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I though, was a carer for my parents from age 6 (when I learned to read), until age 55 (when my father passed away aged 92). For half a century I had to assist my parents with their day to day lives; and for a large part of that time I was directly responsible for their well-being.
My parents were poorly educated, neither of them having finished primary school. My father was Sicilian (from a small Medieval village called Piazza Armerina); and my mother was Greek (yet born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt). They met in South Africa in 1965, and I was born the following year.
At age 6 - as soon as I learned to read and speak English - I became their full-time translator. When people came to the door, I had to stop playing and sit with the adults to translate incomprehensible adult matters. At age 10, when television arrived in South Africa, I had to translate the News for my father every evening - both the English and Afrikaans broadcasts. As a teenager, I had to translate every single television programme we watched together as a family (not very pleasant for a grumpy teenager!).
One of the main reasons I emigrated to the UK in 2000, was to move my ageing parents out of South Africa and the deteriorating health system. On acquiring my first full-time job in Armagh, Northern Ireland, I purchased a suitable house (no stairs to climb), on the edge of a secluded housing estate (as my father was easily irritated by noise - plus, I didn't want my parents' incessant bickering disturbing the neighbours!). My parents arrived in the UK on 28 September 2000.
After two years I moved
to Glasgow (and three years after that to
Birmingham) - all the while having to cover both the
house mortgage and my rented accommodation.
I visited my parents as often as I could, usually
twice a year.
My mother passed away in May 2012 (age 79). I created a memorial website for her, and had a QR link to the site etched on the headstone. My father is buried with her. A few months after my father passed away, their ageing cat died, and we had the cat's ashes scattered on the grave.
In 2003 I heard that Tarja Trygg, a researcher at the Aalto University School of Art and Design in Finland, was giving away free pinhole cameras and creating A World Map of Solargraphs.
A pinhole camera consists of a piece of photo-sensitive paper (film), inside a small, dark cylinder with a tiny pinhole in it. The camera is positioned facing south, and when the Sun is out, it slowly burns a narrow trail across the film - with each day's trail slightly higher than the previous one (if moving toward midsummer), or slightly lower (if moving toward midwinter).
I promptly requested a few pinhole cameras, and on
the Winter Solstice (21 December 2003, when the Sun
was at its lowest position in the sky), I set one up
facing the Glasgow Science Centre, across the River
Six months later, on the Summer Solstice (21 June 2004, when the Sun was at its highest position in the sky), I took the camera down and sent it to Tarja Trygg for developing.
The result was the following breathtakingly beautiful - and unusually bright and colourful - solar artwork, or 'solargraph'
From left to right can be seen the IMAX cinema, the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) and the Tower. Aside from the rich colours, this solargraph is outstanding because the Sun's tracks have also been captured as reflections on the river.
The Astronomer Royal for Scotland at the time, Prof. John Campbell Brown, was so impressed by this solargraph he included it in an article he wrote for the February 2014 edition of The Scots Magazine (the oldest consumer magazine still in print, first published in 1739). He also included the GSC Solargraph in his book Oor Big Braw Cosmos (2019)
In November 2004, on leaving the Glasgow Science Centre (where I worked as Planetarium Manager for three years), my planetarium colleagues (known as the A-team; 'A' for astronomy) gave me a signed farewell t-shirt with the GSC Solargraph printed on it.
On 30 March 2005, while on holiday in Finland, I popped in to meet Tarja Trygg, and of course wore my GSC Solargraph t-shirt.
In 2007 I captured a second solargraph from the planetarium office at Thinktank Science Museum, and both solargraphs are now part of Tarja Trygg's World Map of Solargraphs.
My favourite version of the GSC Solargraph though, is this one, worn by my wife
Extract from The
Watchtower, 15 July 1989, p30
Is it appropriate for a Christian to buy lottery tickets if the proceeds go to a charity?
Some people have reasoned that being involved in a lottery is not wrong or bad because the cost of a ticket (chance) may be small, because those participating do so willingly, and because some of the proceeds may be used for a charitable purpose, such as helping the poor. How valid is such reasoning?
While some claim that buying a lottery ticket is simple, low-cost entertainment, there is no denying the greed factor. If a Christian felt any impulse to ‘take a chance’ in a lottery, he should think seriously about the greed on which the lottery is based. Ephesians 5:3 says that ‘greediness should not even be mentioned among us,’ much less given in to by a Christian.
Even if the cost of a lottery ticket would not significantly harm someone’s personal or family finances, that does not mean that others are not harmed. Why so? Because almost anyone buying a lottery ticket would like to win. From where would his prize money come? If his ticket cost ten pesos and the prize is a million pesos, that means that he takes the ticket money from a hundred thousand other people. Does that harmonize with God’s counsel against coveting others’ valuables? (Deuteronomy 5:21)
Moreover, his winning will probably be publicized, moving many to begin playing the lottery or buying more tickets, even if they cannot afford this.
If a Christian genuinely wants to help the poor, handicapped, or elderly, he certainly can do so directly or in a way that does not involve gambling.
'People ask me the key to success in business or in life, and it is this: you don’t have to be perfect every day; you just have to give your best and be really good every day and do it for years consistently. The compounding effect over time is unbelievable. Over years you’re going to be really successful if you're consistent'