Monday, December 31, 2007

Another one bites the Dust!

In a little while, depending where you are, 2007 will be officially over. The person I admired the most this past year in Belize was a little girl with a big dream and an even bigger voice. I’m talking about our local karaoke champion, Miss Reesie Pollard. Reesie came in from left field and literally blew away the competition systematically week after week. She rode this wave all the way into the final lap of the competition and tore the town apart with her personalized rendition of Mariah Carey’s “hero”. This song could have been written for her.....…"So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong and you'll finally see the truth, that a hero lies in you......"

For those of you in the Great White North, it appears that this has been a winter filled with snow, sleet and rain. If you’ve been left feeling flat and pessimistic from the winter blues or from the fading wane of 2007, why don’t you follow the teachings of Chinese medicine and look toward spring as a time for new beginnings, light and renewal. Let the words of the Buddhist meditation master Chogyam Trungpa inspire you as they have inspired me.

“There are seasons in your life in the same way as there are seasons in nature. There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures. There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding. There are times of fruition, when things come to an end — they have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade. Finally, of course, there are cold and empty times, when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream. Those rhythms of life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night. If you realize that each phase of your life is a natural occurrence, then you need not be swayed, pushed up and down by the changes in circumstance and mood that life brings. You find that you have an opportunity to be fully in the world at all times and to show yourself as a brave and proud individual in any circumstance.”
That beautiful sunset on the top left of this blog page is the view in my front yard captured by my children’s digital cam. Hey, one more reason I love living in the tropics. The sunsets are to die for! (:-)

I learnt a lot in 2007 from all of you out there in bloggityville. My favorite lessons, though, were the ones I found over at Josie’s blog. For the benefit of all mankind and womankind, here are some of life’s little lessons. Read then through and if you care to add one more to the list, please feel free to do so.


Sing in the shower.
Treat everyone you meet the way you’d want to be treated.
Watch a sunrise at least once a year.
Leave the toilet seat in the down position.
Never refuse homemade brownies.
Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Plant a tree on your birthday.
Learn 3 clean jokes.
Return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full.
Compliment 3 people every day.
Never waste an opportunity.
Leave everything a little better than you found it.
Keep it simple.
Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.
Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
Floss your teeth.
Ask for a raise when you think you've earned it.
Overtip breakfast waitresses.
Be forgiving of yourself and others.
Say, "Thank you" a lot.
Say, "Please" a lot.
Avoid negative people.
Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards.
Wear polished shoes.
Remember other people's birthdays.
Commit yourself to constant improvement.
Carry jumper cables in your vehicle.
Have a firm handshake.
Send lots of Valentine cards. Sign them, "Someone who thinks you're terrific."
Look people in the eye.
Be the first to say hello.
Use the good silver.
Make new friends, but cherish the old ones.
Return all things you borrow.
Keep a few secrets.
Sing in a choir.
Plant flowers every spring.
Always accept an outstretched hand.
Have a dog or cat.
Stop blaming others.
Tell someone you love them.
Take responsibility for every area of your life.
Feed a stranger's expired parking meter.
Don't expect life to be fair.
Be there when people need you.
Never underestimate the power of love.
Drink champagne for no reason at all.
Don't be afraid to say, "I made a mistake."
Keep your promises no matter what.
Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
Compliment others and yourself on small improvements and achievements.
Rekindle old friendships.
Marry for love.
Count your blessings.
Call your parents.

Here’s to raising a virtual glass and toasting you *clink* wherever you are. I appreciate all of you for being here this past year. It’s been fun exchanging comments and ideas with everyone and I look forward to a new year that’s filled with peace, hope, prosperity and love for each and everyone of you. Kisses and hugs.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It's Official, Christmas is here!!

I've been in denial all along folks. Burying myself in work, school, etc. All that is over, it's official that Christmas is here.

It's official because of my 9-year old who swept me off to her Christmas pageant whereupon I sat enthralled for the next hour or so whilst the beauty and wonder of the talented tiny tots and not so tiny tots were on proud display. Here are some photos of a Christmas pageant in the tropics:

The Christmas Play was brilliantly produced and had musical accompaniments from the Junior and Senior Choir, three violinists, a pianist and the Choir Mistress. It was nice to see the flashing smiles and twinkling toes of the middle schoolers as well as the tiny angels waiting patiently to take their turn on the stage under the floodlights. This year's pageant had a special quality and I was glad to be there. Yes, finally Christmas 2007 is officially here! How are your Christmas preparations coming along?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Faith sees the Invisible, Believes the Unbelievable and Receives the Impossible!!!!


This is one of the nicest e-mails I have seen and is so true:

I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around.

We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels.

My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, 'This is the Receiving Section Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.'

I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.

The angel then said to me, 'This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them.'

I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. 'This is the Acknowledgment Section,' my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed 'How is it that there is no work going on here?' I asked.

'So sad,' the angel sighed. 'After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments.'
'How does one acknowledge God's blessings?' I asked.
'Simple,' the angel answered. Just say, 'Thank you, Lord.'

'What blessings should they acknowledge?' I asked.

'If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.'

'And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity.'

Also 'If you woke up this morning with more health than illness are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.'

'If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of are ahead of 700 million people in the world.'

'If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.'

'If your parents are still alive and still are very rare.'

'If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair.'

Ok, what now? How can I start?

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you want, pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.


Acknowledge Dept.: 'Thank you Lord, for giving me the ability to share this message and for giving me so many wonderful people to share it with'

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In Loving Memory of Sahara Aldridge

Sahara's battle with a brainstem tumour is over. She passed away peacefully on Monday, November 5, 2007. Sahara (better known as Hoops because of her great love for basketball) was an inspiration to all who heard about her story and were touched by her courage, tenacity and strength for the past seventeen months. She reminded us that without dreams there is no hope and without hope there is no life. May her eternal soul rest in everlasting peace.
(Here is a picture of Sahara with her favorite rocker, Rick Springfield, who was undoubtedly one of her family's biggest supporters.)

Before you met me, I was a fairy princess
I caught frogs and called them prince
And made myself a queen
Before you knew me I'd traveled 'round the world
I slept in castles
And fell in love
Because I was taught to dream
I found mayonnaise bottles and poked holes on top
To capture Tinker Bell
And they were just fireflies to the untrained eye
But I could always tell
I believe in fairy tales
And dreamer's dreams
Like bedsheet sails
And I believe in Peter Pan and miracles,
Anything I can to get by
And fireflies
Before I grew up, I saw you on a cloud
I could bless myself in your name
And pat you on your wings
And before I grew up, I heard you whisper so loud
Life is hard and so is love child,
Believe in all these things
I found mayonnaise bottles and poked holes on top
To capture Tinker Bell
And they were just fireflies to the untrained eye
But I could always tell
I believe in fairy tales
And dreamer's dreams
Like bedsheet sails
And I believe in Peter Pan
And miracles, anything I can to get by . . .
And fireflies
. . .Fireflies
Before you met me, I was a fairy princess
I caught frogs and called them prince
And made myself a queen
And before you knew me I'd traveled 'round the world
And I slept in castles
And fell in love
Because I was taught to dream

Artist/Band: Faith Hill
Lyrics for Song: Fireflies
Lyrics for Album: Fireflies

To her loving parents, Amy and Shannon, I extend my sincere condolences. Yours was a journey of strength, compassion, courage and love. May God Bless you and may the peace that passeth all understanding be yours now and forever more.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The road to Feeling Good

Something to Do, Something to Eat, Something to Drink, Someone to Love you

October has been a busy month for me, culminating with Halloween preparations, mid-term exams and work related activities. It’s probably as good a time as any to start thinking about breaking out of the bad habits that I’ve developed over the past several months and start shedding the excess weight before the arrival of Christmas and all the goodies that come with it. So here is part one of a Feel Good guide excerpted from the Sunday Times on how to free up our minds, think positively, eat properly and exercise for energy.

It’s time to Refocus. Just as you chuck out the mouldy carrots that fester in the recesses of your fridge, you should occasionally declutter your thoughts and seek out new ingredients for a more vital life. You need to understand what makes you leap out of bed in the morning. What subjects heighten your senses, who inspires you and what motivates you to be the best that you can be. It is only by deciding what your priorities are that you can discover a renewed sense of purpose.

Set aside a fixed time to achieve a task and just do it. If this involves wearing a Do Not Disturb hat, then so be it. Take that thing you’ve been putting off for ages, grab a stopwatch and give it 10 minutes. When the alarm goes off, stop. Just starting will go a long way toward making it happen, and you’ll probably find it wasn’t so bad after all.
Become an eternal optimist and you won’t just think you’re better off, you actually will be. So says psychologist Martin Seligman, who has demonstrated that mildly deluded optimists have more successful careers, live to a ripe old age, attract more friends and have more fun. Be open to as many new experiences as you can, from painting to paragliding, sailing to singing. Choose Nigerian cinema instead of your usual blockbuster selections.

We all feel good about ourselves when we’re doing something we’re good at. The protagonist in the film Being John Malkovich used his nimble puppeteer fingers to become the speediest filing clerk. Where can you use the skills you already have to the best advantage in other areas of your life?
Setting yourself realistic goals that challenge and excite can help you to find your “flow” or your “groove”. Remember that film, How Stella Found her Groove? Anything that is too hard or too easy won’t get you there. To increase motivation, share your goal with others, make sure there are as many benefits as possible and keep the payoff tangible and specific.

Keep adding to the pool of positive people who inspire and excite you. Don’t ditch your old and loyal friends, just keep your group fresh. Get to know the people around you, organise a party with colleagues or do an evening class. Simply start saying “yes” when people suggest new things. The more people you know, the more people you’ll meet and the more possibilities will present themselves.

Understand the culture in which you live, begin to comprehend the impact it has and use this knowledge to rejuvenate your own life and be the change you want to see in the world. What gets you up in the morning today may feel very different in the next three months. Keep experimenting by chopping and changing the ingredients in your life and as you spice up the recipe, your morning leap will follow suit. Remember to have a fabulous time while doing all of the above! E

Monday, October 15, 2007

Belizegial's Health Tip

Good morning Everyone,
According to a recent piece in The New Yorker by the physician-journalist Atul Gawande, if you want to have better quality of life as you age, these three things will have a dramatic effect:

1. Practice yoga or any form of exercise that will help your balance
2. Try to limit your prescription medicines to no more than four
3. Lift weights

And why these three? The single most serious physical risk that the elderly face is an injury from falling. According to Gawande's piece, "Each year, about three hundred and fifty thousand Americans fall and break a hip. Of those, forty per cent end up in a nursing home, and twenty per cent are never able to walk again. The three primary risk factors for falling are poor balance, taking more than four prescription medications, and muscle weakness."

Thanks for visiting here and have a splendiferous and healthy week ahead.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Busy as a Bee!

Dear Friends,

I'm deluged by work...oh the pain! Nevertheless, the weather is holding steady and I have moved past the starting goal post.

So, if you're visiting here today, here's wishing you soft clouds and blue skies wherever you are.

Take care and God bless!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I borrowed this from Sassy Femme's blog. 'Nuff said

Other than that, there is some good news on Sahara's blog. Please keep her in your prayers that she will continue to do well. Let me know how y'all are doing. Hasta la vista.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Belize was spared

It would be remiss of me not to take the time necessary to say a big thank you to everyone who has been thinking of us here in Belize and most importantly praying for us. Yes, I am referring to those prayer warriors out there ~ Sylvia (Heiresschild), Carol (beachgirl), Ian Lidster, Brenda (Clickgirl), Babette, Michelle, the two Michaels, Pia, Renegade Eye and everyone else visiting here. You are the best buddies a gial can have in time of need. I am so blessed to know all of you and thank God Belize was spared.

If I am not visiting your blogs as often as I should, it's because I have now started on a new educational pathway which will eventually lead to a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree. I am officially enrolled in the Fall 2007 programme at Galen University and will be taking up two new courses - MBA 603 (Business Ethics and Human Rights) and MBA 612 (Foundations of Financial Management). Galen University is an independent, free standing institution chartered by the Belize Government. In addition to its own recognized degree programs, Galen University has entered into a partnership agreement with the University of Indianapolis in offering seven of its undergraduate degree programs in Belize. At the recent orientation which I attended, I met many students from the University of Indianapolis who were coming to Belize for the first time as undergraduate students of Galen. They were positive, friendly and quite glad to be in beautiful Belize. Getting to know everyone was fun especially trying to remember everyone's name all at once!LOL! I will be quite busy for the foreseeable future with school, work and being a full time mom. So wish me luck and visit as often as you can here and let me know what y'all are doing.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hurricane Felix!!

Hurricane Felix continues to strengthen in the Caribbean, passing north of the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. After a midday eyewall replacement cycle, Felix has become a category 3 hurricane. The A,B,C Islands were spared any strong winds thanks to the compact nature of Felix's wind core, but heavy, localized flooding rain and some coastal flooding from 12-to-16-foot waves will continue over the remainder of today. In the coming days, Felix will bring large waves to the southern coasts of Jamaica and Grand Cayman Island.

If you look carefully at the projected trajectory, Central Belize (Belize City) where I am located lies in the direct pathway of this strengthening hurricane. This is serious folks. We have approximately 65 hours to get prepared as this storm will be upon us by mid-week Wednesday.

Thanks for visiting here and please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. I will be back on-line when this one passes through. May God keep and bless us all.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Images in the Aftermath of Hurricane Dean

San Pedro Ambergris Caye Island (clean up)

Corozal Free Zone

Corozal (Northern) District

Destroyed Papaya Crops

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hurricane Dean!

After sailing through calm seas for the past plus two years or so, our tiny tropical paradise is now facing its first real threat for this hurricane season.

At the moment, Hurricane Dean poses a nightmare of gigantic proportions for the Caribbean; in particular, for Jamaica, where it is forecasted to make landfall by tomorrow.

It is an extremely dangerous category four hurricane on the saffir-simpson hurricane scale. So please keep us in your prayers. We will be on tentherhooks until this storm passes through the Yucatan Peninsula.
I will post a further update when I can do so. Saludos.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Offerings

Monday Offerings –

Locally what we have going on is Ultimate KTV on Channel 5. You would be amazed at the talent being displayed on this television show. When the show airs on Tuesday nights, I am always amazed at how our Belizeans, with very little or no formal training whatsoever in music, can really display length, depth and breadth when belting out their favorite karaoke tunes. Celine Dion songs are a perennial favorite *lol*. However, every now and then, someone will throw in a classic from Shirley Bassey or Otis Redding complete with costume and props. While we have a dearth of international cable television, the Ultimate KTV is produced locally and the participants all reside here in the tropics. So can you really blame us, if things come to a screeching halt every Tuesday night while we sit entranced in front of the telly watching our very own local stars?

For those of you who love the game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, I would like to take a moment to mark the passing on Sunday, August 11th, of the legendary television producer, Mr. Merv Griffin. He was the creator of both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and he even wrote the little thinking song which is aired every time a Jeopardy episode comes on. Mr. Griffin was 82 years old at the time of his passing and it is estimated that his net worth came close to US$1.6 billion dollars. His favorite epitaph was ‘Stay Tuned’. May he rest in peace. (Merv Griffin 1925-2007)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Paradoxical Commandments” by Kent M. Keith.

I recently visited Josie’s blog and read The Paradoxical Commandments. I don’t recall ever having read these before, so I copied and saved them for my further review. You know what? These commandments are so inspiring to me every time I read them. So here they are for you to appreciate as well. It is good to know that the Paradoxical Commandments still hold true and are standards which have endured through time and space. So here they are:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish and ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building up may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do try to help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Here is one more that was added to the list by Josie herself:
People will say you don’t have the talent or ability to do something.
Do it anyway.

Whenever you have a moment, please do go over to visit Josie’s blog to find out more about her views on life and everything else and let her know that Belizegial sent you.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Embracing the Future

Have you ever noticed that the more things change, the more they remain the same? How about when we are unhappily focused on the career that is stalled, the body we don’t have, or the state of health that we’re not in, that we are basically convincing ourselves that this is going to be our long-term physical state?

And then there is further negative reinforcement when we start an exercise plan and quit because we don’t see immediate results? Or we try another new diet and then give it up because it’s not working, or too difficult to adhere to? And because we have tried so many diets, joined so many gyms, taken so many classes and still have not found our happiest, healthiest, self, we certainly have reason to be convinced that nothing is going to change?

With the power of planning to make changes in our health, fitness and lifestyle, here are how things can be very different:

Accept where you are today. That’s right - surrender, give in and just say, "OK, I accept that this is where I am today." You are not giving up – you are giving in – to the truth. Stop fighting it and being negative about it, just be OK with it for now.

Be thankful for all that is good in your life. Find some things that you like about yourself and your life and focus intently on those. Generate a feeling of love and generosity toward yourself and those around you and the doors to change will open.

Know that things can change. If you don’t believe it now (and you probably don’t, given all that has happened in the past), you will, if you dedicate as much time, thought, and energy as you did to feeling negative, to thinking and then feeling positive. Fake it in the beginning, just keep saying (with a smile on your face and hope in your heart), "I can change things in my life, it’s my choice." You must reinforce over and over, convince yourself that you can change by reprogramming your mind. Don’t stop until you feel the love beginning in yourself and then receiving positive feedback from those around you.

Be open to a new you with new desires and feelings. Whatever you do, don’t fight it when the urge strikes you to start taking better care of yourself. That’s right; before you know it you’ll be eating less junk – or just eating less. You’ll also want to start looking for new ways to move your life forward as well as moving your body more.

Serving others. That’s right, my friends, it’s all about serving others in the best way possible. To make a significant impact on the people in our lives and then have them impact positively on others, is the best possible reward for our hard work and self-improvement efforts. After all, life is a full-contact sport full of bumps and bruises, opportunities and challenges. Do not give up. Tis the time, tis the season, for all of us to positively reclaim our excitement about life and all of its awesome possibilities. Peace and blessings y’all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Places Every Woman Should Go (Traveling Light)

Author Stephanie Elizondo Griest hit the literary scene in 2004 with her critically acclaimed coming-of-age travel memoir, Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana. Her newest book, 100 Places Every Woman Should Go, is a fresh and insightful look at destinations for the female journey. When Ms. Griest was asked to share some travel recommendations, she recently cited eight of her favorite picks for women wanderers:
1. For inspiration and enlightenment: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Goddesses reign supreme in Hawaii, and the most venerated is Pele, who presides over the volcanoes. Legend has it she secretly envies Poliahu, goddess of the snow, and the two quarrel often — especially over menfolk. Poliahu usually wins, causing Pele to erupt in fury, and Poliahu gets stuck cleaning the mess with her ice afterward. (Indeed, traces of lava have been found seeping through glacial ice caps at various epochs in Hawaiian geological history.) Even when Pele triumphs, she soon tires of her lovers and sends them racing down the mountain, trailed by her hot, molten lava. To see her in action, head to the Big Island. Lounge upon the white-sand beaches at Kona Coast and the black-sand beaches at Puna district, then soak in thermal pools set in lava rock at Ahalanui Beach Park. Pele dwells in the Halema'uma'u Crater Overlook of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Devotees leave her offerings of flowers, gin, and ohelo berries. Then pay homage to Poliahu atop Mauna Kea, the world's tallest mountain (when measured base to peak). Linger til sunset to see why Hawaiians consider their homeland to be Earth's connecting point to the universe.

2. For indulgence: Lingerie shopping in Paris. Every woman should have at least one fabulous piece of lingerie tucked inside her drawers — even if there's no one around to show it to. Slipping on a chiffon babydoll and dimming the lights is, after all, the best way to turn a lonely TV dinner into a romantic dinner-for-one. To spice up your collection, fly to Paris, where they claim to have invented it. Herminie Cadolle went down in fashion history for "freeing" women by slicing the stifling corset in two in 1889, thus creating the world's first bra. Even today, her Parisian boutiques — currently run by her great-great-granddaughter — remain among the finest places to buy one. Cadolle specialties include Victorian corsets, bodices, and a broad collection of hand-sewn brassieres, but to truly indulge, make an appointment for a satiny, made-to-measure something at 255 rue Saint-Honoré (Metro: Concorde or Tuilleries). For her ready-to-wear collection, visit 4 rue Cambon.

3. For purification and beautification: The banyas of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Russian banya is a Slavic Eden: a steamy, womb-like place that will tack years onto your life. According to folklore, these baths are haunted by mischievous spirits that bewitch clothing worn inside, so strip down all the way. (Most of the baths are gender-segregated.) Rinse off in the shower and enter the steam room, where scores of women will be massaging salt into each other's pores, swapping beauty secrets, and gossiping. Grab a branch of birch leaves and slap it against your body. Roast. When the heat becomes unbearable, proceed to the pool room and jump in immediately. (Some are kept as frigid as 42 degrees; stick a toe in first and you'll lose your nerve.) Get out before hypothermia kicks in and return to the steam room. Repeat as many times as possible: your skin will glow afterward! In Moscow, visit Krasnopresnensky on Stolyarny Pereulok 7, near the Ulitsa 1905 Goda Metro. In St. Petersburg, try Mitninskaya Banya at Ulitsa Mitninskaya 17/19 near the Metro Ploshad' Vosstaniya.

4. To celebrate powerful women and their places in history: Frida Kahlo's Mexico. Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is one of history's grand divas. A tequila-slamming, dirty joke-telling smoker, she hobbled about her bohemian barrio in lavish indigenous dress and threw dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller, and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera. Half a century after her death, her work fetches more money than any other female artist's (Madonna is said to be an avid collector), and she was the first Latina ever featured on a U. S. postage stamp. Visiting her cobalt blue home in Coyoacan is like stepping inside one of her fantastical paintings. The walls are awash with color and mosaics; a Day of the Dead altar yields pastries, flowers, candles, and papier mâché skeletons; the courtyard blooms with tropical flowers and cactus. Her personal effects are displayed throughout the house, including her pre-Hispanic jewelry, sketchbook diaries, love letters, artwork, and corset-like body cast. (Stricken with polio as a child, she shattered her spine in a bus accident at age eighteen.) Frida t-shirts, computer mousepads, and coffee cups are sold in the gift shop, and you can sip a café con leche in the tranquil café. La Casa Azul is located on Londres 247 and accessible by the Coyoacan Viveros Metro Station in Mexico City.

5. To celebrate struggle and renewal: Arts and voodoo festivals in Benin. Traveling in West Africa is empowering for women — precisely because it is challenging. You must utilize every available resource to make it through the day, and when you finally find that market or village you are seeking, it is like unearthing rubies. The warmth and hospitality of its people make Benin especially welcoming. Upon arrival to any town, visit the mayor's office and ask for the local women's group. A guide will likely take you to the local crafts cooperative, where you can buy directly from the artisans. Also explore the world of voodoo, a belief that natural forces like rain and wind have spiritual forces behind them. Practitioners build shrines out of small mounds of earth and offer their gods alcohol, flowers, food, and the blood of animals sacrificed in their honor. On National Voodoo Day — January 10 — partake in dancing fueled by copious amounts of sodabe (a local palm liquor) at the vibrant festivals in Ouidah. Look out for the Mami Wata worshippers, who dress in all white. Mostly women, they are considered very powerful and are often feared.

6. For womanly affirmation: Belly dancing in San Francisco, New York, or Austin. Belly dancing dates back to pre-Biblical times, when it was performed as a fertility-cult ritual. In ancient Arab tribes, midwives assisted women in labor by dancing around them, rolling their stomachs to imitate the contraction of the uterus. It was also performed as entertainment throughout the Orient by and for women who stayed home while their husbands were out. Not only a great physical workout, modern belly dancing will get you in touch with your earthy self. Communities can be found in every corner of the United States. San Francisco is home to Fat Chance Belly Dance, a renowned tribal dance troupe. Take a class at their studio at 670 South Van Ness Avenue. In New York City, look up legendary teacher Morocco of the Casbah Dance Experience, or Sarah Johansson Locke of Alchemy Performance. Austin, Texas is the place to be on full moons, when Lucila Dance Productions hosts Haflas, gatherings of dancers and drummers who snack on grape leaves as they dance barefoot beneath the stars. Down some wine if you feel inhibited: it's the best hip lubricant around!

7. For all-around wonder: Mongolia.The word might conjure desolation, but this "last frontier" is actually steeped in ritual and tradition and surrounded by stark, natural beauty. Come to race a pony (or yak or camel) across a grassland speckled with wildflowers, to meditate in hidden Tibetan Lamaist temples, to bask in the legacy of Mandhai-Setsen, the Wise Queen who re-unified her turbulent nation by leading her troops into battle in the fifteenth century. In the countryside, hospitable families will welcome you to their ger (wood-framed tent) with a small bowl of vodka (if you're lucky) or a potent brew of fermented mare's milk called airag (if you're not). Drink every drop and hold the bowl upside down over your head to prove it. Then explore the surrounding area on horseback, which could mean Sherwood-like forests, Ghobi desert, or tundra. The best month to visit Mongolia is July — not just for the sunny weather, but for Naadam, a three-day, Olympic-style festival celebrated throughout the nation. The wrestling division features 300-pound wrestlers clad only in boots, briefs, and sleeves who clutch each other for hours (and hours) until their strength wears out and they knock each other over. Like sumo, but sexier.

8. Just for the fun of it: The Bahamian island of Eleuthera. Nearly every sea culture has tales of lovely maidens who propel through the ocean with fish-like tails. A few believe mermaids help steer ships from harm's way, but most claim they are seductresses who, like the Sirens of myth, lure sailors into the water with their songs and then sink their ships. One place where mermaids are thought to be alive and well is the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Locals say that if you rise early enough, you can sometimes catch them washing their golden locks on the rocks of Whale Point, an old swimming hole. Bahamian children believe that their parents have seen this, and they will too someday. If your own sunrise outing is in vain, become one yourself: there is little to do here but splash in the water. Eleuthera's beaches (in particular, Harbour Island) have crystalline waters filled with colorful reefs, eagle rays, octopus, and dolphins. Whales migrate through annually. Then pass the night at Elbina's in Gregory Town, where locals gather to sing along to live Southern Caribbean music. Ask the old-timers about their own mermaid encounters; you'll hear some great stories.
9. And my personal recommendation; Belize's very own Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. If you haven’t experienced Belize's Caves Branch..... you haven’t experienced ADVENTURE ... You haven’t experienced BELIZE ! Click on the link to read more....
© Traveling Light. The Art of Independent Travel, Rolf Potts

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Belizegial Health Topic - Caffeine: How Much is Too Much

Hi Friends,

It's been a hectic week on this end. One mostly fueled by sheer determination and several necessary cups of coffee *lol* Which brings to mind. Caffeine: How much is too much? Michelle, if you're visiting today, here is what has to say about this topic.

In less than an hour you start to feel caffeine's effects. You're more alert, energetic and productive. Your mood lifts and that foggy, tired feeling is gone. If you rely on daily doses of caffeine to chase away fatigue and perk up your disposition, you aren't alone. Nine out of 10 Americans consume some type of caffeine regularly, making it the most popular behavior-altering drug.

For most people, moderate doses of caffeine — 200 to 300 milligrams (mg), or about two to three cups of brewed coffee a day — aren't harmful. But some circumstances, such as caffeine sensitivity or use of certain medications, may warrant limiting or even ending your caffeine routine. Find out if you need to decaffeinate your diet and, if so, how you can do it with minimal distress.

When to cut caffeine use - Certain circumstances call for reducing the amount of caffeine you consume. Evaluate your habits. If any of these situations apply, you may need to cut back. You consume unhealthy amounts. Though moderate caffeine intake isn't likely to cause harm, too much can noticeably affect your health. Heavy daily caffeine use — more than 500 to 600 mg a day, or about four to seven cups of coffee — can cause:

Muscle tremors
Nausea, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems
Abnormal heart rhythms
You have caffeine sensitivity if you're susceptible to the caffeine's effects. Just small amounts — even one cup of coffee or tea — may prompt unwanted results, such as anxiety, restlessness and irritability. The more sensitive you are to caffeine, the less you need to consume before feeling its influence.Your sensitivity depends on many factors, including:

Body mass. People with smaller body masses feel the effects of caffeine sooner than those with larger body masses.

History of caffeine use. People who don't regularly consume caffeine tend to be more susceptible to its negative effects than are people who do.

Stress. All types of stress — for example, psychological stress or heat stress — can increase a person's sensitivity to caffeine.

Other factors can contribute to variations in caffeine sensitivity as well, including age, smoking habits, drug or hormone use, and other health conditions, such as anxiety disorders.
Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. But caffeine can interfere with this much-needed sleep. Chronically losing sleep — whether it's from work, travel, stress or too much caffeine — results in sleep deprivation. Sleep loss is cumulative, and even small nightly decreases can add up and disturb your daytime function.

Using caffeine to mask sleep deprivation creates an unwelcome cycle. For example, you drink caffeinated beverages because you have trouble staying awake during the day. But the caffeine keeps you from falling asleep at night, shortening the length of time you sleep. Caffeine can also increase the number of times you wake up during the night and can interfere with deep sleep, which makes your night less restful. With less sleep and poor-quality sleep, you're more tired the next day. To battle the fatigue and to feel more energetic, you reach for your morning jolt of Java.

The best way to break this cycle is to limit your caffeine and to add more hours of quality sleep to your day. Also, avoid caffeinated beverages eight hours before your desired bedtime. Your body doesn't store caffeine, but it does take many hours for it to eliminate the stimulant and its effects.

Certain medications and herbal supplements negatively interact with caffeine. The following are some examples - some antibiotics.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and norfloxacin (Noroxin) — types of antibacterial medications — can interfere with the breakdown of caffeine. This may increase the length of time caffeine remains in your body and amplify its unwanted effects.

Theophylline (Theo-24, Uniphyl, others). This medication — which opens up bronchial airways by relaxing the surrounding muscles (a bronchodilator) — tends to have some caffeine-like effects. Taking this drug along with caffeinated foods and beverages may increase the concentration of theophylline in your blood. This can cause ill effects, such as nausea, vomiting and heart palpitations. If you take theophylline, your doctor may advise that you avoid caffeine.

Ephedra (ma-huang). This herbal dietary supplement increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, seizures and death. Combined with caffeine, it becomes especially risky. The Food and Drug Administration has banned ephedra in the marketplace because of health concerns. This ban applies to dietary supplements but not herbal teas, which may still contain the herb. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether caffeine might affect your prescription. He or she can best direct you on whether you need to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet.

Caffeine can be habit-forming, so any attempts to stop or lessen the amount you normally consume can be challenging. An abrupt decrease in caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness. These symptoms usually resolve after several days.

To adopt new caffeine habits, try these tips:
Know how much caffeine is in the foods and beverages you consume. You may be consuming more than you think.
Gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you consume. For example, drink one less can of soda or drink a smaller cup of coffee each day. This will help your body get used to the lower levels of caffeine and thereby lessen the withdrawal effects.

Replace caffeinated coffee, tea and soda with their decaffeinated counterparts. Most decaffeinated beverages look and taste the same.
When preparing tea, brew for less time. This cuts down on its caffeine content. Or choose herbal teas, which don't contain this stimulant.

Check the caffeine content in over-the-counter medications that you take. Pain relief or headache medications, such as Excedrin or Anacin, can contain from 65 mg to 130 mg of caffeine in one dose. Switch to caffeine-free versions, if possible.

If you're like most adults, caffeine is a part of your daily routine. And most often it doesn't pose a health problem. But be mindful of those situations in which you need to curtail your caffeine consumption.

© 1998-2006 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," ""

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Seven Lucky Wedding Gifts

Today Saturday July 7th 2007, tens of thousands of superstitious couples will be tying the knot in what may go down as the most popular wedding date in history: 7-7-07. Apparently these starry-eyed couples figure that even if they are lucky in love, why pass up the chance for some extra insurance? After all, the number seven carries a lot of significance: In Las Vegas, 7-7-7 is the highest slot-machine jackpot, and triple 7's add up to Black Jack. There's seven days in a week, seven musical notes on the scale, the Seven Wonders of the World, and the Seven Deadly Sins.
On any given Saturday in July (the most popular month for weddings), there are typically 12,000 weddings taking place. But on 7-7-07, that number has more than tripled to approximately 38,000. That could possibly make today the most popular wedding day ever. It's been a windfall for wedding planners; others are bracing themselves.

Whether you'll be attending a wedding today, or just want to give the happy couple something that might bring a little extra luck, here are seven gifts which are recommended by Deborah Hopewell (Yahoo's Shopping Editor) that just might make the difference between a future in Seventh Heaven, or that other, not-so-lucky seven: the Seven-Year Itch.

For festive occasions, consider giving the happy couple a set of European-designed shot glasses with a die on two sides, both of which add up to seven, of course. And for connoisseurs of the vine, don't forget the dice wine charms.Make it Crystal Clear: Swarovski "Good Luck" magnets come in a set of four: a peridot crystal clover, a clear crystal horseshoe, a clear crystal heart and a red crystal ladybug.

A thriving Dracaena ("lucky bamboo") symbolizes good fortune in many Asian countries. A "Lucky 7 Bamboo" arrangement comes with two spiraling stalks - could they be entwined lovers? - and five straight stalks in a red-glazed container, tied together with a lucky gold band.

They say four-leaf clovers ensure wealth and good health for the lucky couple. Red Envelope has taken a real four-leaf clover, set it in clear resin and placed that in a brushed, polished nickel standing frame.

The newlyweds will be awash in good luck with a set of triple-milled soaps available in four-leaf clovers or horseshoes. You can also help them cook up memories of the special day for years to come when you give a cooking apron that proclaims "We Hit the Jackpot 777 On Our Wedding Day." Personalize it by adding the bride and groom's name.
Or you can light the way for the lucky couple with a set of 12 "Wishful Thinking" candles from Red Envelope. A dozen colored tins each hold a lightly scented ivory candle that contains a tiny treasure that reveals itself as it burns. The corresponding wishes include love, luck, wealth, health, wealth and success.

The best gifts, of course, are those that come straight from your heart. Hence, I would like to add my personal big up and best wishes to a very special couple, Philippa and Trimaine, who are tying the knot today in Los Angeles, California. May you two have the most wonderful wedding day ever and an even more splendiferous honeymoon in Hawaii. Peace and blessings always from your belizegial cuz :-)

Monday, July 02, 2007

With love from Belize

A little humour to get you off on the right foot
Four Worms and a lesson
A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon. Four worms were placed into four separate jars. The first worm was put into a container of alcohol. The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke. The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup. The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil. At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:
The first worm in alcohol - Dead.
The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead
Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead
Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive.
So the Minister asked the congregation -What can you learn from this demonstration? Maxine, who was sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"
That pretty much ended the service .
Women Without Wine
I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby-looking homeless woman who asked me for a couple of dollars for dinner. I took out my wallet, got out ten dollars and asked, "If I give you this money, will you buy some wine with it instead of dinner?" "No, I had to stop drinking years ago", the homeless woman said.
"Will you use it to go shopping instead of buying food?" I asked. No, I don't waste time shopping," the homeless woman said. "I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive."
"Will you spend this on a beauty salon instead of food?" I asked. "Are you NUTS!" replied the homeless woman. "I haven't had my hair done in 20 years!"
"Well," I said, "I'm not going to give you the money. Instead, I'm going to take you out for dinner with my husband and me tonight." The homeless Woman was shocked. "Won't your husband be furious with you for doing that? I know I'm dirty, and I probably smell pretty disgusting."
I said, "That's okay. It's important for him to see what a woman looks like after she has given up shopping, hair appointments and wine."
The Atheist & The Shark
There is this atheist swimming in the ocean. All of a sudden he sees this shark in the water, so he starts swimming towards his boat. As he looks back he sees the shark turn and head towards him. His boat is a ways off and he starts swimming like crazy. He's scared to death, and as he turns to see the jaws ofthe great white beast open revealing its teeth in a horrific splendor, the atheist screams, "Oh God! Save me!"
In an instant time is frozen and a bright light shines down from above. The man is motionless in the water when he hears the voice of God say, "You are an atheist. Why do you call upon me when you do not believe in me?" Aghast with confusion and knowing he can't lie, the man replies, "Well, that's true I don't believe in YOU, but how about the shark? Can you make the shark believe in you?"
The Lord replies, "As you wish," and the light is retracted back into the heavens and the man could feel the water begin to move once again. As the atheist looks back he can see the jaws of the shark start to close down on him, when all of sudden the shark stops and pulls back. Shocked, the man looks at the shark as the huge beast closes its eyes, bows its head and says,"Thank you, Lord, for this food which I am about to receive..."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tainted Colgate toothpaste found in Belize

Colgate Palmolive is the world's biggest toothpaste maker, and in Belize, Colgate is the most widely bought toothpaste. But now toxic Colgate clones have caused an international health scare and Belize is right in the middle of it. It's imitation Colgate, knock-offs, not the real thing, but it looks real and on the shelves at most stores in Belize, it's really cheap. But buyers beware, if the deal looks too good to be true; it could seriously harm you.

Dr. Ann Balderamos-Sinai, Dentist "This is of great concern to us and we want to caution both consumers as well as the store owners." And the caution is for tubes like this that say made in South Africa. Not only is it a fake, it's a dangerous one with a toxic chemical inside and the real danger is that at first bluish it looks like the real thing. In fact you probably can't even tell which of these is real and which is the copy. Well this one is real, the others are dangerous.

It looks completely original but it is labeled Colgate but it is not the original Colgate. The FDA has proven that it has the presence of this poisonous chemical, dietheylene glycol."And if you don't know what that is, you don't need to. It's the same chemical that's used in antifreeze and if you smell or taste this - you'll see why. Once you open the tube and you taste it, you will realize that there is something wrong with the toothpaste; definitely something wrong. It has a horrible horrible taste. Patients have called and complained. They were asking if the toothpaste can be spoilt or if it has an expiration date because it has a horrible horrible taste and smell." And more than just that offensive taste and smell, it can be deadly, especially for children.

Dr. Ann Balderamos-Sinai, "Adults, when you brush you normally rinse and then spit out the Colgate, spit out the toothpaste. You do ingest a tiny amount however children most often swallow the toothpaste and this dietheylene glycol, it is like I said a poisonous chemical, its used in anti-freeze, it was used in cough medicines in the States which were recalled last year because they cause hundreds of deaths in the United States and around the world. This causes, it is a depressant of the central nervous system, it is very toxic to the kidney and the liver, and if ingested may cause intestinal pain, respiratory arrest, paralysis, and even death. So this is very scary." So what should consumers do to avoid these dangerous tubes of fake Colgate?

Dr. Ann Balderamos-Sinai,"What I would say is don't buy the 100 millimeter tube of Colgate. If you do make sure it does not say South Africa or China on it. If you have it at home, please throw it out but most importantly I would even say squeeze the tube out in the garbage instead of just throwing out the tube because you might have kids who might tamper with the garbage and actually get a hold of it and ingest it."

But many shoppers aren't looking at where a product is made, they are looking at how much it costs and the truth is that imitations are priced for as much as $1.50 less than the real thing but this dental professional is urging consumers to resist that temptation.

"When it comes to products that you actually consume, including toothpaste, or ingest, please be careful and stick to the original brands. Don't gamble with the counterfeits, no matter how much a bargain they are. It isn't worth the health risks."
International advisories have also been issued about Colgate which says that it is made in China. NEW YORK (Reuters) - Colgate-Palmolive Co. said on Friday counterfeit toothpaste that may contain a toxic chemical posed a low health risk, and it was picking up suspected fakes labeled "Colgate" brand from discount stores in four U.S. states.

"It's a low health risk but the bottom line is, it doesn't belong in toothpaste," said Doug Arbesfeld, a spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration'. After analyzing some counterfeit samples, Colgate said it agreed with Arbesfeld's statement. The counterfeit toothpaste may contain the toxic chemical diethylene glycol, or DEG, and is labeled as being manufactured in South Africa. It comes in a 5-ounce (100 ml) tube, a size Colgate does not make or sell in the United States, the company said. The chemical is sometimes illegally used as an inexpensive sweetener and thickening agent. It is also found in solvents and antifreeze.

DEG-contaminated toothpaste has been seized in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Nicaragua. The sweet substance, sometimes used as a substitute for glycerin, was found in cough syrup in Panama that led to the deaths of at least 100 people last year. It was unclear where the fake Colgate toothpaste originated. Colgate said on Thursday it was working with the FDA to identify those responsible for the counterfeit products. The company said it does not use DEG in its toothpaste. Colgate shares closed down 22 cents at $66.63 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Belizegial's Health Tip

7 Reasons to Drink Green Tea

The steady stream of good news about green tea is getting so hard to ignore that even java junkies are beginning to sip mugs of the deceptively delicate brew. You'd think the daily dose of disease-fighting, inflammation-squelching antioxidants - long linked with heart protection - would be enough incentive, but wait, there's more! Lots more.

CUT YOUR CANCER RISK - several polyphenols - the potent antioxidants green tea's famous for seem to help keep cancer cells from gaining a foothold in the body, by discouraging their growth and then squelching the creation of new blood vessels that tumors need to thrive. Study after study has found that people who regularly drink green tea reduce their risk of breast, stomach, esophagus, colon, and/or prostate cancer.

SOOTHE YOUR SKIN - Got a cut, scrape, or bite, and a little leftover green tea? Soak a cotton pad in it. The tea is a natural antiseptic that relieves itching and swelling. Try it on inflamed breakouts and blemishes, sunburns, even puffy eyelids. And that's not all. In the lab, green tea helps block sun-triggered skin cancer, whether you drink it or apply it directly to the skin - which is why you're seeing green tea in more and more sunscreens and moisturizers.

STEADY YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE - Having healthy blood pressure - meaning below 120/80 - is one thing. Keeping it that way is quite another. But people who sip just half a cup a day are almost 50 percent less likely to wind up with hypertension than non-drinkers. Credit goes to the polyphenols again (especially one known as ECGC). They help keep blood vessels from contracting and raising blood pressure.

PROTECT YOUR MEMORY, OR YOUR MOM'S - Green tea may also keep the brain from turning fuzzy. Getting-up-there adults who drink at least two cups a day are half as likely to develop cognitive problems as those who drink less. Why? It appears that the tea's big dose of antioxidants fights the free-radical damage to brain nerves seen in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

STAY YOUNG - The younger and healthier your arteries are, the younger and healthier you are. So fight plaque build-up in your blood vessels, which ups the risk of heart disease and stroke, adds years to your biological age (or RealAge), and saps your energy too. How much green tea does this vital job take? About 10 ounces a day, which also deters your body from absorbing artery-clogging fat and cholesterol.
LOSE WEIGHT - Oh yeah, one more thing. Turns out that green tea speeds up your body's calorie-burning process. In the every-little-bit-counts department, this is good news!

Now all this good news deserves a Saturday Smile

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Looking ahead... Mexico's President to Visit

And looking forward to next week, Belize will be the venue for a number of high level meetings leading up to a summit of leaders from Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Those discussions will be held in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye with the summits of SICA and the Tuxtla group both taking place on June twenty-ninth. On the thirtieth, Mexican President Felipe Calderon will continue his stay with a one-day state visit, during which he will be conferred with the "Order of Belize" by the Prime Minister, Said Musa.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Can this be true?

I found this article, excerpted below, in one of our local newspapers. Can this be true?

Children smuggled into the United Kingdom for sex abuse and slavery
Most victims become prostitutes or servants. Violence used to control and break in youngsters.
by Paul Lewis, Thursday June 12, 2007 The Guardian

The trade in hundreds of children smuggled into the UK for sexual exploitation, drug smuggling, under-age marriage, street crime and domestic slavery was exposed last night in a government report. The Home Office-commissioned survey identifies 330 cases of suspected or confirmed victims of trafficking - most of them from China or from Africa - but warns of an unknown quantity that have not come, as yet, to the attention of the authorities.

Organized gangs, including some highly sophisticated criminal syndicates, are profiting from trafficking children as young as nine months old into the country. In the case of African victims, the traffickers have been identified as white British nationals. The report which was produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre reveals:
  • Concern over the safety of trafficked children placed in the care of local authorities. Over half of those in the study have gone missing, amid fears that some have returned to their captors;
  • Most of the victims are girls and most likely to enter the country through airports to supply the underground sex trade or to work as domestic servants;
  • With controls tightening at Heathrow, Gatwick and Dover, traffickers are choosing smaller entry points such as Prestwick, Belfast, Doncaster, Stansted, Hull and Gravesend;
  • Physical and sexual violence is often used to control and break in the victims, with children gang raped, beaten and burned with cigarettes;
  • Albanian, Chinese and Vietnamese trafficking gangs are the most organized and are linked to criminal networks involved in drug production, identity fraud, money laundering and the sex trade.

The report coincided with the publication of CEOP's first annual review. Several government agencies in hot spot areas - large cities or ports and airports - failed to supply data about trafficked children in their area and the report admits the figures are heavily under represented. The Home Office Minister, Vernon Coker, said: "We're determined to find out the nature and scale of the problem. We're not going to shy away from this report - we'll learn from it and take it forward."

While most of the cases identified concern children aged between 14 and 17, there are fears that the illicit import of much younger children is going undetected. As well as a 9-month old baby, the report documents the cases of a 3-year old, two 4-year olds and eight children aged between 5 and 12, some of whom could have been brought in by adults masquerading as their parents. The report finds that victims have often lived destitute lives in their countries of origin, particularly those from Africa smuggled into Britain to work as domestic slaves or in the underground sex trade. These children describe their previous life in terms of war, abject and relative poverty, years of physical and sexual abuse, miscarried abortions, prison, witnessing murders, neglect and a desire to escape. Some of the girls believed they were being rescued from their destitution and still refer to their captors who brought them into the UK as their 'rescuers'.

Eastern European trafficking victims - particularly girls - are seen as easier to smuggle than other nationalities because their EU passports are not checked as thoroughly.

The report recommends developing a national intelligence picture of the nature and scale of trafficking in the UK. It advocates the establishment of a dedicated unit for gathering information on the problem as a matter of priority; and, the use of biometric data to help track children.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Disappearance of Madeleine McCann - web appeal for information

Jerry and Kate McCann have released the last photograph of their daughter before her abduction in the Algarve three weeks ago. The picture is of Madeleine sitting by the swimming pool on the day she was snatched from her bed. Kate took the photo of Madeleine at 2.29pm on May 3 - Mrs McCann's camera clock is one hour out so the display reads 1.29pm. Less than eight hours later, before 10pm that night, Madeleine disappeared. Mr and Mrs McCann, backed by an army of friends and family, remain convinced that four year old Madeleine is alive and are praying, along with people around the world, for her safe return.

This appeal notice is being distributed at the request of the Child Exploitation and online protection (CEOP) Centre and the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) at the request of the Portuguese Authorities.

-- Press Release--

Portuguese police have extended a web based plea for information following the disapperance of Madeleine McCann. The appeal is cited at and It appears in English, Portuguese and Spanish and urges people to come forward with any information that could help police find the missing youngster. It is hoped that the move will help extend the reach of the appeal to as many people as possible, including holiday goers who may have recently returned from Portugal or be intending to visit. Any information should be passed directly to the Portuguese police on 00 351 282 405 400
To everyone reading this blog today, please pass along this web appeal for information to all of your contacts. Many thanks and much peace and blessings to all you of you today and always.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Every day is a gift from God - A tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez

If we can keep in mind, that every day is a gift from God, then we can really begin to appreciate each moment of each day. "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice, and be glad in it."

Excerpted below is an article written by Frank Bajak in Cartagena in tribute to Nobel prize winner, Garcia Marquez:

Hailed by a crowd of more than a thousand who gave a standing ovation, Latin America's most famous living writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, clasped his hands above his head like a prize fighter as he entered the auditorium in the Colombian port town of Cartagena. During a special tribute at the International Congress of Spanish language on Monday, the Nobel prize winning writer, who turned 80 years this month, recounted how his wife Mercedes had to hock her jewels to pay the rent and put food on the table for their two boys during the 18 months it took him him to write what many consider the greatest novel in Spanish since Don Quixote - One Hundred Years of Solitude.

"To think that a million people would read something written in the solitude of my room with 28 letters of the alphabet and two fingers as my sole arsenal seems insane," Garcia Marquez said, recalling that the novel's readers have now surpassed 50 million.

Attending the tribute, along with scores of writers, journalists, academics and Latin American presidents, were King Juan Carlos of Spain and former US president, Bill Clinton. "I believe he's the most important writer of fiction in any language since William Faulkner died," said Mr. Clinton, who recalled reading One Hundred Years when he was in law school and not being able to put it down even during classes.

Marquez revealed that when his master work was finished in August 1967 and he and his wife went to the post office to send it to his editor in Buenos Aires, they had only 53 pesos. It cost 82 pesos to send the parcel, so they sent only half of the manuscript. "Afterwards, we realized that we had sent not the first but the second part," he said. Luckily, the editor was so eager to read the first half, he forwarded to them the money so that they could send the rest. The rest, as they say, is history.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Hello Everyone,

I am on blog hiatus. However, I have not forgotten anyone and I will be back soon. Here is something for you to ponder in the meanwhile.

Mark Twain once said "The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like and do what you'd druther not."

So let's talk about this for a moment, shall we?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Global Warming will end Some Species

From the micro to the macro, from plankton in the oceans to polar bears in the far north and seals in the far south, global warming has begun changing life on Earth, international scientists will report next Friday.

"Changes in climate are now affecting physical and biological systems on every continent," says a draft obtained by The Associated Press of a report on warming's impacts, to be issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the authoritative U.N. network of 2,000 scientists and more than 100 governments. In February the panel declared it "very likely" most global warming has been caused by manmade emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Animal and plant life in the Arctic and Antarctic is undergoing substantial change, scientists say. Rising sea levels elsewhere are damaging coastal wetlands. Warmer waters are bleaching and killing coral reefs, pushing marine species toward the poles, reducing fish populations in African lakes, research finds.

"Hundreds of species have already changed their ranges, and ecosystems are being disrupted," said University of Michigan ecologist Rosina Bierbaum, former head of the U.S. IPCC delegation. "It is clear that a number of species are going to be lost." The IPCC draft estimates that if temperatures rise approximately 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit more, one-third of species will be lost from their current range, either moved elsewhere or vanished.
From Associated Press bureaus around the world, here are identified animals and plants the IPCC will note are already affected by climate change:
The frogs went silent in the night
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Back in the Puerto Rican rain forest for the first time in five years, biologist Rafael Joglar sensed something was wrong. He wasn't hearing the frogs whose nocturnal calls he had long recorded in the misty highlands.
It was as if a small orchestra had lost key players, he recalled.
After that discovery in 1981, Joglar and wife Patricia Burrowes, a fellow University of Puerto Rico amphibian specialist, found that other populations of frogs in the genus Eleutherodactylus — known locally as coquis for the distinctive co-kee sound made by two species — were also mysteriously absent. Similar reports trickled in from frog specialists worldwide, particularly in Central and South America.

Working their way through such suspected culprits as pollution and habitat loss, researchers here eventually zeroed in on climate change. The average minimum temperature had risen from 1970 to 2000 by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a significant rise for climate-sensitive amphibians.
Scientists believe higher temperatures lead to more dry periods and a chain reaction, at higher elevations, that leaves the frogs vulnerable to a devastating fungus, Burrowes said.
In Puerto Rico and nearby islands, experts believe three of 17 known Eleutherodactylus species are extinct and seven or eight are declining. Loss of the frogs, scientists warn, could have disastrous consequences, depriving birds and other predators of a food source, eliminating a consumer of insects and disrupting the ecosystem in ways impossible to guess.
Fragile, sensitive coral sounds the alarm
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — The rainbow world of the Great Barrier Reef may fade away.
Scientists say rising sea temperatures worldwide are causing more coral bleaching — the draining of color when the fragile animals that form reefs become stressed and spew out the algae that give coral its color and energy to build massive reef structures. Oceans are also absorbing more carbon dioxide, increasing their acidity and eroding coral's ability to build reef skeletons.
Because just a 2-degree-Fahrenheit shift can trigger a major bleaching event, the behavior of corals is an early sign that global warming is already changing our world, experts say.
"We've got about 20 years to turn (greenhouse gas emissions) around or it's going to cost the world a lot environmentally but also economically," said Terry Hughes, a leading Australian coral specialist. The 1,250-mile-long Great Barrier Reef, off Australia's northeast coast, produces $4 billion a year in tourism revenues. Forecasts vary, but many experts say ocean temperature rises projected for the next 50 years could strip this natural wonder of most of its color. The changes will affect countless millions of fish and other marine organisms that depend on the reef. Many reefs worldwide will fare worse, since they don't have the protection against pollution and overfishing provided by the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Ticks move north, carrying diseases with them
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — A bloodthirsty parasite is popping up in parts of Sweden where deep winter chills used to make survival difficult, if not impossible.
Ticks are spreading north along the Scandinavian country's shorelines, pestering pets and spreading infectious diseases to humans.
"It probably has to do with the greenhouse effect," said Thomas Jaenson, professor in medical entomology at Uppsala University. "The fact that we've seen ticks in January indicates that there has been a major change."
Swedish studies have shown that ticks have multiplied countrywide in recent decades, spreading north from traditional breeding grounds in the Stockholm archipelago. The pinhead-sized arachnids have even turned up near the Arctic Circle.
"There are more of them now. And they show up earlier in the year," said Marja Lodin, 69, who has a summer house near the northern city of Umea. Two years ago she was infected with Lyme disease, which causes fever, headache, fatigue and skin rash, from a tick lodged in her navel.
Sweden's disease control agency doesn't keep records on Lyme disease, but said the potentially deadly tick-borne encephalitis virus, known as TBE, is on the rise. Reported annual cases more than doubled from 60 in the late 1990s to 131 in the 2001-2005 period. In 2006, there were 155 cases, two of which turned fatal. "It is possible that these people would be alive if we had had a more stable climate," Jaenson said.
White giants face future of too much water, too little ice
TORONTO (AP) — Inuit hunters in Canada's Arctic say they have seen polar bears moving farther north as the polar ice cap recedes, or farther south in search of new sources of food.
The northern people who have hunted these majestic marine mammals for thousands of years say they haven't seen a dramatic decline yet in their numbers. But scientists worry that the polar bear will be pushed steadily toward extinction by 2050, to be found only in zoos, as Arctic waters grow warmer. The bears depend on sea ice for survival. They have their pups and they hunt seal and walrus on ice floes. But the summer ice cap is about 20 percent smaller today than in 1978, the U.N. climate panel reported in February. And as sea ice shrinks, bears are forced to hunt and to fast for longer periods.

Biologists believe 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears roam the frozen Arctic, about 60 percent in Canada. The research group Polar Bears International says one polar bear population, in Canada's western Hudson Bay, has dropped 22 percent since the 1980s, about the time Inuit hunters started noticing dramatic changes in wind and weather patterns. The trends are so troubling that the U.S. government has proposed listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Changing climate, vanishing plankton threaten cod
LONDON (AP) — Overfishing has cut deeply into the North Sea's cod population in recent decades, and scientists now say this important food fish faces a second challenge — climate change. North Sea water temperatures have climbed 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years, and that has shifted currents, carrying a major food source, plankton, away from the cod, said scientist Chris Reid of the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans in Plymouth, England.
"The only way that these increases can be explained is by greenhouse gas emissions," Reid said. In their larval stage, the cod feed on the minute plants and animals known as plankton. Chances of survival without them are slim. North Sea cod that do survive today are smaller and less successful at mating and reproducing, Reid explained. In addition, warmer temperatures increase cod metabolism and the larvae's need for nutrition, he and other marine scientists noted in a 2003 research paper.

Because the European Union's 2003 cod recovery plan isn't working, scientists and fishing industry representatives met March 9-10 to discuss new ways to counter the threats and help the cod.
The dimb's demise tells of African climate change
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — It's getting harder for villagers in the north of this dry West African country to find a favored ingredient for a traditional couscous dish — the fruit of the dimb tree.
The once-prevalent tree with its meaty fruit has disappeared from all but one village in an area the size of Connecticut, as shifting rainfall patterns have made northern Senegal drier and hotter, research has found.
Many tree species like the dimb are retreating from the Sahel, the arid region south of the Sahara Desert, losing ground to more arid species. In the zone that climate change scientist Patrick Gonzalez studied, the dimb's range decreased 96 percent between 1945 and 1994 — from 27 villages to one.
Gonzalez said he looked at many factors, including population shifts and tree cutting, but "precipitation and temperature explained most of the variance in the data."
The greenhouse effect has warmed the southern Atlantic Ocean, source of the African monsoon, causing more rain to fall over the sea and less over the Sahel, said the Nature Conservancy's Gonzalez, who did the research while with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Fig and firewood species also are dying, forcing women gatherers to range farther and spend more time hunting firewood. "Once you don't have that, people start burning cow dung. And that's when environmentally the area is in great trouble," Gonzalez said.

By The Associated Press Sat Mar 31, 6:34 PM ET
This report was written by AP correspondents Charles J. Hanley, New York; Ben Fox, San Juan; Rohan Sullivan, Sydney; Karl Ritter, Stockholm; Beth Duff-Brown, Toronto; Courtney French, London; and Heidi Vogt, Dakar.