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.

Blogoratti -British Musuem

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

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Musings of mine: Rambling Mind on This and That #8

Quote of the day: 

Only one kind of species of animals bites the hand that feeds them - mankind. -Fakeer Ishavardas

Tattoo Mirrors

Do people who get their backs tattooed have double mirrors at home -this must enable them gaze at the artwork on their backs daily. Or is It more like once they get it done, it is forgotten -like a pair of glasses missing but forgotten on the owners head, or is it a case of only seeing the tattoo through the eyes of others who admire and talk about it when they catch a glimpse of the dragon with flames.

Don’t Get Comfortable

Why is it that once you’ve settled in comfortably in a chair or in bed, you remember one crucial thing that is still outstanding to do, and which you have to reluctantly get up for -like settling in to watch TV, when the remote control is half way across the room. Noooo.

Rain is Magical

Rain after a long spell of hot summer sunshine is bliss. The type of rain you are actually glad to be in, arms swinging about in maddening joy. Imagine being in the desert lost, thirsty, and on the edge for days. And just as you were giving up, the skies opened up and you think ‘nothing could have been more timely’.

The Kid Just Wanted His Playgroup

Ever been so happy doing something you enjoy, and then all of a sudden someone else comes around to shut you down mentally and emotionally. Like a kid throwing a tantrum in public just because he hadn't felt like leaving the play nursery. We know this because it was said in passing to another mom, and the wind blew this information to the right ears.

Angry human. Threatened Squirrel

Have you ever heard a squirrel shriek. To rephrase that, have you ever heard one squealing alarmingly at 2am almost every other night, and at first you thought it was a cat, fox or hawk or something. Not that you know what a fox sounds like. And why would a hawk be screaming at that time anyway instead of being in bed. A quick search on almighty Google, and yep it sure is a squirrel sound -and it must feel threatened by something and annoyed to have been making so much commotion.  The joys of living and almost being surrounded by trees.

Why Farts Make Noise

Fart questions as seen on almighty Google. Don't ask. 

What is a fart made of? I don’t even want to think of that right now, please.
Why do farts make a noise?. I don’t know, might be to warn others and give them time to escape after hearing it, maybe.
Are farts flammable?. Well of course, watch out you may just light yourself on fire.
Why do we fart before we poop? Oh really, this is something I must investigate further.
How many poop particles are in a fart? Mic drop.

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Norah Jones -Come Away With Me

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The British Library: Photos and Amazing Facts to Know

Quote of the day: 

A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life. -Norman Cousins

The British Library

Returning for its eleventh year, the 2017 London Literature Festival will explore how literature and poetry can remind us of our shared humanity in a world on the edge. The festival will hold from 13-29 October 2017, opening with the 50th anniversary of Poetry International. It is certainly one to check out if you are in the city and around the Southbank Centre.

Now in view of the upcoming festival here is a look at a well known and important library in Britain. The British Library is the national library of the U.K., and it is the second largest library in the world by the total number of items catalogued -over 150 million (The Library of Congress, US, has 162 million making it the largest in the world), including items such as books, maps, prints, stamps, drawings, videos, patents and more from all around the world both print and digital. The library's collection includes over 14 million books. In what is known as foundation collections, the core of the library's historical collections is based on sets of donations and major acquisitions from the 18th century.

Drawing by Sir Colin St John Wilson, 1991

The British Library has many rooms including two that were converted into the Business & IP Centre and which is said to hold arguably the most comprehensive collection of business and intellectual property (IP) material in the U.K.

Fun Facts 

1. The British Library is a legal deposit library and receives copies of all books published in the U.K and Ireland, including a proportion of overseas titles distributed in the U.K.

Entrance, British Library

2. The library has two sites, the major one in London (St.Pancras) and the other in West Yorkshire (Boston Spa). The library in West Yorkshire has over 100 km of shelving that houses collections devoted to inter-library loan.

3. The London site was opened in 1998, it was the largest U.K Public building project of the 20th Century with its design and construction taking 37 years to complete and is said to be the pinnacle of architect Sir Colin St John Wilson's career.

Item collections display, British Library

4. Ten million bricks and 180,000 tonnes of concrete were used in its construction, and mirrors the red brick exterior of nearby St Pancras Station -with the bricks coming from the same source in Leicestershire.

5. It holds 310,000 manuscript volumes - from Jane Austen to James Joyce, Handel to the Beatles. And has over 60 million patents.

Bird's eye view, British Library

6. There are over 3 million new items which are added each year, and with existing collections all of it requires over 625 km of shelves, growing by about 12 km every year.

7. The collections are spread over 14 gigantic floors -nine above ground and five below ground level, with the the basements extending to a depth of 24.5 metres.

Asian and African Studies Room, British Library

8. If you see five items each day, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the entire collection held.

British Library

9. The space outside the library includes pieces of public art, including a large sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi -a bronze statue based on William Blake's study of Isaac Newton.

More facts about the British Library can be found here.

Have you ever visited any large library in your location? And do library buildings fascinate you?

Thanks for visiting and commenting!

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Bill Evans - Waltz For Debby

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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4 Ways to Share Your Blog With The World

Quote of the day: 

We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth. -Virginia Satir

A working space

When you think of it we all are content creators whether you have a blog or website. What some people get paid to do, that is, journalists and professionals, with all the time and resources at their disposal, we on the other hand create time our of our busy schedules to think of ideas, research where necessary and take photos, all to add to a post to publish. The very beauty of blogging is that most people do it because they love to share their time, skills, and passion to the world. Blogging is an escape of sorts and a close knit community where everyone is looking after each other.

In the real world, it would amount to bloggers getting notified and coming over to your house to check out a new sofa you have bought. Sofa, being a new post. Each individual looks it over, commenting on this and that, and they eventually leave. On the flip side, you will also visit their home (blog) and discuss their new post. It all seems lovely, no?

On to today's post. When you finish publishing a new post, do you share it elsewhere on social media for instance?. I know bloggers have different processes, some just publish and it ends there, while others tend to share elsewhere. For me, I make use of social media tools like Twitter, and Google+. And more recently, Bloglovin and Facebook. The idea is to not only share on various platforms, but also to interact with new people and connect with other bloggers.

1. Google+

As uninteresting as it sounds, Google Plus is actually a great social media platform. With millions of users and thousands of communities it offers an ideal way to further share your content. You can basically search for any topic you can think of or just scroll through the recommended communities. Search displays a ton of related communities which you can join or ask to join depending on the community rules put in place by the moderator(s). The good thing is that many allow content to be posted and shared -which you can link back to your blog or website.

But the best thing about Google+ is it allows you to have a following, and also follow other interesting people. This is called a circle. You can choose what to share and with whom to share on Google+. And you can connect your blog to Google+, enabling your new posts to automatically appear on your public profile page.

The only downside is that you must have a gmail account to access Google+. What I have also seen are some blogs where their comment section has been restricted to Google+ users only. This is limiting, as only a visitor with a Google Mail account can leave a comment. But as far as Google + goes, if you don't have a Google mail account you may have to create one in order to access this service. The benefits far outstrip this little inconvenience. Here is a resource link to get you started -if you haven't already.

2. Twitter

Twitter is another great place to share and promote your latest blog post to your followers. The post can be linked back to your blog further engaging with visitors. If you don't have an account, its pretty easy to set, just a few clicks and you are good to go. As with all things, moderation is the key when tweeting links. However, it is not all about just posting links or sharing content, you can also interact with followers from time to time. You can also add your blog or website link to your bio. Lastly, you can also put your twitter content on your blog or website. When signed in, go to the twitter widget settings to get things started.

3. Facebook

Facebook has just recently surpassed the 2 Billion monthly users mark. That is a tremendous milestone indeed. So what better way is there than to share your content on the biggest online platform?. I have only just started using the 'Page' tool. You create your own page for your brand and basically just share content, invite users, and monitor the insights with the tools provided by Facebook. On the other hand, if you don't want to create a page, you can just post directly to your main Facebook profile. And you can even link your blog to Facebook and have new posts appear on your profile page.

4. Bloglovin'

Bloglovin' home page -Blogoratti

This is a platform that allows you to discover new blogs or follow your favourite ones. After you are all signed up -which is very easy, you can then go about searching for blogs by topic, and you can even link your blog to the platform, and have all your latest posts appear there and easily accessible by anyone searching for a particular topic or content. I have not used this service for long, but it appears to be a great way of connecting with known bloggers and discovering blogs similar to yours. On the right hand side of my page, I have included my Bloglovin' icon for easy following.

Lastly, this is by no means a comprehensive list. These are just the four main platforms that I use at the moment and thought to share. If you are new to any of these, it can be hard to wrap your mind around initially. You will have to learn as time goes by.

These platforms offer a chance to share your ideas and passion, grow your readership while interacting with more people than ever before -but only if you want to take that chance.

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Kenny Barron - Fungii Mama

Sunday, July 09, 2017

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3 Reasons Why Hot Weather is Good for Your Health

Quote of the day: 

We need society, and we need solitude also, as we need summer and winter, day and night, exercise and rest. -Philip Gilbert Hamerton

This is one hot summer. I have indeed heard several people blurt this out. Matter of fact, I may have joined in to say so myself at some point or the other. During winter everyone longs for long summer days, sunshine, cold drinks and barbecues. But this? No, no, no. This wasn't what you hoped for?. Really?. You got me there. We humans can never be satisfied. Let us take a brief pause and think of those living in warmer climate all year round. Oh but they are used to it you may say. Do people ever get used to a certain type of weather?. I would think the human body is built to adjust to any type of weather.

But it is not all despair when temperatures skyrocket due to hot and sunny weather. At this point we long for any cooling effect such as rainfall to reduce the heat even for a little while. And there are several ways to beat the heat such as taking a cold shower or other. Climate has and will continue to have an effect on our lives. We have seen climate change become a popular topic in the mainstream. And rightly so as changing climate can have a huge impact on our very survival.

However, there are various health benefits to having warm weather. Wherever you live in the world will determine how your body adapts to the climate. Of course there will be some people more at risk when the weather gets either too hot or too cold. Here are some of the common health benefits of living in warm weather.

1. More Sunlight

With more sunlight and longer days and shorter nights, we are exposed to more sunshine daily. This is great for getting Vitamin D -which the body needs to absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet and which are important for healthy bones, muscle and teeth. But do take care not to burn in the sun and take necessary precaution while in the sun. The right balance can have a positive effect on your mind, and body.

2. Mood Booster

Warm weather is said to boost our moods. It can be as simple as waking up in the early morning with light outside as against waking up in darkness during winter. According to the University of Michigan, the impact of sunny weather can have a great effect on mental health. Spending time out in pleasant weather offers a way to reset one's mindset. This often holds true as I've found being outdoors in nice warm weather has a rather pleasant effect, calming my mind and mood effectively. As small as thirty minutes spent outdoors can go a long way. Exposure to natural light will keep you alert and grounded and may also impact our internal biological clock and sleep cycle.

3. Social Activities

Summer yields a lot more social activities than during winter. Weather and seasonal variations of course has an effect on physical activities. It is all too easy to lose motivation for engaging in social activities during winter, so the hot weather is a welcome break to getting back to being active again.  People often associate warmer weather with pleasant physical activities such as having picnics, barbecues, playing sport, hitting the beach or other.

As the scorching temperature continues as seen in some parts of the world, it is important to stay well and healthy in order not to get sick. Drinking plenty of water, keeping cool, and staying safe in the sun are ways to reduce the health risk on our bodies.

How is the temperature at your location?

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers - Along Came Betty

Saturday, July 08, 2017

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3 Things to Inspire Your Weekend: #57

Quote of the day: 
The best way to predict the future is to invent it. -Alan Kay

Pavengen founder Laurence Kemball-Cook
Credit: Youtube

One UK company -Pavengen, is changing the way energy is harnessed, by utilizing the human body. It is a technology company that has developed a special floor tile to convert energy from people's footsteps into small amounts of electrical power. The founder, Laurence Kemball-Cook, came up with the idea while working for an energy company years ago. He was given the task of finding a way to power street lights with wind and solar energy, but he couldn't do so due to lack of sunlight and unpredictable weather. It was then he started thinking of how other sources of power in urban environments could be utilized. Today, the company has worked with many international brands, and its most recent project and floor installations were in West End London and Heathrow Airport Terminal 3, with the floors helping to power the lights at the airport.

Volunteer record-breaking environmental pledge in India
Credit: Twitter/SanjayPathak3

A volunteer army in India, made up of some 1.5 million people have planted 66 million trees in 12 hours as part of a record-breaking environmental pledge. The volunteers got together to plant saplings along the Narmada River, in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. And last year, volunteers elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh state had set a world record then, by planting more than 50 million trees in one day. Under the Paris agreement, India promised to increase its forests by 5 million hectares by 2030.

As seen on Arch Daily, CY Residence
Architects: Kedem Shinar Design & Architecture

Brief: Each component of the house designed to be functional, with special combination of wood, concrete and iron materials. Others: disappearing windows and clean landscape.

Theme: High windows and sliding doors, subtle brickwork, spacious garden
Location: Gezer, Israel
Photograph: Amit Geron, Peled Studios

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Only You - The Platters

Thursday, July 06, 2017

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Book of the Day: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Quote of the day: 

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. -Benjamin Franklin

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Credit: BlueSkyDreamers

Isaac Asimov, an American writer and Professor once described writing as 'thinking through my fingers'. That is a great analogy between the working of the hands and the mind, as the likeness is all but familiar. What we think, we do, or write as the case may be. As a reader, my version of it would be 'dreaming through my fingers'. Each page of a book, a departure to another world where dreams matter.

But enough about analogies. Today, the focus is on Sue Monk Kidd's book titled 'The Invention of Wings'. She is an American writer and best known for her 2002 novel The Secret Life of Bees. This is a first look at Kidd's novel, an author that I was not familiar with initially. In terms of reading material, do you ever step out of your comfort zone and self imposed reading boundaries?. If like me you suspect that you are stuck within a too limited scope in terms of reading, it may be time to step out of your comfort zone and explore more authors.

With the The Invention of Wings, S.M. Kidd, delivers a powerful novel inspired by real life events. It depicts the story and the life of Sarah and Angelina Grimké (Sarah and her sister Angelina were the first American female advocates of abolition and women rights). The novel is set in the 19th Century. Sarah had lots of siblings and her father owned a plantation. On her eleventh birthday, Sarah was presented with a gift - a slave called Hetty 'Handful' Grimké. In effect that was the starting point for the rest of the incredible story that unfolds.

Its certainly a gripping novel, unraveling the layers of human actions and emotions, cause and effect, contrast and variation, and the fight for equality and fairness. It celebrates the birth of unusual friendships, of love and longing, and the most basic of human rights -acceptance.

This is certainly a great novel by Sue Monk Kidd. So what books are you reading lately? Do share in the comments and thanks for visiting as always!

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen:  Stan Kenton - Fascinating Rhythm

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3 Places to Visit in England, and No London Is Not on the List! #2

Quote of the day: 

Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going. -Paul Theroux 

Last year I wrote a post about three places to visit in England. It covered destinations that may not be as popular as London, Manchester or Liverpool. It generated great and interesting feedback and comments. I knew then that a part two was inevitable. And now here it is. This second part explores more travel destinations within England. Whether you are traveling solo, with a group, a partner or family, there are many interesting places to visit not only in England but in the entire UK. The attractions are endless. If you have time on your hands, the world is really a wonderful place to travel through.

In England, there are many such places that you have probably never heard -if you live outside the country. Although, the more popular places tend to be better known. The part two of this post continues with an overview of Cumbria, Dorset and Sheffield -three destinations to visit below.

1. Carlisle, Cumbria

Carlisle Castle in Carlisle, Cumbria
Credit: AboutBritain

Cumbria is a predominantly rural county, and non-metropolitan in North West England. Cumbria is the most north-western county in England, and the Cumbria County Council, its local government, came into existence in 1974. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in England.

Carlisle, nicknamed the 'Great Border City', is a city and the county town of Cumbria. It is located close to the Scottish border, and early history marked it as a Roman settlement -that was established to serve the forts on nearby Hadrian's Wall -a designated World Heritage Site. In the middle ages Carlisle became a strong military stronghold, and Carlisle Castle (shown above) built during that period in 1092,  by William Rufus, is still relatively intact.

The historic City of Carlisle has lots of attractions including museums, events, food and drink, shopping and tours. And lastly, its easily commutable and finding accommodation is very easy.

Fun fact:

Carlisle was founded as Luguvalium by the Romans. The 'Picts' took it over when they left. And then the 'Vikings' were next on the list, before the 'Scots' displaced them. Furthermore, the 'Normans' added Carlisle to their territory after the Conquest. The 'Scots' retook it in the 12th century. However, the English got the City back in the end.

2. Poole, Dorset

Aerial view of Poole, Dorset
Credit: Telegraph

Dorset is a county in the South West of England situated on the English Channel coast. As a county, it has a very long history of human settlement that stretches back to the Neolithic era. With a varied landscape of countryside and coastline, it is a great place for weekends and short breaks.

Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in Dorset. At its peak during the 18th Century, it was one of the busiest ports in Britain. With its large natural harbour, Poole is a tourist resort and is home to various institutions including universities and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Poole harbour is famous for its sailing centres in the UK. With lots of miles of golden sandy beaches with clear waters, offering watersports, boat trips and fishing trips, there are certainly lots of activities in this town. One of the most popular beaches is Sandbanks -located within a small peninsula in Poole. Ruins can also be seen on the woodland walk on Brownsea Island.

Fun Fact:

It is said that the sea at Studland, Poole has the highest density of seahorses in the world and a large number of its relative, the Pipefish.

3. Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Chatsworth House and Gardens, Sheffield
Credit: HomePages

South Yorkshire is a Metropolitan county and consists of four Boroughs including Sheffield. The history of its constituent settlements dates back to centuries ago. It consists of rolling landscapes and major rivers.

Sheffield is a city in South Yorkshire, England. And its name is derived from the River Sheaf which runs through the city. Also known as the 'Steel City', Sheffield gained its reputation in the 19th Century for steel production and aiding in the industrial revolution. Sheffield is home to two universities. It has been said that sixty-one percent of Sheffield entire area is made of green space, with more than 250 parks and gardens in the city. It is a vibrant and thriving city which prides itself on its cultural scene, innovation and award winning theatre. Whether traveling there for business or holiday, there are various activities to catch up on, things to do and see, and places to explore. It is filled with different museums, parks, including the Chatsworth House and gardens, sports and recreation events, nature and wildlife areas and trails, and historic sites and landmarks.

Fun fact:

Sheffield is said to have the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe, with over 2.5 million trees.

And there it is, the end of part two of the travel series. If you found this interesting do feel free to share the post, and hopefully there will be a part three at some point. Have you visited any of those places, or would love to visit?. What other destinations anywhere in the world would you recommend?

Happy 4th of July to the folks in the US!

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Bill Withers -World Keeps Going Round

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

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How To Overcome The Spiral Of Silence And Win

Quote of the day: 

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Public opinion is a term often bandied about especially in political discussions. But what does it actually mean, as opposed to perhaps having a private opinion?. Well it is the opinion shared by majority of the people collectively -basically the views, attitudes and beliefs shared by many people about a particular topic or event.

On the other hand you have what is called the 'Spiral of Silence'. A theory proposed by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, it basically refers to the tendency for some people to remain silent when they feel that their views may not be heard by the majority. These people have a fear of being isolated, resulting from the idea that social groups or the public in general may neglect or exclude them due to their personal opinions. One tool that encourages self-censorship to happen online is social media.

This spiral of silence can be seen everywhere, and it can happen to anyone if its taken outside the context of politics and merged into everyday life it still holds true. For instance, who hasn't kept silent in a class discussion for fear of being ridiculed by peers or not being heard, or in office environment or at a family gathering, and a dozen or more instances where we felt isolated and unable to raise our voice against the status quo for fear of appearing different, going against the norm and the majority who rule everything. Having a collective opinion on something does not automatically make it correct. Neither does it make its dominance supreme.

This fear can go on to translate into our everyday lives. We grow up in this spiral of silence, a little seed planted a long time ago and growing slowly as time goes by. We fear something, so we don't do it. We fear isolation, so we never speak up. We see actions being perpetrated and our mouths remain shut, we get treated badly and smile, we fear rejection so we suppress our feelings, and on and on it goes like a roller coaster.  It all begins at a time and place often in our subconsciousness. When we have the support of others, or the majority we often voice our opinion with confidence. On the other hand when we feel no support forthcoming we stay in the back of the room away from prying eyes.

It is time to be heard. Time to say things as they truly are, straight from the heart, forming an opinion that is wholly yours. Not suppressing thoughts or feelings but letting it out into the universe. Go from a spiral of silence and fear to a spiral of confidence and happiness. Even if you are the only person in the room with a different opinion -then so be it. If you have to speak up for yourself or the people you value, I believe that nothing should stand in the way to your victorious win. Your opinion is as relevant as that of any majority -if you are part of the group, good, if not, even better.

On another note, each month is no different from the last, give or take a couple of hours. A new month has a way of tip toeing behind you in surprise leaving you pondering how fast the previous month went. The fireworks from ushering in the new year still resonates, but then again half the year is gone, and time has no brakes or break on this journey of life. You do what you have to do to survive. Finding the correct balance between work and life is tied to how you manage time effectively -a topic for another post really. It is about time you take back control of your life, do away time wasting and irrelevant pursuits that often lead nowhere. Of course, not being able to deal with time can lead to work overload and stress -which then leads to other things, creating a spiral of its own. Yes, that spiral just won't go away.

Happy July.

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Yaël Naïm - Toxic

Saturday, July 01, 2017

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3 Things to Inspire Your Weekend: #56

Quote of the day: 

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. -Charles Dickens

Credit: Colby Sharp 

An 8 year-old girl, Heidi VanSumeren who lost all her reading materials and possessions when a fire in March 2017, destroyed her family home in Parma, Michigan, US, has had cause to be happy again as she received over 500 books from authors and illustrators. The idea was spearheaded by visiting children’s author and illustrator Bob Shea, who Heidi was chosen to work with the day she arrived back at school. Shea took to social media to plead with his colleagues to send Heidi books. The response was overwhelming and many of the books sent to Heidi's school were signed by the authors and illustrators.

Credit: TheWeek

A teenager's dream is about to come true. 15-year-old Amiruddin Shah, son of a welder from a Mumbai Slum had a dream that few in his country dared -which is to dance with the New York City Ballet. He knew from the age of 6 that he loved to move to music. Shah and another dancer, 21-year-old Manish Chauhan, won scholarships in June to New York's prestigious Joffrey Ballet School to study dance for 4 years. This came about thanks to Israeli-American instructor Yehuda Maor who was invited by the local Danceworx Academy, to teach ballet in India -where there are no special ballet academies. It was there that Maor first spotted Shah 3 years ago. Dreams do come true.

As seen on Arch Daily, House Robert-Jan & Inge
Architects: Personal Architecture

Brief: A new build, contemporary residence with a bit of mystery, warm and friendly but also practical.

Theme: High windows and sliding doors, subtle brickwork, spacious garden
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Photograph: Ossip van Duivenbode

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Kenny G -Passages

Thursday, June 29, 2017

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Amazon Echo Review and the Battle to Adopt Voice Technology

Quote of the day: 

Tech is a funny industry; I don't think there is any other industry on the planet that reinvents itself every 10-12 years. -Edward Zander

Technology does tend to re-invent itself. Voice recognition has come a long way from the early days of digital speech recognition started by IBM. Now there are loads of enabled devices on the market. One product that I have been meaning to review is the Amazon Echo, a device designed by online retail giant Amazon. From the time it was gifted to me last Christmas (pictured above) until now, a new version was introduced by Amazon, called the Amazon Echo Show. It features a display screen with a lot of uses including video calls and watching youtube clips. There are also other smaller versions of the echo, each with special features.

What is Amazon Echo?

But this review is all about the Amazon Echo, a smart speaker that connects to a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service known as Alexa and has 7 inbuilt speakers. A voice assistant similar to Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, and Google assistant. Out of all the mentioned companies, Amazon was the first to design and introduce a specific product dedicated to the use of voice control technology, while also integrating itself as a home hub. The device has numerous capabilities -most of which I am yet to fully utilize. It is capable of voice interaction and runs on Microsoft's Bing search engine which means you can ask tons of questions and the results read back to you. It is all about convenience really. Since it is voice controlled and intelligent enough to answer back, I often ask Alexa about the weather for the day, daily news briefing, play music from the playlist or radio, basic math calculations, and when I am bored I ask it to tell me a joke. But I think one of the most valuable functionalities of the Echo is the ability to order for items on Amazon using your voice. And also, you can pair it with your bluetooth devices.

Impressive no? And that's just scratching the surface. You can also use the device for making to-do lists, audio book playback, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, and It can also control several smart devices by using itself as a home automation hub -to control lights, room temperature and so on.

Voice Technology Market

Credit: ZDNet

There is a huge market for voice technology, and even Google has joined the party with the Google Home device (notice the air freshener resemblance?)-the first alternative and rival to Amazon Echo. Some businesses understand the need for establishing new technology and also for thinking into the future. Seeing as Amazon is making its voice technology available to third-party device makers, the ideas are limitless. A Las Vegas hotel -The Luxe, for instance saw the potential and outfitted more than 4,700 rooms with Amazon's Alexa voice technology. And there's an article from Bloomberg about Siri and Alexa fighting to be your hotel butler. It doesn't stop there, car companies are also not waiting to be left behind. For instance Ford Motors has teamed up with Amazon to integrate its Alexa software into their cars.

Amazon, in itself a non-tech company has always been seen to lead the way while other tech companies closely follow suit. However, whichever way you look at it, all these companies are having even more control over very aspect of our lives, and there is no end in sight.

Peace. Love. Light* 

Current Listen: Billie Holiday - I'll Be Seeing You