Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Seychelles Islands (Travel)

The Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean . The Seychelles are definitely one of the world's most beautiful tropical island destinations. The islands archipelago consists of 115 islands with a total land area of 442 sq. km, spread over 1.2 million square kilometers of the western Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. About half of the islands are granitic in origin, with narrow coastal strips and central ranges of hills rising to 900 m.

This isolated island paradise offers fine beaches, turquoise seas and warm weather. As a result of their extraordinary, isolated history, the Seychelles are also rich in rare plants which flourish nowhere else on the planet. No less than 81 species are unique survivors from the luxuriant tropical forests that covered the islands until humanity's belated arrival two centuries ago. Outstanding amongst these is the coco-de-mer (sea coconut), native to Praslin, which grows in the Vallée de Mai. Its seed is the largest in nature, and gave rise to many legends when it was washed ashore on the coasts of Africa, India and Indonesia. Since the islands were unknown, the nuts were thought to have grown under the sea - hence the name.

The Seychelles are also a major attraction for birdwatchers. Millions of terns nest on the islands - among them that most beautiful of seabirds, the fairy tern. Up to two million sooty terns nest on Bird Island, and on Aride can be found the world's largest colonies of lesser noddies, roseate terns and other tropical birds. It was only some 30 years ago that active conservation of endangered species began in the Seychelles. Since then, with the establishment of island sanctuaries and nature reserves, much has been done to make the Seychelles a paradise for birds - and for those who love to watch them.

The first recorded sighting of the Seychelles was by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama at the beginning of the 16th century. In 1756, French planters claimed Mahé and seven other islands for France. The islands, until then known as the Amirantes (Admiral da Gama had named them after himself), were re-named in honour of the French king’s accountant, Vicomte Moreau de Séchelles. The Seychelles, annexed by Britain in 1794, were placed under the administration of Mauritius. Over the course of the 19th century, administration was handled by ‘old India hands’ – men and women with some experience of the tropics.

For the next 150 years, isolated from the rest of the world and all but ignored by the major European powers, the Seychelles developed their own traditions, language and culture. The islands became a Crown Colony in 1903. Internal self-government was granted in 1975 and independence a year later. Despite several coup attempts, multi-party democracy was restored in the Seychelles in 1991 under pressure from the country's main aid donors, particularly France and Britain.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Galapagos Islands (Travel)

The archipelago is a little world within itself, or rather a satellite attached to America, whence it has derived a few stray colonists, and has received the general character of its indigenous productions. Considering the small size of these islands, we feel the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings, and at their confined range. Seeing every height crowned with its crater, and the boundaries of most of the lava-streams still distinct, we are led to believe that within a period, geologically recent, the unbroken ocean was here spread out. Hence, in both space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat nearer to that great fact--that mystery of mysteries--the first appearance of new beings on this earth

Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

The Galapagos Archipelago is a unique world heritage. Situated on the equator some 600 miles off the coast of South America, this remote volcanic archipelago remains much as it was millions of years ago. Over the course of centuries, animal and plant life from the Americas reached the islands and gradually evolved into new forms. Many of its species are found nowhere else on earth. Each of the archipelago's islands has its own character and unique qualities. For example, Santa Cruz Island supports one of the largest human populations of the five islands. Some 4,000 residents are distributed among the cattle communities in the lush highlands and the coastal town of Puerto Ayora. Here you can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the land tortoises, or galapagos, which once greeted Darwin so peacefully. Espanola (Hood) Island is one of the oldest of the islands. It small and flat, with no volcanic crater or vent. Gardner Bay on the eastern shore offers the islands most magnificent beach. It is used by a transient colony of sea lions, and is a major nesting site for marine turtles. Since Darwin's famous voyage, the archipelago's marine and terrestrial ecosystems have provided a wealth of information and a source of inspiration for people throughout the world. The "Enchanted Islands" continue to play an important role in our understanding of life on earth. The Galapagos experience offers world travelers a way to step back in time, to visit an isolated, relatively untouched place on earth.

The Galapagos also offer some of the world's best scuba diving. Dive boats that tour the islands can be reserved on the mainland. Devil's Crown, an atoll near Floreana Island, is a submarine wonderland that shouldn't be missed. The shallows of this sunken volcano are burgeoning with an incredible myriad of corals and fish. Giant tortoises hover over the reef like living balloons, and sharks can sometimes be found, harmless and asleep on the sandy bottom. The flight from Guayaquil takes about an hour and a half, and visitors can land on either Baltra or San Cristobal. Upon reaching the Galapagos, the only way to tour the islands is to do it the way Darwin did, by boat. Due to the biologically sensitive nature of the islands, trips ashore must be taken in the presence of a licensed guide. They come with the boat.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Iceland (Travel)

Iceland is a stunningly beautiful place with strange and desolate landscapes, lava fields, lava tubes, plains of fractured rock, ice, fire, and steam. In a land of Earthly beauty, one natural wonder stands above the rest, Iceland’s beloved Gullfoss, or “Golden Falls”. With a 105-foot double-cascade, Gullfoss is by far Europe’s most powerful waterfall. On a sunlit day, the mist clouds surrounding the hammering falls are filled with dozens of rainbows, providing an unparalleled spectacle of color and motion.
Gullfoss is perhaps the most famous waterfall in Iceland, capturing the imagination of 19th-century and modern-day travellers alike. This first painting of Gullfoss comes from Mrs. Disney Leith’s Peeps At Many Lands. The Gullfoss is often described as one of the most spectacular sights or natural wonders of the world. The wide White River rushes southward. About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the left and flows down a wide curved three step “staircase” and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 m and 21 m) into a crevice 32 m deep. The crevice, about 20 m wide, and 2.5 km in length, is at right angles to the flow of the river.

The average of water running down this waterfall is by 100 – 180 m/s in the summertime and 50 – 110 m/s in the wintertime. The highest flood measured was 2000 m. The watershed of the river region covers some 6100 square kilometres, or about one seventeenth of the entire area of Iceland. With each passing second they empty some 440 cubic metres of fresh water into the ocean, amounting to a total daily flow of 38 million tons. Many people received a soaking, others were even drowned, and there were people who claimed that mysterious monsters dwelt in these streams. Today the waters still flow from the mountains to the sea, a continuing source of wonder and mystery. Iceland boasts many waterfalls, but somehow you never stop gasping at the sight of yet another one.

During the first half of the 20th century and some years into the late 20th century, there was much speculation about utilizing Gullfoss to create electricity. During this period, the waterfall was rented indirectly by its owners to foreign investors; however, the investors attempts were unsuccessful, partly due to lack of money. The waterfall was later sold to the state of Iceland. Even after it was sold, there were plans to utilize, which would have changed the waterfall forever. This was not done, and later the waterfall was conserved.

Bali (Travel)

There is a legend told of an island east of Java. It was a beautiful island, but its fertile plains and palm fringed shores rocked and were unsteady. The gods conferred. There decided the answer lay in placing a mountain upon the island, to balance, calm and soothe it. And so they did.
Happiness then reigned on the island and all was at peace. The mountain was called Great Mountain - GUNUNG AGUNG - and the island is BALI,
"The Morning of the World", a magical island full of legends and mystical tales set amid the thousands of islands that are INDONESIA.
Bali is one of the 17,508 islands which make up of the archipelagic Republic of Indonesia. It is easily one of Indonesia's most popular tourist destinations known throughout the world as a paradise isle set in the southern seas with its story-book setting of sun-drenched beahes, rooling surf, rustic villages, fertile plains and sculptured rice terraces. Bali is also graced by colourful temple festivals accompanied by spritely music and dance watched by the local populace, tourists, and the unseen gods from their dwelling places perched on majestic mountains. Located near the eastern-most tip of Java island across the narrow Straits of Bali, this 'Isle of the Gods' is peopled by the friendly Balinese who are more exposed to international tourists than many people in other parts of Indonesia.

There are three coastal areas on the tourist map for accommodation - Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua.

Kuta, on the west, is brash and lively, over commercialise, but with great surf. It is the cheaper end of the market and has some good value accommodation.

Nusa Dua is in the south, and is effectively a large resort complex, aimed upmarket, filled with five star quality hotels. The area is landscaped and pretty, but too sanitised for our liking - there is nothing Balinese about the area. However, it would make an excellent base for exploring the island.

Sanur, where we stayed, is somewhere between the two. It is quieter than Kuta, and prettier. The tourist industry here is less pushy and the area has a more Balinese feel, especially if you venture away from the main resort area.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Shiitake, is the common Japanese name for the edible mushroom Lentinula edodes, which is now cultivated and is the second most commonly produced edible mushroom in the world.It grows naturally on fallen wood of broadleaf forests and according to a Chinese physician of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Wu Juei, it preserves health, improves stamina and circulation, cures colds and lowers blood cholesterol. Chinese Medicine is prescribed as a concoction of several herbs, whereas Western medicine employs pure, single compounds, either natural or synthetic Traditional Chinese medicine uses many products derived from fungi, including Lentinula edodes, or the shiitake fungi. Its place in traditional Chinese medicine and the West’s science based medicine has been examined. The Institute for Scientific Information’s (ISI) impact factor (IF), which is measured by the number of citable articles in a journal divided by the number of journals it has been cited in, has been used as a method of critique. Scientific study has also determined that the shiitake may have health benefits as well. The mushrooms are high in fiber and antioxidants, and it has been suggested that they could be beneficial in a cancer preventing diet. Shiitake mushrooms are also high in iron and vitamin C, and supposedly help to boost the immune system. In addition, like many fresh fruits, vegetables, and fungi, the shiitake can also lower levels of bad cholesterol and promote heart health. Its immune-boosting activities are used to help AIDS

Ginkgo biloba - Elixir of Youth

Ginkgo biloba - Maidenhair Tree

Ginkgo biloba is the oldest living tree species. A single tree can live as long as 1,000 years and grow to a height of 120 feet During the last ice age, however, it nearly became extinct and survived only in China and other parts of Asia where they stayed until at least 1000 years ago, when they were planted around monasteries in Japan...and these trees are still living! It is estimated that the tree survived in parts of China for 200 millions years and a single tree can live more than 1000 years.

Although Chinese herbal medicine has used both the ginkgo leaf and seed for centuries, modern research has focused on the standardized Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE), which is prepared from the dried green leaves. This standardized extract is highly concentrated and seems to be clinically more effective in treating health problems (particularly circulatory ailments) than the non-standardized leaf alone.


Like any other part of the body, the brain needs adequate blood flow, or it can't function properly.

Laboratory research indicates that it is through this process that ginkgo sends more blood to the brain and throughout the body. In studies, ginko has been shown to sharpen memory, boost concentration, lessen the distressing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and improve circulation to the extremities. Herbalists call GBE the perfect remedy for aging because it strengthens organs that degenerate with disease.

One study found that blood flow to the brain was increased by about 20% for people ages 30 to 50, but for people ages 50 - 70, the increase was 70%!

The 12 symptoms of cerebral insufficiency which ginkgo may improve are:

difficult concentrating



absent mindness

performance aniexty

tinnitus (ringing in the ear)




lack of energy

decreased physical

How To Avoid Negative Thinking (health)

"...in spite of everything I still believe that people
are really good at heart."
~ Anne Frank, 1944

Have you ever wondered why some people feel down and defeated when faced with difficult situations, while others feel challenged and hopeful? Or why some people get all worked up and angry over small inconveniences and disagreements, while others respond more positively? These different reactions are due to how people interpret events - whether they view things from an optimistic or a pessimistic viewpoint.

While we can learn from both optimists and pessimists, most of us need help being optimistic. This article explores both ways of thinking, and gives some suggestions on how to become more optimistic.

The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, undermine everything that they do, and are their fault. Optimists, confronted with the same situations, believe that defeat is a temporary setback, its causes are confined to that one situation, and it's not their fault. While a pessimist may give up, an optimist will try harder to change the situation.

Pros and Cons To Both Optimism and Pessimism

There are pros and cons to both optimism and pessimism. Extreme optimism can be off-putting and invalidating because it seems phony and can be a denial of reality and pain. Extreme pessimism can be depressing because it seems to only focus on the negative and catastrophizes events. A healthy dose of optimism can be uplifting and hopeful, while a healthy dose of pessimism can be realistic and wise. Achieving a balance of being realistic and hopeful can be a challenge.

Differences Between Optimists and Pessimists

There are many reasons why people become pessimistic, including child trauma, losses, or highly critical parents - yet many optimists have also experienced great hardships and traumas; Anne Frank is a good example.

The difference between optimists and pessimists isn't a difference in life experiences, but rather in how people perceive and respond to adversity. For example, an optimist who is going through a hard time assumes that life will get better, while a pessimist believes life will always be difficult and painful.

These different approaches to life impact on health. People who are optimistic generally have better health, age well, and live more free of many physical problems associated with aging. Fortunately, optimism can be learned.

Ways To Be Optimistic

The first step to optimism is to identify the thoughts and beliefs running through your mind after something unpleasant happens. How did you interpret the event? Write out all of your beliefs and read them over. Then separate your feelings from your beliefs, because you won't be challenging your feelings; what you feel is what you feel.

Next, write down all your feelings about the event and how you responded. Do this for a few unpleasant situations, such as an argument with your partner, a work conflict, and getting a parking ticket. You might begin to see a pattern in how you interpret and react to events, and this will help you to become aware of and to change patterns.

If you do have pessimistic thoughts, it can help just to be aware that you think that way. Next time your thoughts jump to something like "I never get my way," "Nothing ever gets any better," or "People are always mean to me," try to notice that a pessimistic way of thinking is present for you.

The next step is to distract yourself from your pessimistic beliefs or dispute them. Disputing pessimistic beliefs will bring deeper, longer lasting results than distracting will, but distraction can also be effective, and sometimes easier.

Disputing pessimistic beliefs involves replacing them with alternative, kinder, and more realistic explanations. For example, if you have an argument with your partner, you might immediately think: "S/he never understands me! I'm always the one who ends up apologizing. This isn't working out; we should split up." In the heat of an argument, it's hard to think rationally. But if you step back and think about the situation more realistically, you might find that your thoughts become more positive, and you may even be able to work things out faster. For instance, you might tell yourself, "We just had an argument, and while s/he wasn't very understanding, neither was I. S/he's understood me lots of other times, and will probably understand me again once we've both cooled off. We've always been able to work through our problems before. I know we can again."

Maintaining a hopeful, positive, yet real perspective in the face of adversity can be a real challenge - one many are facing right now in the world - but it is essential to living peacefully and happily. Just as it is important to recognize what is unjust and unfair in our lives and the world, it is equally important to see the beauty, love, generosity, and goodness as well. Being gentle and loving with ourselves when we make mistakes, or when bad things happen is key to being hopeful and optimistic. And even if you're not sure it's possible, you can do it!

What to Do With Your Feelings (health)

Intense emotion can be overwhelming for all of us. And if you're just opening up to an emotion, it can feel very raw. No matter how experienced you are with your emotions, we all need help sometimes to know how to deal with them.

Learning to recognize and stay with our feelings is a valuable experience. We can learn that just because we feel something, we don't have to act on it. Or that we can be angry and choose how to respond rather than let the anger control us. The more we know how we feel and ways to feel, release, be with, or let go of our feelings, the better we feel about ourselves.

But how do I know what I'm feeling?

If you don't know how you feel or how to get in touch with your feelings:
1. Identify how you feel:

Sit quietly for a moment; you might want to close your eyes, and then wait and see what you notice from inside.

Notice how different areas of your body feel.

Focus on the areas of tension, breathe, and see if anything comes to your awareness. You don’t have to think about it.

Notice whether any thoughts, images, feelings, memories, sounds come to you.

If nothing comes, that’s okay. You may still want to continue.

Ask yourself how you're feeling, and be aware of what comes up.

You don’t have to figure anything out, just be aware.

If nothing comes to you, that's okay. Sometimes that happens. You may still want to try again, another time.

2. Acknowledge your feelings:

If you know how you feel, let yourself know that this is how you are feeling right now, and that’s okay.

You don’t have to know where it is coming from.

You don’t even have to know what to name it; you may simply know that you have a lot of pain in your chest.

Breathe through it.

Let your feelings just be there.

You don’t have to do anything with them, just accept that this is how you feel.

But where do these feelings come from? They just seemed to come out of the blue.

If you want to understand why you feel a certain way:

1. Identify the source of your feelings:

Know that you are not being "silly" or "crazy" for feeling how you feel; your feelings are there for a good reason.

Turn inward, and ask yourself what are these feelings connected to.

Wait and see what you notice. You might just know. You might remember something, see an image, hear a sound, notice tension in a particular area of your body.

Try not to analyse, interpret or judge what comes to you. Be open to what you notice.

Go deeper. We may think we already know why we're feeling a certain way, but sometimes there is more to it than what we think. Being patient and receptive helps us to go deeper.

If nothing comes to you, that’s okay, too. It helps to just let yourself feel.

What do I do with these feelings?

2. Express or release your feelings.

Even if you don't know why you are feeling this way, you can still express yourself in the privacy of your own home.

Focus on how you feel. Open your mouth and let a sound come from that feeling.

Move with the feeling. You can dance, stomp around, kick, hit something.

Scream. If you are worried about the sound, you can scream into a pillow.

Cry. If you feel like crying, give yourself permission to do this.

Write or draw from this feeling place. Don’t censor yourself, let the feeling do the writing or drawing.

Say out loud what you need to say to someone.

Tell someone supportive how you are feeling.

It's too much for me. I can't take it any more. What do I do?

1. Comfort and reassure yourself:

Talk to yourself as you would a friend. Be gentle and kind.

Reassure yourself with whatever you need to hear, for example, "I’m okay, I’m safe."

Curl up in a comfortable chair/bed with a blanket, a warm drink, a good book, or watch a show on T.V.

Do something nice for yourself. Treat yourself to something special, take a bubble bath, go to a spa, get a massage.

Talk to a supportive friend. Ask for what you need.

2. Take a break from your feelings:

Sometimes feelings become overwhelming and you need a break from them. This doesn't mean denying that they are there, only that you need a break and will come back to them later when you are rested. After taking a break, it is important to come back to your feelings. They may have changed, and that's okay.

Create a safe inner place. Let your imagination create an image of something(s) that represents how you are feeling right now. It may be concrete or abstract. Take your time, let your imagination develop this fully. Then imagine a protective bubble around this image, separating yourself from it. Look at the image. Notice that it is still there, but separate from you. Your feelings are still there, but you are not in them right now. You have a choice, you don't have to be in your feelings right now. Let yourself take the break that you need. Taking this break will mean that you will be better able to deal with them later. You may want to imagine yourself in a safe place -- any image that you choose.

Remember times when you felt good. Let yourself relax and get comfortable. Breathe gently. Remember a time when you felt good, loved or calm. It could be something that really happened, or something that you create, like being near a waterfall. Imagine being in this situation or with this person, and feel all of those pleasant feelings. Feel your body shift from what you were feeling, letting those feelings go. Let yourself feel more relaxed, comforted or at peace. Stay with this memory or image until you feel really connected to it.

Exercise vigorously. This can help you to relax, feel energized, and generally feel better.

Do something that relaxes you.

Do something that absorbs your attention fully. This can help you to shift out of how you are feeling.

Get a change of scenery. If you have been at home or in the same room a lot, maybe you need to get out, even if only for a walk around the block. Change your patterns. If you always go home after work only to feel stuck in your feelings, maybe you need to do something different -- go see a concert, a movie, or have dinner out, something that makes you feel good. Doing things to take care of yourself alone may be better than going home alone.

It's not always easy to stay with your feelings, but it can be rewarding when you do.

Alzheimer’s and Aluminum: Is There a Link? (science )

Recent science has found that their may be a link between Alzheimer’s and aluminum; a discovery found by an Alzheimer’s foundation. Though the cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, there are many theories that attempt to find the cause. One of the theories states that using products that contain or are contained in aluminum may cause Alzheimer’s. Additionally, scientists believe that by avoiding aluminum products, you can aid in preventing Alzheimer’s. If you are taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient, here is what you should do.Diet

First, monitor their dietary habits thoroughly. You are going to want to establish a good Alzheimer’s diet for the patient. Make sure that your patient does not use or intake aluminum products. Always read the nutrition facts listed on every food product. Additionally, make sure that they intake low amounts of fat and low amounts of cholesterol. This will aid in slowing the progress of the disease. Finally, research nutritional supplements, such as turmeric or glyconutrients, as the Alzheimer’s foundation has found that these supplements will also aid in slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s.


Next, try to find an activity that the Alzheimer’s patient will enjoy. Good activities are those that are simple in nature but rewarding. Games, cooking, gardening… these are the types of activities you will want to seek out. Additionally, always give positive encouragement to an Alzheimer’s patient.

Alzheimer’s statistics show that the better patients feel about themselves, the more they will try to combat their disease. Keep in mind that they may not want to participate for very long periods of time and, as such, you will want to be patient with them and allow them to stop when they choose to (though you should give kind encouragement to get them to try to do more).


An Alzheimer’s caregiver is absolutely responsible for the lives of their patients. Because caregivers are the only people giving constant attention to these patients, they must make sure that they are taking their medication. Because there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, taking any treatments available is the only way to stop the disease from building and becoming worse. Remember, treatment is the only weapon we as people have against this disease. Use this weapon to its fullest potential, as there are few other things you can do.

Though nobody knows why this brain disease occurs in people, science does know that you should do what you can to not be a victim. Although aluminum may not be a cause of Alzheimer’s, it is probably a good idea to avoid it as much as possible. This is not a disease that you, or your loved ones, will want to get. Try to do anything and everything you can to avoid it, even if it seems a little drastic or crazy. This article on Alzheimer’s should be very beneficial to you and your loved ones in combating this disease, once and for all. Do not wait, start prevention now!