way to make adjustments throughout the day and to gauge how much exercise you need to hit a certain calorie count, advises Holly Wyatt, a physician and researcher at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "If I eat three cups of fries, I know that I ate a lot and can cut back at the next meal," says Francis Tacotaco, a 38-year-old skilled nursing assistant from Richmond, Calif., who used a food diary as part of a weight-loss program at Kaiser. He's lost 21 pounds so far and wants to drop more.

Other suggestions are to team up with a friend and swap food diaries once a week to keep each other in line. And many people find it's enough to be accountable to themselves. "You won't put that second cookie in your mouth because you don't want to see it in your food record."

It's a habit that will serve you well for a lifetime and with little extra equipment to buy. Got a pen and notepad handy? Start there.

27 December 2008

Friends: By Two's and then by the Bunch

A few times through my life I've been blessed with friends who were sisters.
I mean, they were sisters and then they BOTH became my friends.

I've learned a thing or two from those relationships.
1.) Never take sides if they are in conflict because in the end they are still sisters and they'll usually side together against any foe.
2.) No matter how similar any two can be, being raised the same home and genetically so similar, they are still individuals and will offer and expect different things in friendship with me.

I've learned more than that, but we'd be getting far too specific if I continued on.

Because of these friendships, I've often been included in larger family gatherings, just being taken in as another part of the clan, familiar for being in the mix so often. These friendships enrich my life and they are accompanied by responsibilities too. It's no good to reap the benefits and not be a contributing part of the group.

A huge blessings for me too is that, as these friends have married and had children, I've gained brothers and friends in the younger generations. Some of the next generation read & comment on this blog or keep in touch via Facebook.

I'm grateful for the mutual respect, the give & take, the cross pollination we enjoy. We have history, the present and a promising future.

Best Book List - Top 100

Looking for a good read in 2009?
You need go no further than your local library, but nearby op shops, Good will or your local independent bookseller are also good options. I'm just finding that buying more books also requires buying more book shelves.

Click here for a list for 100 of the Greatest Books in History. A lofty list, but we sampling from this one would do us good.

The Telegraph has a more recent list and shows some variety over the others.

The Observer's Robert McCrum compiled a list in 2003. Could it have changed much in the intervening years?

What's missing?

While reading for enjoyment and enrichment is not about the numbers, have you read many of these?

Got a Pot, for Tea?

I have several different tea pots.

I don't think I use them according to my mood so much according to where I'm having my tea or with whom I'm enjoying it.

I have a lovely pot from Ireland. Pretty flowers, delicate, with a rim of gold leaf. My friends there sent me the cups to match sometime later!

One of my other favourites is from NZ Rail, crockery that's crackled and useful and squat so as to hug the surface on a moving train.

Then there's the big blue pot! It serves slightly bigger crowds

One of the funny stories told about me, which I don't think funny at all, is that when I buy a pot, whether for myself or for a friend, I'll ask for water in the shop so I can see how the spout performs. Does it drip? Who wants tea stains all over their tray cloth or on the table?

It's kind of like trying on a top or sitting in a chair before you buy it. Ever see people trying out a mattress in a store? Kinda like that.

There's something personal about a mattress, and about a tea pot. It only makes sense you'd not buy the first one off the shelf. That's not funny. That's just perfectly reasonable to a tea snob!

Come on, share your tea rituals or peeves. Requiring BOILING water is vital, but after that, what makes you cringe when someone else makes you a cup of tea? Name no names!

26 December 2008

Faithful Friends in Creativity & Community

I really do appreciate you checking in now and again to see what's coming out of the keyboard.

I do have lots of original thoughts percolating in my head & heart and they'll be rising to the surface soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the selections I offer from gleanings elsewhere, things I enjoy and think humorous or important.

You can see my interests in my profile at the left.

I should add a few things to that.
I wish I had a dog, a manual typewriter and a real bonsai tree. I let mine get out of hand and now it is a forest.

I'm ruminating now on what I'll spend my Christmas money on. My dad says, "That's one nice thing about a check, you have all those things you (contemplate), until you actually make a decision."
I'll possibly decide on a trip. Will it be a place I've not been before or back to a place I liked? Hmm. Who wants to go with me?

Understood in Context

"Written history usually reflects something of the time in which it was composed."

Quoted from C.V.Wedgwood's The Thirty Year War (pub 1938) in the revised Forward(1963). Page 7.

Wisdom or Wit?

When I came back to Dublin I was courtmartialed in my absence
and sentenced to death in my absence,
so I said they could shoot me in my absence.
- Brendan Behan

What others think of us would be of little moment did it not,
when known, so deeply tinge what we think of ourselves.
- Paul Valery

"He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave."
--Matthew Henry

"My goal; To die young as late in life as possible."

25 December 2008

Recharge Your Spirit

There are two types of people in this world: those who recharge their spirts by being with other people and those who do it by being alone."
--Ned Rozell in "Walking My Dog, Jane"

Whether you are with other people or alone, I hope your spirit is being recharged, that you are creatively spending this day in celebration, reflection and gratitude.

Christmas Perspective

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Merry Christmas all.
Prayers for those who will struggle today.

“And how are they?” the stranger said.

“Where are you?” the stranger said.
I didn’t understand, “What do you mean? I am right here.”
“But where is that?” he persisted.
“Right here on the planet earth,” I said.
He went on: “Who put you here?”
“I’m proud to say that God did, of course.”

The stranger smiled, “Who else is here?”
“Who else is where?”
“Who else is with you,” he patiently continued, “here on the earth?”
I looked around, suddenly noticing everyone else for the first time.
I was awestruck.
After a few moments I answered, “There are billions of others here!”
“And how are they?” the stranger said.
I gazed out at what was going on around me, slowly taking in all I could.
“Not very well, it seems.”
“Can anything be done to help them?”

Why is he asking me? I thought.
“Surely something can be done,” I managed to reply.
I continued looking out, overwhelmed by what I saw.
Finally I turned back to the stranger.
He had been watching me, quietly and earnestly.
“I have one more question,” he said. “Why are you here?”

- possibly titled, God Calls You To The World, source unknown.

Previously posted on Conversations@Intersections 14.05.08.

24 December 2008

Deciphering Me

Read more about Brooke.

Memorials: Death & Living

Okay, some will not think this is a Christmas topic, but ya know, death happens.

Loss is keenly felt at Christmas and some people would rather ignore the whole festive thing and focus on things that matter to them personally. I know of a few people who are either dealing with a recent loss or anticipating one any day now.

Kathy, Ian, Gillian, Andy, Owen . . . so many others . . .

Sometimes it is interesting to understand why we do what we do in the various rites of passage. Being keenly interested in culture and spirituality, I found the following to be informative.

Memorilisation Practice

In the last ten thousand years, our deceased antecedents are thought to number over one hundred billion (see Davies, 1994). Not much has been recorded about them, unless they were famous, rich or fortunate enough to have been catapulted into the memory of others. It was therefore up to the general public to ‘individualise’ the deaths of the rest through mortuary ritual, an accomplishment to which archaeologists and our cemeteries can attest today. Individualisation via memorialisation has become a way for past and current societies to commemorate life on the event of a death. To that end, memorialisation provides one of a group of artefacts used by historians, genealogists and the like to document history and family links.

[The] memorialisation of departed loved ones seems to be an integral part of human nature that can be traced back to the dawn of civilization. Throughout prehistoric times and into recorded history, there is a common thread of honouring the dead … as early as 35,000 BC, Cro-Magnon man practiced ritual funerals. (Tippy, 2002)

Memorialisation as a death ritual has been practiced as early as 35,000 BC. An evolutionary analysis of physical memorial form by Hallam and Hockey (2001) suggests that in recent times memorials are increasingly used by the living to maintain a role with the deceased. Before the eleventh century in England, memorials were only erected for those of wealth and means. However the eleventh century was also a turning point for everyday society, in that the graves of the ‘ordinary’ were recovered from anonymity in a desire to commemorate everyday people. Three centuries later, memorials contained items such as name, date of death, words of praise, profession (and indirectly, rank and status), and prayers to God for the soul. Later, text linking family members to the deceased was included and, by the seventeenth century, biographical accounts featured, therefore making the memorial as real as possible to the deceased and the living.

As a form of meaningful and personal communication, memorialisation helps those who experience the death of a loved one to fight through the stages of the grieving process, providing a means to express deeply felt emotion and to honour the deceased. Memorials provide a permanent place for those left behind to connect emotionally and spiritually with their loss. They also provide an opportunity to honour and pay tribute to a person and make a statement about the impact that person had on his or her family, community, or even the world. Moreover, Ruby (1995) explains that mourners are confronted by two very contradictory needs when someone dies: to keep the memory of the deceased alive, and, at the same time, accept the reality of death and loss. Therefore as Salisbury (2002) suggests, the act of erecting some kind of memorial to the deceased is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the grieving process.

In the recent past, memorialisation is largely practised via granite, marble or bronze memorials in cemeteries, requiring physical visits that can be impeded by distance or physical ability. In a society that is increasingly fragmented - where families and friends, often separated by significant distances, cannot actively participate in memorialising their deceased – an alternate space (is cyberspace). Read more . . . or just ruminate on losses you've known and how you memorialised them.

Patrick: Starfish or Worm?!

It's been a busy Christmas Season. Don't know what all was on your list, but I somehow found myself badly portraying Patrick the Starfish, a Nickelodean character who's a friend of SpongeBob Square Pants. Who thinks up these things?

You see, I had had surgery and couldn't sweat or the adhesive on the bandages would lift and complicate things for my doctor. SO, instead of being my favourite, Winnie the Pooh, or even Tigger or Yogi Bear, in a local parade, I was put in as Patrick because in a boat float the kids would only see my head anyway. Relatively little sweating involved for me!

What I did not know at the time, but my friends did, is that Patrick is dumb. Not only that, he's a bit chubby it seems. Ok, allow me to ignorantly publicly humiliate myself! A little kid even shouted out, "Patrick looks like a worm!"

In the actual photo we took on the day, I do look a bit like a pink worm with legs sticking out the bottom!

From what I read on Nick.com, "Patrick is SpongeBob's neighbor and best friend, and his big ambition in life can be summed up in four words: "Uh...I...uh...forget." As SpongeBob's closest pal, Patrick is always offering his advice and encouragement. Unfortunately, Pat's not exactly the brightest starfish in the sea (if you catch our drift), and he usually ends up helping SpongeBob into a heap of trouble. Even their simplest plans end in disaster. But for better or worse, Patrick will always be SpongeBob's loyal buddy."

So he's forgetful and simple and not a great advisor, loyalty is a good thing! Having friends is vital and enriches anything we attempt.

The parade was fun, excited kids and bubble machines and music and . . . I think Jesus, the Birthday Boy, was represented somewhere somehow. The best part though is probably friends making memories and having a laugh. I can afford for it to be at Patrick's expense.

23 December 2008

Book Seat

Another great gift idea! They won't have to dust it. It serves a valuable purpose and one size fits all! Book Seat keeps your hands free for eating, knitting, or just to relax the muscles or nerves! Someone on my Christmas list is getting one, thought it'll arrive a bit late as I only discovered it in a super little shop next to TimeOut Books in Mt Eden, Auckland.

A beanbag for books, the Book Seat is a new way of keeping your book upright.

Alleviates the discomfort associated with holding a book for extended periods of time. No more aching arms or wrists whilst reading.

Helps to relieve aching shoulders/neck associated with leaning over a desk/table when reading. The Book Seat creates an optimum reading position.

Adjustable to any surface. Can be used where most other book rests cannot; eg. In bed, at the beach, in a hammock. No need for a tray or table.

Multifunctional. The Book Seat can double as a travel pillow; in a car, bus, plane or napping at the beach.

Multi tasking. The page holder enables you to read Hands-Free! Allowing you to read and do other things at the same time eg; eating, drinking, knitting, doing crafts, typing, writing, studying etc.

Holds different Book Sizes -Although it is designed for standard novels, larger books and magazines can be accommodated.

High quality - The material is the latest high quality 190gsm faux-suede. This material is very tactile and highly stain resistant


Book Rest supports books and magazines

Book/Page Holder - ensures pages of book remain open without using your hands

Handy pocket - for mobile phone, reading glasses, sun glasses, pens or other personal effects

Multi function - Book rest can also be used as a comfortable travel cushion (e.g. at beach)

Loop (Handle) - for storing on door handle, carrying to beach

Beans inside the Book Seat adjust to any surface (flat or uneven) - perfect for reading in bed

Unique Australian invention

Available from Red Hill market or purchase online at http://www.thebookseat.com/index.html

Contact: Cindy Barber at Emerging Products Pty Ltd.
Suite 7 / 10 Prospect Street, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia 3128 Email: info@thebookseat.com

George Orwell on Tea

If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty
general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here
are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

  • First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
  • Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
  • Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
  • Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is
    recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
  • Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
  • Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
  • Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
  • Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
  • Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
  • Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
  • Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant
    to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling
fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

- Taken from The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 3, 1943-45

Integral: No Compartments

My friend Cheryl pointed me to Jim Martin's post on A Place For The God Hungry. It resonates with a recent personal journey in my life and it spoke volumes to Cheryl because of where she is. Compartmentalising our lives is awkward, confusing and unhelpful. Being is at the core of faith and living in community with others.
Read what Jim has to say.

In front of me are the first two issues of a new journal. The journal is entitled, "Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care." One of the first articles that I read was by Keith Meyer (Church of the Open Door, Maple Grove, Mn.). Meyer wrote a few paragraphs that I found nourishing and encouraging. For example:

I now teach pastors that formation is essential because your life is your ministry and your ministry is your life. It is not just a prerequisite for ministry or a condition for ministry or a line on your resume or on a job description calling for character. In my ministry to pastors and leaders at our church this is a great leveler between clergy and laity. Although giftings, office, and call are important, they are not as important as the authority of your life and its transformational power. (p. 226)


I read this quote once and then read it again. I highlighted it in yellow and came back to it once again. My life is my ministry and my ministry is my life. I am called to live out of my own authentic life in Christ. This speaks volumes as to who I am called to be before Christ and the world.

I am not called to live a transformed life because it looks good on my resume or because it makes a difference in the quality of my preaching/teaching. I am not interested in spiritual transformation because this seems to be the thing to do if I am going to stay current. The point of a transformed life is not to get me somewhere in my work with a church.

The reality? Every man and woman in Christ is called to live out of a authentic life in Christ. This life is my ministry. My ministry is my life.

Ministry does not begin with an assignment at church. It does not begin when you take on a program or a "ministry" at church. Ministry does not begin when you have an office in your church building or when you keep office hours. Ministry does not begin when you have a church leadership role or even some kind of authority that seems to go with your "ministry." Ministry does not begin when you are the center of attention at church.

Some people who talk about authority in the church, in reality have such little true authority because of the massive gap between the reality of their own lives and what they want to project before others. Meyer is correct. The authority of one’s own life and its transformational power are critical.

The good news?

The fulfillment that one finds in such ministry is not grounded in success, statistics, visibility, or some stroke of the ego. The real fulfillment of such ministry is in finding satisfaction in God alone.

22 December 2008

Putting Words Around Loss

“The life of the dead consists in being present in the minds of the living." Cicero

How do people fill in the void and depression once a loved one passes on?

One can reflect and reminisce over the memory of the lost loved one through death poems or song lyrics. They can help ease the pain and confusion that is in the aftermath of the tragedy of a lost love one. The ramifications of death are a blow to anyone. Death is celebrated, embraced, and feared throughout the world. Death poems and parables are found in customs, traditions, and ceremonies in reaction to death around the world. They help with coping with the confusion and disarray left in place of family death or close friend now gone.

Death is considered from many cultures and religions in many standpoints from around the world. Death is a part of our lives and we deal with the death of a loved one, discuss the religious or philosophical significance of death. We lament the tragedies and accomplishments in the process of dying and try to explain life after death. On significant dates like anniversaries, birthdays or holidays, loss is often acutely & excruciatingly felt. A memorial, story telling or acknowledging the heartache is a healthy way to move ahead in grief. ( Look for another post to follow on memorials)

"If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.” This quote expresses how to keep those lost loved ones still alive in our thoughts and our hearts.

The dead add their strength and counsel to the living.

Life is weaker than death, and death is weaker than love.
Khalil Gibran

They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.

The whole world is a dream, and death the interpreter.

Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.

There is more time than life.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
Meister Eckhart

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Don't Be Offended. Skip This Post!

Some of my regular readers might be offended by this article. Skip it. Don't read it because it crosses some of my boundaries of personal holiness, but it is also well written, has pithy truth in it and is hilarious in places. I will not apologise to you if you write to complain, so save your breath. You were warned. Don't read this post.

James Griffin: Seeking gifts, I traverse afar, New Zealand Herald, 15 December

"Mary, it's me! Hello? Can you hear me? It's Joseph. Right, good, sorry about all the noise, there's like a million people down here and they're playing bloody Feliz Navidad everywhere I go, there's no bloody escaping it. Still, at least it's not Snoopy's Christmas, eh? Sorry, what was that you said? Some kid went by just as you spoke, yelling at his parents about how they suck and how this is going to be the worst Christmas ever.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm down at Westfield Nazareth. Finally. Don't get me started about finding a carpark, I had to cruise round for, like, half an hour before a spot opened up and then some dickhead in an Audi gives me the finger when I'd been waiting for ages for this family in a people-mover to get themselves sorted out and back out. I was indicating and everything, then this dork sees his chance and tries to race me for the spot. So I gun it and he, like, pulls up just before he smacks into me and then has the audacity to give me an earful when I was the one who totally had the rights to the spot!
Honey, our boy would have been way proud the way I turned the other cheek when all I wanted to do was get seriously road rage on his ass.

"So I'm here now and, let me tell you, the whole concept of hell we've been working with up 'til now - it's all changed babe. I am standing in the middle of it and in hell, I know now, they play Feliz Navidad over and over again. And there are angry people everywhere and everyone is stressed out and this is not doing my blood pressure any good. And, just to top things off on this most joyous day of days in the season, I have totally forgotten to bring the Lego list with me. I think I left it on the kitchen bench - can you go and have a look for me?

"Yeah, yeah, I'm still here. And guess what, they're not playing Feliz Navidad anymore - hallelujah! Instead we're being treated to Do They Know It's Christmas? Brilliant, when you consider Christmas is the only sodding reason we're all here, so I think we're pretty bloody well aware what time of the year it is, thank you very much! And if 'they' aren't, then they're the lucky ones.

"No, I am approaching this with an open mind and, yes, I did agree to do the boy's shopping this year - even though, as God knows all too well, he's not strictly 'my' boy, is he? No, I'm not harping on about the stepfather-of-the-Son-of-God thing again, I'm just saying, that's all. Can we stick to the Lego wish list issue, please?

"Right, which is all well and good, except the Lego situation, at this end is that you cannot get Batman Lego for love nor money. Yes, honey, I'm sure, I've looked in every bloody shop where there might be Batman Lego - there is none. So unless you want to get you-know-who to work one of His miracles and pony up with some Batman Lego for his chosen son, then Batman Lego is off the Christmas list. What's next?

"Okay, when you say Indiana Jones Lego, can you be more specific? I am standing here in front of a wall of Indiana Jones Lego and buggered if I can remember what he's got and what he hasn't? There's some kind of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Lego and one with Nazis in trucks and one with a float plane and there's a big boulder in this one. They all look the freaking same to me and now they're playing I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus so just really don't tell me, right now, that you knew Santa Claus as well, because I can't be dealing with that stuff right now!

"Look, yes, I'm well aware that I'm buying for both Christmas and his birthday - funny how that turned out - but Christmas isn't all about our son! Okay, yes, on one level it is, but that's not what I'm talking about!

"No I won't 'calm down' because no one else in this hell-hole is calm so why should I be the exception? Please, just tell me what Lego to buy before I buy the whole bloody lot and we end up at the money-lenders. I mean, honey, you know how the carpentry business is always the first to feel the pinch in a recession, so I don't want to make unwise gift choices just because I feel the need to appease Him. That's all I'm saying.

"Okay, cool. The Lego Agents thing with the truck that unfolds, I know what you mean. I'm staring right at it. Done. "Holy crap! Have you seen how much this stuff costs? And now they're playing Snoopy's Christmas - bollocks!"

21 December 2008

Courage, so says Chesterton

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. ‘ He that will lose his life, the same shall save it’ is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage” -Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

The Language of Flowers

My dad has the most amazing little book on his shelves. I've told him NOT to send that one to the op shop or goodwill anytime soon. I want it! It lists different types of flowers and what their meaning is upon gifting them to someone. Who knew there was a blossom language?

I've recently given a similar small book to a friend in my Book Club gift exchange. I knew she'd like it and she did! Here are a few of the meanings, but follow the link to go and see the exhaustive list, including variations on the colours of different roses.

Aloe: Wisdom and Integrity
Alyssum (sweet): Worth beyond beauty
Amaryllis: Pastoral Poetry, Pride
Azalea: Fragile and Ephemeral Passion
Baby's Breath: Happiness
Bouquet of Withered Flowers: Rejected love
Carnation, Red: Admiration, my heart aches for you
Carnation, White: Pure Love, Sweet Love, Innocence
Clematis: Artifice and Ingenuity
Coreopsis: Always cheerful
Daffodil: Emblem of Annunciation/Regard, Unrequited love
Daisy: Gentleness, Innocence, Loyal love
Dogwood: Durability
Edelweiss: Daring & Noble Courage
Elderberry Blossom: Humility and Kindness
Fennel: Strength
Forget-me-not: Faithful Love, Memories
Forsynthia: Anticipation
Fuchsia: Amiability
Gardenia: "I love you in secret"
Gladiolus: Strength Of Character, I am really sincere
Gloxinia: Love at first sight
Heliotrope: Devotion, Eternal Love
Honeysuckle: Sweetness Of Disposition
Hyacinth, purple: I am sorry, Please forgive me, Sorrow
Hyacinth, yellow: Jealousy
Iris: Faith, Wisdom, Valor, Your Friendship means so much to me
Ivy: Friendship, Wedded love, Fidelity, Friendship, Affection
Lavender: Constancy
Lily, Calla: Majestic Beauty
Lily-Of-The-Valley: Purity and Humility, Sweetness
Lotus: Mystery and Truth
Magnolia: Dignity, Splendid Beauty
Mistletoe: Affection and Love
Narcissus: Egotism, Formality
Nasturtium: Patriotism
Oleander: Beauty and Grace
Orchid: Magnificence, Love, Beauty, Refinement
Pansy: Thoughtful Recollection
Peony: Healing, Life, Happy Marriage, Gay life
Poinsettia: "Be of Good Cheer"
Queen Anne's Lace: Fantasy
Salvia, Blue: "I Think of You"
Sweet Basil: Good Luck
Sweet Pea: Departure, Blissful pleasure, Thanks for a lovely time

Thistle - Defiance

Thyme: Courage and Activity
Tiger Lily: Wealth and Pride
Tulip: Symbol of The Perfect Lover
, Flower Emblem of Holland
Wisteria: Youth and Poetry

Yarrow: Healing
Zinnia: Thoughts of Absent Friends

A better symbol of the Incarnation, I can hardly imagine.

Holy Inefficiency of Henri Nouwen

Once when I was dining with a group of writers, the conversation turned to letters we get from readers. Richard Foster and Eugene Peterson mentioned an intense young man who had been seeking spiritual direction from both of them. They responded as best they could, answering questions by mail and recommending books on spirituality. Foster had just learned that the same inquirer had also contacted Henri Nouwen. "You won't believe what Nouwen did," he said. "He invited this stranger to live with him for a month so he could mentor him in person."

Most writers jealously protect their schedules and privacy. Nouwen, broke down such barriers of professionalism. His entire life, in fact, displayed a "holy inefficiency."

Trained in Holland as a psychologist and a theologian, Nouwen spent his early years achieving. He taught at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard, averaged more than a book a year, and traveled widely as a conference speaker. He had a resume to die for—which was the problem, exactly. The pressing schedule and relentless competition were suffocating his own spiritual life.

Nouwen went to South America for six months, scouting a new role for himself as a missionary in the Third World. . . . Finally, Nouwen fell into the arms of the L'Arche community in France, a home for the seriously disabled. He felt so nourished by them that he agreed to become priest in residence at a similar home in Toronto called Daybreak. There, Nouwen spent his last ten years, still writing and traveling to speak here and there, but always returning to the haven of Daybreak.

His small room had a single bed, one bookshelf, and a few pieces of Shaker-style furniture. The walls were unadorned except for a print of a Van Gogh painting and a few religious symbols. A Daybreak staff person served us a bowl of Caesar salad and a loaf of bread. No fax machine, no computer, no Daytimer calendar posted on the wall—in this room, at least, Nouwen had found serenity. The church "industry" seemed very far away.

After lunch we celebrated a special Eucharist for Adam, the young man Nouwen looked after. Later Nouwen told me it took him nearly two hours to prepare Adam each day. Bathing and shaving him, brushing his teeth, combing his hair, guiding his hand as he tried to eat breakfast-these simple, repetitive acts had become for him almost like an hour of meditation.

I must admit I had a fleeting doubt as to whether this was the best use of the busy priest's time. Could not someone else take over the manual chores? When I cautiously broached the subject with Nouwen himself, he informed me that I had completely misinterpreted him. "I am not giving up anything," he insisted. "It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship."

Nouwen has said that all his life two voices competed inside him. One encouraged him to succeed and achieve, while the other called him simply to rest in the comfort that he was "the beloved" of God. Only in the last decade of his life did he truly listen to that second voice.

Ultimately Nouwen concluded that "the goal of education and formation for the ministry is continually to recognize the Lord's voice, his face, and his touch in every person we meet." Reading that description in his book ¡Gracias!, I understand why he did not think it a waste of time to invite a seeking stranger to live with him for a month, or to devote two hours a day to the menial care of Adam.

A single image captures Nouwen best: the energetic priest, hair in disarray, using his restless hands as if to fashion a homily out of thin air, celebrating an eloquent birthday Eucharist for an unresponsive child-man so damaged that many parents would have had him aborted.

A better symbol of the Incarnation, I can hardly imagine.

By Philip Yancey, publushed in Christianity Today.

20 December 2008

Para words

PAR΄ADOX, n. [F> paradoxe; It. Paradosso; Gr. παραδοξια; παρα, beyond, and δοξα, opinion; δοξεω to think or suppose.] A tenet or proposition contrary to received opinion, or seemingly absurd, yet true in fact.

[Middle English, example, from Late Latin paradīgma, from Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknunai, to compare : para-, alongside; see para–1 + deiknunai, to show.]

  1. One that serves as a pattern or model.
  2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregular verb.
  3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

Paradigm Paralysis: Perhaps the greatest barrier to a paradigm shift, in some cases, is the reality of paradigm paralysis, the inability or refusal to see beyond the current models of thinking.

appears in the New Testament in the Gospel of John (14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7) where it may be translated in English as "Counselor", "Helper", or "Comforter". The Early Church identified the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5,1:8,2:4,2:38) and Christians continue to use Paraclete as a title for the Spirit of God.

In 1 John 2:1 "paraclete" is used to describe the intercessory role of Jesus Christ. And in John 14:16 Jesus says "another paraclete" will come to help his disciples, implying Jesus is the first paraclete.

Verses like these are often used by Christians in Trinitarian theology to describe how God is revealed to the world and God's role in salvation. According to trinitarian doctrine, the Paraclete or Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who among other things provides guidance, consolation and support to people. Other titles for the Holy Spirit include 'Spirit of Truth', Lightfull Spirit of God Almighty, Holy Breath, Almighty Breath, Giver of Life, Lord of Grace, Helper, 'Comforter', 'Counsellor' and 'Supporter'.

Rene Girard, a Christian anthropologist / philosopher, argues that Paraclete ought to be translated as the Defense Attorney who is defending human beings against the assaults of Satan (the Prosecuting Attorney, the Accuser, the fomenter of violence).

Two Minutes of Grace: Tracey Barnett in NZ Herald

Read the rest of Tracey's article from the NZ Herald on the 17th. It's worth it. I've included the best written bits. Tracey couches her perspective in religious terms, but there' nothing churchy about her topic. That's one of the things that I liked about the article I suppose. Religion really has little to do with "church", but more to do with habits and perspective.

"Like most of the errantly faithful, I'm a better hypocrite than practitioner. That's not how I live my life. I run around. Or, I sit down in front of a small screen and my brain runs around. Then, I finish my day by pushing stuff around. Things go into the car; things go out of my head. I live mostly with my back turned to the small moments I'm supposed to worship.

For every one of us who will spend the next handful of weeks running around buying presents that will sit in the back of someone else's closet, . . . .

Or that maybe this will be the year we will notice that a great question is better than its answer."

Prayerful: Mindful

"The same Abba (father) said that a teacher ought to be a stranger to the desire for domination, vain-glory, and pride; one should not be able to fool him by flattery, nor blind him by gifts, nor conquer him by the stomach, nor dominate him by anger; but he should be patient, gentle and humble as far as possible; he must be tested and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls."

- Philokalia.

“The Fathers of the Philokalia keep emphasizing the importantance of guarding the mind so that it is completely present to the task at hand. They keep saying that wherever our mind is not, there is where we are not. A person, for example, may be in church or at home praying, but if his mind is not in his prayer,if, in his mind he is lounging on a beach in Tahiti, 6,000 miles away, then he is not present to God. He is not praying. Wherever our mind is, there is where we are."

19 December 2008

Ever Call Anyone, "Sweet Pea"?

Sweet Pea (Delicate Pleasures)

"Here are sweet peas,on tip-toe for a flight

With wings of gentle flusho'er delicate white,

And taper fingers catchingat all things

To bind them all aboutwith tiny rings." Keats

Sweet peas arrived in Britain via a Sicilian monk who sent seeds to a Middlesex schoolmaster. This gave rise to countless other forms. The biggest relatively recent development came at the turn of the last century when unusually large, frilly flowers appeared suddenly in several parts of the country on 'Prima Donna'. Seed was saved and sold as new varieties.

'Countess Spencer', found in the garden of Earl Spencer at Althorp, Northamptonshire, was the best. It gave rise to the variably scented Spencer type which now has a huge range of varieties, with new ones being launched each year.

In the language of flowers Sweet Pea means: Departure, Blissful pleasure, Thanks for a lovely time

UK's National Sweet Pea Society will tell you more than you knew you needed to know about the lovely little garden flower. Do pay attenion to which hemisphere you are in when taking advice from online sites.

Tea Links

Interested in any of these posts from Tea4U Blog?

Or go to Wonders of Tea for
And there's even an Office Tea Chart so you can keep track of who has their tea how. Hmmm.
The UK Tea Council have put together a tea chart for office workers. Its so people don’t get mixed up as to who has what and how much.

You simply put your name down and say what you have. Pin it up in the kitchen and voila!

You can download it here.

Cheeky Chicks: Meaningful Gifts for Christmas

It's not too late to give a Gift For Life through Tear Fund! You and your friends have enough dustibles. They also have enough of everything else they really need.

As Tracey Barnett said in the NZ Herald this past week,

"For every one of us who will spend the next handful of weeks running around buying presents that will sit in the back of someone else's closet, there is a weirdo like me who is quietly welcoming a recession.

Maybe we'll all pull it in a little this year.

Maybe we won't be able to afford as much stuff so we won't expend all that energy pushing it around once we get it."

So click on over to the Tear Fund website and check out their cattle-logue. They have Cheeky Chicks, Bums on Seats, piggies, goats, books, mosquito nets, seed projects and more! You can buy a whole herd of cows or start your own bank! I thoroughly believe in this organisation's efforts and strategies!

I've ordered a few chicks for my cheeky friends. I'd like to send someone a goat or pig! Who wants one? Think about it! A meaningful gift that puts the spirit of the season right.

Pop, you want a pig? You won't have to feed it or build a pen or pick up after it, though the fertilizer might be good for your garden?

If you choose to send a Gift For Life, leave us a comment here so we can see how many Conversations@Intersections readers do their Christmas gift-giving that way.
What kind of herd can we come up with?

Tear FUnd will send an e-card immediately to inform the recipient of their gift, or they'll send you a card to present when next you meet. They do make it easy.

Previous Tear Fund posts Christmas Gift Ideas, Microenterprise.