Friday, August 31, 2012

The Lighter Side of World Records

Hey all,

I was surfing the other day and saw this article about a water balloon fight setting a Guiness World Record.  It made me curious and I went and had a look at the video.  What a hoot!  I'd have joined in!  What about you?

As I watched the fun, I got to thinking about other records.  Not the normal ones, like the fastest man in the world (said to be Usain Bolt) or the oldest person on the planet (Besse Cooper at 116), but those odd-ball attempts at a world record, some, just to say you did.  So I went on a research quest and today's Lighter Side is a look at some of them.  Enjoy!!!

1)  A bee keeper in China, She Ping, broke a world record by covering his body with 33.1 kilograms of bees (about 331,000 insects). 
 I say... CREEPY!!!   I can almost feel the little critters crawling on me, and all I want to do is run around screaming!!!


2) Etibar Elchiyev poses with 50 metal spoons magnetized to his body during an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "Most spoons on a human body".
I say... Seriously?  Someone came up with this as a world record?  Body Spooning?  What about Magnetic Forking?  Or Knife Sticking?


3) Seventy-four scuba divers dance to set the world record for an underwater dance class at Sydney's Olympic Park Aquatic Centre October 27, 2006.
I say... Weird yes, but at least this one is fun.  Like the water balloon fight, I could get into doing something like this!


4)  Guinness World Record holder for the 'Most Pierced Man', Rolf Bucholz of Germany, poses showing some of his 453 piercings.
I say... AUTSCH!!!!  Which is German for OUCH!!!!  Why you'd do this to yourself is beyond me.  I don't mind piercings or tattoos, but this, IMHO, is way too much!!!  But it's his body, so...


5) And finally, one last really weird one...   June, 2011: Brian Spotts of the USA reclaimed two Guinness world records in egg balancing.  The Dacono man stood 900 eggs on end at a Hong Kong mall; he's also balanced a dozen eggs in one minute and 32 seconds.
I say...  And his mother said he wouldn't amount to anything when he grew up.  I'm sure he can use this skill in the real world.  How about you?  LOL

But then again, I work with people every day at Cirque du Soleil who jump on beds for a living!  So I guess anything can pay the bills!  

Until Monday!


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guns Don't Kill People, Stupidity Kills People

Hey all,

I was looking at the news today, just surfing through yahoo and such, when THIS ITEM caught my eye.  Now you know I understand the need for rules and discipline--to an extent.  Without it there can be chaos.  But is this type of thing really necessary?  Or have these authorities got WAAAAY around the bend?

According to the article, a little boy (Hunter), who is deaf, "signs his name by crossing his forefinger and index finger and moving his hand up and down."  And the school district has made the outrageous demand that the child change his name.  Why?

Because in their mind his sign looks like a gun.

Seriously?  A gun?  I guess people aren't allowed to cross their fingers for luck, either.  Yes.  It's that stupid!!!

The district claims that it violates a rule that forbids anything in the school that looks like a weapon and that they are "working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child."

The best solution?  How about letting him be called by his name?  And signing it.  Any other solution would be ridiculous.

To add to the craziness, this isn't a sign the child just made up to irritate his teachers.  His father reports it is a "a symbol.  An actual sign, a registered sign, through S.E.E."

Why is it that so many authorities have gone overboard about this kind of thing?  I know we've had some horrible tragedies in schools, but do they REALLY think allowing this preschooler to use his name could really cause anything similar to the shocking events in Colorado, or just recently in Baltimore, Maryland?  

IMHO, that is just stupid.  AND it disrespects the people who's lives were forever changed by those aforementioned tragedies.  

Yes, we need rules and, yes, we need discipline.  But for God's sake, choose your place and time to make those rules.  Make sure the rules are correct and will make a difference.

Don't just have rules in reaction to being afraid, or even worse, to cover your ass.  Rules are there to help people live.  Not to smother us with stupidity!

I wonder...would little Bamm Bamm Rubble of The Flintstones cartoon be told he couldn't use his name at his school if he lived in this day and age?  After all, his name could be said to "sound" like a weapon.

Ridiculous?  You're damn right it is!!!

I'll be back on Friday with a fun Lighter Side about awards and titles.


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, August 27, 2012

Can't You Shut the F*CK Up!!!!!!

Hey all,

I must be getting old.  Or maybe I'm just getting less tolerant.  Or maybe both.  But I have to rant about what happened to me yesterday.

As you know, I'm living now in Zurich Switzerland.  And since it's a big city, I often look for places out of town, in the forest to recharge my batteries.  And I found one in the Wildnispark Zurich Langenberg just outside of town.

It's a beautiful place, a wildlife park and hiking area, and something you don't often see here in's FREE.  Woohoo!!!

So, I headed out with my packed lunch and water, prepared to enjoy myself.  And for the most part I did.  The park is absolutely beautiful, with long sweeping trails, bubbling brooks and rushing waterfalls.  The open air zoo part of the park was amazing, with huge enclosures for the animals and platforms and hides to watch all the different creatures.  I loved it.

Until I ran into them.  The mouths.  The ones who don't get the fact that most people come to the forest for the silence...for the tranquility.  The ones that let their children scream bloody murder and then complain the animals won't come near them.  The ones that talk at the top of their lungs as they are crouching in a hide and then wonder--loudly--why they never see any of the critters.


No jury of my peers would convict me if I threw them all in the closest lake.  I know the animals would thank me.  The idiots would finally shut up!

But the fish in the lake would probably revolt.  Those kind of people would keep talking even as they sank into the mud.

I've seen this type of behavior everywhere we've been, and it's rude and irritating to those of us who did come to the park to actually LISTEN to the wind in the trees or actually try and SEE the animals around us.  It's even worse when you are out in the actual back country and there is nothing but silence all around're soaking it in, and then suddenly, Mr. Mouth and his family come shouting down the trail.

Any of you who are critter watchers know that once that happens it can be hours before the animals feel it's safe to creep back out and do their daily thing.

When our kids were little the first thing Jonathon and I taught them when hiking, was to be move silently in the forest.  And they learned.  No, they weren't perfect when they were little, and we lost quite a few opportunities to see things, but it was a learning curve and that's okay.  By the time they were five, they knew to be quiet and hear what was around them.

One of my favorite memories is being in Queensland, Australia and wandering around in one of the forests there.  The kids were 7, 5 and 3.  We were all silent, taking in the rainforest type of surroundings and watching the wild parakeets and parrots all around us.

And then, out of nowhere, a cassowary crossed our paths.  

Now these huge birds are not something you see every day.  LOL  And they can be dangerous, especially if threatened.  Instinctively, we all froze, even my youngest, and just watched as the bird stared at our family with it's unblinking eyes.  Then, obviously dismissing us as uninteresting, it walked along the path, nibbling on bugs and snapping at flies.  We crept along behind it, all as quiet as the proverbial mouse, watching the cassowary in it's native surroundings.

It lasted maybe five to ten minutes, before the bird slipped off into the bush, but it was one of the most rewarding memories of my life.  Not only did we get to see something not often experienced, but I was so proud of my children.  They didn't utter a peep.  And their reward was a memory they will never forget.

I wish the parents I ran into yesterday would teach their children--hell, teach themselves to be silent in the forest.  They don't understand they are their own worse enemy.  They don't see anything and then complain--loudly--how boring and stupid whatever park they've gone to is.  And that's sad.  They honestly don't know what they're missing.

And they don't understand that it's their own fault that they're missing it.

As for me, I've learned to walk away from Mr. Mouth and his family.  It doesn't do me any good to remonstrate with these type of people, even if I could speak the language.  They don't listen and get angry that you dare say something.  So rather than waste the energy, I just leave and find my own quiet place to enjoy the animals and the forest.

But I do feel sorry for the critters.  If they have to listen to that every day, it's no wonder some species are going extinct!

Until Wednesday,


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 24, 2012

Another Lighter Side of Signage and Art

Okay all,

I've gotten your letters and emails and bow to your wishes.  Here is another Lighter Side of Signage, with a little bit of freaky art thrown in for good measure.  Enjoy!!!

The ever popular "Don't Let Your Dog Poop Here" Signs.  Two I saw in our last few days of Antwerp.  You have to admit this first one is colorful!

 And this simple one says if your dog poops here, you'll have a €60 penalty.  Hmmm...what if he does his business OUTSIDE the box? 

What were they thinking when they named this store?  Sucx?  Seriously?  Can you just hear the lame jokes heading their way?

This trio of signs I found in Brussels, Belgium.  Click on them to read better.  I must admit, I was a bit shocked.  Then I laughed like a loon!

This one sat outside an Amusement park we visited.  I had to ask what it meant and a local said it pointed out a parking lot where people were dropped off to carpool.  Thus a kiss goodby and a ride to work.  Kiss and Ride.  LOL

Not signage, per say, but it is trying to tell us something.  Art or fun or whatever, this stork is NOT having a good day!

And this last sign is a doozy.  Sitting right on the main street in Antwerp, Belgium, it tells you all the things you CAN'T do in the city.  A little disturbing to the tourists, but at least they're honest about all the rules and such!  LOL  Click to make bigger.
Okay.  Now that you've seen it, I can tell you the truth.  It's not real signage, but art.  Seriously.  It's supposed to show us how much of a NO society our world has become.  You can't do this, you can't do that.  IMHO, it is one of the few weird arts that hits its target.  LOL  It sure makes everyone stop and take a second look!

Hope you enjoyed this installment of weird signs and art.  I'll have more in a few weeks or sooner if you all whine again.  *grin*  I love it.  Makes me enjoy my job all the more!

Until Monday!


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Wasn't Naked--I Simply Didn't Have Any Clothes On

Hey all,

I'm going to rant today.

I get up every morning and while Jonathon is getting ready for work I turn on CNN.  Living overseas, it's my way to keep up with the happenings both at home in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

Well, imagine my surprise when one of the TOP news stories is that a Republican Kansas congressman by the name of Kevin Yoder got a little tipsy and went skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee while on a fact finding mission in Israel.  Yet this didn't happen yesterday, but over a year ago.

Seriously?  Was it a slow news day or what?  This is what you call breaking news?

Now, before I get chewed on by some of you, I understand it's considered a holy site (yet people dive there all the time and don't get news coverage) and I get he's a CONGRESSMAN and should be above all of that.  But come on folks.  It was skinny-dipping.  A one time thing.  A lark.  And a year ago.  Why the hell bring it up now?

And, if you do your research--which it seems most of the media didn't do--this isn't the first time a politician went swimming in the raw.  Did you know that when President John Quincy Adams lived in the White House, he frequently went skinny-dipping in the Potomac River? President Teddy Roosevelt, swam naked in the Potomac too. And here's something to shock all you prudes out there.  Billy Graham was one of many to go skinny-dipping with President Lyndon Johnson in the White House pool.  That's right, Billy Graham, one of the most respected (and rightly so) men in America.

None of these people got media coverage about it.  None of these people were treated like taking a quick nude swim is the stuff of serious political scandal!!!  So why are they targeting Congressman Yoder?

Politics of course.  It's an election year.  Muckraking is alive and well in the good old US of A.

But again.  WTF???  Aren't there more important issues to deal with.  Like the fact people die of starvation every day.  Or maybe reporting on the horrific violence in Afghanistan.  Or the lesser cared about news that we lose over a thousand species to extinction every single year.  Aren't those topics a hell of a lot more important than the idea a congressman let his dangly bits wave in the breeze off the Galilean Sea???

What do you think?

Obviously when Mark Twain said, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society", he didn't reckon with politics and reporters!!!

I'll be back on Friday with a fan favorite.  Signage and weird art!  Until then, stay cool!  And if you go skinny-dipping, stay away from cameras!  LOL


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dear World, I Miss My Critters. Love CJ

Hey all,

One of the hardest things about traveling and not having a real "home" is missing those you love.  For me it's my children.  All of them.  The human ones and the furry, scaly or feathery ones.  And while I can touch base with my human children by FB, Skype and emails, I have a difficult time having a bit of a chat with my critters.

I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. ~~~Winston Churchill

Knowing we were going to be going overseas, I quit doing any rescues and most of my ferrets had died of old age by the time I went to Macau.  And Joxer, my last fert, passed away when we were waiting to meet up with Cirque in Paris.

So, now I'm down to two furry children.  My cat, Athena and my dog, Ares.  And I miss them so very much.  I was so used to them snuggling up against me when I was working.  Stepping on the keyboard and erasing most of my writing, getting fur all over my monitor and head bumping when they'd figured I'd ignored them for too long.

Ahhhh...good times!

But here, I don't have those distractions, and if I have one regret about being a circus gypsy, it's that.  I really miss having my fur friends around. 

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.~~~Roger Caras

I do what I can to get my fuzzy fix.  I make friends with dogs and try and learn how to say "here, kitty, kitty" in whatever language I need.  LOL  I visit zoos and have long conversations with whatever animal comes close enough to speak to.  But it's not the same.  I wish I could have a small pet.  Even a hamster would help, but I can't and that sucks.

I was reminded of how much I missed my babies when I checked my August holiday list. Did you know that today is International Homeless Animals Day?  As a shelter mom who has adopted cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, birds, reptiles and many other critters, homeless animals is an issue very close to my heart.  There are so many furry sweethearts out there who need homes, so I always encourage people to check out the shelters first.  You can save a life and find a forever friend at a shelter.  And if you have a few extra bucks, send it to your local shelter.  I guarantee you, they need it.  Feeding fur babies costs money.

A kitten is in the animal world what a rosebud is in the garden. ~~~Robert Southey

And if you don't have money, but have a little extra time, try working at a shelter.  There is always a lot to be done, from cleaning, to paperwork, to the fun part...exercising or loving on the animals.  And while there are a lot of excellent charities out there targeting human less-fortunates, I always give my extra cash to the SPCA and their like...because animals can't speak up for themselves.

So if you have critters of your own, give them a hug for me.  Know how fortunate you are to be able to experience the total love and loyalty of a dog or the humorous standoffishness of a cat.  Snuggle with them and tell them you love them.  Because they are special and a part of your family.  And that makes you one of the luckiest people on the planet.

I'll leave you with some special words by an obvious animal lover...

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~ Immanual Kant

Until Wednesday...


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Lighter Memoirs of a Travel Slut

Hey all,

Did that title grab your attention?  It's true you know.  I am a travel slut.  Someone who loves traveling, and goes to a city or area and thinks that place is the best on the planet.  Until I go to the next one and it becomes my favorite.
Take this picture, snapped in the tiny village area of De Drentsche Aa.  It's touted at the last stream in the Netherlands that has, for centuries, freely meandered gently through the countryside without a bit of human intervention.  The area around it may be cultivated, but traveling through here is like taking a step back in time.  Every thing is slower...more easy.  Even the cows seemed more relaxed.

I'm sitting on what's called a stone age burial tomb.   They are all over this part of Holland and all are different.  Finding them was the cherry on an already deliciously beautiful dessert.

But it wasn't until a couple days later that I got it.  We were traveling in Belgium along the Meuse River and had just passed through the most lovely area.  Dinant, a picturesque little town that hugs the water.  Beautiful and filled with local flavor, I didn't want to leave.  I decided it was my favorite place I'd been to.

But then we wandered into the tiny medieval city of La Roche-en-Ardenne with it's lovely streets, great people and historical buildings and castle.  And I turned to Jonathon and said, "this is my favorite place on earth.  I love it here.  I don't want to leave."

And I realized in that moment, I was a TRAVEL SLUT.  Loving each place I went to with equal fervor.

I'm not a travel whore...that's different.  I don't get paid for traveling. *grin*  I'm a slut.  I do it because I want to.  And because if makes me happy.

This road trip was awesome.  We saw so much and experienced so many different things I can't begin to relate all of them.  Battlefields, castles, historical buildings and cities.  We traveled through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and finally, Switzerland.

But which one was my favorite?  That's like asking me which of my books are my favorite.  It changes by the minute...with whatever experience I am having at the time.  And that's why I can cheerfully admit my sluttishness.  Because the more I see, the more I enjoy, the more I want to do.

It's a wonderful thing to be.

Now I know the word slut has negative connotations.  Most people think it a bad thing and I guess in some ways it is.  Not having a favorite place to live, wanting to see different countries and taking a non-ending road trip does have it's drawbacks.  I don't have a real home, can't see my family as I'd like to and I'm not allowed my critters.  But right now, all those concerns don't change the itchy feet I have or make me want to hang up my traveling hat.

Apparently, this slut has just began her travels!!!!

Until next time!!!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Beautiful and Underappreciated Luxembourg

Hey all,

As you know, we're on our road trip, but where are we today?  If all goes as planned, we should be in the small country of Luxembourg. 

This is a country I haven't been to yet, so I'm very excited about going.  I didn't know much about Luxembourg...still am trying to research it, but what I've seen so far tells me we could spend more than the two days we had planned there.  Many more in fact.

But let me show you some of the sights we are hoping to see.  I'm so very much looking forward to it!

Viaden Castle, in Northern Luxembourg.  I love exploring castles, and I hope that this is just one of many I'll be able to visit.

Mullerthal Region – Luxemburg’s Little Switzerland.  I hope we get to spend a lot of time here.  It's beautiful!!!

The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial.  This is an area Jonathon is really looking forward to visiting.  He's a total WWII buff!

Luxembourg City.  We won't have much time here, but we want to wander through the old part of the city.  It's so beautiful.

And finally, one last treat before we head to Zurich.  We plan on stopping in Mondorf-les-Bains, a famous thermal spa for an afternoon of treating ourselves.

Anyway,  who knows what we'll actually see on our trip, but I know whatever we wind up doing, it will be a great time.  Jonathon and I will be together, alone and doing our second favorite activity.  *grin* Exploring new places.

I'll see you in Zurich!  Have an awesome Hump Day!!!!


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Monday, So We Should Be In Belgium!

Hey everyone,

I'm not really here...I'm on my road trip. *grin*  But as I'd hoped, I have a quick blog to let you know where we might be exploring.

If we are where I think we might be, we are in one of the beautifulest parts of Belgium.  Where you ask?  Check this out... 

The lovely picture is near La Meuse à Yvoir, an area along the Maas River.  We plan to drive all along this winding river and see all the sights!

And then there is this area.  The Giant's Tomb surrounded by the beautiful Semois river near the city of Bouillon.  I can't wait to see it!

The pretty river city of Dinant.  Another area along the Maas River.  I'd love to wander through this interesting and quaint town.

And one last pic.  This one of Chassepierre.  A favorite of many travelers.  A pastoral scene that takes the breath away.

As you can see there are many places to visit and I know I'll be taking pictures left and right.  I can't wait to share our adventures with you, so keep your eye on the blog!  I'll be back on Wednesday with our next area to explore!  Luxembourg!!!!

Until then,

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Lighter Side Goes to Church

Hey all,

I know I was hoping to do something different for you all, but due to time constraints, this will be my last blog for a week.  As you may know, Jonathon and I are heading out on a six day road trip through Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on our way to the next city on our tour--Zurich.  

I was going to put up where we were as we traveled, but I can't guarantee I'll have internet to do so.  But I'll try and make it up to you when I am in Zurich.  I'll put up some pics then.  Deal?  :-)

I'm looking forward to the trip.  Just the two of worries about work...the wide open road with no real destination in sight, other than the place we know we have to wind up.  We have an overview of what we'd like to see, but are always willing to be distracted by an unexpected surprise.  Pure pleasure for us. 

I've had requests for pics of some of the things I've seen, so I decided to do today's lighter side about one of them.  Over here in Europe, you can't walk into a church without seeing one that is special.  And they are all so different and unique.  

I give you, pulpits.

For some reason, (and don't get me wrong, I love the fact they've done it), church builders felt the more ornate and awe inspiring the pulpit, the better the people would receive the sermon.  I don't know about that, but the following pulpits I've seen here in Belgium are art in it's truest form.  Enjoy the beauty of something that in the USA is usually so ordinary...  (click on the pic to make bigger)

Simple, yet beautifully carved, this pulpit sits in the church of Saint Paul's of Antwerp where the beautiful Calvary garden is also a sight to see.

The Cathedral of Our Lady, here in Antwerp.  My favorite part are all the birds on the staircase.

 A closeup of the pulpit statue at Saint George's Church in Antwerp.  I wanted you to see the detail in the horse and dragon.

 One of the oddest pulpits I've seen here in Belgium.  This sits in the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Brugge, Belgium.  At first glance it looked like a basketball, but it is actually the world.

 The carving on this pulpit which sits in another Church of our Lady, this one in Brugge, is quite detailed.  The cherubs are all completely different and there were a LOT of them.

The marble statue which sits in Brugge's oldest church, Saint Saviors, is so well carved on this pulpit, you can almost see him breathe!

A beautifully ornate pulpit in the small, yet ornate Basilica of Our Lady of Wijk in Mechelen.  One of the first pulpits we discovered.

 And my favorite pulpit of all I found in Saint Andrews church here in Antwerp.  The carving is so detailed, I was fascinated. 

A close up of the Saint Andrews sculpture.  I think you'll agree this is art.  Look at the corded muscles in the arms.  Amazing.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at pulpit art here in Belgium.  I'll leave you with a quote from Billy Graham.  Something to make you think...

If we had more hell in the pulpit, we would have less hell in the pew.


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams