Category : * General Interest

Our Faithful and Energetic Puggle Has Died

Posted in Animals, Harmon Family, Photos/Photography

(NYT front page) ‘I Did All I Could’: As Floodwaters Rose, She Fought to Save Her Disabled Brothers

When the water slipped in, it was just a glimmer on the floor, a sign that it was time to go.

It was Wednesday, around noon, and Darcy Bishop roused her two brothers who had been resting after lunch. She pulled the wheelchair up to the oldest, Russell Rochow, 66, and heaved him into it before slipping his feet into black Velcro shoes.

Her other brother, Todd Rochow, 63, was in his room, changing out of pajamas. He could manage with a walker.

Both men had been born with cerebral palsy, and their mental development was like that of a young child. About 10 years ago, they started showing signs of Parkinson’s disease. But they found joy in their surroundings. Todd liked collecting cans at the beach and waiting for the mail carrier. Russell loved riding the bus and going to parks. And both had girlfriends. Ms. Bishop, 61, was their lifeline, their little sister who had long felt an obligation to keep them safe.

“We’ve got to get going!” she shouted to Todd. She went to open the door of their home in Naples, Fla. It would not budge. The weight of the water on the other side had cemented it shut.

Read it all.

Posted in Marriage & Family, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

(NBC) Heroic Reporter Reunited With Woman He Saved From Flooded Car During Hurricane Ian

Watch the whole very encouraging piece.

Posted in * General Interest, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

(Guardian) Divine comedy: the standup double act who turned to the priesthood

Josh arrived at Oxford in 2012 to study history, Jack in 2013 for English. Once there, Jack devoted himself to comedy. The first time Josh saw him on stage, he couldn’t get over Jack’s brilliance. After the show, he went over and said: “You should do a sequel of that, but with me in it, too.” Jack was quick and witty. But he was also more honest than other people Josh had met at university. No one else talked about how punishing it was. Likewise, Jack admired how straightforwardly, unapologetically himself Josh seemed. In each other they both discovered qualities they could not see were also in themselves: someone grounded and earnest, who reminded them of home.

Jack is taller, more angular than Josh. The first time Josh saw a Rembrandt self-portrait, he thought: at last, people who look like me getting some representation in art. He has soft features, a stooped posture and droopy eyes that suggest a melancholic disposition. This impression falls away as soon as he speaks. When together, Josh is the more animated of the pair. At any hint of a joke from Jack (and when I interviewed them as a pair, there were many of these – I, the waiter, any passers-by becoming audience while they tried out accents and characters), he throws his head back and slaps his knees appreciatively. Jack is more sensitive and self-critical. He sometimes disappears into himself without warning. We spoke every few months between 2021 and 2022. The deepening of his commitment to Christianity during this period meant that on each occasion we talked, the version of himself from our last meeting had already become an object of some disdain.

There are two distinct routes to faith among those who don’t grow up Christian. The first is person-led. One priest I spoke to followed a girl he fancied into a church. He walked in an atheist and came out a believer. The process isn’t always so quick, of course. One devout Christian, named Chris, told me that it had started on his gap year when he met a Pentecostal Christian in Huddersfield. Every day the two spoke about faith. At the end of the year, Chris went to visit his new friend’s church. There the friend spoke to him through the Holy Spirit. In that heightened state, he told Chris truths about himself no one else knew. After that, Chris could think of no further reason not to become a Christian.

Others arrive at church after trauma.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Humor / Trivia, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(NBC) A Terrific Piece about Two Women in the Airline Industry who found out they were Sisters

Posted in * General Interest, Children, Marriage & Family, Travel

Hidden’s Brain’s Unsung Hero segment with a wonderful story about little things being anything but little

After Brandon, a teacher, learned that his new niece was delivered stillborn, his entire school was informed of the loss. None of his students talked to him the next day — except for one young student named Marissa

Take the time to listen to it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

2022 Vacation Photos (II)–Lake Greenwood, South Carolina

Posted in * South Carolina, Photos/Photography, Travel

Great story–Basketball player saves referee’s life after heart attack

Posted in * General Interest, Sports

2022 Vacation Photos (I)–Lake George

Posted in * By Kendall, Harmon Family, Photos/Photography

(BBC) Climate change killing elephants, says Kenya

Kenya’s Wildlife and Tourism ministry says that climate change is now a bigger threat to elephant conservation than poaching.

Read and watch it all.

Posted in Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Kenya

Meet Fit, the border collie awarded Farm Dog of the Year

“Fit works on a Florida farm where she supervises sheep. The pup was awarded the Farm Dog of the Year title for her hustle and dogged determination.”

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

(NBC) Baby Giraffe Able To Walk With The Help Of Human Orthopedic Group

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

([London] Times) Loyal labrador saves lost Texas woman with dementia

She strayed from a path and fell into the thicket. The search began the next day and security camera video showed Noppe and her dog on a road on the edge of the woods. The following afternoon the search was suspended because of a storm, though volunteers kept looking for her in the rain.

Noppe’s daughter Courtney said a team of tracking dogs had picked up a scent and a helicopter had been sent to try to spot her. At about 3am on May 6, the party turned off their all-terrain vehicles and heard a fateful bark.

“They just went to him and that’s how they found her,” she said.

Her family said that she was not seriously injured. “That dog has no leash, no collar, and stayed by her side for . . . three days,” her son Justin said. “That just shows you the loyalty that that dog has. He was never going to leave her side.”

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(Stat News) Transfusion of brain fluid from young mice is a memory-elevating elixir for old animals

For a human, one of the first signs someone is getting old is the inability to remember little things; maybe they misplace their keys, or get lost on an oft-taken route. For a laboratory mouse, it’s forgetting that when bright lights and a high-pitched buzz flood your cage, an electric zap to the foot quickly follows.

But researchers at Stanford University discovered that if you transfuse cerebrospinal fluid from a young mouse into an old one, it will recover its former powers of recall and freeze in anticipation. They also identified a protein in that cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, that penetrates into the hippocampus, where it drives improvements in memory.

The tantalizing breakthrough, published Wednesday in Nature, suggests that youthful factors circulating in the CSF, or drugs that target the same pathways, might be tapped to slow the cognitive declines of old age. Perhaps even more importantly, it shows for the first time the potential of CSF as a vehicle to get therapeutics for neurological diseases into the hard-to-reach fissures of the human brain.

“This is the first study that demonstrates real improvement in cognitive function with CSF infusion, and so that’s what makes it a real milestone,” said Maria Lehtinen, a neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the new research. “The super-exciting direction here is that it lends support to the idea that we can harness the CSF as a therapeutic avenue for a broad range of conditions.”

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Science & Technology, Theology

We took a long Weekend for our 35th Anniversary

Posted in Harmon Family, Marriage & Family, Photos/Photography

NYT reviews Alan Jacobs’ new book ‘The Puzzler– One Man’s Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, From Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning of Life’

Along the way we meet all manner of puzzle masters, as well as the merely possessed. There are the speedcubers, people who memorize hundreds — and sometimes thousands — of algorithms to reduce the number of turns per solve. (If you think that nothing is more boring to watch than golf, just know that speedcubing tournaments have spectators, as well as fantasy leagues where you can gamble on your favorite champions.) There is Adrian Fisher, who modestly calls himself the most prolific maze designer “in the history of humankind”: His work includes a Beatles-themed maze in Liverpool, a maze in the passenger terminal of Singapore’s Changi Airport and one on the side of a building in Dubai, “which shouldn’t be attempted unless you’re Spider-Man.” And of course there is Will Shortz himself, the NPR/New York Times editor who is to puzzles what Kim Kardashian is to buttocks: There is none finer, or more discussed among aficionados. On the walls of Shortz’s living room hangs a personal letter to him from Bill Clinton: “Even when I can’t finish them, they’re the only part of The New York Times that guarantees a good feeling.”

Jacobs’s love for puzzles is infectious, and it’s not hard to understand why. Puzzle people draw us in with their monomania. “I’m a sucker for people who are passionate about something,” Jacobs notes, “regardless of how silly that passion might seem to others.” He shows us how you can even cherish puzzles that you don’t have the patience (or skill) to solve.

The truth is, we’re all puzzlers, whether we’re trying to remember our passwords or losing sleep because we’re staying up till 12:01 a.m. to do Wordle — a simple word puzzle that ballooned from 90 daily players on Nov. 1 to 300,000 at the beginning of the year to millions now. All puzzles aren’t so innocent — think Zodiac Killer, who still has multiple websites dedicated to cracking some of his unsolved notes. But puzzles also bring us together in ways large and small. If I’m having an existential crisis at 3 a.m., there is an entire globe of people out there playing online Scrabble in real time. And I’ve actually had interesting conversations on Words With Friends with strangers. As puzzlers often say, “It’s not the puzzles you solve, it’s the people you meet.”

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Books

(Reuters) In pictures: Easter 2022 celebrations around the world

There are 25 in all.

Posted in Easter, Globalization, Holy Week, Photos/Photography

(Guardian) In pictures: Good Friday around the world

Look through them all.

Posted in Globalization, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Photos/Photography

A C of E Parish’s other flock helps it win environment award

For the past 30 years St Mary’s in Ticehurst, East Sussex, has invited the small flock – made up of six ewes and their lambs – into the churchyard for part of the year to increase biodiversity.

Penny Evans, a licensed lay reader at the parish, explained: “We now have Wiltshire Horns in the churchyard, which works very well with our churchyard conservation project.

“Wiltshire Horns do not need shearing, and so there is plenty of wool available for the birds’ nests.

“Birds even fill their boxes with cosy sheep wool. They also do an excellent job of looking after the grass in the churchyard.”

In fact, the sheep helped the church gain a Gold Eco Award from the environment charity A Rocha UK. It is only the 24th church to achieve the award.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Hidden Brain unsung heroes series) Little things are not a little thing–Sophia Croll’s Story

Take the time to listen to it all. It is simple but inspiring.

Posted in * General Interest, Travel

‘Bored’ Grandma Turns The Tables On Phone Scammer

‘A Long Island woman received a scam call that her grandson was in a drunken car crash. She notified the police, who helped tackle the fraudster when he showed up demanding money.’ Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Police/Fire, Science & Technology

One of the best stories from this week for your encouragement–(NBC) UPS Driver Delivers Touching Tribute To New Mom

“New mom Jessica Kitchel was still recovering from a c-section and feeling a little down when a U.P.S. driver delivered a package to her Georgia home. Dallen Harrell, a new dad himself, left a simple, heartfelt message wishing them well with their newborn.”

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(Reuters) Celebrating the Epiphany around the world

Take a look at them all (30 total).

Posted in Epiphany, Globalization, Photos/Photography

(BBC) London’s 2022 fireworks

Posted in * General Interest, England / UK

(BBC) In pictures: the World celebrates Christmas in 2021

People across the world are celebrating Christmas – one of the holiest times in the Christian calendar. However, for the second year in a row, there are smaller crowds at church services and other events because of the continuing coronavirus outbreak. Here’s our snapshot of global festivities….

Take the time to go though them all.

Posted in Christmas, Globalization, Photos/Photography, Religion & Culture

(Reuters) Deepfake anyone: AI synthetic media tech enters perilous phase

“Do you want to see yourself acting in a movie or on TV?” said the description for one app on online stores, offering users the chance to create AI-generated synthetic media, also known as deepfakes.

“Do you want to see your best friend, colleague, or boss dancing?” it added. “Have you ever wondered how would you look if your face swapped with your friend’s or a celebrity’s?”

The same app was advertised differently on dozens of adult sites: “Make deepfake porn in a sec,” the ads said. “Deepfake anyone.”

How increasingly sophisticated technology is applied is one of the complexities facing synthetic media software, where machine learning is used to digitally model faces from images and then swap them into films as seamlessly as possible.

The technology, barely four years old, may be at a pivotal point, according to interviews with companies, researchers, policymakers and campaigners.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Photos/Photography, Pornography, Science & Technology

Monday food for Thought from Calvin and Hobbes

—This was used by yours truly in yesterday’s sermon–KSH.

Posted in Anthropology, Humor / Trivia

(Guardian) Monarch butterflies may be thriving after years of decline. Is it a comeback?

On a recent November morning, more than 20,000 western monarch butterflies clustered in a grove of eucalyptus, coating the swaying trees like orange lace. Each year up to 30% of the butterfly’s population meets here in Pismo Beach, California, as the insects migrate thousands of miles west for the winter.

Just a year ago, this vibrant spectacle had all but disappeared. The monarch population has plummeted in recent years, as the vibrant invertebrates struggled to adapt to habitat loss, climate crisis, and harmful pesticide-use across their western range.

Last year less than 200 arrived at this site in 2020 – the lowest number ever recorded – and less than 2,000 were counted across the California coast.

But ahead of the official annual count that takes place around Thanksgiving, early tallies show monarchs may be thriving once again across California. The rise has sparked joy and relief, but the researchers, state park officials, and advocates say that doesn’t mean the species is safe.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals

(C of E) Church Commissioners among leading financial institutions to commit to actively tackle deforestation

More than 30 leading financial institutions, representing over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, including the Church Commissioners for England, have committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation as part of broader efforts to drive the global shift towards sustainable production and nature-based solutions.

Ending deforestation and implementing natural climate solutions could provide a third of the solution to achieving the Paris climate target, help halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and support human rights and food security.

With most deforestation driven by unsustainable production practices for palm oil, soy, cattle products and pulp and paper, resulting in more carbon emissions annually than the EU, action on these commodities is particularly urgent, which is the focus of the commitment made today.

Today’s commitment – to use best efforts to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven tropical deforestation from portfolios by 2025 – is clear evidence of the increasing awareness of the systemic risks and associated actions needed to address deforestation related to production of these commodities and accelerate the transition to sustainable commodity production.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship, Stock Market

Tuesday Morning Encouragement–Restaurant Makes Special Chocolate For Blind Customer With Birthday Message in Braille

There may be a thousand ways to say, ‘Happy Birthday!’ but the sweetest of all may very well be a special chocolate message that was recently served up by an amazingly thoughtful restaurant staff.

Creating natal felicitations in warm liquid cocoa was nothing new at London’s Luciano by Gino D’Acampo restaurant, but for birthday girl Natalie Te Paa, who is totally blind, the best wishes were spelled out in Braille.

What gave the message an even greater meaning was that there was no advance planning involved. When the restaurant crew learned the dinner Te Paa was sharing with friend Claire Sara was a birthday celebration, they took it upon themselves to find and recreate the Braille translation that summed up their best wishes in well-chilled chocolate.

Te Paa could barely believe her fingertips as she traced over the raised confectionary dots.

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Stewardship