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A little help goes a long way in Nepal

>> 27 June 2008

Julie, a young student from Ghent (Belgium) traveled as a volunteer to Kathmandu in 2005. This trip has changed her life and made her invest her time into improving children's lives who for some reason cannot be raised by their parents.

The children find a new home in the Freedom Children Welfare Center where they are taken care of and educated.
Check out their sunny smiles and let them convince you to contact Julie for a small donation.


This election is about who's going to be the next President of the United States! - Dan Quayle

>> 24 June 2008

You just gotta love Jon Stewart.
The audacity of fear: Barack Obama is intent on enslaving the white race.
Beware of some serious Baracknophobia !!!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Headlines - Baracknophobia
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end - Alice Paul

>> 20 June 2008

Today I came across an interesting thing on Julie's I love a good book blog.

The concept:

Go to Flickr (here is Julies page)

  1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
  2. Use only the first page of results, and pick one image.
  3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:

  1. What is your first name?
  2. What is your favorite food? right now?
  3. What high school did you go to?
  4. What is your favorite color?
  5. Who is your celebrity crush?
  6. What is your favorite drink?
  7. What is your dream vacation?
  8. What is your favorite dessert?
  9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
  10. What do you love most in life?
  11. What is one word that describes you?
  12. What is your flickr name?

The result is the above 'personalised' mosaic.


I always wondered why babies spend so much time sucking their thumbs. Then I tasted baby food - Robert Orben

>> 18 June 2008

Last weekend our youngest (6 months tomorrow) was treated to his first solid food.

I lovingly steamed some organic carrots and turned them in a delicious orange mash. My other half got the camera rolling because first time carrots make up for first (and last) time funny faces. We sat him in the Tripp Trapp high chair for the first time and he looked tiny and lost wondering what was going on and where was his bottle of milk.

Our oldest (2) eyed the carrots with interest, claimed the same and did not want to eat his yummie (organic and lovingly prepared) soup anymore.

The first small spoonful of orange mush went to the little mouth. He did make a face. He sputtered and spurted trying with all his might to eject what was given him. I tried to tell him that carrots are yummie and that he should try them. He refused. The carrots landed on the bib, chair, table, floor, me... I gave up and our oldest happily and hungrily finished off the little cup.

The next day and the day after was carrot-trying day again and the same scenario was repeated. I tried not to loose my hope and patience. I started to wonder whether something was wrong with the carrots, with the way I prepared them, with the spoon, with the chair,... Should I maybe try another vegetable? Maybe he just doesn't like carrots... At least the carrot puree was never wasted as our oldest always cleaned out the cup as if his life depended on it.

Yesterday I was a bit reluctant to feed him carrots again. High chair, bib, spoon, soothing words. I scooped a tiny portion onto the spoon and tried to figure out how to get him to open his mouth. I made a funny face, which made him laugh and hop, in it went. Maybe it was the surprise effect that made the orange goop stay in. Maybe he had given up fighting. Or maybe he was just getting used to it or even started liking it. When I looked at him I realised that swallowing mashed food is totally different from the sucking he is used to with the bottle. I somehow saw in his eyes that he finally figured out how to use his tongue to eat instead of drink.

It was a small victory for the both of us that made me feel all proud and warm inside. My little baby is growing up. So fast...

This morning I found the solid result of the carrots in his diaper :-)


Other people may be there to help us, teach us, guide us along our path, but the lesson to be learned is always ours

>> 16 June 2008

Sail the seas of life
get lost
be found

Fight everyday battles
win some
loose many

Discover life's mysteries
receive criticism
be rewarded

See the beauty of it all
a funny cloud
a falling leaf

Look for guidance
find my way
do it right

Realise that someone's help
can be asked for
feels good

Notice that someone's advice
can be wrong
can be right

Come to the conclusion
that the only guide
is me
learning lessons
my way

Thanks to Sunday Scribblings for triggering this post about 'Guide'.


Football is much harder if you don't have the ball - Sven-Goran Eriksson

>> 11 June 2008

For those who haven’t noticed yet, the EURO 2008 football (that is soccer for you Americans) championships have started.

It is a time when people in Europe start behaving weirdly for a few weeks (or at least as long as their team is still in the run).

* They hang their national flags out their windows in support of their team.
* They fix little flags on their cars.
* They group around a tv screen in pubs and drink large amounts of beer.
* They wear their team-shirt to work.
* They become all patriotic.
* When talking about the game they say ‘WE played a good match’ as if they were part of it.
* They cry real tears when their team looses.
* They cancel everything on a game night.
* Many people do a 180 degree turn, showing a side of themselves no one knew about.

What surprises me is the way football seems to draw masses of people together for a same cause who would not even speak to each other under normal circumstances. People with the most different political or religious views are sitting next to each other cheering ‘their guys’. For 90 minutes, they share the same sense of belonging to a wonderful country. It’s pathetic.

My other half hates football. I don’t hate it but I do not behave in any of afore mentioned ways either. We live in a country which I believe has never participated in any football European or World championships. So we have a good excuse to ignore the whole hoopla. But when Holland beat current World champion Italy 3-0 I smiled :-)

Euro 2008


10 things that annoy you about work

>> 10 June 2008

Thanks to Ten on Tuesday for prompting this list.

Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun - Colleen C. Barrett

10 things that annoy you about work
  1. Having to drive there: I'd love to be able to work from home. Maybe not every day (I like to see my colleagues from time to time), but most days. I'd be more productive, more flexible, happier.
  2. Responsibility: Either you have it (a little, a lot) or you don't. But when your job description says you have it and your actual job speaks a different reality it's a bit frustrating to say the least.
  3. The creating part: I am in a job where I don't create anything. I don't participate in the betterment, beatifying, beautification or well-being of the world. I sell. And when I close a deal I feel proud I did it, but it's just business. I didn't create, I didn't make the world a better place.
  4. The fun part: I guess this goes with number 3. Since I'm not creating anything, most of the time work is just that: work. It can be challenging, exciting, difficult. But fun is something else.
  5. Team-work: Companies are so big on hashing out every aspect of team-work and we all know by now that Together Everyone Achieves More. Yeah right. The reality looks different. The reality in corporate life is often more like 'an eye for an eye...' and 'everyone fights for themselves'. Silo's are created and team work becomes Time, Energy And Money that noone is willing to spend.
  6. The flexibility part: To keep work interesting I believe that everyone should change jobs every 5 years. This can of course be within the same company. It seems however, that once they got you into a position where you do what they want, they like to keep you there. If you mention that you'd like to do something else, it is immediately considered that you don't like your job, the company and/or your boss.
    And I'm not even going to tell you what happens if you ask for a more flexible work schedule...
  7. Us versus Them: There seems to be a continous war between us (the employees) and them (the bosses/employers). We seem to forget that we're all in the same boat. Your boss has a boss who has a boss who has a boss, who has a CEO who has a shareholder... So instead of separating into groups, working together to Achieve More... would make sense no?
  8. Money: Today's corporate world is not about people anymore. It is all about money. How can we make more money, cut costs, increase our EBITDA? The answer is usually: shift the problem. Create little companies, create different budget, find reasons to cut personnel costs. As long as the stock goes up and the shareholder is happy. What happened to the good old family feeling companies where people were treated as human beings?
  9. The time we spend there: 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. With a break of short weekends and a few weeks of holidays per year. Work and sleep is where we spent most of our time.
  10. Work to live: We all have to work to have a decent life, to pay our mortgage, to be able to buy food, to pay for things we need or like. Without work, no money, without money no life. It is the dependency of this circle that annoys me the most.


Life is short... running makes it seem longer / Baron Hansen

>> 5 June 2008

This morning I went running.

There was a continuous but very light rain, the kind of drizzle you can hardly see, only feel. It made the world look hazy and gray, but in a pretty way. I concentrated on my body and breathing and five minutes of running take me on a path in the middle of woods and fields.

The green everywhere looked fresh, bright and clean. The birds were chirping away and I am not sure whether they were complaining about the rain or just enjoying the sprinkle as much as I did. The back road was brimming with slugs deciding to cross and my trying to avoid stepping on them made my jog look more like a dance.

Running is one of the best solutions to a clear mind
Sasha Azevedo

A bit ahead, on a dead tree trunk just beside the road, I saw a buzzard scanning the horizon, probably looking for an incautious mouse. As I approached, I was sure it would fly away. It kept looking at me as if evaluating the need to flee and the risk of staying put.

Unexpectedly, it seemed as if we both landed in a time warp and I appeared to be moving in slow motion, passing the big bird in the tree. Our eyes were hooked and we looked at each other until I was passed it. It was eerie and majestic at the same time.

Those seconds made me suddenly very aware of my surroundings. I seemed to hear everything clearer, see the colors much brighther, perceive my breathing much stronger, feel my feet touching the ground. And something shifted. My running changed. I became suddenly part of the whole picture and not just someone who runs through or past it. It was one of those magic moments that happen sometimes and make us feel 'connected'.

The freedom of Cross Country is so primitive.
It's woman vs. nature
Lynn Jennings

I smiled broadly and looked back. The vulture was still sitting there, scanning the field. The moment had passed. I became a normal runner again. I tried to flick myself back into that moment, that feeling, that freedom, but couldn't shift.
Then I remembered something I had read yesterday about the Alexander Technique and Running. Run tall, the external direction is forward, the internal direction is up. And plop, my running became easier and faster, smoother. I let myself slump back into my normal running and noticed that I run with my upper body leaned slightly forward instead of up. Just changing my posture a little, shifting slightly made my running feel much easier.
I am happy for this discovery.



10 ways the world has changed since you've been in school

>> 3 June 2008

  1. Communication technology: THE change since my school days. I remember having a class where we were taught some very basic DOS language. Now everyone seems to have a pc at home, everyone gets information from and books everything via the internet, everyone communicates via email and cell phones, connections are wireless, blackberrys allow you to be reachable everywhere via GPRS. I'm glad I'm still of the generation that caught this technology bus. My parents have no clue anymore.

  2. Environment: We did not recycle. We wasted water in the summer washing cars, playing under the showering hose in the garden for hours. We had not heard of alternative energies, the Ozone layer, the melting icebergs. Now kids are much more environmentally minded than their parents.
  3. Camera's: Taking pictures was a well thought through procedure. People were put in place for ages until the setup was perfect and one had to wait until everyone smiled before the shot was taken. Goodbye spontaneity. Now taking pictures is FUN. Shooting away when my kids are running around not having to worry about development costs is wonderful. The same goes for filming.
  4. A child's freedom: We were constantly outside, running around in the streets, the woods. The world was a big adventure playground. No one worried about us getting dirty. No one worried about us getting picked up by strangers. We went places alone. Now kids are driven or accompanied everywhere and the media has turned the world into an unsafe place.
  5. Safety: We rode bikes with no helmets. We sat in the back of cars without seat belts or car seats. We swam in our rivers and drank the river's water (this could also fall under my number 2). We played on the streets as there were hardly any cars.

  6. Travel: It used to take hours to get to my grandparents (250 km away). There was no highway. It felt like a trip around the world for which things needed to be planned and prepared a long time in advance. Now one can get everywhere in no time. Driving, but also flying has become very common.
  7. Choice: There used to be one or two brands for each product. You went to the store to buy washing powder and you'd take the one they had. Now your head spins from the choice of boxes and the miracles they offer to perform on your laundry. The same goes for magazines, yoghurt, coffee, cereal... you name it. Europe still has less choices than the USA (thanks for that) - we still have places where, when ordering a coffee, nobody asks you whether you want it small, medium or large, you don't have to specify which syrup or milk you'd enjoy. Coffee is still just plain simple coffee.
  8. Geography and culture: We used to learn about far away countries and cultures without ever having set foot there. We did not know many foreigners, there were no other ethnic communities. People used to live in one place and stay there. Nowadays people move around much more freely and the world has become an interesting melting pot. You can now find international art displayed in small towns where the only claim to fame used to be the yearly fun fair.
  9. Television: When I was in school we had just one or two tv channels of very bad quality. We were allowed to watch a certain amount of time and a selection of programs. Satellite has brought television from every place in the world to every place in the world and at the same time increased the choice of channels. The picture quality might have highly improved, not so the quality of content. Video's with barely dressed, skinny girls wriggling their butts, reality shows competing for the wildest people saying and doing the wildest things on camera, war and violence brought live into your living room, television for babies... When I was in school the only monstrous thing I had seen was Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.

  10. Life: I was young, naive, restless, reckless and careless. I could party till dawn and sleep until noon. I could decide to travel, move, change my life on the spur of the moment. I only had myself to take care of. Now I am older, hopefully a bit wiser, much more peaceful, at ease with myself (mind and body), a wife to a very special man, a mother to two gorgeous boys and much, so much happier. I wouldn't want to go back to school, not for anything in the world :-)


Mind-set matters -- Why thinking you got a work out may actually make you healthier

>> 2 June 2008

As the commitment to our New Year's resolutions wanes and the trips to the gym become more infrequent, new findings appearing in the February issue of Psychological Science may offer us one more chance to reap the benefits of exercise through our daily routine.

Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer and her student Alia Crum found that many of the beneficial results of exercise are due to the placebo effect.

The surgeon general recommends 30 minutes of daily exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While this may be harder for those who are required to sit behind a desk for eight hours, other jobs are inherently physical, like a hotel housekeeper. 

On average, they clean 15 rooms per day, each taking 20 to 30 minutes to complete. According to the study, the housekeepers might not perceive their job as exercise, but if their mind-set is shifted so that they become aware of the exercise they are getting, then health improvements would be expected to follow.

The researchers studied 84 female housekeepers from seven hotels. Women in 4 hotels were told that their regular work was enough exercise to meet the requirements for a healthy, active lifestyle, whereas the women in the other three hotels were told nothing. 

To determine if the placebo effect plays a role in the benefits of exercise, the researchers investigated whether subjects' mind-set (in this case, their perceived levels of exercise) could inhibit or enhance the health benefits of exercise independent of any actual exercise.

Four weeks later, the researchers returned to assess any changes in the women's health. They found that the women in the informed group had lost an average of 2 pounds, lowered their blood pressure by almost 10 percent, and were significantly healthier as measured by body-fat percentage, body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio. These changes were significantly higher than those reported in the control group and were especially remarkable given the time period of only four weeks.

Langer writes, "Whether the change in physiological health was brought about directly or indirectly, it is clear that health is significantly affected by mind-set." This research shows the moderating role of mind-set and its ability to enhance health, which may have particular relevance for treating diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

Psychological Science, published by the Association for Psychological Science, is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals for impact by the Institute for Scientific Information. For a copy of the article "Mind-Set Matters Exercise and the Placebo Effect" and access to other Psychological Science research findings please contact Catherine West at (202) 783-2077 or cwest@psychologicalscience.org.
Contact: Ellen Langer langer@wjh.harvard.edu


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