December 12, 2010

Shanghai oranges banned

Check out THIS REPORT HERE on the what and why of this alarming situation.

October 20, 2010

Many questions, no answers

Many things bug (not to be confused with bugger) me. Many questions. Not surprisingly not many bright answers. Anyone out there want to give a shot at these ?

Q1 : Is climate change is getting a grossly exaggerated share of attention ? After all, we do have many equally pressing issues.

Q2 : Why the Minister of Environment is always someone from Sarawak ? (and why have they all been men ?)

Q3 : Are plastic bags really bad ? I don’t think so. If people throw them irresponsibly, why blame the plastic bags ?

Q4 : Should we start cloning the rhinoceros to prevent it from going extinct ?

Q5 : Ali G once said that marine pollution is caused by the millions of fish and crabs shitting in the water (just imagine how much a blue whale might poop). What do you say ?

Q6: Does putting Anson Wong in prison change anything with regards to global illegal wildlife trafficking ?

Q7 : Is the performance of Pakatan Rakyat with regards to environmental protection any better than that of BN ?

Q8 : Can the WWF’s TX2 campaign’s target of doubling the tiger population by 2022 be achieved?

Q9 : Is Najib really serious about green technology or is it just hot, hot chicken shit (hangat-hangat tahi ayam) ?

PLEASE CLICK HERE for the rest of the post which was written by Dr. Bala of Planet of the Apes. Reposted with permission granted by Monyet King :-). Thanks!

We did it OUR way

Democracy is government based on faith, not religious faith but faith that ordinary citizens, when well-educated and free to choose, will choose their leaders wisely, being persuaded by logical argument rather than swayed by emotional rhetoric.

In a democracy everyone, male, female, rich, poor, are equal before the law. They are free to express their opinions and criticise their leaders.

It's impossible for any government to satisfy everyone all the time, thus in a democracy there is lots of disagreement and discussion that may be misinterpreted as chaos by people who do not understand the central premise of democracy; faith in the people to make wise choices of leadership.

People in democracies, because of their freedoms, are able to freely collaborate, brainstorm and crowdsource to solve problems.

People in a democracy can sack a dysfunctional government and replace it.

Dictatorships lack the advantages of many minds, millions of minds, working together to solve problems.

Dictatorships lack flexibility to respond to changes in economies and societies.

Look at how during the past 20 years various countries have prospered following the collapse of the USSR.

Look at the track records of dictatorships compared to democracies. You will find democracies are not perfect but they are much better than dictatorships.

Dictatorship's main focus is to perpetuate themselves, not ensure national prosperity.

I have faith that Malaysians will choose wisely when choosing leaders
and a system of government. The future and fate of everyone in Malaysia, including that of my children, depends on the choices made by my fellow Malaysians.

Together we can achieve much more than any one of us alone.

Of that I am certain.

Later, we can say, "We did it OUR way".

Written by Pakac Luteb

October 19, 2010

Singapore Red Cross Home for the Disabled

An aspect of Singapore hardly ever seen, and hardly ever discussed, are the handicapped. Let alone, the severely handicapped. They always seem forgotten.
The average, the below average, and especially the above average Singaporean simply has no time to bother themselves with taking time off to help with such projects.
The Video was created to coincide with the launch of the New Home for the Disabled.

Filmed in just 5 days, and edited in under a week, this short Promo was designed to touch hearts. It was filmed only using consumer cameras, and edited using consumer Computers. And it centered around the moving from the old home to the new one. Judiciously showing a "before and after" in the process.

We invite people to get their hands dirty, helping others in any selfless way they can. Not just giving money, but more so, giving their time, which is far more valuable and precious. Amateur filmmakers can also help, by documenting event special to them, and making such Videos available to the public for a better tomorrow.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO that was produced by Dr. Michael Chick. Kudos Dr. Michael for a brilliant job and more importantly for your heart that cares!

October 18, 2010

Demand-Side Organomics

In The Star, the Health Minister describes the shortage of donor organs for ill people on waiting lists.

He attributes the shortage to people's unwillingness to donate organs.

People may indeed be unwilling to donate their organs but why do so many people require new organs?

The Health Minister should do some "Demand-side organomics" to reduce the need for new organs.

Many of the new kidneys may be required due to diabetes.

The Health Minister should act to reduce the sugar intake of Malaysians and also to educate diabetic Malaysians on proper control and monitoring of their blood sugar.

Many of the new livers may be required due to reactions to medicines, some herbal medicines and antibiotics can cause liver damage.

Patients may be poorly informed by clinics regarding medicines they have been given and suffer liver damage from inadvertent over-dosage of Paracetamol.

Too few doctors explain to patients about medicines and their side effects. Too few patients ask questions of doctors regarding their health and their medicines.

Doctors and patients must act in partnership and there must be emphasis on maintaining health, not simply going to hospital or clinic ONLY when become ill.

Medical school's curricula must include the role of the doctor as educator of patients. Doctors must be trained how to effectively communicate with patients.

It's a matter of national urgency. Healthcare costs are rising, ill people are less productive workers, if many people are ill there will be a big drain on the economy of Malaysia.

Health Minister, Health Ministry, Medical Schools, Doctors, members of the Public, act NOW to prevent catastrophe!

Thank you.

Written by Pakac Luteb

September 30, 2010

Just Right

This morning, I came across a very interesting report by Reuters HERE which said:

It is not too hot and not too cold, and astronomers believe that a new planet detected outside our solar system may have a temperature that is just right to support life.

The planet orbits a red dwarf star called Gliese 581 and appears to be three times the mass of the Earth, the team at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington said on Wednesday.

The team found it using indirect measurements from the Keck telescope in Hawaii, which has been used to scrutinize Gliese 581 for 11 years and has spotted other potential planets orbiting it.

"We had planets on both sides of the habitable zone -- one too hot and one too cold -- and now we have one in the middle that's just right," said Steven Vogt of UC Santa Cruz.

"The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common," Vogt said in a statement.

The planet, called Gliese 581g, is 20 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Libra, according to the paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal and available at.

A light-year is the distance light can travel in one year at a speed of 186,000 miles a second, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).

The researchers use an indirect method radial velocity to detect planets. As a planet orbits, it makes the star wobble very slightly and this can be measured.

"There are now nearly 500 known extrasolar planets," Vogt's team wrote. "If the local stellar neighborhood is a representative sample of the galaxy as a whole, our Milky Way could be teeming with potentially habitable planets."

This planet, one of six whizzing around the little cool star, has a mass three to four times that of the Earth and orbits every 37 or so days, they calculated.


August 12, 2010


Many of you know Antares of Magickriver as the blogger extraordinaire. But did you know that he is also artistically gifted in many other areas including music, art and vocals?

In April 1986, Antares released a limited-edition cassette titled 2nd Coming to celebrate the return of Halley's Comet and to gratify his libidinous addiction to musical extemporization.

He recorded, mixed and produced his first two albums on my own initiative financed by his own savings. The first album sold pretty well, even if no record company was interested in helping him distribute it. From the sales, be bought buy studio time (at a generous discount, thanks to Rediffusion!) to record 2nd Coming on state-of-the-art, 16-track, 2-inch analog tape.

Now, Antares is about to reissue his 1986 solo album, 2nd Coming, on CD - with a brand new master digitally enhanced by Deejay Sanuk aka Daniel Schwörer, an ace Swiss audio engineer and producer residing in Koh Samui.

If you want to know more about the album CLICK HERE and to listen to sample tracks, PLEASE CLICK HERE. Select the first item, "Terminal Hierophantiasis." Note that the mp3 version featured here has not been digitally enhanced.

Personally, I have seen Antares tinker on my piano in my home and have two of his albums. His talent is simply awesome and his creativity is most unusual as he is able to marry cultural and fusion elements most artistically. Considering that he was not musically trained, I find his compositions and chord progressions most unusual and almost surreal. It is such a pity that due to his preference for his lifestyle, he is not in the thick of the music scene in Malaysia. Certainly, few can come close to his talent and passion for what his music.

Please support him by putting in your orders early by :

a) transferring RM25 into either Maybank savings account #112071252584 or Public Bank savings account #4468026936;


b) depositing USD10/€8 into his PayPal account c/o

Please don't forget to email your postal address. The price includes postage. You will be notified when the CDs are posted.

My family and I wish Antares the very best in this music venture. My two boys and I dream of jamming with him one day but then again, Antares is in a super-duper class of his own!!

Syabas, Antares!!!

July 10, 2010


Paul the Octopus or Paul Oktopus (hatched in 2008) is a common octopus living in a tank at a Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany. The octopus is used as an animal oracle in an attempt to predict the results of football matches, usually international matches in which Germany is playing.

During a prediction, Paul is presented with two boxes. Each contains food, and is marked with the flag of a national football team in an upcoming match, among which he is said to choose his predicted winner. Paul is reported to have chosen the box with the flag of the winning team in several of Germany's six Euro 2008 matches, and in each of their first six matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He has predicted a win for Spain against the Netherlands in the World Cup final on July 11 by eating the mussel in the box with the Spanish flag on it.

Subsequently, there has been many changes in the odds of bookmakers everywhere.

"You can't go against Paul", stated one bookie. "He's been right 100% so far and I'm not going against him. But some people like to throw their money away."

Always a bit of superstition goes with gambling, whether it's a certain charm, shirt or once white underwear.

I would not be surprised if police are also now involved in protecting Paul.

Interestingly, it was reported HERE that Mani, the parakeet, or as known in India as a parrot, predicts Netherlands as the World Cup 2010 Champion.

Mani is an astrologer’s assistant in Singapore’s Little India and it predicted correctly the quarterfinal ties and also the semifinals. It is 13-year-old and assists the owner M Muniyappan, a fortune-teller. Mani has become quite the local celebrity in Singapore.

Mani had predicted correctly the Netherlands and Brazil match by picking the Dutch card. The bird became celebrity after one of Singapore’s big dailies, The New Paper, asked for the semifinals predictions and it was proven right.

Mani is a Malaysian-born bird.

Isn't it strange that as our society progresses, man is now turning to animals or birds for predictions wrt football matches? Don't they consider the skills and strategies of the team players any more?


May 20, 2010


The latest edition of The New York Times reported HERE that Pakistani authorities broadened a ban on social networking sites on Thursday, blocking YouTube and about 450 individual Web pages over what it described as “growing sacrilegious content.”

The article by Sabrina Tavernise said:

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, or P.T.A., blocked YouTube after a special Internet monitoring cell within the agency determined that “objectionable content” was increasing, according to a spokesman, Khurram Mehran.

“Earlier we were blocking the links,” he said of YouTube, “but when content increased we had to block the whole Web site.”The ban, which also included certain pages on the Flickr and Wikipedia sites, occurred a day after access to Facebook was suspended on orders from a Pakistani court. An Islamic lawyers group won that injunction, arguing that a contest started by users for drawings of the Prophet Muhammad — whose depiction is considered blasphemous by some Muslims — was offensive. Read more HERE.

May 03, 2010


It gives me tremendous pleasure to announce that my cousin's daughter, Ashley Chung (a Year 11 Student at Chinese International School in Hong Kong), has just published her first book "Billy and Sophie's Big Environmental Adventures" as part of her personal project for the MYP system adopted by her school and also to raise funds for World Wildlife Fund, Hong Kong.

"Billy and Sophie's Big Environmental Adventure" is a story about the experiences of two young siblings in a whole new world. One night, they go to bed and wake up in an entirely different place where they make new friends and learn about the environment during this exciting adventure. After learning about the perils facing our environment, the siblings return home with renewed vision and new found determination to make a difference to the world in which they live.

This book is the culmination of months of hard work and years of diligence and discipline to chase her dream of becoming an author. As a resident of Hong Kong, Ashley noticed the magnitude of pollution there and also the amount of litter scattered on the streets. That and the realization of other environmental issues such as global warming and extinction of some species of flora and fauna compelled her to play her role in helping to secure a more sustainable future for Mother Earth by raising environmental awareness via her book.

This is what Nicole Wong, Assistant Director (Education) of World Wildlife Fund, Hong Kong had to say about her book:

When I read the first draft of this book, I was touched by Ashley's ardor. "Billy and Sophie's Big Environmental Adventures" introduces environmental issues that we are facing. It covers various aspects of conservation, including the impact of climate change and pollution. More significantly, the story teaches children how they can make a difference in conserving this vast ecosystem through their daily life.

WWF-Hong Kong has long been devoted to the promotion of education for sustainable development and environmental conservation. We believe that the only way to achieve a sustainable future is by working together to conserve this living planet. Children are our hope; by cultivating their appreciation of nature, it will raise environmental awareness in the coming generations. That is also the ultimate aim of this story book.

Proceeds from the sale of her books will be donated to World Wildlife Fund, Hong Kong. The book was published by Print Plus International Hong Kong and they can be reached at

Well done, Ashley! We are very proud of you and wish you every success as you have purposefully made this dream come true. May you continue to write more books and make waves in the literary world!

April 24, 2010


The following post was written by DPP who blogs HERE and he shared it in a comment to one of my posts in unplugged so I am reposting it here for more airing. Thanks DPP for sharing.



Would appreciate if you gave max publicity to my letter to Mkini published tpday at and titled "Maika share sale an election gimmick?" It might help voters see straight at HS.

"I refer to the Malaysakini report New firm takes over Maika Holdings.

The salient facts about G Gnanalingam's recent offer to buy out all Maika shareholders are as follows:

1. Maika's paid up share capital - RM125 million.

2. Gnanalingam's offer price - RM106 million or RM0.85 per share.

3. Oriental Capital Assurance Bhd's (Ocab) paid up share capital is RM100 million and as at Dec 31, 2008 it's audited NTA was about RM103 million.

4. Maika's investment in Ocab's share capital is 74.165% or 74,174,640 shares, ie, Maika is Ocab's holding company as it has both more than 51% equity shares and control in Ocab. Maika's CEO Vell Paari a/l Samy Velu also sits on the board of directors of Ocab.

5. Prior to Gnanalingam's buyout proposal, there were two other offers to Maika as follows:

a. RM129 million or $1.75 per share by Salcon

b. RM149 million or $ 2.01 per share by Usaha Tegas, the holding company of tycoon Ananda Krishnan.

The Salcon offer was frozen by a court order taken out by Nesa Cooperative, Maika's single largest shareholder who had objected on the grounds that Maika's 74% investment in Ocab had not been independently valued.

Nesa had recommended the investment in Ocab be sold by open tender. Nesa also revealed there were two other parties interested in acquiring Ocab's shares, one from Europe and another from Australia.

As to the RM149 million offer by Usaha Tegas, apparently Maika rejected this offer as it could not accept certain pre-conditions insisted upon by Usaha Tegas. What these pre-conditions were have not been revealed by Maika's directors.

In the light of the above, I demand the board of directors of Maika explain:

1. Why do they think Gnanalingam's offer of RM106 million is suddenly acceptable to them when they unequivocally know there are local market players in the insurance business and foreign parties who are willing to pay more?

2. Why are they unwilling to offer the Maika or Ocab shares for sale by open tender with a reserve price of say, RM150 million, given the Usaga Tegas offer? If as Gnanalingam says, Maika's debts are RM30 million, the net minimum proceeds of RM120 million would be a fair and handsome reward to Maika's shareholders who for some 20 years have received no dividends while there was a period when their CEO was paid a remuneration of RM15,000 per month.

As to Gnanalingam being quoted as saying he's doing 'national service', he contradicts it by saying he will need six months to find another financier which suggests he is looking at flipping the Maika/Ocab shares for a quick gain. So much for national service.

Financiers may do charity work and make sizeable donations from their profits and gains, but their natural predatory instincts mean they will always squeeze out the juicy bits of the best deals for themselves.

It seems clear to me, and for the matter any sane person, that the Maika/Ocab shares are worth a hell of a lot more than Gnanalingam's RM106 million offer.

The RM64,000 question is why Samy Vellu, Vel Paari and the Maika board of directors appear to be not interested in maximising returns to their long-suffering shareholders which include themselves by supporting the lowest offer?

Is there a deal behind the deal?"

Thank you.

we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

April 22, 2010


It was with much sadness and a broken heart that I read the following article from New Scientist HERE by Kate MacAlpine about the decades-long tug of war between environmental and indigenous groups on one hand and the Brazilian government on the other when a Brazilian energy consortium won the right to build what will become the world's third-largest dam.

Almost 27 years ago, I worked as a writer with Friends of the Earth and from then, I have always had a love for the environment. I have blogged about quite a number of environmental issues in this blog. In Malaysia, particularly in Sarawak, there are similar issues faced by many because of the construction of dams. We have only one planet and at the rate things are going downhill, we may not have much a planet to leave to the next generation. When will man learn that the environment is of MORE value than money?

Do read the following article and please leave a comment if you wish to share your thoughts and views. Thanks! Have a nice day!


The controversial Belo Monte dam on the Xingu river in the Brazilian Amazon, a tributary of the Amazon, could power as many as 23 million homes. But since its proposal 20 years ago, it has been the subject of a vitriolic dispute with the government on one side and indigenous people and green groups on the other.

The latter say it would flood 500 square kilometres of farms and rainforest and prevent the migration of fish that are a major food source for 800 indigenous communities. CLICK HERE for more.

April 05, 2010


This evening, I came across a New Scientist article on Picking Our Brains : Nine Neural Frontiers and another interesting one on WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE SMARTER? which I thought I'd share with you....

Excerpt from HERE:

AT EINSTEIN's autopsy in 1955, his brain was something of a disappointment: it turned out to be a tad smaller than the average Joe's. Indeed, later studies have suggested a minimal link between brain size and intelligence. It seems brain quality rather than quantity is key.

One important factor seems to be how well our neurons can talk to each other. Martijn van den Heuvel, a neuroscientist at Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, found that smarter brains seem to have more efficient networks between neurons - in other words, it takes fewer steps to relay a message between different regions of the brain. That could explain about a third of the variation in a population's IQ, he says.

Another key factor is the insulating fatty sheath encasing neuron fibres, which affects the speed of electrical signals. Paul Thompson at the University of California, Los Angeles, has found a correlation between IQ and the quality of the sheaths (The Journal of Neuroscience, vol 29, p 2212).

We still don't know exactly how much genes contribute to intelligence, with various studies coming up with estimates ranging from 40 to 80 per cent. This wide range of estimates might have arisen because genes contribute more to IQ as we get older, according to a study published last year. By comparing the intelligence of 11,000 pairs of twins, Robert Plomin of King's College London found that at age 9, genes explain 40 per cent of the variation, but by 17 they account for roughly two-thirds (Molecular Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1038/mp.2009.55). CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Interesting, isn't it? Do you agree with this? Do leave a comment if you wish to share your thoughts and views. Thanks!

February 14, 2010


Water is precious, yet it is being wasted or poorly managed. You can help promote water conservation by sending on this meme. If you do, simply follow these rules:

1. Create a blog entry entitled "Water Conservation Initiative".
2. Post the Water Initiative Network's Water Facts in your post.
3. List 3 things YOU will do to save water.
4. Add in the photo above, or any photo you have taken of a waterfall, river or lake.
5. End with the line: "Find out more about water conservation and good governance by joining the Water Initiative Network on Facebook! Visit us here at: Water Initiative Network!

Tag 5 or more blog/FB friends. Be sure to copy the rules, okay?

1. Of every 100 drops of water on earth, 97 are too salty to drink, 2 are locked in ice and snow, and 1 is fresh water.
2. The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 50 litres per person.
3. Reducing shower time from 20 mins to 8 mins saves up to 360 litres of water per shower.
4. A small drip from a faucet can waste as much as 75 litres of water a day.
5. Two thirds of the water used in a home is used in the bathroom. To flush a toilet, we use up to 9 litres of water.
6. Water-efficient toilets and washing machines are good ways to save water.
7. A low-tech way to save water is to form the habit of turning on the tap to low flow and turning it off when the water is not needed.
8. Non-revenue water (i.e. stolen or wasted water) constitutes 36% of water 'used' in Selangor, Malaysia, and this raises the cost of water for everyone.
9. Water supply infrastructure cost billions of ringgit. This money could be spent in more useful ways.
10. Large areas of forests are cleared to make way for water supply dams to accommodate our soaring demand for water. These forests and their wildlife represent our natural heritage.


1. I will not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Instead, I will defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on my microwave.

2. I will not let water run while brushing my teeth.

3. I will store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.


1. Antares
2. Crankshaft
3. Romerz
4. Planet of the Apes
5. Steest

Find out more about water conservation and good governance by joining the Water Initiative Network on Facebook! Visit us AT THIS LINK.

February 04, 2010


Egypt will soon reveal the results of DNA tests made on the world's most famous ancient king, the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun, to answer lingering mysteries over his lineage, the antiquities department said Sunday.

Speaking at a conference, archaeology chief Zahi Hawass said he would announce the results of the DNA tests and the CAT scans on Feb. 17. The results will be compared to those made of King Amenhotep III, who may have been Tutankamun's grandfather.

The effort is part of a wider program to check the DNA of hundreds of mummies to determine their identities and family relations. The program could help determine Tutankhamun's family lineage, which has long been a source of mystery.

The identity of Tut's parents is not firmly known. Many experts believe he is the son of Akhenaten, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh who tried to introduce monotheism to ancient Egypt almost 3,500 years ago, and one of Akhenaten's queens, Kiya. But others have suggested he was the son of a lesser known pharaoh who followed Akhenaten.

Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of Egypt's 18th Dynasty and ruled during a crucial, turmoil-filled period when Akhenaten's monotheism was ended and powers were returned to the priests of ancient Egypt's multiple deities.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article.

January 25, 2010


I read with much concern an article that highlighted the possibility of limited access to some sites because of certain possibilities. You can read more about it HERE. Today, many people from all over Malaysia had difficulties accessing Malaysia Today and generally, many have observed a slower speed in online surfing since last week.

In view of such developments, I wish to make a simple request to all readers/subscribers/visitors/friends of this blog and my two other blogs.

Could you please send me an email (SUBJECT HEADING: CONTINGENCY) at this edress If anything happens in cyberspace, I will email you as to what are the necessary steps to take to overcome certain hiccups. The rationale need not be explained for obvious reasons.

When you do email me, kindly use a genuine email address and state your name or nickname that you use when you comment in my blog(if you are a regular commenter) and also your location (not specific address but just your state) for me to verify the authenticity of your email. Readers who previously corresponded with me need not send me this email.

You will get another email from me from another edress if/when the need arises.

I covet your patience and also your cooperation in this matter. So sorry to inconvenience you. I would hate to lose touch with you dear reader, especially the genuine and sincere readers. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Have a nice day! Do leave a comment if you wish. Thanks!


The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.

Written by Charles Swindoll

January 23, 2010


f you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't!
If you'd like to win, but you think you can't,
It's almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind!

If you think you're outclassed, you are;
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself
Before you 'll ever win the prize.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the person who thinks he can!

-Author Unknown-

January 20, 2010


Once upon a time there was a young merman who lived in a beautiful kingdom deep in the ocean. Ever since he had been born he had always been surrounded by magnificent coral reefs, exotic sea creatures and the breath-taking architecture of the mer-people. Yet he never seemed happy, as he always saw the worst in everything and was critical of those around him. Of course, this made him very unpopular with the other mermen and mermaids, and he often found himself alone, thinking about how awful everything and everyone was.

He did, however, have one friend; the eldest and wisest merman in the kingdom. This old merman had known the young merman’s parents for a very long time, and he knew that the boy had never had any friends because of his negative attitude. The wise merman felt sorry for the boy, and so, when he could, he would take some time to talk to the boy and try to help him.

One morning the boy and the wise merman were taking a gentle swim through the kingdom. The wise merman was admiring what a beautiful morning it was turning out to be, but the boy could only notice that the water was colder than he liked it and that the dolphins were being too playful and noisy.

“But what about the coral?” suggested the old merman. “Aren’t the colours glorious today?”

“I guess,” the boy shrugged. “If you happen to like orange, red and pink.”

The old merman looked at the boy for a moment, before the boy finished, “Which I don’t.”

The old merman sighed, wondering if he would ever be able to think of something to make the boy happy. He wrapped the end of his long, white beard around his finger and then unwrapped it again.

“Well,” he said, “I should be on my way. I have a class to teach”.

“What are teaching today?” asked the boy.

“Today I’ll be teaching about God.”


“Yes, God. Have you never heard of God?”

“No. How would I? I’ve never been to any of your lessons.”

“Hmm.” The old merman stroked his beard thoughtfully. “Well, that is a shame. Cheerio then.”

As the old merman began to leave the boy stopped him.

“Hey! Aren’t you going to tell me what it is?”

“What what is?”


“Oh, I see. Well, you can find God everywhere really…”

“Everywhere? But that’s impossible…. Isn’t it?”

“No, it’s very possible.”

“Well, what does it look like then?”

“It looks like you, and me, and the dolphins and the coral….”

The boy frowned at the old merman. “So God isn’t really anything at all?”

The wise, old merman smiled at the boy for a brief moment and then turned away to leave.

“You tell me!” he said as he swam away. “Go and find it and then tell me if it isn’t really anything at all!”


The young merman swam around the kingdom aimlessly for a while, feeling cross about the nonsense the old merman had been speaking.

“What rubbish,” thought the boy. “God looks like everything? God can’t be very special then!”

Frowning, he looked around him, at the buildings, the mer-people and the shimmering fish. Then he remembered the old merman’s words.

“Fine,” he thought. “I’ll look for it, and then I’ll tell him what I think!”

The boy swam straight up to a dolphin, folded his arms across his chest and stared at it.

“So you’re God, are you?”

The dolphin looked at the boy and grinned. The boy didn’t grin back.

“God has a chunk missing from its fin and has bits of fish caught in its teeth, does it?! How stupid!”

The boy swam off, leaving behind the dolphin who had started to laugh.

The boy was in such a bad mood whilst he was swimming that he swam right into a beautiful mermaid with long, golden hair. She looked cross at first, but her face softened and she smiled at the boy.

“You must be in a rush to get somewhere,” she said gently.

“Not really,” the boy replied.

“Well, just try to be careful then, you wouldn’t want to hurt someone.”

Another frown appeared on the boys face and he swam on.

“Well, she can’t be God, that’s for sure. You wouldn’t want to hurt someone… Who does she think she is?”

The boy swam up to a high cliff which overlooked the entire kingdom. He slumped down onto a rock, feeling very hard-done-by. As he looked down he saw a tiny, brightly coloured fish feeding off of the algae which grew on the rock.

“You can’t be God either,” said the boy glumly. “You’re far too small.”


As the evening closed in and the lights of the kingdom began to sparkle in the dark water, the boy sighed. He had been looking for God all day, and all that he had found was a stupid dolphin, a rude mermaid and a small, insignificant fish. The young merman was just about to call it a day and swim home, when he spotted his old friend swimming slowly towards him.

“What are you doing all the way up here?” asked the wise merman. “You’re a long way from the town.”

“Well I was doing what you said and…” the boy replied venomously, but the old merman raised his hand to silence the boy.

“So you’ve been up here all day? Too angry and self absorbed to notice when God is right in front of you?”

The boy opened his mouth to speak, but quickly closed it again, suddenly feeling foolish.

“Look,” said the old merman forcefully. And he pointed towards the kingdom; towards the lights spilling from the buildings, and the glittering schools of fish weaving gracefully in and out of the tall towers and low coral houses; towards the beautiful mermaids and mermen rushing to and fro throughout the kingdom and the enormous shadows of whales on the outskirts of the underwater city. From high up on the cliff every individual movement seemed like a cog in the one big movement of the whole kingdom. Each life and action seemed to fit perfectly with everything else.

The boy sat watching the kingdom, which seemed like one united pulse of colour, movement and breath. He had never seen it this way before.

“Do you see God now?” asked the old merman gently.

“Yes,” said the boy, in awe. “I… I never noticed it before. It’s all perfect, isn’t it? Why didn’t I see it before?”

“When you stop thinking about yourself and how you wish the world would be, you start to see how the world really is. And it’s better than anything that you wished for, isn’t it? Because it doesn’t revolve around you and your ideas; you’re just part of the beautiful flow of it all. Doesn’t that feel good to know?”

Just then the boy saw the tiny, coloured fish which he had seen earlier that day. It was casually swimming over the rocks, experiencing every moment as it arrived and not expecting anything at all. The boy suddenly realised how much like the tiny fish he’d like to be.

He laughed. “Yes, it feels wonderful!”

With a very special thank you to the author, Jenni Piech, for sharing this delightful story with us. Jenni lives in south-east England with her fiance, Tim, and their cat, Cheesecake.

January 11, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a large mountainside, where an eagle's nest rested. The eagle's nest contained four large eagle eggs. One day an earthquake rocked the mountain causing one of the eggs to roll down the mountain, to a chicken farm, located in the valley below. The chickens knew that they must protect and care for the eagle's egg, so an old hen volunteered to nurture and raise the large egg.

One day, the egg hatched and a beautiful eagle was born. Sadly, however, the eagle was raised to be a chicken. Soon, the eagle believed he was nothing more than a chicken. The eagle loved his home and family, but his spirit cried out for more. While playing a game on the farm one day, the eagle looked to the skies above and noticed a group of mighty eagles soaring in the skies. "Oh," the eagle cried, "I wish I could soar like those birds." The chickens roared with laughter, "You cannot soar with those birds. You are a chicken and chickens do not soar."

The eagle continued staring, at his real family up above, dreaming that he could be with them. Each time the eagle would let his dreams be known, he was told it couldn't be done. That is what the eagle learned to believe. The eagle, after time, stopped dreaming and continued to live his life like a chicken. Finally, after a long life as a chicken, the eagle passed away.

The moral of the story: You become what you believe you are; so if you ever dream to become an eagle follow your dreams, not the words of a chicken.

January 10, 2010


A cactus stood all alone in the desert, wondering why it was stuck in the middle of nowhere.

“I do nothing but stand here all day,” it sighed. “What use am I? I’m the ugliest plant in the desert. My spines are thick and prickly, my leaves are rubbery and tough, my skin is thick and bumpy. I can’t offer shade or juicy fruit to any passing traveler. I don’t see that I’m any use at all.”

All it did was stand in the sun day after day, growing taller and fatter. Its spines grew longer and its leaves tougher, and it swelled here and there until it was lumpy and lopsided all over. It truly was strange- looking.

“I wish I could do something useful,” it sighed.

By day hawks circled high overhead.

“What can I do with my life?” the cactus called. Whether they heard or not, the hawks sailed away.

At night the moon floated into the sky and cast its pale glow on the desert floor.

“What good can I do with my life?” the cactus called. The moon only stared coldly as it mounted its course.

A lizard crawled by, leaving a little trail in the sand with its tail.

“What worthy deed can I do?” the cactus called.

“You?” the lizard laughed, pausing a moment. “Worthy deed? Why, you can’t do anything! The hawks circle way overhead, tracing delicate patterns for us all to admire. The moon hangs high like a lantern at night, so we can see our ways home to our loved ones. Even I, the lowly lizard, have something to do. I decorate the sands with these beautiful brushstrokes as I pull my tail along. Buy you? You do nothing but get uglier every day.”

And so it went on, year after year. At last the cactus grew old, and it knew its time was short.

“Oh, Lord,” it cried out, “I’ve wondered so long, and I’ve tried so hard. Forgive me if I’ve failed to find something worthy to do. I fear that now it’s too late.”

But just then the cactus felt a strange stirring and unfolding, and it knew a surge of joy that erased all despair. At its very tip, like a sudden crown, a glorious flower suddenly opened in bloom.

Never had the desert known such a blossom. Its fragrance perfumed the air far and wide and brought happiness to all passing by. The butterflies paused to admire its beauty, and that night even the moon smiled when it rose to find such a treasure.

The cactus heard a voice.

“You have waited long,” the Lord said. “The heart that seeks to do good reflects My glory, and will always bring something worthwhile to the world, something in which all can rejoice – even if for only a moment.”

-Author Unknown-

January 06, 2010


Recently, I came across an excellent article on dinoflagellates — a large, diverse and eccentric group of (usually) single-celled organisms that are as celebrated as they are feared. They are the best of beings and yet are also the worst of beings. They are animals; they are plants. While they can be saviors, they are also killers. Sometimes they are predators and yet, they are also parasites.

Extracted from The New York Times:

All dinoflagellates live in water, most famously the ocean (though some live in freshwater), and many of them can swim: protruding from their outsides they have two whip-like structures known as flagella, one for moving and one for steering. (Flagella is plural: if they had only one, they’d have a flagellum.)

Some dinoflagellates have eyes. Others give off light. Some, like plants, make energy from the sun; others, like animals, capture and eat their prey. Some do both. Funky.

But even if you’ve never seen a dinoflagellate and wouldn’t recognize one if it waved its flagella at you, you’ve probably come across them, for they impinge on our lives in two important ways, one good, one bad. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article. Believe me - it is worth reading!

Take care and have a nice day!

January 03, 2010


I drew my arm back and with a flick of the wrist let the boomerang fly. It was out of my control. To an observer it may have appeared to be attached to a string I held, for it banked to the left and carved out a circle heading back towards me. As it got closer it increased in altitude, slowing and hovering as it settled down into my hands. I clamped them together and felt the exhilaration of a perfect execution.

Boomerangs were like relationships. You got out what you put in and never had complete control of the process. The boomerang decided whether it would return and some days, if the conditions were bad, it would never come back. Selecting a suitable boomerang for the conditions helped but not always.

Some boomerangs would never fly. Like my grandfather's boomerang, the one he got from Queensland during the war. When he showed me it as a boy I was awed. It was dark brown, almost black in places and quite large (about the size of my arm). He had thrown it once that I remember, down at the beach, but it hadn't returned. Still I was smitten and convinced him to make me and my brothers some smaller ones to throw in the bush. They never returned either, but the fun was in the making and the games we played.

Recently I had taken the big 'rang to the park and thrown it with confidence. Instead of banking to the left it had soared up high, directly in front of me then roller-coastered back down almost taking off my head. Inspecting its design and comparing it with a book, I realised it was not to be.

Wind is the natural enemy of the boomerang - contrary to popular belief. I had always thought that the wind pushed the 'rang back to the thrower. Graham informed me otherwise. I met him at the beach one morning. I was there for a swim but when I arrived I saw him standing on the edge of the water throwing boomerangs. It was very calm as he tossed them out to sea and caught them as they returned. It looked very Zen-like and I walked up to him to find out more. That was when he told me that he never threw when it was windy. He patiently explained to me about the aerodynamics - lift, rotation, processional motion, angular momentum - pointing out the modifications he had made.

My first boomerang came from the gift shop Graham suggested. It didn't work so I proceeded to adjust the aerofoils as he had shown me. It still didn't return. Luckily, before I gave up, I tried another shop and was rewarded with a 'rang (which had a guarantee of flightmanship stamped on it), and a book about throwing and making boomerangs. Armed with knowledge and a guaranteed boomerang, I practiced and practiced until I could throw. Like my marriage to Susan, I also learnt when to walk away. Some days and some 'rangs just never worked no matter how hard I tried.

-written by Mark Hansen-

January 02, 2010


It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend's pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to hide your own pains.
It takes courage to show them.

It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to live.

-Author Unknown-

January 01, 2010


When you see geese flying along in "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone - and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are headed the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

What messages do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally - and this is important - when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

-Author Unknown-