Saturday, 3 April 2021

What Has Four Letters


What has four letters,

occasionally has twelve letters,

always has six letters,

but never has five letters.

Source: Unknown

Saturday, 27 March 2021

The Music of Personal Peace

“Where words
leave off,
music begins.”
-Heinrich Heine

There is a strange and lovely thing that has happened to me of late; my musical taste appears to have made a 180-degree turn. Where I was once enamoured with Rock ‘n Roll and many of the popular musical groups of the 60’s and 70’s, the music of my peers through my high school years and beyond, I have lately embraced a more classical genre of music. Strange; even ten short years ago I never would have imagined that possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to listen to the likes of the Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, Pink Floyd and a host of others. However now I am as likely to listen to James Last, Gheorghe Zamfir, Henry Mancini, Nana Mouskouri, Al Martino, Tchaikovsky and a plethora of similar artists. Does that surprise you?

Sometimes it still surprises me.

What changed? That’s the million dollar question. I hate to say that it was age, as if to suggest that only older people can enjoy the classics. Still, the circumstances around now finding myself north of sixty years of age, I think have played a part. With this new decade I find myself caring less and less about what others think and the stressors that seem to plague them. I find myself chasing less and less of the things the world seems to chase. I find myself less and less impressed by society’s offerings as a whole.

Stress in the workplace is at an all-time high. A global pandemic has touched everyone one way or another. The question of retirement is being considered more and more often lately, and I seem to have become more and more introverted over the past couple years. Outside of family, one of the few things that seems to matter today is maintaining a healthy level of personal peace.

Peace. What a beautiful word!

Religiously guarding and protecting my personal peace is now high on my priority list. As such, anything that could rob me of that peace is anathema. High on the list is striving to avoid political discussions and their associated venues. Likewise conspiracy theories, of which there seems to be an abundance lately, just create more internal turmoil for me, and as such I choose to avoid people and media that promote them. Music helps. It was Ludwig van Beethoven who once said, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” The older I get, the more I am starting to believe that.

Peace, personal peace!

Maybe it is an age thing. Maybe I no longer have patience for anything less than that which promotes personal peace. I remember sharing a meme on Facebook a while back that said, “Once you hit a certain age you become permanently unimpressed by a lot of shit.” Maybe that’s it; maybe that says it all. Music has the ability to relax and calm and foster peace; at least, the right kind of music does. What exactly constitutes “the right kind of music” is obviously subjective; yet for me, now here in my early sixties, that definition was apparently subject to change. So as I type these words, I do so while wearing bluetooth headphones playing a wonderful Spotify playlist of assorted great classics. Ah, here is Zamfir again and his version of Annie’s Song. Beautiful!

Peace and Blessings. 

Sunday, 28 February 2021

It’s All Greek To Me

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people.” Likewise a Czech proverb say, “Learn a new language and get a new soul.”

I consider myself fortunate for my upbringing that resulted in an interest in linguistics. By the time I was seven years old I was well on my way to learning my third language. By fourteen a fourth language was introduced. While half a century has come and gone since those formative years, I find that I can still understand a significant amount of those childhood tongues. Even some reading and speaking skills remain for which I am grateful.

Years later, when already in my early thirties, a career change led to some more education which included some Koine Greek. “Koine” simply means common, and was the common everyday marketplace dialect of Greek spoken two thousand years ago during the time of Jesus. The New Testament itself was penned in Koine Greek. The text above, however, is not from the New Testament. It comes from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh (also commonly called the Old Testament). It is the well-known 23rd Psalm.

Fast-forward another thirty years and the linguistic bug seems to have been stimulated again with the dusting off of old Greek textbooks and vocabulary cards, as well as the purchase of a couple newer Greek language aids. This time, however, I have the joy of working through refreshing these Greek skills with my son; a third generation Greek student. How cool is that?! While we study independently, we also try to meet weekly via Zoom with the intent of making Greek the primary focus.

Have I perfected my Greek skills? No, not even close! While I can read and understand some, I would still have to consider myself a beginner. But that is OK; I’m enjoying the challenge and just maybe even keeping a few cobwebs from getting too comfortable in this old man’s brain. Are there still other languages that I’d like to learn? Most definitely, Yes! Perhaps one day I’ll tackle one that has been on my bucket list for a very long time ... Arabic.

ειρήνη (peace).

“It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get
out of a language that one understands imperfectly.”

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Why Is the Rum Gone?

You’re not drinking alone 
if the dog is home.

I love the line in the film series Pirates of the Caribbean where Captain Jack Sparrow says, “Why is the rum gone?” I’ve used that line myself a time or ten over the past year. Why is the rum gone? Well, unlike Captain Jack Sparrow, for me the rum was gone because I quit drinking ... one year ago today.

Why? Good question.

I did so mostly because for me it was simply time. Yes, I enjoyed my rum and scotch whiskey (no, not in the same glass). A good Cuban cigar also often complimented the libation. The cigars have long since been dropped from the menu, but the rum, well, I was starting to enjoy it a little too much; it was starting to become a problem. I did not wish to be an alcoholic, even a functional one. Solution? Drastic as it may seem, quit and quit cold turkey! Gradually cutting back may work for some, but not for me. In my vocabulary there is no such thing as “moderation.” It’s all or it’s nothing. Period!

First you consume the bottle,
then the bottle consumes you.
Source: Unknown
I found an app called Sober Time. It helped to monitor my progress through a series of goals. You can even see how much money you’re saving along the way. It has a stats feature that works based on what you enter as an average daily alcohol expense, and then multiplies it based upon the number of sober days achieved. It’s quite the eye opener! I guess you could even say that it is “sobering” (Ha, pun fully intended). There is even little motivational blurbs to help encourage you along the way.

I do recommend the Sober Time app.

Great as all that is, I do not believe I would have been successful without the power of prayer. Yes, it was interesting to watch the days and months of sobriety count off on the app, but I realize that the real victory came about by the hand of God. He heard my prayer and gave me the strength I needed to achieve the victory. Why is the rum gone? It is gone because of answered prayer, plain and simple, and for that I praise God.

Peace and blessings, friend. God is good. 😊

Habit overcomes habit.”

Friday, 5 February 2021

Positively Puzzling, Vol. 4

This next edition of Positively Puzzling begins with the largest puzzle we’ve attempted thus far; 2000 pieces. Needless to say, we were at this one for a while. Unlike previous featured puzzles, we decided to preserve and mount this one. It is currently proudly featured in our games room.

Cartoon puzzles remain some of my favourites. Perhaps another reason that we enjoyed this puzzle so much was that some of the antics took us back to a time in yesteryear when my wife and I held memberships in a local gym. If we didn’t know better, I’m sure we’ve seen some of those people before. LOL.
Our magnificent solar system and man’s primitive (?) attempt to infiltrate it. When I think on scenes like this, I am reminded of what the psalmist said: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8: 3-4; ESV)

Puppies, puppies, and more puppies. This beautiful puzzle was a surprise gift from a dear friend. As dog lovers, my wife and I enjoyed it immensely. Orhan Pamuk, author of My Name is Red, said, “Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” I like that! An additional surprise was discovering a couple cats posing with the dogs. Can you find them?

This last puzzle we discovered at a games store. Being bookworms ourselves, with a substantial home library, we loved the image immediately. To this day, one of my favourite kinds of stores are used bookstores. I have spent countless hours browsing their plethora of offerings and discovering all sorts of treasures. This puzzle has also been preserved and mounted in our home library.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Exercise For People Over 60

I saw an article recently entitled, Exercise For People Over 60. Seeing as how I am over 60, and could certainly use a little more exercise, I thought I'd give it a try. Here's the routine:

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room on each side. With a 2-kilo potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple weeks, move up to 5-kilo bags. Then try 10-kilo bags, all the while gradually increasing the bag size. The goal is to eventually lift a 50-kilo potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight out for a full minute.

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

You're welcome. 😉

Story Source: Unknown
Picture: A puzzle we "worked out" on recently