Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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Why A Little Kindness Can Make A Big Difference

Quote of the day: 

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. -Confucius 

When someone takes their own life a thousand and one questions spring to mind. If you have ever experienced depression (I have), it is more than a feeling of unhappiness or being fed up, or seeing life as worthless -there are different layers to it all. I read one or two stories about the apparent suicide of Linkin Park's Singer -Chester Bennington at age 41, who had been candid about his issues with mental health and addiction. I also believe I saw on Facebook where someone made a post about how the people suicide victims leave behind are the real victims, and in a nutshell talked about selfishness on the part of people who take their own lives. Now this is simply the poster's opinion, and I am not here to debate that. What I would say is that there is great talk about suicides today more than ever, and I believe it is important to discuss the societal and mental issues that can lead up to that point of no return. The band has even set up a tribute website to Chester, which provides suicide prevention information for the vulnerable. Unfortunately, it won't be the first and the last of such stories in the news.

Truth is we all suffer one form of loneliness or the other. But we overcome such episodes because we surround ourselves with family, friends and the things we love. But for some people these things are not just enough. We all live, love, and heal differently. The little things we overcome can be harder for others to get through. That's where kindness comes into play.

Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. I must admit sometimes I forget about kindness especially when stressed. But I am learning to strive each day to be kind to everyone I meet. I believe we all should too. Think about it. Imagine if even one person weekly showed you a little act of kindness, wouldn't that warm your heart and soul? Or even better imagine if you carried out the act of kindness. Sometimes it is the little things in life that matter. A little hello, a little conversation with a random stranger, a smile, a little appreciation, taking a minute to help someone who is lost, talking to someone who don't look their usual self, being nice to someone, holding the door for someone, writing a thank you note, forgiving someone for what they did, checking up on family and old friends, or just simply listening to someone -all little acts that could make a big difference in the end.

If you are reading this and you feel the need to talk to someone, please do seek some help. Samaritans  (UK Toll free number: 116 123) offer round the clock help and support. They offer a safe place for you to talk anytime.

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Linkin Park -Shadow of the Day

Monday, July 24, 2017

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Book of the Day: A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

Quote of the day: 

My father always said, 'Never trust anyone whose TV is bigger than their book shelf' - so I make sure I read. -Emilia Clarke

BLOGORATTI -Book review of Orhan Pamuk's A Strangeness in My Mind

This week's book reading is titled 'A Strangeness in My Mind' written by Orhan Pamuk -a Turkish novelist , screenwriter and the recipient of the 2006 Novel Prize in Literature. He is one of Turkey's most prominent novelists with his work achieving both critical and commercial success in Turkey and beyond.

Translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap, A Strangeness in My Mind tells the story and adventures of Mevlut Karataş, a seller of yogurt and boza (Turkish drink of fermented wheat), his family, friends and also depicts a portrait of life in Turkey between 1969 and 2012. Born in a poor Anatolian village 700 miles from Istanbul, the story is told in different parts (from adulthood to childhood) starting from when Mevlut who had left for Istanbul at age 12, returns to the province of his birth to begin a rather strange affair with a woman  whom he had fallen in love with at a family wedding, but all is not as it seems as he would soon find out,after a secret courtship of love letters passed via his cousin that lasted for 3 years.

The situation that he found himself in would go on to determine the rest of his days, and the environment he lives in. It is an adventure of dreaming dreams, about life, struggles, hope, love, lost pleasures, determination and disappointment -all against the backdrop of social change sweeping across Turkey during that time.

Orhan Pamuk really knows how to weave a story and get the reader submerged in a different world and time. This novel is written with warmth and sentiment, be prepared to be enthralled by the adventure. If you enjoy long reads then this is for you -it is 734 pages long. However, the story flows very well and you may finish it faster than you think. But surely it is a must read and a delightful one to add to your personal collection.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: John Coltrane -Giant Steps

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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3 Things to Inspire Your Weekend: #59

Quote of the day: 

Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it's far removed from your situation. -Chinua Achebe 

Afghan girls at Engineering competition

Credit: NewYorkTimes

Six Afghan girls who were initially denied visas twice by the US State Department in order to participate in an engineering competition have been awarded the silver medal for “courageous achievement” at the FIRST Global Challenge in Washington, D.C., US. -a competition where teams of young women and men from around the world showcase their robot creation. The gold medal in the category went to the South Sudan team. Due to great public outcry, and with just one week to the the competition, they were granted a “parole” exception to the visa denial on the basis of “significant public benefit.”

Doug and Kristine Tompkins in Chile
Credit: Tompkins Conservation

Chile has just set aside and converted 11 million acres of land into new national parks. This was aided by the largest land donation from a private entity to a country -the conservation efforts of the Tomkins Foundation -established by Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, and the late Doug Tompkins, the co-founder of North Face and Esprit. Their effort in donating 1 Million acres of land assisted Chile in its drive to set aside land and its conservation of the pristine Patagonia wilderness. The donation is expected to aid efforts in "rewilding" Patagonia, and efforts to roll back years of deforestation.

Archdaily -House on the lake, Colombia

As seen on Arch Daily, House on the Lake
Architects: De La Carrera Cavanzo

Brief: A return to the essence, a contemporary reinterpretation of the rural house in the mountains.

Theme:  Local stone, slate, steel and glass
Location: Sesquile, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Photograph: Luis Alberto Mariño

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Louis Armstrong - Weather Bird

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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The British Museum: An architectural Masterpiece in Photos

Quote of the day: 

While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed. -Mattie Stepanek 

South Entrance, The British Museum

One of the main attractions of any town or city can be found inside its Museum. It is here that history can be revisited and new stories learned while exploring amazing artifacts and items. There is a special feeling to be surrounded by so much history as one finds in a Museum and there is nothing that compares to the feeling and experience. You tend to leave with a sense of awe and discovery.

Blogoratti -British Musuem exterior

Blogratti -The British Museum

Visiting the British Museum in London is an adventure. Founded in 1753 it was mostly based on the collections of scientist Sir Hans Sloane and first opened to the public in 1759, on the site of the current building in Bloomsbury, London.

Blogoratti -British Musuem Fore Court

At present the Museum is dedicated to human art, culture and history. With a permanent collection of over 8 million items, it is among the largest and most extensive in existence, spanning over 2 million years of human history. All world cultures under one roof, housed around remarkable architecture and centred around the wonderful great court.

Blogoratti -British Musuem Fore Court
Blogratti -The British Museum

The architecture is as interesting as the objects it houses. It consists of 4 main wings of the Museum-north,east,west, and south which was designed in the 19th Century. The core of the present day building was designed by the architect Sir Robert Smirke- in Greek revival style, in 1823 and completed in 1852. It included galleries for classical sculpture and Assyrian antiquities and also residences for staff.

Blogoratti -British Musuem South America gallery

The British Museum has 10 curatorial and research departments ranging from prints and drawings, ancient Egypt and Sudan, to Britain, Europe and prehistory all housed in an architectural landmark.

Blogoratti -British Musuem Egypt gallery

The original 1753 collection of Sir Hans Sloane has grown to over thirteen million objects at the British Museum, 70 million at the Natural History Museum and over 150 million at the British Library.

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Blogoratti -British Japanese Gallery

Fun facts

1. The oldest object in the over 8 million collection is a stone chopping tool that is nearly 2 million years old.

2. The British Museum is the world's oldest national public Museum, founded in 1753. Back then it was free to all ‘studious and curious persons’, and till today it is still free to visit.

3. The Museum got so big that two other institutions had to be created -The Natural History Museum and the British Library.

4. The Museum was one of the first buildings to use electric lighting.

5. The Museum has been a popular film set with 15 films to its name including 2014's 'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb starring Ben Stiller. Each year around 50 film crews visit to film documentaries, and even music videos.

6. The Japanese galleries house a replica of a traditional tea house, and the Korea gallery a full size replica of a scholar's study known as 'Sarangbang'.

7. The Museum has over 6 million visitors a year visiting popular objects like the Egyptian Mummies, Parthenon sculptures and the Rosetta Stone.

For more fun facts visit the British Museum Blog.

Have you visited a Museum lately, and what did you think of the design, architecture and the objects and artifacts you found inside?

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Sonny Rollins -Blue 7

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3 Amazing Websites Offering Free Stock Images to Download

Quote of the day: 

We don't take advantage of our position. We keep saying no to free stuff, as we can afford it now. 
-Lukas Forchhammer 

When it comes to photography finding the right image for use on your blog or website can be daunting. On a good day most of us would make use of our own images, to tell a story or enhance a part of our social media presence or brand. But sometimes we end up with unprofessional looking images that are not as good. The wonderful thing is that there are lots of websites offering free public domain stock photography -thanks to photographers who have given then up for free. These are professional looking photos that are free to use for any purpose without purchasing any license, unlike the royalty-free and rights managed stock photos which require a license to be purchased.

With free stock photos the options are unlimited, as rather than made do with your own photos, or hiring a photographer, you can search large databases online and quickly find something that matches what you are looking for, and is especially popular with web designers as it is a cheaper and less stressful option. Popular photos on these websites include those of people, places, hobbies, pets, architecture, abstract, business, nature, food and many more.

Below are 3 websites that offer free stock photos.

1. Pexels.com

Free stock image website -Pexels

Pexels is a great website that offers free stock photos you can use anywhere and it is even free for commercial and personal use. Also attribution (setting a link to the source) is not needed. This has been my favourite go-to website for professional images that match my preferences. It has a great interface and although the images are limited, but you can always find something close to what you are looking for. And the best thing is you don't need to register to access the website.

2. Pixabay.com

Free stock image website -Pixabay

Pixabay is an enterprise founded in Germany in 2010, and it is similar to Pexels and offers a somewhat similar service -free images to use for personal and commercial use. The key difference between the two is that Pixabay also offers other media types. They claim to offer over a million high quality images, vector graphics, illustrations and free videos that can be anywhere from 7 seconds to a minute in length -both in HD and 4K resolution. However, you may find two or more videos -depending on your search term, that are provided by Shutterstock and which would require payment. But overall majority are free to download for personal use. You do not need to register to download the images on this site.

3. Unsplash.com

Free stock image website -Unsplash

Unsplash claims to be a platform with 'over 200,000 high resolution images brought to you by the world's most generous community of photographers'. The photos are again, free to use like the other websites, and one does not need to register to download them. However, after downloading a photo, the message below appears: 'Crediting isn’t required, but is appreciated and allows photographers to gain exposure'...

So those are three stock websites that offers free stock photographs for personal and commercial use. There are many more online that you can search for if you don't end up finding what you are looking for -but with millions of photos on these sites, it's highly doubtful you wont find the photos you need. Do you use free stock websites? Do share if you know of any others that could be beneficial.

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Sade -Cherish the Day

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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Poem: Where Streets Are Paved With Marble

Quote of the day: 

But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain, to dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall, and baffled, get up and begin again. -Robert Browning 

What If
Demons were angels in a reverse play
And angels were demons for a day

What If
Religion or different gods did not appear
Then we would have to invent them said Voltaire

What If
You woke up as a bird of prey
Becoming a predator to zealots who pray

What If
The sun sets in the east and not the west
And all men became women as a test

What If
You wrestled with your innermost fear
And in the end become something people jeer

What If
Tomorrow you trek under a thunder rumble
Where streets are paved with marble

This poem was written in second person, and continuing my attempt to write outside my comfort zone. It can be interpreted in different ways. Like art, poetry can change each time you view it. The whole idea came about with the title, with initial thoughts about reversal or roles building up to this poem. It is jagged, raw, unfinished and is a smokescreen to a thousand underlying paths. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by!

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Thelonious Monk- Ruby My Dear

Monday, July 17, 2017

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What an Examined Life Looks Like

Quote of the day: 

I have a simple philosophy: Fill what's empty. Empty what's full. Scratch where it itches. 
-Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Socrates the classical Greek philosopher whose way of life had a profound impact on both ancient and modern philosophy once claimed that the 'un-examined life is not worth living'. Now this thought can be interpreted in several ways by different individuals. After all philosophy is simply attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior. In other words, it is the faith, belief, ideology, doctrine, or values that has shaped you all along. But it can be said that for life to be worth living, one must examine the layers therein. We birth personal philosophies that keeps us going. And as we age and experience more of life, our philosophy may either stay the same or change.

One of my personal favourites is 'just be yourself'. A simple yet sound ideal when you think about it. But what does being yourself entail asides the obvious. As humans we are never satisfied with the way we are, heck with almost everything around us. We are constantly changing things but the hardest thing to do is to change ourselves. I believe it does carry a lot of weight -the way we view ourselves is completely different from how others see us. We are all actors performing scene after scene. But there are no cuts or breaks, there is no script to rehearse, no scenes to re-enact, and certainly no playbacks. We write, direct, and film our life how we want.

Living an examined life would mean getting in touch with your true self, using your potential to enrich your soul and others too. For Socrates the examined life was one of wisdom and humility. For Mahatma Ghandi the examined life meant being the change you wish to see in the world. For Mark Twain the examined life was one of always telling the truth, and not having to remember anything. For Maya Angelou the examined life meant that how we treat others is how they will remember us. And for me it can be simplified into several thoughts:

1. Know yourself
2. Embrace your shortcomings
3. Challenge your perspective on things
4. Discover like minded individuals and appreciate them
5. Take risks. Win. Fail. Repeat
6. Be kind. Even to those deemed undeserving

Make up your philosophy as you live through life. Amend it, add to it, own it. But whatever you do, never live without one. It is the balance that shapes everything.

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Charlie Parker - All the things you are

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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3 Things to Inspire Your Weekend: #58

Quote of the day: 

Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world. -Ramana Maharshi

Credit: Fortune

The world's second most richest individual, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett has given away a huge chunk of his wealth -totaling $28 Billion to charities over the last decade. He made a personal pledge to make annual gifts of stocks to some foundations and his shares given to philanthropy throughout his lifetime and beyond. More recently the Billionaire has donated yet another $3 Billion worth of shares in his Berkshire Hathaway company. The five lucky foundations receiving his donation include: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Sherwood Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation.

Credit: twitter/c_chambon

Thanks to an initiative by a student from the UK's prestigious Imperial College, Clementine Chambon, an Indian village is now connected to power. Chambon, a final year PhD student has helped to connect homes with a small 8kWh solar energy grid and providing 1,000 people with energy for affordable lighting, and fans to cool their homes, through her social enterprise start-up -Oorja. According to her "The renewable energy generated will also power pumps to provide irrigation services to farmers".

As seen on Arch Daily, PI House
Architects: Gaztelu Jerez Arquitectos

Brief: Simple construction to mirror the surrounding environment.

Theme: Central patio with links, natural air circulation, whitewashed façades, Campaspero limestone wainscots and reddish tile roofs.
Location: Burgos, Spain

Peace. Love. Light* 

 Current Listen: Miles Davis -Boplicity