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Friday, 24 April 2009

New kittens on the block

One of the cutest sights in the world is kittens or puppies when little - by little I mean close to newborn - are searching for the nipple and playing with each other
Two days ago, just before they were euthanized, I 've rescued four little kittens. Gorgeous creatures, two ginger - identical twins, one black/grey, and one grey. They still have the blue in their eyes, they can hardly walk, they are about one week old, but they have different personalities - actually this is how I can tell apart the identical twins.
Zizou and Klelia are extremely curious. Zizou smelled them, realized they are yet again another source of noise, steal of attention from mummy, babies who will tire him with play, so he kind of looked the other way once he realised they were harmless, but another creature that mummy brings home
Klelia was taken by storm. She is looking at them, smelling them, afraid of them, religiously quiet when I feed them; she is I believe overwhelmed by the fact that someone is so little and can not even poo on their own. She is totally fascinated by them.
Patty hates them, as she hates anything or anybody that might cause more exclamation on their beauty than she does, and Junior is being Junior, not really keen in socializing with strangers.
I need to go soon but tales of the new kittens will come soon. Enjoy

Friday, 10 April 2009

The world after financial meltdown

Months following banking industry's nuclear catastrophy around the world's stock exhanges, the first rays of hope come to light. Wells Fargo announced significant profit, others smaller loss than predicted and although euphoria has not hit wall street yet, there is some elation.
Wells Fargo registered record profits in the midst of the worst economic crisis in banking - probably ever. Stock price went up by 32%. Others followed.
Citi was up 13%
USB 23%
Bank of America 35%
JP Morgan 19%
PNC Financial 20%

There is still speculation if they forecasted accurately bad debt or revenue

Wells Fargo mortgage loans went up. And the cheaper interbanking borrowing after government regulation helped. So it helped the financial aid.

The reasons for this recovery are definitely more complicated than I present here and not the same for all. Whether the sun will shine away the storm and this recovery will be sustainable not sure.

What is clear in my mind is that extreme positions can lead to chaos. So was extreme deregulation I think. Some balance is needed. Even in economics - it is called equilibrium and is usually forgotten - or so it seems.

Christian the Lion

When I am discust with humans (that happens several times during every day) I turn to the animal world to find consolation and hope. Every day there are remarkable stories that our friends star and remind us all the things that must not be forgotten.
There is one story however, that no matter how many years go by is unique as it talks about what is best both in animals and humans. This is the story of Christian the Lion. I am sure most of you have seen it on you tube or tv news about the story of two friends that back in the late 70s adopted a lion cub and when the lion turned adult and was too dangerous to live with them - or so they thought - they brought their adopted lion pet and freed him in the wild. A year later, they went to visit him, in his new wild habitat, and they had very low expectations of Christian recognizing them and actually would risk him attacking them.
Christian not only recognized them of course, but run to them, held them in his arms, started licking them and introduced to his parents his new girl - a female lion!!!
His 'parents' have not seen him again since, they don't know if Christian is still alive, but they have decided to dedicate their lives in the protection of wild animals.
It is a fantastic story to turn to for inspiration, motivation, hope, courage and all other positive words that exist in any vocabulary.

You can also be inspired here:

On diets..

Bolivia's president Evo Morales is on a hunger strike so that congress will no longer delay the passing of a law allowing elections to be held in December. Of course it is important to note that Bolivian hunger strikers are allowed to drink water and chew on coke leaves. Fact: you don't want food while on cocaine. Of course the damage to the system is probably even bigger but I am sure he is having a better time than other hunger strikers. Actually he kind of jumped to the opportunity. Long live Bolivia with its customs!! LOL

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Sad remains of a bright past

The world with humans in it have witnessed over the centuries the rise and fall of several great civilizations. Greece, Egypt, Rome, China, the Aztec and the Mayas, the US in more modern times. The cultural heritage will never stop insipiring the rest of the world even when the dominance is gone. What is sad is to realize that when there is still modern versions of the glorious past that not only are not glorious but also shameful. I am fundamentaly proud to be Greek - due to the teachings of the great masters. I am ashamed on account of our modern society. But nothing, I repeat nothing, would make me more ashamed to originate from a country that gave the world Luxor and ended up as dark as it is today.
A 17-year old girl at a province outside the delta of Nile, was beaten to death by her 45-year old father because he found out that she had a boyfriend. He could not face his fellow morons at the village cafe and had to kill his daughter to restore his pride. A similar crime occured a year or so ago in a TUrkish village where a father killed by beating to death his 12-year old daughter because she was raped (and of course her tragedy was not important compared to his injured pride). But Turkey has never been a great civilization - only a great empire. And by great I mean its size. Neither crimes are justifiable - both equally appauling. The one in Egypt is a sharper contrast than the one in Turkey due to Egypt's weight in world history and culture
I wonder how the Egyptian elite - and it exists around the world - will come to terms with such a low level of education in the country (that once was the university of the world) and the scary rise of hard core islamism. Sad sad sad

Another inconvenient truth

With all the talk about financial crisis, wars, elections, and whatever else might occupy the thinker's mind, we kind of forgot that our planet is actually dying.
We, by we I am referring to the human race and mainly to the people of each country - they have the power not the politicians, they elect the politicians, are not doing anything really to stop the destruction of our planet. Already some very intuitive travel agent - from Miami I believe - is selling land on the moon, venus and mars. If I am not mistaken the price of 1sqklm on the moon is approx 30usd.
What we have really not done is reverse the destruction of the planet. Details you can observe in Gore's an unconvienent truth and other documentaries or books or greenpeace leaflets.
The distraction starts from the sea. No matter how cute I believe pollar bears and pandas are, or how gorgeous the tiger is, 90% of species endagered with exstinction live in the sea. Entire habitats have been wiped out. Some varieties of tuna - the med tuna - is close to exctintion as it is a premium sushi delicacy. During the last few days there have been large amounts of big fish (30klg) that are found dead in the Maliakos sea. Although sample water has been extracted for testing no toxic material was found. Of course nothing comfirms that the sample water was taken from teh right spot, or that the natural habitat of those fish in deep sea can still provide the food it takes for them to feed. Perhaps the water is contaminated deeper than where the fish bodies are found.
Given the fact that Greece is gearing up for national elections, I am pretty confident that this incident will be burried in paper work by clerks, officers, ministers that will just care over the next few months to maintain - or win - a spot under the sun.
In the meantime more dead fish bodies will be found and all the more Greece's richness will be robbed.
We have three options: forget about it, cry about it (and then forget about it), or do something about it. Those of us who have ever tried to do something about it can very clearly determine that unless it is tied to national or regional elections and will personally benefit a strong political figure NOTHING will ever be done.
It is another inconvenient truth that us Greeks are trying to forget - or accept it as part of life. Shame

Monday, 6 April 2009

Barack's first Greek job

The US President decided that during the NATO meeting one of the countries to meet outside of Protocol was dear old small Greece. I am almost certain that our present ruling Government could not believe their good fortune. Clearly, Greece is important strategically due to its position. This is the reason that the EU accepted us in the first place (yes yes, we know about our glorious fathers, we are talking about our moron brothers - that was a surprise).

Obviously several hot topics were discussed, the fight against terror, the economic crisis and of course the US wanted to clearly show that they want us not to honor the agreement with Putin about the gas pipe and rely our energy sources on traditional US media (oil) but most importantly, slam the door in SE Europe - as well as heavyweight Europe - to Russia.

All that understood

What I think have not been picked up and is understated is Dora's personal win.
First of all, New Democracy showed not ready to receive preferential treatment. Then The Obama and Karamanlis exchanged vowes to visit each other. Obama said that they want FYRoM in NATO. So did Hilary a few hours later in a press conference. Only if/when the name issue is resolved and it MUST have a complex name.

Needless to say Dora was ecstatic. On both accounts. After all, it will go down as a personal win. After all, Hillary's stand is a 180 degrees from Bush's last referral to the name. Not to mention Greece's treatment by the US. Whether it is circumstantial or targeted to a specific cause (KEEP RUSSIA OUT) it does not matter. It can all go down as Dora's success. And it most likely will in her party presidential campaign

One thing I know for sure, is that next Greek parliamentary elections will be more fun.

Hachiko square today

Sent by Manos

The most populated crossing in the world. Shibuya, next to Hachiko square, Tokyo Japan

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The story of Hachikō

Throughout history there are several stories about faithful dogs. In fact there is no other creature that represents the ideal of loyalty better than dogs. From Homer's Argos to our modern day saying 'dog is man's best friend'
The loyalty label was placed on dogs from observation mainly, but there have been throughout time some trully charistmatic four-paws creatures that illustrate the point. I am certain that in dog's universe - just like man's - there are these leadership figures that are so powerful that give dogs their characterisations as loyal friends. These great leaders have left their mark not only in dog's world, but also in our own. A huge mark.
There are so many great dog figures that it would be unjust to talk about all of them at once. I would like to devote separate postings on each one and their story from time to time
Now I would like to dedicate this posting to a female Akita dog who lived in Tokyo in the 1920s and since then there has been a square, a tube stop and two statues named after this remarkable dog. BTW, I am assuming female as all the Japanese names finishing in -ko are girl names.
Manos & Libia told me of Hachiko's story. Living in Tokyo for a year and a half they could not have missed it. They have crossed the tube station several times
So here how the story goes:
In 1924, Hachikō was brought to Tokyo by her owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. During his owner's life Hachikō saw him off from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. Every morning Hachiko would accompany her master at the station and every evening she would wait for him to accompany him home for dinner. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno didn't return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered a stroke at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where his friend was waiting.

Hachikō was given away after her master's death, but she routinely escaped, showing up again and again at her old home. After time, Hachikō apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So she went to look for her master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he didn't see her friend among the commuters at the station.

The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. Realizing that Hachikō waited in vigil for his dead master, their hearts were touched. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.

This continued for 10 years, with Hachikō appearing only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station.

That same year, another of Ueno's former students (who had become something of an expert on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him to the Kobayashi home where he learned the history of Hachikō's life. Shortly after this meeting, the former student published a documented census of Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachikō from Shibuya Station.

Professor Ueno's former student returned frequently to visit the dog and over the years published several articles about Hachikō's remarkable loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles, published in Tokyo's largest newspaper, threw the dog into the national spotlight. Hachikō became a national sensation. Her faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachikō's vigil as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist rendered a sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.

Hachikō died on March 8, 1935, of filariasis (heartworm). Her stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo

In 1987 a huge japanese blockbuster was released with Hachiko's story and an imaginary re-union with her master after her death.
For the more ..westerner among us, a 2008 film - to be released in August 2009 - starring Richard Gere. The movie is called Hachiko: A Dog's Story and it is about the relationship between the dog and the master.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Born to be a mum

At times when we are feeling lower than we should, there is nowhere more inspirational to derive a feeling of happiness and a put a smile on our face than the world of animals

Below a fantastic story - sent by George

In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, run by a�man named Geoff Grewcock and known as a willing haven for animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need.

Geoff Grewcock and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved.�

They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

The dog had other ideas. No-one remembers now how it began, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn't matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, probably, a rhinoceros, Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.�

Geoff Grewcock relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."

"But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings.

"She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.

And one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur.

"They are inseparable," says Geoff Grewcock. "Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.�
From left, Toby, a stray Lakeland dog; Bramble, an
orphaned roe deer; Buster,a stray Jack Russell; a
dumped rabbit; Sky, an injured barn owl; and Jasmine�

Doing what she does best, being a mother.

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

Don't you wish you were hot like Frankie (the Pug)???
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Pugs talk!