26 October 2011

John Ortberg speaking on poverty

Check out John Ortberg speaking on poverty at an Opportunity International event.
It's worth the click, and the 20 minutes of viewing time.

What is the worth of a single human being?

Check my previous posts on poverty intervention and what we can do through effective organisations who are making a real difference.

Can you live on less than $2 p/day?

25 October 2011

New Zealand Highlights: Maori, Hayley and Rugby

Hayley Westenra, one of New Zealand's best, sings the backdrop for a showcase of some of the rest of New Zealand's best, both scenery and World Champion All Blacks.

The song, World in Union, is the theme song for the Rugby World Cup 2011. Here Hayley sings it in Maori.

Not much other than rugby has been happening in New Zealand for the past few weeks. Now that it's over, maybe I'll blog more regularly?

24 October 2011

Cartoon Prophecy ended up with All Blacks laughing!

Stephen Donald was not a household name outside of rugby households and the Waikato. The All Black victory in the Rugby World Cup in Auckland last night has created all kinds of headlines, but Tom Scott's cartoon in The Dominion Post well check the date for yourself. Consider the cartoon ... followed by today's headlines in the UK Telegraph. It's a fickle old world, isn't it?

Rugby World Cup 2011: Stephen Donald steps up to join indomitable Richie McCaw for final moment of glory

What an extraordinary All Black and blue crew they looked. As the black tie party to end them all was already beginning here in the harbour, the men who had made a nation so giddy with happiness after a night of thunderous, heart-stopping drama were hobbling on to the long World Cup victory dias at Eden Park in various states of disrepair.

There was Stephen Donald, the No 10 who had replaced the No 10 who had replaced the No 10 who had replaced the No 10, looking so exhausted — understandably after having trained for a month on fishing and beer — that you feared he might not be able to reach the other end.

Dan Carter in training. Stephen Donald in the final.

Read the rest on The Telegraph's site.

Check out too Stephen Donald, the Hero of the RWC Final, though, taking nothing from Donald, a favorite of mine, he played his position. There were six different All Black players named as Man of the Match during this Rugby World Cup tournament. I don't think captain
Richie McCaw claimed any of those trophies, but his role couldn't be acclaimed highly enough.

It's a team sport.

18 October 2011

Hilarious or Horrendous?

"I think the difference between hilarious and horrendous is if it happens to you it's horrendous, if it happens to someone else it's hilarious."

Tiffany Smith,
Brisbane, Australia

~ borrowed without permission from a conversation on Facebook.

17 October 2011

Try-at-goal: Rugby Union terminology

Conversations in New Zealand these days are usually around the Rugby World Cup. Its here in NZ and we're in the final. Last night's game was beautiful to watch, rugby well played is terrific. Even people who don't usually care, care right now, or they are leftout of mainstream conversations.

Players are referred to by their first names. We know their foibles and history, including their off-the-field antics.

There's conversation about their uniforms, beards, boots, and tattoos. It can all be a bit foreign to those who aren't familiar with the game.

Try-at-goal: Rugby Union terminology
Originally a 'try' in rugby was a preliminary objective which scored no points but gave your team a try-at-goal. You then had a chance to kick for the conversion, thereby scoring points.

Over the years, the 'try' has become the major scoring feature, while the kicking game has evolved. Many matches have been decided on kicks, but the five points for a try and 2 points upon conversion show where the most points can accumulate. Penalty kicks and field goal kicking are often deciders too, especially when defense keeps a team from crossing the line.

Of course, in rugby league, the numbers and means of scoring are slightly different. Try to keep up.

NFL, or gridiron as the world refers to it, is similar, but different.
Knowing about football made it easier for me to get up to speed on rugby. Touchdowns, extra points, etc all come in to it, but in rugby you can't defend for the ball carrier. That's called a truck & trailer, which is fitting terminology for some of those defensive linemen! You don't pass forward, huddle or have special teams. There's a blood bin from which you may reenter the field when tidy, and a sin bin from which you sometimes reemerge after you've done your time-out.

Did you know, helmetted NFL football players suffer from concussion more then helmetless rugby players do? Brutal as rugby can be, they don't depend on the protection of helmets as do NFL players who tend to use them as battering rams.

- Posted using BlogPress.

16 October 2011

Conversations: How you begin may determine your end

The art of conversation? Some people just seem to have the knack for talking with anyone, for keeping things moving in interesting directions without those awkward silences or deadends.

You? How are you at the art of conversation? Consider the following:

Open conversations (or close them), by Seth Godin

A guy walks into a shop that sells ties. He's opened the conversation by walking in.

Salesman says, "can I help you?"

The conversation is now closed. The prospect can politely say, "no thanks, just looking."

Consider the alternative: "That's a [insert adjective here] tie you're wearing, sir. Where did you buy it?"

Conversation is now open. Attention has been paid, a rapport can be built. They can talk about ties. And good taste.

Or consider a patron at a fancy restaurant. He was served an old piece of fish, something hardly worth the place's reputation. On the way out, he says to the chef, . . . .

read the rest on Seth's Blog.

14 October 2011

Book Shop Cafe: Literary Libations

One of my favourite book shops is Ampersand Cafe Bookstore in Sydney, Australia. It has a cafe at its entrance with easy access for those who need to grab a cup of java on their way to work. Tea is enjoyed at a leisurely pace, so I always imagine those 'on the go' as coffee drinkers. Anyway, this book shop had several rooms with tables and chairs scattered throughout it's 2-3 floors. You could take your breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea and settle in with a book in any of the cosy spaces.

I went back several times during my trip and don't feel like I missed anything in Sydney. You gotta know when to just soak up the things you enjoy most and not bother with those 'Gotta See' lists made by other people.

What about you?

Where's your favourite bookshop?

What's so appealing about it?

If you ran a bookshop yourself, what would you offer your patrons?

Would you have a theme?

What food might you offer?

You know how you sit around thinking and coming up with terrific ideas? And you know how some just seem to stick and then they actually grow in to something wonderful? Well, this book shop cafe is an idea shared amongst friends of similar interests but different skills. So here we are, developing an idea that is giving us a lot of fun. So far it has not cost us anything except a few grey cells and a bit of time we'd have wasted on lesser pursuits.

You're welcome to come with us! Maybe we can meet over a cup of tea one day and discuss some terrific books.

13 October 2011

Rena: Cargo ship stuck on reef off Tauranga, NZ

While the waters around New Zealand are never bath water temperature as I'm more used to in Florida or northern Australia, the beaches are amazingly beautiful to walk, explore, sit upon, enjoy.

There's nothing enjoyable about
Papamoa beach this morning. It's has waves of oil washing up on to it, covering fragile plant life, wildlife and sand. Hundreds of dead birds, including an albatross, have been found dead. Shell fish and a fragile eco-system will be affected for quite a long time, until the sea can do its natural flushing, cleaning and reclaiming.

A cargo ship cut a corner, drove up on to a narrow reef which acted like a can opener, and was itself cut open. Pipes and tanks were mangled spilling heavy fuel oil into the sea. The mangled pipes are complicating efforts to empty the tanks into barges as the couplings and pumps can't function properly.

The captain and first mate have been charged in court, but it is the NZ government who are targets of criticism, as if they'd driven the ship up there themselves. Of course, opposition parties are using it as a bully bat with elections about 6 weeks away. Critics have raised the question of a timely response, was Maritime NZ properly prepared & equipped, who allows dodgy ships into NZ waters, etc.

How would any government anticipate the tragic series of recent events NZ has faced?

  • the Pike River mining disaster for which specialists and specialist equipment had to be brought in
  • the Christchurch earthquakes which have affected lives and businesses of Canterbury, and the economy of the entire country
  • and now the Rena.
Nevil Gibson of the National Business Review says,

Maritime New Zealand, the government agency charged with handling the Rena’s grounding, is getting plenty stick for lack of speed in the way it’s handling an exceptional accident that should never have happened.

Yet its planning for such an event is well documented and it is probably going as much to plan as possible, with only the weather adding complications.

Media coverage of such events invariably exaggerates and overdramatises, assisted by inadequate knowledge and background – though that is available if it is sought.

Emotional “how do you feel” dominates the angles and public response is mainly informed by ignorance. The media are driven by agendas ranging from political objectives (such as casting the government in poor light) to eco-alarmism.

The normal reaction to such events is to deal with it as expeditiously as possible and punish those responsible. The costs, too, will no doubt be recovered as much as possible from the ship owner’s insurance company.

Local people understandably want to jump in and help rescue wildlife and clean up the beaches, but some are seemingly unaware that there are dangers to consider and best-practice approaches to the task ahead. Some of the container's contents are toxic, especially when in contact with water. Looters may receive instant justice!

Massey University has set up their Oily Wildlife Response Unit. More than 36 response teams are washing the avian survivors and monitoring their well being. What of the kids parents took down to the beach yesterday to pick up the 'globules of smelly, semi-solid goo'? You'd think the choking fumes would be a clue that the tainted environment needed a careful approach. Pet owners ahve been warned to keep dogs off the beaches.

Ignoring potential toxic poisoning, locals speak to the cameras, complaining that no one is doing anything. Maybe this is a time for
"Don't just do something, stand there." and think through what the best thing to do might be. I'm sure that was the main objective in the conversations Maritime NZ was having in the early days after the Rena stuck. I'm sure John Key, Steven Joyce and Nick Smith were not just closing their eyes and hoping it would go away. Ships full of oil and loaded with containers do not just go away.

Hear from Prime Minister John Key via NZ Herald.

Papamoa Beach photo by Hayden Donnell http://www.twitpic.com/6zfbae

While Conversations@Intersections is not a blog dedicated to news stories or shipwrecks, our focus is the conversations we hear at intersections where people gather and talk about things of interest and importance. Last week, all the conversations in New Zealand were about rugby. Now a ship named Rena has stolen headlines, and summer holiday plans.

Expectations: not always realised

“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian”
~ Dennis Wholey

12 October 2011

Gardening: TIme to Think

I know why secateurs are brightly coloured. It's not just because the colour makes working in the garden more fun. It's so you can find them when they've fallen in to the jumble of ivy, pile of clippings or amongst the weeds.

Origin of SECATEUR

French sécateur, from Latin secare to cut
First Known Use: 1881

Pulling weeds is like therapy; elimination of the unwelcome to make room for the welcome.

As I mentioned previously this week, I sometimes get drawn in to my gardening without intending to get involved. Sometimes it is just the act of walking out to get the newspaper from the box. "Well, how did that weed get there? Oh, there's another one!"

Sometimes it is the identification of a pesky bug that I don't want sending out invitations. "Better get the spray out now . . . . or move that lady bug or spider over so it can have lunch!"

Any number of things can delay me in the garden, which tells you that I like having my hands in dirt, that I like healthy plants and I like to be surprised by chance glances that catch surprising vistas that are of my own making. Well, me and God, and my garden doesn't really have enough room for vistas.

So here I was out in the front garden, but behind the wall. I've encouraged various ivys to grow on this wall to over the ugly greyness: one ivy is ever green, the other seasonal. The wall blocks the house from street view but does little to deaden the sound of traffic. If not for that wall, I'd probably not wander around in my pajamas as much.

I had grabbed the secateurs from the hall closet after getting the newspaper, seeing that it was time to get a few things back under control.

I don't have many fussy annuals, though I do like a spot of colour. There are camellias in need of trimming, but I'm not sure how. There are New Zealand native plants too. I planted a couple of hebes that may or may not survive today's trimming. There are clivia, bromeliads, orchids, ferns, split-leaf philodendron, agapanthus, ornamental grasses and a sad, but still producing lemon tree. Describing it sounds great. The reality is not so great. Really.

Today I was pulling out pesky grass like weeds that showered little white bulbs all over the place upon eruption from the earth. I can only surmise that each of those little white bulbs will result in more pesky grass like weeds . . . . I tried to pick them up, but there were too many.

As I pulled weeds, I suddenly realised that those lovely orange coloured flowers I like so well and had planted along the wall were very similar. In fact, they are so similar that I accidentally pulled some of them! I muttered "Phooey!" as I tucked a few back in, but the trauma to their systems does not bode well for prolific blossoms later this summer. [Oh, those of you reading from the northern hemisphere, it's Spring down here and a long hot Summer is predicted.]

Next came the pitiful lemon tree . . . . most of which has been munted by termites. Five lemons hang off its one proud branch. I can't cut it down! I just can't. I did trim a bit, those opportunistic suckers will not produce anything so out they go. Ouch. Thorny monsters.

Musta been about then that I couldn't find the secateurs. I know I placed them somewhere here . . . . as I stepped back in my $2.50 black Goodwill Crocs, I stepped on my glasses which I had hung on the collar of my shirt. Bending over to pull weeds had dislodged the glasses which made them vulnerable to the Crocs. Fortunately the glasses gave in the right places and just snuggled down in to the mulch, none the worse for . . .

Jumping down from the raised bed, I then caught a flash of red. The secateurs were comfy on a bed of ivy, lethal end hidden, but obviously red handled.

Maybe I should get brightly coloured glasses or hang them on a string around my neck?

11 October 2011

What's the right combination?

Found objects can be thought provoking.
Holding an object in your hand can cause you to stop and think, ponder and muse. Sometimes my mental machinations can be over the top, seemingly contrived to those who are not comfortable inside my head. Be that as it may, follow the bouncing ball, or maze of meanderings, at your own risk.

While I was tidying the garage yesterday, I found this combination lock. It belonged to Carol, my friend who committed suicide a few years ago. So, not only do I not have a combination to open this, I have no Carol.

Carol struggled to find workable solutions for the challenges she faced. She often did hit on the right combinations, but then circumstances would change and she'd have to rethink everything.

You might have heard of winning combinations, workable combinations, tasty combinations, boxing combinations, impossible combinations . . . .

You might have contemplated the right combinations of play and work, social and study, time alone and time with others, exercise and rest, talking and listening, bass and treble, fiction and non-fiction, carbs and proteins, oil and vinegar, milk and cereal.

New Zealand is rugby mad right now with the World Cup being played here and only four teams remaining in contention. Injuries are causing the coaching staffs to rethink their combinations, to see what will work with some missing players or against different opponents.

I've been researching a different kind of combination recently as we attempt a community garden at our university. We'd like to keep it chemical free which calls for companion planting and attracting the right insects to prey on the wrong insects who will arrive uninvited.

Spirituality is the venue for my most passionate pursuit of the right combination. Understanding that each of us are individuals with specific and unique personalities, giftings, love languages, etc., it follows that we will express ourselves differently as we contemplate our Creator or our mortality. Different combinations of worship, service, contemplation or fellowship will be right for different people.

Soups are a favourite culinary challenge of mine. I like to see what works, sometimes starting with a recipe, but more likely just opening the pantry door and saying, "Let's see . . . ." My dad says my grandmother, his mother-in-law, used to do that with the fridge; dumping all the leftovers in together and calling it vegetable soup.

Soups are better for the combinations of ingredients, even if it's as simple as a pumpkin soup with coconut cream or a bit of curry. Different combinations of veggies, meats, herbs and sauces make the possibilities nearly innumerable . . . . more so even than finding the exact combination for a lock which is somewhere around 800,ooo possible combinations.

We need a lock for the community garden, but the one I found is probably not weatherproof, so I won't bother myself with trying to unlock it. There are far more important combinations to work out today, far more important dilemmas to be solved, far more important solutions to be found. I think I'll go back to finding out what will keep the pukekos out of the capsicum.

10 October 2011

One thing leads to another and then... there you are in your pajamas...

You know how one thing leads to another and you find yourself . . . .

... still in your pajamas trimming ornamental trees in your raised bed near the front walkway?

No? That's never happened to you?

I've often coached young people about decisionmaking. I tell them not to decide what they will or will not do in the backseat of the car when they are already in the back seat. Decide that ahead of time when your brain is more clear. I tell new drivers to budget for speeding tickets, plan on them, rather than being caught unawares and have no idea how to get that much money in that short of a time frame.

"Plan ahead. Make better decisions."

Sounds good doesn't it, but life isn't always like that. Sometimes you start by carrying an old bit of wax to the garage to add to the collection so your housemate can someday do that candle making thing she says she wants to do. . . . . . . and the next thing you know you've got clippers in your hand, branches stabbing you in all kinds of places, leaf debris in your hair, and realise you're still in your pajamas. It happens. Well, it did to me this morning.

It was a lovely day, but the forecast suggested it wouldn't last. So, while I was in the garage I asked myself if there was anything that needed to be done while I had the opportunity.

- I watered the pots of seeds for the community garden; a sure way to have the bad weather prophecies fulfilled.

- I swept near the back door where storms always blow dirt in, tidied up a bench top that had become a catch-all, beat some throw rugs, supported the orchids so they could handle whatever wind came, aired out a stinky van, picked up the spoiled carpet pieces and . . . . that's how I ended up out front in my pajamas.

- I decided the best use of the carpet pieces was as weed mat and erosion control down the back side of the house which was best reached from the front walkway. The carpet pieces would smother noxious weeds and minimise damage from run off water that was going to spill out of the gathering clouds.

The attention to the weeds then spread to other small tasks I thought I could tackle before the skies opened up. So, I had a lovely therapeutic morning taking vengeance on weeds, trimming bushes and banishing dust and debris.

That wasn't what I thought my morning would be like, but as I sit here typing, dressed and with a hot cup of tea at hand, the clouds darken the sky and I don't care so much. One thing led to another and I got things done that weren't even written down yet.

The PJ's? Well, they were the sensible type, given to me by my friend Connie about 12 years ago, and no I don't have a photo to show you what they look like.