Sunday, June 28, 2009

Study: Mainline Clergy OK with Gay Rights, Cautious on Gay Marriage

Wednesday May 20, 2009

(RNS) Mainline Protestant clergy are generally more likely than most Americans to endorse gay rights, but only one in three supports same-sex marriage, according to a new study.

About one-third of mainline clergy support civil unions and one-third oppose any legal recognition for gay couples, found Public Religion Research, a Washington-based consulting firm, which released part two of its "Clergy Voices Survey" on Wednesday (May 20).

According to a Washington Post/ABC poll released in April, 49 percent of Americans say they support gay marriage, and 47 percent are opposed.

Five states have legalized gay marriage with a sixth, New Hampshire, set to join their ranks once legal protections for religious groups are put in place. Such assurances that churches and congregations will not be required to perform gay marriages make mainline Protestant clergy much more willing to accept them, according to the report. Support for gay marriage jumped from 32 to 46 percent with the "religious liberty"
assurance, according to the survey.

The "Clergy Voices" report details the response of senior mainline clergy from seven denominations to more than 60 questions about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. The researchers called it "the most in-depth study of mainline clergy attitudes on LGBT issues ever undertaken."

More than two-thirds of mainline clergy support hate crimes legislation and protections from workplace discrimination for gays and lesbians; more than half (55 percent) say gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.

But the survey found "significant and sometimes stark differences" between mainline Protestant denominations, with clergy in the United Church of Christ and Episcopal Church most supportive of LGBT rights.

Clergy in the United Methodist Church and American Baptist Churches USA are least supportive.

The other denominations surveyed were the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Overall, mainline Protestant clergy have become more supportive of equal rights for gays and lesbians over the last decade, and 45 percent now favor the ordination of gays and lesbians with no special requirements, the survey found.

Still, a slight majority (51 percent) of mainline ministers said that disagreements in their church over homosexuality have become a crisis. Among that majority, 40 percent say the crisis is about how the Bible should be read, 27 percent say it concerns what the church is supposed to be and 23 percent say it's about core Christian doctrine, according to the survey.

By Daniel Burke

Religion News Service

Friday, June 26, 2009

Peanut butter 'wards off heart disease', say scientists

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:43 AM on 26th June 2009

Peanut butter is high in polyunsaturated fats that has been shown to lower 'bad' cholesterol

Peanut butter sandwiches could be the secret to beating heart disease, says a study.

Snacking on peanuts or peanut butter at least five days a week can nearly halve the risk of a heart attack.

The nuts are thought to lower bad cholesterol, help reduce inflammation in the body and boost the health of blood vessels around the heart.

Between 1980 and 2002, researchers at Harvard Medical School analysed the diets of more than 6,000 women who had type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

All the volunteers completed food questionnaires every two to four years.

When the researchers matched up the results with data on how many went on to suffer heart attacks or strokes, they found those regularly eating peanuts had the greatest protection.

In a report on their findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, they said the risk was reduced by up to 44 per cent.

'Consumption of at least five servings a week of one ounce of nuts or one tablespoon of peanut butter was significantly associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease,' they said.

In the UK, poor diet and lifestyle has led to a surge in cases of type 2 diabetes, from 1.5million five years ago to 2.25million now.

Ellen Mason of the British Heart Foundation said: 'It is beneficial to include nuts in our diets as they are low in the saturated fats that raise our cholesterol.

'However peanut products can be full of added sugar or salt so check the label first. Also don't forget that nuts are high in overall calories.

'Eating more of one food in isolation will not make a dramatic difference to your health if you are inactive and don't have a balanced diet.'

Friday, June 19, 2009

For ‘Modern Gals,’ Religion as Off-the-Rack Therapy

Published: June 19, 2009

Dear Jillian,
Please forgive the first-name greeting, but it seems the proper way to reply to your “Hi Peter” e-mail message of June 4.

What was surprising was not the informality of your note — everyone knows that for public relations folks, journalists are on an automatic first-name basis — but that it came from Marie Claire magazine. Fashion writing has not loomed large in this column.

“Today’s hard economic times,” you helpfully explained, “have a profound effect not only on our bank accounts but on our sense of hope and psychological well-being,” an insight, you must admit, that has not escaped millions of Americans, to count only those who still have bank accounts.

Still, you announced that it had inspired an article in the current issue of Marie Claire featuring accounts by “five modern career gals” of “how their belief in faith helped them through the hardest of struggles.”

The article is titled “Cheaper Than Therapy.”

The idea of faith as therapy, you probably know, is not exactly new. Fifty years ago, Norman Vincent Peale preached the power of positive thinking, and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen insisted that the Roman Catholic confessional was more effective than the psychoanalyst’s couch. And the language of healing, both physical and psychological, is prominent in many religious traditions.

Still, you should anticipate the objection that promoting religion as bargain-basement therapy is something of a category mistake, like publishing someone’s account of voting under the banner “More Engrossing Than Sudoku” or trumpeting romance as “Juicier Than Fish Sticks” or describing the joys of cooking as “Faster Than Gardening.”

Then there’s the word “cheap.” It doesn’t appear a lot elsewhere in these pages. This is not to complain about the items surrounding your article about the effect of today’s hard economic times on our sense of hope — the $4,100 skirt or the $4,995 dress or the $1,250 clutch or the $315 diamond-dust-based body treatment at one spa or the $250 head-to-toe feng shui scrub-down and massage at another.

After all, Marie Claire also features what it calls “steals” and “best buys,” although nothing that is “cheaper,” except of course faith. Be warned, however. Some grump will probably write you about the best-known religious use of “cheap” in recent times. It occurs in the opening sentence of “The Cost of Discipleship,” by the Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for his role in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church,” Bonhoeffer wrote. “We are fighting today for costly grace.” Perhaps your “five modern career gals” are too young to have heard of Bonhoeffer; otherwise they might have felt nervous about their tendency to treat religious faith like comfort food or a fashion accessory. Tell them not to worry. Bonhoeffer was the kind of guy who wouldn’t know a Manolo Blahnik from a Vera Wang.

What remains puzzling, though, is exactly what their belief had to do with “today’s hard economic times” or how it “helped them through the hardest of struggles.”

The Jew among them seems mainly preoccupied by the glitches that a Hebrew first name creates for her dating life — it seems she has to rush to assure guys of her “pork-eating ways.” Worse, it sometimes provokes discussions about Israeli politics, including a tiff at a pizza party that “cast a major pall over the rest of the evening.”

Maybe Marie Claire ought to rethink its standards for “the hardest of struggles.”

The Muslim’s struggle is to find private places, like a dressing room at the Gap or a corner of an office at work or even the 14th-floor lactation room in the company’s building, to prostrate and say her afternoon prayers. For her, these prayers strike a balance between secular worries — “bills, deadlines, missing the latest episode of ‘Lost’ ”— and her sense of purpose and tradition. They are “also a welcome breather.”

All this makes sense, but when she writes that it “may seem like an ordeal,” you know that she is giving a special Marie Claire meaning to that word.

Then there is the Catholic, or “recovering Catholic,” as your fashion magazine knows is the fashionable term. Her hardest struggle, it appears, was initially with guilt over the sex she was enjoying during a semester abroad and then, years later, with a souring new marriage.

Because her youthful guilt was obviously the pope’s fault, she can retail some hoary anti-Catholic images: John Paul II “wrapping his infallible frame in a cashmere blanket” and “laying his head on a gilt-trimmed pillow,” all at the expense of hard-working parishioners back home “who turned over a chunk of their weekly take-home to ensure that J. P. II could maintain the lifestyle to which he’d grown accustomed.”

The bargain therapy comes when the disconsolate newlywed wanders into a Mass and discovers, can you believe this, a priest who sounds humane. Gratitude puts her “in the market for a new place to worship” but does not preclude an obligatory crack about pedophilia.

What ties these stories together, Jillian, is not struggling through hard times. It is a much better theme for a fashion magazine, the story of each author’s exercise of choice, of how she rejects one religious outlook for another or makes it clear that when traditional ties are maintained they won’t stand in the way of being a modern “career gal.”

O.K., no one expects Marie Claire to publish Augustine. One young woman does mention him, though not his “Confessions” or its motif that “you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” After all, that was the story not of choice but of the slow, difficult recognition of having been chosen — a recognition that demands a changed life.

Sorry to turn serious, Jillian. But thanks very much for your press release. That was a great article on “When White-Collar Hubbies Go to Jail.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seal it with a Kiss!

Great News! Seal Hunting Take WAY down in 2009!
Global recession and plummeting pelt prices among reasons for decline.

updated 1 hour, 20 minutes ago

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland - The global recession, plummeting pelt prices and the prospect of a European ban on seal products dramatically lowered the number of seals killed in this year's hunt, Canadian officials said Thursday.

About 70,000 harp seals were hunted this year out of a commercial quota of 273,000 animals, said Fisheries and Oceans Canada spokesman Scott Cantin. The seven-month long hunt ended earlier this week.

The tally marks a significant drop from last year's hunt, in which 217,857 harp seals were hunted out of a commercial quota of 275,000.

Frank Pinhorn of the Canadian Sealers Association said many hunters decided not to take part this year because pelt prices have fallen to 14 Canadian dollars ($12) from a high of over CA$100 ($88) per pelt several years ago.

"Anything under CA$35 ($31) would be low and they won't participate because they won't recover their costs," he said.

The industry is also carrying about 60,000 pelts from the previous year in a market that is drying up due to the recession, the depressed value of the Russian ruble and growing international distaste for seal products.

Sealers are also grappling with the near certainty that the European Union will ban importing seal products, which could take effect in October.

Animal rights activists, Inuit seal hunters, fur traders and authorities from Canada and Greenland lobbied hard ahead of the vote. Activists call the hunt barbaric, while proponents say it provides crucial jobs and food for villagers in isolated northern communities.

Canada's East Coast seal hunt is the largest in the world, killing an average of 300,000 harp seals annually, before this year's drop.

Europe bans products made from seals

The EU bill targeted the Canadian hunt because of the size of the annual slaughter and the way seals are killed — either clubbed or shot with rifles. In the past, they have also been killed with spiked clubs, or hakapiks.

Pinhorn said he believed the drop is only temporary because people in the industry are hoping to expand the market by using seal products for different purposes, such as seal heart valves for medical procedures or omega-3 products made from seal oil.

"Have we given up on the seal industry? Not a chance," he said. "The seal industry will come back."


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Herbert William Weekes

Fowl Talk by
Herbert William Weekes

Herbert William Weekes (fl. 1864 – 1904) was a well-known British genre and animal painter of the Victorian Neoclassical period who specialized in portraying animals in humorous, human-like situations.Contents

Early life and family

Weekes was born ca. 1842 in Pimlico, London, England[1] to a prominent artistic family: the youngest of five children, his father, Henry Weekes, Sr. (1807 – 1877), was a sculptor and Royal Academician; his brother, Henry, Jr. (fl. 1850 – 1884), was also a genre painter known for his animal studies; and his brother, Frederick (1833 – 1920), was an artist and expert on medieval costume and design.

Later life and career

Weekes appears to have used his middle name, William, for all but formal purposes. He lived and worked for most of his life in London, at 21 Oppingdon Road, Primrose Hill. In 1865, he married Caroline Anne Henshaw (born ca. 1844), of Hammersmith.

Known as an animal and genre painter of the Victorian Neoclassical style, his work was popular, and helped expand 19th century animal painting from its traditional role of simply recording beasts into a way of reflecting human life. He was greatly influenced by one of the foremost animal painter of the nineteenth century, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.

Weekes contributed illustrations for the The Illustrated London News in 1883, and exhibited extensively in various London and provincial galleries. His works were well received - although not by everyone: a contemporary wit described his paintings as “Weekes' Weak Squeaks”.

His works were alternatively signed with the initials 'WW' (sometimes overlaid), 'W. Weekes', 'William Weekes', 'Herbert William Weekes', 'H.W. Weekes', 'H. Weekes', and simply 'Weekes'.

Report: Gay bias killings highest since 1999

Report: Gay bias killings highest since 1999
Incidents increased by 28 percent in 2008 compared to 2007

updated 3:34 p.m. ET, Tues., June 16, 2009

NEW YORK - The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people killed in bias-motivated incidents increased by 28 percent in 2008 compared to a year ago, according to a national coalition of advocacy groups.

Last year's 29 killings was the highest recorded by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs since 1999, when it documented the same number of slayings, according to a report released Tuesday by the coalition.

"What we're also seeing, more disturbingly, is the increase in the severity of violence," said Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which coordinates coalition.

Stapel theorized that at least some of last year's violence was backlash against issues that arose during the during the presidential campaign. She cited debates about same-sex marriage, the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as possible flash points.

"The more visibility there is the more likely we're going to see backlash, and that's exactly what we see here," Stapel said.

Overall, the number of victims who reported anti-LGBT violence in 2008 increased by 2 percent compared to 2007, said the New York-based coalition of programs in 25 states.

Figures said to be more accurate
Coalition officials say their figures are more accurate than those from law enforcement agencies. As an example, they say, the FBI doesn't record bias crimes against transgender people because gender identity isn't covered by federal hate-crime law.

Also, victims sometimes are reluctant to report bias incidents to police because they don't want to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity and/or they fear bias from police, officials said.

Reports of physical abuse by police increased to 25 incidents last year from 10 in 2007, the report said.

For the new report, programs in Milwaukee, Minnesota, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, Houston, Pennsylvania, New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, Michigan and San Francisco submitted data.

Programs in Vermont and the Boston area participated in the 2007 report but not the current one. The program in Rochester, N.Y., participated in 2008 for the first time.

The largest increase — 64 percent — was in Milwaukee, where the number of reported incidents rose to 18 in 2008 from 11 in 2007, the report said.

Officials weren't sure whether reported increases were attributable to more people reporting incidents or an actual rise.

'It's a vulnerable population'
Meighan Bentz, a victim outreach advocate at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, which includes an anti-violence project, said, "I think it's a combination."

"Certainly there are more people reporting," Bentz said, adding that the project started in 2005. "As time goes on there are more people aware of our program as a resource."

Bentz added, "I do believe there are ongoing issues of violence and its affect upon LGBT individuals. It's a vulnerable population."

Many of 2008's incidents made headlines.

In December, a man was beaten to death in New York City while he walked arm in arm with his brother as their attackers yelled anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets. Two men have been charged with murder as a hate crime.

Click for related content
For more U.S. news, click here

In February 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence King was shot to death at school in Oxnard, Calif., near Malibu after enduring harassment after he told classmates he was gay; a classmate is charged as an adult in the killing, which prosecutors classified as a hate crime.

Last June, a surveillance tape was publicized showing Memphis, Tenn., police officers beating Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman, and shouting slurs in a jail booking area; a public outcry erupted.

In November, Johnson was found fatally shot on a Memphis street.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fox steals more than 100 shoes

BERLIN (Reuters) – A fox has been unmasked as the mystery thief of more than 100 shoes in the small western German town of Foehren, authorities said Friday.

A forest worker stumbled upon shoes strewn near the fox's den and found a trove of footwear down the hole which had recently been stolen overnight from outside locals' front doors.

"There was everything from ladies' shoes to trainers," said a local police spokesman. "We've found between 110 and 120 so far. It seems a vixen stole them for her cubs to play with."

Although many were missing laces, the shoes were in good condition and their owners were delighted to reclaim them, he said, adding that no reprisals were planned against the culprit.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Friday, June 12, 2009

True Love

I like this post from Huffington Post

I like this post from Huffington Post, It reflects in many ways how I feel:
Part I

I know that I run the risk of making people livid but I have to state a fact of life. WE all know without a shadow of a doubt that the human race will be extinct if all were to wake up tomorrow and be Gay. FACT not spin. WE have to acknowledge that there is something fundamentally structured about life itself that suggests that male and female is the intended format of being. I know it is not poltically correct for me to state this but it is nevertheless truth. Nature itself bears confirmation of the fact that the world would cease to be if all same sexes were to operate without the interaction of the opposite species. FACT not spin.

Now, having said this profound truth...what does that mean for those that are Gay. I say live and let live. I am not intimidated by your lifestyle or feel the need to oppress you. I know that life is one complicated whirlwind of emotions and activities that "normal" can not always be easily defined. As a matter of a fact...I ceased trying to define "normal" a long time ago...since mankind continues to redefine it according to his own standard of references. Part II

I am not offended by Gays and I do not again...want to stand in your way...for when I look at you ..I see a fellow human being...independent of your sexual orientation...but that does not mean that I accept the premise that Male and Female was not the intended format from the Creator. And if I truly embrace the Creator...I do not have license to harm or disrespect you. Trust think you have me pegged as a bigot...and that is far from who I am...I just don't pull any politcal correctness punches."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eminent Danger

The shooting of Dr. Tiller and now this shooting in the Holocaust Museum in D.C. demonstrate how the far right has become a bigger threat than the terrorists from over seas they keep warning us are a eminent danger to US citizens. The Republican party and its marriage to right-wing, pseudo-christian loons is the biggest danger to the constitution and our republic that has ever been. These people call themselves patriots but they embrace demagoguery and fascism. They are war mongers and haters of liberty. They say they believe in freedom of speech but that is only for their own. For anyone else they try to shout them down or muzzle them in the press and in government. If you love this country and you are a patriot how can you kill? How can you belong to a group that calls themselves "right to life" but advocates the death penalty and the shooting of people that disagree with you. If you believe in the law how can you become outlaws and shed blood? Sometimes I really fear for President Obama's safety in these troubled times. Our Lord Jesus tells us to love one another. Lets stop this madness? Let us Pray?

Holocaust Museum Shooting Victim Dies
Stephen Tyrone Johns, a security guard shot today at the D.C. Holocaust Museum, died after being taken to the hospital. The shooter, suspected to be 88-year-old white supremacist James von Brunn, is in critical condition. -Wash. Post

Museum shooting suspect is supremacist

AP Source: Museum shooting suspect is supremacist

A law enforcement official said Wednesday that James Von Brunn, an elderly white supremacist, is being investigated as the prime suspect in the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

Another law enforcement official said Von Brunn's vehicle was found near the museum and was tested for explosives.

The two officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition that they remain anonymous.

At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, officials declined to publicly confirm Von Brunn is their suspect.

According to Joseph Persichini, assistant director in charge of the Washington FBI field office, authorities have dispatched people to a suspect's home to check his computer. He said they are investigating this as a possible hate crime or domestic terrorism.

Von Brunn has a racist, anti-Semitic Web site called and wrote a book called "Kill the Best Gentile."

Officials say the gunman walked into the museum Wednesday with a rifle and began shooting, prompting security guards to return fire. The gunman and a security guard were shot. A law enforcement source said the gunman was shot in the face, and authorities say he is in critical condition.

In 1983, Von Brunn was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun.

At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties.

On his Web site, Von Brunn says he was a PT boat captain in the U.S. Navy Reserves during World War II.

Loss of experience of community

by Will Hinton

I've been thinking about this idea of community for years and I can't quite put my finger on what has caused a general decline in the sense of community. Many people talk about the rise of suburbs or wealth as primary reasons but I think that those are but small contributing factors. Many of my friends grew up in suburban neighborhoods in Atlanta or elsewhere and had a tremendous sense of community. I know that I did in my prototypical suburban neighborhood. In my cul-de-sac infested suburban sprawl neighborhood, I have at one point been inside every single house in that neighborhood and dozens in surrounding neighborhoods. And not just those where my friends lived. There was a sense as a kid that I could get in almost as much trouble with another adult in the neighborhood as with my parents; parents weren't afraid to actually discipline other people's kids even if they hardly knew them. I have talked about these experiences with friends who grew up in other parts of the country, with friends who grew up in poverty stricken neighborhoods, and those who grew up around the country club and while the details may differ, the general experience of community was the same.

The two things that I have been able to point to as being primary contributors to the loss of community have been technology and the worship of individualism. I am as much of a proponent of technology as anyone, but I think in many ways it has had a corrosive effect on our society and community. While my generation was the first to play video games, my childhood memories are still primarily filled with thoughts of playing baseball or football in the neighborhood with friends. When is the last time that any of you saw a group of kids playing baseball or football in someone's yard in the neighborhood that appeared to be simply an impromptu normal activity? And this isn't just a childhood issue; these days little is thought of adults spending their free time playing video games or watching television in their secluded home theater. It is all these little things that start to steal what little community remains. No doubt that technology has done great things for people including myself. But in typical American fashion, we have gorged ourselves on technology without considering the impact on our community and culture.

Probably the biggest killer of community is our worship of individualism. And I think we (me) are all guilty of it. After all, who has the right to tell me how to raise my kids, live my life? It is nobody's business what I do with my property, my time, my resources. On the surface and in moderation, these ideas aren't all bad. But many Americans have elevated these to primary concerns. Ask yourself, what would your reaction be if a total stranger in a restaurant disciplined your child who was running around? And then think what your parent's or your grandparent's reaction would have been.

Interestingly, this is an area where Christians can positively impact our culture. Shouldn't we be giving ourselves away to our neighbors and our community? What would it look like if once a week or once a month we decided to do someone's yardwork for them or ring the doorbell and ask if we can get our neighbors anything from the grocery story? The crazy thing is that these "not-uncommon-things-years-ago" appear a bit weird and freaky, even counter-cultural these days. Well, isn't that what Christians are called to do and be?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gay activists are wasting all their political capital

Its unbelievable that Gay activists are wasting all their political capital on this Gay marriage fight because this will not stop discrimination. It will not give anymore protection than civil unions yet they rage on. Why are they fighting for the right to wed when hardly any Gay people want to be married? Why are they putting all Gay people at risk of a backlash just to make a point? Calling everyone that does not agree a bigot will not change anything. From my experinces most Gay couples are not interested in marriage only the safety net of benefits and visiting rights in the hopsital etc.. Most American babies are now born of single mothers out of wedlock. Why push for Gay marriage when it turns fellow liberals against the Gay movement? I love Gay people but not this ludicrous push for Gay marriage. America should return to the family unit of a mother and a father to be role models and care takers of the children . I won't budge on my stand because I know what is good for our children. Our culture has become selfish and oblivious to the needs of children. . We are in fact sounding the death knell of our culture by dismantling all the structures that hold it together.

Monday, June 8, 2009

President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle

Don't forget to pray for Obama he has allot on his shoulders.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Glowing tartan for common riding

A tailored coat and a coat and a waistcoat have been made with the tartan

A glow-in-the-dark tartan has been designed to celebrate a Scottish Borders "homecoming" event, which is to include common ridings and festivals.

The fabric, designed by a student at Heriot-Watt University and woven by Robert Noble, incorporates a reflective yarn to increase night-time safety.

During the Return to the Ridings event, 11 towns in the area will co-ordinate a series of annual ancient celebrations.

Some equestrian events will take place in the evening.

All eleven towns participating in the event were represented in the tartan with the inclusion of their colours in the tartan over-checks. Green was the main colour used to symbolise the Borders countryside.
Retroreflective yarn was twisted with wool and woven into the tartan

Robert Noble, a textile manufacturer based in Peebles, twisted Retroreflective yarn with wool and wove it into the tartan.

Alistair McDade, of Robert Noble, said: "As far as I know the use of a reflective yarn in tartan is a new concept, but it is these new ideas which help keep the Scottish Borders at the forefront of the textiles industry."

Emma Arthur-Daniels, who designed the tartan, said: "I think the final product holds true to the values of the Scottish Borders common ridings and festivals, while incorporating the new concept of weaving modern yarns into this type of fabric."

There are currently no plans to put the tartan into full production.

However, Return to the Ridings organisers said they would monitor demand and if sufficient, would consider commercial production.

Return to the Ridings is part of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 programme, which celebrates the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Shetland Pony

Taken at the Royal Highland Show in Scotland in 2005

The Shetland pony is a breed of pony originating in the Shetland Isles. Shetlands range in size from a minimum height of approximately 28 inches to an official maximum height of 42 inches (10.2 hands, 107 cm) at the withers. (11.2 hands for American Shetlands) Shetland ponies have heavy coats, short legs and are considered quite intelligent. They are a very strong breed of pony, used for riding, driving, and pack purposes.

Two women of the Shetland Isles with ponies, photograph ca. 1900

Shetland ponies originated in the Shetland Isles, located northeast of mainland Scotland. Small horses lived on the Shetland Isles since the Bronze Age, and while the roots of the ancient wild pony are unknown, it is believed that they are related to the ancient Scandinavian ponies; the islands were once physically connected to Scandinavia up until the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 8000 BC.[citation needed] People who lived on the islands domesticated the animal and later crossed the native stock with ponies imported by Norse settlers. Shetland ponies also were probably influenced by the Celtic Pony, brought to the islands by the Celts between 2000 and 1000 BC. The harsh climate and scarce food developed the ponies into extremely hardy animals.

Shetland ponies were first used for pulling carts, carrying peat, coal and other items, and ploughing farmland. Then, as the Industrial Revolution increased the need for coal in the mid-19th century, thousands of Shetland ponies travelled to mainland Britain to be pit ponies, working underground hauling coal, often for their entire (often short) lives. Coal mines in the eastern United States also imported some of these animals.

The Shetland Pony Stud Book Society of the United Kingdom was started in 1890 to maintain purity and encourage high-quality animals. In 1957, the Shetland Islands Premium Stallion Scheme was formed to subsidize high-quality registered stallions to improve the breeding stock.

The Eriskay Pony

Royal Highland Show 2005

The Eriskay Pony is a breed of pony from Scotland. It is generally grey in color, and has a dense, waterproof coat that protects it in harsh weather. The breed developed in ancient times in the Hebrides islands in Scotland, and a small population remained pure and protected from crossbreeding by the remoteness of the islands. It is used for light draft work, as a mount for children, in many equestrian disciplines, and for driving. The breed is rare today, with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considering their status critical. There are two breed registries for the breed, the first formed in 1972 and the second in 1995.

British pony 'rarer than giant panda'

British pony 'rarer than giant panda'
A British farm is celebrating the birth of a pony whose breed is rarer than the giant panda.

By Daily Telegraph Reporter
Published: 4:20PM BST 29 Mar 2009
The rare Eriskay pony is native to the Scottish island of Eriskay. Photo: GETTY

He may be only four days old, but the little Eriskay Pony is full of energy as he gambles about in the field with his mother, called Winnie.

At only three feet tall, nine hands, the little brown foal may seem fragile but farm workers say the boisterous newborn runs circles around his mother.

Visitors have flocked to Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm, near Salisbury, Wilts, to see the special new arrival, the first of the year.

The little foal has yet to be named but the farm will launch a 'naming' competition next month.

Farm manager John Rogers said the little foal also very popular with farm workers, who have been eagerly anticipating his birth.

He said: "He's a very welcome addition to the farm, a good little lad.

"Everyone has fallen in love with him and I'm sure they'd all like to take him home - without realising he wont be a cute little foal forever."

Mr Rogers said the newborn was in perfect health and was pleased with how well the little foal had adapted to farm life.

He said: "He's a right little hooligan, he's got plenty of energy in him for such a young thing.

"He's got enough strength to give you a good nudge - probably even knock you over."

It is thought the foal will be weened from his mother in around a month, when he will be separated from her but kept on the farm.

The farm set up its breeding programme for the rare Eriskay pony six years ago.

The newborn foal is the latest of three foals to be born to seven-year-old Winnie, brought in from a farm in Scotland.

Winnie's first and second born, named Summer, three, and Solstice, two, still live on the farm.

The rare Eriskay pony, native to the Scottish island of Eriskay, is an ancient breed with Celtic and Norse connections.

The population thrived until the beginning of the 19th century when numbers went into decline.

It is thought the expansion of agriculture, where larger breeds were favoured over the smaller Eriskay, is responsible for the drop in numbers.

The depleted population, around 300 of the Eriskay pony remain in Britain, prompted the Rare Breeds Survival Trust to list the breed as 'critical'.

It is estimated that there are 2,000 to 3,000 giant pandas in the wild.

The Royal Highland Show is a Treat!

The Royal Highland Show is the greatest gathering of all that is good about Scotland. It’s one of the featured events during Homecoming Scotland and is expected to attract 160,000 people over four days. The show is at the Royal Highland Showground, Ingliston from Thursday 25th June until Sunday 28th June.

Highland Show to have royal visit

The Queen was last at the Royal Highland Show 25 years ago

The Queen is to officially visit the UK's largest agricultural show for the first time since 1984.

As patron of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), she will visit The Royal Highland Show on Thursday, 24 June.

She is due to be accompanied by her daughter Princess Anne to mark the 225th anniversary of the event.

Princess Alexandra is also due to attend the Ingliston Show, which runs until Sunday 28 June.

The Queen was last at the show when it celebrated its 200th anniversary.

Ray Jones, RHASS chief executive, said: "We are delighted to welcome The Queen as our Patron in our 225th year and our other Royal visitors.

"The Royal family have been strong supporters of the society and its activities over the years and we look forward to pointing out some of the show highlights."

The Queen's father King George VI bestowed the title "Royal" on the show at the Inverness event in 1948, in the days when the event moved around Scotland each year before settling at its current home in 1960.

I spent two days at the Royal Highland Show in 2005. I would love to be there this year. What a wonderful event this is. I feel very lucky I could take in the show.

Thursday 25th June until Sunday 28th June, 2009.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How words can last a lifetime

By Bob Greene
CNN Contributor

Editor's note: CNN contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose current book is "When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams."

Bob Greene says a moment of kindness or encouragement can last a lifetime.

(CNN) -- The enduring moments of our lives, the ones that stay with us the longest, don't necessarily make the headlines.

The other afternoon I was talking with a woman by the name of Virginia Florey. She's 80 years old; she has lived in Midland, Michigan, all her life.

She was telling me that when she was 11 years old, she and her best friend, Charlotte Fenske, would walk to school together every morning. At the corner of East Carpenter Street and Haley Street, across from a Pure Oil filling station, there was a small grocery -- Thompson's grocery store, it was called.

"We would get there at around 7:30," she told me. "It must have opened up at 7 a.m., because the grocer would always be sweeping the floor when we came in.

"Charlotte and I would have a nickel, and we would buy a candy bar to split between us every morning. We would stand there in front of the man who owned the grocery and decide which kind to buy each day -- Butterfinger, or Milky Way, or Oh Henry!, or Hershey bar. We always talked about which one we wanted to spend our five cents on. We weren't very fast about it.

"And. . . ."

Here, Virginia Florey's voice grew almost wistful as she remembered it; here, almost 70 years later, you could hear the gratitude in her tone:

"He was never impatient with us. Never once."

Think of all the world-changing events that have transpired in the years since those days when the two girls in Midland would stop in at that grocery store; think of all the events that must have occurred in their own lives.

Yet back then someone was gracious toward them -- someone didn't rush them as they debated how to spend that precious nickel each Michigan morning. And now, in 2009, she sounded still thankful at the memory of it.

There's a lesson in that. In our current era, when offhanded cruelty at times seems to be the coin of the cultural realm, it may be worth giving a little thought to the idea that the small moments of people treating us with decency and empathy can last for a very long time -- that the echoes of kindness can be as loud as the echoes of callousness.

I asked her why she thought the memory of those mornings was still so vivid.

"I don't know," she said. "But I can still see him now. He would have the broom in his hand, and sometimes the dustpan in another. He would be standing by this black metal stove in the middle of his store. He was a thin man -- he wore a white butcher's-style apron, and he was so thin that he would have wrapped the apron string around his waist a few times and tied it in the front.

"And it was just so. . .calming, I think that's the word. . .for us to go in there and know that he wasn't going to rush us."

I have a feeling there are memories like that in a lot of lives -- small and sweet memories that are strong enough to override other memories of bitterness. I recall once interviewing a woman named Atsuko Saeki, who lived in Fujisawa, Japan. She told me she had attended college in the United States; she came to the U.S. knowing no one, and there were times, she said, when she had felt nervous and utterly alone.

In a physical education class, the students played volleyball. "I was very short, compared to the other students," she told me. "I felt I wasn't doing a very good job. To be very honest, I was a lousy player."

One day, she said, when she was playing especially poorly, trying without success to set the ball up for other players, a young man on her team, sensing her discomfort, walked up to her. He whispered to her, so no one else could hear:

"You can do that."

Something so simple. But, years later, she told me:

"I have never forgotten the words. 'You can do that.' When things are not going so well, I think of those words.

"If you are the kind of person who has always been encouraged by your family or your friends or somebody else, maybe you will never understand how happy those words made me feel. Four words: 'You can do that.'"

This weekend, in the central Ohio town where I grew up, there will be a charity race through the streets in honor of Jack Roth, who was my best friend since we were 5 years old.

Jack died of cancer in 2004. We hold the race in his name each year at this time. He may have been the kindest person I have ever known. It was his defining quality; whenever he would see a little kid in a driveway trying mightily to shoot baskets, Jack would instinctively call out: "Nice shot!" Whenever he would see a child struggling to throw a baseball, he would say: "Good arm!" Seemingly small moments -- I must have seen him do it a thousand times during our lives. And every time, he made someone feel a little better.

There will be hundreds of people running in that race this weekend, and if Jack were there, I know exactly what he would be doing: standing near the finish line, applauding for the racers who are the slowest, the ones who come in near the back of the pack. Cheering them on. Telling them that they've done a good job.

"He was never impatient with us," Virginia Florey, remembering the grocer at the corner of Carpenter and Haley, said, the timbre of thankfulness in her voice. "Never once."

Seventy years later, she sounded as if the memory of such a thing still matters.

Which, of course, is why it does.

About Me

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I grew up in Chautauqua County, NY. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennyslvania in 1981 with a BFA in Jewelry and Metalworking. I have been married 31 years. I currently run a small business with my husband. We both enjoy the outdoors and animals a great deal and live on a tiny farm in Western, NY.