31. March 2011 · Comments Off on From Jerusalem to Gaza · Categories: Religion · Tags: , ,

On November 3, 2006 during the second day of Sabeel’s 6th International Conference in Jerusalem Sabeel’s Founder and Prophet, Rev. Naim Ateek firmly stated, “Israel will not survive unless it does JUSTICE! The situation is deteriorating and we must frustrate Israel’s plans and action because they are not built on JUSTICE! All we are asking for is honoring International Law! Israel is afraid of International Law and this proves something is very wrong with Israel. We want Israel to live in peace and with security. The only way is honoring International Law. This is the bottom line. This is what we work and pray for.”

International Law states that occupation is to be temporary and maintain the status quo. Forty years of occupation and the building of the illegal wall which does not follow the Green Line, but divides Palestinians from their families and steals their land and water is apartheid.

The final image of a Power Point presentation that was shown the evening before was a photograph of eight smiling children in Gaza. Three flashed an upright Peace sign, but the fourth’s ‘V’ had been turned on it’s side. It reminded me of the image of the Caterpillar bulldozer that was painted on the BEIT ARABIYA home/ Peace Center that I visited on Nov. 1, 2006. Upon the wall of the home is a mural donated by the North American Workers Against the USA occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The mural depicts Rachel Corrie, the American who was run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza when she stood up to defend the home of a Physician with five children, and a pregnant Palestinian woman of ten who was also killed in Gaza. The angelic images of the two women float above a depiction of a USA made Caterpillar bulldozer tipped to one side and flanked by tanks and weapons of destruction. On both sides of the weapons of destruction are many people. A railroad track reminds the viewer that prior to 1948, Jews

and Palestinians once worked together in peaceful solidarity to build a railroad.

Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza wrote:

“Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry…people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope…Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles…Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desparate…Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom…Gaza cannot sleep…the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!”

On Nov. 2, 2006 Aljazeera.net reported that “Israeli forces have killed two Palestinians in Gaza, including a 75-year-old civilian, in one of Israel’s biggest offensives in the coastal strip in months. Relatives of the elderly man killed on Thursday in Bait Hanun said he was killed by a shot to the head when he went on to his balcony to bring his disabled son inside. Israeli troops fired from a rooftop, residents said. The Israeli army said its forces were attacking only armed groups, but declined to comment on the civilian killing.”

Their deaths raised to 12 the number of Palestinians killed since the current operation which began on Nov. 1, 2006, when troops entered northern Gaza before dawn. This raid is one of the biggest since Israel’s offensive in Gaza in retaliation of their captured soldier.

As of November 1, 2006, 280 Palestinians have been killed in the four-month-old Israeli offensive in Gaza.

“By the sixth century before Christ, the conflicts in the land were already old news, and Jeremiah warned the people that all God could see was violence and destruction. Sickness and wounds were all around…For every misunderstanding, every condemning thought, every negative vibration, every tear torn from a heart, every time one grabbed and wouldn’t let go, and they only did it because they did not know. The Divine is within all creation and within all women and men.

“And every tiny kindness you have ever done, every gentle word spoken, every time you held your tongue, every positive thought, every smile freely given, every helping hand that opens, helps bring in the kingdom. And the kingdom comes from above and the kingdom comes from within. IMAGINE a kingdom of sisterhood of all creatures and all men.”-KEEP HOPE ALIVE, pages 53-54, available on WAWA

24. March 2011 · Comments Off on Signed, Sealed And Delivered: Cosmic Contracts You Signed From The Astrological Sixth House · Categories: Astrology · Tags: , ,
MODE OF Cosmic Therapy: Fulfilling Non-Negotiable Esoteric Cosmic Contracts

Do you realize you signed cosmic contracts before you entered this dispensation of time that you agreed to fulfill? That’s right! You made and signed an official cosmic document that stated you would fulfill it requirements and carry forth the obligations associated with your specific destiny to the best of your ability. The 6th house is the obligatory place where you signed these binding contracts, commitments and tasks to serve others in this life in truly “ordinary’ mind-boggling ways. You agreed that you would meet, interact, (in some cases) marry/divorce certain individuals for inexplicable reasons. Though you are not normally consciously aware of having signed any ‘cosmic’ contracts, you did. This is the house where you do all the things you don’t necessarily want to do. In this segment we will be covering the matters of the 6th house of the MODE OF Cosmic Therapy Astrological Information.

The astrological natal chart is a cosmic {blueprint} photograph of how the planets were placed on the morning you were born. By the various groupings, a professional astrologer can decipher and interpret the meanings associated. But, more importantly IF you will invest the time, energy, effort and interest, inclination and consistency needed, you can discover marvelous things for yourself. The astrological photograph is divided and displayed in 12 particular houses in a wheel of sort. (Like a 12 slice pie} The way the planets are placed in the various slices form/determine a unique pattern and that configuration gives special clues and insights to a person as he plays out his life. This article does not get into the pattern but touches briefly on the various house themes.

I must note at this point, the 12 segments represent a variety of different themes, too. Astrology is an on-going in depth systematic notation that has been used by some of the most brilliant minds in history. There exists a supposition of sorts: “what happens in the sky is reflected on earth.” (Makes sense to me.) I have found the subject to be worth more than 40 years of my time to investigate, study, observe and apply the incredulous invaluable information contained through actual cases. It also thoroughly entertains me since I am such a skeptic by nature and not easily convinced. Should you be able to use, apply or relate to the data offered, that’s because you are at a point in your life where you are ready to receive it.

I have published 5 other existing articles on this particular subject of the houses; by reading them you will be able to follow somewhat of a logical sequential flow of the MODE OF Cosmic Therapy Esoteric Astrological Information provided on various issues contained therein. It is the only arena in your life where by doing the things that seem so small, insignificant, low paying, disenfranchised, demoralizing and trivial you are able to experience sensations unable to be attained in other manner. This is the proverbial gutter, you could say. So yes, matters of abuse are designated here, as well.

In this house, it often appears as if there are no marching bands, no bright names in lights or noteworthy exalting bravado. But, that is not the case at all. When you do things that are without public notice or appeal, recognition or applaud, you are rewarded continuously without relent. The fact that an emphasis is placed in this house distinguishes you as a person who will make a difference of incredible measure, leaving a legacy long after you have left this dimension.

.Dependent upon the planet and sign which rules your 6th house, you are cosmically qualified, signified and set apart to some serious global work. (Though in the beginning it will appear menial.) Because of this high honor, you are obligated to bring sunshine wherever you go. And, simply by shedding this light of the Cosmos, you will be richly blessed and materially compensated beyond measure, especially in business relationships. You will be involved with partners who have vast fortunes to bestow. In other words, you are commanded to share your wealth, without regard as to how it is to be used or appreciated. You are never to expect anything in return nor will you need to be praised for your generosity.

People who have a strong link to the 6th house are true revolutionaries, artists, musicians, poets, actors, teachers, motivators, ministers, healers, chefs, transformer of mankind. You live and conduct your life so multidimensionality. Although this house is conventionally referred to as the house of service, it is the most respected, revered and honored. The 6th house is about cosmic duty, obligation, and responsibility through the most mundane of insignificant tasks. In other words, you will wonder time and time again, will it ever pay off? YES! A resounding yes, but you can’t see it beforehand.

This is the house you must keep your agreements you made prior to (re)entering the earth plane. {IF, in fact this absurd idea can be true!} That’s right! You signed official cosmic esoteric agreements prior to entrance (birth) that you would not (under any circumstance) negate, abort or abandon your mission. No matter how difficult it became. YOU simply would not cheat! You would endure until the end. “…Though he slay me , yet, will I serve him…” (Paraphrased)

Have you ever wondered why you had to do certain things? Stay with certain people? Endure certain hardships which didn’t make any logical sense? Lose everything (material) you had accumulated? An unexpected, unwanted divorce? Financial collapse? Death? (With no answers) Horendous abuse, betrayal and/or neglect? It’s a 6th house matter all the way! What sign is on the cusp? Where is the ruling planet located?

It also has everything to do with the commonplace, boring and monotonous work on a physical level. (In other words taking care of the petty, dirty, non-glorifying details.) Wasn’t it Mother Theresa who said the greatest t job she ever did was to clean toilets? This is the sphere you know without question that you are on a pre-determined destiny that will not be submerged or eradicated. Relationships will prove to be a battleground especially when you are placate, sublimate, or connive in order to get something more from the union. Remember you can’t truly LOVE anyone who you want or expect something from. It’s nothing personal. It’s totally emphatically cosmic.

You are simply living out your designated divine purpose by setting up the parameters in a world which will evolve into a united cosmological unlimited sisterhood and brotherhood. You move effortlessly along your predetermined path with the joyous knowledge of knowing without knowing how you know. People will certainly misunderstand you; even call you crazy for doing what you do. But, do it you must! Enlist, enjoy, and embrace the blessings without feeling guilty, special or shamed. You are on a mission to do a great work. The great work is on you and your personal intimate relationships. But you can’t possibly fulfill that mission when you are so closely identified with it as an integral part to an elaborately important idea of necessary significance. Neither are you to set yourself up separate and apart. Aint nothing special or extraordinary. It’s just a job. Someone’s gotta do it; may as well be you.

Realize that your constant consensual appreciation is never to be directed at people but to those invisible beings {God} (Masters) who serve you daily. It’s your consciousness they’re after. By extending yourself in the world they are being extended simultaneously. Whether you induce a perpetual state of kicking and screaming throughout your life, you will still stand in the position appointed; follow the astute destiny you have. There will be a few broken bones, surgeries, and unexplained illnesses but you will come through them victorious. Truth hurts but it never injures.

You will find how to erase all sense of grander associated with your innate gifts, abilities and talents respectful of the colossal power you carry. In an unobvious manner and humble way you’ll find and establish the simple routine for perfect serenity. Tall Trees will do it for you. Water will calm. Look closely at the sign on this house. Get to know it inside and out. What does it represent to you in fullness? How have you used these gifts? What people do you know who represent the epitome of the sign’s highest qualities? Observe them closely.

Simply do the job of which you signed up to do,(what you must do)without recognized glory or added attention. These are but meaningless distractions. All will unfold as it has been cosmically aligned.

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18. March 2011 · Comments Off on Uplifting Tips From Breast Cancer Survivors · Categories: Diseases & Conditions · Tags: , ,

I put UPLIFT: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors together because, as a survivor, I saw the need for a book that treated breast cancer as a do-able experience—and, indeed, the response to it has been remarkable. The book contains useful woman-to-woman hints—things the doctor doesn’t say—practical advice on topics ranging from what deodorant to use during radiation, to what minimizes nausea during chemo, to how to feel feminine and upbeat. This advice comes first-hand, in the words of 370+ breast cancer survivors, their sisters, children, parents, lovers, and friends. The new 3rd Edition adds updates, five years later, from many of the original contributors.

The following are some uplifting tips from breast cancer survivors. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do:

The Worry Box

“I found a box and glued colorful scraps of wrapping paper on the top. Inside it, each morning, I tucked handwritten notes about my worries and fears. Then I closed the lid and went on with the rest of the day.”

Nancy Burgess, in the “TAKING THE REINS” chapter.

The Art of Healing

“Go to a theater, a museum, a concert or ballet. Art can take us out of ourselves, lift us beyond our immediate environment, enrich us spiritually and aesthetically. Opening yourself to great beauty is always a life-enhancer. In times of crisis, it’s also healing.”

Susan Stamberg, in the “TAKING THE REINS” chapter.

Pins and Needles

“Apparently, there is a dressmaker in Chicago who had prostheses made out of her pin cushions, so that she could conveniently stick her needles and pins into her chest when sewing and making alterations!”

Darlene Jurow, in the “HUMOR” chapter.

Eating With Friends

“I found conventional support group meetings difficult, so I formed my own support dinner group. We dine out every couple of months to discuss having breast cancer. We also share stories of our spouses, children, and travels.”

Deborah J.P. Schur, in the “SUPPORT GROUP” chapter.

Drinking Helps

“Someone told me my chemo symptoms sounded like a really bad hangover! Their suggestion that Gatorade was good for hangovers led to my drinking gallons of it, which helped steady that queasy shakiness.”

Jane Vaughan, in the “CHEMO AND EVERYTHING ELSE” chapter.

Accentuate the Positive

“Perhaps the most significant outcome of my battle with breast cancer is that I have changed my outlook on life. I now regard life as precious and try not to focus on negative things. Eliminating stress and resentment from my life and concentrating on the positive things has become my goal. I am now more at peace with myself. “

Sandy Mark, in the “PURE UPLIFT” chapter.

Looking Ahead

“It’s been five years, nine months for me, but who’s counting! I still think about my cancer, but less and less. I’m exercising more now. I really found out how good it was after my surgery and I got into a program for cancer survivors. I only wished I had started earlier in life. Now I faithfully visit the Y to start off my day.”

Judy Peterson, in the “FAST FORWARD” chapter.

For more tips and quotes visit Barbara Delinsky’s site at http://www.barbaradelinsky.com/uplift/uplift.cfm

Barbara Delinsky is a bestselling author. Her novels are highly emotional, character-driven studies of marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry, and friendship. They regularly appear on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today Bestseller Lists. UPLIFT: Secrets of the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors is Barbara’s first non-fiction work.

Barbara donates all of her proceeds from the sale of UPLIFT to her charitable foundation for breast cancer research. So far, the sale of the book has allowed the Barbara Delinsky Charitable Foundation to fund three years of a breast surgery fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. The focus of the fellowship is to launch the career of a surgical oncologist with an additional year of training focused on innovative breast cancer treatments and research, hopefully offering returns to the field of cancer research for decades to come.

For more information on the foundation, please visit the UPLIFT website at http://www.barbaradelinsky.com/uplift/uplift.cfm

Copyright © 2006 Barbara Delinsky Charitable Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.

18. March 2011 · Comments Off on Treating Back Pain · Categories: Health · Tags: , ,

People are always searching for new ways to treat their back pain. An alternative to taking drugs to end their pain is what many people want. Physical therapy and exercise is one such way to help eliminate the pain and keep it from returning, without the use of drugs.

There can be some bad and undesirable side effects when using medications called NSAID’s. This is why treating for the pain is one thing but finding a cure for the problem that causes the pain is what people want.

There are a lot of doctors as well as patients that are trying to avoid using surgery and surgical procedures. The time that they are used is when it is necessary to correct a spinal problem. Most people understand that there is a potential for additional problems that can happen from this invasive procedures. They tend to try and often prefer to look for things that are more conservative.

Scoliosis Sufferers

Many people suffering from back pain have a problem with an irregular curvature of the spine. This irregular curvature of the spine is referred to scoliosis. The use of x-rays is the most common way to detect scoliosis but many times you can identify this problem visually without the use of x-rays.

Many orthopedic surgeons are using new treatments to help scoliosis sufferers without using surgery. These new treatments are showing to provide relief for both children and adults who suffer from scoliosis.

Different Ways To Treat The Pain Chiropractors have been known to be an effective way to treat and manage pain for those suffering from chronic back pain. Chiropractic care is a common alternative treatment to help ease or eliminate the pain for many chronic back pain sufferers.

Then there are others who have turned to other alternatives such as:

herbal treatments acupuncture

The McKenzie method involves more than just exercise

There is a commonly known method for treating low back pain called the McKenzie method. This includes exercise and physical therapy for neck and back pain. To learn more about the McKenzie methods, exercises and goals of the program, click on the following link: McKenzie McKenize method for treatment of low back pain.

Herniated disc’s or herniated disk pain from a previous accident can require surgery to repair any damage that might have occurred. Usually this type of surgery to help herniated disc treatment is not used immediately due to the long lasting complications. Surgery in some cases is the only answer to relieve the pain. It used to be automatic to have the surgery, but not any more, other procedures are tried first.

There are many new products coming out that offer pain relief from back or neck pain caused by arthritis. The reliability of these products have come into question and many are taking products such as these without knowing the cause of their back pain. They are only assuming it is caused by arthritis when there may be a different reason for their back pain. So they end up spending a lot of money on products that will have no effect on relieving the pain. Doctors recommend looking for the cause of the back pain first then treating for it.

Don’t suffer anymore with back pain. Think how good it would feel to be free from back pain. Download your FREE report and discover ways to be pain free. Click for info on Neurontin for chronic back pain

17. March 2011 · Comments Off on Polynesian Tattoos – Samoan, Hawaiian, Tiki and Maori Tattoo Designs · Categories: Arts And Entertainment · Tags: , ,

Polynesia – a beautiful group of islands scattered over the mystical Pacific Ocean. Along with the adventurous people and a rich culture and tradition is the brilliant Polynesian tattoo art that’s worthy of admiration worldwide. Polynesian tattoos are an ancient art that has attracted art and tattoo lovers of the modern times. Below are some of the types of Polynesian tattoos for you to consider.

Hawaiian Tattoos
The Hawaiian tribal tattoo art is known as Kakau. Hawaiian tattoos have been used for personal identification, as talisman that offers protection, as a symbol of mourning, and for adornment. Designs are larger and bolder compared to other Polynesian designs. The most typical designs are tropical flowers, sea turtle, lizards, dolphins and arrows. Hawaiian armband tattoos are very popular as well. These capture the traditional style, but with a modern twist.

Maori Tattoos
The Maori people of New Zealand call their tattoo art “ta moko,” which refers to their traditional process of tattooing (to strike or to tap) and the tattoo design itself. They use their tattoo patterns and symbols as a way of personal identification. Maori tattoo art is one of the most distinctive tattoos in the world. It consists of intricate spirals and beautiful curved shapes.

Samoan Tattoos
Samoan tattoo or “Tatau” has various significant, complex, and abstract patterns and motifs that generally covers a large area of the body. Samoans get tattoos to identify their family lineage, denote their rank and status, and show their sense of cultural pride.

Tiki Tattoos
Tiki tattoo design or Tiki art pertains to Polynesian statues and carvings that depict a human figure. There are thousands of Tiki gods and goddesses, all with different symbolisms. These can be great tattoo designs, either by themselves or with bold floral designs or colorful outdoor images.
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16. March 2011 · Comments Off on Projects Abroad Peru Director Discovers Lost Inca City · Categories: Travel · Tags: , ,

Tim DeWinter, the director of our Projects Abroad Peru programme tells us about his incredible recent discovery of an Inca settlement:

“Those who think that the frontiers of exploration have all descended into ocean depths or flown out beyond the rings of Saturn take heart and read on” Vincent Lee

Can one find a whole “forgotten” city in the 21st century? Is that still possible? With modern satellite images surely everything has been found already? Well, our adventure proves that in the Antisuyo, remote provinces north of Cusco, there are still discoveries to be made by the intrepid and adventurous.

Since 1994, when I arrived in Peru, walking in the Andes has been one of my favourite pastimes and while working for UNICEF from 1997 onwards, I had the opportunity to combine work and pleasure. No Peruvian UNICEF consultant was keen on leaving their families behind to go to the remotest areas of Cusco. I, on the other hand, was single and loved it, so basically from Monday to Friday I walked in this land reserved for the strongest under an impossibly blue sky, marvelling at the beauty and ruggedness of this wonderful mountain range.

Several years later, working for Projects Abroad in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with a family of my own, I had fewer opportunities to hike off into the unknown. However, one of the programmes that Projects Abroad runs in Peru is called the Inca Projects and in 2005 we decided to combine the archaeological and community development activities with exploration and hiking. Our volunteers loved the prospect of doing treks in the less touristy parts of the Andes and we enjoyed organising it for them. Maps have always been a source of hidden walks for me and I studied them whenever I could. I have many topographical maps of the region and studied these carefully before hiking a new route, so we knew what we would be up against.

My friends Americo, Carlos, Walter and myself decided to explore a mountain ridge in the region known as the Eyebrow of the Jungle, next to the Lucumayo river in the Huayopata district. Our team’s field experience and friendship would make this an enjoyable trip. I had a hunch that there would be some kind of Inca structure up there, it was a strategic viewpoint and other small Inca structures where known to be a few hours walk further upstream the Vilcanota river.

We started the day early at 5am, but were held up by some local farmers that had used the road up towards the hill for making mud bricks. We carried 65 pound rucksacks for the three day hike we had planned and it was hot and humid. By midday, our luck turned, we stopped at a clearing and met a hunter, his name was Eloy. One of the golden rules of exploration is to listen to the campesinos, they know where everything is. Eloy was no exception to the rule.

He told us he knew of a small wall and after having shared lunch with him, he took us further up the hill. The forest was dense and challenging, the rucksacks were left behind and we marched on with our machetes in hand, swinging at all the dense green foliage blocking our path. Eloy showed us the wall; it turned out to be a room, mostly still underground, covered in bush and by the years of decomposing forest. The amount of tangled growth is hard to explain unless you have experienced it. It was a typical Inca house, of normal proportions, and next to it another one, and another one. We immediately thanked the magical apu mountain spirits which mean everything to the campesinos and are directly linked to the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth).

Eloy was not surprised by our small ceremony, but he was shocked that for many years he had been hunting in these forests without having had a clue of their importance. He became excited and told us that if these bumps on the jungle floor were walls, then he knew some more bumps on hills close by. That was when it hit us, more bumps! This was not just a small settlement. We decided to go back and set up camp and for Eloy to take us to the other bumps early the next day.

Sleeping was difficult as our adrenaline levels were high and at 5am the next morning we were ready. Eloy arrived at the campsite and we took off for what turned out to be an amazing day of exploring. We walked through forests and found many tombs, circular, rectangular and square structures hidden under the thick of the jungle floor. The remains were so heavily overgrown that we are still unsure of the extent of the ruins, but having found over 40 structures in different places on the hilltops, with over 2 miles between them, we were confident that it played an important role in one of the best and largest networks of paved road ever built by pre-industrial man, the Qapaq Nan. The realisation that it must be connected to Machu Picchu, the beautiful and wonderful city in the cloud forest and the best known site in the Antisuyo, made it even more exciting.

The settlement looked over an extremely fertile and extensively cultivated glacial valley on one side and on the other side was the Vilcanota Valley. Machu Picchu was a one day walk upstream. Needless to say, what we had found had huge potential.

Were we on the verge of finding a missing link and opening a real new Inca Trail?

When we later arrived back in Cusco we suppressed the temptation to go straight to the local radio and TV stations and decided to consult the National Institute of Culture (INC) first. Maybe they knew about the ruins, maybe they had more information about them, maybe they had a map already?

Projects Abroad had signed a formal agreement with the INC last year and our many contacts were able to investigate if their Site Registry knew anything about this site, they didn’t. The result was amazing; no one had surveyed this site or bothered to visit this strategic geographical feature. If the INC was unaware of our findings, we had to regulate this quickly, letters were sent, all mentioning our willingness to share information and receive a visit from one of their investigation teams.

On September 29th 2006, we took two archaeologists with us back to the area. Francisco Solis and Italo Oberti are recognised archaeologists in the region and were eager to be part of these initial stages. They were amazed by our finds. They confirmed that it was a big Inca settlement, probably over 500 years old and pointed out the stone and thatch building techniques of the highland Incas. They were surprised by the many different types of structures and thanked us for contacting them so quickly, as many findings are kept secret from the INC so people can ransack the place beforehand.

The Incas didn’t like the lower altitudes with the mosquitoes and diseases, the heat and humidity, so maybe the cooler Lucumayo Valley, a wonderful food basket, was worked by the inhabitants of our newfound city. The land itself provided the materials for building and the fertile valley was there for farming, maybe even producing food for the inhabitants of Machu Picchu, just a day’s walk away!

What we did many others could have done and still can do. There must be numerous unstudied ruins, unexplored valleys and hilltops, especially on the edge of the rainforest, still waiting to be discovered.

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16. March 2011 · Comments Off on Fantasy Book Review – The Summoner by Gail Z Martin · Categories: Book Reviews · Tags: , ,

Fantasy readers craving a good quest with an interesting cast of characters will find page-turning fun in Gail Z. Martin’s The Summoner. The hero of the story is the Prince of Marjolan, Martris Drayke, a second son of the king content not to inherit his father’s throne. But Martris, who goes by the short name Tris, lives in fear of his elder half brother Jared, who is a wholly reprehensible person. A violent womanizer and abuser of people in general, Jared unleashes a vicious coup at the opening of the book in which he kills his father and Tris’s mother and sister. Tris barely escapes with his life along with a loyal guard captain, a bard, and man-at-arms.

With supernatural help and Tris’s ability to communicate with and control spirits — powers he inherited from his sorceress grandmother — they escape into the countryside. Fugitives now, Tris and his companions journey toward an adjoining kingdom to seek refuge and aid. They hire a notorious but skilled mercenary and smuggler named Vahanian to help them. While surviving various dangers, Tris learns more about his powers and realizes that he is a Summoner who can, among other things, call spirits and help them cross into the afterlife.

As the new King of Marjolan, Jared desperately wants Tris dead and sends soldiers and bounty hunters after him. Swords and spears are not all Tris has to dodge because Jared is allied with the sinister mage Arontala who blocks Tris’s escape with a spell that summons magical beasts. Arontala is also imprisoning the soul of Tris’s sister, and Tris longs to set her free.

As the story progresses the character of Kiara, Princess of Isencroft, is introduced. Years earlier she had been betrothed to Jared, but now she naturally despises the thought of wedding him. To weaken her kingdom and force her to seek Jared’s protection, Arontala has cast a spell on Kiara’s father and afflicted him with a wasting sickness that can only be cured by Arontala’s death that will break the spell. Hoping to find a cure for her father, Kiara embarks on a journey recommended by a religious sisterhood. On this journey she inevitably meets Tris and romance blossoms along with an alliance to destroy Jared and Arontala.

The strengths of this book are its good pace, realistic action, pleasing use of supernatural and magical elements, and a tight plot. The action does not lag and the story progresses comfortably. The fight scenes are exciting and plausible, meaning that the characters are not surviving against impossible odds. Their wins make sense and when they get captured it makes sense. For example, the chapters in which Tris and company are traveling with a merchant caravan and suffer attacks from bandits and slavers are some of the best in the book. In regards to the fantasy elements, Martin is good at using familiar horror devices like ghosts and vampires in pleasing ways. Several times Tris has to cope with angry spirits that are haunting their respective vicinities, and he sometimes employs the powers of the spirits against his enemies. Also a race of vampires inhabits the land. The plot is clear and motivates the characters properly, and Martin never leaves a reader wondering what is going on.

The weaknesses of the book, however, keep it from being top shelf literature. The dialogue is lame and comes across as if it was generated by software that harvests lines from bad movies. Then there is the overuse of chapters ending with Tris going to sleep or passing out and then the next chapter starting with him waking up. Yes, it is fine to use this segue sometimes, but it is a persistent crutch throughout this narrative for closing and opening chapters. Finally, some of the scenes felt lifted directly from Star Wars, especially the parts with Vahanian and his love interest. A good portion of the finale of the book was definitely sewn from a Star Wars pattern too.

Altogether, The Summoner is a fantasy book that provides readers with adequately interesting popcorn style entertainment. It has well paced quest action and adventure that does not allow the reader to get bored within a competently constructed narrative. I rate it three swords and a chastity belt because there are no hot love scenes.

12. March 2011 · Comments Off on Celebrating the "Day of Deliverance" · Categories: News And Society

President John Adams wrote to his wife in 1776: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.”

While we Americans do a great job of celebrating with pomp and parade, I can’t help but be struck by Adam’s wishes for the day to be commemorated as “the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” I can personally confess to falling way short on that. Games? Got it. Illuminations? Really got it. Picnics with burgers, hot dogs, and ice cream. Oh, yeah.

But this “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty ” mandate has thrown me into a public statement of guilt. Oh sure, I do pray solemnly and reverently for those who came before me, who threw themselves into the line of fire to give me freedom. And liberty. And of course the ongoing pursuit of happiness of which we are so addicted. But celebrating July 4th with solemn acts of devotion has never been ingrained into my thinking about the day.

I love what Paul says about freedom in the book of Galations: “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. Gal 5:13-14 (The Message)

As July 4th is celebrated throughout this great country of ours, I will be celebrating my freedom and liberty with my family in another land. We will be vacationing in South America, where, ironically enough, the personal freedoms we have so enjoyed here in the United States are in scarce supply throughout many regions there. Whether or not we will even have access to “illuminations” is in serious debate. The probability of enjoying hamburgers, hot dogs, and ice cream is downright miniscule.

Wherever you happen to be this July 4th, I hope you take some significant time out of your day to honor John Adams’ wish: commit to spending some portion of your day to “solemn acts of devotion.” Take time out today to pray for our country. Pray for the soldiers on the other side of the world who are currently fighting for others’ freedoms. Pray for their families…that they have peace about their loved ones’ safety and mission there. Pray for our leaders…that, while keeping the courage to stand up for their convictions, they would continue to keep the interests of others at heart as well. Pray for the safety of our citizens…that we be protected from random acts of terrorism and violence. And pray for those who came before us…those men and women upon whose tall shoulders our personal freedom and liberty rest.

Enjoy the day with your family and serve one another with love. Gather with neighbors for a bike parade. Enjoy your favorite barbequed foods, run through the sprinkler, catch fireflies with your kids, suck ice cream out of the bottom of a cone, and watch fireworks on a blanket in your local park or in your own backyard.

And promise to be ever mindful today, of your personal freedom, your liberty, and your rights. Be thankful. Pour out a blessing on behalf of those to whom you owe it. Love others. Hug your kids. Hug your spouse. And pat your dog.

Happy Independence Day!

NOTE: Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
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10. March 2011 · Comments Off on Collagen Skin Care · Categories: News & Society · Tags: , ,

Collagen has been widely used in cosmetic surgery as a healing aid for burn patients, reconstruction of bone and a wide variety of dental, orthopaedic and surgical purposes. Until quite recently Collagen as a beauty treatment has not been widely used for household cosmetic makeup.

What is collagen?

It is probably more popularly known in the beauty industry as being used in cosmetic surgery, like lip enhancement.

Collagen is also one of the most abundant proteins found in mammals. Approximately one quarter of all of the protein in your body is collagen. Collagen is the main protein of connective tissue. It has great tensile strength, and is the main component of ligaments and tendons. It is responsible for skin elasticity, and its degradation leads to wrinkles that accompany aging. Collagen also fills out the cornea where it is present in crystalline form.

Without getting too technical about its chemical make up it is a basically a triple helix compound with 1050 amino acids in it. Superimposition of these triple helix compounds produces fibrils of collagen that can be stabilised. By doing this it renders the collagen insoluble, buy using hydrolysis the collagen can be brought into a soluble form resulting in Collagen Hydrolysates. Collagen hydrolysates as a natural biological cosmetic ingredient are isolated and purified using mild extraction or gentle enzymatic degradation. They are dermatologically compatible and free of all contaminants.

Why is Collagen Good for the skin?

High-molecular collagen is an important moisture retainer and is suitable for all skin types. It has been proven that collagens increase hydration, improve skin feeling and decrease the extent and depth of wrinkles.

Protein hydrolysates or wheat protein hydrolysate due to their film-forming properties, provide additional positive effects by contributing to skin smoothness and softness. They also have a remarkably high capacity for free radical capture.

With the busy lifestyles most of us lead now days, everything has to be done quicker. Doing thing quicker often involves cutting corners. This might be reflective in our diets, fitness, sleep, etc. Ultimately any one of the previous will have an effect on the skins body and health. By using a Collagen skin care product you can be getting the optimum nutrition to support the skin and body’s health.

The Benefits of Collagen

* Collagen is a protein that acts as a key structural component of connective tissue in skin, hair, nails and joints.

* The inner layer of the skin contains large amounts of collagen which breaks down at a rate of 1.5% every year after the age of 25. The skin’s surface becomes dull and lifeless and the elasticity reduces over time causing certain parts to sag and wrinkle.

* Collagen has been proven to be beneficial for the improvement of the elasticity of the skin aiding repair and regeneration of ligaments, tendons, joints and bones and improving the connective tissue of the skin.

* In the Harvard Medical School arthritis research on collagen, up to 89.9% of those tested reported a greater ease of movement.

The way your skin looks is directly related to the way your skin is supported. Wrinkles form when the natural collagen and hyaluronic acid in your skin diminish during the natural ageing process.

* Collagen provides structure and volume to your skin.

* Collagen allows protein to be bio-available and water soluble – meaning it can be absorbed readily.

* Collagen stabilises the body’s immune system and helps neutralise production of abnormal molecular structures which is also known to be a major cause of joint problems and stiffness and provides the raw materials for cartilage.

* Collagen to works at its optimum level during alpha sleep mode when the body’s regeneration and rejuvenation mechanism is at its best. Therefore it is best to take supplements 1 hour after eating and just before sleeping.

* Drinking 1 1/2 litres of water daily helps disperse nutrients into the body and aid the detoxifying and regeneration process.

Collagen Skin Care products can give the face a dramatic boost, by simply replenishing what the skin is naturally loosing. This treatment will result in a natural younger looking face, and delay the need for Cosmetic Surgery. By combining a Collagen skin care routine with the application of natural ESCA makeup a much younger cleaner face can emerge.

09. March 2011 · Comments Off on Hawaii Vacation–Part 1–Oahu · Categories: Destinations · Tags: , ,

The first in our four-part series of Hawaii vacations takes us to the island of Oahu, “the Gathering Place”. In subsequent articles, we’ll explore the islands of Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Oahu is Hawaii’s third-largest island and its most developed. Honolulu is the “hub” of all the islands combined, providing many activities and accommodations, along with a feeling of escape and pure relaxation in year-round balmy weather.

Nearly three-quarters of Hawaii’s approximate 1.2 million reside on Oahu and about 400,000 live in Honolulu.

Oahu is a good place to start your Hawaiian vacation. More flights arrive in Honolulu from the U.S. mainland and elsewhere than at any other airport on the Hawaiian Islands.

It is also the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit. The only one of the islands that has inexpensive island-wide bus service, it is possible to experience the island without having to rent a car.

Oahu boasts mountains rising from the coast to 2,000 feet with fragrant flowers, sparkling waterfalls, and a jungle-like tropical forest. Daily average temperatures are in the low 70s during the coolest months, February and March, and around 85 degrees in the hottest months, August and September.

Most hotels on Oahu are found around Waikiki, a good base for your adventures on the island. In addition to the usual shopping malls, bookstores, restaurants, bars, art museums, entertainment and cultural activities of a typical American city, Honolulu has unique Hawaiian offerings.

Hanauma Bay, east of Waikiki, is the best snorkeling area in all of the islands, while Kailua Bay is the island’s top windsurfing spot. There are many types of activity. From surfing or snorkeling lessons to helicopter tours and dinner cruises, you can find it here.

You can discover the underwater world on a submarine tour. “Atlantis Submarines” will take you directly to the island’s plentiful sea life, from exotic fishes to coral and turtles, all circling around you as you descend to the floor of the ocean.

Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial remain one of the most visited sights on the islands. Be sure to include it in your Oahu itinerary. The visitor center for the memorial is located six miles west of Honolulu.

For the hardier, more adventurous traveler, the hiking possibilities are wide open. You can either set out on your own (some very intricate but well-traveled hiking trails are reachable by bus) or book a tour with one of the island’s hiking companies.

You can literally go from viewing ancient Hawaiian temples to 21st-Century high-rises, then move from the “Town” to the “Country,” just 45 minutes away.

No Oahu trip would be complete without a visit to the North Shore, the world’s surfing capital. This part of Oahu remains rural and undeveloped in places. The hotel and golf course at Turtle Bay comprise the only resort in the area.

Haleiwa, the main town of the North Shore, is 24 miles north of Honolulu. It has been a mecca for surfers from all over the world since the 1960s, however it is not an area for inexperienced surfers. This is an easy day trip from Waikiki.

Whatever adventures you encounter on Oahu, whether it is learning to surf at Wakiki, climbing the stack at Diamaond Head, or enjoying the warm sand of a beach, your vacation will end too soon for you to discover all this island has to offer. Perhaps next time….