Tuesday, 19 July 2005
"The Lion King"
Our grandchildren, Stephanie and Elliot, have been very busy for some time rehearsing all the songs for their summer term school play. So, this afternoon, it was off to Aldingbourne County Primary School to watch them performing in the production of "The Lion King". Every child from the Infant School had a part and the staff did a really fantastic job with all the make-up; it must have taken all morning to 'do' all the faces! As usual, all the children with speaking parts were exceptionally good - there are some budding actors there - and not one mistake! Stephanie, who had the main role in the Christmas play, had to be content this time with being one of the pack of 'hyenas' and Elliot, who also had a speaking role in the Christmas play, was one of the 'giraffes'.
Despite arriving over 25 minutes early, all the seats on the aisle were taken. So, rather than sit somewhere in the middle, I went to the back where I could stand up without blocking the view when I wanted to take some pictures. Well, if you don't stand up, all you can see is a sea of heads even though the stage is slightly raised. It definitely wasn't the best vantage point as the flash on my camera wasn't powerful enough from that distance and all my pictures came out rather dark! Oh, well, there is a tool called Paint Shop Pro - trouble is, I am not a 'pro' when it comes to using it! Still this picture of Elliot hasn't turned out too bad after adjusting the brightness a little. He certainly looks as if he is enjoying himself. Sorry, Stephanie - the one of you is really, really dark!
Sunday, 17 July 2005
Update on my Biopsy
Topic: Health Issues
My appointment for the result of my biopsy was at 10:30 am last Friday. This time, I was careful to allow a whole hour for the drive to Worthing and, of course, I arrived 15 minutes early. Then I had to wait until nearly 11 o'clock before I was called.
I knew the answer before I went in - something about the attitude of the nurse who called me and the compassionate look she gave me! I felt I was walking into the dock to be sentenced. Yes, the consultant stated without mincing words, the microcalcification is an early form of breast cancer called 'Ductal carcinoma in situ'
(DCIS). Nobody knows when it could start changing to invasive DCIS so he explained that the area of microcalcification, plus the immediate surrounding area, would need to be removed - a lumpectomy. I would also need a localisation mammogram to pinpoint the area. "It usually entails spending just one night in hospital and you can go home the next day." He added, "We would like to do it here, although it would be possible to send all the notes and x-rays to St. Richard's in Chichester." I read between the lines - we are much more experienced in our specialist Breast Care Unit here than they would be in Chichester...
"I can offer you Thursday, 11th August. Would that be okay?" I gulped - so soon! Well, no point putting it off, I suppose. Did I have any medical problems or was I on any medications? "We will need to send you another appointment for you to be assessed by the anaesthetist prior to surgery". I duly signed the consent form and left the room feeling slightly dazed to wait to see the Specialist Nurse.
She explained everything in greater detail. Because there is no lump, I will need to come down to the Breast Cancer Unit for a mammogram prior to surgery for a procedure called 'localisation'. This entails inserting a fine wire into the area of microcalcification to guide the surgeon to the right spot. Well, at least I don't have to worry about waking up and finding they have done the wrong side! However, I was taken aback when she explained that I would need to check into the hospital at 7:30 am on the day. Argh! 7.30 - I'm usually still fast asleep at that time! My first concern was how to get to the hospital. Would I be able to leave the car overnight in the hospital car park as my husband has never learnt to drive? She wasn't sure but told me to ask the car park attendant on my way out.
I adjourned to the canteen for a coffee and an iced doughnut. The caffeine and the sugar gave me a boost and I felt better. On the way out, I stopped at the Car Park Attendant's hut. Was it possible to leave the car in the car park overnight, I asked him. I was very relieved when he confirmed that it wasn't a problem. He explained that there would be plenty of spaces at that time of the morning and that my parking ticket would carry on for as long as necessary. Probably will be a lot cheaper than taking a taxi from Chichester.
Friday, 15 July 2005
Have I had my Head Buried in the Sand?
Did you know that suicide bomber's families were given financial hand-outs? Neither did I! That is why Joanna's comment on my "Compassion
" post for last Wednesday, surprised and shocked me. Apparently, Saddam Hussein was in the habit of donating $25,000 to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers
. And charities from other Arab states (some of them 'our allies') have also been in the habit of paying money to families of Palestinians killed in the fighting, including suicide bombers.
Now all this was way back in 2002 but is this form of passive support for terrorism still continuing today? Does it extend outside of Palestine? Will the families of the London bombers receive a large financial hand-out 'in compensation' for their loss? The thought sickens me.
Yesterday, I read a post by The Gray Monk
in which he reports this:
"It was interesting this morning to hear a young Muslim woman saying on TV that she felt it was right that Muslims should defend one another and support the struggle for recognition and their religion - but at the same time declaring that the bombers were soiling the name of Islam. She represents the dichotomy that all adherents to Islam face - the Koran specifically commands that they support and defend each other against "the infidels". It also states categorically that no "believer" - ie; any Muslim - is bound to give allegiance to any "infidel" or any government of "infidels". In other words, and this is enshrined in the Sharia Law, any Muslim living in a non-Muslim country owes it no allegiance. This is a major reason why, in any Muslim country, you will find no Christian (or any other religion) in the Civil Service or in any position of authority over any Muslim."
Well, what about Christian, Tariq Aziz
, who was Iraq's foreign minister under Saddam Hussein? But seriously, the thought that there might be some fundamentalist Muslims who live in the United Kingdom, benefit from our schools and universities and our health service and yet feel that they owe this country 'no allegiance' whatsoever is quite chilling.
Wednesday, 13 July 2005
We now know who some of the suicide bombers
were. Young men who should have had a long life before them - sons, brothers and one also a husband and a father. We cannot begin to imagine what convinces a seemingly normal young man to blow himself up and, in so doing, also destroy those unfortunate enough to be around him regardless of their race or their religion. What hatred had they absorbed and from whom? There must be some 'master-mind' behind all this, some evil coward who would never forfeit his own life but who is so misdirected and consumed by evil that he will twist the minds of impressionable young men and brainwash them into such a pointless waste of life.
And what else have these young men done? They have destroyed their families for sure. My heart goes out to the anguished mother
who reported her son missing. To learn that your child is dead is a terrible shock in itself but to learn that your child was actually one of the perpetrators of such evil destruction must be an unbearable sorrow and an everlasting shame. These young men were not martyrs because their cause was twisted and evil but in a sense they were victims too. Their families most certainly are.
We cannot condone their crime against the British people but we can and should show compassion to the families they left behind.
Tuesday, 12 July 2005
Now Playing: Talk to the Animals
Topic: Nature and Our World
I've always believed that animals are far more intelligent than people give them credit for, especially the mammals and the birds. Well, how could animals have survived for many hundreds of thousands of years before the dawn of man if they weren't clever and resourceful? But do they actually think and plan, are they aware of self and can they communicate with each other? Many trained animals seem to exhibit signs of intelligence comparable with a three or four year old child! So, for instance, how long does it take a child
to realise that the image in a mirror is their own reflection? Well, about two years apparently. So it is not surprising that some animals
, such as dolphins, definitely recognise themselves in a mirror and that dogs and wolves have a very strong sense of family.
Do animals think and plan? Well, this story I read once about a horse indicates that they can. The horse belonged to a farmer who kept him in a field about ½ mile away from the farmhouse. One night, the farmer was woken up by the horse neighing outside his bedroom. It was pouring with rain so an annoyed farmer had to put on wellies and a raincoat over his pyjamas and lead the horse back down the lane. When they arrived at the field, the farmer heard a strangled "MOO". The cow in the field next door had caught her horns in the fence and, in her struggles to get free, had fallen upside down - she would not have lasted the night. So, did the horse know he had to get help and that he had to jump out of the field and run up to the farmhouse? I think he did!
We talk of 'bird-brained' as a derogatory adjective but just because birds have a different type of brain doesn't mean it is inferior to that of mammals. My late sister, Pauline, once owned a pet Brazilian Hangnest. He was very tame and I can remember laughing when I showed him a mirror and he started to display to his image. I also showed him a book with a picture of a Hangnest. But he was a wise little bird and he craned his little head and looked behind the book. He may not have been aware of self but, he had realised very quickly that it was not another bird and from then on he stopped displaying.
Without doubt, one of the most intelligent birds is the parrot. And now a scientist undertaking research with an African Grey Parrot
called Alex, has shown that he understands the abstract concept of zero and correctly used the word 'none' to describe an absence of objects. Alex
can count, understands colours and shapes and has a large vocabulary. He can also get bored and irritated and refuse to answer, "No!", "Want corn!"
, just like a small petulant child. Another grey parrot called, N'kisi
can use and apparently understand over 700 words and has an affinity for telepathy!
Teaching animals to mimic the human way of communication does not necessarily mean they have language skills in the wild although I believe many do. Take the Gorilla, Koko
, who has learnt sign language. She has told her keepers she wants a baby! I remember seeing a TV programme about her a long time ago. It was sad because she was shown lots of pictures of male gorillas in zoos and she picked the one she fancied! However, when he arrived, he did not show any interest in poor old Koko! So, she mothers tiny kittens instead. Then there is the chimpanzee, Washoe
and her friends. Washoe was taught signing and soon began to combine the signs into meaningful phrases, "You me hide
", "You me go out hurry
". When other chimpanzees were included in the study, they starting signing amongst themselves, even when on their own, and they taught signing to another chimp and adapted the signs for their own use. They were definitely talking to each other.
Scientists are just beginning to understand animal communication and I remember yet another TV documentary about Prairie Dogs. (You will know by now that I enjoy watching nature programmes on telly!) The scientist
studying these little creatures tapes their squeaks and grunts, which sound all the same to our ears. He then analyses the sounds on his computer and creates a sonogram, or visual representation of the sound waves. It seems that the prairie dogs have a rudimentary language
as he discovered that the little creatures had 'words' for various predators and for other animals such as deer or cows. They also had words for 'tall man' and 'short man' and they even added a sound to tall man to indicate he was wearing a red t-shirt. Amazing!
Perhaps, one day there will be a real Dr Dolittle
who really can talk to the animals.
Sunday, 10 July 2005
Fl./Lt. Dennis G. Hornsey, D.F.C.
Topic: Poetry and Poets
The late Dennis Hornsey was a World War II pilot serving with No. 76 Squadron
flying a Handley Page Halifax Bomber. The crew named their aeroplane Excelsior
and had a clenched fist with one finger pointing upwards painted on her side. On the night of 3rd/4th of November 1943, the aeroplane failed to return from an operational flight to bomb Dusseldorf. It had been shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Opgrimbie in Belgium. All seven crew bailed out but six of them were eventually captured and sent to prisoner of war camps. Dennis Hornsey was the only one to successfully evade through Belgium, France, over the Pyrenees and into Spain helped and guided by numerous brave members of the Underground Organisations. He returned to London from Gibraltar on the 11th December 1943.
After the war ended, Dennis Hornsey published his story, and recounted what happened to each of his crew, in a little book called: "The Pilot Walked Home". It is now out of print and very difficult to obtain so I was extremely lucky to find a copy. It is dedicated to the Underground Organisations of Belgium, France and Spain, and those of the R.A.F. who never came back. I was very touched by this poem included at the end of Chapter One of his book. I felt it was appropriate for this special day commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the end of the war.
What Think You, Airman?
by Dennis Hornsey
What think you, airman, when you fly,
So proudly there in heaven's sky?
Do you exult in your great might,
As you go onward through the night?
I think of death beneath my wings,
And of the dire load my bomber brings;
My spirit flinches from the thought
That of this carnage may come naught.
I pray that soon the day will come
When man will offer man his hand,
And peace prevail throughout the land.
I face up to my moment's task
And three things alone of God I ask—
Please help my flesh to stand the strain;
Protect us, Lord, this once again;
And if this cannot be your plan,
Give me the strength to be a man.
Extract from The Pilot Walked Home by Dennis Hornsey. Paperback published by Collins (White Circle) Clear-Type Press: London and Glasgow 1946
I do not know if Dennis Hornsey's widow is still living but if any members of his family read this, I hope they will forgive me for publishing his poem here.
Saturday, 9 July 2005
The English Language
The Reverend Frederic Wagstaff wrote an article in The Boy's Own Paper for Saturday, June 24th, 1882, entitled, "Some Oddities of Speech". In it, he mentions the difficulties arising out of the varying pronunciation of words ending in ough
. He gives an example of the world plough
which we call plow
; but explains that we mustn't say we have a bad cow
when we mean cough
. Similarly, we mustn't say that bread is made of doff
when we mean dough
; nor that ground is row
when we mean rough
. All this reminded me of a poem on spelling which I copied from a book in the Library at Chichester College of Arts, Science and Technology
when I did a secretarial training opportunities (TOPS) course about 28 years ago. (It was a great course, not only did I benefit from re-training, I got paid for doing it as well!).
In case you have not come across the poem before, here is the version I copied.
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, lough, and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sound like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead -
For goodness sake don't call it "deed"!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's dose and rose and lose -
Just look them up - and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart -
Come, come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive,
I'd mastered it when I was five.
I remember being very mean and promising my children, then aged ten and eleven years old, £5 if they could read that poem perfectly. Of course, they couldn't!
The Reverend Wagstaff also mentioned the difficulties of forming plural terminations and gave us this 'aid to memory' by an unknown writer.
Remember though box in the plural makes boxes,
The plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
And remember, though fleece in the plural is fleeces,
That the plural of goose isn't gooses nor geeses.
And remember, though house in the plural is houses,
The plural of mouse should be mice, not mouses.
Mouse, it is true, in the plural is mice,
But the plural of house should be houses, not hice
And foot, it is true, in the plural is feet,
But the plural of root should be roots, and not reet.
Yes, English is an odd, eccentric language - but I like it!
Friday, 8 July 2005
Thursday, 7th July 2005. Four blasts in London
, at least 38 dead, over 300 casualties, some critical and doubtless, the death toll will rise. Countless people traumatised. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected by this atrocity; particularly those who have lost loved ones. This was a cowardly, inhuman act of barbarism apparently perpetrated by terrorists calling themselves the Secret Organisation Group of al Qaida of Jihad Organisation in Europe
Also on Thursday, al Qaida terrorists in Iraq have executed the Egyptian Envoy, Ihab al-Sherif
. That incarnation of evil, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is responsible. Al Qaida have issued a statement in which they say they are standing up to all traitors and crusaders and that Iraq is not safe for infidels because "God has empowered the mujahideen
". Are they talking of the ONE God, who is also our Christian God? Or have they got him mixed up with his impostor, Beelzebub/Satan/the Devil? After all, the Egyptian Envoy was an Arab, too.
My reply to all the terrorists is this. Our one, true God has empowered US against evil. We will not be cowered. We will not be divided.
John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof."
Wednesday, 6 July 2005
Someone once sent me a copy of this letter to 'Technical Support'. Thought you might enjoy it too!
Dear Tech Support,
Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a slow down in the overall performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications that had operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.
In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, but installed undesirable programs. And now Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and House Cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.
I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.
What can I do?
Here is the reply from 'Technical Support'...
First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while Husband 1.0 is an operation system. Try entering the command C:\I_THOUGHT_YOU_LOVED_ME.EXE and download Tears 6.2 to install Guilt 3.0.
If all works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But remember, overuse can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1. Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will create Snoringloudly.wav files.
Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law 1.0 or reinstall another Boyfriend program. These are not supported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.
In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have a limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider additional software to improve memory and performance.
Of course, that program only applies to young and inexperienced husbands. The enhanced program for older experienced husbands is running beautifully and does not need any further maintenance!
Topic: Health Issues
- that's what I was told I had when I was recalled for further mammograms nearly three weeks ago. The likelihood is that the condition is completely harmless but, and a big BUT, it could
indicate a pre-cancerous condition. So, off I went early this morning (technically, yesterday morning as I see it is now past midnight) for my appointment at Worthing Hospital for a biopsy "under mammographic control". I can manage not to worry about something beforehand until the last minute - so, I didn't lose any sleep brooding about it. However, I did start worrying last night about getting up extra early (for me, that is) and arriving on time for my 9:15 appointment! I'm definitely a night owl and I've been getting worse recently and staying up until 2 or 2.30 as you will see from the time stamp on some of my posts!
The real anxiety kicked in this morning as I started having qualms about the whole thing. After all, it can't be very pleasant having hollow needles stuck into you removing bits of your flesh! To make matters worse, I had a bad weekend. Hubby wasn't at all himself and complained of feeling weak and dizzy and I felt a bit feverish too - a bug of some sort, I suppose. Then, Saturday evening, I got a very bad spasm in my back, more than once! Something to do with an injury I did to myself last year when I popped a vertebral tendon. Sunday, I had to resort to Ibuprofen, which definitely helped. No more cramps but it is still tender and I move with care!
Well, I was probably right to worry about arriving at the hospital on time! The traffic to Worthing was full of commuters on their way to work, with the inevitable delays leading up to the Arundel roundabouts and into Worthing itself. So, after finally succeeding in finding a parking place in the crowded hospital car park, I was already three minutes late. Oh dear! They had told me not to worry if I was a bit late but I puffed into the Breast Care Centre
full of apologies. "Don't worry. I tell them you're here". Just had time to visit the loo before I was called in.
The Radiologist and her assistant were charming and took a lot of trouble to put me at ease. I was invited to sit down on a very comfortable padded chair with wheels, which they pushed up to the x-ray equipment and then raised to the correct height. The thought crossed my mind that the chair was a precaution in case of a fainting episode - at least I wouldn't crash to the floor! A couple of x-rays later, just to make sure I was in the correct position, they prepared me for the local anaesthetic. "It will give you a slight burning sensation", she warned. I got two jabs in quick succession - then a wait for the anaesthetic to take effect. "Now we're ready to start", she said. "The biopsy needle will make a click and I will have to take two or three". About four clicks later, the senior Radiographer disappeared into a side room with the samples. "She has to check them under the microscope to make sure she has a sample of the microcalcification", explained her helper. Well, she didn't so more samples were needed. I think I counted ten clicks in all, each one giving a burning sensation. I was very relieved when she announced. "We are all done". The whole process had taken about half an hour.
I adjourned to the Hospital Canteen for a coffee and something to eat. Well, I had skipped breakfast and was beginning to feel in need of something. I saw one of the biggest Danish Pastries I have ever seen, at least five inches in diameter! Too big for one person, so I bought a small slice of fruit cake. I must say I was absolutely amazed at the price of my snack, at least half the cost of the same thing down the town.
Yes, it is a bit sore, still that burning sensation, but not too bad. I have got to keep the dressing on overnight and then I can replace it with one of those round 'spot' plasters. I must NOT get it wet until it has formed a scab. Now all I have to do is wait ten more days until my appointment to see the Consultant and get my results.
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