17 November 2013

posted 15 Nov 2013, 02:05 by C S Paul

17 November 2013

Quotes to Inspire

  • The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." – Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • "To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." – Soren Kierkegaard
  • "Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." – Charles Scribner Jr., Publisher
  • "It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human soul; it is kindness." – Henri-Dominique Lacordaire
  • "There's a big difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do." — Potter Stewart
  • "Yet, in the end, the purpose of our work is not just to make a living, but to make a life. And, when it's all over, we will be judged not by what we have, but by what we have become." – Michael Josephson
  • "Love is not blind—it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less" – Rabbi Julius Gordon 
  • "He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven." – Thomas Fuller 
  • "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." – Theodore Roosevelt
  • "Most people spend more time planning a vacation or a party than they spend planning their lives." – Denis Waitley 
  • "Almost anything is easier to get into than to get out of." – Agnes Allen
  • "The best proof of love is trust." – Joyce Brothers, Psychologist
  • "The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse." – Helen Keller
  • "Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding." – Harvey Mackay
  • "A life without purpose is a languid, drifting thing; Every day we ought to review our purpose, saying to ourselves: 'This day let me make a sound beginning, for what we have hitherto done is naught.'" – Thomas A. Kempis
  • "Those who don't get their feet wet don't catch fish." – Chinese Proverb
  • "It is a wise father that knows his own child." – William Shakespeare
  • "One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters." – English Proverb
  • "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." – S. Freud

How Olympic shooter Karoly Takacs succeeded

In 1938, Karoly Takacs of the Hungarian Army, was the top pistol shooter in the world. He was expected to win the gold in the 1940 Olympic Games scheduled for Tokyo.

Those expectations vanished one terrible day just months before the Olympics. 

While training with his army squad, a hand grenade exploded in Takacs’ right hand, and Takacs’ shooting hand was blown off. He spent a month in the hospital depressed at both the loss of his hand, and the end to his Olympic dream.

But then Takacs did the unthinkable; he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and decided to learn how to shoot with his left hand! His reasoning was simple. 

He simply asked himself, “Why not?

For months, Takacs practiced by himself. In the spring of 1939 he showed up at the Hungarian National Pistol Shooting Championship. Other shooters approached Takacs to give him their condolences and to congratulate him on having the strength to come watch them shoot.

They were surprised when he said, “I didn’t come to watch, I came to compete.” 

They were even more surprised when Takacs won!

The 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled because of World War II. In 1948, he qualified for the London Olympics.

At the age of 38, Takacs won the Gold Medal and set a new world record in pistol shooting. Four years later, Takacs won the Gold Medal again at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Takacs – a man with the mental toughness to bounce back from anything.

Instead of focusing on what he didn’t have – a world class right shooting hand, he decided to focus on what he did have – incredible mental toughness, and a healthy left hand that with time, could be developed to shoot like a champion.

Winners in every field have a special trait that helps them become unstoppable. A special characteristic that allows them to survive major setbacks on the road to success.

Bouncing back is not enough. Winners bounce back QUICKLY. They dust themselves off, and pick up where they left off…


The secret of happiness

Author: Paul Coelho in "The Alchemist"

A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for 40 days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man's attention.

The wise man listened attentively to the boy's explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn't have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours.

"Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something", said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. "As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill".

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

"Well", asked the wise man, "Did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?"

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

"Then go back and observe the marvels of my world", said the wise man. "You cannot trust a man if you don't know his house".

Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

"But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?" asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.

"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you", said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon".


The house with the golden windows

The little girl lived in a small, very simple, poor house on a hill and as she grew she would play in the small garden and as she grew she was able to see over the garden fence and across the valley to a wonderful house high on the hill - and this house had golden windows, so golden and shining that the little girl would dream of how magic it would be to grow up and live in a house with golden windows instead of an ordinary house like hers.

And although she loved her parents and her family, she yearned to live in such a golden house and dreamed all day about how wonderful and exciting it must feel to live there.

When she got to an age where she gained enough skill and sensibility to go outside her garden fence, she asked her mother is she could go for a bike ride outside the gate and down the lane. After pleading with her, her mother finally allowed her to go, insisting that she kept close to the house and didn't wander too far. The day was beautiful and the little girl knew exactly where she was heading! Down the lane and across the valley, she rode her bike until she got to the gate of the golden house across on the other hill.

As she dismounted her bike and lent it against the gate post, she focused on the path that lead to the house and then on the house itself...and was so disappointed as she realised all the windows were plain and rather dirty, reflecting nothing other than the sad neglect of the house that stood derelict.

So sad she didn't go any further and turned, heart broken as she remounted her bike ... As she glanced up she saw a sight to amaze her...there across the way on her side of the valley was a little house and its windows glistened golden ...as the sun shone on her little home.

She realised that she had been living in her golden house and all the love and care she found there was what made her home the 'golden house'. Everything she dreamed was right there in front of her nose!

Nothing is written

 Roger Darlington

My all-time favourite film is "Lawrence Of Arabia" and, if I have a favourite scene from the movie, then I guess it is the one of Lawrence's triumphal return from the Nefud desert, having gone back to rescue the Arab Gasim. The crossing of the Nefud desert is considered impossible, even by the local Arabs, but Lawrence persuades them that, in this way, they can take the Turkish port at Aqaba from the rear.

Having carried out the superhuman feat of traversing this furnace, it is discovered that one of the Arabs, Gasim, has fallen off his camel and is no doubt dying somewhere back in the desert. Lawrence is told that any idea of rescue is futile and, in any event, Gasim's death is "written". When Lawrence achieves the impossible and returns with Gasim still alive, Sherif Ali admits to him: "Truly, 

for some men nothing is written unless they write it".

As an impressionable teenager when this film was first released, I was stunned by Lawrence's courage and unselfishness in going back into the hell of the Nefud to attempt to find a man he hardly knew among the vast expanse of a fiery terrain and I was so moved by the sense of purpose of a man who is determined to take nothing as "written" but to shape his own destiny. This sense of anti-determinism and this belief that anything is possible has stayed with me always and continues 

to inspire me in small ways and large.

Just for Laughs

 Can't work in the dark.

Two factory workers were talking. "I think I'll take some time off from work." said the man.
"How do you think you'll do that?" said his workmate.

He proceeded to show him ... by climbing up to the rafters, and hanging upside down.

The boss walked in, saw the worker hanging from the ceiling, and asked him what on earth he was doing?

"I'm a light bulb," answered the guy

"I think you need some time off," said the boss.

So, the man jumped down and walked out of the factory. His workmate began walking out, too.

The boss asked him where did he think he was going? He answered, "Home, I can't work in the dark."

Why ?

Why do doctors and lawyers call what they do practice?

Why is abbreviation such a long word?

Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on your radio?

Why is a boxing ring square?

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

How do they get the deer to cross the highway at those yellow signs?

How did a fool and his money get together in the first place?


Did you know ?

  • For the first time in history, the number of people on the planet aged 60 or over will soon surpass those under 5. 
  • The Swedish pop group ABBA recently turned down an offer of $2 billion to reunite. 
  • 40 Billion e-mails are sent each day throughout the world. 
  • The richest self-made American under 40 is Michael Dell, chairman of Dell Computers. He is worth $18 billion. 
  • The estates of 22 dead celebrities earned over $5 million in 2004. These celebrities include Elvis Presley, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, J.R.R. Tolkien and John Lennon. 
  • Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a spacesuit damages them.
  • Even today, 90% of the continental United States is still open space or farmland. 
  • 90% of Canada's 31,000,000 citizens live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. 
  • Researchers have found that doctors who spend at least three hours a week playing video games make about 37% fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery than surgeons who didn't play video games. 

BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

by Lew Wallace

Part Seven

Biblical references: John 1:29-34

At a meeting in Bethany, Ben-Hur and his Galileans organise a resistance force, an army which will revolt against Rome. Judah asks Simonides and Ilderim for help, and they establish a training base in Ilderim's territory, deep in the desert. After training for some time, Malluch sends him a letter announcing the appearance of a prophet who he believes to be a herald for the Christ. Judah journeys to the Jordan to see the Prophet, and on the way meets Balthasar and Iras again, traveling for the same purpose. Judah does not accept Balthasar's reasoning of the Christ as a savior rather than an earthly king, and continues with his plan to fight. They reach Bethabara, where a group has gathered to watch John the Baptist. A man walks up to John, and asks to be baptized. Judah recognizes him as the same man that gave him water at the well in Nazareth many years earlier, and Balthasar worships and almost faints at once again seeing he Christ.

Part VII CHAPTER II

It was Ben-Hur's purpose to turn aside at the break of day, and find a safe place in which to rest; but the dawn overtook him while out in the Desert, and he kept on, the guide promising to bring him afterwhile to a vale shut in by great rocks, where there were a
spring, some mulberry-trees, and herbage in plenty for the horses.

As he rode thinking of the wondrous events so soon to happen, and of the changes they were to bring about in the affairs of men and nations, the guide, ever on the alert, called attention to an appearance of strangers behind them. Everywhere around the Desert stretched away in waves of sand, slowly yellowing in the growing light, and without any green thing visible. Over on the left, but still far off, a range of low mountains extended,
apparently interminable. In the vacancy of such a waste an object in motion could not long continue a mystery.

"It is a camel with riders," the guide said, directly.

"Are there others behind?" said Ben-Hur.

"It is alone. No, there is a man on horseback--the driver, probably."

A little later Ben-Hur himself could see the camel was white and unusually large, reminding him of the wonderful animal he had seen bring Balthasar and Iras to the fountain in the Grove of Daphne. There could be no other like it. Thinking then of the fair Egyptian, insensibly his gait became slower, and at length fell into the merest loiter, until finally he could discern a curtained houdah, and two persons seated within it. If they were Balthasar and Iras! Should he make himself known to them? But it could not be: this was the Desert--and they were alone. But while he debated the question the long swinging stride of the camel brought its riders up to him. He heard the ringing of the tiny bells, and beheld the rich housings which had been so attractive to the crowd at the Castalian fount. He beheld also the Ethiopian, always attendant upon the Egyptians. The tall brute stopped close
by his horse, and Ben-Hur, looking up, lo! Iras herself under the raised curtain looking down at him, her great swimming eyes bright with astonishment and inquiry!

"The blessing of the true God upon you!" said Balthasar, in his tremulous voice.

"And to thee and thine be the peace of the Lord," Ben-Hur replied.

"My eyes are weak with years," said Balthasar; "but they approve you that son of Hur whom lately I knew an honored guest in the tent of Ilderim the Generous."

"And thou art that Balthasar, the wise Egyptian, whose speech concerning certain holy things in expectation is having so much to do with the finding me in this waste place. What dost thou here?"

"He is never alone who is where God is--and God is everywhere," Balthasar answered, gravely; "but in the sense of your asking, there is a caravan short way behind us going to Alexandria; and as it is to pass through Jerusalem, I thought best to avail myself of its company as far as the Holy City, whither I am journeying.

This morning, however, in discontent with its slow movement--slower because of a Roman cohort in attendance upon it--we rose early, and ventured thus far in advance. As to robbers along the way, we are not afraid, for I have here a signet of Sheik Ilderim;
against beasts of prey, God is our sufficient trust."

Ben-Hur bowed and said, "The good sheik's signet is a safeguard wherever the wilderness extends, and the lion shall be swift that overtakes this king of his kind."

He patted the neck of the camel as he spoke.

"Yet," said Iras, with a smile which was not lost upon the youth, whose eyes, it must be admitted, had several times turned to her during the interchange of speeches with the elder--"Yet even he would be better if his fast were broken. Kings have hunger and headaches. If you be, indeed, the Ben-Hur of whom my father has spoken, and whom it was my pleasure to have known as well, you will be happy, I am sure, to show us some near path to living water, that with its sparkle we may grace a morning's meal in the Desert."

Ben-Hur, nothing loath, hastened to answer.

"Fair Egyptian, I give you sympathy. Can you bear suffering a little longer, we will find the spring you ask for, and I promise that its draught shall be as sweet and cooling as that of the more famous Castalia. With leave, we will make haste."

"I give you the blessing of the thirsty," she replied; "and offer you in return a bit of bread from the city ovens, dipped in fresh butter from the dewy meadows of Damascus."

"A most rare favor! Let us go on."

So saying, Ben-Hur rode forward with the guide, one of the inconveniences of travelling with camels being that it is necessarily an interdiction of polite conversation.

Afterwhile the party came to a shallow wady, down which, turning to the right hand, the guide led them. The bed of the cut was somewhat soft from recent rains, and quite bold in its descent. Momentarily, however, it widened; and erelong the sides became bluffs ribbed
with rocks much scarred by floods rushing to lower depths ahead.

Finally, from a narrow passage, the travellers entered a spreading vale which was very delightful; but come upon suddenly from the yellow, unrelieved, verdureless plain, it had the effect of a freshly discovered Paradise. The water-channels winding here and there, definable by crisp white shingling, appeared like threads tangled among islands green with grasses and fringed with reeds.

Up from the final depths of the valley of the Jordan some venturous oleanders had crept, and with their large bloom now starred the sunken place. One palm-tree arose in royal assertion. The bases of the boundary-walls were cloaked with clambering vines, and under
a leaning cliff over on the left the mulberry grove had planted itself, proclaiming the spring which the party were seeking.

And thither the guide conducted them, careless of whistling partridges and lesser birds of brighter hues roused whirring from the reedy coverts.

The water started from a crack in the cliff which some loving hand had enlarged into an arched cavity. Graven over it in bold Hebraic letters was the word GOD. The graver had no doubt drunk there, and tarried many days, and given thanks in that durable form. From the arch the stream ran merrily over a flag spotted with bright moss, and leaped into a pool glassy clear; thence it stole away between grassy banks, nursing the trees before it vanished in the thirsty sand. A few narrow paths were noticeable about the margin of the
pool; otherwise the space around was untrodden turf, at sight of which the guide was assured of rest free from intrusion by men. 

The horses were presently turned loose, and from the kneeling camel the Ethiopian assisted Balthasar and Iras; whereupon the old man, turning his face to the east, crossed his hands reverently upon his breast and prayed.

"Bring me a cup," Iras said, with some impatience.

From the houdah the slave brought her a crystal goblet; then she said to Ben-Hur,

"I will be your servant at the fountain."

They walked to the pool together. He would have dipped the water for her, but she refused his offer, and kneeling, held the cup to be filled by the stream itself; nor yet content, when it was cooled and overrunning, she tendered him the first draught.

"No," he said, putting the graceful hand aside, and seeing only the large eyes half hidden beneath the arches of the upraised brows, "be the service mine, I pray."

She persisted in having her way.

"In my country, O son of Hur, we have a saying, 'Better a cupbearer to the fortunate than minister to a king.'"

"Fortunate!" he said.

There were both surprise and inquiry in the tone of his voice and in his look, and she said quickly,

"The gods give us success as a sign by which we may know them on our side. Were you not winner in the Circus?"

His cheeks began to flush.

"That was one sign. There is another. In a combat with swords you slew a Roman."

The flush deepened--not so much for the triumphs themselves as the flattery there was in the thought that she had followed his career with interest. A moment, and the pleasure was succeeded by a reflection. The combat, he knew, was matter of report throughout
the East; but the name of the victor had been committed to a very few--Malluch, Ilderim, and Simonides. Could they have made a confidante of the woman? So with wonder and gratification he was confused; and seeing it, she arose and said, holding the cup over the pool,

"O gods of Egypt! I give thanks for a hero discovered--thanks that the victim in the Palace of Idernee was not my king of men. And so, O holy gods, I pour and drink."

Part of the contents of the cup she returned to the stream, the rest she drank. When she took the crystal from her lips, she laughed at him.

"O son of Hur, is it a fashion of the very brave to be so easily overcome by a woman? Take the cup now, and see if you cannot find a happy word in it for me"

He took the cup, and stooped to refill it.

"A son of Israel has no gods whom he can libate," he said, playing with the water to hide his amazement, now greater than before. What more did the Egyptian know about him? Had she been told of his relations with Simonides? And there was the treaty with Ilderim--had she knowledge of that also? He was struck with mistrust. Somebody had betrayed his secrets, and they were serious. And, besides, he was going to Jerusalem, just then
of all the world the place where such intelligence possessed by an enemy might be most dangerous to him, his associates, and the cause.

But was she an enemy? It is well for us that, while writing is slow, thought is instantaneous. When the cup was fairly cooled, he filled it and arose, saying, with indifference well affected, "Most fair, were I an Egyptian or a Greek or a Roman, I would say"--he raised the goblet overhead as he spoke--"O ye better gods! I give thanks that there are yet left to the world, despite its wrongs and sufferings, the charm of beauty and the solace of love, and I
drink to her who best represents them--to Iras, loveliest of the daughters of the Nile!"

She laid her hand softly upon his shoulder.

"You have offended against the law. The gods you have drunk to are false gods. Why shall I not tell the rabbis on you?"

"Oh!" he replied, laughing, "that is very little to tell for one  who knows so much else that is really important."

"I will go further--I will go to the little Jewess who makes the roses grow and the shadows flame in the house of the great merchant over in Antioch. To the rabbis I will accuse you of impenitence; to her--"

"Well, to her?"

"I will repeat what you have said to me under the lifted cup, with the gods for witnesses."

He was still a moment, as if waiting for the Egyptian to go on. With quickened fancy he saw Esther at her father's side listening to the despatches he had forwarded--sometimes reading them. In her presence he had told Simonides the story of the affair in the Palace
of Idernee. She and Iras were acquainted; this one was shrewd and worldly; the other was simple and affectionate, and therefore easily won. Simonides could not have broken faith--nor Ilderim--for if not held by honor, there was no one, unless it might be himself, to whom the consequences of exposure were more serious and certain.

Could Esther have been the Egyptian's informant? He did not accuse her; yet a suspicion was sown with the thought, and suspicions, as we all know, are weeds of the mind which grow of themselves, and most rapidly when least wanted. Before he could answer the allusion to the little Jewess, Balthasar came to the pool.

"We are greatly indebted to you, son of Hur," he said, in his grave manner. "This vale is very beautiful; the grass, the trees, the shade, invite us to stay and rest, and the spring here has the sparkle of diamonds in motion, and sings to me of a loving God. It is not enough to thank you for the enjoyment we find; come sit with us, and taste our bread."

"Suffer me first to serve you."

With that Ben-Hur filled the goblet, and gave it to Balthasar, who lifted his eyes in thanksgiving.

Immediately the slave brought napkins; and after laving their hands and drying them, the three seated themselves in Eastern style under the tent which years before had served the Wise Men at the meeting in the Desert. And they ate heartily of the good things taken from the camel's pack.

to be continued

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