Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Creating A Perfect World


I created a nation today. Well, it seemed like a fun thing to do......
Go check it out at http://www.nationstates.net/orthodoxen

Go on, make your own - you know you want to, really..........
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Picture From Austria

Each day I check this webcam. This is today's shot.

At my favourite place in Austria, the snow is retreating very rapidly. Only a little snow is left on the very highest peak.
On the shores of one lake (the Wolfgangesee) you can see the small but very popular tourist town of St Gilgen ; the furthest lake is the Mondsee. Almost 30 years since I was last there.
I hope to see it again one day:-)
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mentos and Coca Cola

The world's largest Mentos and Coca-cola explosion.....

I would love to do this at home one day with the children :-)
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Anniversaries of Events

This weekend has some historic anniversaries :

In 1773 the British Government passed the Tea Act, removing duties on tea shipped to America by the East India Company and leading indirectly to the Boston Tea Party;

in 1828 the London Zoological Gardens opened in Regent's Park;

in 1968 the Abortion Act, presented by David Steel, MP, came into force.

What a combination.
The only one which has been of any value and did not cause horrendous outcomes for many people was the opening of London Zoo.

Memory eternal to all the unborn innocents who have lost their lives in the 40 years that deliberate killing of children has been legal in Britain.
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Blessed Pascha !

Christ is Risen !
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia !
He is Risen indeed ! Alleluia !

I wish you all a joyous and blessed Feast of Pascha :-)

The fresco is 11th century, from the 5th century foundation Chora Church in Istanbul.

I hope someone Christian in Constantinople today will be able to visit this church - now a museum, after having been a mosque for almost 500 years- and sing Christos Anesti under the fresco of the Resurrection.......
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Giving Big Corp A Taste Of Its Own Medicine

A nonagenarian was incensed by her bank putting her into overdraft, and sent her bank manager an hysterically funny and very clever letter, which he sent to The Times newspaper.
I reproduce it here, and sincerely hope that when I am older, I will follow her feistiness :-)


Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three 'nanoseconds' must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement, which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my
account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.

My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate. Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1 – To make an appointment to see me.
2 – To query a missing payment.
3 – To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4 – To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5 – To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6 – To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7 – To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is
required. A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)
8 – To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through to 8.
9 – To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

End Quote.

The manager did not tell The Times if he had refunded her overdraft fee, however......
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Getting Back In The Saddle

The weather has now improved enough (ie the winds have died down !) for me to attempt to ride my new cycle.

I managed once round the block without falling off, and I managed to change the gears successfully.

I am all the more pleased as it must be about fifteen years since I was last able to ride a cycle at all......but my legs were aching !
I think I will have to go into training :-)
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Happy St George's Day !

Troparion to Saint George

SINCE thou art a liberator and deliverer of captives, a help and succour of the poor and needy, a healing physician of the sick, a contender and fighter for kings, O great among Martyrs, the victory-clad George; intercede with Christ God for the salvation of our souls.

I have a great fondness for St George.
There is a singular apathy to celebrating St George's Day in England, according to this report in the Daily Telegraph, unlike St David's Day here in Wales, which is celebrated with gusto.

To counter this, English Heritage have produced a nice little guide to celebrating the day, with facts, games and recipes for food and drink. It is worth viewing.

How low have we fallen in Britain when we have to be reminded and nudged to celebrate one of our patron Saints............... Sigh.
I am , however, profoundly glad that English Heritage at least has made an effort to rectify the matter. I hope their events are well supported.

Holy St George, pray for us !!!

PS. Yes, I know St George has been transferred to next week because of our Holy Week, but try explaining that to the everyday man in the street in England, for whom Easter "was, like, weeks ago!"
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Monday, April 21, 2008

Der Gestank

When we left to go to school on Weds morning, there was an appalling stench when we opened the front door. It persisted for quite some time, and we just shrugged and blamed a local over-zealous gardener's application of manure to his roses, though the smell was much worse and stronger than I had ever encountered before.

But the smell persisted, and as we walked, we could smell it all the way to school. And it could be smelt all over the town.
And then this hit the headlines of the Daily Telegraph news site !

The stink culprits: manure from millions of pigs

Germany has an estimated 25 million pigs with many farms concentrated in the regions around the port city of Hamburg. The pungent smell - Der Gestank as the Germans call it - from millions of gallons of porcine waste was carried across the North Sea and the Channel to England by unusual easterly winds. The smell spread quickly, causing people from Dover to Devon to hold their noses. The Met Office said the winds would continue to bring the pigs' aroma to England until Tuesday.
Farmers said they had spread the manure from millions of pigs over their fields almost simultaneously after cold weather forced them to delay the start of the muckspreading season.
End Quote.

We are only a few miles away across the sea from Devon, but the smell was definitely present in South Wales as well as England, LOL.
It has now gone, though it was still pretty bad on Saturday evening........
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Time Flies.....

Well, it certainly does at our house !

We were invited to a top-secret surprise 70th birthday party for a friend on Friday. The recipient - a delightful lady- was completely unsuspecting, duly surprised and a grand time was had by all. The youngest person there was less than one year old, there were lots of children as it was a family party, and a good range of ages.

My girls were thrilled to be able to dance to a live band; up till now, they had never seen live music :-)

DH has assembled the new cycles, but the weather has been awful ever since he finished them, so only he has been brave enough to go for a test ride. It continues to be cold, wet and windy today, much to my disappointment, as I was hoping to cycle to my Welsh class this afternoon. I don't really relish the thought of sitting in wet clothes all afternoon though :-(

I wish you all a blessed Holy Week !
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Night Sky Over Flagstaff, AZ

This wonderful picture of the night sky at Flagstaff, Arizona, even shows the Milky Way.
Congratulations to the area for limiting light pollution of the night sky.

Story here .

Blessed be the Lord our God, King of the universe, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and all that therein is........what a magnificent sight !
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More Blogs !

New blogs :-

Adventures of an Orthodox Mom

and her craft blog :-)

I currently have 88 blogs in the Orthodox section of my Bloglines account, LOL.

Deb, thanks for letting me know about the dead link... how that happened, I have simply no idea ! All fixed now, I hope :-)
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

David Teems Question

I am listening to The Ark radio station.
Currently playing is David Teems' Credo.

**Fabulous** piece of music.

Is he Orthodox or just orthodox in his music/lyrics ?
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Titanic RIP

This year is the 96th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Praying for the repose of those poor lost souls.

Memory Eternal to them all.....
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Orthodox Chapel

This chapel is utterly stunning; you can click on indidvidual icons to read more about the saints depicted.
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Stony Heart

Evening prayers last night struck me to the heart, in a way that they have not done for a long time, and reduced me to a state of tearfulness.
I slept well but woke up at 3.00am and simply could not get properly back to sleep again. I stayed in bed, and prayed, and dozed, prayed and dozed till 6.30, when I gave up and started the day.

Almost like a wake-up call from God :-)

I feel more alive today, more aware of how stony my heart had become without me even really noticing it........

God is good.
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New Arrivals

Our new bicycles arrived this morning :-)

I haven't had a bicycle for about 15 years, and was not able to ride one for a long period due to hip problems. Things do seem to have settled a lot, and I am hoping to be able to cycle rather than walk everywhere or go by bus, as I do for most of the week whilst DH is working away. It will make it a lot easier and cheaper for me to visit my mother much more often, or go to town , for instance.

DD3 has grown out of her bike and will be hitting double figures on her birthday next month, so she gets one too. DH has an elderly cycle and as the prices were so very reasonable, he has got one too. We had all three cycles for £190. Once DD4 learns to ride her small cycle without the stabilisers, we will get a new one for her too, and have put money aside from our council tax rebate for this purpose.

I will be leaving the reconstruction of said bicycles to DH when he returns home, though !
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Beedle The Bard Contest

There is a creative writing contest over at Amazon, and the prize is a trip to London and the chance to read the handwritten copy of JK Rowling's Beedle the Bard book owned by Amazon.

I am soooo tempted !
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Orthodox Blog Awards

There are now Orthodox Blog awards you can nominate sites to receive.

I want to know why there isn't a category for the "incredibly busy blogger who doesn't get too much time to update his blog but when he does, it is always ***well*** worth waiting for". I certainly know one person who should win that one :-)
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another Orthodox Blog :-)

There is another Orthoblogger to read !
Matushka's blog can be found here.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dating Passover

Deb asked a very interesting question about how the fall of the Temple influenced the Diaspora and the dating of Passover.

The Jewish calendar was and still is - based on the lunar months as well as the sun. The announcements about the first day of the month and the full moon were always made by the High Priests at the Temple.

""Molad HaLevana" represents the moment of the Lunar Crescent, the birth of the moon. It takes precisely 29 days, 12 hours and 793 seconds for the moon to rotate around the earth, hence our calendar has necessary adjustments to the Solar calendar to reflect the Torah commandment of holidays in a permanent fixed season.
According to our Torah in Exodus 12.2, the power to pronounce the new moon (Rosh Hodesh) was given to the maximum religious authorities, the "Sanhedrin". Two witnesses would come forward to announce in front of the "Sanhedrin" that they saw the crescent of the moon or the "Molad" i.e. the "birth of the Moon".
After the examination of the witnesses, if the "Sanhedrin" had satisfied themselves by mathematical calculations as to the accuracy of the report, then the head of the three members of the "Sanhedrin" who conducted this inquiry solemnly, declared that the new moon was sanctified, "Mekudash". Everybody would then answer twice "Mekudash", and then they would dispatch authoritative messengers to all the outlying districts of Israel.
Beacons were kindled on the Judean Hills so that all should know that a new moon had been fixed. This way all would know when the festival occurred during all the months of the year. This primitive procedure of communicating news was eventually abolished for political reasons and was also made impossible by the interference of Samaritans and other enemies of Israel. " according to this site
Ask The Rabbi

Passover always begins on the 15th of the Jewish month of Nisan, which usually - but not always- occurs in April. The fifteenth of each Jewish month is on a full moon.

When Jerusalem fell to the Romans in AD70 and the Temple was destroyed, the majority of the Jewish aristocrats and Priests were taken to Rome as slaves, and Jews remaining in Palestine were obliged to pay special taxes.

Many many Jews chose to leave the area, hence the Diaspora of the Jewish people around Africa and the Mediterranean, and later worldwide.

There was now no longer a single central source of authority for determining the new moon and gradually discrepancies arose in different areas and different timings . Twelve lunar months is also 11 days short of a solar year, so in the 4th century Rabbi Hillel II devised a complex systemwhere years were divided into 19 year cycles, seven of which are leap years that have 13 months instead of twelve.

Hence we now have a situation where Passover can be completely at variance with Pascha.

Hope this helps. If anyone has any more information, I would be glad to know and update this entry accordingly !!
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Orthodox Easter

Maggie raised the question as to when we Orthodoxen will celebrate Easter.

Basically, the Orthodox Church follows the decision of the Council of Nicea in 325, which stated that Easter (Pascha) is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, which marks the start of spring and astronomically is fixed as March 21st.
If the first full moon falls on a Sunday, then Eater/Pascha is transferred to the next available Sunday.

So this year, Passover starts at sundown on Sat 19th April. The full moon is on Sunday the 20th, so Pascha is transferred to the next Sunday, which is the 27th April.

The original Jewish tradition in force at the time of Jesus was that Passover was celebrated on the first full moon after the vernal equinox, so there was normally a tie-in between the dates of Easter and Passover. Once the Temple was destroyed and the Diaspora of the Jewish people began, the date of celebrating Passover gradually shifted, so that on occasion, it can be celebrated before the vernal equinox.

The Calendar issue also muddies the waters, as the Orthodox church continues to calculate the date of Easter according to the Julian calendar in use at the time of Nicea, and which was abandoned by the west several hundred years ago .....so that skews things by 13 days anyway.
For the Orthodox, Pascha would not normally be celebrated before March 21st on the Julian calendar, which is April 3rd on the Gregorian Calendar in use by the West.

Just to add to the complexity, there continued to be technical difficulties in accurately reckoning the appropriate date even at the time of Nicea, so the concept of Paschal cycles was developed to take into account variations in astronomical cycles/issues, and in the East these cycles were 19 years in length. In the west, these cycles lengthened to 84 years.

So that is how we get the variations in celebrating Easter, East and West. The cycles can and do coincide; In 2010, East and West will celebrate together on April 4th, and in 2011 upon April 24th.

In 2013, the East will celebrate Pascha on May 5th, which is really late :-)
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Blog Find

I have found a new blog, from a priest finishing up seminary at Holy Cross.
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You Know.....

that it is Great Lent when you wake at 5:07am and look blearily at the digital clock and think it seems to tell you the time is SOY :-)

Happened to me this morning, LOL.
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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston

Charlton Heston has died, with Lydia, his wife of 64 years, at his side.

I am so sad; he was one of my favourite actors, and I enjoyed pretty much all the films he made.
My prayers for his family and friends, who will mourn his loss.

No doubt we will soon be able to watch all his films repeated on TV, and there are many that I will want to record, especially Michelangelo and El Cid.

Memory Eternal !
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Autistic Genius

Stephen Wiltshire is an adult autistic man, who is an artistic genius of truly remarkable ability.

After a single helicopter trip, during which he took no photographs or sketches, he has memorised and reproduced in perfect detail, the buildings of the London skyline on a 13 ft long canvas .
Full story and pictures here.
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I'm A Glock !

My dear soon to be son in law sent me a link to find out what kind of handgun I would be..........
I am a: Glock Model 22 in 40 cal
Firearms Training
What kind of handgun are YOU?

Should I be flattered ? I wanted to be an AK47 :-)
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Flying Penguins ? I don't think so.....

The Daily Telegraph website reports about a group of penguins that has allegedly been filmed flying by a BBC documentary team.
Go here for the details and footage.

I would of course advise you to note that today is April Fools Day :-)
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The Sound Of Bells

Felix Culpa has an amazing description of how the bells of the Cathedral at SF rang beautifully, late at night, when the Cathedral was fully locked, at the time of Metropolitan Laurus' repose, even though no-one even knew of his death .

Memory Eternal to Vladika Laurus.......
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