Thursday, August 31, 2006


For a truly awful yet funny glimpse into the world of baby catching Cuban style in a South African hospital, read what Milf experienced whilst a med student in South Africa..........
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Supertyphoon Ioke

In the path of the massive supertyphoon Ioke lies the tiny Wake island.

Everyone has been evacuated, but it may be destroyed.
Full scary story here.
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The Death Star

No, not the one from Star Wars !

For the first time ever, the death of a star has been witnessed and recorded in real time, not just after it becomes a supernova.
The article is in the Daily Telegraph and is well worth reading.

Wow !
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I`ve been thinking a lot about The Sand That Wasn`t.

I don`t think it is possible to accurately describe the mix of feelings I had when I realised just what it was that I was actually standing on. Horror at my own inadvertent irreverence was the main one, but also repulsion at the thought that someone who was made in God`s image was burnt, like rubbish, and just scattered into the wind, as if they had never even existed or mattered.

I know many people find the scattering of therir loved one`s ashes deeply meaningful and symbolic, according to them, but to me it is more than a little creepy. It`s certainly convenient in that there is no cost of a burial plot or a grave plot to tend and maintain and deck with flowers on anniversaries, birthdays etc, but.....Ewwww!

When my father and later my stepfather were cremated in accordance with their own clearly-stated request, we made sure their ashes were reverently buried in individual plots marked with a gravestone and we do all go regularly to place flowers and say prayers for their repose and to give thanks for their lives.
Their physical bodies are dead, but they are alive with God, and we rejoice in that.
How could we do that if their ashes were borne by tide and wind into unmarked oblivion and anonymity?

There is also the issue of the documented effect that occurs after scattering cremated remains on hills, causing previously barren rocky hilltops to sprout luxurious vegetation and altering the ecology of the areas.....
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Miracles Of Modern Medicine

The idea of tailoring medicine appropriate to each person`s genetic makeup makes perfect sense to me, but I shudder to think how much it would cost.

This article discusses how and why it is done.
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Our holiday draws ever closer, and as the weather has turned noticeably colder, I am profoundly thankful we upgraded to our holiday park`s option of "luxury caravan" which has heaters in the bedrooms :-)

The little ones are extremely excited, and so are the grownups,if truth be told......
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The Sand That Wasn`t.

I took Basil the dog for a walk on the beach yesterday.
On the way back up the beach, near some rocks, I could see a bundle on the sand, so we walked over to investigate. It was a lovely bouquet of lilies, wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbons.

I imagined it was a memorial tribute to one of the people who have sadly drowned on this stretch of coast in past years due to some of the worst coastal riptide currents in the whole of Britain.

Imagine, then, my horror, when I turned around and found myself walking on silver sand lying on top of the golden sand of the beach.
Except it wasn`t silver sand, it was the scattered ashes of the cremated remains of someone.

I got off the ashes forthwith and made the sign of the Cross, praying earnestly for the repose of the soul of the unknown departed person. I would not knowingly ever have walked across that stretch of beach if I had realised that there lay the ashes of someone, in the same way I would not have walked across someone`s grave.

Today I said the akathist for the repose of departed souls.
God grant them all peace.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Memory Eternal, Lynette

Lynette Hoppe has reposed.

Fr Luke Veronis gave an inspiring eulogy for her here

May her Memory be Eternal, and may God grant peace and comfort to her family.
May we all face the end of our life and meet our Maker with her radiant faith and trust !
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Bubbling Thoughts

For the last few weeks I have been pondering a potential story, and it is slowly driving me mad. It isn`t developed enough to be worth starting to write it yet; I just have to wait patiently for it to gestate :-)

Would any of you be interested in reading a story based mainly on fact, about the life of a midwife in rural England in the 1930s and 1940s ?
I have an original midwife`s birth register for this period, with lots of raw data, which I would of course need to completely anonymise. I could also just anonymise it and analyse the raw data for a midwifery journal, but that wouldn`t be half as much fun, LOL.

I do already write stories for a fan site, but I am contemplating starting a new blog just for miscellaneous stories not associated with any particular genre.
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Sleepy Head

Last night, I was lying awake thinking of a variety of witty, insightful topics on which I could blog.

When I woke up this morning, these wonderful in-depth anayses had vanished into thin air, and will most likely never ever see the light of day.
But for a few brief moments, more than half a dozen of my brain cells were working together in perfect harmony :-)
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hard Work

DH and the girls and I go to our local branch of a fast food emporium fairly regularly, and there is one lady who works there who is a delight.

She has the scut job of bin emptying, tidying and cleaning, yet she always has a smile on her face, and works so very hard. She always stops to talk to all the children, gets them balloons or colouring stuff to keep them occupied whilst they wait for our food, and she is always cheerful and helpful, well above and beyone the course of duty.

DH and I felt that she is one of the unsung folk who work tremendously hard and get little public recognition for the role they play "behind the scenes" as it were, so we decided to write to the branch manager and say how impressed we have been with her.

When we visited yesterday, she rumbled who it was who had written and she thanked us, saying her manager had passed the letter onto Head Office. I am glad; it was a pleasure to be able to get her some public recognition of a necessary but unpleasant job well done.
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Odds and ends

DD1 has returned from her camping holiday with her grandparents and had a great time despite inclement weather.

DD2 has had her GCSE results and did really well considering how much school she has missed due to illness (Glandular fever and cyclical migraines). She wants to leave school now and go to college to study Forensic Science. Sounds good to me:-)

DD4 has been to the hospital and they are happy to report that there appears to be no long-term dammage to her kidneys as a result of her really bad infections at Easter time, and they are happy to discharge her. Yay !!!!

Everyone is currently well, though the dog continues to chew everything in sight at every possible opportunity, LOL.
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Sound of Music On Stage

I really don`t have the answer. I have checked various websites, even ALW`s own, and it is delightfully equivocal :-)

I didn`t know that ALW is a founder-member and supporter of the Open Churches Trust. Good for him, I say !

He even has a mini-blog here, which I have just found to say that the orchestra is recording the Rogers` score. Sounds like it may be fairly traditional.
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Musical Items

I was reading Dave Holford`s insightful article on the X Factor TV show with great interest.

DH turned the TV on and we saw some of it. There truly are a lot of people who think they can sing well and they CAN`T ! Quite scary how easily people can delude themselves......

We have, as a family, been watching the live hunt for a new face to play Maria Von Trapp in Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber`s musical version of The Sound Of Music.
This is one of the very very few programmes which is even remotely suitable for family viewing, and we have been really enjoying it.
Saturday`s episode, however, was featuring the girls singing some rather more raunchy songs, which meant a swift removal from the room of the young ones till the offending items were safely past :-)

The contestants are now down to eight, and next Saturday will see another contestant leaving the show. Connie remains head and shoulders above all the rest, and I will be really surprised and disappointed if she doesn`t win. So, I suspect, will Andrew Lloyd-Webber.......
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Result Day

DD2`s GCSE results are due out on Wednesday.


DD1 picked up her College certificate this week to find that she has achieved a Triple Distinction Distinction Merit. She is very pleased indeed and I am delighted for her. She worked extremely hard and deserves this excellent result.

There remains the difficulty of finding a decent job now........
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Missing One

DD1 has gone away on a camping holiday to Oxford with her grandparents till Friday.

Of course, the weather forecast is utterly vile for the whole duration of their trip. Sigh. I can confidently predict that they will still have a great time, however, as my ex in-laws are wonderful company and experienced campers.

DD1 made a special plea for a repeat visit to Blenheim Palace and thence to Bladon, where the great Sir Winston Churchill lies buried in an unassuming grave in the churchyard, so she could pay her respects to one of her - and Britain`s - greatest heroes.
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The coastal dune system where I sometimes walk Basil is a glorious place, but his favourite place is definitely the beach. He will run huge distances in order to jump in the sea, and one day last week the tide was really far out.I have known since I was a small child of the dangers of the "second beach" across from our town, where there are patches of quicksand, but I had an inadvertent experience of it first hand in an unexpected location!

I was following Basil, and trudging through the wet sand as we followed the rapidly retreating tide, and I noticed several small fresh water springs amongst the sand on the beach. Another hundred yards along and I felt myself sinking three inches deep in the space of the blinking of an eye. I have to say, I have never been so scared in my life for my physical safety.

I galloped out of the danger area, quite literally, with several pounds of thick glutinous and foul-smelling mud adhering to my trainers and trousers, and trudged home. Basil of course, had wisely avoided all the danger spots and was just muddy and somewhat baffled by my determination to get home as quickly as possible.

I did look a dreadful sight and smelled vile, and was profoundly glad to get home and get myself and Basil cleaned up.

Needless to say, if the tide is far out, I will not cross that part of the beach again in a looooong time.........
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Holiday Plans

Last year, we went to Caldey Island whilst we were on holiday in Tenby. See here and the May 2005 archives for photos

We have booked to go to Tenby again on 2nd September, so God willing and weather permitting, we hope to be able to cross to the holy island again.

If anyone wants prayers said for them or for specific needs at the old church, let me know. If we are able to get there, I will of course pray for you all collectively anyway :-)
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Update on Lynnette Hoppe

Please redouble your prayers for Lynette and her family....

Debbi very kindly forwarded me the latest information from friends of the family:-

"I would like to give you an update on Lynette's condition and request
that you somehow send around an email asking folks to pray extra hard
for her, Nathan and the children.

In the last 24 hours she has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. She
has had bouts of incoherency and is losing some of her motor skills.
Nathan said she dropped her water glass 3 or 4 times during the day
today. Dr. Charles thinks that she may stay at this level for around a
week and then will probably be unconscious for about a week, until the
end. The family and some friends/priests will be going over this next
week, as will Rebecca and I. If you could have our parish family pray
for their family and the safe travel of all those going over to minister
to them, we would all appreciate it. "

Lord, have mercy, and grant her a peaceful, blameless end and a good defence before the Judgement seat of Christ.
God grant her family peace, comfort and strength at this difficult time......

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy !
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Need A Boost ?

For those days when family life seems just too much to cope with -
go visit Morning Coffee for a smile.

Actually, I was shrieking with laughter :-)
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Found Out By A Four-year Old

I am ashamed to say that my slovenly and obviously sub-standard house-keeping abilities have been rumbled by DD4.

Last night, after bedtime stories, she asked me to put the books back. I thought I had done my motherly duty by putting them by the bed, full of good intentions to shelve them properly this morning.
However, I was easily sidetracked this morning by praying Festal Orthros, helping the children to decorate the icon corner with flowers for the Feast, preparing breakfast and then the joys of catching up with my email and blogs. Not necessarily in that order, you undertsand, LOL.

Oh no. I was sternly rebuked this morning, with the aforesaid child asking me to put the current crop of stories back in her room, with the words "Don`t put them on the floor, Mum. Put them back properly on the giraffe bookcase please."

I am duly chastened and ashamed of my lazy ways :-)

This is also the child who not only makes her bed in the morning *as soon* as she gets out of it, but tidies her room daily and will even tidy her sister`s room if she doesn`t approve of its less than pristine state.

She definitely has more of my husband`s personality traits than she does of mine.........
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Please Pray For Lynette Hoppe !

You may have seen in the Handmaiden magazine that Lynette Hoppe, an Orthodox missionary in Albania has Cancer. This has now spread from her breast to her bones and liver, and she is not now expected to live for more than a few weeks.

Despite this, she is still running summer camps for the youngsters of Albania, with her husband and very young family as you can read here .

Please pray for them all in the last weeks of Lynette`s life. She faces it with such courage and dignity and shining faith in God`s Providence.
God grant them all peace, grace and help.
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Monday, August 14, 2006

Into Great Silence/Die Grosse Stille

The amazing film about life amongst the near-silent Carthusian monks at La Grande Chartreuse monastery is being shown at the Edinburgh Festival this month.

Sadly it is impossible for me to get to see it - other end of the country and no money being the main constraints - but hopefully it will be out on DVD eventually if it gets enough good exposure.....

This extract is from a much longer article here, discussing the health benefits of silence, but I thought this bit merited special mention:

"Outside the monastery, in our attention-deficit society, silence is a rare but little- valued commodity: considered boring, blank, wasteful, pointless. By contrast, the Carthusian order, founded in 1084, defines its life as a long path whose sole purpose is contemplation (Psalm 46 offers the perfect soundbite: Be still and know that I am God).

The monks live in poverty, in small cells with straw beds, but pray and sing Gregorian chants together. They never sleep through the night. Three hours of sleep are followed by two to three hours of prayer, and by three hours of sleep again. Everyone has to wash his own clothes, work in the garden, cut wood and do his chores for the monastery. They are allowed to talk only if absolutely necessary while working, as well as during their Sunday walk together. It is the life of a hermit, but in a large community.

“When the monks talk, they really speak about things that matter to them,” says Groening, who captures the spiritual essence of monastic existence with long, pensive, beautiful shots: a cut apple sits in a wooden bowl; a bird soars through the high, empty valley. To develop his insight, he lived like a monk in a cell and joined their daily routine. “Only in complete silence, one starts to hear. Only when language resigns, one starts to see,” he says.

The film reflects the monks’ world: there is no music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries or explanations. “You cannot use language to describe a world that revolves so far beyond the realm of language,” says Groening. "

I really hope this film is available commercially soon ! Sounds wonderful.
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Good News

As you may remmeber, DD4 had a renal scan a few weeks ago.

She isn`t due to see the Paediatric Consultant till the end of the month, but we had a letter this morning from the Consultant to let us know that the scan results were entirely normal, and that she has sustained no kidney damage as a result of the infections.
It was really kind of the Consultant to put us out of our worry by doing this, blessings be upon her.
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Why Can`t Things Ever Be Simple?

I ask this question in relation to Rudi`s funeral which will eventually be held this coming Friday.The reason for the delay is that his widow couldn`t decide whether to have his body buried or cremated, and some prodding on the part of a loosely-connected family member.
He himself had said that he wanted to be buried, as their son was, in the same grave.
So why the question arises, I don`t know. Seems straightforward enough to me, there would be no higher costs because they already own the grave plot etc.

But he is now going to be cremated, at a crematorium *many* miles away from the family home and from the city where he worked and where his family and most of his friends still live. There is a perfectly good crematorium in that city, BTW.

My mind boggles, as it is going to make it all so difficult for his elderly friends to pay their last respects, and to be having two services in completely different towns on the same afternoon doesn`t make sense to me, but it`s not my decision.

DH was rather surprised, and said he felt there was a moral imperative - if not a legal one - to follow the explicitly stated wishes of the deceased. I have to say I agree with him.

I have already warned DH that if he even thinks about getting me cremated, I will come back and haunt him. He looked at me and laughed, and said he wouldn`t dare, LOL.

We have our grave plots chosen and paid for, and I hope to be laid to rest in accordance with the rites of Holy Church.
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Friday, August 11, 2006

Good News and Bad News

The good news is that Jack has contacted his social worker (assigned to him after his discharge from hospital) so at least we know he is safe and ok at present. I have sent a message to him via the social worker asking him to contact me to let me know how he is doing.

I want to thank you all for your kind prayers; it has been a very difficult few days for those of us who know him...........

The Bad News ?
Today I had an email informing me that John, an elderly friend (and distant relative), has recently suffered two strokes and a heart attack.
He is doing well at present, but has some residual problems with reading and writing. Other than that he seems to have escaped lightly, praise God.

Prayers would be much appreciated for him too, please...........
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Asking Prayers

Last night I had a very distressing phone call telling me that a dear friend of mine, Jack, had recently attempted suicide, split up from his partner ,and has disappeared.

No -one knows where he is , or if he is OK.

He has health problems, is depressed, suicidal and has left his home.

Please pray that he is safe.
Lord have mercy.......
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Font Query

Please, could some kind and knowledgeable soul put me out of my misery ?

I visited an Orthodox coffee-shop website, and on their book page was the most stunningly lovely font I have ever seen, depicting the links on the right-hand side.............

Have a look here

I cannot find out what the font is, even using the Identifont website.
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A Week In The Life Of Lawless Britain

I am sure I forgot to post this, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph in June and made fascinating -if highly worrying-reading......
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Kitchen Notes

Have you ever done something , however inadvertently, which has caused damage to an appliance?

I nearly blew up the microwave last week.

I was cooking some broccoli, and I hadn`t noticed that a tiny piece of metallic wrapper from a chocolate bar must have been on the kitchen worktop and had got stuck to the undeneath of the bowl.When I opened the microwave door, there was a vile acrid smell, the broccoli was burnt to a crisp and the bowl had partly melted.
And the microwave was no longer working.
Not a flicker of life.

I turned it off at the mains and then back on again, hoping that might improve things, but nothing.I stood there for a few minutes, wondering how to tell DH that I had blown it up, knowing that our budget this month is exceptionally tight due to the dog`s vet bill and the car insurance premium falling due, so there was no hope of any cash to replace it in the foreseeable future.

I **really** didn`t want to see him worrying about how to replace it with zero spare money. In the end I decided to say nothing till I had had chance to mull it over for a while, and we sat down to eat our tea.Once I had washed the dishes, out of curiosity, I tried the microwave again, and it was working perfectly again. Indeed, it continues to work well, thanks be to God.

So, I didn`t have to say anything to anyone, but believe me, I now check the underneath of any dish going into the microwave with an almost obsessive fervour !
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More Changes

Thanks to Brian`s generous tuition in showing me where the links should be, I now have worked out how to link to my blogroll at Bloglines for your communal delectation.

Now you can see what blogs I read, including ones of Anglican, RC and medical interest.

Caveat: Peruse the medical interest ones at your peril; some posts may be offensive or upsetting, but the majority are extremely interesting and informative.

Under the heading Miscellany, I strongly recommend Mr Chalk. Like Dave Holford, he is a teacher in the UK, and his comments showing the state of the UK educational system are both really funny and desperately sad.
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Death In The Family

Regular readers may remember that last year I posted about my husband`s great-uncle Rudi, who had suffered a severe stroke.

We have just received news of his sudden death.

Lord, have mercy upon him and grant him rest. Memory eternal.
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Chivalry Is Alive And Well !

Warmest thanks to Brian Underwood of The Traditional Frog for his great kindness.

He sent me an email detailing step-by-step what I needed to do to recover my blog roll and then how to re-insert it into my blog template.
His instructions were clear, concise and elegant, and as the observant will note, I have a blogroll again.

Prayers are also ascending for Brian, who will be having surgery on Friday.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Tale of Two Basils

My poor Basil plants, which live on my kitchen windowsill have been afflicted with insect infestation. This morning I took the bowl outside and gave them a thorough spraying with warm soapy water.

I do hope this does the trick; it`s a really nice sight when it is healthy, and the smell is divine :-)

Unlike the real Basil, who is in disgrace for chewing huge lumps out of our wood block flooring whilst he was supposed to be sleeping in the living room last night. He doesn`t even have the excuse of teething any more, either.
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Last night, I woke up in fear and trembling, from the worst nightmare I have ever had.
I console myself it was probably just the subconscious effects of watching House MD dvds late at night, but it was so graphic, it was scary.

Especially the bit where I had caught a young thug and was desperately trying to tie his hands together to stop him killing anyone else, and no passers-by would help me. They all averted their eyes and walked away.

When later on in the dream the young thug found his life being terminated by someone who had had enough of his antics, the other guy was arrested and charged with murder though his actions were in self-defence. When I remonstrated, I was told firmly by the court that this young thug had been stabbed through the heart and that made it all so much worse, and his young life had been snuffed short. The fact that he had gone on a killing and thieving rampage was obviously irrelevant.......

The worst thing is that I could actually envisage this sort of bleeding-heart liberal nonsense happening in real life.

The cure for the nightmare ? Praying the Midnight office and Matins.
I went back to sleep and slept like a baby.
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I decided that today was a good day to change my blog template.
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, apart from the fact that I had, immediately prior updated my blog roll - and I forgot to save it, hence losing all my links.

Ho hum.

Not the brightest thing I have done today, I have to admit.....

So if any of you notice the appearance of a blog-roll which looks strangely familiar, I may possibly have um - "borrowed" yours. I apologise in advance.....
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hello, Grasshopper !

No, not a reference to the old Kung-Fu TV series !

I was tidying up in the bedroom on Thursday when I saw something on the wall. I thought it was a spider, but on closer inspection it was bright green, so obviously not a spider :-0

Out came the trusty reference book, and it proved to be a Common Green Grasshopper, so duly armed with a chair, a cup and a piece of paper, I set off to capture it and release it in the garden, as befits my role as domestic livestock manager.

I took it outside once I had showed it to the children, who had never seen one close-up.

One of the notable things about grasshoppers is their agility and total inability to stay still or be captured, so I was amazed that this one crawled out of the cup onto my hand and just sat there for a moment before walking around. Of course, DD4 also wanted it to walk on her, so I showed her how to position her hand in order to encourage it to walk on her hand. I really wish I had taken a photo, for the expression of wonder on her little face was awesome in every sense of the word.

After a minute or two, off he hopped into the wilds of the garden, leaving us with precious memories of a special moment which will be savoured all the more because it may never be repeated.......
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Happy Birthday Laura !

Warmest birthday greetings go to Laura Nee !
God grant you Many Years !
Chronia Polla !
Mnogaya Leta !
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fined For Being Too Efficient

I was amazed and appalled to read of an NHS hospital actually being fined 2.5 million pounds for being way too efficient and treating too many people too quickly.

Don`t believe even the UK can be so insane ? Go read the story here
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Mixed Feelings

Last weekend we were rejoicing at the news that one of our relatives, who has been serving with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan, has got back to Britain safely, only to to read today of further British troop deaths.

He has served two stretches, each of six months duration, in Iraq and two six month stretches in Afghanistan, all without serious injury, and has now left the Armed Forces in order to spend time with his family, and is now working in the UK.

We are so glad he is safe, yet sorrowing for those forces families grieving the loss of their loved ones.

Lord, have mercy and grant those families comfort..........
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Pour Discourager Les Autres !

This was on a medical blog I read regularly, and appeared in relation to anti-smoking legislation at work, with the suggestion that employers who still provide smoking rooms might consider painting it on the ceiling......
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Three Question Personality Test

I saw this at Laura`s blog, and my results were really quite accurate :-0

Your Personality Is

Rational (NT)

You are both logical and creative. You are full of ideas.
You are so rational that you analyze everything. This drives people a little crazy!

Intelligence is important to you. You always like to be around smart people.
In fact, you're often a little short with people who don't impress you mentally.

You seem distant to some - but it's usually because you're deep in thought.
Those who understand you best are fellow Rationals.

In love, you tend to approach things with logic. You seek a compatible mate - who is also very intelligent.

At work, you tend to gravitate toward idea building careers - like programming, medicine, or academia.

With others, you are very honest and direct. People often can't take your criticism well.

As far as your looks go, you're coasting on what you were born with. You think fashion is silly.

On weekends, you spend most of your time thinking, experimenting with new ideas, or learning new things.
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