Monday, 10 February, 2014

What Is Your God-Given Talent? The Freakish Sound of Mike Masse and Jeff Hall

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Most of us go to work everyday to keep the order ticking along. At times, we probably think we'd rather be out fishing... but we understand that our commitments are such that we need to be able to provide - food on the table, safety and shelter for our loved ones, education and development for the little ones, to name but a few.

(Scroll to bottom for videos)

Living the dream - http://www.mikemasse.com/

When we ourselves were younger, we often had dreams that later in life might seem somewhat unfulfilled - perhaps it's playing a professional sport, having paintings displayed in a national gallery or singing in front of an audience of screaming fans.

Whatever your dream is or was, I firmly believe that God has provided us all with at least one (or more) very special gifts. I also believe that these gifts are what our dreams are made of.

So my message today is quite simple - regardless of your age, status or current lot in life. Regardless of whether you are a student, a fireman, a lawyer, a banker :), a plumber... get out there and do something that you love - something that you have an aptitude for, something that makes you feel awesome about yourself.

It doesn't matter if nobody else cares or listens - as long as you can remember what it was that brought a feeling of completeness to your soul. Go to the park and kick a football... take time out and buy a canvas and brushes... or simply, just sing a song that you love. It will all come flooding back to you.

So what is your God-given talent??

I recently became aware of a couple of guys that are living their dream. If what I read serves me correct, these blokes are attornies. But as well as meeting their commitments to family and loved ones, they are also doing what they love and what they definitely have a God-given talent for - making beautiful sweet sounds...

Living the dream - Lui in pink shirt and high hair, me bottom right
Interestingly, I first viewed one of their videos on YouTube through a mate of mine sharing it on Facebook. This buddy of mine, Lui, also happens to be a singing partner of mine from around 20+ years ago - we were in a teenage group in the 80s and believe it or not, had a pretty solid following - I remember touring through country Queensland performing to (at times) screaming schoolgirls, signing autographs on publicity pictures and quite simply - living the dream of that time in our lives.

I'm not going to say that we were anywhere close to having the talent of Mike Masse and Jeff Hall - but it is what we did, what we loved.

Following are a few of Mike and Jeff's videos that really moved me and left me with the 'Wow' factor.

Firstly, a cover version of Toto's 'Africa':




How many Dads can listen to such a beautiful version of 'Cat's in the Cradle' without tearing up?:




Finally, for all the Eagles fans... 'Hotel California' - or is it?? Hmmm? One more Time??:




Now do yourself a favour!! - Remember your dream. Live it - even if it's just personally (or in a Pizza shop). It's your God-given talent and right! :)


For mor information, visit http://www.mikemasse.com/

Friday, 27 December, 2013

Top 10 Photos of 2013 - Time Magazine - Awesome

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TIME MAGAZINE has once again published their Top 10 Pictures of the year.

The 2013 selection does not fail when it comes to capturing what words alone cannot describe.

How better to come back from a few months blogging hiatus, than to share these awesome images and heart tugging moments, along with commentary from the photographers themselves.

ENJOY!!

http://lightbox.time.com/2013/12/02/time-picks-the-top-10-photos-of-2013/

John Tlumacki. Boston, Mass., USA. April 15, 2013. 

The bomb exploded about two hours and forty minutes after the winner of the men’s race had crossed the finish line on Boylston Street. I was standing on the finish line photographing runners; some dressed in costumes, others were holding the hands of children and family members as they shared the joy of finishing together. 

The first bomb went off on the Boylston Street sidewalk less than 45 feet from me. The percussion from the blast jolted me. I saw runner Bill Iffrig from Lake Stevens, Wash., fall to the pavement. I ran forward to photograph him. Three Boston Police officers bolted towards him at the same time, one with her gun drawn, as the second bomb exploded three blocks away. I had not seen the officer's gun until I edited the photos. I didn’t understand at first what had happened, thinking maybe it was a cannon salute or a manhole explosion. But when I ran to the sidewalk area several feet away, I saw the horror of what the bomb did. I then began to comprehend what I was photographing. I tried not to take my eye off the camera. Smoke was thick. A police officer looked me in the eyes and said, “You shouldn’t be here. Another bomb could go off.” Bodies were still smoldering, legs were blown off, and massive amounts of blood covered the sidewalk.

I photographed Kevin Corcoran from Lowell using his belt to stop the flow of blood from his wife Celeste’s mangled leg. I photographed Celeste’s daughter, Sydney, lying on the ground as two men wrapped t-shirts on her legs. Nicole Gross from Charlotte, North Carolina, struggled to get up, her shirt in tatters, her leg severely injured. A pool of blood surrounded her. A police officer reached over and placed two fingers on Krystal Campbell's neck, looking for a pulse. Krystal had passed away. Celeste lost both legs. Sydney lost nearly all her blood from a cellphone-size piece of shrapnel that lodged in her thigh and severed her femoral artery. I continued taking photos for about 12 minutes. Then I got my laptop, which was still plugged in near the finish line, and walked to my car and drove to the Globe office. I took off my shoes, which were covered with blood, and began to edit my photos. On bad nights, the images still play over and over in my mind.


Daniel Etter. Istanbul, Turkey. June 1, 2013. 

The scale of the protests took me by surprise. Living near Istanbul's Taksim Square, I am used to seeing demonstrations. The Gezi Park Protest seemed nothing exceptional at first. So I left Turkey for a story in the Ukraine. But as I was traveling, the movement to save Gezi Park turned into protests against the rule of Prime Minister Erdogan. I decided to fly back. 

The following night, I photographed youths clashing with police near the Prime Minister's office in Dolmabahce Palace. The protesters pushed towards his office and the police fought back with water cannons and enormous amounts of tear gas. To make it harder for the police to advance, the protesters built barracks out of everything they could find. 

On one of the barricades I saw this guy waving the Turkish flag, collapsing from the tear gas and retreating when it was too much too take. Even though I wore a gas mask, I had problems breathing. He did that a few times without any protection. I followed him for a while and took this frame. 

The photo went viral within minutes after I posted it on Facebook and a Turkish friend shared it. Within hours 10,000 people posted it, made it their profile picture and appropriated it. It appeared on t-shirts and posters and, oddly, was turned into a monument in Turkey's third biggest city, Izmir.


Peter van Agtmael. Humble, Texas, USA. June 12, 2013. 

I took this picture of Bobby Henline at a Motel 6 a few miles away from the Houston airport. Earlier that day he'd met the father of Rodney McCandless, a 19-year-old who died in the same humvee explosion in Iraq that injured him.

It was sweltering. The pool was lit by a soft glow. Bobby got in the water and floated on his back into the light. From the balcony, I hammered at the motor drive of my camera. Every little movement he made seemed significant. A few people staying in the motel drifted to the balcony to drink beer and watch silently. Bobby didn't mind the attention. By becoming a standup comedian, he's taken ownership of his injuries. 

The desk clerk came out and said she had to lock the gate to the pool at 9. Bobby and I protested that we needed a bit longer to get the picture perfect, but she wasn't interested in being flexible with the rules. A soft rain started falling. We finished up and headed out for a beer.


Mosa'ab Elshamy. Cairo, Egypt. July 27, 2013.

I rushed to Rabaa Adaweya square shortly after midnight on July 27th after hearing that security forces were attacking Morsi supporters who had been camped there for two months. Throughout the night I would alternate between the front-line, the makeshift hospital and a room where dead were kept, documenting a level of brute violence and horror I hadn't witnessed until that night. There was a constant stream of ambulances and motorbikes in the camp. The sound of sirens and panicked shouts mixed with that of live ammunition, and the air was filled with tear gas and black smoke.

Twelve hours later, I put the camera away as I got exhausted and headed back home. On my way out I heard screams and noticed a large group of people. Two men carried a dead young man who had very recently been shot in the head. The man (on the right) was in a state of shock. Unaware that the man he carried was dead, he pleaded for a medic or an ambulance and screamed for God's mercy. I quickly got the camera out and took this photo. It was the last picture I took on that horrific day, but it remains the most memorable.


Philippe Lopez, Tolosa, Leyte, The Philippines. Nov. 18, 2013.

It’s very stormy at this time of year in the Philippines. Clouds gathered in front of the setting sun while along the road residents lit fires to burn the debris left by the typhoon. Momentarily, the devastated landscape took on a strange beauty, and it was just then that this group of women and children appeared on the road. I think people gravitate towards this picture not only because it is visually strong and emotional, but also because, in a way, it draws on some viewers' own faith.


Tim Holmes. Dunalley, Australia. Jan. 4, 2013. 

On the January 4, 2013, a bush fire swept through our small coastal township of Dunalley in Southern Tasmania. My wife and I and our five grandchildren took refuge in the sea bordering our property as massive columns of fire consumed everything in their path. 

The grand children had lived next door to us in a beautiful, sun-filled timber farmhouse. It had a picket-fenced garden strewn with children’s toys, sandpits and colorful flowers. There was a pathway that ran through the trees to an old wooden boatshed and jetty where the children would often play. 

On that day the jetty became our shelter, the water was cold and the fire was intensely hot on our faces but the biggest problem was the lack of air to breathe. We found a shallow area of breathable air between the toxic smoke and the water. 

The fire burned right down to the water’s edge and the jetty itself caught on fire, but we were able to put it out. We spent two and half hours under the jetty and I took the photograph with my wife’s iPhone to send by text message to our daughter so that she could see that we were all together. Our lives were spared but houses and all possessions were lost.


Emin Özmen. Keferghan, Syria. Aug. 31, 2013. 

I took this picture on August 31 in Keferghan, a town near Aleppo, in northern Syria. It was the fourth and last execution of the day committed by Al Qaeda-linked ISIS militias. 

There were people of the village with their children, observing the scene in silence. A man, covered with black clothes except for his eyes, read his crimes for a long time. After the execution in Ehtemlat, the body was put on a pick-up and was taken to another village. The next was the execution in A'zaz, and the scene was repeated once again. The bodies were being taken from village to village. There was another execution right after A'zaz, and then Savran, and then Keferghan. 

All the people who witnessed the executions seemed relieved. I was not even sure of what kind of a picture I was taking. I tried hard not to put my camera down. I only tried to record the events through my camera. I had to document what I saw, one way or another. This is a war, and I was in the middle of an unbearable moment.


Tyler Hicks. Nairobi, Kenya. Sept. 21, 2013.

It was clear that something catastrophic was developing when I arrived at Nairobi’s upscale Westgate Mall. Gunfire had been reported, and I witnessed hundreds of victims streaming out of the building, many of them shot and bloodied. I realized this was the attack people had warned about since I moved here two years ago. Al Shabab militants were waging a violent attack on a crowded target frequented by foreigners.

After photographing the panic outside, I turned my focus to finding an approach into the mall, where I found a small number of disorganized Kenyan police and army, mixed with terrified masses trying to escape the attackers. From an upper floor I moved to the balcony of the atrium to glimpse the bloodshed below. Bodies of victims lay lifeless where they fell, and among them a terrified woman remained stranded with two children in a café. They remained there, petrified, with quiet, everyday music continuing to play over the mall’s sound system. I took some photographs and then retreated from the exposed position. The woman and children were later rescued unharmed.



Add David Jenkins. Seal Island, South Africa. July 26, 2013.

I have been traveling to Seal Island off the coast of South Africa for 5 or 6 years now to photograph the interaction between the great white sharks and their prey, the cape fur seal. On the morning of July 26, 2013, I made my way out to Seal Island with a local shark tour operator. The sea was not too rough and there was some cloud cover -- good conditions to see the sharks hunting.

Usually, the most active hunting time is an hour before sunrise and an hour after. I arrived at the island at about 7:15 and immediately we could see that there had been some kills -- from the gulls in the area hovering and the slicks on the water. When the attacks happen they are at lightening speed and can be over in a second. We decided to track alongside some seals which were coming back to the island after feeding out at sea, keeping a distance so as not to interfere. I noticed a smaller seal had dropped off the back of the main group. The sharks often choose the single seals to attack as their chance of success is higher.

I tracked with the seal in my viewfinder and, without warning, a great white attacked. The shark had its mouth wide open and the seal managed to just avoid the bite. It was sent flying out of the water by the nose of the shark. As the seal was falling back towards the water it narrowly missed the mouth of the shark. For the next couple of minutes the seal stayed close to the shark's body but away from the mouth, using its agility to tire out the shark. When the shark gave up, the seal managed to make its way back to the island safely.



Add Taslima Akhter. Savar Dhaka, Bangladesh. April 24, 2013.

April 24, 2013, still remains fresh in my memory. At 9 AM when I got the news, I rushed to Rana Plaza. That morning I did not understand what a brutal thing had happened, but within hours I grasped the enormity and horror of it. The day passed with many people helping survivors and taking photos. At midnight there were still many people. I saw the frightened eyes of the relatives. Some were crying. Some were looking for their loved ones.

Around 2 AM among the many dead bodies inside the collapse, I found a couple at the back of the building, embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were stuck under the concrete. A drop of blood from the man’s eye ran like a tear. Since then, this couple remains firmly in my heart. So many questions rose in my mind. What were they thinking at the last moment of their lives? Did they remember their family members? Did they to try to save themselves?

I keep asking myself whether the dreams of these people do not matter at all. Are they not worthy of our attention because they are the cheapest labor in the world? I have received many letters from different corners of the world, expressing solidarity with the workers. Those letters inspired me so much, while this incident raised questions about my responsibility as a photographer. My photography is my protest.




Sunday, 22 September, 2013

10-yo Boy Finds Mummified Remains In Grandparents Attic (WTH and Spooky)

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Well, this is one of those classic 'What The Hell' Moments...

But the story gets weirder and weirder as the facts emerge.

When a 10-year-old boy found a human mummy in a sarcophagus in a corner of his grandparents' attic, it left German authorities in a state of bewilderment.

The mummy found by a ten-year-old boy in Germany lies in its resting place. (Pic: EPA/Lutz Wolfgang Kettler)

An x-ray picture showing the skull of a mummy
with headband and arrowhead at an institut
for radiology in Diepholz, Germany.
(Pic: EPA/Lutz Wolfgang Kettler)
A number of tests have been performed on the remains, and as a result (through CT scan) it was discovered that the well-preserved human skull had an arrow sticking out of the left eye socket. According to local newspaper Kreiszeitung, there were also large parts of a skeleton with the arms crossed over the chest.

To make things even more confusing, a 'death mask' also found in the box and X-rays show a metal layer covering the bones. At this stage, the gender of the 1.49-metre long human remains is unknown.

It is thought that the boy's late father, Lutz-Wolfgang Kettler, might have brought the mummy back from North Africa in the 1950s.


According to pathologists and researchers, things just don't add up!!


The mummy has not been unwrapped for fear of damaging the remains, but the bandages used actually date from the 20th century and are machine-woven. According to pathologist Andreas Nerlich of Munich's Bogenhausen hospital, "the skull and the bones are real, the mummy is a fake, made from one or several human bodies... What we have are questions upon questions".

The mummy is examined through with the help of modern science. (Pic: AAP)

Police and prosecutors from Diepholz, Lower Saxony state, are waiting for more information on where the body came from. Police spokesman, Frank Bavendiek told German news agency DPA, "We'll wait until we know how old the bones are... If they are a few hundred years old, then it's a mummy and we won't investigate".

So let me ask you, dear readers - When was the last time you snooped around your Grandparents' attic?

Thursday, 29 August, 2013

Dear Readers... Please Help Save Locky's Dad!!

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Locky's Dad is Nick Auden - the dad of three little kids: Lachlan ("Locky"), Hayley, & Evan - a loving husband, an athlete and a successful businessman!

And he keeps surviving against all odds in his battle against Stage 4 Melanoma.

Nick is determined to be a survival case study for other advanced melanoma fighters.

But he needs access to a trial drug to beat this disease – for Locky, Hayley, and Evan to keep their dad.

Please play your part by joining us in making sure Nick wins this battle.



“Audo” (Nick Auden) is a really top bloke and a role model of a father. He departed Singapore in 2011 with his family to Denver, Colorado – within 2-months of the move he found out he was due to be a Dad for the third time and also that he had stage 4 Melanoma.

I would personally be very, very grateful if all of my readers take a couple of minutes to help save Locky's Dad!
  

Join us in asking Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb to give Nick access to the new breakthrough PD-1 drug for melanoma.

A new anti-PD-1 ("PD-1") wonderdrug is showing remarkable results for patients with Stage 4 melanoma.
Up until now, Stage 4 melanoma has largely been incurable.

The people of Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb are working hard to get their PD-1 drugs approved, but they may not achieve PD-1 commercial availability for another 12-18 months.

Nick cannot wait that long. He needs the PD-1 drug now!

Nick qualified for a Merck PD-1 trial in July, but a medical complication arose and excluded him from the trial.

His best chance now is PD-1 access on a compassionate basis.

Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb have the power to give Nick PD-1 on a compassionate basis. Help us tell Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb to give Nick the PD-1 drug.

Nick is strong. Nick can win this. Nick can be a case study of survival for late stage melanoma fighters like him. 

What can YOU do? 

Please join us in asking Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb to provide Nick compassionate access to PD-1 – access to a chance to fight for a full life with Amy, Locky, Hayley, and Evan.

How? Four ways you can help:

1. Sign Nick's petition to Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb:





2. Twitter: Ask @merck and @bmsnews to give Nick compassionate access to PD-1




3. Facebook: Like the page on Facebook with the message “@Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, please #SaveLockysDad.” And share this story with others.



4. Or spread the word via email, blogging, talking to friends, and anything else you can think of!

There is a website set up especially for Nick - http://www.savelockysdad.com/ (you can see a photo gallery of his beautiful family there also, as well as reading a heartfelt letter from Locky's Mum, Amy)
 

Please share with family and friends to get as many electronic signatures as we can!!
 

What is Melanoma? 

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and generally occurs where the skin is sun damaged at a young age. The damage to the skin cells leads to uncontrolled cell growth in the melanocytes, the cells that contain pigments that color our hair and skin. If detected very early melanoma can be completely removed by surgery which can provide a cure. The risk however is that melanoma quickly spreads throughout the body. Typically it will spread or metastasize to organs such as the lungs, liver, bones, and brain. Once it has metastasized to distant organs melanoma is almost always terminal. In recent years several new treatments have been developed however these treatments provide life extension measured only in months. The PD-1 drugs recently developed by Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb offer, for the first time, a real chance for patients with advanced melanoma.

For more information, see also http://www.melanoma.org/learn-more/melanoma-101/what-melanoma
 

Wednesday, 14 August, 2013

'Ball-Cutter' Pacu Fish - Swim Naked At Your Own Risk!

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Known as a PACU, the "ball-cutter" fish has a set of chompers very similar to that of a human.
 
Usually found only in warm waters of the Amazon River, the Pacu, a relative of the Piranha, can grow up to a length of 90cm and a weight of 25kg.


So it came as a complete surprise when a 21cm Pacu was caught in an eel trap in Oresund Sound off the south coast of Sweden.

Although the Natural History Museum of Denmark is testing the DNA of the fish to confirm that it is in fact a Pacu, they issued a very succinct warning to the public: "Keep your swimwear on if you're bathing in the Sound these days - maybe there are more out there!"

This is absolutely no joke - this species of invasive fish has become infamous for attacking human testicles. In fact, Pacus have reportedly killed fishermen who have bled to death after losing their testicles.

According to fish expert Henrick Carl of the Natural History Museum, the freshwater fish bite "because they're hungry, and testicles sit nicely in their mouth". He continued by saying to local news media, "They are almost identical to the piranha... It's just that they have different teeth. Flatter and stronger, perfect for crushing."

"It normally eats nuts, fruit, and small fish, but human testicles are just a natural target. It's not normal to get your testicles bitten off, of course, but it can happen ...," said Mr Carl.

BALL-CUTTER INDEED!! WTH??
 
 

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