31 October 2008

People Living with HIV/AIDS

What to say when words are so easy and life can be so hard?

30 October 2008

Laugh Language

Ever have a craving? Feel a gap in your life? Just want a laugh?

When I was first living in rural Africa, highlights came in the simple things. A cold Coke. The sound of drums on the hills. A letter from a friend far away.

One thing my mom did was to cut out Calvin & Hobbes comics from the newspaper and send them over. It was a funny contrast to the rest of my day.

If I had shared most of those comics with my African friends, they would have struggled to cross the cultural divide to see the humour. And that's ok. Humour is a funny thing.

Anyway, I still like Calvin & Hobbes . . . not all the bumper stickers I've seen on the back of Ford or Chevy trucks, but the cleverness that Bill Watterson wove in to his drawings and words. Enlightening. Poignant. Clever. Laughter is a wonderful thing to give someone.

Go Comics will give you a comic for the day and you can click through the archives to see more.
Other Calvin & Hobbes links.

29 October 2008

Better go incognito!

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. A Hindu, Ghandi nevertheless admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Ghandi he asked him, "Mr. Ghandi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?"

Ghandi replied, "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Apparently Ghandi's rejection of Christianity grew out of an incident that happened when he was a young man practising law in South Africa. He had become attracted to the Christian faith, had studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was seriously exploring becoming a Christian.

His visit to a church did not go well. He was rejected. He then rejected Christianity on the basis of the Christians he met there.

Christians reflect Christ. If they are not going to do that well, better they don't tell anyone they are His.

Mostly taken from and inspired by an article on John Mark Ministries site.

28 October 2008

Sins of Omission

What of Somalia, Iraq, Haiti . . . . the list goes on.

Clinton Kept Hotel Rwanda Open Paul Rusesabagina still won't go back to his native Rwanda. A decade ago, the courageous former hotel innkeeper saved more than a thousand lives during the genocidal rampage by Hutu death merchants against the Tutsis in Rwanda. The estimate is that a million Tutsis were killed. The movie, Hotel Rwanda, which stars Don Cheadle, and has garnered Academy Award buzz, tells the blood-drenched saga of how Rusesabagina repeatedly risked death to use his hotel to shelter Tutsi refugees. But Hotel Rwanda doesn't tell why President Clinton said and did nothing to stop that genocide, and four years after he left office, and ten years after the slaughter, he continues to hide the truth about his inaction.

During his Africa swing in 1998, Clinton stopped for a brief moment at the airport in Kisagali, Rwanda's capital, and made a bare-my-soul atonement speech to a group of genocide survivors. He blamed the genocide on leaders like himself "who did not fully appreciate the depth and speed with which you were engulfed by the unimaginable horror." As part of his atonement, Clinton showered the government with millions more in U.S. aid. Rwandan leaders and Clinton boosters cheered his feel-good words.

o·mis·sion (-mshn) n.

1. The act or an instance of omitting.
2. The state of having been omitted.
3. Something omitted or neglected.

In his autobiography, My Life, published in June, Clinton revisited his role in the Rwanda genocide. He again publicly flagellated himself for the apathy and indifference that insured the slaughter. He fingered domestic politics, a callous Congress, a timid UN, and the shell shock of his administration over the botched rescue operation in Somalia in October 1993 that resulted in the deaths of 18 American soldiers for his administration's inaction.

But Clinton's buck-passing covered up the hideous truth that he knew about the genocide from the start, and could have done something about it. Three months before My Life came out the National Security Archive, a Washington D.C. non-government research institute sued in court and got hold of classified intelligence reports. The most damning were the eyes-only national intelligence daily reports that the CIA supplied to Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and other top administration officials on the Rwanda massacres. In the reports, diplomats, military and UN officials, aid workers, and intelligence operatives on the scene gave first hand accounts of the holocaust, and told of boasts that Hutu leaders made to wipe all Tutsis out.

The documents are smoking gun proof that Clinton knew from the moment that Hutu thugs hacked to death the first innocents that the slaughter was in full swing. Barely two weeks after the carnage started, Clinton officials privately called the killings genocide. Yet, Clinton, Gore, and Secretary of State Madeline Albright would not publicly use the word. A chilling eyes-only Defense Department memorandum advised Clinton administration officials that if they used the word genocide to describe the carnage it would compel the government "to do something." They followed the script to the letter.

It took more than a month before the word "genocide" on the killings seeped into the Clinton administration's vocabulary. But administration officials watered it down by blandly calling it "acts of genocide."

Even after the UN shook off its see-no-evil slumber, and authorized troops to intervene, Clinton tried to stonewall the deployment of forces, drug his feet on providing funds for the deployment, and reneged on the U.S.'s promise to provide military vehicles to transport troops and refugees from the killing fields. In 2000, Foreign Affairs Magazine assessed the UN and the U.S.'s Ostrich act on Rwanda. It concluded that prompt action could have saved more than 100,000 lives. The intervention would not have required one American soldier, or lengthy debate in Congress. It could have been accomplished for the relative paltry sum of $15 million.

But that isn't the final chapter in the shame and hypocrisy of the Clinton administration over Rwanda. During his truncated visit in 1998, Rwandans were incensed that Clinton did not visit the genocide monument the government had erected a few moments drive from the airport where he spoke. The monument was erected expressly for Clinton's visit. The same day Clinton spoke, forty Tutsi villagers were massacred a few miles driving distance from the airport.

Paul Rusesabagina (born June 15, 1954) is a Rwandan who has been internationally honoured for saving 1,268 civilians during the Rwandan Genocide. He was the assistant manager of the Sabena Hôtel des Mille Collines before he became the manager of the Hôtel des Diplomates, both in Kigali, Rwanda. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide Rusesabagina used his influence and connections as temporary manager of the 'Mille Collines' to shelter 1,268 Tutsis and moderate Hutus from being slaughtered by the Interahamwe militia. His story was the basis of the Academy Award nominated film Hotel Rwanda (2004). He currently lives in Belgium with his wife, children, and two adopted nieces. He drove a taxi in Brussels and after three years opened a trucking company. An Ordinary Man: The True Story Behind Hotel Rwanda by Paul Rusesabagina

Leave None to Tell the Story

27 October 2008

. . . cannot lose.


From the journal of Jim Elliot

Jill Geocaching in Thailand

There are no really bad snakes in Thailand, are there?
The thorns are worthy of respect, but I found the cache
within sight of ostriches & elephants!


















One of my favourite signs in Thailand.
No interpreter needed, me thinks.


26 October 2008

MDGs: Can you do anything?


Newsweek's David Miliband said "Power is spreading as never before, but so are the problems. We must tackle the causes of poverty as well as its symptoms. One in six people in the world now lives on less than $1 a day. Despite the global economic boom, inequality is growing. This is not only morally offensive but dangerous. It fuels the resentment on which extremists thrive. Leaders, including the United States, must strive to meet the Millennium Development Goals and conclude a new global trade deal."


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were developed out of the eight chapters of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000. The eight goals and 21 targets include

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
    • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
    • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.
    • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
  2. Achieve universal primary education
    • Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
    • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.
  4. Reduce child mortality
    • Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
    • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
    • Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it.
    • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
    • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.
    • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss.
    • Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (for more information see the entry on water supply).
    • By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers.
  8. Develop a global partnership for development
    • Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory. Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction—nationally and internationally.
    • Address the special needs of the least developed countries. This includes tariff and quota free access for their exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction.
    • Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States.
    • Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
    • In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth.
    • In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries.
    • In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.
Can you personally do anything about any of these?

Should you?

25 October 2008

Thoroughly Spiritual, or not

A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all.
No man can serve two masters.
Your life is shaped by the end you live for.
You are made in the image of what you desire.

Thomas Merton

24 October 2008

Damoh: Rhymes with "ya know"

I am write to you from a small town two and a half hours from Jabalpur, which has the nearest airport. I am at an oasis in the midst of masses of people who are trying to survive a harsh environment and a harsh social structure.


The friends I have come here to see are Ajai & Indu Lall. 25 years ago they began working to making life easier and better and safer for the people of Central India. They started here in the nearby areas but the influence and benefit has spread as far as Nepal, Bhutan & Bangladesh. I toured the hospital today where a new surgical theatre has been opened. They have more up-to-date equipment than anywhere else in India. Government VIP's come here for treatment, even those who are against Christians. Nurses are trained here and sent out to hospitals throughout the country. Children are rescued from slavery, from being dumped at train stations, from impoverished young girls who can barely care for themselves.
I am amazed at the prayer, the hard work, the vision & the courage that has gone in to what I see today. And I'm only seeing buildings and some of the staff. I am not seeing the real benefit to the real people who come and go from this place.

This weekend I will be at a conference with 2500 young Indian Christians, many of whom know 1st hand persecution because of their faith. I think I will be in tears many times as I hear their stories, see their courage and catch something of the beat of their hearts. I am humbled.

Frugal Gardener: Home made fertiliser

The frugal gardener is trying to get more out of the garden and lower the food bills.
Makes for healthy eating and a satisfaction that we can still do it.

If you live near a beach or enjoy fishing, make your own fertiliser!

General directions for using fish or fish scraps as fertiliser:

  • Put the fish material in water (just enough to cover them) and mix in some leaves, sawdust, or other high-carbon material which helps to minimise the smell of fermenting fish.
  • Cover the mixture and leave it outside for a week or more. This gives time for the leaves etc to break down, and for anaerobic bacteria, which in fertiliser will help fend off pests and disease, to develop.
  • When it is ready to use, strain the liquid through cloth or a sieve and dilute with water until it is approximately the colour of weak tea. It can then be used in the manner of liquid fertilisers.
  • Additionally, add a small amount of natural soap as a wetting agent - so it sticks to the foliage or soil better.

Seaweed as fertiliser - it may take a long time for it to compost in water, so boiling is recommended. Cook the seaweed until the water is green, and it can be stored in a closed container or used when it has cooled. Also, some people use powdered kelp as an ingredient of home-made fertiliser, so perhaps drying and powdering it would be useful.

Always start with a very diluted solution and possibly only on a few plants for testing. These liquid fertilisers can become very strong and may burn your plants!

And more great ideas from Organic Pathways.


Another version from the a seaweed association in Ireland

We have an abundance of seaweed on our shore and we are members of the seaweed association in Ireland. To make seaweed fertilizer is very simple, look for knotted seawrack,that’s the one with the little bubbles you liked to burst as a child. To get the salt deposits off it either wash it in fresh water or leave in the rain for a couple of days. Get yourself a reasonably large barrel; I use a 40 gallon plastic barrel with the top cut off. Into the barrel we put are equal amounts of either by weight or volume of this freshly washed Seaweed & ordinary water. This mixture need to be stirred about every 2 to 3 days and the process to arrive at seaweed fertilizer takes about 8 weeks.

Using this seaweed fertilizer we grow lettuce, onions, tomatoes, courgettes, peas, etc which have a much better flavour than the grown to order supermarket offerings. The fermented liquer is very high smelling but contains all the trace elements found in nature, manganese, potassium, Iron, in minute quantities all necessary for healthy plant growth. Don’t expect to grow vegetables that all look the same size and shape, they will be big and small and sometimes mis-shapen but you will never taste better.

Re-interpreting History: Clinton Style

With elections looming, it is amazing the spin that can be put on events of the past, the ones that made the headlines for a few days but didn't really impact us because we didn't know we'd lost anything. For some people, the events are real. The effects are real. The mistakes are real. We can rewrite history to suit our politics or assuage our consciences,
but that's just spin, just figments, just imaginative injustice.


Clinton's Black Hawk History - On Somalia,
the ex-president is as mendacious as ever ~ WSJ.
The Wall Street Journal. | August 6, 2002 | The Wall Street Journal. Editorial Board

We wish Bill Clinton a quiet retirement, if only he'd return the favor. But when the former President distorts history for the sake of political advantage, someone has to clean up afterward.

Responding to Bush Administration suggestions that some of today's corporate scandals first got out of hand under his watch, Mr. Clinton recently shot back: "These people ran on responsibility, but as soon as you scratch them they go straight to blame. Now, you know, I didn't blame his [President Bush's] father for Somalia when we had that awful day memorialized in 'Black Hawk Down.' I didn't do that."

We can understand Mr. Clinton wanting to defend himself, but as usual he can't get his own facts straight. His introduction of Somalia here is one of those breathtakingly brazen attempts to dodge responsibility for which Mr. Clinton is justly famous. Here's the real history:

President Bush the Elder sent U.S. forces into Somalia in December 1992 to aid the United Nations in relieving a massive famine. In May of 1993, four months into his term, President Clinton declared that mission accomplished and pulled out most of the U.S. forces. In a speech on the South Lawn to associate himself with the effort, he extolled the decision to intervene: "If all of you who served had not gone, it is absolutely certain that tens of thousands would have died by now." It was a "successful mission," he said, and "proved yet again that American leadership can help to mobilize international action ..."

But back in Somalia, with no U.S. deterrent, Somalia's warlords began fighting again. After a series of bloody attacks on U.N. peacekeepers, Mr. Clinton launched a new mission: In August 1993, he sent in a force of Rangers and Special Forces units to capture the brutal warlord Mohammad Farrah Aidid and restore order.

That force asked for heavy armor -- in the form of Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles -- as well as the AC-130 gunship, but the Clinton Administration denied those requests. On October 3 on a mission to pick up Aidid, two Black Hawks were unexpectedly shot down; in the ensuing urban gun battle, 18 American soldiers were killed and another 73 injured.

Many military experts believe that if the U.S. forces had had armor, fewer would have died. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin resigned two months after Somalia, having acknowledged that his decision on the armor had been an error. A 1994 Senate Armed Services Committee investigation reached the same conclusion. But perhaps the most poignant statement came from retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Joyce, father of Sergeant Casey Joyce, a Ranger killed in Mogadishu: "Had there been armor ... I contend that my son would probably be alive today ..."

Mr. Clinton's responsibility in Somalia doesn't stop there. Despite the mistakes that October day, Aidid had been struck a blow. The U.S. military, with 18 dead, wanted nothing more than to finish what it had started. Mr. Clinton instead aborted the mission. The U.S. released the criminals it had captured that same day at such great cost, and the U.N., lacking U.S. support, was powerless to keep order. Somalia remains a lawless, impoverished nation. Worse, the terrorists of al Qaeda interpreted the U.S. retreat from Somalia as a sign of American weakness that may have convinced them we could be induced to retreat from the Middle East if they took their attacks to the U.S. homeland.

Those are the facts. The reason Mr. Clinton can't blame the events of "Black Hawk Down" on President Bush's father is because those events had nothing to do with him. They were Mr. Clinton's responsibility, and his alone.

Somalia NY Times

23 October 2008

A Hoosier Poet

Another of my Riley favourites, first spoken
to me by my grandmother.

“He is Just Away”

“I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead ~ He is just away!
With a cheery smile,
and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there;
And you ~ O you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of there as the love of here;
Think of him as the same, I say;
He is not dead ~ He is just away!”

By JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

22 October 2008

Geocaching with iPhone?

As you read this, imagine me geocaching in India between speaking dates. Hmmm, without an iPhone.

The iPhone 3G; a device anticipated for its promised speedy connectivity and its one-stop application shopping. But a small and growing segment have their eyes fixed specifically on the integrated GPS chip: they’re geocachers.

Geocachers, almost 600,000 worldwide, are an adventurous bunch. With the use of a portable GPS device plus coordinates found on geocaching.com, they hike, climb, and hunt some of the half million small containers or boxes scattered across the world, just for the fun of it. These caches hold only trinkets and a small log book, but for geocachers, it’s a way to connect to the great outdoors coupled with the thrill of the hunt. With gadgets.

But not the (original) iPhone. Even though other cell phones like the Nokia N95 have GPS locators, the (original) iPhone does not. In order to establish direction, Apple-loyal geocachers have to lug their Magellan or Garmin GPS devices with them, sometimes on precarious terrain. Or worse--they may need to take another cell phone, one with GPS ability.

Despite this obvious limitation, (original) iPhones are still useful to take on the trail.

Alisandra Brewer, who taught a class on the intersection of Macintoshes and geocaching at an event called “GeoWoodstock” says the Google Maps application on the (original) iPhone may have been a lifesaver.

Brewer said that she and her husband (with their three dogs, they go by the moniker “Team Psychopuppy,”) “were at a cache in a state park, and we could see on our GPS that the next one was a quarter mile away. But the trail didn’t go in that direction. We could have waded through the poison oak, but I called up the maps on the iPhone. I saw that if we had gone bushwacking, we would have gone 300 feet straight down.”

The iPhone’s email support helps geocachers stay in touch with the latest cache updates. Brewer gets new cache listings sent to her .Mac account, which she reads on the go. She types the coordinates into her GPS device and runs to the location in order to grab the coveted “first to find” position on the cache’s logbook. And of course, with the iPhone, geocachers can call their friends and brag about their accomplishments in style.

In addition, iPhone geocachers can make use of geocache managers like MacCacher. This program pulls information such as latitude and longitude, as well as notes and hints, from the geocacher’s go-to site, Geocaching.com. MacCacher then organizes the info in a familiar, easy-to-read format.

iPod users can easily download MacCacher’s files to their iPod’s “notes” section. Unfortunately, MacCacher can only save your cache information to the “contacts” section of your iPhone. Unless you create a dedicated folder, your cache notes will be interspersed with your pediatrician’s and best friend’s phone numbers.

Macintosh geocachers may also want to look at GeoObsession, but it’s currently being beta-tested and is not yet ready for prime time.

Michael Jacobus, publisher of Geocacher magazine, says that geocaching is a great way to explore and see parts of the world you wouldn’t normally see.

A note on geocaches in India:

There aren't many caches in India. I hope to find one in Chennai at St. Thomas' Mount, a virtual cache in Mamallapuram and one at Auroville in Pondicherry.

I'll not consider any underwater caches there.

You would be surprised to know that there are likely many caches in your area. Check it out.

Grace: great love

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

Romans 5:6-8, The Message

And in another version:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8, NASB

21 October 2008

Delhi: Ghandi's Last Home


I visited here on my first full day in Delhi. Impressive. Moving. Walla and walls of quotes and articles. Some of his last few humble possessions.
Birla House was supposed to have been a safer place for Mahatma Ghandi than the slums he would have chosen to live in. He had 144 days there, with regular afternoon walks and prayers. He did by an assassins bullet because he was thought to have compromised in the division of India & Pakistan to alleviate religious tensions. Birla House

Ghandi's wife Kasturba was a lifelong partner and friend until her death in detention.
“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.” M Ghandi

Floor lamps?

c Jill Shaw 2008
Why didn't I think of that?
Taken at a restaurant near the port in Auckland.

Tips for bloggers


So many pages with tips for bloggers.

Here's another.

20 October 2008

What to read? What to read!

Wondering what to read? Libraries are good, cause the only real expense is your time and the cost of the fuel to get you there, whether on foot or by vehicular mode.

Here are a few links to bookish sites.

Reading Group Guides gives some suggestions in Choosing What to Read on choosing books for your book club or reading group.

Bogormen, has an amazing list of books and personal reviews of each!

Check out the Whitcoulls Top 100 list, voted on every two by readers themselves.

What Should I Read Next is a nice database of favourites.
Enter a book you like and the site will analyse our database of real readers' favourite books (over 47,000 and growing) to suggest what you could read next.

Overbooked is a web site for ravenous & omnivorous readers. Overbooked provides information about fiction and readable nonfiction. Overbooked originals include annotated lists of nonfiction, fiction and mystery books which received starred reviews, themed booklists, featured titles lists and hot lists of hard cover US fiction releases.

Remember to support your local bookseller and to use your libraries. Seems like a conflict of interests there, but bookshelves are expensive!

"What is the use of a book", thought Alice,"without ... conversations" - Lewis Carroll

Nikki's Place - Agape Home Thailand

For Babies and Children with HIV/AIDS

I met Avis & Roy and Nikki and hope to encourage partnership with what is happening here.

It impressed me that much!

Born Nov. 6, 1992 at the local hospital in Uthaithani province, Thailand, Nikki was subsequently abandoned at the hospital by her parents. Sometime later, having tested HIV+, she was transferred to a government orphanage in Chiang Mai. During her stay at there, Nikki developed various infections and spent time in the hospital.

I (Avis) was a volunteer at the orphanage and I decided to begin helping in the newly opened section for babies with HIV/AIDS. When I first met Nikki, a strong bond quickly developed between us. From the beginning, I wanted to give this little girl the kind of love and care that she could only receive in a family.

Before I asked for permission to take Nikki home from the orphanage, I promised God that if He would give me one seed, Nikki, I would open a home for babies who are unloved or abandoned. One morning, I took Nikki to the main office of the orphanage to speak face-to-face with the Director to ask whether I could take Nikki home to care for her. The Director answered that day, a flat NO, telling me that such a thing was impossible and that a Government orphanage could not grant me permission. So, I asked again! When I did ask again, the answer was…”You are always asking for something difficult!” But then she said that I could take Nikki home for the day, and take a photograph of her with my family. She then promised to take the pictures to the welfare committee responsible for the children, and seek permission for Nikki to stay with our family.

That day, I took Nikki home and we took the photos. However, at the end of the day, I took the photos back to the orphanage, but not Nikki! She stayed with us, and has been with us ever since. Within a few days, I had a telephone call from the Director with the wonderful news that the child welfare committee had granted us permission to take Nikki in as our foster child, and care for her for as long as she lived. The Director also said please do not ask to adopt her---it is impossible for you to adopt a child with AIDS!

When Nikki first came home with us, she was quite ill. She had many of the hallmark symptoms associated with AIDS including diarrhea, ear infections, nosebleeds, and an enlarged liver and spleen. Nikki also had had a large cyst removed from the side of her head near the temple, so she was almost bald.

When we make a promise to God, we need not worry about God keeping His promise to us. It is sure to happen. That is why we have the Agape Home today. Nikki’s seed has spread from country to country, lives have been touched by the power of love that people feel and see at the Agape Home.

Nikki’s life has also made a difference in the lives of the Thai people. They can see how we love and care for children with HIV/AIDS at the Agape Home, and can see them living and doing things with children that do not have this disease. Indeed, the Agape Home, which was officially opened on May 3, 1996, is the result of the promise I made to God when I first approached the Director about taking Nikki home to live. Today, a large portrait of Nikki is prominently displayed at the Agape Home where she is an integral part of daily life. She is a beautiful, vivacious child who continues to be a delight to us all.

We have since adopted Nikki who is now 15 and in good health. Pray, that with regular medication, that will continue. Nikki was brought back to health and back to life with love and good care. She knows she is loved and accepted into our family, the same way the Agape children know they are loved and accepted too.

Click here to follow a day in the life of the Agape Children.


A quality & compassionate response to a need most of us only ever read about.

We can get involved in this grassroots organisation that is making a difference.

19 October 2008

Jane & Tom: art & quotes



Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

Thomas Merton

Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ.
Thomas Merton

Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.
Thomas Merton

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
Thomas Merton

If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.
Thomas Merton

In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence.
Thomas Merton

Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.
Thomas Merton

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone-we find it with another.
Thomas Merton

Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.
Thomas Merton

The painting above is one of my favourite by Jane Evans of Nelson, South Island, NZ.
It's one I've tried a few times to copy to get the technique right. I can't. I haven't yet.

Moleskine Notebooks, Journals, & Date Books

For two centuries now Moleskine (mol-a-skeen'-a) journals have been the legendary notebook of artists, writers, intellectuals and travelers. More popular than ever, Moleskine notebooks possess stylish minimalism and unmatched quality. This century new legends are being created with the help of this modest book. Moleskine journals help in daily life, work and play, at home and traveling the world. This is the journal that has been as it remains today a truly reliable friend - always at the ready. Helping in life - helping create and capture life stories.
Moleskine City books will get you around in
Amsterdam, Madrid & Barcelona, Berlin, Dublin, Lisbon, London, Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice, Paris, Beijing, Hong Kong, Prague, Vienna, Austria
Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, & Washington, DC.

I'm pretty excited about the RED moleskines but haven't found an excuse to splurge on one yet.

Join in the discussuon on Moleskinerie/FaceBook to find out how others are using their journals and to give hints and ideas. Do you prefer Plain, Ruled or Squared?

Moleskinerie is THE blog for Moleskine lovers and users.

Check out past posts on Moleskines on Conversations@Intersections.

Where do you normally buy your Moleskines?

18 October 2008

Travel Photos: Thailand


















I should be on a train from New Delhi to Damoh via Agra & the Taj Mahal if you view these Thailand photos when posted. So enjoy your cuppa and AC! I say I'm an adventurer. Will let you know how the train trip goes.

When I go through a market, I do not only see food, but art. The piles of seafood, bags of beans and texture of it all paints a beautiful scene.





I've used a variety of transport already, but have not ridden an elephant as many early travelers to these regions did. Can you imagine weeks and months on the back of an elephant!? Some of those I saw paint better than I do. but that doesn't soften the ride.


Build a Strong Bridge

The first Turkish proverb I remember hearing was in a gathering of people who were concerned about human rights and religious freedom in Turkey. Too many stories of churches being padlocked shut and leaders being detained caused us to question what we heard from the upper echelons of the government or from the headlines in the acceptable newspapers.

One amazing young Turkish woman was there who spoke with dignity and grace. She spoke slowly and what she said was all the more poignant for the speed of delivery.

"When truth is heavy, you must first build a strong bridge."

She spoke of many other things, but that phrase has stayed with me.
Think about it. Sometimes there are truths we do not want to convey, or to take delivery of.
Speaking truth can be awkward. There can be risks involved. So could be the testimony of many a prophet or medicine man.

My warning then is, not that we avoid speaking truth, but that we build strong bridges.

Objectives: Church & Christ

"The Church is not about religion,
but rather about the figure of Christ
and its taking shape
in a multitude of persons."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethik, quoted in Sabine Dramm, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Eine Einführung in sein Denken, p. 232.


"Are we sufficiently aware that,
two thousand years ago,
Christ came to earth
not to start a new religion
but to offer every human being
a communion in God?"

Brother Roger of Taizé, God Is Love Alone (Chicago: GIA Publications, 2003), p. 51.

Think on these things.

17 October 2008

A Right to Remain Ignorant?


Found this on Nige's No. 8 Wire blog.
Thanks for joining the conversation, Nige!

Where is Africa Going? An opinion.

Opinion by Robert E. Gribbin

Now mostly retired, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, then served for thirty-five years in the U.S. Foreign Service, including postings in fourteen African countries and on delegations to the UN general Assembly and UN Human Rights Commission. I wrote a book about my experiences as U.S. Ambassador in Rwanda (1996-99) and an earlier novel set in the Central African Republic, where I was also ambassador. See my web page for details. These days I write and teach and occasionally take on short term assignments for the Department of State.
Where is Africa Going?
I get asked this question a lot. My usual response is that some parts of Africa are doing quite well. They are vaguely democratic, politically stable, socially at peace and making satisfactory economic progress. A number of wars have ended in recent years. However, at the other end of the spectrum stands Zimbabwe, which is going to hell in a hand basket. Sudan is mired in never ending conflict; ditto for Somalia and the Congo. Yet that thumb nail sketch does not do justice to the successes and failures on the continent. This piece probably won’t either, but it is intended to provoke thought about the current situation, what might transpire in the next five years or so, and what the U.S. could be doing about it.

Overall
In looking critically at the last decade, one must conclude that Africa is better off. There is less conflict, more democratic governments and more wide-spread economic growth. More kids are in school, roads have improved, there is better water and sanitation, communications have evolved, for example independent FM radio stations cell phones are everywhere. The continental economic growth rate exceeded five percent in 2007 and is above six percent in 2008. Economies are better managed, private sectors freer and trade more widespread. African nations as a group are taking more responsibility for the continent, both in terms of regional security – peace keeping forces in Sudan, Somalia and Ivory Coast are African - and in terms of economic and social progress encompassed in the Millennium Development Goals to which they have subscribed. A few nations like Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius, Mali and Rwanda have made dramatic economic progress and many others now have economic growth exceeding population growth.

American Interests
At the outset, let’s enumerate American priorities so we can keep them in mind as we dissect the issues. First, we recognize that it is not our sole responsibility to “rescue” Africa from its ills, but we do have an obligation to help. Furthermore we have interests in Africa that we want to protect

I would sum up our interests as follows:
-- access to oil (Africa currently supplies about 20 percent of our imports. This should rise to over 25 % within five years.)
-- containment of international blights – terrorism, drugs, trafficking in persons, illegal migration, AIDS, malaria.
-- reduction of conflict (Africa currently has four active wars – Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and Congo. Plus hot spots in Chad, CAR, Ivory Coast, Uganda and Zimbabwe.)
-- humanitarian aid to the vulnerable (usually victims of conflict, natural disaster or pervasive poverty).
-- trade and investment opportunities (American know-how and capital ought to be competitive).
-- African support in international fora (In UN institutions, Africa often holds the swing votes, but casts them in unhelpful ways).

Global Issues
First global issues hit Africa hard. Climate change that results in unpredictable weather, especially drought, generates enormous problems for the several dozen nations of the Sahael, southern and eastern Africa that fall into the crescent of dryness that circles the center of Africa. With poor rains food production becomes more seasonally precarious. Obvious life for a hundred million subsistence farmers becomes more uncertain as well. Some will starve. Many will be less well nourished. Since the west is committed to helping to alleviate food deficits, the west will be expected to pony up hundreds of millions more tons of food – and that when our production costs are sky rocketing. One bright spot in the nutritional picture is the innovation of a peanut butter condensed milk concoction, which when fed to malnourished children turns them into healthy active youngsters within weeks.

.... Water is a key resource in Africa; not only in the dry lands but elsewhere when used for irrigation, hydropower and most importantly for better health. Improved management of water and the provision of potable water is the essential environmental/health issue for the continent.

Sustained high fuel costs could cripple the modern sectors of Africa’s economy. These are the sectors that market cash crops, organize small to medium businesses and create jobs. They are, in fact, the sectors where broad national economic growth occurs, but instead of turning a profit, entrepreneurs risk finding themselves looking at deficits. For example, many bus and truck companies will fail and among other victims will be the burgeoning number of private airlines.

National treasuries will run up extra debt. Normally they have to foot the bills for regular governmental operations, but since most are overcommitted to existing bare bones operations, higher costs will result in increased debt. Thus in five to ten years, the world community will certainly need to re-engage in another round of massive debt relief for Africa. Meanwhile, any excess capacity in national budgets that might have been used for economic development will simply have disappeared along with the anticipated projects. Government generated growth will stall.

Yet there are always silver linings and unintended consequences. Higher fuel costs will have marginally less impact on subsistence farmers, so life at the bottom of the pyramid won’t get much worse. Similarly, higher fuel costs should slow the (often illegal) exploitation of timber along the western coast and in the Congo basin. Higher oil costs are speeding up development of more effective solar and wind energy alternatives. Since all of Africa is blessed with sunshine and wind in abundance, improved technology will have positive consequences.

On the other hand oil producing nations will accrue windfall profits. While all this black ink will look good from afar, few of these nations have done credible jobs in using wealth for the benefit of their citizens. Even though with greatly enhanced revenues there will probably be a better stream of government resources trickling down, the scope of corruption these societies are likely to experience boggles the mind.

A Little List
Let’s look at several countries and speculate how they might fare in coming years.
. . . click the link above to read about the regions and specific countries.

Advancing American Interests and Policies
To recapitulate our interests are:
-- access to oil.
-- containment of international blights.
-- reduction of conflict.
-- humanitarian aid to the vulnerable.
-- trade and investment opportunities.
-- African support in international organizations.

Protection and advancement of American national interests is best accomplished by helping to create stable democratic nations with viable growing economies. Such a community of states would not be warring, would respect the rule of law, would create jobs and opportunities at home, would be responsible international partners and would not be breeding grounds for international terrorists. We have existing programs designed to do some of this, but many are sort of scatter shot. For example, our anti-AIDS activities accomplished via the PEPFAR program are very effective. However, PEPFAR is only active in 12 (out of 53) states. Similarly with USAID that unfortunately retrenched about fifteen years ago and eliminated dozens of worthy states from direct bilateral assistance. The Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) has provided limited trade benefits to textile producers and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) has usefully financed a limited number of infrastructure projects. The Department of Defense via newly created Africa Command apparently intends to build on military assistance programs to dramatically expand military aid to Africa on a selective basis. Finally, Peace Corps remains a highly successful people-to-people program as intended, but expansion in eastern Europe and Central Asia has left Africa (again) holding the short straw.

Recommendations
The new Congress and the new president should look carefully at the dichotomies of American efforts in Africa and seek to bring consistency and logic to policy efforts. On a global basis the U.S. needs to fully fund the Department of State so that it might field the number of diplomats needed to advance our interests. (Currently the Department is about one thousand persons short in a planned total staff of 7,500 diplomats because of administration/Congressional decisions not to meet funding requests. That coupled with requirements to staff Iraq and Afghanistan has robbed embassies worldwide of personnel, Africa being no exception).

For Africa, I recommend:
• A broad policy discussion internally within the USG to clarify democracy policies and how we intend to pursue them. Case by case circumstances do differ as do U.S. interests at stake, but we should not disavow or neglect free and fair elections as criteria for bilateral relations.

• Reinvigorate USAID so that it will have the leadership, the mandate and the resources to be America’s chief provider of development assistance. Poverty alleviation and democracy programs are sound investments, but a revamped agency needs to look also at infrastructure – water, dams, irrigation, electrical grids, ports, railroads, roads - and other larger projects, especially in the agricultural sector, that have multiplier effects on economic growth. Part of a revised mandate would be greater geographic coverage. Logically MCA should be subsumed into a new USAID.

• Rein-in AFRICOM. Our military/security interests are minimal. We are not going to war in Africa. We ought not to be in the business of strengthening armies whose chief responsibility is to maintain oppressive governments in power. Civic tranquility should be the responsibility of police forces (there we can help). Development and humanitarian relief are best (and more cheaply) done by civilian experts, so why create a war fighting $300 million, two thousand person headquarters entity whose real function will be management of about $150 million in bilateral training and a few exercises? - a job that heretofore was done by a dozen people. Congress should walk this horse back to the barn. (As an aside, it would be hard to think of a more inappropriate name than Africa Command, a sobriquet which implies both American paternalism and imperialism.) As a second part of this retrenchment, American troops should be withdrawn from Djibouti.

• Although recognizing that global terrorism rears its head in Africa – to wit bombing of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, we must refrain from letting anti-terrorism become the pretext for supporting otherwise unsavory regimes. Striking the necessary balance will require carefully vetted intelligence, sound perspective, good judgment and good communication between Washington policy makers and Ambassadors in the field.

• We have a proven record of gaining friends in Africa and helping them understand us via cultural exchange and civic education programs. Consistent with other neglect, funding for these activities has sunk in the last decade. Let’s re-engage and revitalize these people-to-people contacts.

• Maintain support for Peacekeeping. Operations in Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Ivory Coast and Burundi merit full U.S. support. Besides training, supplying and transporting African contingents for deployment, we could do more. Supplying fifteen helicopters for UNAMID in Darfur, Sudan would be a start.

• Prepare for an even greater food crisis in Africa as its population grows and arable land decreases on account of climate change. This should be double tracked: expanded assistance for local production coupled with plans for greater export of food surpluses from the U.S.

Conclusions
Obviously the topic is larger than can be dealt with satisfactorily in this article, but the change of administrations offers an opportunity to assess, study, modify and change as necessary. We can and should do a better job of helping African nations and peoples better their circumstances, enjoy peace, participate in pluralistic political systems and become more fully integrated into the wider community of the planet.

16 October 2008

Living with HIV in an Orphanage in Thailand

I write from Thailand.

Yesterday I helped take 31 little kids who are HIV positive to the hospital for check ups and new meds. I juggled, played while they waited and tried to comfort the ones who were not happy to have blood drawn! Conversations were minimal, but I did help a few of the older ones get the basics of juggling.

It was an exhausting process and I was neither responsible or one of those getting stabbed with a needle!

Agape Home has 70+ orphans, with only a couple not HIV+. They do an amazing work with mostly local staff. There is a need for a couple of specialised people we might be able to train in or recruit from NZ.

They need a counselor for the children and an development & educational specialist who can help the kids reach their full potential. That would require focussed attention on each child and a personalised plan so each is treated as an individual. The counselor's position would cost approximately $500 US per month if a Christian Thai with the qualifications could be hired. Pray for these steps forward.

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It's hot here, but not unbearable. The people are mostly friendly. I'm loving the food! This is an entrenched Buddhust country with teachings played over loud speakers at mid-day and spirit houses on many properties and at intersections. Pagodas and shrines, temples and spirit strings are everywhere. Grace is not.

Will write more when I'm not on a keyboard with too many characters shown so as to accommodate all the alphabets & languages. Very confusing for a girl from Indiana living on the North Shore.

Go with me! Indian Links

I'm off to India tomorrow, Lord willing.

If you like to read a bit so as to trael vicariously with me, check out:

Amardeep Singh's multicultural literary blog,
follow my travesl through Incredible India
or read up on Indian Folktales.

Here's an example:

The Little Mice and the Big Elephants
It is one of the interesting stories from the Panchatantra collection, giving the idea that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Once upon a time, a village was ruined by a strong earthquake. The houses and roads got totally damaged. The village was shattered on the whole. Due to this, the villagers were forced to leave their houses and settle somewhere else. Finding the place vacant, the mice began to live in the ruined houses. Soon their number grew into hundreds and thousands.


There was a big lake located near the ruined village. A herd of elephants used to visit the lake for drinking water. This was the only way available to them, to reach the lake. On their way to the lake, the elephants crushed hundreds of mice daily under their heavy feet. By this action of the elephants, the population of the mice was affected. The problem was getting bigger and bigger day by day.

In order to find a solution to this problem, the mice held a meeting. It was decided that a request should be made to the king of the elephants regarding the problem. The King Mice met the King Elephant and asked, “Sir, we live in the ruins of the village, but every time when your herd crosses the village, thousands of my subjects get crushed under the colossal feet of your herd. Kindly change your route. We promise to help you in the hour of your need, if you keep my term.”

The king elephant laughed on hearing this and replied,” You mice are very small to be of any help to giants like us. But doesn’t matter, we would favor you by changing our route to reach the lake and making you safer”. The King mice thanked the king elephant and returned home.

One day a group of elephant-hunters came and trapped the group of elephants in huge strong nets. The elephants struggled hard to free themselves, but all in vain. Suddenly, the king of elephants remembered the promise of the king of mice, who had talked earlier about helping the elephants when needed. He summoned one of the elephants of his herd which had not been trapped, to go and contact the king of rats.

On listening to the elephant, the rat king immediately took his entire group of mice to rescue the herd. He found the elephants trapped in a thick net. The mice set themselves on the task. They nibbled the thick net at thousands of spots making it loose. The elephants broke the loose net and got free. They were grateful to the mice for their great help and became friends for ever.

Moral: Sometimes a weak looking person may prove stronger than others.

Quotes & stuff

Good people do the behind-the-scenes and unseen things.

__

Learning a new operating system or upgrade of a previously familiar piece of software is kinda like culture shock. We gotta think through the myriad of decisions that we were used to doing without much thought at all. Exhausting. Frustrating. Foreign.
__

When asked recently if I am a religious person, I responded, "I am a spiritual person working within a religious structure."

We often use words without really knowing what our listeners hear.

Kickball: But I want it!

15 October 2008

Ever feel like this?

Waiting: For what? How?

My friend describes a segment of an authentic but agonising journey through time and space:

Those Wretched 187 Days . . .

I'm thinking about my 187 days of waiting.
Wondering about the hidden preparation that has overtaken me...
Why do I remain in this 'liminal space'?

"My ways are not your ways," (Is. 55:8)

...echo's in my mind. Is this the cosmic patience of God..making me wait and wait?

"Our ways, you see, are the ways of instant-knowledge and instant-solutions and instant-gratification... We {must} begin picking up the deep rhythms of the Spirit, the heart beat of God. We begin thinking in terms of years and decades rather than minutes and hours." (Foster)

So, instead of pondering what I've lost, I should be...where?
Am I still stuck in my own INDEPENDENT ways? Is that what this is all about?

I feel as though I've been thrashing and wrestling with something...could it be the independence of my own ideas and desires?

Do I understand how to slowly release the need to manage and control life and instead find delight in God working to will and do his good pleasure in me?

I'm still there...thinking.


For what do you wait?

Click to read further within
Conversations@Intersections on liminality,
the being on the threshold between spaces or spheres or seasons.

14 October 2008

Trust: so easily broken

Building Trust From The Ken Blanchard Companies newsletter Ignite!

Most people do not pay attention to the issue of trust in their organization until it is broken. But by then the damage is done: people withhold facts and information, managers set convoluted goals, management is not available, people talk behind each others’ backs—the list goes on and on.

What causes trust to be broken in an organization? Some prevalent “trust busters” include broken promises, unethical behaviors, unfair practices (e.g., unearned promotions), not

getting good results, miscommunication, no communication, no recognition, no feedback, and misrepresenting an area of expertise.

The good news is that trust can be regained.

“But it is a long drawn and costly process,” says Anand Pillai. “This has to start from the top with the key people walking the extra mile to lead by example and build back the lost trust by adhering to even the small promises and commitments.”

If your organization is looking for ways to evaluate the level of trust currently present in your organization, or is thinking about how to enhance the trust between people in your company, here are eight places to begin.

1. Demonstrating Trust—If you want to create a trusting work environment, you have to begin by demonstrating trust. Establishing rules, policies, and procedures to protect against a few bad apples sends the wrong message to the vast majority of people in your organization who need and deserve to be trusted.

2. Sharing Information—Information is power. One of the best ways to build a sense of trust in people is by sharing information. . . . Providing people with more complete information communicates trust and a sense of “we’re in this together.” It helps people think more broadly about the organization and the inter-relationships of various groups, resources, and goals.

3. Telling it Straight—Study after study has indicated that the number one quality that people want in a leader is integrity. . . . Business leaders who tell it straight, who are open and honest even about bad news, develop the trust essential for strong, long-term relationships—inside and outside the company.

4. Providing Opportunities for Everyone to Win—Do you want your people to work together or to compete against each other? When people within an organization are forced to compete against one another . . . all people are concerned about is looking out for number one.

5. Providing Feedback—Make sure leaders hold regular progress-check meetings with their direct reports. This will allow managers to catch problems before they become major issues . . .

6. Resolving Concerns Head On—Resolve concerns head on by putting challenges on the table and giving people an opportunity to influence the process. When leaders expand people’s involvement and influence, there is more buy-in because people are less likely to feel they are being controlled.

7. Admitting Mistakes—An apology can be an effective way to correct a mistake and restore the trust . . . But in many organizations employees and managers are conditioned to hide mistakes because it's not acceptable to make them. . . Leaders who admit mistakes when they are wrong are not seen as weak—they are seen as having integrity and being trustworthy.

8. Walking the Talk—A leader, above all, has to be a walking example of the vision and values of the organization . . . Without trust, it is impossible for an organization to function effectively. . . . If leaders say one thing and do another, people will question their trustworthiness.

As trust expert Cynthia Olmstead reminds us, “We must all treat trust as a precious gem that must be highly valued and treasured. It needs to be viewed as if it were a delicate egg; when treated roughly it will fall and shatter. Trust is an extremely important commodity to any relationship, personally or organizationally.” read more of this article . . .

13 October 2008

written to me by someone who loves me

Brother Roger writes of a “A very simple reality”

When we open the Gospel, each of us can say, “These words of Jesus are rather like a very ancient letter written in an unknown language. But since it is written to me by someone who loves me, I am going to try to understand its meaning, and to put into practice right away the little I have grasped.”…

Extensive knowledge is not important at the outset. In time that will be of great value. But it is through the heart, in the depths of themselves, that human beings begin to grasp the Mystery of Faith. Everything is not granted at once. An inner life is developed step by step. Today, more than in the past, we enter into the faith by going forward in stages.

Right at the depth of the human condition, lies the longing for a presence, the silent desire for a communion. Let us never forget that this simple desire for God is already the beginning of faith.

Moreover, no one is able to understand the entire Gospel in isolation from others. Each person has to say, “In this unique communion that is the Church, what I do not understand of the faith is understood by others who are living from it. I do not rely on my faith alone but on the faith of Christians of all times, those who have gone before us, from the time of Mary and the apostles to those of today. And day after day I prepare inwardly to put my trust in the Mystery of Faith.”

So it becomes clear that faith – trusting in God – is a very simple reality, so simple that everyone could receive it. It is like surging upwards again and again, a thousand times, throughout our life, and until our very last breath.

Brother Roger

12 October 2008

Countdown timers on Traffic Lights in Bangkok

"Words are shadows of ideas . . ."

In his struggle to express himself, Sam writes,

. . The hangover passed, in the slow manner it does now I am thirty, and my resolve to find a way to free up written expression returned. Another week past and after another night drinking I was again in front of my laptop with emotion swirling around me like smoke; my soul capturing the feelings and searching for a way to express it despite my incapacity to form sentences. The jazz returned.

This time I was compelled not just to express sounds but words interspersed with keyboard crashes that in the night sounded like hits from a full symphonic orchestra.

Life ‘oh[suohgd shared ;dfuaasidshu now sduo;fhf ever present fsfsgh questions ;sdf;gf meaning in everything f;udg;suh or nothing lsdfbeu;fh alone together alone lsdhufglseifulsfdfu;sh life

The cold morning again reminded me the feeling behind the expression wasn’t apparent at all and I needed a new approach.

In my cerebral way, I began to think about the issue. Expressing an idea in writing requires a precision of mind that constrains expression. Writing is imprisoned like pre-impressionist painting in a rigid form of realism, syntax and tense. I want to aspirate this form to explore expressions with words in other ways, to try to distil down principles of written communication.

Words are shadows of ideas, when we create sentences we have objects and subjects and verbs, we blend sounds, shifting shallow symphonies of assonance and alliteration. I want to destroy these relationships. I want to break the bonds of sentences. I want to be free.

Then it hit me.

Written language is a way of describing ideas, of thoughts, and the internet has opened up myriad of ways of describing this very same thing. Indeed this post on pellacor is described by its tags.

My new form of expression is a combination of poetry and tags, I call it tagetry.

A tagem about tagetry
Short, simple, sense, self, words, writing, free
Meaning, meta, myriad, morning, glow, pride, people
Liquid, changing, waving, wonder, never, none, all, even
Needing, frank, forever, stopping, exquisite, ideal, idea, identity
Glue, path, vision, vixen, parish, harbour, haven
Ending, broken, bramble, colour, complete

Ending the constraints of written expression - aka free form jazz

11 October 2008

Abstract: possibly even upside down?























c Jill Shaw 2006

" . . . the radii are the different ways human beings live."

A Christian living in Palestine in the sixth century wrote, “Imagine that the world is a circle, that God is the center, and that the radii are the different ways human beings live. When those who wish to come closer to God walk towards the center of the circle, they come closer to one another at the same time as to God. The closer they come to God, the closer they come to one another. And the closer they come to one another, the closer they come to God.”
(Dorotheus of Gaza, Instructions VI.)

10 October 2008

Sabbath?


There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do.”
-Bill Watterson

Observations on arrival: Krabi on 7th

After a l-o-n-g day of travel which seemed like forever, I arrived in Krabi, Thailand. The suitcase I last saw in Auckland came round on the belt. Through customs and out to the arrival hall.

How nice to see a man holding a card with my name on it! He went to get the van while I waited in the sultry darkness of SW Thailand. The only passenger for the van, I sat in the first of the back seats so I could see out the front. The AC was on high and sights flashed by, only real as long as the headlights allowed them to be.

We joined light traffic and I noticed many open trucks with people clad in white. My driver said there was a festival! They were like a parade to somewhere, all in the same lane and waving flags.

No this was not the political protests that flashed on international news. This was real people getting on with life in their own way and enjoying themselves in community.

It started to rain. By now we were following another open truck with several people in the back. It would be impossible to tell how many from the distance as they were huddled together like chooks in a storm. One body snuggled in close to another, humans using humans as shields buffeted by wind and rain.

Think it through again. There I was was, one individual in a 10-12 passenger air conditioned van while 8+ people steeled themselves as best they could out in the open.

What is that? At the least it's imbalance. Injustice is not a bad label. Reality is apt.

I remember when living in Africa that children died of simple things.
They died mostly because they were born in the wrong country.

While I celebrate diversity and culture, there are accompaniments that take the edge off the fascination. And this journey has really only just begun. I've yet to see real suffering, though for those in the back of that truck, discomfort was real enough at the time.