Novus Lectio’s word

Good morning/evening readers,
As you know, my blog is about everything and anything. One day can be poetry, the next one can be a movie review. I’ve noticed that this last month my stats began to drop due to a change of topic. God doesn’t seem to be the favourite topic around here. I wonder why?
Is religion a creepy subject? Or does it feel uncomfortable to talk about the Scriptures?
Hmmmmm whatever the reason may be, I’ll keep on writing what I feel I should. When those ideas are finished, I’ll write about something else, but I’m sure that you’ll see stories found in the Bible these next few days. If you don’t want to read them, it’s ok. Not everyone wants to read long posts, but If you ever change your mind…..
See you soon.

What about … #23

Some of this post is from the National Geographic magazine

Today we’ll travel ten centuries back, at a time when we were anguished to see an oversees  ship approaching our coastlines. It was so long ago, but their traces remained to show us what a powerful and ordinary people they were. They are called the Vikings.

The Vikings were a seafaring people from the late eighth to early 11th century who established a name for themselves as traders, explorers and warriors. From the shores of their Scandinavian homeland, between the Baltic and North Seas, these fortune seekers took to the world stage in the mid-eighth century, exploring much of Europe over the next 300 years and traveling farther than earlier researchers ever suspected. With well built sailing ships and expert knowledge of rivers and seas, they journeyed to what are now 37 or more countries, from Afghanistan to Canada, according to archaeologist Neil Price of Uppsala University in Sweden. En route they discovered more than 50 cultures and traded avidly for luxuries. They donned Eurasian caftans, dressed in silk from China, and pocketed heaps of Islamic silver coins. They built thriving cities at York and Kiev, colonized large swaths of Great Britain, Iceland, and France, and established outposts in Greenland and North America. No other European seafarers of the day ventured so fearlessly and so far from their homeland. They were the only ones able to do what they have done. They discovered the Americas long before Columbus and could be found as far east as the distant reaches of Russia. While these people are often attributed as savages raiding the more civilized nations for treasure and women, the motives and culture of the Viking people are much more diverse.

Many historians associate the term “Viking” to the Scandinavian term vikingr, which means “pirate.” However, the term is meant to reference oversea expeditions, and was used as a verb by the Scandinavian people for when the men traditionally took time out of their summers to go “a Viking.” While many would believe these expeditions entailed the raiding of monasteries and cities along the coast, many expeditions were actually with the goal of trade and enlisting as foreign mercenaries.

The earliest recorded raid were in the 790s until the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. During this time, the reach of the Scandinavian people extended to all corners of northern Europe, and many other nations found Vikings raiding their coasts. The farthest reported records of Vikings were in Baghdad for the trading of goods like fur, tusks and seal fat.

The start of the Viking migration from Scandinavia in 793 was in small island located off the northeast coast of England, in this location was a well-known abbey of learning, famous throughout the continent for the knowledgeable monks and its extensive library. During this raid, monks were killed, thrown into the sea or taken as slaves along with many treasures of the church, and the library itself razed. This single event set the stage for how Vikings would be perceived throughout the Viking Age: savage warriors with no respect for religion or appreciation for learning.

In the years that followed the initial raid, coastal villages, monasteries and even cities found themselves besieged by these sea-based foreign intruders. Due to the frequency of sea attacks, many developments were made in developing fortifications in the forms of walled-in harbors and sea-facing stone walls, defenses that proved to be quite effective at deterring raids. Early raiding parties planned their attacks for the summer months, and they often set out with just a few ships and perhaps a hundred fighters. Bristling with iron weaponry, the raiders struck rapidly and went about the carnage swiftly, setting sail before locals could mount a defense. In France, in the ninth century alone, Viking raiders stormed more than 120 settlements, massacring monks and local inhabitants, stripping churches of their treasures, and enslaving the survivors.

As precious metals flowed back to Scandinavia, young men flocked to the great halls of Viking leaders, eager to swear their loyalty. What began as small raiding forays of two or three ships gradually evolved into fleets of 30 vessels, then many more. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a contemporary annal, hundreds of Viking ships arrived along the east coast of England in 865, carrying a ravenous host that the Chronicle writers called micel here, the great army. Pushing inland along England’s rivers and roads, these invaders began smashing Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and seizing large swaths of land to colonize.

One famous early Irish text records how a woman known as Inghen Ruaidh—or Red Girl, after the color of her hair—led a fleet of Viking ships to Ireland in the 10th century. Bioarchaeologist Anna Kjellström of Stockholm University recently reanalyzed the skeletal remains of a Viking fighter found in the old trading center of Birka, in Sweden. Mourners had furnished the grave with an arsenal of deadly weapons, and for decades archaeologists assumed that the elite fighter was male. But while studying the warrior’s pelvic bones and mandible, Kjellström discovered that the man was in fact a woman. This nameless Viking woman seems to have commanded the respect of many Viking warriors. “On her lap she had gaming pieces,” says archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University. “This suggests that she was the one planning the tactics and that she was a leader.”

It’s not really known the reason behind these attacks, perhaps the Christian persecution and forced baptism of pagans to reduced agricultural outputs in the Scandinavian region. Many more documented reasons might have prompted these people to leave their cold and harsh homes to seek out the means to survive elsewhere. Yet, despite how unforgiving their homeland may have been, most Vikings still returned to their homeland at the end of each season with treasure, slaves and goods to survive yet another winter.

The modern perceptions of Vikings found their origins through Catholic propaganda. Upon the sacking of multiple Christian facilities and the loss of countless relics and treasures, the Catholic ministry sought to dehumanize them. Until Queen Victoria’s rule of Britain, the Vikings were still portrayed as a violent and barbaric people. During the 19th and 20th centuries, perceptions changed to the point where Vikings were glamorized as noble savages with horned helmets, a proud culture and a feared prowess in battle.

How and why did medieval farmers in Scandinavia become the scourge of the European continent?
Around A.D. 750, Scandinavia was wracked by turmoil. More than three dozen petty kingdoms arose during this period, throwing up chains of hill forts and vying for power and territory. In the midst of these troubled times, catastrophe struck. A vast cloud of dust, likely blasted into the atmosphere by a combination of cataclysms, comets or meteorites smashing into Earth, as well as the eruption of at least one large volcano darkened the sun, lowering summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for the next 14 years. The extended cold and darkness brought death and ruin to Scandinavia, lying as it did along the northern edge of medieval agriculture. In Sweden’s Uppland region, for example, nearly 75 percent of villages were abandoned, as residents succumbed to starvation and fighting.

When summer at last returned to the north and populations rebounded, Scandinavian society assumed a new, more truculent form. Leaders surrounded themselves with heavily armed war bands and began seizing and defending abandoned territory. A militarized society arose in which men and women alike celebrated the virtues of warfare—fearlessness, aggression, cunning, strength under fire. On the Swedish island of Gotland, where archaeologists have found many intact graves from this period, “almost every second man seems to be buried with weapons,” notes John Ljungkvist, an archaeologist at Uppsala University. As this weaponized society was gradually taking shape, a new technology began revolutionizing Scandinavian seafaring in the seventh century—the sail. Skilled carpenters began constructing sleek, wind-powered vessels capable of carrying bands of armed fighters farther and faster than ever before. Aboard these ships, northern lords and their restless followers could voyage across the Baltic and North Seas, exploring new lands, sacking towns and villages, and enslaving inhabitants. And men with few marriage prospects at home could take female captives as wives by persuasion or force.

All of this centuries of kingly ambition, a seeming abundance of wifeless young warriors, and a new type of ship created a perfect storm. The stage was set for the Vikings to pour out of the north, setting much of Europe on fire with their brand of violence. The fleets that carried death and destruction to western Europe also transported slaves and commodities to markets scattered from Turkey to western Russia, and possibly Iran. Medieval Arab and Byzantine officials described convoys of armed Viking slavers and merchants known as the Rus who regularly voyaged along river routes to the Black and Caspian Seas. “I have never seen more perfect physiques than theirs,” observed Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, a 10th-century Arab soldier and diplomat from Baghdad. “Every one of them carries an ax, a sword, and a dagger.”

Many popular myths created through misperceptions, have been shown to be wrong such as the fact that Vikings wore horned helmetst;  they traditionally went bareheaded or wore simple leather and metal-frame helmets with the occasional face guard. Or they were filthy and unkempt; archaeologists find evidence on a regular basis of combs, spoons and other grooming utensils that indicate the Viking people were very keen on maintaining personal hygiene. Or that they spent all their time raiding and warring; while raiding proved an excellent source of income, many of the Vikings held farms back in their homeland that their wives maintained during Viking season. When the men returned home from a raid, they resumed their normal routine of farming. Or maybe that they were a unified army; due to the difficult geographic location, the Scandinavian people were very spread out to conserve limited farmland. In addition, the penetration of Christianity caused many great divisions among the people still worshipping the traditional Nordic pantheon, further emphasizing the divided nature of the people. Or most of all that they were large and heavily muscled;

due to the short summer seasons, growing crops was difficult and resources were always scarce. As a result, many of the Scandinavian people were much smaller than commonly depicted due to limited food sources. While the living conditions in Scandinavian regions were certainly harsh and made a hard people, many Vikings suffered from the scarcity of resources and the people set up their homes over great distances with no real unified leadership. During the Viking Age, the Scandinavian people were able to make a stronger push to the outside worlds and create a reputation for themselves beyond simple barbarism. While some Vikings were driven with the lust for riches, many sought more peaceful economic relationships with the surrounding nations.

But the legend of the Vikings, the romance of these intrepid northerners who built great ships and sailed ice-choked seas to a new world and winding rivers to the bazaars of the East, never grows old, never grows tired. It lives on here and across their northern realm, a message from a long-dead world, an enduring spirit of an age.

What about…. #14

The sense in Traveling

I spent my childhood traveling in a variety of places which led me to a lack of sense of belonging anywhere in the world. I’ve seen plenty of vacationers along the way, who by their way of expressing themselves and their behavior it could easily be understood that they traveled for a mere vacation. They weren’t accustomed to travel more than a few weeks per year.
Vacationers are people who look for something different from what they’re used to do for a few days , such as those who go for a few days to town, or to the countryside, or to the beach… they usually follow other vacationers either thinking that the other tourists are smarter than them or just to put up with the Jones.

I think that it’s not fun at all to go along with what the travel agency suggests (even though it’s good for the economy of whatever country it is; without tourism some countries will fall into crisis). In my opinion if someone wants to go in a holiday somewhere, even for a few days, it must be in a place that is very very different from his own, otherwise why bothering?

I remember that we used to have a month vacation every year when I was a child. Well we spent it at home. It was a very very different place from our daily life. The Holiday is for the one who has enough of what he is doing, If someone loves his job why taking a vacation, which is not always instructive by the way ?

Traveling is not a holiday. To Travel is a life, even a job. Such as truck drivers or reporters for example. To travel we need knowledge, experience, courage, will and audacity. Those who spend their lives on the roads, need to know how to find an accommodation when it’s a maniac holiday, they need to know what to do when they run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, they need the knowledge of how to cross a border without too much fuss, they need to have tips on how to get a hotel room paying half the price, it’s to notice when the car behind you is in a hurry, and by courtesy you let him pass… It’s not about visiting a foreign place and to make a lot pictures and bringing souvenirs home. I know what it is to travel. There aren’t always good memories, some dreadful moments remain printed in the mind.

There was a time, a very long time ago, we rented a car from a rental company, but this car was defective and we needed to change it in the nearest location which was over a mountain. So we took the road, we didn’t know how the road was at first, but getting closer to the mountain top, the road changed completely.

And there, was where the story took place. It was a winter morning, we were driving up the mountain when we noticed that the car wasn’t following the wheel. There was a high ravine on our left and the mountain wall on our right, as the car was defective and the road was snowy and icy, the car was sliding between the right; where the mountain wall was, and the left; where the ravine was, and then to the right and back to the left all over and over again. We could have fallen and died that day, if it wasn’t for my dad’s experience. There was no one else on the road with that weather except us. And that’s not all, we didn’t have winter tires as the car was rented, we had all season tires! When we crossed over we arrived in Salt Lake City, we were so relieved that we went to Mcdonald’s.

There were countries that left me with lots of dreadful memories (and that wasn’t so long ago), that I wish to forget. Going in a holiday and traveling are two very different things. I’ve seen travelers along the way, there was once an Italian and an Argentinian woman traveling together from Brazil to Argentina by bus, arriving at the boarder, every passenger had to step down with their luggages to be checked. But there was a lot of “confusion” among the customs, they didn’t seem to know what they were doing. Well that Italian found the situation very amusing, he didn’t stop laughing and smiling at the way the customs were working. The lack of pictures he took, the number of stamps in his passport, the small quantity of luggage he had, his behavior meant that he was an experienced traveler.

Putting the finances to the side, it is important to travel for the sake of knowledge and for the love of what God has created. It will never be the same being in Chichen Itza and seeing it on TV. You’ll never see the long forestal road from Cancun which leads there, the small local shops, the small villages. It’s not the same being at the Iguatzu Falls, hearing the tremendous sound of the water, being wet by the steam and seeing it on TV. The experience leaves a mark, a memory while seeing what others show you leaves a memory of what has been seen, period.

To travel is not meant to find its true self, unless you’re in a spiritual journey to whatever holy place, it is meant to see the world, the world is so wide, so diverse, that it will be unjust to ignore all of it for the mere love of a home. Home is not the same for everyone, for some it might have a claustrophobic sense, or a place of trouble with the neighbors, or a place of quiet and peace. I know the value of home, it is a peaceful, joyful, loving place where wonderful moments take place, but for someone like me, home becomes a boredom after some time. Where are the new people, cultures, languages, towns, mountains, lacs, forests, birds, trucks, roads, etc….? We can find anything online nowadays, but it’s very very different from living it .

No way I’m going to tell you folks to go traveling abroad just because the others did so, it has to be from your own will. But I can tell you to take a vacation overseas, because it’s good for you and for the economy of the country you’ll be visiting. You’ll learn many things if you do.

Don’t prepare your journey, don’t get a package from your travel agency, make your own ticket online, book your first hotel and that’s it. Leave the rest when you get there, take a map and chose your own route, your own towns, what you really want to see, don’t follow what other tourists follow. Make your own trip a memorable one. Eat the local food, you might love their cuisine and do it at home when you get back. Make local friends which might enhance your holiday.

See the world because you live only once.

I Put My Parents Through Agony — Crushed Caramel (Learner at love)

Reading this is a must to any youngster out there. It is an inspirational post that makes oneself ponder on its life.

My parents were never really sure quite what happened. They said they felt helpless and they prayed many times that things would turn out well. But they were deeply anxious and doubtful I would recover. For years I had been a typical child, eager, full of life and laughter. I ate and pooped, ate and […]

via I Put My Parents Through Agony — Crushed Caramel (Learner at love)

Foreign threats are good for the human race

I’ve been in the social media since ~4 years now. I’ve learned many things, made many friends, had a few enemies, seen a few people changing thier way of life, heard many sorrows, laughed at lots of jokes, read many people’s issues…. At the end we’re all alike. We all share our troubles to those who want to hear them. Some say that it is borring to hear people’s stories, such as “why do they share their story on the social medias? They shouldn’t do that!”. But it’s the only way to know that we’re all humans, we all have our share of anxiety and stress which may lead to depression. Last night I’ve seen the movie Predator 4. To cut a long story short, it is about mutated aliens who intend to steal Earth from the humans. At some point, two groups of humans who were enemies since the beginning of the movie, decided to unite to kill that Predator. That made me realize how stupid we are! Wars are tearing us apart for some irrelevant reasons, revenge is ruining families around the globe, hatered is spreading as it was once in the 20th century… I know exactly what we need: We need a spacial invasion! Yes. It is the only way to feel enough threatened for us to unite. There won’t be any more ethnical, religious or political divisions. We’ll be one human race against a global threat.

Beauty in the World #6

Ireland is one of my favourite countries. It is true that the Irish don’t appreciate being compared to the British, but for me as an outsider, I believe that they can be compared. Previously I’ve described how the British were, I would say that the Irish are wiser, quieter and a bit less sophisticated. You won’t be hearing people screaming on a Saturday night, or you won’t see girls with high heals and very short dresses wandering on the streets Sunday morning.

It is pretty easy to find beauticians here, almost as easy as finding hairdressers. Taking an appointment is necessary due to the high amount of clients. There is no special age who look for treatments, everyone goes there for a reason or for another.

As I was visiting Navan, I found myself at Carol’s Beauty saloon asking the usual questions.

Facial treatments and waxing are the main treatments. They start at 40€ and go up to 120€ or 150-240€ for 3 sessions depending on the type of treatment needed. She told me that Summer and Winter are the busiest time of the year.

I’ve asked Mrs Carol if she had any tip, she said: You have only one skin, take care of it. You can change the way you dress but not your skin.

I believe that’s a pretty good tip, and we should all think about it.

Beauty in the World #5

If you were to find yourself in UK, you’ll notice that here, the women are different than in the rest of Europe (Except Ireland and perhaps Scandinavia which I’ve never been). They take all the time they can manage for the well-being of their appearance. They are too sophisticated for their southern neighbors.
Everywhere you go, even in the middle of the countryside, you’ll see girls and women doing their best to look beautiful. Are they make-up addicts? Probably most of them. Either teens going to school or adults, they take care of their hair as their most precious possession! Even the foreigners who live here since decades, lost the sense of “things are more important than how I look like”.
Even though the British care more about what you can do rather than how you look like, everyone makes its best to have both.
The british culture is far more than being open to every other culture and being proud of its history. History have shown us that the British empire did lots of wrongs to other countries/people, enslaving them, killing them, robbing them, but we mustn’t reject the good as well. They left us with rules, discipline, knowledge, art, architecture, language…. and an example to follow to for those who are open minded. It is one of the rare countries where everyone say “sorry” even if they haven’t done anything wrong to you. It is one of the rare countries where everyone say “thank you” when you let them pass either while driving or on foot. It is one of the rare countries where everyone has good manners toward you even if you’re a foreigner. It is one of the rare countries where small children are taught to be grateful when you stop to let them cross the road. It is the country who made possible for other countries to have uniforms to attend school, either be it boys or girls. Even in small villages of Mongolia, children wear uniforms (whatsoever they look like).
You can find exceptions of course, ’cause the good comes with the bad too, such as in some poor neighborhoods where even their streets look somehow …. reckless. Or these young girls who love to have fun on “Saturday nights”, they stay out all night with short dresses and high heels and you find them Sunday morning till 8am wandering in the streets like zombies, because they’re too drunk to find their way. Or these boys/men screaming as if they were tortured just because they’re very drunk and want to make a lot of noise in the neighborhood.
But this kind of British are a minority who want to be different or have to be different.
Most people take care of their body shape , you can find huge gyms everywhere. Unfortunately there is more and more overweight people due to the fast food and junk food available at a cheap price.
Hairdressers and Nail saloons are all over the places and are always busy.
Beautician though are a bit hard to find. At least harder than in the countries I’ve been before. Sometimes there is only one per town, or they’re part of a hair and nail saloon.
There is no particular age at the beauty saloon. The most wanted treatment are nail & feet polish. Then the waxing and then the facial treatments and sometimes even massages.
Different Kinds of treatments are available:

Eyelashes extention , brows shaping, spray tans, sunbeds, peelings….
Depending on what you want each facial treatment costs about 80£ (93 €)and can go up to 240£ (280€) for several ones. An appointment is always necessary most of all at Christmas time and summer. Nails start at 5£ (6€)

I’ve asked if there was any tip: Use sunscreens and don’t rub your nail polish!

Cosmetics are very easily accessible and the price range is from 1£ (1.5€) to ~200£ (230€) depending of what you’re looking for and which brand it is. One thing for sure, if you’re very poor you still can look good for 5£ (6€)! Yes you can find incredible prices for products you usually pay a considerable amount of money. Perhaps that’s why beauty is part of this culture.

Beauty in the World # 4

Switzerland is a country where most of the women are not so different from the Portuguese (See post). They take care of their skin but don’t use much make-up unless it is for an occasion. They care more about hygiene rather than beauty. Even though they’re smart, clean and wealthy, they’re not sophisticated at all. I guess that they value the brain, rather than the appearance.
Here the beauty centers are easy to find but an appointment is necessary, mostly in summer which is the busiest time of the year.
Women of any age can be found at the beautician. The most common treatment they look for is hair removal, but every season has its treatments. For instance at this time of year, feet treatments such as nail polish are the most wanted, while in winter the facial treatments are most wanted.

The average price range is 120 – 130 Francs (110 euros) per corporal session or 200 Francs (190 euros) per facial ones. While 1200 Francs (1100 euros) for 6 (facial/corporal) sessions.

You may find hair saloons which take care of your hair, nails and skin at the same place such as this one

Beauty in the World #3

I’ve spent most of my childhood in France. I had many opportunities to notice and judge how this population take care of themselves. I must say that the French are NOT make-up addicts.
The young generation is more used to cosmetics and beauty products than the old ones. The renowned pharmaceutical brands such as La Roche Posay, Avene, Bioderma, Uriage…. are easily accessible in every Pharmacy. The price varies between drug stores.
The Cosmetics and Perfumes stores such as Sephora, Nocibé are good places to shop for renowned brands such as Dior, Chanel, Este Lauder, Gucci… and Yves Rocher for its own products.
The hairdressers are for every age and social status. The women are more interested in how their hair looks like rather than which makeup they ought to use. I think that the lipstick is the most common cosmetic women wear.
Skin cleanser & moisturizers are common products on every shelf, while mascaras, skin foundation and eye liners are for special occasions or for working on busy public places, you know what I mean. Yet they take care of their body shape. You can easily find products for weight loss or for cellulite at a high price.
Beauticians are easy to find, but you need to book an appointment most of the time due to the amount of customers they have.
The most commont wanted thing is hair removal and facial treatment.

Here the treatments cost about 70 Euros for a facial one (depending on what you’re going to do) and 400-500 Euros for 10 corporal ones.
I would say that 400-500 Euros is awfully expensive! Unless you’re doing something very serious requiring a special machine, perhaps for celluite.
Here you can find young and old ladies at the beautician, they all take care of their skin. The busiest time of the year is spring, as they prepare for summer.
I’ve asked if there was a tip for my readers: Do more treatments !