Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Baffling Science

I was never good at science at school. Come to think of it, I was not good at other subjects too. One teacher saw my true potential when he wrote on my report: "Victor will go down in history ... and geography, biology, maths, ... ... ..."

At least he predicted my success at being a failure. Yes ... sadly, as a child I had failure written all over me. The other kids did it with their biro pens.

And that's probably why as I grew up there are a lot of things I do not understand about science and technological things. Perhaps some of you, my readers, will be able to explain things to me.

For example, why is it that people are small when they are far away? And as you approach them they get bigger and bigger. Are they eating as you get near them and they grow fast? The same happens in animals when I am out in the countryside. They are small when far away and grow as they graze and come near me.

Now this leads to another mainly historical question. Was Napoleon a small man or was he always far away? If he was far away then how did his troops know what to do to follow his orders?

Another scientific question I have never understood. Why is the sky blue in the day time, when not cloudy, and dark at night? Some say it is the reflection of the sea. But the sea does not change colour from day to night. What about if you are away from the sea, like in a forest. Is the sky green there? Or yellow in the desert; and white in the polar regions?

How about sound and the travel of sound. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it does it make a sound? I'm sure you've heard this question before; but do you know the answer? Sound is a wave which travels through the air, (and water), and eventually reaches your ear and it vibrates the ear drum and consequently, eventually, this vibration is interpreted by the brain and you hear the sound. But if there's no one in the forest then the wave will not reach any ear. Therefore the tree will make no sound.

Also, as I said, sound travels through air and water; but not in a vacuum. In a vacuum you will hear no sound of a tree falling; especially if the vacuum is switched on at the time or the dust bag is full. 

Whilst we're on the subject; if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it; does it remain upright?

As a child, I always loved forests. There was one near where we lived. I used to get up early in the morning and run to the forest before the trees got there. They were always there first. Once when I got there someone had stolen the river; because it was all dry.

The universe is full of unexplained questions. For instance, if the universe is always expanding, as scientists tell us, then where is it expanding into? The universe is everything - this means all planets, solar systems, black holes, Star Treks and final front ears. So if the universe is everything, where is it expanding into? There must be something outside the universe for it to expand into.

Medicine is confusing too.
Take that squiggly abacus thing that is inside us all. They call it DNA apparently, whatever that is. What happened to all the people who lived in the past before they found DNA? They didn't bother whether they had it or not? So why invent something knew that only serves to confuse people?

For instance, did you know that in Australia the DNA goes round the other way round than in the Northern hemisphere ... and it is spelled AND?

It's like water when it goes down the plug hole in your bath. In the Northern hemisphere the water goes round anti-clockwise. Whereas in the Southern hemisphere the water goes down the plug hole clockwise. In the Equator the water spurts right up and hits you in the eye!

Now you can see why all this scientific stuff is so confusing. I think education is a bad thing. It plays with your mind and makes you think. And a little thinking is bad because it makes politicians out of us. And see where politicians got us to.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

A Delicate Problem

I have a delicate problem to share with you, and to ask your advice about.

We have received a letter from one of the neighbours. It was posted through our letter box this morning so we can't tell from whom it is. It is anonymous. I will only quote the pertinent part of it.

" ... even though we live in separate houses, both detached and a few yards from each other, we can still hear you yawning loudly of an evening just about bedtime. At first we thought it was thunder making its way towards us, then we thought it was blockage in the drains which were about to overflow everywhere, then we thought it was an earth tremor and we were about to meet our Maker or perhaps be downtrodden by the Four Horses of the Apocalypse. Then we realised it was you yawning. Can you do it more quietly? With your head submerged in a bucket of water perhaps!"

Now many people would be a little upset at receiving such a letter. Be honest; how would you feel if someone wrote this to you? Come on, share your feelings.

Not me ... I was not upset at all. Livid more like. Especially since I do not yawn at all.

Admittedly, sometimes in the evenings whilst watching TV downstairs in the lounge, when some politicians are on TV debating something or other, I do get rather irritated and perhaps stifle a sharp intake of breath. But I do so quietly, especially when I am biting hard at the table leg to stop me shouting profanities at them. But yawning loudly ... never ... not me.

Truth be known ... it is my wife who yawns loudly upstairs in the bedroom. Especially when I am being nice to her. Her yawn is so loud it is like a hyena giving birth to an elephant.

But I can hardly tell the neighbours that. Can I?

So ... just between you and me ... please don't share this with anyone else. What do you suggest I do about this dilemma I am faced with?

Monday, 14 January 2019

Super Heroes

We all love a Super Hero. We see them on TV and in the cinema and we all have our favourite. Superman, Batman, Spiderman and many others. Each with their particular skills and super powers. Each willing and able to fight evil whenever it occurs and come to our aid whenever we need it.
Wouldn't it be lovely to have a Super Hero ready and able to help us in every situation. Like Super Janitor to clean our homes, offices and factories? Or Recycle Man to collect all our re-cyclables and make good use of them? Or Laundry Man to wash our socks and un-mentionables?

Would it not be even better if WE had super powers which we could use for the benefit of others?

Just imagine ... ... ...

You're sitting there quietly at home with your family. You receive a message that someone needs help and ... whoosh ... you sweep to your feet and rush to help those in need wherever they are!

If that were possible. What would your Super Powers be?

Personally, I would like to be Tomato Ketchup Man.

Whenever I am needed I would be there pouring tomato ketchup on beefburgers, French fries, sausages, hot dogs, and any other meals that would be improved with tomato ketchup.

Chocolate ice cream and tomato ketchup. Apple pie and tomato ketchup. Peanut and jelly sandwich with tomato ketchup.

I'd be there, throughout the world, improving it with tomato ketchup.

Whenever world leaders are gathered together and about to sign an international treaty or agreement; I'd be there pouring tomato ketchup on their documents to ratify them.

Wherever tourists gather in front of a national landmark taking a selfie; I'd fly in and pour tomato ketchup on them as the camera shutter clicks.

Whenever a newly married couple are about to cut their wedding cake; I'd sweep in and squirt tomato ketchup on them and their guests.

If any one parks their car in a no-parking zone, or crosses the road when the traffic sign says WAIT, or returns their library books late; I'd squirt tomato ketchup all over them.

Oh what great fun the world would be with Tomato Ketchup Man!!!!!

So tell me ... what Super Powers would you like to have?

And why?

Sunday, 13 January 2019

What a friend we have in Jesus


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Magician Priest

Priests are not magicians. They do not have magic wands to solve the world's problems. There are times when they are faced with seemingly insurmountable problems brought to their doorstep by desperate parishioners needing a quick fix and permanent solution. With enough compassion, caring and love, priests can help the faithful bear their problems if not solve them completely.

One bright morning as Father Ignatius was leaving St Vincent Church after Mass and making his way to the Parish House where a hearty breakfast prepared by his housekeeper, Mrs Davenport, was waiting for him, he was stopped by Roger Farmer, a wealthy parishioner and generous benefactor.

"May I have a moment please, Father?" asked Roger.

The priest visualised for a moment the appetising breakfast waiting for him, especially the toast and ginger marmalade, and then, forcing a smile he nodded and ushered the businessman into the house. You don't turn down such a wealthy benefactor who has helped many church's charitable events.

Moments later they were sitting in the reception room over coffee and biscuits.

"Father, I have cheated on my wife!" said Roger.

The priest nodded and said nothing, encouraging the man to go on.

"This is not a Confession Father," continued Roger, "in Confession you have to feel sorry and resolve not to sin again. But I intend to keep on sinning against my wife!"

Father Ignatius remained calm and said a quick silent prayer; a habit he got into years ago whenever he needed Divine inspiration.

"You see Father," hesitated Roger, "Penelope and I have not got on for a while now. We just grew apart. We sleep in separate bedrooms. In time I got friendly with someone at work. Penelope knows about it and in any case she's been having an affair for a while now. We've remained together for the sake of the children; but now they're grown up and have left home; so we're considering divorce."

"And how do you wish me to help you?" asked the priest quietly, more as an attempt to keep the conversation going rather than intervening at this stage.

"That's the problem, Father," Roger said, "I don't know. I realise that I can't confess and take Communion, not if I intend being with my new lover, and I don't know how you and the Church would view divorce."

Father Ignatius cleaned his spectacles from imaginary dust, a trick he had learnt to gain him more thinking time.

"How I or the Church view divorce is one thing," he said eventually, "what is important is how does God view this break-up of a marriage?

"There are times when sadly the bond of marriage is broken beyond repair. Sometimes this is inevitable, like in cases where there is violence in a marriage, alcohol or drugs abuse, crime, or continuous adultery.

"I am not saying that these examples are acceptable in the eyes of God, because it is evident that one of the partners in marriage has abused and neglected his or her responsibility to love and to cherish and to care for the other partner.

"In such cases, I believe that God is disappointed in our behaviour. But for the safety of the abused partner, and the children if there are any, I also believe that God, and the Catholic Church, reluctantly accepts that divorce is the only solution.

"In your case, it seems to me this is not so. You said that you and Penelope just grew apart, and in time, both of you found comfort with someone else. So you both decided, as grown up adults to call it a day and go your separate ways.

"What do you really expect of meRoger? I cannot condone it or forgive you. And neither can I stop you!"

There followed a short period of silence. A few seconds whilst Roger considered what exactly he expected from the priest. Father Ignatius continued, more to keep the conversation flowing rather than an attempt to resolve it.

"What you need to consider Roger, and so does Penelope, is the vow you made to each other all those years ago. Does it mean nothing? Is your word no longer your bond? Did you mean that you will love her for life or only until you grew tired of each other?

"More important, how about the vow you made in front of God? Was it all just for show, in order to marry in a church and have the photos as a souvenir? Or did it mean anything between you and God?

"Sadly, I have seen many marriages break up for reasons I have already described. But yours isn't such a break-up is it?"

Roger shook his head. "No ... Penelope and I are quite friendly. We just grew apart and have each gone our separate ways over the last few years or so. We've lived together because of the children but each one of us has become friendly with someone else. We now want to make it formal, divorce and get married again!"

Father Ignatius said nothing for a short while and then added, "In Civil Law this is straight-forward enough! There's nothing stopping you from doing what you propose. But I have to ask myself, what happens when either of you grows apart from the new partner once again? Do you start the whole exercise once more?"

"I may have sinned against my wife in the past," interrupted Roger, "but this is now over. We've discussed it openly and my wife and I forgive each other. There's no ill-feelings between us and we both now want to go our separate ways. We're still friendly and we've promised to invite each other to our new weddings.

"Why is the Church standing in our way? Does God not want us to be happy? At least we're honest with each other. Our children understand what is happening and to a great extent we'll remain a family. Albeit not living together."

"The Church is not standing in your way," answered the priest calmly, "you are free to marry again in a Civil ceremony.

"There are times when the Catholic Church does annul previous marriages. This is not like a divorce. Divorce in the civil courts signifies that the civil contract between the marriage partners has been dissolved. A Decree of Nullity signifies that a true bond of marriage never existed. That is not the case in your marriage is it? At the time you both consented before God to marry for life.

"All too often I have heard the phrase 'Does God not want us to be happy'?

"Of course He does, but He also expects us to honour the vow and promise we made to Him when you married; just as He expects every priest and nun to honour their vows when they joined their vocation."

It became obvious in the silence that followed that there was nothing the priest could offer Roger in this sad situation. He continued, as calmly as He could,

"This is not too dissimilar to our relationship with God. We may well have loved Him at some time in our lives, but if we grow too complacent and self-reliant, trusting on our own instincts, we may well drift away from Him and in time meet someone else all too eager to tempt us away from His salvation. In effect, we divorce from God.

"I shall pray for you and Penelope and your children too."

Roger went away with a problem un-resolved but with the love and understanding of a caring priest.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Nightmare Scenario

Imagine ... your worst nightmare.

You wake up one morning and you switch on the radio or TV.

Disastrous News. The whole stock of the world's chocolates have vanished. Disappeared. They no longer exist.

No one knows how  and when it happened.

No shop in the world has any stock of chocolates. No warehouse, no factory, no wholesaler or retailer in the entire world has any chocolates. All stocks have vanished. No one knows where.

What is worst ... all ingredients that make up chocolates have also vanished. The entire world does not have any cocoa beans, or cocoa butter or whatever it is they put together to make chocolate.

The shortage also applies to all things made with or featuring chocolate. No more chocolate ice cream. No more chocolate cake. Biscuits. Cookies. Milk shakes or anything else where chocolate was an ingredient.

To be precise ... there is no more chocolate in the entire world.

Any little crumbs that may be found are worth a fortune.

You rush to your cupboard and find one bar of chocolate you bought earlier.

What do you do?

Eat it?

Share it with your family?

Sell it and become rich beyond your dreams?

Hide it and wait for the price to go up even higher?

If chocolate is not your "thing" - what other product or item would be your Nightmare Scenario if it suddenly no longer existed.

For me ... it would be the spoon rest. I'd be totally lost and devastated without it.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Christmas Confession

Today I went for my annual "Christmas" confession. I don't sin that much so I have limited my confessions to once a year; which also explains why my confession is a little late. Held up in the celebrations, one might say.

As I got to church the car park was full and there were cars parked in the street. I did not know there were that many sinners in town.What is it with these Catholics so eager to tell someone else what they have done?
Father Frederic, our Parish priest, is away for two weeks and has been replaced by Father Gaston, a priest of French origin, until our regular priest returns.

Father Gaston doesn’t say much, maybe because he hasn’t much to say to us. Who knows! He is tall and thin and looks very severe. He has one of those unfortunate white skinny faces which look like a skull. A long oval shape with sunken eyes and bony features revealing the contours of his jaws as he grins benignly rather than smile. I bet he could turn someone into a pillar of salt by just thinking it.

I don’t mean that he is nasty or evil in any way; he just looks that way and would frighten any cat out of its nine lives. Maybe I should introduce him to mine.

Anyway, as I was saying, I went to confession. Father Gaston was in attendance.

We have one of those wooden confessionals which consists of a compartment in the middle which the priest enters and sits on a bench, and we genuflect on either side, pulling the curtain behind us so no one sees us, and tell him all our wrong-doings. We have to whisper, of course; otherwise everyone in church would hear our sins. If they were to hear mine they would no doubt be in hysterics of laughter!

I knelt down and whispered closely to the opening in the confessional: “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned …”

“I cannot hear you!” said Father Gaston in his strong French accent loud enough to be heard in Paris.

“Ehmmm…” I cleared my throat as I got nearer still to the little window opening in the confessional. At that point my knee slipped off the kneeler on the floor and I crashed forward hitting my face hard against the panel behind which the priest was sitting.

He must have jumped out of his tightly stretched skin dropping his jaw to the floor in the process. I know that the rest of the penitents in church must have been startled out of their meditations too as I heard murmurs echoing behind the confessional curtain.

I straightened myself and soon realized that the knock to my face had started a nose bleed. I took out a handkerchief quickly and said in a loud enough voice to be heard by everyone “We’ll have to continue this conversation at another time …”

I got out of the confessional holding my head back and covering my face with the now red handkerchief.

As I made my way to the exit I heard a lady say to another: “I’m not going to confession today. This new French priest is rather violent with his penance!”
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