Tuesday, 28 June 2016

10 of the world’s most remarkable trees


General Sherman: Largest living tree

4 of 11

Remarkable trees - General sherman
How do you say majestic? How about "the General Sherman Tree." This hulking grand dame in California's Sequoia National Park is the largest, by volume, known living single stem tree in the world. This giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is neither the tallest known living tree, nor is it the widest or oldest – but with its height of 275 feet, diameter of 25 feet and estimated bole volume of 52,513 cubic feet, it's the most voluminous. And with a respectable age of 2,300–2,700 years, it is one of the longest-lived of all trees on the planet to boot.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Seven Types of People. Which One Are You?

The House is on Fire.

The people in the house are
Sleeping and in great danger
Seven of their neighbors will come along
Each with an opportunity to save them
Person #1
Does not see the fire
Consumed in his own thoughts
He passes by in ignorant oblivion
Person #2
Sees the fire
But, not wanting to get involved
Walks on by
Person #3
Sees the fire
But, shocked and terrified
Is left immobilized in a state of panic
Person #4
Sees the fire
And immediately takes action
First, phoning the fire department
Then, knocking on the door to
Wake up the inhabitants
Person #5
Sees the fire
And, daring what no one else would
Enters the house to try to
Save the inhabitants
Person #6
Sees the fire
Surveys the scene
And discovers an opportunity
To promote his own interests and
Make a buck
(He’s the one handing out
His business card to sell his stuff)
Person #7
Set the fire
And lurks unnoticed
Watching the destruction
Not caring really
About anything at all.
The house is Mother Earth.

Which person are you?

This poem encapsulates the central, overriding issue of our time: our world is on fire and on the verge of collapse; what are each of us willing to do about it? How do we galvanize people to do what is necessary and right?
Of course, very few of us are willing to risk our own lives to do good in this world, though we are eternally grateful to those who do. But let’s try, all of us, to do our best to be number 4’s. Let’s help to put out the fire.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems at this particular point in time is that there are too few people who are working hard to douse the flames. Most people are 1’s, 2’s or 3’s.
The 1’s are the people who don’t even see that the house is on fire. They don’t really understand that there is a problem. They live in ignorance of the situation, consumed with the trials of everyday living. We must wake them up, educate them and ask them politely to help us put out the fire. After all, most of them are decent people. They are your friends and neighbors.
The 2’s are perhaps the most frustrating. There are an awful lot of them out there. Most we would consider good people, but good people don’t always do the right thing. They know that the world is on fire, but they refuse to help in any way to put it out. They just don’t want to make the effort.
Are they lazy? Some perhaps. Apathetic? Yes, some are just too comfortable and want to live their lives in a self-centered kind of way without bothering about the larger community. Some are just too jaded and cynical, believing that there is nothing they can do that will make any difference. Their negative outlooks defeat them before they even make an attempt to rise to the challenge.
These are never the people we look up to. They are not the people who inspire, the people who win our respect. Throughout history, they have won plenty of shame, but no acclaim. These are the people to whom we must say, ultimately, “If you can’t lend a hand, please get out of the way.”
The 3’s are good people, too. They understand the world is in trouble. They have some knowledge of what is happening. Some know too much, perhaps, and are paralyzed with fear, not knowing what to do. Some just don’t have the psychological or emotional fortitude to cope with the enormity of the issues, so they avoid thinking about them or dealing with them in any way. We must help them to overcome their fears and persuade them to join us, as much as they are able, to help save the world.
The 4’s and 5’s, of course, are the people who conscientiously give of themselves to help others. We need more people like this. This book, hopefully, will convince you to become one (if you’re not one already).
The 6’s and 7’s, on the other hand, are the people who are really causing problems for those of us who are working to put out the fire.
The 6’s are the opportunists who take advantage of the injustices of the world to serve their own selfish interests. Usually, they are profiting in some way from the misfortunes of others. Often, these are not the nicest people you will ever meet. Many convince themselves that kindness, compassion, generosity and other human virtues are just silly notions for those who are naive. Thereby, they rationalize their destructive, harmful behavior as being “the way the world works.” Their big, big egos tell them they are superior to everyone else. As such, they are living a lie, not the truth.
The 7’s are the people who are deliberately setting the fire. They may even be throwing gas on it. They are knowingly involved in activities that are harmful to other people, other creatures and the planet itself. The 6’s are often their minions. The 7’s are not nice people either. Some would call them sociopaths. Some would call them evil. I prefer to think of them as spiritually ill. They are not well. They are suffering. They are living in ignorance of the fundamental truth of the One Idea. If we are going to heal them, and in turn ourselves, we must offer them our kindness, love, compassion, understanding and forgiveness, for our own sakes as well as theirs. Why? Because we must be true to the One Idea, the path that will lead us to a healthy place.
You’ve heard the saying, “the world is at sixes and sevens,” meaning the world is in a state of confusion and disarray. Indeed it is. The 6’s and 7’s like it that way, because they are profiting from it. The rest of us, however, are in danger of being consumed by the fire. Ironically, in the end, the 6’s and 7’s will also be consumed. No one wins in this scenario. Everyone loses.
Next installment… The Good People of This Earth.

The lights over the sea: The most spectacular lighthouses in Vladivostok

Tokarevsky lighthouse in Vladivostok
Tokarevsky lighthouse in Vladivostok Source: Yury Smityuk

The lights over the sea: The most spectacular lighthouses in Vladivostok

The main symbols of Vladivostok are its famous lighthouses and bridges. Romantic or creepy, abandoned or in excellent condition - we take a look at the most picturesque ones by far. Finding all of them can make for a fun weekend project, if you're in the area.
September 22, 2014 Vasily Avchenkospecial to RBTH
In a sea town lighthouses perform several functions. They are not only navigational aids, but also city attractions. Those found in the chief Pacific Ocean city of Russia, Vladivostok, are no exception.
1. Tokarevsky lighthouse
Photo credit: Yulia ShandurenkoPhoto credit: Yulia Shandurenko
If you ask a Vladivostok resident the way to the lighthouse, they will immediately direct you to the Tokarevsky Lighthouse, “Egersheld” (this is how the south-western region of Vladivostok, located on the Shkota peninsula, is referred to. There are several lighthouses in the city, but “the lighthouse” refers just to this one. The Tokarevsky lighthouse is at the very edge of the Muravyova-Amur peninsula, on which Vladivostok is located. This place resembles the edge of the world and thus is a popular tourist hotspot.
The lighthouse is located on the end of a long sand bar (at high tide it submerges beneath the water completely), which is called “Tokarevsky cat” — after second-rank captain Tokarevsky, who worked as the primary minesweeper of Vladivostok at the end of the nineteenth century (he was a specialist serving mine armament ships). From here the Russian island and sea routes to China, Korea and Japan are visible.
Tokarevsky lighthouse is also the star of several movies (one of the latest is “Tale in the Darkness” by Russian director Nikolai Khomeriki). During the winter it is possible to see seals, resting on the ice floes or hunting for smelt.  

2. Basargina lighthouse 
Photo credit: Yury SmityukPhoto credit: Yury Smityuk
Getting to the other lighthouse of Vladivostok, bearing the name of admiral Vladimir Basagrin, is not so simple: It is located on the territory of the Ministry of Defense in the Patroclus bay area. The lighthouse first appeared as a wooden building here in 1937, and the lighthouse in its current form — stone with an 8-meter high tower — was built in 1958. Recently the GLONASS system was established here, which improved the safety of navigation, but the traditional fire on top of the tower continues to be in demand.
Basargina Lighthouse is the favorite “natural” scene of local artists and photographers. It is frequently depicted in calendars and postcards: Dark blue sea and grey rocks, on which gulls and cormorants build their nest, and the red and white lighthouse. It is best to view the Basargina lighthouse from the sea by renting a boat.
3. Skrypleva lighthouse
Photo credit: Yury SmityukPhoto credit: Yury Smityuk

Another lighthouse operates in tandem with the Basargina lighthouse, constructed on Skrypleva Island alongside Vladivostok. During World War II, an anti-aircraft (and according to other sources — anti-boat) battery was located on this small island and was operated by women, as men were sent to the frontline. Remnants of the barracks have remained until this day, but the military no longer remains on Skrypleva Island — just the lighthouse. It is the oldest lighthouse of Primorye, having been built in 1876 and continues to be in service today.
Combined with the neighboring Basargina lighthouse, the lighthouse on Skrypleva Island forms a sea gate to Vladivostok: Skrypleva lights up in red, while Basargina is lit in green. Indeed it is on approach to Skyrpleva Island that captains ask for permission to enter the port of Vladivostok. Foreign captains enlist maritime captains here.
4. Bruce lighthouse
Photo credit: Yury SmityukPhoto credit: Yury Smityuk

There is yet another lighthouse in the vicinity of Vladivostok, located near the village Slavyanka. It is called Bruce lighthouse and is located on a picturesque promontory of the same name: a rocky cliff of grey basalt stone, sparkling in the sun on the sea.
It is believed that the cape and lighthouse were named after Jacob Bruce, an associate of Tsar Peter the Great, a participant in the Crimean campaigns and the first Russian mason, mentioned in Alexander Pushkin’s poem “Poltava.”
However there is also another version. The Bruce peninsula was first described in 1885 by the crews of the British warships “Winchester” and “Barracuda.” At the time Vladivostok had not yet been established, and the place, where the city is located today, the British named “Port May.” At the same time on British charts the names “Cape Bruce” and “Bruce Peninsula” appeared — referring to British admiral Bruce, who commanded the British Pacific squadron during the Crimean War. The Russians, who came here just a few years later, kept the English name and interpreted it in their own way.
The Bruce Lighthouse was built in 1911. Its original appearance is retained to this day: A white stone tower 10 meters tall, coupled with a one-storey building. Nearby is the old sea bell (“ship’s bell”), which helped send signals afar during cloudy weather when the lighthouse’s fire was not visible. Today in bad weather, modern equipment helps deliver the signal.
5. Lighthouse on Asklod Island
Photo credit: Yury SmityukPhoto credit: Yury Smityuk
On Asklod Island to the south of Vladivostok, one of the most interesting and inaccessible of local lighthouses is located. Several legends are also connected with this island.
It was here in 1868 that the “Manzovskaya War” started (Manzo is what the Chinese who lived on Primorye were called). At the time, Chinese miners, who were illegally mining Asklod gold, came into conflict with the Russian authorities, having killed and wounded several sailors aboard the schooner “Aleut.” Then the “hunghutz” — Chinese bandits — burned the villages Shkotovo and Nilskoe (the current city of Ussuriysk). An attack was expected on Vladivostok, and only the intervention of the Russian army was able to put an end to the conflict. In Soviet times the air defense town was built there, but then was abandoned — empty houses, water supply, a school and hospital still can be found there.
Old residents say that in 90 years of the twentieth century, a new war broke out here — “copper”: The remaining, unemployed residents of Primorye pilfered the remaining scrap metal left from the military unit and town. Now on Asklod only the lighthouse located on steep coastal cliffs and its caretaker remain (not including the visiting poachers — sea slugs are found here in the sea and deer in the woods). Heat is produced from a wood burning stove, while electricity comes from a diesel generator. There is no transportation to the island, but infrequently a gun boat will travel there with fuel imports and products. The current lighthouse was built during the Soviet period, but nearby the old lighthouse, built in the early twentieth century, has been preserved. This lighthouse is located on a cliff, and reaching it is almost impossible because the staircase leading there is partially destroyed.
6. Lighthouse on the roof
Photo credit: Yury SmityukPhoto credit: Yury Smityuk
The most unusual lighthouse, which describes the maritime nature of Vladivostok the best, is located near the bus stop “Molodyozhnaya”. It is located right on the roof of a house — a normal five-story Khrushchev-style building — and is clearly visible from the sea, as well as from Prospect 100 years to Vladivostok. To be precise, it is still a “glowing navigational sign,” but in everyday life it is just referred to as a landmark lighthouse.
This object, under the competence of the Pacific Fleet, existed here during the days when this place was considered the suburbs of Vladivostok. In 1960 after the visit of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev the project “Large Vladivostok” was launched and the city began to grow rapidly toward the north. By law construction near navigation equipment was not possible. But so that the new street – Prospect 100 years to Vladivostok — would be straight, the navy chiefs decided to make an exception and allow luminous signs to be moved on to the roof of a new house. For almost half a century already, this lighthouse has served and helped ships moor in the Likhternaya harbor of Vladivostok. 

14 Reasons English Bull Terriers Are The Worst Indoor Dog Breeds Of All Time

1. They’re only using you.

Bull Terrier food

2. Can’t I be any more clear?

Bull Terrier dog

3. They’re using you to have a roof over their heads.

Bull Terrier mom

4. They pretend to be cute…

Bull Terrier cute puppy

5. …but really, deep down inside, they’re plotting ways to take over your domain.

Bull Terrier cute look

6. Look, they’re already taking over.

Bull Terrier funny face

7. I told you!

Bull Terrier muddy

8. Alone time? You’ll never have it.

Bull Terrier photo

9. Because they’re watching you.

Bull Terrier watching

10. Your every move.

Bull Terrier looking out

11. They’re fierce.

Bull Terrier and cat

12. And they totally lack any form of manners.

Bull Terrier sleeping

13. Wow, embarrassing much?

Bull Terrier nap

14. How evil.

Bull Terrier teeth

Sunday, 26 June 2016


It is never easy understanding why we are the lucky ones, we have been blessed with the love of a fur baby. In turn we struggle with the pain, our hearts hurting and being blinded to why we could not have them for as long as we have life.
Diane 💓

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Todays photo

Nant Y Ffrith with our fur babies today

A Guide to Orwell: Recommended Reading

We know on For Reading Addicts that we have fans of all ages and everyone is at a different stage of their literary adventure. One of the questions we often get asked on the page is ‘Which Orwell novel should I start with?’ so I threw it out to the fans and asked your opinion.
Now the answers aren’t that surprising and possibly no one will be shocked at the top two suggestions, but I think it’s a real shame that Orwell’s political work overshadows his contemporary fiction so much. Yes Orwell was insightful politically but he was also insightful in every day life too as works such as Keep the Aspidistra Flying (my favourite Orwell novel), and Coming up for Air go to show.
Anyway I digress, when asked for the recommended Orwell novel to start with here’s what you said:

Animal Farm

Probably the most famous allegory of all time Animal Farm is a cleverly written and easy to read novella. It’s short and sweet and if you have an interest in politics is likely to lead you onto other Orwell works.


Possibly the most famous Orwell novel of all time, but it took second place here although many recommended 1984 as the novel you should move onto once you have read Animal Farm.

Down and Out in Paris and London

This book has been on my to be read pile for about 4 years now but I must confess I still haven’t read it. And while it was beaten by Animal Farm and 1984, it was the third most suggested book for the Orwell introduction.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

As already mentioned, Keep the Aspidistra Flying is my favourite Orwell novel and one of my favourite books of all time. It’s a fantastic story and just as relevant today as it was then. Oh, and Gordon Comstock is my hero!

Also getting a mention is Coming up for Air, The Road to Wigan Pier, Homage to Catalonia and The Clergyman’s Daughter. Orwell was a prolific writer and there are certainly many books to get through. If you’re new to Orwell our reading addicts suggest you start with Animal Farm!
Orwell is one of those classic writers you’re just going to have to read in the end. His works, particularly his more political stuff is still talked about and studied today. At least now you have an idea where to start.