The Cockroach.

Kevin Halligan’s poem about a cockroach has these last stanzas:

Was this due payment for some vicious crime

A former life had led to? I don’t know

Except I thought I recognised myself.

HAHAH! I certainly don’t recognize myself in this dead giant cockroach that I saw in Bangkok, and was so perplexed, I took the pic!!! But, maybe, others might… why? I don’t know…but, be my guest.
Android 050

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The power of seeds!

UPDATE:  I find it amusing that this morning I picked up the Washington Post’s “Sunday” newspaper versions (advertisements, the Arts Section, the Magazine and Parade), and am looking at the sad version of Parade (once upon a time, it used to be a more robust magazine), and I find a little blurb on Chia dogs and seeds!!!  Even the photo is similar to mine!

Last Christmas, I got a little “Chia dog” as a present from a dear, dear office colleague. It was a joke. We were all sharing cheap presents while having a lovely time eating a great holiday meal. It took me a few months to finally get the little clay dog to sprout seeds. I kept the clay dog at home for a while, and then…I decided to bring it to the office…where we all shared some good laughs!!! Because, how many people do you know who have actually grown the Chia seeds???

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Of mice and men…bureaucrats and cheese…

Sacré bleu!  European Union bureaucratic games have crossed The Atlantic.

The new rules have resulted in holds even on super-safe Parmigiano Reggiano

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In Public Relations, size is not all!

Sometimes small groups are more nimble in handling public relations.  From the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction:

You may have noticed that many SIGAR reports have made the news. One reason is that we publish, post, tweet, and otherwise publicize virtually everything we do.

Some people are unhappy with the fact we get press coverage, even though our two-person press shop pales in comparison to the squadrons of PR people at Embassy Kabul, ISAF, or DOD. Some people think we’re doing this to attract attention and gratify our egos.

Via Diplopundit.

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Afghanistan and Trafficking in Persons.

The U.S. Department of State does not mince words in its annual 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) assessment of Afghanistan:

“Afghanistan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.  Internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking.  The majority of Afghan victims are children subjected to human trafficking in carpet-making and brick kiln factories, domestic servitude, and in commercial sexual exploitation, begging, transnational drug smuggling, and assistant truck driving within Afghanistan, as well as in the Middle East, Europe, and South Asia.”

The State Department’s TIP ranks nations based on their efforts to combat trafficking.  The nations are divided into three tiers:

  • Tier 1 countries are fully compliant with the minimum standards set by the US government for the elimination of trafficking,
  • Tier 2 countries do not fully comply with the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to do so (Tier 2 Watch List includes nations with a significant number of victims or countries lacking sufficient evidence of efforts to improve anti-trafficking efforts), and
  • Tier 3 countries do not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Amazingly, after several years on the Tier 2 Watch List, Afghanistan’s ranking on the 2014 TIP improved to Tier 2.  What does this mean?  The Afghan Government has ratified international treaties on human trafficking and is no longer at risk of losing U.S. and international funding, something that would have happened if Afghanistan had been downgraded to Tier 3.

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Sharing Joan Rivers’ advice to women comedians…

…with my daughter, who is a ham bone herself, and does (and loves) stand-up and improv:

My advice to women comedians is: First of all, don’t worry about the money. Love the process. You don’t know when it’s gonna happen. Louis C.K. started hitting in his 40s; he’d been doing it for 20 years. And don’t settle. I don’t want to ever hear, “It’s good enough.” Then it’s not good enough. Don’t ever underestimate your audience. They can tell when it isn’t true. Also: Ignore your competition. A Mafia guy in Vegas gave me this advice: “Run your own race, put on your blinders.” Don’t worry about how others are doing. Something better will come.

Ignore aging: Comedy is the one place it doesn’t matter. It matters in singing because the voice goes. It matters certainly in acting because you’re no longer the sexpot. But in comedy, if you can tell a joke, they will gather around your deathbed. If you’re funny, you’re funny. Isn’t that wonderful?

If there is a secret to being a comedian, it’s just loving what you do. It is my drug of choice. I don’t need real drugs. I don’t need liquor. It’s the joy that I get performing. That is my rush. I get it nowhere else.

What pleasure you feel when you’ve kept people happy for an hour and a half. They’ve forgotten their troubles. It’s great. There’s nothing like it in the world. When everybody’s laughing, it’s a party. And then you get a check at the end. That’s very nice.

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My Grandfather’s Clock…or…When the Old Man Died.

I remember sharing this song with my children when they were very young…

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To everything there is a season…

…especially as I watch 4 generations interact…

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

BTW, the lyrics are courtesy of the Bible!

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To my son and daughter-in-law and other family and friends who are in Seattle, I share a beautiful tribute to a city they love.

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Imagining the Paris underground.

The ghosts of the Parisian underground could soon be resurrected if city voters play their cards right in the upcoming mayoral elections.

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Afghanistan and its lapis lazuli.

From Diolun Designs:

Can you imagine a world without painting?

So it begins with this title…the page dedicated to Children’s  art education on the J. Paul Getty Museum website…  During the Renaissance, “a deep blue paint was made by crushing the valuable gemstone lapis lazuli into a fine powder and mixing it with other ingredients. This costly blue was used most often for the clothing of the biblical Mary. If a picture included a woman wearing clothes painted with lapis blue, people understood it was probably Jesus’s mother…” Beauty and goodness….

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Beautiful Objets d’Art: Diolun Designs.

Summer Rains and Jackson Pollock.  My talented sister created these -using the lost wax casting method- exclusively for the Thyssen Bornemisza museum in Spain.

Teaspoon, Butter Knife, mini porringer?, and napkin holder in Sterling Silver- designed exclusively by Cynthia Dillon for the Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza Shop in 2002

Teaspoon, Butter Knife, mini porringer?, and napkin holder in Sterling Silver- designed exclusively by Cynthia Dillon for the Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza Shop in Madrid. ca. 2002

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Afghanistan: Women’s Access to Mobile – an infographic.

Who has ever reported on this success other than the U.S. Government?  In my research, I always have to dig deep to find this kind of information.  It is never really reported.  But I just found a very interesting article on the “Real Story of ‘Twitter for Afghanistan'”, very much worth reading.
Infographic: Afghan Women's Access to Mobile




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Afghanistan: Gender Violence Support.

Regarding Afghanistan, no one ever reports on the many programs on gender violence that the international community has been supporting for many years.   The U.S. Department of State has been deeply involved in supporting the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs for many years.  Recently, the State Department released a Guide to Gender in the Criminal Justice System.  The Guide offers a glimpse of what the U.S. Government does in Afghanistan:

INL Gender

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Afghanistan: Trafficking in Persons.

Unfortunately, reports about Afghanistan always tend to report the negative, seldom the positive. The U.S. Department of State released its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report last June 20th. Interestingly, Afghanistan was removed from the Tier 2 Watch List, and moved up to Tier 2. Because of these efforts, Afghanistan is no longer at risk of losing international funding that had been threatened by a possible downgrade to Tier 3.

U.S. Ambassador Cunningham explains further:

Afghanistan was placed in Tier 2, which represents an improvement from 2013.  I commend the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts in this area. This is real progress. At the same time, I urge the government to build on that progress and to continue its efforts to address the many serious challenges that remain.

The Trafficking in Persons Report recognizes the Government of Afghanistan’s significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards to combat human trafficking as outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  As noted in the report, the Government of Afghanistan issued a decree directing law enforcement agencies to cease prosecuting trafficking victims.

The Government also took steps to implement its anti-trafficking action plan: both houses of the Afghan Parliament recently approved the 2000 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.  As result of these efforts, Afghanistan has been removed from the watch list in this year’s report.

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