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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Barry Clifford: Random Acts of Kindness

 Yogi Omar, a homeless Chinese man, living in Vancouver Canada, was really down on his luck with only loose change left  in his pocket; It was not enough to buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk together, and trying to put a roof over his head when he could afford it seemed like a distant dream. Yet, on this night he met another homeless person who asked him for change. He fiddled around for the little coinage he had and decided he would share everything with the stranger.
As they talked, the stranger asked him how much was the month’s rent for the shelter he stayed in. Omar despondently replied: $469.
The stranger rummaged around his tattered old coat while turning his back on Omar.  After a long minute the stranger  pressed $469 into Omar’s hand. He then told Omar that he and his family participate in an annual so-called random act of kindness project that help people who are kind to the homeless. And just as quick as he appeared, he was gone.
Yogi Omar will never forget this random act of kindness and hopes someday to pass it on for the strangers gift has inspired him to change his life around and get back on his feet.  
Barry Clifford

Video: Lion Cubs Meet Grumpy Dad For The First Time

 At Oregon Zoo, in America, an outtake from 'The Lion King' is being reenacted. Or possibly 'Long Lost Family', featuring a particularly grumpy dad.
Yes, this was the very first meeting between African lion cub triplets Kamali, Zalika and Angalia and their father, Zawadi Mungu.

"We were confident that Zawadi would be tolerant of his cubs right away, and we're glad we were right because the cubs rushed him as soon as they saw him," said keeper Laura Weiner. "At first he was surprised but as time passed he grew more patient. A few days later, he was grooming them."

More Roman Letters from AD43 to 410 Now Almost 1600 Years Ago

How these Roman soldiers longed for fine Italian wine. How they dreaded the attacks of the vicious Picts - the woad-encrusted savages from the north (the Scots) whose raids were to be held off by the new wall of turf and stone stretching across the neck of England called Hadrians Wall. Here are some of  their letters that survived them looking for news from home.

1) “"Paria udonum ab Sattua solearum duo et subligariorum duo." Or - socks, two pairs of sandals and two pairs of underpants”.

2)"My brother Veldeius," complains one. "I'm pretty shocked that you haven't written to me for ages. Have you heard anything from the folks?
"Do say hello to Virilis the vet and ask him if you can get one of our pals to bring me the pair of shears that he promised me after I paid him. Hope everything is going well. Goodbye."

3)"The British are unprotected by armour. There are lots of cavalry. They don't use swords nor do these dreadful British people mount their horses to throw javelins at us.
 To Lucius. The real reason for my letter is to hope that you're in good health.

4) "By the way, a friend has sent me 50 oysters from the Thames estuary on the north coast of Kent,"

5) "Hello there. Hope all's well. I'm in top form - and I hope you are, even though you've been so bloody lazy and haven't sent me a single letter.
I'm so much more considerate than you are, my brother, my messmate. Say hello to Diligens and Cogitatus and Corinthus. Goodbye, my dear brother."

"Oh how I want you to come to my birthday party - you'll make the day so much more enjoyable. I so hope you can make it. Goodbye, sister, my dearest soul."

Article: Roman Letter-1800 year old

A letter home from a Roman soldier 1,800 years ago has revealed that even for a volunteer on the front, family rows are still an issue.
The newly deciphered letter is from an Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion while he served as a volunteer in a Roman legion in Europe.
It reveals a row with his mother, and plans to return to his family.

The newly translated letter is from an Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion while he served as a volunteer Roman legion in Europe.

Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: 'I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf.
'I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind,
'I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you ...'
Researchers were able to translate the majority of the letter, although some pieces are missing - such as the end of the preceeding sentence.

The soldier says he has written six letters to his family without response, suggesting some sort of family tensions.
'While away in Pannonia I sent (letters) to you, but you treat me so as a stranger,' he writes.
'I shall obtain leave from the consular (commander), and I shall come to you so that you may know that I am your brother.'

The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion's family. Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it, entrusting the veteran instead.

The letter was found outside a temple in the Egyptian town of Tebtunis more than a century ago by an archaeological expedition led by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, according to Livescience.
However, it was not transcribed until now, when Grant Adamson, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, created infrared images of it to reveal more of the text.
The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion's family.
Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it, entrusting the veteran instead.

The letter is now in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

By Mark Prigg

Article: Saying Goodbye To My American Dream

After a decade in San Francisco I’ve come to realise only Ireland can be home, writes Maura McElhone

Maura McElhone: 'Living in San Francisco meant I was a stranger in loved ones' lives'

Maura McElhone
‘I’m not moving to Ireland.” There was the ultimatum. If he and I were to have a future together, I needed to make the US my home.
For as long as I remember I’ve dreamed of living the American life. It was first ignited by Disney cartoons. The older I got the more I was dazzled by American sunshine and charmed by its beautiful people, with their perfect teeth, suntans and go-get-’em attitude.
I got an opportunity to study in sun-drenched San Diego during my second year at university, and arrived in 2004, a 20-year-old from Co Derry. As I watched my first Pacific sunset from the cliffs of La Jolla, silhouetted palm trees lining the gardens of the surrounding mansions, I was smitten. And then I met the tall, dark, and curiously distant guy from Los Angeles.
Apart from three years finishing my education at home, I spent all of my 20s in California. I’ve snowshoed in the Rockies, partied in Las Vegas, snorkelled off Hawaii, met movie stars in Los Angeles and kissed a cowboy in Kansas on July 4th.
I had it made. The job with a publishing company in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, the boyfriend, a perfect climate, and great friends.
Back in Ireland, life went on. One of my closest friends gave birth to her first baby, my godson. Another got married. My father turned 60. My younger sister broke up with her first boyfriend, and my younger brother found a new girlfriend.
I followed as best I could from 8,000km away. Although I made it home for a few important events, every visit involved a 30-hour round trip and more dollars than I care to calculate. Living in the United States meant I was now a visitor in the lives of the people I cared about most.
I went to work, savoured weekends with my boyfriend, enjoyed happy hours with the girls, bought groceries and got my US driving licence. I imagined a future here: the all-American house with, parked out front, the minivan I’d use to ferry my kids to after-school activities.
But what about cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents all living in Ireland? We’ll be starting a new family, he’d say. I understood that, but surely not at the expense of my existing one?
My final decision to return to Ireland was based not solely on family but also on little things I didn’t fully appreciate until I was faced with the prospect of life without them: Ireland’s rich history and culture; knowing who your neighbours are; health and education services that don’t cost an arm and a leg; strangers saying hello on the street.
Even after the “I’m not moving to Ireland” blow, I waited two months before handing in my notice. I have accepted that my relationship is over, but I’m not yet reconciled with the fact that the American chapter of my life will soon end, too.
I wonder where I’ll be in six months. I hope I’ll be working, have my own place, and have settled back into Irish life. In the meantime I’m bracing myself for the frustrations of the job search, Irish weather, and those times when I’ll miss California.

I have reached a point at which “home” is less of a place and more of a state of mind. As I wait for that longed-for settledness, there’s little else to do but spread my arms out wide and let the winds of change at my back carry me on to my next chapter.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Barry Clifford: East versus West: Ireland And Russia In Major Showdown

Irish Times headline: Eamon Gilmore, Irish minister for Foreign Affairs, summons Russian ambassador, Maxim Peshtov, to meeting over Crimea.

Yes, it is hard to believe that Eamon Gilmore did this. I wondered what that meeting was really about. Did Eamon threaten to invade Russia if they did not pull back their troops from the Crimea, or use more milder threats like (yawn) targeted sanctions.

The official line by Eamon went like this: “I have strongly condemned Russia’s actions over the weekend and call on it to immediately withdraw troops to their barracks.” Or did the unofficial event really go something like this:

Ah, Mattie (Pet name for Maxim) will ya for fucks sake pull back the lads you have stationed in the crime area (adjusts his glasses) I mean the Crimea.”

Mattie was starting to nod off at this point for he had been down in Paddy’s pub near the Quays the night before until the wee hours off the morning, singing Dublin City In The Rare Ould Times until he could sing no more. This greatly irritates Eamon and only further inflames him. The official line was: “We will continue to monitor this situation very closely and we stand ready to implement further targeted measures as necessary.” That got old Mattie’s attention right well.

In perfect English with a Cork accent, Mattie leaned back and went on the offensive: “Now Eamon, what in God’s name are you getting your knickers in a bind for, and so close to St Patrick’s day and all. Sure, some of by best friends are Crimean’s along with a few Kerrymen.  And in the name of (more profanity) Jaysus  don’t stop exporting your sheep and cows now for there we be holy war for sure. Our country will go into meltdown if you do that and you can’t sort that lot out with a few loaves and fishes. Let’s be reasonable men together. What do you say, another drink.”

Pacified now and feeling on equal terms, Eamon cradles his cup of Vodka, and confesses a little secret to Mattie: “Well, Matt I didn’t know where the feckin Crimea was until your lads walked into it. Sure, we can give the official line which was written yesterday. What’s on the ould telly  you have there?”

It’s a new series. Quite good, very realistic and very entertaining; it’s called “House Of Cards.’ Your sitting on the remote Eamon."

By Barry Clifford

Photos: Its here- Spring in England

Photos: The Scorpion (Crocodile) And The frog And Who Lived To Tell The Tale

Great movies-Great Lines

All quite On The Western Front: “ You still think it’s beautiful to die for your country. The first bombardment taught us better. When it come to dying for your country, it’s better not to die at all.”

Vertigo: “You shouldn’t keep souvenirs after killing someone.  You shouldn’t have been that sentimental.”

Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Mississippi Burning: “With an old man who was just so full of hate that he didn’t know that being poor was what was killing him.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: “But I tried, didn’t I, Goddamnit, at least I did that.”

The Shootist: “I wont Be Wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them..”

Hoosiers: “You know, most people would kill… be treated like a God, just for a few moments.”

The Manchurian Candidate: “You know they are two kinds of people in this world: those that enter a room and turn the television on and those that enter a room and turn the television off.”

Shane: “A gun is a tool Marian; no better or any worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town: “People here are funny. They work so hard at living that they forget how to live.”

Schindler's List: “Its Hebrew, it’s from the Talmud. It says whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

All The Presidents Men: “Listen…I’m tired of your chickenshit games! I don’t want hints…I need to know what you know.”

Patton: “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his.”

How Wolves Have The Power To Change Rivers

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Unclassified Laws Of Etiquette. (Published 1880)

Never exaggerate.
Never point at another.
Never betray a confidence.
Never leave home with unkind word’s.
Never neglect to call upon your friends.
Never laugh at the misfortunes of others.
Never give a promise that you do not fulfill.
Never send a present, hoping for one in return.
Never speak much of your own performances.
Never fail to be punctual at the time appointed.
Never make yourself the hero of your own story.
Never pick the teeth or clean the nails in company.
Never fail to give a polite answer to a civil question.
Never call attention to the features or form of anyone present.
Never refer to a gift you have made, or favor you have rendered.
Never associate with bad company. Have good company, or none
Never, when traveling abroad, be over boastful in praise of your own country.
Never attempt to draw the attention of the company constantly upon yourself.
Never exhibit anger, impatience or excitement, when an accident happens.
Never forget that, if you are faithful in a few things, you may be ruler over many.
Never exhibit too great familiarity with the new acquaintance, you may give offense.
Never be guilty of the contemptible meanness of opening a private letter addressed to another.
Never fail to offer the easiest and best seat in the room to an invalid, an elderly person, or a lady.
Never neglect to perform the commission which the friend entrusted to you. You must not forget.
Never fail to tell the truth. If truthful, you get your reward. You will get your punishment if you deceive.
Never borrow money and neglect to pay. If you do, you will soon be known as a person of no business integrity.
Never fail to say kind and encouraging words to those whom you meet in distress. Your kindness may lift them out of their despair.
Never, when walking arm in arm with a lady, be continually changing and going to the other side, because of change of corners. It shows too much attention to form.

Kind words do not cost much, and yet they may carry untold happiness to the one to whom they are spoken.

Photos: Bertie the Agoraphobic owl

This is Bertie the Agoraphobic owl who is afraid of the outside world. Hunter gatherer is something he may have seen but that’s about it. His best friend is Peter Middleton who runs an owl sanctuary called Trewitley Owl Trust and has another 50 to look after but none are like Bertie. In fact Bertie likes humans more than owls which may have started when he was abandoned when barely  born.
Though Bertie is not much good outdoors, he is the companion and watch dog for Peter and they make a great partnership.

Photos: Spring At Last In England

More Photos: By Segey Prokudin-Gorky (1863-1944) Between 1909 -1915

These are more photographs that were taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944), Russian photographer, who the early 1900’s, travelled across this vast country to preserve these images for posterity.

Article: 37 Conversation Rules for Gentlemen from 1875

1. Even if convinced that your opponent is utterly wrong, yield gracefully, decline further discussion, or dexterously turn the conversation, but do not obstinately defend your own opinion until you become angry…Many there are who, giving their opinion, not as an opinion but as a law, will defend their position by such phrases, as: “Well, if were president, or governor, I would,” — and while by the warmth of their argument they prove that they are utterly unable to govern their own temper, they will endeavor to persuade you that they are perfectly competent to take charge of the government of the nation.
2. Retain, if you will, a fixed political opinion, yet do not parade it upon all occasions, and, above all, do not endeavor to force others to agree with you. Listen calmly to their ideas upon the same subjects, and if you cannot agree, differ politely, and while your opponent may set you down as a bad politician, let him be obliged to admit that you are a gentleman.
3. Never interrupt anyone who is speaking; it is quite rude to officiously supply a name or date about which another hesitates, unless you are asked to do so. Another gross breach of etiquette is to anticipate the point of a story which another person is reciting, or to take it from his lips to finish it in your own language. Some persons plead as an excuse for this breach of etiquette, that the reciter was spoiling a good story by a bad manner, but this does not mend the matter. It is surely rude to give a man to understand that you do not consider him capable of finishing an anecdote that he has commenced.
4. It is ill-bred to put on an air of weariness during a long speech from another person, and quite as rude to look at a watch, read a letter, flirt the leaves of a book, or in any other action show that you are tired of the speaker or his subject.
5. In a general conversation, never speak when another person is speaking, and never try by raising your own voice to drown that of another. Never assume an air of haughtiness, or speak in a dictatorial manner; let your conversation be always amiable and frank, free from every affectation.
6. Never, unless you are requested to do so, speak of your own business or profession in society; to confine your conversation entirely to the subject or pursuit which is your own specialty is low-bred and vulgar. Make the subject for conversation suit the company in which you are placed. Joyous, light conversation will be at times as much out of place as a sermon would be at a dancing party. Let your conversation be grave or gay as suits the time or place.
7. In a dispute, if you cannot reconcile the parties, withdraw from them. You will surely make one enemy, perhaps two, by taking either side, in an argument when the speakers have lost their temper.
8. Never, during a general conversation, endeavor to concentrate the attention wholly upon yourself. It is quite as rude to enter into conversation with one of a group, and endeavor to draw him out of the circle of general conversation to talk with you alone.
9. A man of real intelligence and cultivated mind is generally modest. He may feel when in everyday society, that in intellectual acquirements he is above those around him; but he will not seek to make his companions feel their inferiority, nor try to display this advantage over them. He will discuss with frank simplicity the topics started by others, and endeavor to avoid starting such as they will not feel inclined to discuss. All that he says will be marked by politeness and deference to the feelings and opinions of others.
10. It is as great an accomplishment to listen with an air of interest and attention, as it is to speak well. To be a good listener is as indispensable as to be a good talker, and it is in the character of listener that you can most readily detect the man who is accustomed to good society.
11. Never listen to the conversation of two persons who have thus withdrawn from a group. If they are so near you that you cannot avoid hearing them, you may, with perfect propriety, change your seat.
12. Make your own share in conversation as modest and brief as is consistent with the subject under consideration, and avoid long speeches and tedious stories. If, however, another, particularly an old man, tells a long story, or one that is not new to you, listen respectfully until he has finished, before you speak again.
13. Speak of yourself but little. Your friends will find out your virtues without forcing you to tell them, and you may feel confident that it is equally unnecessary to expose your faults yourself.
14. If you submit to flattery, you must also submit to the imputation of folly and self-conceit.
15. In speaking of your friends, do not compare them, one with another. Speak of the merits of each one, but do not try to heighten the virtues of one by contrasting them with the vices of another.
16. Avoid, in conversation all subjects which can injure the absent. A gentleman will never calumniate or listen to calumny.
17. The wittiest man becomes tedious and ill-bred when he endeavors to engross entirely the attention of the company in which he should take a more modest part.
18. Avoid set phrases, and use quotations but rarely. They sometimes make a very piquant addition to conversation, but when they become a constant habit, they are exceedingly tedious, and in bad taste.
19. Avoid pedantry; it is a mark, not of intelligence, but stupidity.
20. Speak your own language correctly; at the same time do not be too great a stickler for formal correctness of phrases.
21. Never notice it if others make mistakes in language. To notice by word or look such errors in those around you is excessively ill-bred.
22. If you are a professional or scientific man, avoid the use of technical terms. They are in bad taste, because many will not understand them. If, however, you unconsciously use such a term or phrase, do not then commit the still greater error of explaining its meaning. No one will thank you for thus implying their ignorance.
23. In conversing with a foreigner who speaks imperfect English, listen with strict attention, yet do not supply a word, or phrase, if he hesitates. Above all, do not by a word or gesture show impatience if he makes pauses or blunders. If you understand his language, say so when you first speak to him; this is not making a display of your own knowledge, but is a kindness, as a foreigner will be pleased to hear and speak his own language when in a strange country.
24. Be careful in society never to play the part of buffoon, for you will soon become known as the “funny” man of the party, and no character is so perilous to your dignity as a gentleman. You lay yourself open to both censure and bad ridicule, and you may feel sure that, for every person who laughs with you, two are laughing at you, and for one who admires you, two will watch your antics with secret contempt.
25. Avoid boasting. To speak of your money, connections, or the luxuries at your command is in very bad taste. It is quite as ill-bred to boast of your intimacy with distinguished people. If their names occur naturally in the course of conversation, it is very well; but to be constantly quoting, “my friend, Gov. C,” or, “my intimate friend, the president,” is pompous and in bad taste.
26. While refusing the part of jester yourself, do not, by stiff manners, or cold, contemptuous looks, endeavor to check the innocent mirth of others. It is in excessively bad taste to drag in a grave subject of conversation when pleasant, bantering talk is going on around you. Join in pleasantly and forget your graver thoughts for the time, and you will win more popularity than if you chill the merry circle or turn their innocent gayety to grave discussions.
27. When thrown into the society of literary people, do not question them about their works. To speak in terms of admiration of any work to the author is in bad taste; but you may give pleasure, if, by a quotation from their writings, or a happy reference to them, you prove that you have read and appreciated them.
28. It is extremely rude and pedantic, when engaged in general conversation, to make quotations in a foreign language.
29. To use phrases which admit of a double meaning, is ungentlemanly.
30. If you find you are becoming angry in a conversation, either turn to another subject or keep silence. You may utter, in the heat of passion, words which you would never use in a calmer moment, and which you would bitterly repent when they were once said.
31. “Never talk of ropes to a man whose father was hanged” is a vulgar but popular proverb. Avoid carefully subjects which may be construed into personalities, and keep a strict reserve upon family matters. Avoid, if you can, seeing the skeleton in your friend’s closet, but if it is paraded for your special benefit, regard it as a sacred confidence, and never betray your knowledge to a third party.
32. If you have traveled, although you will endeavor to improve your mind in such travel, do not be constantly speaking of your journeyings. Nothing is more tiresome than a man who commences every phrase with, When I was in Paris,” or, “In Italy I saw…”
33. When asking questions about persons who are not known to you, in a drawing-room, avoid using adjectives; or you may enquire of a mother, “Who is that awkward, ugly girl?” and be answered, “Sir, that is my daughter.”
34. Avoid gossip; in a woman it is detestable, but in a man it is utterly despicable.
35. Do not officiously offer assistance or advice in general society. Nobody will thank you for it.
36. Avoid flattery. A delicate compliment is permissible in conversation, but flattery is broad, coarse, and to sensible people, disgusting. If you flatter your superiors, they will distrust you, thinking you have some selfish end; if you flatter ladies, they will despise you, thinking you have no other conversation.

37. A lady of sense will feel more complimented if you converse with her upon instructive, high subjects, than if you address to her only the language of compliment. In the latter case she will conclude that you consider her incapable of discussing higher subjects, and you cannot expect her to be pleased at being considered merely a silly, vain person, who must be flattered into good humour.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette by Cecil B. Hartley. (c1875)

Photos: This Is Russia Between 1909-1915 In Living Original Colour

These photographs were taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944), Russian photographer, who the early 1900’s, travelled across this vast country to preserve these images for posterity. 

                                  The photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky taking a break.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Article: Homeless man returns ring and gets a $192,000 reward that is still growing

                                                                     Billy Ray Harris

A Kansas City homeless man returned an engagement ring dropped in his beggars cup by a woman. Her grateful fiancee set up a website that's collected $145,000 so far for the homeless man which is still coming in.
A homeless man's decision to return a woman's engagement ring after she accidentally dropped it in his cup is about to pay big dividends.
Billy Ray Harris, who frequently panhandles on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, discovered the ring after Sarah Darling dumped spare change from her coin purse into his cup earlier this month. Earlier that day, she had taken off her ring and put it with the coins.
Then after realizing what she'd done, the woman returned to Harris and asked if he had the ring. He said yes and gave it back to her.
"I just hope this results in good things for you," said the woman.
When asked by the KCTV reporter why he didn't pawn the ring, Harris responded: "My grandfather was a reverend and he raised me from the time I was six months old and thank the Lord that there's a blessing, I do still have some character."
Sarah Darling's fiance has set up a website seeking donations for Harris. On Monday, as news spread of Harris' honesty, people from around the world had donated more than $192,000 and more keeps coming in.
Harris is grateful but posed this question to the Darling: "What has the world come to when a person returns something that doesn't belong to them and all this happens?"
The publicity resulted in his sister, who hadn't seen or heard from Harris in years, discovering that he was still alive.  "I want him to come home but we can't make him come home. But I want him to know that we love him and we miss him."
Source: Kansas city reporter from KCTV news