Saturday, 30 September 2017

My decision affects you all

Sometimes when I sit in my garden admiring that robin who flies from one bush to another and then to the ground and then he flies away only to return a minute later, my thoughts wonder from one thought to another and lead me to ask more questions leading to more confusion.

We all inter-depend on one another, I think. Whatever choices I make in life will somehow affect you or some other person somewhere in the world. Whether I buy this or that type of food, clothing or whatever will affect the economy or well-being of other people living elsewhere.

The other day, the robin brought these thoughts to my mind.

Let us say I wanted to buy a traditional petrol (gas) driven car or an all-electric car. Which one is best for me and for all those affected by my decision?

For the sake of argument we will say that both cars are identical - same shape, volume, capacity etc ... So the materials, or "ingredients" required to make them, like steel, glass, plastic, rubber and so on is the same. So let's exclude these from our comparison.

The robin told me to compare just the mode of motion or mobility. What makes the car move.

Are the materials required to make the petrol engine the same as those required for the electric engine? Do they cost more or less to make? That is the materials required as well as the making of the actual engines. Are they both as environmentally friendly in their making or does one engine require more expensive materials, or more un-friendly materials, which have to be found and transported long distances before they are used to make the engine. What I am comparing here is which engine is overall better in its making and the materials used to make it.

Then let's look at what makes the car move. The petrol driven car requires you to dig for oil from underground, transport it somewhere where it is made into petrol, transport that petrol and distribute it everywhere to petrol stations where I can go and fill my tank.

The electric engine requires you to make a "tank" (or battery) where the electricity in my car is stored. This requires special "ingredients" or materials. Then the electricity has to be made at the electric power station and distributed to me to "fill" my battery. Is the cost of making this electricity, its environmentally friendly qualities, etc ... more or less than that of petrol? For example, if the electricity is made from burning coal, or from nuclear then we have to consider the pollution effects of that coal or the disposal of the nuclear bits we no longer want after we have made the electricity. I'm sure you understand what I mean. The robin certainly does!

Then we have to compare the actual distance travelled. If I want to drive X miles - how much petrol do I need in my car to drive that distance at a certain speed and efficiency? Is that more or less than the amount of electricity I need in my car to travel the same X miles at the same speed and efficiency? What are the comparisons in costs, efficiencies, environmentally friendliness etc ... etc ... of the two  types of fuels.

Finally, my robin asks - is it better to have a red or a blue car? I prefer white. The robin prefers a green car.

And ... how can I attract more robins to my garden? More worms in the ground?
                    

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Radio Interview

Years ago I used to present radio programs. The most difficult types were the ones were you have to interview someone. No matter how well you prepared, and often they were impromptu interviews without preparation, especially news items, there was often one interviewee who would prove the ultimate in difficulty. 

INTERVIEWER - Hello and welcome to Local News Talk the program that tells you what's been happening in and around where you live right now.

Today we are out in the Market Square, just by the statue of the Ravaged Parrot, and we have with us here Marcus. That is not his real name, by the way. He has asked not to be identified for personal reasons.

Hello Marcus.

MARCUS - Hello.

INTERVIEWER - Now Marcus is not your real name, is that right?

MARCUS - Yes. My real name is James Nott.

INTERVIEWER - James Nott?

JAMES - That's correct.

INTERVIEWER - And you were an eye-witness to what happened here this morning.

JAMES - Wait a minute ... you have just identified me.

INTERVIEWER - No I haven't.

JAMES - Yes you have. You've told everyone my real name. James Nott!

INTERVIEWER - No I haven't. I simply stated that Marcus was not your real name and then you confirmed it as James Nott. So it is you who identified yourself.

JAMES - And ... and ... why are there no cameras? I was told that I would be on national TV.

INTERVIEWER - This is a radio interview for Radio Desperate. We have nothing to do with any TV stations.

And ... incidentally, if you were to appear on TV how would you explain your alias as Marcus when people would probably recognise you as James Nott anyway?

JAMES - I would have appeared on TV as incognito!

INTERVIEWER - I see ... anyway. This is radio only. Now tell us James Nott, in your own words, what did you see?

JAMES - Are we broadcasting live now?

INTERVIEWER - Yes ... Tell our listeners what you saw.

JAMES - Well ... this morning as the market traders were setting up their stalls, a horse came running from over there ...

INTERVIEWER - Don't point, James. This is radio only. The listeners cannot see you point.

JAMES - But what about the TV camera?

INTERVIEWER - There are no cameras. This is radio only. Anyway ... you were saying?

JAMES - The horse came from over there ...

INTERVIEWER - Don't point ...

JAMES - Sorry ... the horse came from where that red car is parked ...

INTERVIEWER - The listeners can't see the car either. Dear listeners, let me explain, the horse allegedly came from the High Street, just by the Poor Peoples' Bank. We have to say allegedly for legal reason in case what we say is not accurate.

JAMES - What do you mean?

INTERVIEWER - Well, in case someone denies that it happened. Or that it was a horse that caused the incident.

JAMES - You mean it could have been an elephant? I know a horse when I see one. Are you calling me a liar?

INTERVIEWER - No, of course not ... please continue ...

JAMES - Well ... the horse, or the dinosaur, or whatever other creature it was, came from where the red car is parked over there, ran through here, toppled this stall and then jumped over this one, hit that bicycle that's all broken on the ground, and then escaped this way down there.

INTERVIEWER - One moment James. The listeners can't see all the things you're pointing at. You saw a horse come running from the High street ...

JAMES - Yes ...It was at least that high, a big animal it was, or it could have been a bit smaller. It was difficult to tell because he was going so fast. I would say it was perhaps this high. It was a he .. I could tell because it was obvious by his ...

INTERVIEWER - Yes ... I understand ...

JAMES - He was a dark brownish beast; perhaps a little black but not too black in colour, more dark grey brownish I would say. It was almost exactly the colour of that wooden fence over there. Which he did not break by the way when the horse jumped over it. It was already broken. And also ... I can say for definite ... not allegedly or anything like that ...

INTERVIEWER - Thank you James. That's all we have time for.

Well, dear listeners ... This has been the most difficult interview I have ever conducted. I am now leaving this way, to go over there, to that pub near here, where I will have a pint or three of drinks to help me recover.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

What would the Trade Unions say about Jesus?


In Matthew 20:1-16 Jesus tells the story of a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. He went out again at 9 o'clock and found some more workers whom he sent to the vineyard. At noon and at 3 o'clock in the afternoon he did the same. And then again at 5 o'clock, he found more idle workers whom he sent to the vineyard.

At the end of the day he asked his manager to pay the last people first. Those that started at 5 o'clock got paid the normal daily wage. Those who started in the morning rubbed their hands with glee expecting more money. But they too got paid the same daily wage. Not surprisingly, they were angry.

What would the Trade Unions say about this if they existed at the time of Jesus? They would probably call a strike, and indeed ask for a wage increase for everyone.

But let's consider what Jesus is teaching us here.

The vineyard is of course Paradise. Heaven.

The landowner is God. Only He decides who is to enter Heaven. You and I have no say in the matter. We may think we know a lot about religion and Christianity but in reality we know nothing. Only God knows what is in the heart and minds of people and only He decides who is to enter Heaven.

Now about the workers who go to the vineyard at different times of the day. The different times represent when certain people get to know God and to follow His word.

Some people get to know God early in their lives. They are the first in the vineyard. They are probably born in a religious family and have been brought up as Christians and keep God's Word throughout their lives.

The others at 9 o'clock, noon and so on get to know and love God later in their lives.

The last ones at 5 o'clock are those who get to know God at the end of their lives. Just before they die. They truly repent and ask forgiveness and as they die they go to Heaven.

Now the temptation is to live a "St Augustine"  hedonistic lifestyle enjoying all that there is to enjoy in life and then, at the last minute, repent and go to Heaven.

But there is no guarantee that you will get the opportunity to repent before you die, is there? You might die suddenly and then ... bingo ... you're going down with no parachute.

And if you were to repent, God who sees deep within your soul, will know whether you have truly and genuinely repented, or whether you are cashing in an insurance policy at the last moment so you can enter Heaven. You can't fool God, you know!

So that's what it's all about this arriving at the vineyard at different times. And if you are one of those who arrived early, and got to know and love God as a child or when you were young, then your job here on earth is to be God's recruitment officer. By living the kind of life He would wish you to live you'd be an example that others would admire and wish to emulate. And because of you, more people would arrive at the vineyard, later than you maybe, but they'd arrive all the same.

What an honour for you to serve the Lord in this way.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Noah

I blame Noah ...

What was he thinking?
Why did he bother to get mosquitoes, wasps, scorpions
and all other creepy crawly bad creatures
on his boat?

Warped sense of humour - I think !!!

DID YOU KNOW?

Noah was a farmer.
He was the first man to ever plant a vineyard.
He made wine, drank it, and became drunk.
He then took off all his clothes,
and lay naked in his tent.
His son Ham, (what a name),
saw Noah naked and
he took photos with his cell-phone
and posted them on Facebook.
GENESIS 9:20-22.

Monday, 18 September 2017

TO LOVE A PRIEST


Thursday, 14 September 2017

QUENTIN RAVIOLI

Quentin Ravioli

Years ago, Quentin generously paid for my dog to be put down, and then he helped me bury him.

He was an Alsatian. The dog, not Quentin. I believe that Quentin was from Scotland. 

He was seventeen at the time. The dog, not Quentin. Quentin was about twenty five, I believe.

He used to follow me everywhere. The dog that is, not Quentin. He used to follow me to the fishmongers were I used to buy crabs and lobsters.

He was very intelligent and quick witted. Quentin, not the dog. The dog has been long dead. One day I asked Quentin "Why do Scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats?" To which he promptly replied, "They have to go backwards. If they fell forwards, they'd still be in the boat."

Quentin was good at languages. One year he went to France on holiday and saw an old lady in  Montmartre in Paris sitting on the sidewalk knitting. He asked her, “Voulez vous crochet avec moi?”

On another occasion he impressed his friends at a restaurant by ordering the whole meal in Italian. The waiter did not understand a word though. It was a Greek restaurant.

He once bought a book on-line entitled  “How to get your own back on your neighbour”. Unfortunately he was out when it was delivered and the postman left the book next door.

His next door neighbours never got out of the house. They were agoraphobic anorexics. Bet they had some skeletons in the cupboard.

Quentin was a keen gardener. Always in his garden planting something or other. He was a bit OCD and he told me once that he always plants his herbs in alphabetical order. I asked him "where do you find the time?" He replied, "It’s there next to the sage."

A kind hearted person, Quentin was. Once at a pub he noticed a guy had passed out at a table nearby. The bartender told him the man is Mr. Peters, and asked Quentin if he could drive him home. Quentin agreed and the bartender wrote down the address and gave it to him.

Quentin tried to wake Peters, but Peters was groggy and quite drunk. Quentin helped him to his feet, but Peters fell to the floor in a crashing heap.

He took him by the arm and practically dragged him out to the car. Once there, he leant him against the side of his car while he looked for his keys. The man slid down to the ground again.

Eventually Quentin drove the man to the address the bartender gave him. He opened the passenger door and helped Peters out and he fell to the ground again!

He got him to his door and said to Peters' wife, "Hi, your husband had a little too much to drink tonight so I gave him a ride home."

"That was nice of you," she replied looking around ... "But where's his wheelchair?"

And that's Quentin Ravioli for you. A man of many parts ... none of which worked properly. We shall miss him sorely. Because he keeps moving!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Investigating your bedroom habits

I am conducting a research project for the University of Rest and I would be grateful if you would take part in our information gathering exercise. Let me assure you that all information will be treated in the strictest confidence and data will be gathered anonymously by researchers who will not divulge their identity to anyone.

First some background:

We are researching whether sleeping in a North/South position in your bed in alignment with the earth's North/South magnetic polarity affects the way you sleep. Will you have a restless night and possibly have nightmares too? Or will it make no difference? How is your sleep affected if you slept in an East/West position instead?

In order to gather data for our research we went out and asked peoples' views and experiences on the matter.

First, we visited a street in a nearby town which coincidentally is aligned exactly in an East/West direction.

Let's look at the Diagram below:


We visited the man in House A and discovered that his bed is beside the side wall of his house and therefore he sleeps in exactly a North/South alignment. He did admit that he has often not slept well and he sometimes has nightmares.

In order to build up our data of evidence we visited his neighbour living in House B. As luck would have it, this man's bed is aligned with the back wall of the house and therefore he sleeps exactly in an East/West direction. This man said that he often sleeps soundly and wakes up refreshed and ready for a new day.

Encouraged with our findings so far, we went to Houses C and D but there was no one there to answer the door.

We visited other houses down the road and received a variety of responses ranging from, "Mind your own **** business you pervert," to "If you don't go away I'll call the police you **** **** **** !!!"

Undeterred, and fearful for our safety, we rushed to another part of town to continue with our research.

Unfortunately, not all streets run exactly in and East/West direction as in the diagram above. Our towns and cities are built and have grown over the years in all sorts of directions and it is not always possible to live in a house facing exactly North in order to test the validity of our experiment.

We ended up in a street which runs at an oblique to the rest of town, so armed with our compass, we continued with our research.

The Diagram below illustrates the point:

In this street, the man in house A is not sleeping in a North/South position. He is more North/West. He reported that sometimes he sleeps well and wakes up refreshed, whereas at other times he has a disturbed night. This proved inconclusive either way, so we recorded what he said and moved on to his neighbour in House B.

The man in house B sleeps in a North/East direction. He said that sometimes he sleeps so soundly that he does not hear the alarm clock in the morning. At other times, however, he has nightmares, especially if he has eaten a lot of cheese before going to bed.

Discouraged, we certainly were. But we did not give up. We went to House C and asked the man to leave his bed as it is, aligned with the side of the house, but, having loaned him our compass, we asked him to sleep at an oblique and exactly in a North/South direction. (See Diagram above).

The next morning we visited him and he said that not only did he not sleep well, but he also had a cricked neck because his head was overhanging the edge of the bed.

We went to House D and asked the young couple there if they would be willing to sleep in a North/South position and report their findings to us.

The next day they reported that they nearly both fell off the bed sleeping in that position at an angle to the bed. They ended up having a great argument and the husband had to go downstairs and sleep on the couch, whilst his wife locked herself in the bedroom.

When we asked him in which direction he slept on the couch he threatened us with physical violence.

So it's over to you, our readers.

Would you be willing to share with us in which direction you sleep and whether you have noticed any difference in your sleep patterns or the quality of your dreams.

Finally, we have discovered conclusively that sleeping hanging upside down from a hammock is not affected by the direction of the magnetic pull of the earth, but is dangerous because you can fall off and smash your head on the floor.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Beware of stubbornness

It is said that Moses took 40 years to travel from Egypt through the desert to the Promised Land. Considering the distance involved this must have been incompetence to the highest degree … perhaps he was going round in circles.

I reckon that unbeknown to him, Mrs Moses was asking for directions secretly and, when appropriate, she pointed him in the right way to go.

Being a woman, she allowed him to take all the credit for getting there at last.

Moral of the story:

Never rely on what you think you know. Always consider the possibility that you may be wrong. (Especially if your wife tells you so).

Another moral of the story:

How often do we do as God tells us?

Thursday, 7 September 2017

When Disaster Strikes


WHEN DISASTER STRIKES

HURRICANES
FLOODS
EARTHQUAKES
FAMINE
WARS
ILLNESS AND DISEASE

"Why would a merciful God allow these disasters to happen?"

God is not Superman.

He does not fly from one disaster to another putting right the results of earthquakes, floods or famines.

Can He do these things if He wanted to? The answer is YES. Then; "Why would a merciful God allow these disasters?"

In reality, God has two choices: 

To interfere every time something goes wrong and put it right. Whether it is a disaster, an illness, or someone evil does something wrong like murder, robbery or whatever. 

Or, in His wisdom and generosity, He could allow us the full freedom to do and think what we want. Even to the point of not believing in His existence if this is what we want to do.

When He created us, because He loves us, He gave us the full freedom to do as we wish. He has not washed His hands of us though and left us to our own devices. He does listen to our prayers, and often, He does respond.

When people ask, "Why does He allow bad things to happen?" There are two answers to this:

1 Why do WE allow bad things to happen all around us and do nothing about it?

2 He allows bad things to happen to give us the opportunity to love one another.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Who is Jesus?



If someone were to ask you, "Who is Jesus?" What would you respond?

Would you say He is a wise teacher, a philosopher, a great healer? Or would you say He is the Son of God who came to earth to fulfil a Divine Mission?

Share your thoughts below. And try to justify your answer. Not so much for us but for yourself to re-affirm what exactly you believe about Jesus.

They say you can judge a person by what they say and do. So let's examine what Jesus said and did.

Time and again He taught His listeners to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and love your neighbour as you love yourself. There is no other commandment more important than these two.” Mark 12: 28-31. So He re-affirms, clearly, that there is only one God and our duty, and responsibility, is to love Him and to love all other people. 

On another occasion He taught His followers how to pray to their God, whom He calls their Father. And He assures them that their living Father God is listening to their prayers regardless where and how they pray. They do not need to make a public show of it. 

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you." Matthew 6: 5-6

Indeed, several times, Jesus makes the point that God, His Father, desires a one-to-one relationship with all of us and He will provide for our needs. 

"Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you." Matthew 6: 1-4

"When you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know that you are fasting – only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you." Matthew 6: 16-18

“And so I tell you not to worry about the food you need to stay alive or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is much more important than food, and the body much more important than clothes. Look at the crows: they don’t sow seeds or gather the harvest; they don’t have store rooms or barns; God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?” Luke 12: 22-25 

Often He taught about forgiveness and the duty to love everyone, including our enemies.

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18: 21-22

"Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others, and He will apply to you the same rules you apply to others." Matthew 7: 1-2

"Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too." Matthew 5: 39

His actions throughout His life seem to mirror what He taught and preached in that He showed love and caring for the people He met by healing them, consoling them, feeding them, and often raising some of them from the dead. Always it was on a one-to-one basis, like He taught us to relate to God His Father. When the crowds came to Him He could have just clicked His fingers and all who needed healing would be healed. But He did not do that. He treated each individual case personally. He touched the deaf man's ears, He put His hands on the blind man's eyes, He let the old lady touch His cloak, He went to Jairus' daughter as well as to Lazarus' tomb. And all these, as well as many others, were healed or raised from the dead.

He claimed time and again that He was the Son of God. A claim which led to His cruel death on the Cross. His Father in Heaven confirmed this claim on at least two occasions. At Christ's Baptism and at the Transfiguration. And of course, by raising Him again from the dead.

So ... the question is asked again.

Who do you think Jesus is? Why?

Friday, 1 September 2017

Haunted Town


It was late evening when I got off the train at a coastal town in Northern Scotland. It was dark and misty as I walked down the empty street trying to  find somewhere to stay for the night. The pungent acrid smell of coal-burning fires hung in the air and made my eyes water. An owl cried in the distance followed by a cat screeching in an alleyway. This desolate town looked as if nothing had changed from the 18th Century. The dark wooded fronted buildings seemed deserted, and even the traditional tumbleweeds did not bother to come rolling down the street, preferring instead to hide in a huddle in street corners. A bell far away tolled gently its funereal peal every few seconds. "Ding ... Ding ... Ding ..."  Fear must have gripped my every senses as I felt tears rolling down my trouser legs.

I wondered what this town's motto was, if it had any on its Coat of Arms, traditional in many towns around this parts. "Reversing back into the past with despondency". I bet it had a suicide pact with the devil.

I eventually reached a dimly lit building with a "Bed and Breakfast" sign by the door. I entered what looked like a pub with a dozen or so people sitting at various tables nursing their sorrows in their customary drinks. The room was totally silent and I felt their gaze burn into my back as I approached the bar.

"What will you have?" asked the barman as he wiped the bar with a dirty old cloth.

"Whatever they are having!" I replied with a nervous smile as I turned round only to discover the bar room totally empty. I felt my knees knocking with terror. I had butterflies in my stomach and their knees were knocking too.

"Are you a stranger in town?" asked the barman as I noticed for the first time that he had a vulture perched on his shoulder.

I nodded silently and then, finding my voice again, I asked him if he had a room for the night, and regretted making the request almost instantaneously as the bird of prey emptied its load on the man's shoulder.

He cleaned his jacket with the bar cloth and said, "That will be £20 payable in advance."

"Why is that bell tolling in the distance all the time?" I asked as I paid him.

"That would be the buoy, that would," he replied as he spat some chewed tobacco on the ground.

"A boy?" I asked innocently.

"Yes ... a buoy ... a floating thing on the sea with a bell to warn ships to keep away from the rocks. Years ago, there were a terrible shipwreck out there. A merchant ship hit the rocks and it went down with all hands on deck. Not a soul was saved that night. Although we did recover many casks of whisky and port. Some town folks believe the whole town is haunted because of them sailors dying like that. Some nights one can hear the howling of their anguished cries as they gasped for their last breath in the icy cruel sea. Personally, I think it's just the wind but some folks will hang on to their beliefs like a snot from a child's nose."

I nodded silently, not knowing what to say.

"Will you be wanting supper?" he asked, as he cleaned the bar top again with the same cloth, spreading the remains of the bird's faeces all over the place.

"Yes please ..." I gulped.

"Well ... we haven't got any!" he replied, "I have to go to the church grave yard shortly. So I'll bid you good bye!"

"To ... the grave yard?" I asked, "at this time of night?"

"Yes ..." he said as he spat again, "I double up as the town's grave digger and I have to get ready for a burial tomorrow morning."

"Has someone died?" I asked rather stupidly, but for something to say.

"He'd better be ..." he said, "or else we'd be burying him alive. And Hubert would not be happy. Considering the big size of the grave I have to dig. Huge it'll be!"

"Was Hubert a big man?" I asked again.

"We ain't burying Hubert ..." he said in exasperation, "at least not yet. We are burying his horse!"

"His horse?" I heard myself say and not believing my ears, "in the church grave yard?"

"Where else would you want me to bury him?" he asked, "out at sea? A naval burial on a night like this? He wasn't a sea horse, you know!"

I nodded and said nothing.

"There will not be any breakfast in the morning," he said as he left, "but the price is included in the £20 you paid!"

I made my way up to my room in the dark. I entered the damp and dank smelling room lit by one candle. At least it had hot and cold running cockroaches.

I saw one of them on the wall by my bed. I used a folded newspaper and killed it squashing its remains all over the wall. Within minutes the room was infested by other cockroaches who had come for the funeral.

I pulled the bed away from the wall and they pulled it back to hide where they were holding the remembrance reception.

I decided to spend the night sitting on an old armchair instead. I must have been very tired because my eyelids soon got the better of me as I dozed of for a while.

I semi-awoke by the sound of the cockroaches partying. In my stupor I saw a ghostly figure of a woman standing by my bedside. She reminded me a little of Gloria Gaynor.

First I was afraid, I was petrified ... I didn't know if I would survive.

And right now I am imagining all your faces as you are reading this!
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