Monthly Archives: December 2014

Merry Christmas!!!


Love is love’s reward. – John Dryden


Adeste, fideles,

Laeti, triumphantes,

Venite, venite in Bethlehem.

Natum videte Regem Angelorum,

Venite, adoremus,

Venite, adoremus,

Venite adoremus Dominum!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

The Mithril Guardian


Which Christmas Carol Is the Best? – You Decide

Last time it was Christmas songs. This time you get to vote for your favorite Christmas carol. No, not the one with Scrooge and Tiny Tim! Here’s the list – go have some fun!!!

Merry Christmas!

The Mithril Guardian

A Story from Land Line Magazine

Well, readers, while I had planned to have my posts more directly focused on the  Christmas season this December, that plan has been interrupted by a story I found in Land Line Magazine.  Reading it, I knew it was something that HAD to be shared.  So, without further ado, here is the article from Land Line Magazine which caught my attention.  The web address for the magazine’s website has also been included and can be found at the bottom of the post.

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

With personal and business ties, Bridgestone fights Ebola at ground zero 

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer


Before the last round of safety protocols were issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the world’s largest tire maker may have created a blueprint on how to best slow the deadly virus Ebola.

On March 30, Bridgestone Americas received a phone call at its U.S. headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

Courtesy of Bridgestone Group Ebola care team

The spouse of an employee of Firestone Liberia, the Bridgestone Corporation’s rubber tree plantation, had recently returned home from caring for a dying relative elsewhere in the African nation. It was soon evident that the woman had contracted the Ebola virus – a disease with a 50 percent average fatality rate that raged strongest along Africa’s West Bank.

Firestone Liberia immediately quarantined the woman and her family, and within days had implemented a response system to deal with the deadly virus. Though her young son initially showed signs of possible Ebola, the symptoms passed and he survived. The woman, however, died.

“At the time, there was really no place to take this woman,” said Don Darden, executive director of communications for Firestone America. “We were told, ‘you need to figure it out.’”

Employees immediately developed and executed plans, including transforming three of the plantation’s schools into treatment and quarantine locations. Within two weeks, workers re-constructed an outpatient building behind a Firestone Liberia hospital into a treatment facility system.

Unsure if they would need more treatment room, the group poured a foundation and erected another facility in three days.

“They hit it head on,” Darden said.

Firestone Liberia’s story illustrates both the aggressive treatment surrounding Ebola and the blurred boundaries between employees, families, and even surrounding communities of Firestone Liberia – the 88-year-old rubber production plant that spans 185 square miles and employs nearly 8,000 people.

“We have a total of nearly 80,000 people that live within the border of the Firestone plantation,” Darden told Land Line. “That is a lot of people. And what we’ve seen at Firestone Liberia now is a considerable reduction of cases and a stabilizing of new Ebola cases.”

Even with the positives, the Ebola virus’s power is staggering.

As of Oct. 22, Firestone Liberia had identified 78 Ebola cases. Fifty-five of the 78 cases resulted in death. Two individuals were in the plantation’s Ebola Treatment Unit and 21 people survived the virus after contracting it.

Generations of presence

Founded in 1926, the Firestone Liberia plantation produces liquid latex and block rubber. About 12 percent of the rubber Bridgestone uses to make tires comes from the plantation, a concept the company also employs in Asia. The block rubber is used to make passenger vehicle tires in Aiken, S.C., and for agricultural machine tires made in Des Moines, Iowa.

The plantation is so large that many communities exist within its borders. Clergy, teachers and others help define the community, and were important in gaining trust and communicating once the Ebola virus threatened Liberia in the spring, Darden said.

Firestone Liberia employs 450 teachers at 26 schools, and with a plan in place, the company used its radio station and teachers to educate people within communities at the plantation about the disease and proper ways to contain it.

Up until that point, misinformation and fear had actually hurt the cause of containing Ebola.

“You had people who may have been exposed to the virus and did not want treatment because they weren’t sure what the treatment would be,” Darden said. “Or they’d say, ‘that is where people go to die.’ And all that did was just continue to expose people. So a lot of what we had to do was change the mindset.”

Within the plantation walls, anyone who came into contact with a person showing possible Ebola symptoms was given a choice to voluntarily go into quarantine. Nearly every person did, allowing potential cases to be isolated. In addition, family members of those who may have come into contact were given home healthcare kits and advice on how to keep their residences sanitary.

The company wanted also to quell the stigma surrounding those who survived the disease.

Firestone Liberia has introduced a reintegration program resembling a graduation. Ebola survivors and their community are invited to a celebration when they’re cleared of the disease. The survivor is given a certificate of having a clean bill of health, and their doctor speaks. The survivors are presented with new mattresses and other items that are destroyed during the cleaning phase of a person’s home during quarantine.

Besides serving as a celebration, Darden said the reintegration parties also communicate truth about Ebola.

“It helps us let the others in that community know – if I come into contact with it, I need to do the right thing for myself and others and get treatment and the help I need,” he said. “You can survive it. You can live with this. But if you’ve been exposed you need to get the help and treatment that you need.”

Getting results

As attention and the disease itself spread beyond Africa, Firestone Liberia’s treatment and containment methods gained attention.

Firestone Liberia saw zero new Ebola cases between April and August, when a new wave of the virus again claimed victims. In recent weeks the plantation has seen the rate of Ebola growth decrease below averages elsewhere in Liberia.

In October, the weekly Ebola growth rate in the area surrounding Liberia’s capital jumped from 9 to 16 percent. In Liberia’s Margibi County, where the Firestone Liberia plantation is located, Ebola growth dropped from 7 to 3 percent during that same week.

“A lot of that disparity can be attributed to higher concentrations of people and that kind of thing,” Darden said. “But certainly, there is a lot of truth in the success of the procedures being put into place at Firestone Liberia.”

In mid-October, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report that praised Firestone Liberia’s treatment of Ebola.

“An important result of Firestone’s response is the success with which community members identified suspected Ebola cases, agreed to voluntary quarantine in dedicated facilities, and minimized stigmatization of Ebola survivors.”

Specifically, the CDC noted Firestone’s rapid response and use of infrastructure to identify possible Ebola cases and stop spread of the disease. The company’s strategy of describing the disease and handing out protective gear and waste disposal equipment to family members of possible Ebola patients is unique, CDC said in the report.

“Firestone’s provision of resources and monitoring of contacts in both the plantation community and quarantine facility settings likely facilitated prompt identification of Ebola cases during the 21-day observation period,” CDC wrote. “The experience of Firestone might both support the prompt recognition of Ebola cases and limit transmission among family members who provide care to Ebola patients in the household.”

A ‘resilient’ people

Darden traveled to Firestone Liberia in July for a celebration of the company’s efforts to combat Ebola. He said Firestone Liberia team members related the ongoing efforts against Ebola to “flying an airplane while you’re reading the manual.”

In September, Bridgestone Corporation, parent company of Bridgestone Americas and Firestone Liberia, announced donations of $500,000 to Samaritan’s Purse to combat Ebola in Liberia and $500,000 to support UNICEF’s efforts in Liberia and Nigeria.

Darden said Samaritan’s Purse had exhibited outside the box thinking that interested Bridgestone. The company has worked with UNICEF for years, he said.

“We have an established presence in West Africa,” Darden said. “When it came time, we knew we wanted to make some donations to help support what’s going on there.”

The money will be used to help stop the spread of Ebola through public awareness, the facilitation of delivery of in-home care supplies for the sick; enhancing medical treatment; and providing support for children left orphaned due to the epidemic.

Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, said the donation would help the organization treat more people.

“We thank Bridgestone Americas for its support in the fight against Ebola,” Graham said, according to the release. “Firestone Liberia is working tirelessly to protect and treat the approximate 80,000 people living within its community, and with their support, we’re able to broaden those efforts in the larger Liberian community.”

Bridgestone is urging anyone who wants to help the cause to consider donations to UNICEF and Samaritan’s Purse.

The Ebola virus’ spread to North America and Europe has again stoked fears and concerns. In August, Firestone America began voluntarily limiting non-essential employee travel to Liberia. Firestone America employees are in contact often with Firestone Liberia, he said.

“We help them as much as we can but we’re so far away,” he said. “They’re literally on the front lines and using ingenuity at every turn to tackle this situation. And they’ve done such a phenomenal job.”

The woman diagnosed with Ebola back in March died from the disease. After being quarantined and treated, however, her children and husband survived.

Darden praised the employees and community at Firestone Liberia.

“This isn’t the first period of tough times they’ve experienced,” Darden said of Firestone Liberia. “There was a 14-year civil war that nearly destroyed the place. They’re a very resilient, ingenious group and it’s something to watch them just tackle the situation.

“They have achieved such incredible results, and they’re receiving worldwide recognition for it.”

Copyright © OOIDA

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Vote for Your Favorite Christmas Song!

Below is a poll of Christmas songs. These are all the Christmas songs I have heard over the years. I may have forgotten a few, or I may have missed some entirely, but here’s the list anyway.

Hope you had fun voting!

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

Prognostications for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Part 3

Wow, the rumors just keep coming, readers! They are flying so hard and fast I can barely keep up with ‘em.

Nevertheless, I thought I would venture some of my own theories on Marvel’s upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. As you may have noticed, like Marvel’s master archer, I have very little problem offering my opinion on something. I see no reason to stop now.

If you are a sensible Marvel fan and you do not want to hear any speculation about Age of Ultron, stop reading here. If you are finding this extended wait for The Avengers’ sequel as trying as I am, then read on!

  1. Loki and Heimdall will make an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Idris Elba let this little fun fact slip out in an interview at some point not too long ago, sending the rumor mill into Warp Factor 5. Whedon promised to give him at least a slight scolding for the “slip,” if slip it was. Most speculators say that Wanda Maximoff will show Thor a future Asgard that gives us a glimpse of Heimdall and Loki. A clip from the middle of Age of Ultron supports the theory that whatever she shows him, Wanda genuinely scares Thor.

While I do not doubt Heimdall may show up in Thor’s vision, I am somewhat skeptical that Loki will. After all, as much trouble as Thor has had with his kid brother, we know of one Avenger who is still angry with the Prince of Lies since the events of The Avengers. In my second “Prognostications” post, I theorized that Hawkeye may be immune to Wanda’s manipulations, and I still think that is a possibility. It is certainly something I would have wanted to explore, if I had had a hand in writing Age of Ultron.

All the same, what if Wanda does beguile Hawkeye with a vision, not of his future but of his past? What if Loki’s cameo appearance is a memory Wanda forces Hawkeye to relive at some point in the movie? She could, of course, just as easily use Loki only to torment Thor, but we cannot forget who the Trickster harmed most on his last trip to Midgard. Naturally, we will not know anything for sure until May 1, 2015.

  1. Someone is going to die.

The amount of gossip going around the Internet about the possible death of an Avenger is so thick, readers, you could use it to butter toast. We have some mighty murderous Marvel fans out there, by all appearances. I cannot understand why so many people seem to be begging for an Avenger’s death. I would prefer it if they all survived, as you are well aware by now. Fiction is showcasing enough death and despair, thank you very much. How about some optimism and positivity, people?

Anyway, several theories have been advanced to explain Whedon’s nerve-wracking “Death, death, and death” statement. People are raffling off the Avengers they think should die – with most putting Hawkeye at the top of the list, never mind the fact that Renner has said he survives Age of Ultron. (As you may have surmised, Hawkeye is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so I am getting a little annoyed with everyone who is nominating him for death. BACK OFF ALREADY, YOU BLOODTHIRSY PIRAHNAS!!!)

Others suggest that Ultron will wipe out an entire fictional Eastern European country (which he apparently did in the comics of years’ past), thus fulfilling the “death” quota these fans seem to be hoping for. Still others theorize that Whedon’s hint “Death will play a part” in Age of Ultron refers to “Mistress Death” – the female form of Death itself. Thanos has been trying to court her for years and, so far as I know, he has still come up empty on that front.

These are all possible answers to Whedon’s “death” hints. My own theory on what Whedon meant when he said that “Death will play a part” in Age of Ultron is that Ultron is afraid to die.

Think about it a moment. Ultron is artificial; he is a machine. He has no humanity – whatever humanity Tony tried to give him, it did not translate properly. He is unnatural in the same way Doctor Frankenstein’s monster is inhuman. Frankenstein’s monster knew he was not human; he did not come into the world as a human being, with his own soul, his own personality. He was a desperate man’s cooked-up lab experiment. (Boy, is Tony’s statement that Cap is a “laboratory experiment” going to come back to bite him hard.) What will happen to Ultron if he is destroyed?

He will cease to exist. Period. That is a terrifying thought, is it not? And for something unnatural like Ultron, it would probably scare him straight out of his circuits if he thought about it too much. The Avengers – they are not afraid to die. Not even Black Widow or the Maximoff twins are afraid of death. Do they want to die? Heck no. But if the price of preserving another’s life – or the life of the whole human race – is their death, then they will sacrifice their lives to protect others.

Ultron is not going to do that. His own survival will be his number one goal in the film. He is not going to sacrifice himself to preserve anyone else’s life – if he were willing to do that, then he would not have turned on the Avengers in the first place. He is too egocentric and self-centered to think of anyone but himself. In contrast, the Avengers are selfless. Even Tony will allow himself to be killed if it means saving lives. He was willing to fight to the death against the Chitauri in the first film. Why wouldn’t he still be ready to die in defense of others in Age of Ultron?

And yes, I know he might just get that chance. We will see what happens.

  1. Vision will join the team.

This is practically a given. The only thing to guess at is how Vision will join the team. If I had to make a suggestion, I would surmise that it will be the Avengers’ willingness to fight an apparently hopeless battle, their readiness to sacrifice themselves for each other or for others, which will be the factor that convinces him to abandon Ultron.

I could be wrong, of course. If Vision is based on JARVIS, and JARVIS is based on the personality of Tony’s father’s butler – Edwin Jarvis – then maybe Tony will be able to talk him into turning on Ultron. We will have to wait and see.

  1. Black Widow’s dark past will be showcased in the film.

This has been known almost since day one. My only thought on this is that Wanda may be the one forcing Natasha to relive her dark history. I would not be surprised if, at some point early in the film (or in the middle of it), the Black Widow and the Scarlet Witch went toe-to-toe. The two are fighting women. Pitting them against each other – that is a catfight screaming to be written. I doubt it would be a fair fight but, oh, readers, it would be a fight!

The rest of what I have to say relates to jumbled scenes from the trailer(s) which caught my attention:

Scene #1: Pietro is at one point seen racing through a train car in slow motion. If you pause the video while watching it on a big screen, you will notice that Cap is sitting in the train car, and that Pietro is pushing someone – or something – out the door of the car. Either that, or he is throwing whoever or whatever it is out a hole someone has punched in the side of the train.

It is impossible to tell what part of the film this scene comes from. It could be early on, when the twins are initially enemies of the Avengers. Or it could be after they have decided to join the team. I suspect the latter because, from my perspective, it appears that Quicksilver has just zoomed through the train car to save Cap’s life. I think what he is throwing off the train is an Ultroid (a droid under Ultron’s control). I could be wrong, of course, but this is what I think is going on in this scene.

Scene #2: The ballet lesson seen near the end of the trailers looks to be a flashback. It might not be, but if it is, I suspect it is related to Natasha. In the “mainstream” Marvel Comics, it was revealed that Natasha received extensive memory alterations from the Red Room operators during her time in service to the U.S.S.R. One of the false memories they gave her was that she had been trained to be a ballerina. This was a lie; she was only ever taught the arts of assassination and espionage – though she is graceful and poised enough that she could be a ballerina, if she so desired. So this scene could be a memory she recalls – or is forced to recall – at some point in the film.

Scene #3: At one point in the trailers for Age of Ultron, we see a scene depicting cargo ships beached on what appears to be a sea floor. It looks like the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, or the Caspian Sea to me, but it could easily be the floor of any one of the earth’s oceans.

What does this scene mean? Anything is possible, but check out the following video and transcript before you read my theory.


Stark: Thor didn’t say where he was going for answers?

Rogers: Sometimes my teammates don’t tell me things. I was kind of hoping Thor would be the exception.

Stark: Yeah, give him time. We don’t know what the Maximoff kid showed him.
(This would be a reference to Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, who is able to reveal the future, look into the past, and reveal alternate realities.)

Rogers: I don’t know what she showed you. I just know it made you do something stupid. (Shakes his head.) “Earth’s mightiest heroes …” They pulled us apart like cotton candy.

Stark: Seems like you walked away all right.

Rogers: (Straightening.) That a problem?

Stark: I don’t trust a guy without a dark side. Call me old-fashioned.

Rogers: Well, let’s just say you haven’t seen it yet.

Stark: Banner and I were doing research …

Rogers: That would affect the team.

Stark: That would end the team. Isn’t that why we fight, so we can end the fight, so we get to go home?

Rogers: (pulls a log apart barehanded before speaking) Every time someone tries to win a war before it starts, innocent people die. Every time. – Courtesy of several articles.


What if the scene with the grounded cargo ships is part of whatever vision Wanda uses to antagonize Tony? Perhaps she shows him a world where he loses his company, or a world destroyed by the Avengers? This last theory would explain why Tony built the Hulkbuster armor, and why he and Banner were doing research that would “end the team.” The Avengers are so powerful that plenty of people are afraid they will go nuts and destroy the world. Wouldn’t Tony come up with plans to stop and destroy his fellow Avengers if they ever “lost it”?

This is certainly a story angle Whedon could – and may be inclined to – play around with. It would also tie in to the future Captain America: Civil War film planned for 2016. But once again, this is all pure conjecture. We will know nothing until May 2015.

Scene #4: The 1940’s clip showing Cap and Peggy Carter walking into a ballroom is thought by many to be a flashback. It may be, but it might also be a scenario Wanda tries to use against Cap. After all, he “still owes his girl a dance,” does he not?

Elizabeth Olsen has reported that Wanda can see into the future, the past, and alternate universes/realities. What if this scene of Cap and Peggy in a ballroom is a vision of an alternate future, where Cap did not end up on ice for seventy years but still saved the world and got to marry Peggy in the bargain? This theory would explain, to me, why Cap was able to “walk away all right” from whatever it is Wanda shows him.

We know Wanda can do many things, but if in the Cinematic Marvel Universe she can alter time, that has not been stated. Since she cannot send Cap back to do things differently, he would doubtless recognize that the vision she showed him of Peggy and himself dancing was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. He would accept that the vision might have been but he would know it was not real and could never be real. He would simply recognize it and go on. If this is what happens, then Wanda does not show Cap his “dark side,” she merely tries to paralyze him with regret.

Not gonna work, honey.  Not gonna work at all.

Scene #5: Now, about Cap’s “dark side.” I will admit that this whole scene has irritated me – Cap does NOT have a dark side! He is perfect, just like Galahad and Aragorn before him.

But Cap does have a temper. As someone I know explained to me, Banner has stated that he is “always angry.” Who says Cap is not skating on the edge of being “always angry”? Every battle the Avengers fight, they are fighting against someone or something that is pure evil. Would not a totally good person be furious at the atrocities committed by someone or something totally evil? We have seen Cap lose his temper with the Red Skull, Arnim Zola (in computer form), Loki, and, to a lesser extent, with Black Widow, Nick Fury, and the Winter Soldier.

But Tony has never seen Cap in a rage. What if the “dark side” Tony has not “seen yet” is a truly enraged Captain America?

I don’t know about you, readers, but I would be more afraid of an irate Captain America than I would be of an angry Hulk, no matter how incensed Big Green became!

Scene #6: Initially it was reported that, when Ultron makes his first, primitive entrance in robot form during the Avengers’ party, everyone in the room was “weaponless.” Well, anyone with a cork eye knew Thor had his hammer on him; otherwise the team could not attempt to lift it, as depicted in the trailer previewed at the San Diego Comic Con.

However, the newer trailer showed a brief scene where Maria Hill is cocking a gun she has brought with her to the party. It is gratifying to know that she is not so brainless as to attend an Avengers’ shindig without a weapon. Since she came to the party prepared, I suspect that Hawkeye and Natasha also have weapons stashed on their persons. What they will be armed with I cannot say, but anyone who makes enemies on a regular basis should never go anywhere unarmed.

I would guess Hawkeye also has a gun on him, as well as at least one knife. If you read my post “Hawk’s Strike,” then you know that Hawkeye can use practically anything he can get his hands on as a weapon. Watching him fight a bunch of Ultroids without his bow and arrows should be fun. And I would be willing to bet that he will not miss one Ultroid in this fight, or any of the following ones, as he managed not to shoot Maria Hill in The Avengers. (See “Hawk’s Strike” for more on that.)

Natasha’s hand-to-hand combat tactics may not be very effective against Stark-built Ultroids. If she has not got a gun on her, she will probably have at least a knife within easy reach. She had one in New York; I do not see why she would not be wearing one to the party. Like her old SHIELD partner, she would also be able to use nearby objects as weapons. Perhaps she would do it with less speed, but you get the idea.

Cap may also have brought a weapon to the party. If he did not, though, I do not see him having much of a problem battling the Ultroids. He ripped a log apart without trouble in the above clip – who says he cannot decapitate an Ultroid barehanded?

For Rhodey and Tony, things are going to be a little squeakier. Rhodey has not got his armor within reach, and he cannot summon it. Tony can summon his armor, but Ultron could easily block or override his signal, leaving him unarmored in the face of the onrushing Ultroids. Since Rhodey’s a zoomie (zoomie is the generic nickname given to a member of the U.S Air Force) he may have thought to take a gun with him to the party. But he just as easily could have left it home, thinking nothing bad would happen at Avengers’ Tower.

Claudia Kim’s character – whoever she is – looks as though she is going to be a weak spot for the team. Unless Kim’s unnamed character has some hidden talents no one is yet aware of, the Avengers are going to have to protect her throughout this first battle.

And while Banner could certainly Hulk-out and clean Ultron’s clock, something tells me he does not want to wreck Avengers’ Tower.  This might be the one battle in the entire movie which he sits out – as the Hulk, at least.  He could always use a fork to fight with, if push came to shove.

Maybe.  We will have to wait and see.

Well, there you have it, readers. These are some of my new theories for Age of Ultron. Whether they are right or wrong we cannot yet know, but it has been fun to share them with you. If you have your own ideas on what may happen in the film, feel free to mention them to me in a comment below. This is one conversation I could carry on until the cows come home!

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

Frozen – In Japanese, and 25 Other Languages

If you have managed to hang on to the crazy thread of my blog for this long, then you know I have a soft spot for Japanese “anime” and some Japanese songs (see my post “Some Favorite Music from Animated Films/Shows” for more details). You are, therefore, also aware that I enjoyed Disney’s chillingly popular film Frozen. How did I come, then, to putting these two interests together?

I caught a documentary on the making and impact of Frozen and saw a clip of “Let It Go” being sung in Japanese. Right then and there I was hooked, and I just had to hear what the entire song sounded like in Japanese. This is the result:

Let It Go in Japanese

You would think that, after satisfying my curiosity thus, I would be content, right?

DING – DING! That answer would not win you the pot on Jeopardy! readers. As soon as this video finished, I saw another video listed on youtube that showed “Let It Go” being sung in twenty-five (25) different languages. And I could not pass up watching it:

Let It Go in 25 Languages

Also, as a bonus to you for staying with me for so long, readers, I am throwing in another Japanese song that recently came to my attention:

Marvel DISK Wars: The Avengers intro

And there you have it.  I am completely and utterly hopeless, aren’t I?

Good.  At least now I know I am not the only one who thinks so!

Yours in unfashionable craziness,

The Mithril Guardian