Monday, 30 March 2009

The Story of "That Something"

Volume XXII : The Bigness of the Fellow Within
Such an incredible story on finding the fire within!!!

THEN RANDOLPH turned to me. “Man, write that story you’ve told us. Write it so that every man may read. Send that message out into the world. If men will read that story, read and re-read, until it is written on their memories, if men will believe the message you bring, and then if they will but awaken that something within their souls that now lies asleep—I say if you can make men do this, you will have done more for mankind than any man or any thousand men have done in many, many years. Write it, man, write it word for word as you have told it here, so every man may read. Write it, man, write it.” And so it has been written.

This happened a long, long time ago. I never see a man limp without thinking of that day. The sky wept. No rift of brighter color broke the drabness of it. I thought the universe wept. That was my outlook. The very times were in misery. Men were out of work. I was one of them. I had slept the night before on the cold, cement floor of the city’s jail. I slept as a tired dog sleeps, a dog worn out with a fruitless chase. All of the night before, I had walked, walked, walked—my pride keeping me from this place. And so the day had found me walking, aimlessly, looking only for food, shelter and work. This could not last forever, so that night I had stumbled down the low, narrow hallway of the jail, and been let into a barred cell with a hundred others. And there I had lain as one dead, on the cold, hard floor. But it is of the day that followed that night in jail that you shall hear. For that was the day of my life. It was then I found “That Something.”

My feet were very tired. My soul wept with the sky. I stood, as in a wilderness alone, on the corner of a great thoroughfare in a great city. And then a man stopped by my side. He was of my height and build. I caught a glimpse of his face. I thought that this man might have been myself, if . . .But my present need drove out reflections. I laid my hand on his arm. “I am hungry,” I said simply. He turned slowly and looked at me. First his gaze took in every detail of the outer man, from my water-soaked cap to my poor, cracked shoes. And then, through my eyes, he seemed to search my soul. I stood there ashamed. I laugh when I think of that now, but it was different then. “Well,” he said presently, “suppose you were fed. What then?” I shifted my weight from one tired foot to the other. “I’d try to get a job somewhere,” I muttered after a moment. “You’d try?” he asked. “Yes, try,” I answered, “although there is little chance. Nobody wants men now. I’ll try, sir. But I don’t care for that now—it’s food I want. I’m hungry, Can you help me?” “No,” he answered, a note of pity in his voice. “I cannot help you. No man can.” “But you could feed me,” I said, with some petulance in my voice. “It is not food you need!” “What then?” I asked. “That Something,” was his reply. A man joined him. They began talking of matters of mutual interest. I was shuffling away through the drizzling, miserable rain, when he called me back and handed me his card. “Man, go find ‘That Something’,” he said, “and when you’ve found it, come to me.” Come to you for what?” I asked. “To thank me,” was his answer, and he and his friend passed on.

There were two words that stuck in my memory. “That Something!” I fell to wondering. I turned into a pool room, and found a seat. I sat there thinking. The balls on the tables before me clicked nickels away from men who could ill afford the pleasures of the place. I sat there a long, long time. There was nowhere else to go. Ahead of me I saw another night in jail. Yet the day seemed longer than the night. It was warm in there. The hum of voices, the regular click, click, click of ivory, the occasional thumping of cue on marble floor—all this in time developed into a dull chorus of monotony. And then I fell asleep. I believe in God. I believe in miracles. I believe in visions as well. But it is only natural that I should have dreamed of “That Something”—so perhaps it was neither miracle nor vision. You will think it a foolish dream; yet it changed my life. That’s reason enough for the telling. You may laugh at it scornfully; then my dream will do you no good. You may see in it what I saw; then you will take your place with the masters of men. This was my dream: I dreamed that I awoke! That is the most wonderful part of the dream; for in my dream I realized that I had been asleep—a long, long sleep from the very beginning of things—and I saw myself, there in the pool room, asleep. Then I saw myself start, my eyes opened, and I dreamed that I saw. “What awakened me?” I asked in my dream. “You awakened yourself,” answered a voice nearby. I turned about, but no one was near. “Who are you?” I asked. “I am ‘That Something’,” came the reply. “But where are you?” “I am hidden in your soul.”

For some moments I thought over what was said. Then I stammered, “How—how did you get there?” “I was born there.” “Why have I not known you were there before?” “No man knows it,” answered the voice, “until he awakes.” “Are you in other men’s souls, as well?” “There is ‘That Something’in every man’s soul, which can move the mountains or dry the seas.” “Then you must be Faith!” “Yes,” came the answer, “I am Faith, but I am more—I am that which makes men face the fires of hell, and win.” “Then you must be Confidence, as well.” “Yes, I am more than Confidence—I am that which makes the babbling brooks lift worlds upon their wavelets.” “You are Power,” I cried. “Yes, I am more than Power,” answered the voice. “I am that which makes the wretched failure lift up himself and rule the world.” “You are Ambition—I know you now.” “Yes, I am all you say—Faith, Confidence, Power, Ambition, and more. For greater than all is ‘That Something.’ I am that which every man must find in his soul or else he will be but a clutterer of the earth on which he lives.” “But how can man find you?” “Even as you are finding me now. First you must awaken, then seek, and when you have found you must learn to control . . .” “Control what?” I asked, confused. “‘That Something’ . . . borrow it from your soul and baptize your life with it. Anoint your eyes, that you may see; anoint your ears, that you may hear; anoint your heart, that you may be!” “But tell me,” I cried frantically, for the voice was trailing off to almost nothing, “how can I do this? How? How?”

“This is the secret,” came the voice to me as the whisper of a gentle breeze, “these words—‘I will’.” And then I awoke with a start. A man was shaking me roughly. “Clear out of here! We ain’t running no free rooming house for bums. If you want to sleep, take a sleeper, but get out of here.” “I will,” I answered unthinkingly, as I turned towards the door. “I will.” My words brought back the dream vividly. I stood in the doorway, peering out into the rain. A boy with a dozen bundles stopped near me to shift his load. “I’ll help you, son,” I said, and laughed gladly as I took half his load and started with him down the street. “Gee, mister, cat’s pretty square of you, all right. How far are you going this way?” “Where are you taking these things?” I asked. He told me. “Why, that’s right where I’m going” I answered in mock surprise. And so we hurried on our way. It was then the clouds overhead began to break. Before we had gone half way, the sun peeped out and the boy laughed with the pure delight of it. “By
golly, mister, she’s going to be some handsome day tomorrow, ain’t it?” “I will,” I answered absently. He looked up at me, startled by my answer, started to ask a question, thought better of it, and, giving me another queer look, trudged on in silence. When he had delivered his packages, he turned back towards the thoroughfare; and he asked me, with the innocent impertinence of boyhood: Say, mister, where do you work?” “Why, I’m working for you right now. It’s good to work, don’t you think?” “But ain’t you got no steady job?” “Yes,” I answered firmly, “I will.” Again he cast a queer look and quickened his pace. We went together to the store at which he worked, It was the largest in the city. We hurried through a doorway at the rear, and I found myself in a large room.

A man stepped up to me and asked what I wanted. “I have come here to work.” “What department? Who sent you?” There were many men in there, packing boxes. Before I could answer his question, someone called him and he hurried away. I took off my coat, hung it on a nail, and started to work, following the example of those near me. A half hour later, the man who first accosted me passed. “Oh,” he said, “so they put you at it while I was gone, did they?” “I’m doing my best, sir,” I answered as I drove a nail with a bang.And so I worked until six o’clock. The sun was very bright outside. When the six o’clock bell rang, the men began filing by the clock. “What about the clock?” I asked the man in charge. “Didn’t they give you a number?” “No.” Then I told him my name, he gave me a number, and I punched out, The boy was waiting for me at the door. “How’d you get the job?” he asked curiously. “That was secured for me before I showed up there.” “Who got it for you?” “‘That Something’,” was my answer. “Aw, quit stringing me.

How’d you get on? I seen a dozen men trying to get in on that work this morning and they was all turned down.” “But,” I explained with a smile, “they had never found ‘That Something’.” He again favored me with a queer look. “Where do you live?” he asked finally. “I am going to find a place now.” “Well, my maw keeps a boarding house—why don’t you come up to my place?” There was but one other boarder. He was a professor of a number of ology branches at a nearby denominational college. He was a little man, with unreasonable hair on his face and very little on his head. He wore thick glasses perched on a beaked nose. His eyes were small and black like shoe buttons. He watched me as I ate. When the meal was finished, he invited me to sit with him in his room.

“I hope you don’t mind my prying,” said he, “but I have been trying to figure you out.” “Yes?” “I have come to the conclusion that you are a student of sociology.” I laughed. “Bobby tells us you are packing boxes down at his store.” I nodded assent. “Then of course it is for the study of the conditions of the working masses that you are down there.” “Yes,” I admitted, “I am very much interested in conditions of the masses right now.” “Then you can help me; I am writing a series of papers on that very subject. Will you answer me this, please. What is it that keeps the underdog down? What is it that the upper ten possess that the under ten thousand do not have?” “Why, it’s ‘That Something’,” I answered. “What do you mean? Education? Environment?” Before my mind was flashed the picture of my boyhood. I saw my room on the top floor of a city block building. I saw myself sleeping in dry-goods boxes in alleys, and by the boilers in boats on the river. Yes, I was an alley-cat and a wharf-rat. I saw myself placed at the mercy of five stepmothers and afather engrossed in his science. I saw myself working, gaining little or no schooling. And then, in the twinkling of an eye, the scene changed and I saw that awful room, with a hundred men lying around me on the cold, hard floor.

“No,” I answered thoughtfully, “it is neither of those things. ‘That Something’ is entirely different. I don’t know just what it is, but I am going to find it, pin it down, and then I will tell you more of it.”

As I looked into his face, I noticed the same puzzled expression the boy had worn. So, by mutual consent, the subject was changed and we talked of trivial things. For a week or more, I packed boxes and drove nails. I was a good packer. I made ‘That Something’ work with me all the time. One day, I noticed the shipping clerk had more work than he could handle. There were idle men in the department. They could do nothing until he checked up to them. I laid down my hammer, walked over to where he stood, and said, “I am to help you this afternoon.” He looked up with a start. “Oh,” he exclaimed. “Well, that’s good. I’m glad they have sense enough to give me somebody to help out, at last.” He handed me a bunch of papers and made room for me at the desk. The superintendent of the department was out of the room at the time. Presently he returned and glanced at me curiously. “So they’ve got you helping Dickey?” he said. I shrugged my shoulders without looking up, and continued figuring. When I left the room that night, the superintendent of the department joined me. “Say,” he said, “I never did get onto how you were put in there. What’s the idea? Working through to learn the business?” “Yes,” I answered with confidence, “just that, I am to learn every detail of it.” “I thought something of the kind. To which one of ’em are you related?” “I do not think it wise to discuss that at this time,” was my answer. “Oh sure,” he hastened to say, “I don’t mean to be inquisitive. Anything I can do to help you, let me know.” And then he left me.

The shipping clerk was a bright young fellow. I liked him, and he liked me. One day, shortly after I had received my first raise in wages, he came to me with a problem. That night I stayed down with him and we worked it out together. We soon got in the habit of staying down one night each week, working over his systems. He lacked originality. I helped him. He had been doing things just like the fellow before him. The business had been growing rapidly—practically doubled. We worked out an improved system. We drew up forms; planned out every detail. One day he carried our plans to the man in authority. There came up a question which the shipping clerk did not quite understand, so they sent for me. My approach was far different from that of the sniveling beggar who had asked the man on the street corner for food. The man in authority looked at me in surprise. “Who are you?” I handed him my card. “You are packing boxes?” he asked in surprise. “I am in the packing room—temporarily.” Then he went over the shipping clerk’s plans in detail. “I think they’re all right. I’ll have these forms sent to the printer in the morning,” said the man in authority.

As we turned to leave the office, he called me back. “How long have you been in the packing rooms?” “Sixty-three days,” I answered. “You’ve been there long enough. There is nothing more for you to learn there, is there?” “No.” He studied me for a while in silence. “Funny neither of them has said anything about you,” he said at length, speaking half to himself. “I suppose the old man’s idea was for you to work out your own salvation—is that it?” “In a way,” I replied. “What any man accomplishes must eventually come from ‘That Something’ within him.” He pondered this for a moment. Then he scrawled a few words on a piece of paper. “Hand that to Perkins in the Auditing Department tomorrow morning and we’ll see how you show up there.” I thanked him and turned to leave the room. “And say,” calling me back; “better forget about my having said anything about your relations with the old man. After all, you see, it’s none of my business.” “Certainly,” I answered, and left the room. Three months later, I left Bob’s mother’s boarding house. It hurt me to do this. She had been almost a mother to me. There was a home life about the place which I had learned to love. Even the little hairy Ology Professor and his fanciful theories had become dear to me. But ‘That Something’ demanded that I move on. So I moved on up the hill. I arranged for a room at a quiet boarding house. It was at the suggestion of the man in authority that I chose his boarding house. So we became acquaintances, then friends; and never once did the man in authority mention the fact that I was “learning the business.”

And so a year rolled ‘round. It was the time Perkins took his vacation. I was given the place until he returned. One day the old man came into the office. He looked at me keenly. Soon the man in authority came in; the old man called him aside. I overheard a portion of their conversation. “Who’s the man at Perkins’ desk?” the old man asked. The man in authority mentioned my name. “Funny I never heard of him before.” The man in authority gasped. The rest was spoken in guarded tones, and I heard no word further. That night, the man in authority came into my sitting room. “Say,” he began, “you’ve certainly got me locoed or something of the sort. I have been figuring you out all along as a ward or a long lost cousin of the old man. Now, today he comes in and jumps on me about putting you in this place of responsibility without first knowing all about you. Of course, I know you’re all right but, by Jupiter, I’m placed in a deucedly unholy kind of light.” “What’s all the trouble?” I asked. “My work going wrong?” “I should say not; but that’s aside from the question. What’s got me going is how the dickens you did it. How you got to hold down the most responsible job on the works without anybody knowing just what you really are. Tell me about yourself, will you?” “I was born of poor but honest parents in a small coal-mining town of What Cheer, Iowa, in the year 1881. My father peddled fish in a wheelbarrow; my mother died when I was one and one-half years old—”. “Oh, cut that bunk. Tell me to whom you are related, or who is backing you up. It’s pull that counts these days. Who gave you your start with the company?”

I leaned back in my leather Morris chair. Memory brought back the picture of that drab day of just one year before. And that brought to my mind the card that had been given me. I had not thought of it before until that minute. I arose, went to a closet where hung the very suit I had worn on that eventful day. I had kept it as a souvenir of my awakening. As I had hoped, the card was in a pocket of the shabby vest. For the first time. I read the name engraved thereon: MATTHEW MORRISON RANDOLPH BONDS I handed the card to the man in authority. He read it with wandering eyes. Now, Randolph was the silent partner of the business. Impossible coincidence? You may think so. I know men who believe success is impossible.

And to them, success is impossible. And so perhaps you believe this impossible. But I tell you it as it happened. “Funny Randolph never mentioned your name to the old man. Anyway, I wish I’d known this when he was talking about you today.” “I’m glad you didn’t,” I answered with a short laugh. “Why?” he asked, puzzled. “Go there to the phone and call up Randolph. I think he’ll tell you why.” “But—” he began. “Go on and call him up. I want you to,” I insisted. In a moment, Randolph was on the line. “Ask him,” I insisted. The man in authority did so. I watched the changing expressions on his face. “You-say-you-never-heard-of-the-man!” gasped the man in authority. “Why, he’s holding down the most responsible job on the place.” “Better let me talk to Mr. Randolph,” I interrupted. His hand was trembling as he surrendered the phone. “Mr. Randolph,” I said, “I know you do not remember my name, for I am quite sure you have never heard it. You may remember, however, one miserable day a year ago when a beggar asked you for food.” “Well, go on,” came a crisp voice over the phone. “You may also remember telling that beggar that it was not food he needed—it was ‘That Something’, and that alone. Well, Mr. Randolph, I am the beggar to whom you spoke and I have found ‘That Something.’

I have learned to use it, and I want to thank you for having shown me the way. When may I have the opportunity of telling you about it?” An hour later the story you have just heard was told to a strange trio: the man in authority, the professor of ologies, and Matthew Morrison Randolph. From time to time, as I told the tale, Randolph nodded his head in approval and I noticed a strange light begin to glow in the little professor’s eyes. When I had finished, we sat for a long time in silence, broken at last by Randolph, who said: “And now tell me just what you think ‘That Something’ really is?” I shook my head in dismay. “You folks know as much as I do about it,” I answered. “But of this one thing I am convinced, through and through. It is real human power, as truly real as the commercial electrical current. It is the power of the inner man, the fuel of the soul machine.

It is the one thing necessary Until we awaken ‘That Something’ of the soul, we bear on our muscles those who have found ‘That Something.’ And we bear them on up the mountain to take their places among the masters of men. ‘That Something’ lies dormant in every soul until aroused. With many, it sleeps until the last great sleep. Sometimes it does not wake until man stands tottering on the border of the grave. Sometimes it is found by the child playing by its mother’s knee. A man’s success depends alone on ‘That Something.’ ‘That Something’ of his soul. Abraham Lincoln found it when a lad. It warmed the cold floor on which he lay and studied. It added light to the flickering glow of the wood fire, that he might see to read. It spurred him on, and on, and on. ‘That Something’ is an awful force. It made of a puny Corsican the ruler of the world! It made of a thin-cheated bookkeeper the money king of a great country! It made Edison the great man of his age! It made Carnegie! It made Woodrow Wilson! It made Roosevelt! It can make you! It is now in your soul! Awaken it—now! ‘That Something’.”

Again the silence followed. I watched the professor of many ologies. I saw the kindled fires in his eyes gradually die out. He shook his head wearily. “No, it can’t be done; it can’t be done,” he murmured. “I have drunk deeply of the cup of life and I am now drinking the dregs. The cup is filled but once, and when it is gone there’s nothing left but the dregs of old age and poverty.” “You fool,” cried Randolph, leaning forward and shaking the little man roughly. “You almost had ‘That Something’ in your power, and now you sing it back to sleep with your silly song of pessimism. It’s the false philosophy, which such as you sing, which has kept men in the ruts of their own digging for centuries past. Wake, man, wake! Wake ‘That Something’ within your soul!” The two men sat looking deeply into each other’s eyes. It was the little man who broke the silence. “Thank you, Randolph,” he said quietly. “You are right. I will.”Then Randolph turned to me. “Man, write that story you’ve told us. Write it so that every man may read. Send that message out into the world. If men will read that story, read and reread, until it is written on their memories; if men will believe the message you bring, and then if they will but awaken that something within their souls that now lies asleep—I say if you can make men do this, you will have done more for mankind than any man or any thousand men have done in many, many years. Write it, man, write it word for word as you have told it here, so every man may read. Write it, man, write it!” And so it has been written. You who have heard it through, I pray that you may hear it every word again and again until ‘That Something’ of your souls has been aroused, and you have taken your places among the rulers of the world.


Sunday, 29 March 2009

Free Speech on the Web?

This is a very interesting article about the threat to free speech on the web.
you can find the original

How China's '50 Cent Army' Could Wreck Web 2.0
Mike Elgan

Two years ago, Chinese President Hu Jintao called on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members to “
assert supremacy over online public opinion, raise the level and study the art of online guidance and actively use new technologies to increase the strength of positive propaganda.”

After Hu's speech, Communist Party officials and the State Council issued an official call for “comrades of good ideological and political character, high capability and familiarity with the Internet to form teams of Web commentators ... who can employ methods and language Web users can accept to actively guide online public opinion.”

The CCP has hired thousands of freelance Internet propagandists whose job is to infiltrate chat rooms, message boards and comment areas on the Internet posing as ordinary users to voice support for the agenda and interest of the CCP. They praise China’s one-party system and condemn anyone who criticizes China’s policy on Tibet. They comment aggressively on news reports about China’s food-safety problems, relations with Taiwan, suppression of bird-flu and AIDS information, Internet censorship, jailing of dissidents, support of Sudan’s military in Darfur and other sensitive topics. Comments applaud the Chinese government and slam its critics, all using scripts and lines approved by the party.

The BBC calls these freelance propagandists China's 50 Cent Party. The Guardian newspaper calls it the 50 Cent Army. (50 Cent isn’t a rapper in this case, but a reference to the pay: 50 Chinese "cents" per post, which is equivalent to about 7 US cents). Other names include “red vests” and the “red vanguard.”

Some estimates claim that the 50 Cent Army includes a whopping 300,000 people. If that’s accurate, China's freelance propagandists exceed in number the total populations of 47 countries.

Why This Isn’t “Astroturfing”

Of course, the Chinese didn't invent the idea. In the US, for example, political campaigns, companies and other organizations have been known to use paid staff or volunteers to post messages en masse to create a false impression that the public supports or opposes something. A genuine bubble of opinion is called a "grass roots" movement. So faking that is called "astroturfing."

The difference between China's 50 Cent Army and astroturfing is fourfold. First, is scale. A typical astroturfing campaign might involve a few or maybe a dozen people at most. Or, in the case of a mass mailing, it could involve thousands of people who voice or submit their opinions only once or twice. China's approach involves thousands of times more people.

The second difference is duration. China's 50 Cent Army works every day, all year, year after year. Astroturfing efforts, on the other hand, are one-off projects designed to achieve specific, limited goals. The reason is that a free press and the machinations of multi-party democracy quickly expose astroturfing projects and turn public opinion against their agendas. Because the Chinese government is accountable to neither the public nor the press, it can sustain Internet mass-propaganda efforts indefinitely.

Third, China's 50 Cent Army, when used abroad, hits people who aren't expecting it. When a political group in the US fakes a grass roots movement, it does so in an environment where people are skeptical and have their guards up. But most people in the West have no idea that China is constantly swaying public opinion on the Internet, and tend to accept what they see at face value.

And finally, China's degree of organization far exceeds any known effort elsewhere. The government's Culture Ministry reportedly trains and even certificates Web propagandists. It’s run like a professional organization.

How This Affects You and Me

Criticism of the Chinese government abroad is often countered by the argument that China's political system is an "internal matter" -- something that's none of the business of outsiders. But China’s 50 Cent Army is everybody's business.

With 300,000 people, you can see how the CCP could easily determine what makes it onto the front page of Digg, and what gets shouted down. They could use Wikipedia, YouTube and Slashdot as their most powerful tools of global propaganda. It would be trivial for China to determine Yahoo's "Most Popular" news items ("Most E-Mailed," "Most Viewed" and "Most Recommended").

Over the long term, the existence of China’s 50 Cent Army erodes the value of the Web 2.0, which is based entirely on the actions of users. If half those users are working for the CCP, then the results of user actions are compromised. Nobody can trust it.

It’s also yet another threat to Internet anonymity, which is already under pressure from legislators and some organizations who believe that anonymous posts create opportunities for fraud, deception and the exploitation of children. The more China’s 50 Cent Army succeeds, the more support will fall behind the idea of fixing the problem by illegalizing anonymity.

Ultimately, China’s 50 Cent Army threatens free speech. And although new threats to free speech are constantly being invented – the 50 Cent Army being one of the most recent innovations – the defense of free speech is always the same: More free speech.

So be on the lookout for the CCP’s paid posters, and oppose them at every opportunity.

A Rant about School

I am finding that school isn't much about education these days. Finding what level a child is every few weeks is nothing to do with educating them. It is analogous to keeping digging up a seed to see if it has grown.

Schools seem to be run on fear these days. Fear that some Bogey man of an education expert will come along and find a school lacking, not because the children are happy and eager to learn, but because the teachers don't have statistics to say exactly how much information is supposed to be in their heads.

Teacher have been reduced to machines, spewing out the lessons the government decrees should be taught regardless of the children's needs and interests, and correlating data every few weeks on how each child measures up to a national norm. This reduces the children to machines also. Each child is unique, with different interests and strengths, rates and styles of learning. How many children would come to school if they had a choice? Hardly any. Shouldn't we be concentrating our energies on creating an environment where children actually want to learn, catering for their interests, rather than reducing them and their learning to statistics?

I keep coming across teachers who have left, or are considering leaving the profession because the joy has gone out of the job.

Monday, 23 March 2009

A Wisdom Story

An African king had a close friend who had the habit of remarking "this is good" about every occurrence in life no matter what it was. One day the king and his friend were out hunting. The king's friend loaded a gun and handed it to the king, but alas he loaded it wrong and when the king fired it, his thumb was blown off.
"This is good!" exclaimed his friend.
The horrified and bleeding king was furious. "How can you say this is good? This is obviously horrible!" he shouted.
The king put his friend in jail.

About a year later the king went hunting by himself. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to it. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. They untied the king and sent him on his way.

Full of remorse the king rushed to the prison to release his friend.
"You were right, it WAS good" the king said.
The king told his friend how the missing thumb saved his life and added, "I feel so sad that I locked you in jail. That was such a bad thing to do"
"NO! it is good!" responded his delighted friend,"Oh, how could that be good my friend, I did a terrible thing to you while I owe you my life". "It is good" said his friend, "because if I wasn't in jail I would have been hunting with you and they would have killed ME."

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Spring Gardening

Today was such a glorious day! Of course, I mean the weather. (I'm English.)

My inner child loves to sit and eat lunch outside whenever she gets the chance. She didn't want to go in after lunch so I did a spot of gardening.

My garden is large and overgrown and very neglected. The house came available after the old lady, who lived here last, passed away and it was obvious that both inside and out had been neglected for a number of years.

I am a fair weather gardener so I had not tidied the garden in the autumn. The dead flower heads were still on the hydrangea bush and the buddleia branches. In fact there were a few years worth of dead heads on the hydrangea bush. It had also taken over the pathway so now it is a smaller and neater bush and we have a wider path. The pampas grass clumps are also neater with last summers stalks cut away.

Brambles and other prickly plants found their way onto the compost heap covering the rotted windfall apples that I threw there last autumn. I am so thankful for thick gardening gloves!

The grass needed cutting but that is another day's work. The grass has long ago given up the pretense of being a lawn. It is now tussocks of grass growing over a thick layer of moss. Walking on it is an amazing experience. Your feet sink down into the spongy green surface with each step you take. To cut it I have to either lift and hold the mower over grass whilst skimming it along or do the same thing with a strimmer. However both the strimmer and mower came from Freecycle and both need new blades. So I made a note of the blades needed just in case I happen to find myself near a shop that would sell such things. A garden center would have them but they are all out of town and need a car to access them.

In the meantime there are many other jobs that need doing - the leaves are still on the front lawn (which has the same spongy moon walk experience), and the patio needs weeding.

The joy of taking over another garden is the discovering the flowers as they blossom. We have quite a few daffodils which I absolutely love for their cheerful victorious yellow. I came across some lovely poems about spring the other day - a perk of teaching the poetry strand of the National Curriculum.

MARCH ingorders
by Roger McGough

Winter has been sacked
for negligence

It appears he left
the sun on all day

by Hugo Majer

past Winter's iron gate.

Then daffodils'
golden trumpets

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Humble Loofah (So green!)

This week I was shopping at my local True Food co-op where I came across a pack of loofahs for washing dishes. This, so the blurb tells me is
"Tough on Washing-Up
Gentle on the
Apparently, in the Philippines, people wash their dishes using a loofah instead of a plastic scourer. They are durable, effective and far better for the environment as they biodegrade when worn out.

Here is something I learned about Loofahs. I thought they were a sea plant, but no. They are grown as a vegetable and used in stir fries and stews.

The farmer allows some loofahs to go to seed for the following season's crop. Once the seeds are removed form the core, the remaining loofah is cut up and used as a scourer.

I've used loofah's before in the shower but never in the kitchen. However, having washed the dishes with it a few times now I'm finding it works very well.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


It is often the case that girls and women have abortions because they don't think there is any alternative. In fact a 2004 study found that 64% of women felt pressured into having an abortion. Their family and the father of the child often counsel having an abortion so that the 'problem' can be dealt with easily. Unfortunately, although the family and friends counseling the pregnant woman/girl, think they are advising what is best for her, they don't realise how detrimental an abortion can be on the emotional and mental health of the woman. 65% of the women studied experienced multiple symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Women who had abortions were more likely to have thoughts of suicide (36%), increased use of drugs or alcohol (27%), sexual problems (24%), relationship problems (27%), guilt (78%), and an inability to forgive themselves (62%).

So I thought I would do something practical because abortion hurts at least two people, the unborn and the mother. I have had free business cards printed with the information below and when I can afford it I will get an ongoing classified advert in the local paper.

I cannot offer money but I can offer a listening ear and I have spare bedrooms if anyone needs a place to stay and I can get second hand baby stuff from Freecycle. I can also teach them EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which will help in overcoming the scariness of the whole journey and also help with pain relief too. And generally be a support in whatever way the woman or girl needs.
Need Help?
call Patricia
0118 959 5675
07942 82 03 46
PregnantNeedHelp (at) gmail (dot) com