Saturday, December 31, 2005

The right time

"The time is always right to do what is right."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ordinary heroes

Time magazine's online version contains year-ender stories, one of which is a feature on six ordinary individuals who exhibited courage under extraordinary circumstances. One of them is Ihsanullah Khan, whose photo appears above. An excerpt:

Ihsanullah Khan is long-shot rescuer. A Pakistani immigrant, Khan drove a cab in Washington and pinned his dreams on winning the lottery. Khan always played the same numbers--2, 4, 6, 17, 25 and 31--because they had once appeared in a dream. Every week for 15 years, he bet religiously on the numbers and lost. Then in November 2001, when the jackpot rose to $55.2 million, Khan's lucky numbers finally came through. He pulled his taxi over to the curb, took a deep breath and thought of his mother, whose dying words to him were, "One day, son, you're going to be somebody--like a king."

Khan, now 47, didn't necessarily want to be a king. But with after-tax winnings of $32,499,939.24 in his pocket, he decided to return to his native town of Batagram in the Himalayas and run for nazim, or mayor. "I wanted to make changes," he says. "Bring back the good things I saw in America." Khan got his chance.

This year, on Oct. 8, three days after Khan took office as mayor, an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude on the Richter scale slammed into the Himalayas, killing more than 73,000 people in Pakistan. Batagram was one of the worst-hit towns. That morning, Khan had strolled up a dirt path to visit his mother's grave when the force of the quake hurled him to his knees. "I thought it was doomsday, that the earth would open and swallow me up," he says. "The houses on the ridge--they were exploding, one by one."

Full story

Read about the other everyday heroes in 6 Tales of Courage at

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The world of words of 2005

Why 'integrity' was such a sought-after word this year

It beat 'refugee' and 'contempt' as the most looked-up word of 2005, according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.

| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Between the CIA leak investigation, scandals in Congress, and disgraced athletes, 2005 had more than its fair share of ethical disappointment.

The result? "Integrity" was the most looked-up word of 2005, according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.

That comes as no surprise to many. The reflex to type a word into is often prompted by the desire to understand an event and its context. That is one reason "tsunami" and "filibuster" also made the top 10 list.

You can read the full story, along with the Top 10 list, at The Christian Science Monitor. The following is an interesting editorial that likewise delves on buzzwords of 2005:

Portrait of a year in buzzwords

If it's December, it's time for those list-loving dictionary folks to be announcing their Words of the Year again -- and in the process providing editorial writers with a revealing lens on the past 12 months. This year, their labors yielded a couple of startlingly different scenarios.

First, the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary came up with a tech-heavy shortlist and ultimately pronounced "podcast" their Word of the Year. For those of you who think a podcast might have something to do with peas, the word is a combination of iPod and broadcast, and denotes "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player" (such as an iPod). If you find that arcane, wait till you read the rest of the Oxford list.

A few days later, the people at Merriam-Webster put "integrity" at the top of a news-dominated word list that included such 2005 headline staples as "tsunami" and "conclave."

Full story at The Japan Times

Marriage-strengthening becomes a priority

Pro-Family Groups Back Marriage-Strengthening Initiative

Plan calls for welfare savings to go toward marriage programs.

The president's healthy marriage initiative gained support this week from Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the Fatherhood and Marriage Leadership Institute. The groups are calling for welfare funds to be moved into marriage-strengthening programs.

Janice Crouse, a senior fellow with CWA, said welfare reform worked and she has an idea of what to do with the savings.

"Welfare roles are down 60 percent so we have all this money left over that has been designated for welfare payments," she said. "One of the things that we would like to do with that money is bring it over and strengthen marriage."

Full story at Citizen Link

Looking squarely at homosexuality

If you've got homosexual tendencies,

-- that doesn't diminish your dignity as a human being in any way
-- that doesn't give anybody any reason to show you disrespect
-- that doesn't mean you ought to give in to those tendencies
-- that doesn't mean a life of genuine fulfillment and deep joy is out of reach

Homosexual men and women, like anyone else, deserve to be encouraged toward affirming their dignity as human beings.

But homosexuality and its practice are not something to be encouraged, celebrated or distorted into being regarded as manifestations of freedom.

What are we doing to correct the distortions?

* * * * *

It's difficult these days to talk about homosexuality without sounding prejudiced against those who engage in homosexual activity. That's why I started off by posting those reminders up there. Hopefully, they'll help you establish a frame of mind that enables you to read through the following material (and other articles in the future) with a more objective orientation.

David Parker, the Massachusetts parent who stood his ground about being involved in determining the kind of education his son was getting in school, said the following in a speech he gave last September:
Parents, you need to ask questions of your school administration, this includes teachers, the principal, director of education, director of health, superintendent, and call your school committee members.
Realize that a discussion on transgenderism and “gay”-headed relationships, while claiming to only present reality to children, usually morphs into approval and acceptance. This occurs in a conversation seamlessly and without your notification.

Do take those words to heart for they apply not only to issues regarding homosexuality; the way we discuss other matters that have a moral dimension have a way of "morphing" into approval and acceptance when we're not as well-grounded as we'd like to be.

Bridging the gaps

“I knew that my feelings toward males were different from the other boys I knew,” [conference speaker Chad] Thompson said, explaining that he understood where homosexuals are coming from when they say they’ve always felt different, or they can’t remember ever not being attracted to someone of the same gender as themselves.

Calling himself an “ex-gay,” he told the workshop audience he decided to begin living as a heterosexual once he realized that his legitimate need for love and affection from a male was the source of his homosexual struggles.

Thompson went on to tell how he helps others struggling with the same issues via his organization, Inqueery, which operates a website of the same name and addresses homosexuality on high school and college campuses.

Thompson said he’s met many homosexuals who did not feel accepted at all by the church community. He named three roadblocks that stand in the way of ministry to homosexuals: media, politics and research.

“All three of these arenas perpetuate stereotypes of gay people as well as Christian people ... so when someone from the evangelical world meets someone from the gay community, there is this tension because we’ve been lied to about each other,” Thompson said.

Read more

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A broken-hearted chap and a diamond ring

Backstory: The story of an unlocked car and a mystery ring
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

It was a typical December day in the Boston area: The Bruins had lost again and it was cold - a high of 31 degrees. At the train station in suburban Westborough, one commuter left his car among the endless rows of Priuses and Honda Pilots that park there every day. But, inexplicably - perhaps in haste - he left his door unlocked on this day.

It would turn out to be a fortuitous move. When he returned more than 12 hours later, shuffling to his car with the other frost- breathing commuters, he noticed a box, with a white ribbon, sitting on the front seat.

"Merry Christmas," a note said. "Thank you for leaving your car door unlocked. Instead of stealing your car I gave you a present. Hopefully this will land in the hands of someone you love, for my love is gone now. Merry Christmas to you."

Inside was a three-diamond ring set on a white-gold band. Its value: $15,000.

It took days for the commuter to tell police, but once he did and a local newspaper reporter noticed it going through the weekly police blotter, the story ricocheted from London to Los Angeles to Oprah. It has become Westborough's own Lord of the Rings saga.

Full story at The Christian Science Monitor

When '@$#*@&!' are not mere typo signs

No man is an island. Hence, everything we do has repercussions in society whether we like it or not, whether we see it or not. And the upside of it is that every little good that we do (and say) echoes in one way or another -- and most of the time, we just don't see it.

Here's some food for thought, but don't let it end in thought. Let's get going! It being the season of joy and goodwill ought to provide some impetus to better the corner of the world we live in.

We all have a civic duty to help maintain a polite society, just as we have a duty to help maintain a clean one. Sometimes that goes further than simply not littering yourself; it extends to making it clear to someone you see littering that their behavior is unacceptable. If at that point they thumb their nose at you and walk away, fine, you have done your part — almost. The only thing you have left to do is pick up the other person's trash yourself, setting an example for them. It's the same with swearing. You lead by example, but don't forget to look behind and uphold the expectation that others follow your lead as well.
By taming your tongue, you might not be able to change the whole world, but you can work to better your little corner of it. It is your duty to do so.
* * * * *
What's Wrong With Swearing?
Swearing imposes a personal penalty
  • It gives a bad impression
  • It's a tool for whiners and complainers
  • It reduces respect people have for you
  • It shows you don't have control
Swearing is bad for society
  • It contributes to the decline of civility
  • It offends more people than you think
  • It makes others uncomfortable
  • It is disrespectful of others

Read Taming the tongue
by Chuck Holton

From Boundless webzine

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Yuletide greetings to all

Have a blessed Christmas with your families and friends, guided by the true North Star.

Silhouette art by Gertrud Junker

The Mom before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,
when all thru the abode
Only one creature was stirring,
and she was cleaning the commode.

The children were finally sleeping,
all snug in their beds,
while visions of Nintendo and Barbie,
flipped through their heads.

The dad was snoring
in front of the TV,
with a half-constructed bicycle
propped on his knee.

So only the mom heard
the reindeer hooves clatter,
which made her sigh,
"Now what is the matter?"

With toilet bowl brush
still clutched in her hand,
She descended the stairs,
and saw the old man.

He was covered with ashes and soot,
which fell with a shrug,
"Oh great," muttered the mom,
"Now I have to clean the rug."

"Ho Ho Ho!" cried Santa,
"I'm glad you're awake."
"your gift was especially
difficult to make."

"Thanks, Santa, but all I want
is some time alone."
"Exactly!" he chuckled,
"So, I've made you a clone."

"A clone?" she muttered,
"What good is that?"
"Run along, Santa,
I've no time for chit chat."

Then out walked the clone -
The mother's twin,
Same hair, same eyes,
same double chin.

"She'll cook, she'll dust,
she'll mop every mess.
You'll relax, take it easy,
watch The Young and The Restless."

"Fantastic!" the mom cheered.
"My dream has come true!"
"I'll shop, I'll read,
I'll sleep a night through!"

From the room above,
the youngest did fret.
"Mommy! Come quickly,
I'm scared and I'm wet."

The clone replied,
"I'm coming, sweetheart."
"Hey," the mom smiled,
"She sure knows her part."

The clone changed the small one
and hummed her tune,
as she bundled the child
in a blanket cocoon.

"You're the best mommy ever.
I really love you."
The clone smiled and sighed,
"And I love you, too."

The mom frowned and said,
"Sorry, Santa, no deal."
That's my child's LOVE
she is trying to steal."

Smiling wisely Santa said,
"To me it is clear,
Only one loving mother
is needed here."

The mom kissed her child
and tucked her in bed.
"Thank You, Santa,
for clearing my head.

I sometimes forget,
it won't be very long,
when they'll be too old
for my cradle and song."

The clock on the mantle
began to chime.
Santa whispered to the clone,
"It works every time."

With the clone by his side
Santa said "Goodnight.
Merry Christmas, dear Mom,
You will be all right."

* Found this one at Contemplating the Laundry

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Small world

The world seems smaller and smaller as the years go by, and I'm not talking about anything related to the planet's resources or the whole population issue. Our world feels like it's becoming smaller because we get to know how life is going and how people are doing on other parts of the globe. A business executive in Seoul carrying on a conversation with a group of entrepreneurs in London is not at all surprising nowadays. Indeed, with all the advancements (and resulting convenience) that technology is providing us, getting better acquainted with the rest of the world has become so easy.

But do we really know more about people and cultures other than our own? Is there more understanding between countries now that technology has placed opportunities for learning right at our fingertips? Is there true advancement going on?

Well, a Christmas lantern can hardly be the symbol of advancement, but let it be a start. That's what's in the photo above (the one on the right is closer to the original star-shaped ornament) -- a traditional Christmas decoration that adorns houses in the Philippines once the Yuletide season comes rolling in. The lantern, or "parol," is just one of many symbols of Christmas in this country of 7, 107 islands, but don't take my word for it! Know more about how Christmas is celebrated in this Southeast Asian nation (some more materials here).

I surfed around yesterday, wanting to know how the season is celebrated in Mexico and got a fill of posadas, piñatas, even the same noche buena which is also a staple in Philippine Christmas festivities (here's another site about how the Mexicans celebrate Christmas). Then off to Irish traditions I went. And as a bonus, I even discovered the real meaning behind "The Twelve Days of Christmas" -- which was written as a reminder of significant points about the faith centuries ago, when getting caught with anything in writing that indicated adherence to the faith meant imprisonment or death (so now when I sing about the 7 swans a-swimming or 5 gold rings, I dwell on more than mere fowl and jewelry).

There would have been more here had my computer been cooperating and not going on "time-out" every 10 minutes or so. Africa and Central America were going to be the next stop on my Christmas-tradition research, but that will probably have to wait till next year.

Hope this somehow makes the world smaller for you, too.

Addendum: Found this "Christmas in China" link via A family runs through it. Thanks so much, Phil!

Are you happy now?

In pursuit of happiness
half the world is on the wrong scent.
They think it consists
in having
and getting,
and in being served by others.

Happiness is really found
in giving and in serving others.

- Henry Drummond

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Delivering meals and friendships

It all began with home-baked pecan pies. By delivering pies to their neighbors on Colby Avenue, Jim and Dana Strickland of Everett hoped to satisfy their hunger for enduring friendships.

That was two years ago, between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Stricklands and their three young children had just moved to north Everett from Marysville, where they hadn't even known their neighbors.

"They all had garage door openers. They'd drive in, close the door, and we'd never see them," said Jim Strickland, a teacher at Marysville Junior High School.

What began with pecan pie - "my mom's recipe," Jim Strickland said - is now a year-round meal exchange, with four households trading off cooking duties. The arrangement covers dinners Monday through Thursday nights.

"When somebody makes the effort to reach out, especially in a new neighborhood, the response is going to be open arms," Jim Strickland said.

Full story

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rebel with a cause

He ran away from home at 14 hoping to earn a living playing the guitar on the streets. But he soon tired of it. He next apprenticed with a blacksmith. Then he heard of the famine in Africa ... and life changed. Lorraine Chandler comes face-to-face with the rebellious spirit of Fredéric Vigneau, MSF's UAE executive director.

It is said everyone wants to be a hero. But this is not true of Fredéric Vigneau, the newly-appointed UAE executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - 'Doctors without Borders'.

Full story at Gulf News

Meeting success in fighting AIDS

A senior U. S. research scientist who once advocated the use of condoms to slow the spread of HIV now promotes abstinence and fidelity as far more effective weapons against the disease.

Edward Green, with the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, became convinced of the effectiveness of abstinence and faithfulness after witnessing the impact of Uganda’s ABC program on the country’s infection rates. The ABC method, which stands for Abstain, Be faithful, or use a Condom, is credited with dramatically reducing the rate of HIV infection in Uganda since it was first implemented in 1986.

Appearing before the African subcommittee of the U.S. Senate on May 19, 2003, Green stated: “Infection rates [in Uganda] have declined from 21% to 6 % since 1991. Many of us in the AIDS and public health communities didn’t believe that abstinence and faithfulness were realistic goals. It now seems we were wrong.”

Full story at LifeSite

Monday, December 12, 2005

Getting into the lives of 'the invisibles'

Do you, for instance, ever bother to say a 'hi' to the grocery delivery boy? Or the gas delivery man? Or the lift operator? Or the watchman? Or your florist?

These are essentially the 'invisible people' - people who rarely have grandiose plans for the future.

They just want to grasp the simple pleasures and small attainable goals in life, such as saving enough to send a regular remittance back home, putting a sibling through school/college, trying to finish building a little home for themselves.

Gulf News met with some 'invisible people.'

The invisibles
By Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary

'The Sixth Floor' and other stories

Do you know that the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 declared December 5 of each year as International Volunteer Day? I didn't, until I came across

They are the Volunteers who support communities and governments around the world. Volunteers offer something that is far more valuable than a grant or monetary support--they offer their time, talents and own selves. It is through their vision and idealism that others continue to have hope. They are honored not with monuments, but with the genuine smiles of those they helped. Then, it is through touching other people’s lives that their own lives are transformed.

Nearly 300 Filipino volunteers are currently placed in various developing countries around the world. In the country, most of the estimated 318,000 non-profit organizations operate with a support network of volunteers. Indeed, Volunteerism plays a significant role in the social, economic and political development of the country.

One of the volunteers is Tina Alejandro, who wrote The Sixth Floor in which she relates her touching and thought-provoking experience with 7-year-old Mico and a few other seriously ill kids she spent time with as a volunteer for the Kythe Foundation. Her essay was among the winners in the essay-writing contest that iVolunteer conducted among the volunteers.

This page contains The Sixth Floor and more essays written by other volunteers.

Food for thought for us living in a 'civilized society'

he Spine-Chilling Euphemism of the Month Award goes to the Washington Post for its recent front-page headline: "Down Syndrome Now Detectable In 1st Trimester: Earlier Diagnosis Allows More Time for Decisions."

One "decision" is, of course, whether to terminate the pregnancy — the "A" word (abortion, for those not into subtlety). The less-nuanced, terribly un-P.C., and perhaps you'll consider downright mean among us might use a k-word. The decision being over whether to kill an innocent child, who is completely dependent on his mother's choices. Doctors estimate that between 80 and 90 percent of Down children are now aborted once pre-natal tests issue "warnings."

* * * * *

I know abortion is one of our most contentious issues. People don't want to judge. They don't want to put their rosaries on your ovaries. People often just don't want to talk about it. But we have to talk about it. And we have to especially talk about Down Syndrome and abortion — and this class of people "sophisticated" types seem to think can (and should?) be eliminated. A civilized society cannot tolerate this reality.

As Patricia Bauer put it: "What I don't understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I'd like to think that it's time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I'm not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on."

Defining Life Down: Are we okay with eliminating a class of humans?
Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online

Friday, December 09, 2005

This bud's for you

Best Buddies Deutschland ist Mitglied bei Best Buddies International, dessen Mission darin besteht, die Freundschaft zwischen nicht behinderten Schülern und Studenten und jungen Menschen mit geistigen Behinderungen zu fördern.

There's a bit of German for you, hehe. But anyway, the English translation follows at the Best Buddies website.

Here's a moving article about how perceptions of some high school students were changed for the better, thanks to a special education teacher.

Best Buddies bring Mt. Lebanon student body together

Thursday, November 10, 2005

By Mary Niederberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Special education teacher David Breier had been looking for quite some time for a program that would integrate his students with the rest of the student population at Mt. Lebanon High School.

This fall, with the help of junior Elizabeth Lisowksi, 16, a cheerleader and student council member, a local chapter of Best Buddies International, a group that pairs special needs students with able-bodied students, was founded at the high school.

It didn't take long for Mr. Breier to see the program was just what he had been looking for.

At the homecoming dance last month, cheerleaders, football players and other student leaders invited the special education students, who traditionally congregated in their classroom, onto the dance floor with the rest of the student body.

Both groups of students danced so hard that, Mr. Breier said, he started to worry that some would dehydrate. But that, he said, was a good problem.

Full story at

Serenity, courage, wisdom

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

- from a wooden plaque I saw at a novelty store


I can't even think of an appropriate title for this or an introductory statement that succinctly expresses my thoughts on what some people are doing..

Canada considers more heroin injection sites

Health authorities in Canada's westernmost province want to make the country's first test facility for heroin injection permanent and are considering opening additional clinics to meet the huge demand. The Vancouver facility was set up in 2003, against US opposition, as a three-year experiment exempt from Canadian drug laws.

Since then the clinic, North America's only such operation, has run at capacity, with some 800 heroin injections daily.

"It's all-round positive, with no downsides," said Perry Kendall, British Columbia province's chief medical officer.

Addicts bring in drugs purchased illegally on the street, and self-inject them under medical supervision. There are onsite emergency services in case of overdose and staff nurses and counselors to provide health care and referrals to rehabilitation facilities.

Full story at

Is it for healing or destroying?

Look at the stories about the new prenatal Down syndrome test. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, this test can now detect Down syndrome much earlier in a pregnancy, and is more reliable. Lead researcher Fergal Malone told reporters, “In light of this study, we should offer screening to all women in their first trimester.”

Talk about the remedy being worse than the disease. Through a socially acceptable form of killing, we would take the opportunity to eliminate an entire group of people in order to spare ourselves from having to deal with their differences—because that’s what it really comes down to. Anyone who listens to Mia Peterson and others like her knows that lofty talk about making the best decision for the child’s sake, to keep that child from suffering, is hogwash. People with Down syndrome and other disabled people are not asking us why we did not kill them. They are asking us why we won’t accept them just as they are.

I came across this story at Break Point, then saw it soon after at Minivan Mom, along with some words from the blogger herself that will help us see more clearly what the issue really boils down to:

Say what you like, but understand that from my side of the fence, it is eugenics. It is the removal of a part of the population that makes ‘normal’ people feel uncomfortable. Sorry, but don’t say one word unless you know how it feels to open up the newspaper and read about doctors, actively pursuing genetic screening for whatever disability you have, in hopes that future mothers will not have to give birth to a child that will make their lives…difficult. Watching this same research under way for Epilepsy, makes me sick to my stomach. I am a productive person. I am a productive citizen. BUT because my seizures make people uncomfortable…and inconvenience others…I am unwanted, and that has never been made more clear than at this present point in history, when people like Peter Singer (professor of ethics at Princeton) are held up like demi-gods, spouting their plans for destroying children and infants born with disabilities, that range from down syndrome to…you guessed it…epilepsy. If this is the tolerance that the left likes to speak of so much, then count me out.

Detecting health problems in children still in the womb is a wonder of modern medicine — assuming the goal is to heal, not destroy.

Full story at Break Point

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Being born at a time like ours

Here's a must-read. It even provides a bit of historical data to better understand just why and how some people think the way they do -- and assume (many of them with sincere motivations, I like to think) that they are doing everybody else a favor.

Whose Life Is It? A Well-Born Misconception
by Roberto Rivera

A recent headline in the Washington Post said everything you needed to know about the story that followed:

"New Test Enables Doctors to Target Defectives."

Well, it didn't really say that but it should have, and the fact that neither the Post nor we can bring ourselves to put it that way says a great deal about us -- none of it good.

You can read the full story at Boundless webzine

Pushing the boundaries of bad taste

Is it possible to just ignore certain people and wish them away?? I wish people like Howard Stern who simply insist on spreading filth would just go away -- since this is easier to do than actually deal with the problem with practical measures. But then, ok... if we rest on our laurels and adopt a wait-and-see approach all the time, we know what to expect this world to turn into. And it's not the kind of world we'd want our children and our children's children to live in.

Stern, the foul-mouthed radio jock and commentator, is gearing up for filthier, censhorship-free radio, according to a news report. But then I'm not sure if talking about the whole thing on my blog is even a good idea, for these reasons:

1. I got the news from Fox News, which isn't exactly a shining example of journalistic integrity. If you're familiar with the Philippines' ABS-CBN network, Fox News materials are somewhat like Channel 2's TV Patrol (think sensationalized format). So, I'm wondering how accurate the news report about Stern's plans actually is.

2. This could all be some publicity stunt, and exaggeration has worked effectively in drawing in the gullible and less discerning members of the public. Hence, the "jaw-dropping features" that Stern said he'd be putting into his program could be all part of the promotion blitz (and I wouldn't want to cooperate in such a thing).

So, I'm picking out bits of the news article -- sans the sordid details -- for your information.

Stern reveals plans to be filthier than ever

Howard Stern has crowed for months about how he'll get as filthy as humanly possible when he jumps to censorship-free Sirius Satellite Radio next month — and now he's revealing for the first time, in a New York magazine interview, just how X-rated his new show will be.

In an expletive-filled interview that hits newsstands Monday, the sex-obsessed shock jock tells of some jaw-dropping features that are sure to push the boundaries of bad taste.

That's about all that I could write here without getting obscene.

I wish things like Sirius Satellite Radio would just conduct business on another planet. They simply give people the license to take sacred principles such as "freedom of speech," abuse it, and turn it into something that doesn't belong in civilized society.


Be like a postage stamp.
Stick to one thing until you get there.

- Josh Billings, 1818-1885

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Booked for success

"It’s hard to try new things—for adults as well as children. It’s even harder to stay the course when something is more difficult than we thought it would be, or when things don’t work out the way we hoped. Yet flexibility and perseverance are essential to success in all areas of life, at all ages and stages."

That's what it says on the book profile of this Free Spirit Publishing product. Responsible and mature adults don't become that way out of the blue; formation, though life-long, starts in early childhood. And books are a great supplementary means to forming the character of children.

Try and Stick with it is great on its own, though it's also sold as part of the Learning to Get Along books -- a set of 10 titles, among which are Share and Take Turns, When I Feel Afraid, and Know and Follow Rules.

Great (and positive) expectations

Thinking that your efforts won't pay off? Up against a Goliath figure to your David-like possibility of a promotion? Feeling totally hopeless about the country's future? Fret not. Science shows the benefits of a "sunny-side-up" disposition:

Study Verifies Power of Positive Thinking
By Lauran Neergaard
Associated Press
posted: 28 November 2005
08:05 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Your medicine really could work better if your doctor talks it up before handing over the prescription.

Research is showing the power of expectations, that they have physical -- not just psychological -- effects on your health. Scientists can measure the resulting changes in the brain, from the release of natural painkilling chemicals to alterations in how neurons fire.

Among the most provocative findings: New research suggests that once Alzheimer's disease robs someone of the ability to expect that a proven painkiller will help them, it doesn't work nearly as well.

You can read the rest at LiveScience
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