Sunday, December 28, 2008

Photos that did not win - from

From A lot of great photos were overlooked in 2008 in the slew of images we received (an average of more than 500 submissions) for each of our twice-monthly photo contests. In celebration of the year coming to a close, we've gone back and pulled out some of our favourite contest photos that just didn't get the votes they deserved.

Dust Bunny Thief by Nick Wilson

Japan obsessed with blood types

A Japanese POV on what our blood types dictate:

Japan is in the grip of a blood type obsession, with an increasing sector of the population subscribing to the theory that blood types determine every aspect of personality, temperament and interaction with others. From how to snare a prospective lover to the best way to secure a promotion at work, for a growing number of Japanese, the answer to every problem lies in an unlikely source: blood type.

Testimony to the nation's love affair with blood type analysis are four books analysing the subject which have occupied places in Japan's top ten best seller lists for the past year. Despite a undeniable lack of scientific evidence proving a link between blood type and temperament, this has not stopped the Japanese population enthusiastically embracing the concept. From reserved perfectionists Type As and confidently curious Type Os to flamboyant free-thinking Type Bs and high maintenance Type Abs, there are products and services to suit every blood type. Matchmaking services, employment opportunities and beauty products are among a raft of aspects of modern day Japanese life that subscribe to the blood typology theory.

TYPE A – Patient, uptight, sensitive, responsible, cautious.
Famous examples: Adolf Hitler, Britney Spears, Ringo Starr

TYPE B – Individual, unconventional, optimistic, unpredictable, creative, strong
Famous examples: Paul McCartney, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo Di Caprio

TYPE O – Trendsetting, passionate, vain, self-confident, loyal.
Famous examples: The Queen, John Lennon, Liam Gallagher

TYPE AB – Sociable, popular, calm, rational, critical, indecisive
Famous examples: Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Mick Jagger


So ... what's your type, hmmmm?

This NYE dress as Ursula!

So what if this NYE you are not invited to a fancy dress party - you can still indulge your tentacled fetishes in this dress because this is not a costume ... it is a real proper couture outfit - available from (I think it looks a German fashion house?!)

And here are more photographs from the Vecona fashion show.

Cyber cafe offers home to homeless

In a country where an street address is key to getting a job, an Internet cafe near Tokyo is offering the unemployed and homeless more than just a virtual, email address. In addition to the usual Internet services, comic books and unlimited beverages offered by most Japanese Internet cafes, Cyber @ Cafe offers its residents long-term lodging and an official registered address.

This simple service is vital for the 50 semi-permanent residents of the cafe, many of whom have taken refuge here after being laid off abruptly during the current recession.

Goldfish survives at least 13 hours out of water

So this lady wakes at 7 am to find her goldfish missing from its bowl. She found it at 8 pm after she returned from work. So the fish was out of its bowl for 13 hours - maybe more depending on when in the night it jumped out of the water!

Barbara Woodford woke to discover Ginger missing from its bowl. Unable to find the fish before leaving for work, she feared the worst. But when she returned home in the evening she spotted her pet on the floor behind a cupboard, alive and well.

"I picked him up with a spatula and his mouth started moving. I put him back into the water and off he went. He was swimming fabulously. I couldn't believe it - it was a real Christmas miracle," said Mrs Woodward, 61, of Gloucester.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

RIP George Carlin

... talking about 'soft language'

Jack Frost shows his face!!

Parts of the US is now in the grip of an unusually harsh winter and Jack Frost or Old Man Winter has shown his face there - literally!


Locals in chilly Washington state in the northwestern United States suspect the icy figure of folklore has put in a personal appearance in the town of Lake Stevens. The icicle was found hanging from the home of local man Jeremy Olden and the photograph posted on a community website.

The uncanny ice structure, in which a head complete with hair, a forehead, nose, mouth and beard appears to jut from a thick icicle, has bemused locals in the town of 40,000 residents which is experiencing typically freezing winter weather.

Another Virgin Mary gives birth to Jesus

Talk about coincidences! A carpenter and his wife (who just happened to be called Virgin Mary) were going to call their child after a prominent football star. But when he was born on the 25th of December, decided to call him Jesus.

A Peruvian woman named Virgin Mary has called her son Jesus after giving birth on Christmas Day. Virgin Maria Huarcaya, 20, delivered the 7.7 pound (3.5 kg) boy in the early hours of Christmas Day at the central maternity hospital in the capital Lima, according to Peru's state news agency. She then named him Jesus Emanuel. But in a further twist, the baby's father, Adolfo Jorge Huamani, 24, is a carpenter.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Talking Dogs

Elephants send SMS in Africa

I love it when technology is put to these kinds of uses!!

Elephants in Kenya are being fitted with collars which send warning text messages alerting rangers that herds of the animals are about to raid farmers' fields. The pioneering scheme allows rapid response teams to race to scare them off before they strip villages of a year's maize or banana harvest in one night. An average of 25 such 'problem elephants' are culled each year in Kenya.

Now some of the most notorious crop-raiders have been fitted with £2,500 collars which contain a mobile phone SIM card which sends an hourly GPS position to a central server in Nairobi, Kenya's capital. If the elephants stray close to a virtual 'fence' whose limits have been programmed into customised software, a text message is sent to the mobile phone of the closest wildlife rangers. They then scramble vehicles carrying spotlights and armed guards to scare the elephants away from the fields.

Two mobiles per person ...

I do not know about the rest of the world, but here in my home I already have 2 people who have two mobile devices - a phone and a blackberry - and one of them had taken an oath a few years ago that he would never buy a blackberry! Lol!! So I am not surprised that surveys are showing that a whole nation is edging towards the 2 mobiles per person phase. I would think that if surveys are carried out many more countries would find themselves in the same situation.

Britain is edging closer to becoming a two-mobile nation, according to the latest survey. The poll of 1,000 people found most adults have a handset, with only the very young and very old not owning a mobile phone. The average mobile phone owner now has an average of 1.8 handsets and the figure is expected to rise to two mobiles for every person soon. The rise in ownership is thought to be because more people have one mobile for personal calls and another for work as companies give employees Blackberry devices to keep in touch out of hours.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Difference between men & women


Arsenic drinking water in India

More than six and a half million people in eastern India are drinking contaminated water. The water is being drawn from wells where special filters used to remove the arsenic have reached the end of their natural life but there is no money to replace them.

Pilots reporting drunk for work on Indian carriers

Looks like quite a few pilots on Indian carriers report to work in high spirits - literally! Should be grounds for instant dismissal. Not just de-rostering - it is not enough of a deterrent!

Shrugging off months of daily threats of job losses and paycuts, pilots of Indian carriers seem to have ushered in the festive season in style, this time. Every year, around Christmas and New Year eve, a number of pilots are caught reporting drunk for duty at Indian airports. But this year, a commander of an Indian carrier was found inebriated before his flight out of Heathrow to India, as early as Sunday last. Unlike India, where a pilot is merely de-rostered for a while by way of punishment, Heathrow authorities take a more stern view. Such pilots are taken to a special area where they are kept in custody till the airline informs British Airports Authority of the action it will take against their employee.

Last New Year eve, at Mumbai alone, five cockpit and cabin crew members were found reporting drunk for duty. At least four more pilots went to the Chhatrapati Shivaji airport for operating flights but fled when they got to know that strict alcohol tests were being conducted there. Shockingly, one pilot was reportedly able to dodge medical examiners and slip into the cockpit to fly out! In end 2006, two drunken pilots were caught in Chennai.

Meat smell cologne is a hit

Burger King's new meat-inspired cologne is sold out, and it's commanding fat prices on ebay. The limited edition product costs just under four dollars. That's one-tenth the price of a bottle of Aramis.

Track Santa ...

Merry Christmas, everyone!! Santa has been here already. I am now waiting for the children to wake up. I am like a little child too ... cannot wait to see and feel their excitement when they open up their gifts!

Don't forget to track Santa on his travels across the world!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Personalised Video message from Santa

How would your child like to get a personalised video message from Santa?

Santa's Secrets revealed!

How does Santa Claus manage to deliver all his presents to children all over the world all in one night? A scientist in America explains how this mammoth task could be performed.

Priest decided to tell kids the truth about Santa

This is upsetting ... I do not understand why it is so important to spoil the world of enchantment children live in - it is fragile, beautiful and sadly very short lived. Sooner or later they all grow up, learn the truth - why not let it happen when it does? The pressures of real life weigh on them just as much as it does on adults - school, studies, sports, peers - they have to deal with these things on a daily basis. So what is wrong in believing in Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, or anything else magical and beautiful? A little bit of fantasy, for such a short while in our lives, never hurt anyone. We have our whole lives ahead to deal with reality!

A Catholic priest has been criticised by parents in a city in northern Italy for telling their children that Father Christmas does not really exist. Father Dino Bottino, the parish priest of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Novara, let out the secret at a children's mass earlier this month.

A local paper published complaints from dozens of parents. "You've ruined my children's Christmas," said one mother. But an unrepentant Fr Bottino called it his duty to set the record straight. "I told the children that Father Christmas was an invention that had nothing to do with the Christian Christmas story," he said. "And I would repeat it again, if I had the chance," he added.

But Father Dino could not have imagined the scorn that would be heaped upon him after he told children at mass that neither Father Christmas - nor the kindly witch called the Befana who provides presents at New Year to Italian children - really exist. The priest said he had never intended to hurt anyone, but it was his duty to distinguish the reality of Jesus from the story of Father Christmas which was a fable just like Cinderella or Snow White.

Holy Crap! .... Really!

Souvenir from the Holy Land: Donkey poop sealed in a prism!!

If you’re like me, nothing makes you think of the Holy Land like donkey poop. I mean, the donkeys are right there in the Nativity story, and where there are donkeys, there is, you know, leftover evidence of donkeys. So, for a special souvenir of a visit to this special place, why not buy Holy Land donkey dung sealed in plastic, as seen in these actual photos taken near Nazareth?

Of course, being a skeptic by profession, I have to wonder what sort of regulatory system applies to the region’s tourism business.

* Is this all GENUINE Holy Land donkey poop?

* Could some of it be imported from Chinese donkeys?

* Could this just be worthless imitation donkey poop?

* Could it be from other beasts or…well, don’t go there.

Anyway, I’ll probably order some for gifts, but I’m going to want to see some kind of government certification.

(Oddly Enough)

Dude ... surfer speak!

(via BB)

Glittering Metropolis of Stars

Like swirling, shiny flakes sparkling in a snow globe, this image captures an instantaneous glimpse of many hundreds of thousands of stars moving about in the globular cluster M13, one of the brightest and best-known globular clusters in the northern sky. This glittering metropolis of stars is easily found in the winter sky in the constellation Hercules and can even be glimpsed with the unaided eye under dark skies.

M13 is home to over 100,000 stars and located at a distance of 25,000 light-years. These stars are packed so closely together in a ball, approximately 150 light-years across, that they will spend their entire lives whirling around in the cluster.

Wine, Chocolate and Tea boost memory

News after my own heart! One more reason to drink a glass of red wine at meal times. And even if the researchers do say that effects level off after half a glass, I think I'll keep to my 'one glass' - you never know what they may find after a few years ... lol! I love my cuppa tea at least 3 or 4 times a day. All I have to do now is start on chocolate. Keeping to just 4 squares is going to be hard!!!

Researchers from Oxford University's Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics discovered that wine has the most pronounced effect in boosting people's memory, followed by chocolate and tea. And those who regularly consume all three in modest amounts were found to perform best when asked to carry out a series of brain tests. Chocolate, wine and tea are thought to improve cognitive ability because they all contain micronutrients called flavonoids, which research has suggested can lower risks of dementia.

However, those hoping to use the findings as justification for gorging on chocolates and enjoying a generous tipple over Christmas will be disappointed. The study also discovered that the positive effects levelled out after just half a glass of wine and only four squares of chocolate. The researchers warned people not to use the research to binge drink in the hope of improving their memories. They stressed that while moderate alcohol consumption is associated with better cognitive function and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, heavy alcohol intake could be a cause of dementia and other health problems.

Hair length: 2.1 meters (6.9 feet)

Feng Wei combs her long hair at the restaurant she runs in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Dec. 15, 2008. Feng, 40-year-old, treasures her long hair of 2.1 meters, which hasn't been cut since she was ten

Japanese descendants of Jesus?

The story of Jesus Christ gets another twist. Meet Junichiro Sawaguchi who claims he has descended from Jesus. He lives in Shingo, Japan where the locals believe that a mound of earth with a cross on it is the last resting place of the Messiah.

Seven hours north of Tokyo by train and bus, Shingo only had garlic farming to to put it on the map until a scroll was found in 1935 by a Shinto priest in nearby Ibaraki Prefecture that was identified as Christ's will and, bizarrely, identified Shingo as his last resting place.

The scroll is on display in the "Village of Christ Legend Museum," which closes in the tourist off-season between October and April, and is the basis of a very different take on the incredible tale. According to the document, Jesus arrived in Aomori at the age of 21, where he took the name Daitenku Taro Jurai, studied the Japanese language and developed a deep affinity for the country and people. Eleven years later – conveniently the same period in the Bible that his whereabouts cannot be accounted for – he returned to Judea but fell foul of the Romans.

Instead of being crucified, however, the Romans got the wrong man and nailed his brother, Isukiri, to the cross. Carrying his brother's ear and a lock of hair from the Virgin Mary, Jesus fled across Siberia to Shingo, where he grew rice, married a local woman called Miyuko and had three daughters, it claims. At the ripe old age of 106, Jesus died peacefully and was interred in the mound that sits on Mr Sawaguchi's land.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blue Santa cards

Blue Christmas cards - I wanted to try another colour for this batch - not just red & green. And I love the blue and silver combination. All the embossing is done with detail silver EP. The holly stamp used on the border is from Club Scrap. The postage stamps on the tags & the frame stamp in the middle is by Hero Arts. The frame actually has a little leaf image in the centre but I cut that out. Background Celtic lettering is by Judikins.

Click to enlarge

Letter to Santa

Just in case you have not read this one (it has been doing the rounds for a while now) - it is cute!! Always makes me LOL but there is quite a bit of truth in there.

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mum all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find any more free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:
I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any colour, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, 'Yes, Mummy' to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting 'Don't eat in the living room' and 'Take your hands off your brother,' because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products,I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container. If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

P.S. One more can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

*Santa has asked that this gets passed on to all the mummies you know.

(Thanks Michi!)

Hedge becomes giant Christmas pudding

An English couple turn their hedge into a giant Christmas pudding to help celebrate the festive period. The festive topiary is the creation of the appropriately named Mr and Mrs. Holley from Somerset, UK. They got the idea from their granddaughter who remarked that the hedge looked like a giant pudding.

Animals singing Christmas song

From the BBC Breathing Places website.

Christmas turkeys cause floods

How many of you dispose of the cooking fat by taking it to your local household recycling centre? Or do you put it in a container and throw it out with the garbage? Or perhaps you are one of the many who rinse the fats down the drain? For those of you that do the drain thing, did you know that fats, oils and greases quickly solidify when they hit the cool walls of the sewer and sticks to the side. Over time this builds up; preventing the normal flow of waste water and debris from passing through. With no way through, the wastewater backs up in the system, coming out of drains, sewers and potentially your home.

People who pour leftover turkey fat, cooking oil and grease down the drain after roasting the Christmas dinner can block drains, a spokesman for Gloucestershire county council said. "The traditional Christmas roast, with all the trimmings, may be one of the highlights of the festive season - but it could also be a hidden cause of flooding. It is a little known fact that pouring leftover fat, oil and grease down the drain is a major cause of sewer blockages in the county."

No one wants to suffer the consequences of raw sewage flooding their gardens, driveways or worst still, inside their homes. The only way to rid the sewers of these fat blockages is to use a high-pressure jet to loosen the fat and wash it away - none of which is a pleasant job. Much of this jetting work could easily be avoided if people didn't regard their kitchen sink as an extension of the dustbin

Getting into the Christmas spirit ...

... a bit late but then I had to finish with the exams, and then sleep for 2 days to recover lost time in la la land and now am shopping (which I have not completely done with - yikes!) and wrapping (which I have just started - double yikes!!).

Anyhoo ... the heart gladdens with news of the Christmas Spirit from all over the world. For example, the homeless in Milan will be getting a rare treat this festive season - beluga caviare!! Always knew the Italians did things in style ;-) though I do wonder if those consuming this precious commodity will be able to appreciate its value/taste. I hope that they also get a hearty meal(s?) to go with the little black balls. My suggestion would have been to sell the little cans and then give the cash to charity. But maybe Italian red tape does not allow that sort of thing.

Down-and-outs and hard up pensioners in Milan will enjoy a rare Christmas treat this year: choice beluga caviar confiscated from traffickers. Italian police seized over 40 kg (88 lb) of the delicacy, worth some 400,000 euros ($558,300), from two men who last month smuggled it into the country from Poland for sale in the shops of Milan and the rest of the wealthy Lombardy region.

The head of the local forest police who carried out the raid kept the bounty in barrack fridges for several weeks, but realized it would soon go bad. "Tests showed us the food was still perfectly OK to eat but it couldn't be stored much longer, so we decided to give it to the poor," Juri Mantegazza told Milan daily Corriere della Sera.

A small amount of the sturgeons' eggs have been kept for further analysis while the rest has been sent to voluntary associations, charity kitchens and old people's homes. "Everything that comes our way is very welcome, even though most of our guests don't even know what those little black balls are," said Virginio Colmega, a priest who helps run the House of Charity in Milan.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Short Break

I have my nose in my books - studying.
So case you have not already noticed my lack of posts ... I will be taking a short break from blogging. But I hope to be back by the 20th of this month.

In the meantime, all of you - stay safe!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

'Big People' words

A group of kindergärtners were trying very hard to become accustomed to the first grade. The biggest hurdle they faced was that the teacher insisted on NO baby talk! 'You need to use 'Big People' words,' she was always reminding them. She asked Chris what he had done over the weekend.

'I went to visit my Nana.'

'No, you went to visit your GRANDMOTHER. Use 'Big People' words!'

She then asked Mitchell what he had done.

'I took a ride on a choo choo.'

She said, 'No, you took a ride on a TRAIN. You must remember to use 'Big People' words.' She then asked little Alec what he had done.

'I read a book, ' he replied.

'That's WONDERFUL!' the t eacher said. 'What book did you read?'

[I love this] .

Alec thought real hard about it, then puffed out his chest with great pride and said,

'Winnie the SHIT!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pretty Flakey

The snowflakes are stamps from Kodomo - they are really pretty so I had to figure out a way to use as many of them as I could! And recently on SSR Yahoo groups we had an ‘Inchie’ swap. Here is the ‘S’ inchie by Sue Shute – perfect for this layout.

Facebook virus called 'Koobface'

Just spreading the word ... in case you are on FB:

Facebook's 120 million users are being targeted by a virus called "Koobface" that uses the social network's messaging system to infect PCs and steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers.

Koobface spreads by sending messages to friends with subject headers like, "You look just awesome in this new movie," direct recipients to a website where they are asked to download what it claims is an update of Adobe Systems Inc's Flash player.

If they download the software, users end up with an infected computer, which then takes users to contaminated sites when they try to use search engines from Google, Yahoo, MSN and, according McAfee.

Long Exposure

Alexey Titarenko uses long exposure shots to get a ghostly effect in his photographs. The results are a series of hauntingly beautiful photographs.

(via Link)

Football FINALLY makes sense.........

A guy took his blonde girlfriend to her first football game. They had great seats right behind their team's bench. After the game, he asked her how she liked the experience.

'Oh, I really liked it,' she replied, 'especially the tight pants and all the big muscles, but I just couldn't understand why they were killing each other over 25 cents.'

Dumbfounded, her date asked, 'What do you mean?'

'Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it and then for the rest of the game, all they kept screaming was: 'Get the quarterback! Get the quarterback!' I'm like ... Helloooooo? It's only 25 cents!!!!

Thanks Michi!

No hotel in the Von Trapp residence

Remember some time back there was talk about turning the Von Trapp residence into a hotel? And that some Austrians were not happy about this?

Well, the nay sayers seem to have won. The residence most probably will not be turned into a hotel. As a potential tourist who was looking forward to staying there, I am sorry indeed. I guess the folks in this town are very well off and do not need the business but I do not like them calling one of my all time favourite musicals 'tacky'.

The hills are alive with the sound of a quarrel in Austria as a civic initiative blocked plans to turn the original residence of the Von Trapp family into a themed hotel. The 1965 Oscar-winning Hollywood film The Sound of Music immortalised the story of the widower Baron von Trapp, his seven children and their nanny, and later stepmother, Maria, a singing apprentice nun, all of whom once lived in the villa in Salzburg.

Each year around 300,000 tourists flock to Salzburg, where scenes from the musical, starring Julie Andrews, were filmed, and local entrepreneurs decided to turn the Von Trapp villa into a hotel which was to open this month.

But, fearing that their neighbourhood would be overrun by Sound of Music Fans, residents of the Aigen area where the villa is located exerted pressure on local authorities who were finally compelled to revoke the permit for the project. Manfred Schitter, the head of the residents’ initiative, said that the identity of Salzburg should be tied to its most famous son, the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, rather than to the “tacky” musical.

Fireplace Screensaver

Transform your computer into a fireplace with the free


Computers design the Perfect Face

Soon one can 'enhance' their features on a computer, take it to the plastic surgeon and ask him to 'make me look like this'. No more guess work!

Computer software produces what the human eye considers the perfect face. The Israeli computer scientists' system creates models based on the innate preferences that studies show we have for faces, from eye shape and distance apart to nose length and lip curve.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

'Ox' cards

Next year, according to the Chinese Zodiac Calendar, is the year of the Ox. So I can send Chinese New Year cards using this image. Also I am currently trying to find out if any of my friends (or their family members) were born in the following years: 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, etc. The OX stamp image from Kodomo would make an excellent birthday card for these people. I have to take care though – the Chinese New Year is sometime in late January – early Feb. So someone born January 1962 could still be from the Year of the Ox.

I have this beautiful origami paper that I have been saving for years. It seemed perfect as a background for the Ox. The image itself is very simply stamped and embossed in Chinese Red ink & EP on very thick black cardstock.

A little fan using the same origami paper is the highlight of this card. I tied the base using a very fine gold thread. The gold curly things are Japanese Mizuhiki paper cords. Usually they are used for making ornamental knots which can be used in scrapbooks and cards to give an oriental touch. I like using the cords even without making the knots.

Here the Ox is very simply stamped and embossed in Chinese red ink / EP on black cardstock. The cut out is then glued onto corrugated cardstock. The background was the fun bit. I stippled some tans and light browns onto a white piece of mulberry paper. Then, using a dark artprint brown colour, I stamped the kanji script. I dampened the edges and tore them. Always best to do this step last so you can see the stamped image on the frayed edges, too.

The image on this card uses the reverse inking method. I inked a large leafy background stamp with black pigment ink. Then I ‘kissed’ the Ox stamp onto the inked leafy back ground. Then I stamped onto white cardstock and embossed with black detail EP. The door is another stamp and I have no idea what the little phrase says – something nice, I hope!

$1.5 million Christmas Tree

And we are back in Japan! To check out the world's most expensive Christmas Tree!!

Despite the recession, the makers have created the dazzling 24k gold tree to create a "gorgeous atmosphere". The tree is decorated with more than 240 jewels including diamond baubles and strings of pearls, weighs more than 21 kilograms - and is worth (£1million) 150million yen. The tree went on display this week at the Ginza Tanaka jewellery shop in Shinsaibashi, Osaka.

'26' is bad omen for India

Makes for most interesting reading. At this point, having being born in India, I am glad I was born on a Friday the 13th. Yes, really :-D

Similar to the Mumbai terror attack, many other disasters have earlier occurred in India on the same date: the 26th, although 13 is considered the most ominous number worldwide. The tsunami struck India on December 26, 2004, the Gujarat earthquake was on January 26, 2001, blasts rocked Guwahati on May 26, 2007, and the Ahmedabad blasts this year were on September 26 before the Mumbai attack on 26th of this month.

Numerologists and astrologers claim it's no coincidence. "Numerologically, the number 26 is a very unlucky number. 26 comes to 8 (2+6=8) which brings in destruction," Mumbai-based numerologist Sanjay Jhumani said.

But famous astrologer Bejan Daruwalla disagrees, "It's not only on the basis of numerology. There are astrological reasons as well for the Mumbai attack. Mars and Saturn are in conjunction now. Astrologically, this is known as Angara Yoga which brings in destruction," he explains.

This is decor?

A website is now selling a 'piggy bank' for girls to save up for a boob job. As if we do not have problems enough raising children ... parents are now supposed to encourage their teenage daughters to think of their bodies as imperfect? And if this is supposed to be funny I do not get the humour!

Japanese can now drink Space Beer

Space Beer, the result of a five-month mission to boldly grow, where almost no one has grown barley before, has landed in Japan. The adult beverage, brewed from barleycorn cultivated in the International Space Station in 2006, has splashed down courtesy of the Russian Academy of Science, a Japanese university and beer giant Sapporo.

Self Cleaning windows to be modelled after butterfly wings

Why did they not come up with this before I put up those huge kitchen windows!!?! And whatever happened to the self-cleaning windows that were supposed to use the sunlight to somehow clean itself? I saw an advertisement for these windows in an Italian magazine once. I've heard no more about those.

Scientists are studying butterfly wings in order to develop new self-cleaning windows and windscreens. The French researchers have developed a technique for replicating the microscopic surface of the insects' wings, which repel water and dirt. Minute waffle-like structures on the wing make it difficult for water droplets to spread out, and as a result they roll off, taking dirt with them.


German police allowed to hack into computers

And so ...

German police will get sweeping new powers to hack into people's home computers with 'Trojan' viruses sent through the internet. New laws, some of the toughest in Europe, will also allow police to bug and photograph suspect's homes, tap their phones and track the location of their mobile calls.

Under the compromise, the police will need a judge's approval before using the Trojans, even in an emergency. Trojans will carry "Remote Forensic Software" that can search hard drives and send evidence back to investigators without their having to enter the suspect's home.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pregnant Turkey

One year at Thanksgiving, my mum went to my sister's house for the traditional feast. Knowing how gullible my sister is, my mom decided to play a trick. She told my sister that she needed something from the store.

When my sister left, my mum took the turkey out of the oven, removed the stuffing, stuffed a Cornish hen, and inserted it into the turkey, and re-stuffed the turkey. She then placed the bird(s) back in the oven.

When it was time for dinner, my sister pulled the turkey out of the oven and proceeded to remove the stuffing. When her serving spoon hit something, she reached in and pulled out the little bird.

With a look of total shock on her face, my mother exclaimed, "Patricia, you've cooked a pregnant bird!"

At the reality of this horrifying news, my sister started to cry.

It took the family two hours to convince her that turkeys lay eggs!

Yep...................SHE'S BLONDE

Stunning Arctic Sunrise

This stunning sunrise over Inglefield Bay in the Northwest of Greenland was captured by seasoned Artic photographers Bryan and Cherry Alexander Photo: BARCROFT MEDIA/BRYAN & CHERRY ALEXANDER

The award winning pair were staying in the Inuit community of Qaanaaq, which is situated 800 miles from the North Pole when the "apocalyptic" loud colouring began. "It was just before dawn, around 10 am, when an Inuit friend of mine whose house I was staying in came to my room and suggested that I take a look at the sky," says Mr Alexander. "I went outside and was immediately stunned by the beautiful and dramatic cloud formation. I just couldn't believe my eyes. I have worked in the Arctic regularly for the past 37 years and I had never seen the sky like it. It looked apocalyptic and like a scene from one of the Lord of the Rings movies."

Power of Observation

There are a few things that are specifically for the US but I think most people would know about them if they were observant.

Vegetable gardens in schools help healthier eating

What a very smart idea! Getting children to grow veggies induces them to eat them more happily. Facing the problem of trying to keep my children on a healthy balanced diet ("helloooo? - you know I do not eat any vegetables - I am not a vegetarian!") , I love ideas like these that may perhaps make children want to eat their veggies. And by getting children involved in gardening, their diet may not be the only thing to benefit!

A campaign by the Soil Association, a charity promoting sustainable food, urges schools to grow their own vegetables and use local produce to revive interest in healthy meals. Giving pupils a bigger role in the production of food boosts enthusiasm for healthy meals, it claimed. The charity said there had been a 16 per cent increase in the proportion of children eating school meals in the award-winning schools. Jeanette Orrey, an advisor for the Food for Life Partnership, said: “We campaigned for better school dinners, but it’s not just about school meals anymore, it’s also about practical food education like learning to cook, growing food and visiting farms to learn where food actually comes from.”

Monday, December 01, 2008

Cashless Living

I wonder ... is there somewhere we can follow this guys efforts throughout the year? I am very keen on seeing how he is going to manage without cash. A very interesting experiment indeed! I am all for freebies :-D When in Italy I sometimes went to farms after harvest to collect whatever fruits or veggies I could find. It is an accepted practice and a fun way to pass the day too. Unfortunately, here in the big city, I have yet to come across any sort of freebie ... and I cannot imagine what would happen if we all started foraging for them! lol!!

A British economics graduate is challenging himself to live for an entire year without any money. The native of Bristol plans to barter his skills, forage for food and live in an environmentally-friendly house trailer without credit cards or cash. The 29-year-old hopes his example will help others realize they consume far more than they need. He says recent history shows capitalism is clearly flawed and the future is foraging and freebies.

Scarf for Scrabookers

I think we scrapbookers will love the scarf. But I doubt we will wear it. Most probably snip into little pieces and stick it in our albums! :-D

Ultrasuede scarf from Little Factory. Available in Uppercase, Lowercase & Numeric styles. Price was $58.00 when I last checked.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Failed Parenting

Parents ... stay aware of flying feet!
Watch this video!!

Solve one problem, another crops up!

Most wine bottles these days have screw caps instead of the the corks. But this is having an adverse effect on the environment too. The destruction of the cork oak forests which are home to some rare and beautiful animals in Europe.

The cork oak can have its bark stripped off every nine years. Each stripping yields enough cork for 4000 bottles. However of late, to avoid the problem of wine being 'corked' wine producers have started switching to screw caps and synthetic corks. As a result, farmers who harvested cork are finding themselves with no income. So they are uprooting the cork oaks and trying to replant with more economically viable trees. There is one problem though ... it is not easy to replant on land where cork oaks stand. It usually just turns to desert.

Cork oak forests, which cover 2.7 million of hectares worldwide and support rare species such as Iberian lynx, black storks and booted eagles, are already disappearing in some areas. Faced with falling demand for cork stoppers, which make up 70 per cent of the income from cork harvests, farmers are ripping up trees that have been on their land for hundreds of years in an attempt to grow alternative crops, such as eucalyptus.

The land that cork oaks grow on, however, is poor quality and when the trees are removed, the land often turns into desert. In the Algarve, Portugal, cork forests have declined by 28 per cent in the past 10 years.

A study by conservation charity The World Wildlife Fund estimated that up to three quarters of the Mediterranean cork forests could be lost within 10 years if the trend for plastic stoppers and screw tops continues, and a new BBC Natural World documentary, will next month highlight the threats facing the forests and warn they could vanish completely unless wine makers switch back to using real corks.


Saturday, November 29, 2008


Can you tell I am working on the school album these days? Blue printed paper is K & Co. As is the faux stitching rub-on. Chipboard alphabet by Heidi Swapp. Sentiment coaster by Imaginations Project. Font downloaded from 2Peas. Ric-rac ribbon from my stash.

Someone needs a trim ... :-D

China police stop a driver - discover he has no arms!

Police were amazed at their discovery during a routine check of vehicles on the road. Zing Shen, 42, was steering the vehicle with his feet and said he had been doing so for years. It was reported that he was stunned when police officers issued him with a public safety summons. The man told traffic police that ever since he lost his arms in an industrial accident several years ago, he had used his feet to steer his vehicle without difficulty. He has no arms from the elbows down. His car was an automatic so he did not have to concern himself with changing gear.

Priceless Observations

Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself,'Lillian, you should have remained a virgin.'
- Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter)

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: - 'No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.'
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement.
- Mark Twain

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.
- George Burns

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.
- Victor Borge

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
- Mark Twain

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
- Socrates

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
- Groucho Marx

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.
- Jimmy Durante

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.
- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.
- Alex Levine

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.
- Rodney Dangerfield

Money can't buy you happiness .. But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
- Spike Milligan

Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.
- Joe Namath

I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.
- Bob Hope

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
- W. C. Fields

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
- Will Rogers

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
- Winston Churchill

Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty .. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.
- Phyllis Diller

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.
- Billy Crystal

And the cardiologist's diet: - If it tastes good spit it out.

(Thanks Michi!)

Interesting Wildlife Shots

Rare Squid on Film

This is the Magnapinna Squid which lives at depths of 4000 feet in total darkness. The video footage below is the first time they have been filmed with such clarity. The tentacles of this squid have elbows.

The squid was spotted a mile and a half below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico at an oil and gas drilling site off the coast of Houston, Texas. The footage, recorded on a remote-controlled camera, shows the creature's long tentacles hanging at right angles from shoulder-like "arms" jutting out of its body.

The magnapinna's peculiar arrangement of limbs has baffled marine biologists since the deep-sea species was first identified in 1998. One theory is that the elbows help prevent the squid's tentacles from becoming tangled, as it drags them along the seabed trawling for food. Others suggest that the squid waits for prey to collide with and get trapped among its sticky limbs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

First Merit Certificate

Layout done with a Club Scrap kit. This particular paper was so beautiful to look at and touch but not easy at all to scrapbook with. It overpowered the photographs very easily and coloured photos just did not go with it at all. I think it would be perfect for sepia toned photos but I have none of those at present. It would make amazing cards and I have some stashed away just for this purpose ... someday I shall use them! lol! It is a good thing these papers are of very good quality - otherwise they'd turn brown by the time I got around to using them!

So I decided to use it for this layout, where the photograph is not really that important. It is a reduced scan of Lily's first merit certificate which was too big to put inside the scrapbook. I layered a photo of her onto the scan - one of my 'photoshop learning' projects. Letter stickers and stamp are also from Club Scrap.

Fossil Ammonite washbasin

Gosh ... how beautiful is this?!!? Makes me want to redo my bathroom all over! HighTech Design Products AG (I think they are a German company but they seem to have a Chinese branch too ... yay!) makes this washbasin in concrete. Cool spiralling fossil look - something new in the world of washbasin fashions!

Called 'Ammonite' like the fascinating fossils, a rolled up helix is the basic design of this basin. The Egyptian god Amun or Ammon was always depicted wearing sprial rams horns and Pliny the Elder named these fossils ammonis cornua ("horns of Ammon"). There is also something mathematical about the spiral - some very interesting calculation with ratios (I think!) but I cannot remember it exactly. If you know what I am talking about, please contact me. I need to remember!


An interesting subject at school: Witchcraft

It is a sad thing that not only do people still believe in witches but that this belief often leads to the killing of innocents. It is like we never left the Middle Ages! So now schools in India will include witchcraft in the syllabus as part of the Governments efforts to stamp out the superstitions and put a stop to the horrendous witch hunts. I wish them well.

Many tribal communities in the country believe in witches and their ability to cause harm to people, animals and the harvest. About 750 people, mostly old women, are estimated to have been killed in witch-hunts in rural India since 2003. In one of the worst cases, a family of four stoned and buried alive for allegedly cursing a relative of the village chief, the Times reports. Advocates for a change to the syllabus say beliefs must be altered early if India’s witch-hunts are to be stamped out.

A Santa training school in South Korea!

Want to learn how to say 'Ho Ho Ho' just right? Or maybe do the Santa dance moves (what are those?!) ... Off you go to South Korea to learn how to be a Santa. And then maybe to Germany for a month long working holiday? You have got to get used to globe trotting anyway - it's part of the job description.

A South Korean amusement park is teaching students what it takes to be a good Santa Claus during the festive season. Dozens of Santa school students gathered on Wednesday (November 26) at Everland Park, which is about an hour's drive south of Seoul, to master the Santa technique. Instead of riding a sleigh, the 30 male and female Santa students rode on the roller coaster, they were also trained to perfect their chuckle, dance-moves and carolling.

Comments that could have been made in the year 1955

'I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it's going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $20.00.'

'Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long before $2, 000.00 will only buy a used one.'

'If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.

'Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?'

'If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store.'

'When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage.'

'Kids today are impossible. Those duck tail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls.'

'I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, it seems every new movie has either HELL or DAMN in it.'

'I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas .'

'Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the President.'

'I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now.'

'It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet.'

'It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.'

'Marriage doesn't mean a thing any more, those Hollywood stars seem to be getting divorced at the drop of a hat.'

'I'm afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business.'

'Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to congress.'

'The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.'

'There is no sense going to Lincoln or Omaha anymore for a weekend, it costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel.'

'No one can afford to be sick anymore, at $35.00 a day in the hospital it's too rich for my blood.'

'If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it.'

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Heart Hurts

I grew up in Bombay ( it will never be Mumbai for me). Lived there for twenty-one years.

I shall leave the figuring out the 'whys' and the 'hows' to others who understand this stuff better. I do not understand, cannot comprehend, how killing and maiming of innocents can achieve anything. I see people bleeding and dying. I see the city I love in chaos and suffering. And my heart hurts ...

My first ever employment - a real job where I actually got paid good money - was at the Taj hotel. It is a beautiful building, gracious, old, charming, full of works of art. Inside the building a lot of the structure is in wood. It is the preferred hotel for most visitors. It was a lovely place to work. Now I see this grand old building in flames. And my heart hurts ...

IBNLive streaming video

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seven Kinds Of Sex....

The 1st kind of sex is called ... Smurf Sex.
This kind of sex happens when you first meet someone and you both have sex until you are blue in the face..

The 2nd kind of sex is called ... Kitchen Sex.
This is when you have been with your partner for a short time and you are so needy you will have sex anywhere, even in the kitchen..

The 3rd kind of sex is called ... Bedroom Sex.
This is when you have been with your partner for a long time. Your sex has gotten routine and you usually have sex only in your bedroom.

The 4th kind of sex is called ... Hallway Sex. (also called Oral Sex)
This is when you have been with your partner for too long. When you pass each other in the hallway you both say .... 'F*%k You.'

The 5th kind of sex is called ... Religious Sex.
Which means you get Nun in the morning, Nun in the afternoon and Nun at night. (Very Popular)

The 6th kind is called ... Courtroom Sex.
This is when you cannot stand your husband/wife any more. He/She takes you to court and screws you in front of everyone.

And last ... But not least ...
The 7th kind of sex is called ... Social Security Sex.
You get a little each month.. But not enough to enjoy your self.


Bra for Boys ...

A bra for men becomes the hottest selling men's underwear item on a Japanese online shopping site. The move has provoked heated online discussion in Japan with thousands debating the merits of male use of the item of underwear.

Toshi Maeda reports.

And hats off to him for reporting in a bra ...! lol!!