Saturday, December 4, 2010

Solitude



Are you terrified at the thought of being alone? Does being alone cause you to switch on the television, radio, ipod, browse the internet, or pick up the phone and talk to a friend either to create some sound, or hear some audible voice?

Here's a truth that will take time to appreciate: The more intimate your relationship with God, the more comfortable you'll be when you're all alone. That's because a person in a deep, heartfelt relationship with God interprets aloneness as solitude.

Solitude is time spent alone with God. When you invite God into your life, you'll begin to sense a real, palpable presence. In the quiet, in the solitude, God will speak to you. He will do it through his Word, the Bible, or impressions or leading. You won't hear an audible voice.

If you want a personal, intimate relationship with God, you have to make time to be alone with Him. As that relationship grows, your aloneness will turn into solitude. You'll begin to understand and appreciate that you are never really alone.




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Christmas cards

One of my tasks today is to start writing Christmas cards, to our family and dear ones.  Before I begin writing those card, I thought of writing this to you readers.  Here are some interesting facts about the Christmas card:

- The custom of sending greeting cards dates back to Ancient China. In order to celebrate the New Year, the ancient Chinese delighted in sending messages of good will.

- Early Egyptians utilized papyrus scrolls to send their greetings.

- New Year's tidings were being produced in Germany as early as 1400.

- The origin of the Christmas Card is in England. They are a product of boys practicing their writing skills. The boys would practice by making cards for their parents.

- Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first commercial Christmas cards in London in 1843. The simple message, "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You" was found on the inside.

- In the US, Louis Prang is considered the creator of the greeting card industry in the United States in 1856. More than five million cards were being produced by 1881.

- The first official White House card was issued in the year of 1953 by President Eisenhower. 2000 cards were sent out by the White house in the year 1961.

- Today's Christmas cards can be bought as singles or in large boxes. The majority of holiday cards are sold in box form.

- In 2006, 2 billion people in the US sent cards.

- That means, 85% of people in the US mailed cards in 2006.

- Approximately 33% of the holiday cards purchased each year contain a religious message.

- About a third of all annual greeting card sales are related to holiday season.

- Christmas cards are the most popular cards of a season. Christmas cards account for 60% of all card sales. A distant second is Valentine's Day at 25%.

- The U.S. is home to approximately 3,000 greeting card publishers.

- "Merry Christmas" is the preferred text for 54% of holiday card purchasers. "Season's Greetings" is liked by 12 %, and "Happy Holidays" is preferred by 21%.

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The empty manger

Odessa's brown cheeks had gone to parchment, were sunken, her temples scalloped; her hair and her arms together were most thin, her nails too long, her eyes beclouded. Odessa was dying of cancer.

The children, in dim yellow light, were circled round a stranger, delicate, old, and dying, lying on her back.

Odessa, for her part, said nothing. She stared back at them.

"Sing," I said to the children. "What's this? Y'all gone munching on your tongues? Sing the same as you always do. Sing for Miz Williams."

And they did, that wide-eyed ring of children.

One by one they sang the carols everyone knew. One by one they relaxed, and their faces melted, and I saw that my Mary's eyes went bright and sparkled - and she smiled, and she was smiling on Odessa Williams. The children gave the lady an innocent concert, as clean and light as snow.

Odessa, too, began to smile.

For that smile, for the gladness in an old lady's face, I whispered, "Dee Dee, sing 'Silent Night' once more."

Dear Dee Dee! That child . . . stroked the very air as though it were a chime of glass. So high she took her crystal voice, so long she held the notes, that the rest of the children unconsciously hummed and harmonized with her, and they began to sway together, and for a moment they lost themselves in the song.

Yet, Odessa found them. Odessa snared those children. Even while they were still singing, Odessa drew them to herself. And then their mouths were singing the hymn, but their eyes were fixed on her.

Odessa Williams, lying on her back, began to direct the music.

She lifted her arms and marked the beat precisely; her lank hands virtually shaped the tone of Dee Dee's descant; and her thin face frowned with a painful pleasure. She pursed her lips as though tasting something celestial and delicious, so the children thought themselves marvelous.  The lady took them. The lady carried them. The lady led them meek to the end of their carol and to a perfect silence; and then they stood there round her bed, astonished, each of them the possession of Odessa Williams, restrained. And waiting.

Oh, what a power of matriarchal authority was here, keenly alive!

Nor did she disappoint them. For she began, in a low and husky voice, to talk. No, Odessa preached.

The children gazed at her, and the children believed her absolutely.

"Listen me," Odessa said. "When you sing, wherever you go to sing, whoever's sittin' down in front of you when you sing - I'm there with you. I tell you truly: I alluz been with you, I alluz will be. And how can I say such a mackulous thing?" She lowered her voice. Her eyelids drooped a minimal degree. "Why, 'cause we in Jesus. Babies, babies, we be in Jesus, old ones, young ones, us and you together. Jesus keep us in his bosom, and Jesus, no - he don't never let us go. Never. Never. Not ever -"

So Odessa spoke in the dim long light. So said the lady with such conviction and with such a determined love for children whom she'd never met till now, but whom she'd followed with her heart, that these same children rolled tears from their wide-opened eyes, and they were not ashamed.


Credits: Christianity Today

Christmas signs

Toy Store: "Ho, ho, ho spoken here."
  
Bridal boutique: "Marry Christmas."
  
Outside a church: "The original Christmas Club."
  
At a department store: "Big pre-Christmas sale. Come in and mangle with the crowd."
  
A Texas jeweler store: "Diamond tiaras - $70,000.  Three for $200,000.
  
A reducing salon: "24 Shaping Days until Christmas."
  
In a stationery store: "For the man who has everything - a calendar to remind him when payments are due."

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Christmas is for love

This story was written by an unknown author.  Here is how it goes:

Christmas is for love, joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages. But mostly, Christmas is for love. I had not believed this until a small elf-like student with wide-eyed innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wondrous gift one Christmas.

Mark was an 11 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister's son. She never failed to remind young Mark, if it hadn't been for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif. Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle child.

I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt's anger, I later found) to help me straighten up the room. We did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day. When we did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother. Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with him.

As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school each day. I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed and he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the room. I told him how I had missed him, and his large gray eyes lit up eagerly as he replied, "Did you really miss me?"

I explained how he had been my best helper. "I was making you a surprise," he whispered confidentially. "It's for Christmas." With that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room. He didn't stay after school any more after that.

Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back. "I have your present," he said timidly when I looked up. "I hope you like it." He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box.

"Its beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?" I asked opening the top to look inside. "

"Oh you can't see what's in it," He replied, "and you can't touch it, or taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel good all the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you're all alone."

I gazed into the empty box. "What is it Mark," I asked gently, "that will make me feel so good?" "It's love," he whispered softly, "and mother always said it's best when you give it away." And he turned and quietly left the room.

So now I keep a small box crudely made of scraps of wood on the piano in my living room and only smile as inquiring friends raise quizzical eyebrows when I explain to them that there is love in it.

Yes, Christmas is for gaiety, mirth and song, for good and wondrous gifts. But mostly, Christmas is for love.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wish

It was Christmas Eve and the lord looked down from above at all His children. It had been nearly two thousand years since the birth of His son and turning to His youngest angel the Lord said: "Go down to the earth and bring back to me the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day."

The angel bowed to the Lord and spreading his wings, descended from heaven to the world of man, all the while contemplating his mission. So much had been done in the name of honoring the birth of the Christ Child. For this day, wars had temporarily ceased, cathedrals had been built and great novels had been written. With so little time, what could he possibly find to represent all this?

As he soared above the earth, he suddenly heard the sound of church bells below. Their tone was so beautiful that it reminded him of the voice of God. Looking down, he saw a small church whose bells were ringing out the carol, Silent Night. As the final note died away, it was replaced by one lone voice singing inside the church. It was shortly joined by a second voice that embraced the first in perfect harmony, and then another until a choir of voices rose through the night. Enchanted by the magic of what he was hearing, the angel found himself listening until the song was finished. As he resumed his flight through the night, he was delighted to hear these sounds everywhere, from the largest cities to the smallest villages. He heard melodies from massive orchestras and in the voices of single soldiers alone at their post. And any place where he heard these songs, he found hope in the hearts of men.

Grasping a song out of the air, he held it in his hand (angels are able to do this) and thought that maybe, these songs could be the one thing that best represented Christmas. They seemed to give voice to man's greatest joys as well as hope to those deepest in despair. But, though at first glance it appeared to be the answer he sought, his heart told him that this music alone was not enough. There had to be something more. So, he continued his flight through the night until he suddenly felt the touch of a father's prayer on its way to heaven. Once again looking downward, he saw a man who was praying for his child whom he had not heard from in a long time and who would not be home that Christmas. Seizing upon the prayer, the angel followed it until it reached the lost child.

She was standing on a corner, in a quiet snowfall, looking very small in a very large city. Across from her was an old city bar, the kind that only the lost seemed to know how to find. The patrons of this establishment rarely looked up from their drinks and so seemed not to notice the young woman. Now, the bartender in this bar had been working in there longer than anyone could remember. He believed in nothing except his bar and his cash register. He had never married, never took a vacation and as matter of fact, had never been seen out from behind his counter by most of his patrons. He was there when they arrived and he was still there when they left. He gave no credit and for seventy-five cents, served shots of un-watered whiskey to people who used their drinks like a moat around their lives. For them, he provided a safe, unchanging world.

Suddenly, the door opened wide and into this world walked a small child. The bartender could not remember the last time that a child had been in this place, but before he could ask the child what he was doing there, the child asked him if he knew that there was a girl outside their door who could not get home. Glancing out the window, he saw the girl standing across the street. Turning back to the child, the bartender asked him how he knew this. The child replied "That on this night of all nights, if one could be home, they'd be already there."

The bartender looked back toward the young woman as he reflected on what the child had said. After several seconds of thought, he slowly went over to the cash register and removing most of the money, came out from behind the bar and followed the child across the street. Everyone in the bar watched as he spoke with the girl. After a few moments, he called over a cab, put the girl inside and told the driver: "J.F.K. Airport."

As the cab pulled away, he looked around for the child, but the child was gone. And what was stranger still, even though his own tracks leading from the bar were still clearly marked in the snow, the child's were nowhere to be found. Returning back inside, he asked if anyone had seen where the child had gone, but like himself, no one had, for they also had been watching the departing cab. And then, some would later say that the most miraculous thing of all happened, when for the rest of the night, no one paid for a drink.

Later that night, the angel returned back to heaven and placed in the Lord's hand the wish of a soul for the happiness of another. And as the heavenly host looked on, the Lord smiled.


Credits: Christmas Eve and Other Stories

Math


A ten year old public school boy was finding fifth grade math to be the challenge of his life.
Science? A piece of cake.
Geography? No big deal.
Spelling? Ha! Give me a break.
But Math? It was devastating! To not only him, but his mom and dad, too! And not that they weren't doing everything and anything to help their son. Private tutors, peer assistance, cd-roms, Textbooks, even hypnosis! Nothing worked.

Finally, at the insistence of a family friend, they decided to enroll their son in a private school. Not just ANY private school, but a Catholic school. Nuns. Daily mass. The whole shootin' match. Well, the first day of school finally arrived, and dressed in his salt-and-pepper cords and white wool dress shirt and blue cardigan sweater, the youngster ventured out into the great unknown. His mother and father were convinced they were doing the right thing. They were both there waiting for their son when he returned home. And when he walked in with a stern, focused and very determined expression on his face, they hoped they had made the right choice. He walked right past them and went straight to his room - and quietly closed the door.

For nearly two hours he toiled away in his room - with math books strewn about his desk and the surrounding floor. He only emerged long enough to eat, and after quickly cleaning his plate, he went straight back to his room, closed the door, and worked feverishly at his studies until bedtime.

This pattern continued ceaselessly until it was time for the first quarter report card. After school, the boy walked into the home with his report card - unopened - in his hand. Without a word, he dropped the envelope on the family dinner table and went straight to his room. His parents were petrified. What lay inside the envelope? Success? Failure? Doom?!? Patiently, cautiously the mother opened the letter, and to her amazement, she saw a bright red "A" under the subject, Math. Overjoyed, she and her husband rushed into their son's room, thrilled at the remarkable progress of their young son!

"Was it the nuns that did it?", the father asked.
The boy only shook his head and said, "No."
"Was it the one-on-one tutoring? The peer-mentoring?", asked the mother.
Again, the boy shrugged, "No."
"The textbooks? The teacher? The curriculum?", asked the father.
"Nope," said the son. "It was all very clear to me from the very first day of school, that these folks in Catholic school meant business!"
"How so?", asked his mom.
"When I walked into the lobby, and I saw that guy they'd nailed to the plus sign, I knew they meant business!"



(I attended a catholic school and know what exactly the boy was thinking.  If you ever attended a catholic school, don't hide your smile please).
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A Mom's letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good mom all year. I’ve fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor’s office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son’s red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I’ll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I’d like a pair of legs that don’t ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don’t hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I’d also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you’re hauling big ticket items this year I’d like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn’t broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, “Yes, Mommy” to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don’t fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting “Don’t eat in the living room” and “Take your hands off your brother,” because my voice seems to be just out of my children’s hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it’s too late to find any of these products, I’d settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don’t mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don’t catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don’t eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,
MOM…

P.S. One more thing…you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

Attitude

Sometimes we find that we are 'stuck' at something.  The reality is that we are not stuck, rather we have not found the very best we have to offer.

Let's ask ourselves, "Are we offering life the very best we have, and the best we can?" Often times, the answer would be, "Not really."

If we want to be a better person, what should we be doing? I pondered this question and here is what I found:

Wake up in the morning with an attitude that no matter what happens throughout today, I am going to give my life the very best I can to offer.  This includes every simple task that I undertake.

This past week at work, I was pulled into solving a rather complex problem.  Before stepping in, I went in with an open attitude and prayers.  While I am still figuring out solutions, I gave my very best and have made slight progress.  Attitude is an essential ingredient that moulds our daily lives.

Here is an interesting math, to improve our lives:

If A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Is equal to 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Then:
L U C K = 12+21+3+11 = 47%

K N O W L E D G E = 11+14+15+23+ 12+5+4+7+ 5 = 96%

H A R D W O R K = 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

A T T I T U D E = 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

Every problem has a solution, only if we perhaps change our attitude towards life and work that makes our daily life 100%.

Now, the key to have a good attitude is the willingness to change.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Free softwares

Sitting here at the airport, heading back home, I was researching an interesting topic: "What are some of the free softwares available."  It is snowing outside and I see various flights being delayed. There is a good chance of my flight being delayed as well.  Rather than going into a restaurant and grabbing some junk food, which I have been eating all week, I am rather thinking about yummy home cooked meal for dinner and sitting tight.

After using a Toshiba windows laptop for about 8 years, my wife decided to go for a new computer.  She literally used up every possible bit out of it - more than the manufacturers could have originally intended.  It was only because her old laptop could not handle any more of the latest softwares to keep current with, for our son's homeworks (they shared the old one together).  

Just before I started travelling few weeks ago, we finally agreed to go for a new computer, and it was a project by itself.  We both wanted to get something as frugal as possible, due to the fast technological changes.  So, with that in mind, we researched all possible combinations and narrowed down to few.  On the day of our shopping, we told our son, "Chris, get ready; we are going to buy a new computer for maama." 

Immediately, he shot back, "We should buy a Mac."  

On our way to the store, I thought about his suggestion, and thought it was a reasonable suggestion and I did not think about buying a Mac (due to price constraints).  Finally, I thought about long term, usability, technology, coolness, etc., and had to agree that Mac was a brilliant idea.  I later conveyed this with my wife and we walked over to the Mac section.  The sales agent gave us a good demo of the Mac.  Later, we asked for some private time and did our research on Mac, at the store itself.  Both my wife and I, we liked it and my wife decided to go for a desktop instead.  

We finally bought the imac 21.5 inch computer and took it home with us.  The sales agent pushed us hard to buy the service plan, but we finally decided not to buy the service plan.  The chances of something going wrong for such a device during the initial years are very low, and we did not want to waste $$ on service plan.  These days, they sell us service plan even if we buy a pencil!  Here is an image of what we got: 

Once home, it was easy to set up - wireless keyboard and mouse.  No CPU (it's built into the monitor itself). The design is slick.  For the first few days, I took it for a test drive and found to be in a new world.  Picture clarity is superb.  Programs are simple and intuitive.  No virus attack on Mac, etc.  Even though my wife has not asked me yet, I think it's my job to find reasonable programs (since I technically work in the Tech world).  And those programs should be free - I am trying to be as cost effective as possible.  Why pay when something is available for free?   

Now, after few weeks of Mac, usage, my wife is a pro on it, and absolutely loves the Mac experience.  She now looks down at me when I use my Lenovo Thinkpad with windows.  She even teases me that I am in an old world.  Yes, that is true, but I don't have much of a choice.  

Whenever I comment something good about the Mac, Chris asks, "Whose idea was it to buy a Mac?" and I have already answered that question a hundred times now.  He still keeps asking and wants to take the credit - looks like I will be doing this for ever.  

By the way, here's my research summary:  

1. Firefox
http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
Replaces Internet Explorer and Safari
Safari is a very solid web browser out of the box, but it’s not nearly as extensible or useful as Firefox. With add-ons like Book Burro, FareFirst, and Package Mapping, plus the speed and reliability. 

2. Quicksilver
http://www.blacktree.com/
Unique but useful (productivity)
Quicksilver lets you set almost anything you can imagine in Mac OS as a keyboard shortcut. This allows to do things like start iTunes and have it auto-play a specific podcast with a specific keyboard shortcut. It’s a bit complicated at first, but once you get used to it, it makes you feel massively productive and it becomes almost an essential part of the OS.

3. Thunderbird
http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/
Replaces Mail
For most purposes, the default Mac OS Mail does the trick, but Thunderbird essential because it allows features like auto-replying to certain kinds of messages and far better IMAP support, and it’s faster, too. 

4. Sunbird
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/sunbird/
Replaces iCal
Mozilla Sunbird does one thing that iCal doesn’t – two-way syncing with Google Calendar. When traveling,, it’s just a click of a button and it all syncs up with Sunbird. That’s an amazing feature for me and it makes Sunbird far superior to iCal.

5. AbiWord
http://www.abisource.com/download/
Replaces Microsoft Word
This is, by far, the best open source word processor for Macs. It functionally replaces Microsoft Word for almost every purpose and has a fast and slick interface to boot. 

6. OpenOffice
http://www.openoffice.org/
Replaces Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint
Need to make spreadsheets or presentations on your Mac? OpenOffice provides the tools you need for that. 

7. Seashore
http://seashore.sourceforge.net/
Replaces (for most uses) Adobe Photoshop
This is a fairly simple image editor that takes care of most of the basic uses of Photoshop and is simple enough for most users to pick up. This is a great solution for those who want to do simple image manipulation but don’t want to shell out the big bucks for Photoshop.

8. Scribus
http://www.scribus.net/
Replaces Adobe Pagemaker (desktop publishing)
It’s a very powerful desktop publishing program, giving you tons of freedom to lay out pages however you like. 

9. Adium
http://adiumx.com/
Replaces iChat
iChat is pretty slick, allows to chat in AIM and GTalk at the same time, but what about all of the other chatting protocols out there. Adium allows you to be on YahooIM, Windows Messenger, AIM, ICQ, and several other messaging services at the same time with the same program.

10. OneButton FTP
http://onebutton.org/
Replaces “command line” FTP
To FTP some files from one place to another - usually from one computer to another within our home network. OneButton FTP does the job in the simplest and easiest way possible – much easier than the default “command line” FTP.

11. Audacity
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Replaces/supplements GarageBand
Need to make audio recordings of your own? All you need is a microphone of some sort and Audacity – and you can create podcasts, record music, or pretty much anything else you can imagine. I could consider reading aloud some bedtime stories for my grand kids in advance for any future traveling I might do :-)

12. Cashbox
http://www.fadingred.org/cashbox/
Replaces Quicken
This is a very nice personal finance data manager for Mac OS. It doesn’t have quite all the bells and whistles of Quicken, but it provides a strong feature set and a huge number of different views of your personal finance state. If you’re a Quicken fan but don’t want to drop the cash for a Mac version, look into this one.

13. Vidalia
http://www.vidalia-project.net/
Unique but useful (privacy)
Many people are concerned about online privacy and don’t want their IP address shared with web sites that they visit or file servers that they access. Vidalia easily allows you to use proxy servers for your accessing needs, enabling you to disguise your computer on the internet.

14. Books
http://books.aetherial.net/wordpress/
Unique but useful (book cataloguing)
It allows you to catalogue all of your books, create reports, and so forth. 

15. Bean
http://www.bean-osx.com/
Replaces TextEdit
A slick little editor with features like automatic word counting that really help when you’re trying to keep some semblance of control on the length of your articles.

16. GanttProject
http://ganttproject.biz/
Replaces Microsoft Project
This is an excellent tool if you’re involved in the management of large projects with many staff members, particularly if budgeting is tight (as Project can be expensive). Good for even tracking a home project like a vacation plan, group outing, etc..

17. Nvu/BlueGriffon
Now: http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/15699
Soon: http://bluegriffon.org/
Replaces Dreamweaver (HTML editing)
Many people prefer the aid of a tool to help them with layout, and that’s what these provide. Nvu is a bit outdated but is still very useful – the creator has moved on to a new project, called BlueGriffon, which should be available soon.

18. Blender
http://www.blender.org/download/get-blender/
Unique but useful (3D graphics creation)
Blender is a magnificent tool if you like tinkering with 3-D graphics creation. It’s perhaps overkill for most people, but if you’re involved in graphic design at all, using and knowing Blender can be invaluable.

19. Colloquy
http://colloquy.info/
Unique but useful (IRC)
If you chat on IRC, Colloquy is essential software. For the uninitiated, IRC is a very large network of chatrooms on various specific topics, often developing their own culture. Colloquy is a wonderful solution for IRC chatters on Macs.

20. FreeMind
http://freemind.sourceforge.net/
Unique but useful (brainstorming)
A tool that lets you toss out your thoughts in an unorganized structure, then build connections between them however you like. Use it for posts where you have a collection of thoughts and research notes, but you haven’t really decided how to order them or tie them all together. It’s brilliant in any brainstorming setting.

21. Celestia
http://www.shatters.net/celestia/
Unique but useful (planetarium)
If you’re a space buff (like I am), Celestia is incredible software. It’s a great way to create star charts, help you identify good nights for viewing constellations and other stellar objects, and simply stumble around different views of the sky. I simply love looking at the night sky, and Celestia is a wonderful free companion for this hobby.

22. Transmission
http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/19378
Unique but useful (file sharing)
Many people like to upload and swap their own files with other users, such as live recordings of concerts, recordings of their own performances, free application software, and so on. BitTorrent is one of the most popular protocols for doing this, and Transmission is easily the best of the open source Mac clients for swapping them.

23. MacLibre
http://www.maclibre.com/
Supplements Software Update
Many of these software packages are updated fairly regularly by their authors. MacLibre serves as something of a “Software Update” tool for these things, fetching updates for you and helping you to easily install them with just a click or two. It’s a great way of keeping up to date on software updates for open software on a Mac.

I really feel like I am lagging behind my wife when it comes to Mac usage - simply because I do not get to use it - she really seems to love the new machine.  It's quite difficult to get her even to go to a electronics store for window shopping (I am quite big on window shopping and absolutely love it).  Now, she's the one who drags me out, I am back on the weekends to graze at the latest gizmo's.  

Well, the flight just arrived at the gate and they announced that we will be boarding soon.  

Credits: T Hamm

You are rich

If someone told you that you and your friends are rich, would you agree?

Here are top 10 reasons you are rich today:

1. You went to sleep last night after eating a hearty meal.

2. You slept last night on your own bed, in your own house.

3. You have a choice of what clothes to wear this morning.

4. You hardly broke a sweat today.

5. You didn’t spend a single minute in fear, of any sort.

6. You have access to clean drinking water, wherever you go.

7. You have access to medical care at your fingertips.

8. You have access to the Internet and other entertainment options.

9. You can read, write and speak in more than one language.

10. You have the right to vote.

There are many who are unfortunate, who do not have even access to several simple things in life.  Many are lucky and blessed, while some are not so fortunate.

Think about it from the other person's perspective.  Isn't it all relative?

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December

December is here, and it reminds us about the winter season, the holidays, Christmas etc.  We will see lots of colorful lights, poinsettias with their brilliant colors, various decorations, Santa Claus, etc.  Right after Thanksgiving, we started putting up colorful lights and decorate our house.  We even put up a Christmas tree!  Hopefully by this weekend, we should be done with all our decorations.

Talking about Christmas trees, the custom was started by Germans back in the seventh century.  Did you know, the triangular outline of a fir tree was used to illustrate the Holy Trinity?

December also means we are going to be cold.  It snowed this morning and right now it feels like 18 degrees at the place where I am at.  This is a season we all get cold and catch cold.

Bundle up, and stay warm.

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Free give aways



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Race of life

Buckminster Fuller once said, "The minute you choose to do what you really want to do it's a different kind of life." And it's not about what you're getting paid to do! If you want to live abundantly, decide what you really want and figure out a way to do it. Be clear and live with intent.

Here is a true story:

Fred Lebow complained to his doctor that he lacked energy. His doctor advised him to take up running in order to increase his stamina. He fell in love with it! He was 39 years old when he entered his first race - and did horribly. He beat only one other contestant - a 72-year-old man. But he loved it!

Fred decided what he really wanted to do - and he did it in his spare time. He joined the New York Road Runners Club and organized New York City's first marathon race. But what Fred truly wanted to do, even more than run, was to bring people together. And that is what he did. He believe that anybody should be able to run -- people of all ages, any background, professional or amateur, and of any country. Today, more than 28,000 people of all backgrounds and nationalities compete in the NYC Marathon.

Not everyone in New York was excited about people running through their neighborhoods. Fred was approached by a youth gang that warned him that nobody had better run through their turf.

"That's great," Fred enthused. "I need someone to protect the runners in your area, and you look like just the fellows to do it."

He gave them each a hat, shirt and jacket and that year, when the marathon went through their neighborhood, these young men proudly guarded the runners along their way.

Fred decided what was truly important to him and he found a way to do it. He lived with intent. That single decision made his life remarkably different.

In 1990, Fred Lebow found he had a brain tumor. In 1992 he ran his final race. He crossed the finish line holding the hand of his friend and Norwegian Olympic medalist, Grete Waitz. A bronze statue was created of Fred in his running clothes, checking his watch. It is now placed at the finish line of every race. Fred died in 1994.

But as one sports writer said, "Fate handed him a short race. With his gall, with his love of life, Fred Lebow turned it into a marathon."

Fred would say that it's not about how long you live, but how you run the race of life.


Credits: S Goodier

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The spirit within

There were two men both whom decided to get a horse. One man found a red Rhone with much spirit. The other chose one more docile. They would go riding together every day.

It so happened on the route they would take around the countryside, there was a ditch about eight or nine feet wide, after a time it was apparent that the Rhone's spirit could not be shaken and he gave everything he had in all he did. When coming up to this gap in the trail he hurled it the first time. Because of the spirit in him he was quick to respond and jumped it with no problem. Yet the more docile horse would balk every time he came to the edge. He wasn't sure of the distance; he would stand on the edge trembling with indecision and doubt because the distance to him looked too great.

Then one day after awhile, coming up to the ditch and watching his companion take it with ease, something happened within him, a knowing was born that he could too. So with agility and ease he gracefully bounded over the barrier.

Life is much like the two horses. When we as people come up against trials or situations we just don't feel like we can make the distance or that it just is too big and we don't know if we'll make it. So we balk standing on the edge trembling. It's not until we depend upon the spirit within. Then we are able to make it with ease. Until we quit looking at the obstacle or trial through our eyes, they will always seem too big for us. But there is a spirit within us that can judge the distance to the other side and will give us the strength to make it through it. As long as we let it.

It all comes to a choice whether we look for the spirit within or just stand on the edge and balk.

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Jesus - a True Friend


Did you know that Jesus wants to be our 'Best Friend'? Every Sunday, we go to church to praise Jesus, worship Him, give thanks and to serve Him.  But friendship is what Jesus wants most of all.

Let's meditate for a minute, "What makes someone a True Friend?"

A true friend is someone who accepts you just the way you are, believes in you and encourages you. Someone who is trustworthy, who never forsakes you, who forgives your mistakes, who enjoys being with you, and who makes you laugh. A true friend can see your heart as it is, whether you are happy or sad.

Aren't we looking for a true friend, who can be near us and with us all the time? Jesus wants to be this way with us. He is not a far away God. He wants us to spend time with you. He wants to be your very best friend, and He wants you to be His!

People always long and crave to be around someone special.  Jesus is the best of everything we look for in a best friend. Many people wanted to be around Jesus. They wanted to hang out with Him, spend time with Him, and go places with Him. They wanted to be His friend. Jesus' last message to His disciples was that He wants to be our friend. (John 15:15)

May Jesus be your closest best friend and role model.  Nobody else in this world can ever be even as close to Jesus, in His qualities.  You will find all sorts of superlative genuine qualities of a true, understanding and faithful friend in Jesus.  If you treat Jesus as your best friend, He will come near you and be with you - I promise. His face is so radiant unlike any man's - lot brighter than those pictures that we normally see; so radiant that we cannot even look at His face - it's amazingly brilliant.  When you have Jesus as your best friend, what more can you ask for, in this world?

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday experience

According to a CNN report on Black Friday:

People were standing in line for hours to get best deals and steals on Black Friday.  During their shopping frenzy, many got great deals from Best Buy, unloaded them into their cars and proceeded to the nearby mall.  A group of theives broke into these cars and stole these items (easily).  Some even towed away few cars.

Lesson learned: Beware of theives when you are at a shopping mall.  This could happen anyday (other than just Black Friday).

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