Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places

USA

Happy New Year! Have a Free eBook Sampler!

Field & Hay

Location: USA
Camera Info: Canon PowerShot ELPH 300HS • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 5.6 • 1/800 sec

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” – William Edwards Hickson

So here it is, another year gone by. And I’m trying again! The only comment I have about the past year is: depression sucks. Sorry!

Even if I haven’t kept up with the blog, I HAVE kept writing. Just this past November, my writers’ group published our first anthology, “Stories From the Heartland.” It’s available on Amazon for anyone who wants a copy! Recognize the cover image? 🙂 The book consists of 55 stories from 20 central Indiana authors. I have four entries in it myself, one of which was a story previously told on this blog. Can you guess which one?

But wait, I said something about FREE, didn’t I? 😉 We’ve also uploaded a 7-story excerpt of the book to Noisetrade for free downloads. So hop over there and grab your copy! And if you like the sampler, consider getting the entire book!

Meanwhile, I will try my best to get this blog back to a semi-regular posting schedule so you folks can enjoy more stories and pictures from around the world! Here’s to a better and more productive 2015!

Did you make any resolutions this year? What are they?


The 12 Odd Facts of Christmas

Cardinal Eating

Location: USA
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
ISO 200 • f 2.8 • 1/800 sec

Ok, folks, I give up! I was trying to work on our 2nd annual Christmas video for your viewing pleasure, but it’s taking longer than expected this year. Instead of keeping you waiting, here’s some fun Christmas trivia! Maybe if you act smart at your family Christmas party this year, your aunt Betty won’t be so tempted to pinch your cheeks and tell you she can’t believe how much you’ve grown… or something like that. 😉

  • According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there are 2,106 million children under age 18 in the world. If there are on average 2.5 children per household, Santa would have to make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve, traveling 221 million miles. To get there in 24 hours, Santa would need to travel between houses in 2/10,000 second (for the “not-so-nerdy”, that’s about 4 million mph, or 3000 times the speed of sound). At that speed, Santa and his reindeer would burst into flames instantaneously. (Reindeer steaks, anyone?)
  • Of the presents received by kids worldwide, one in 10 will be broken by the New Year, only 40% will make it to March and just a quarter will be intact by next Christmas.
  • From the UK: Three people die each year testing if a 9v battery works on their tongue. (WHY???)
  • Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings. (And that’s EXACTLY what I’d like to be kissing under! ‘~’ )
  • UK: Since 1997, 101 people have had to have broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet. (I wonder how many were Legos? Ow!)
  • In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas tree decorations because according to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. (I don’t care if they made him a yert! Spiders are still evil, in my opinion.)
  • According to Facebook data, most breakups occur two weeks before Christmas. Yet Christmas Day is the least popular day for breakups.
  • UK: 19 people have died in the last 3 years believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate. (Wait… what?)
  • The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
  • “Jingle Bells” was originally written in 1857 for a Thanksgiving celebration. (Seems legit.)
  • Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system. (I don’t even want to imagine how that one works!)
  • In Canada, Santa Claus has his own personal zip code, H0H 0H0. Each letter that includes a return address receives a reply from Santa in the language the letter was written in, including Braille (with help from some 11,000 “Postal Elves”)!

Rather than link every fact on the list, I’ll just give you my sources here: Random History, Venere, Chicago Now, We Interrupt, Nice Fun, Guy Sports (Christmas Safety Warnings).

Bring on the knowledge junkies! What other fun Christmas trivia do you know? Let’s hear it!

A Poem For the Children

IMG_4841

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350 D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 5.6 • 1/10 sec (and quite a bit of editing)

Well, I was planning on writing a funny blog this week, but in honor of the events that happened this past Friday in Newtown, CT and Chengping, China, I will just leave you with this. I found this poem floating around Facebook, attributed to Cameo Smith of Mt. Wolf, PA. Please let me know if the credits are incorrect.

Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air;
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say;
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“This is heaven,” declared a small boy, “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their Savior; the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name;
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring.
Those children all flew into the arms of their King;
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below;
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools!”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“Come now my children, let me show you around.”
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran;
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

Please take some time to pray for all those affected by this week’s tragedies.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving & see you next week!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?


Reflections on Thankfulness

Location: USA
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350 D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 5.6 • 1/50 sec

In the aftermath of a great explosion that rocked one of our neighborhoods in Indianapolis, many have been forced out of their homes and a candlelight vigil was held for the deceased. Yet along with the stories of loss, I’ve seen many (including friends who were affected) posting on Facebook about all they are thankful for. For example, a friend was thankful for her phone, which she used to find a place to stay at midnight after evacuating her house. Since Thanksgiving is almost here, I thought it would be a good time to do the same. I’m thankful that…

  • I’m alive.
  • I have a good job in this economy.
  • My neighbors aren’t freaks.
  • I have family & a fiance who love me.
  • Election ads are over for another four years.
  • Jesus lives!
  • Arby’s and Chick-Fil-A have peppermint milk shakes.
  • The USA still has freedom of religion.
  • Somebody, a long time ago, invented bacon.
  • I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel the world.
  • Unlike cats, we have opposable thumbs.
  • My prayer group rocks!
  • I got to go to college – and get TWO majors.
  • Gmail lets you “undo” sending emails when you notice a typo right after hitting “Send.”
  • Smiles are a universal language.
  • The day the music died has never come.
  • Water makes up most of the world, because without it we’d die.
  • I’m relatively healthy.
  • Toilet paper exists, because…. yeah.
  • It’s almost my birthday!!

What would you add to the list?