Sunday, November 30, 2008

Seeds of Today

All the flowers of all the tomorrows
are in the seeds of today.

Indian Proverb

Of Note: Many of the quotes used on this blog come from which emails an inspiring passage each and every day to anyone who signs up. Sometimes they are so-so, but often they are spot on. A few times I've even had a theme in mind for the day and the quote that comes across matches perfectly. We can thank my talented sister, Marie, for this mesmerizing photo of a day lily taken in the spring or early summer. Gosh, that seems so long ago now.

Today's Weather Report: Two to three inches of snow are predicted to fall shortly. It has been quite overcast all day. No sun fingers today for sure. The new/used plow is ready to go thanks to a friend who came over after a small electrical fire in the plow's headlight wires scared the be-jebbers out of us on Thursday. Today a group of guys made venison sausage with a little help from the clean-up department, me. Clean-up can take as long as the project itself. But today it went lickety-split with several folks pitching in to help.

Watch For Change Snippet: This month marks the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nation's 1700 word Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was passed by the General Assembly in December 1948. According to National Geographic magazine, the unprecedented document "envisioned a world that respected the dignity of every human being. In the bloody wake of World War II, the declaration was hope writ large and helped make human rights an accepted barometer of a government's legitimacy." Examples of its articles include the first and most basic which proclaims that all human beings are born free. Article 18 states succinctly that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. And Article 28.1 promises that everyone has a right to education. Simple statements to make, a difficult reality to see through. The Executive Director of Human Rights Watch was quoted as saying "The declarations words are inspiring. The challenge is enforcement." Enforcement is most likely an interim problem. Some day, maybe sooner than we expect, all nations will be led by those who govern based on these divine principles with seed planted 60 years ago by the UN General Assembly. That reality might not seem possible now but neither did the Internet 15 years ago.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Without Accepting It

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able
to entertain a thought without accepting it.


Of Note: Arthur C. Clarke was quite a guy. Best known for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, this visionary was not only a prolific science fiction writer, he also was a great thinker, who was fascinated with the myriad possibilities of space exploration and believed that "any sufficiently advanced technology was indistinguishable from magic." Clarke originally trained in physics before turning to writing full-time. Always ahead of the pack, Clarke's writings included references to communications satellites and computers way before they were in use and, of course, space travel for which he was famous. Mystical references peppered his writing. In his March obituary, TIME magazine commented that his tales "often came back to the theme of humankind gaining enlightenment from contact with alien life. He believed E.T.s would send a sign, noting last year, 'We have no way of guessing when. . .I hope sooner than later.' " The dream was apparently not fulfilled before he died at the age of 90. I say apparently because, even if sent, the signal might not have been recognized yet. That is a far-reaching thought Arthur Clarke himself might have entertained.

Today's Weather Report: This day is cloudy with temps in the low thirties. Light is streaking across the sky and looks like long, electric fingers. Maybe Mr. Clarke is saying hello from the other side. Marie is saying hello with her photo of a whimsical tree fairy taken at a East Texas nursery.

Watch For Change Snippet: Some start their global work young. Andrea Riccardi was one of those. He knew in high school that the world needed prayer and the poor needed help. To him it was a simple problem that required a simple solution. So, in 1968 he formed a group in Rome to pray and help the poor. Since then his influence has spead much farther than the Italian capital and his group, the Community of Sant'Egidio, has grown to 70,000 volunteers in 73 countries. While their original mission is at the forefront, the successful organization has also been called upon to negotiate peace in war-torn areas such as the Middle East, the Balkans, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Riccardi's technique is as simple as his original vision. He sees "peacemaking not as a bargaining but as a conversion, transforming the person who was your enemy into a mere political opponent." This visionary goes on to say that it "hardly makes for an alliance, but it gets the adversaries talking--and that can keep them from shooting." Recent successes include persuading a Ugandan warlord to come out of the bush for trial in a regional court. Asked why this thug would surrender, Riccardi could only venture a guess: "Our lack of vested interest gives us moral authority." Or could it be the halo shining from his head?

Friday, November 28, 2008


If you can just appreciate each thing,


then you will have pure gratitude.

Even though you observe just ONE flower,
that ONE flower includes everything.

~Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Of Note: And then we return to the fact that everything is ONE. A simple concept really. Meditation on the matter might prove illuminating.

Today's Weather Report: Now to the mundane details of outside conditions from the lofty thoughts of the Mind. The situation in India colors the day for sure. Here the sun is bright and shining, sunglasses weather. I'll be out in it shortly for a little work here and there.

Watch For Change Snippet: In the future, printed books will be replaced by digital. Folks may still collect the hide-bound versions and occasionally consult them for old-times sake. But for the most part, people will rely on either their computers or reading devices such as Amazon's Kindle reader to access this genre. Currently, digital books capture only 1% of the market most likely because the number of digital books is limited. However, visionary companies are tackling this situation, and the number could grow exponentially within a short time. For example, Random House announced last week that it was making thousands of additional books available in digital format. The innovations will carry the company from 8,000 to 15,000. What I would call an interim innovation is demonstrated at the Website where books, CDs, DVDs and video games can be swapped with folks nationwide at no charge but for shipping. And the site even provides the shipping label with postage if desired. What a person has gets shipped to who wants it. The person in turn receive the item he or she wants. Apparently, elaborate algorithms make it all go-around. I tried it myself and have two swaps going just to see how it works. So far, so good.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Peace Can Only Last

Peace can only last where
human rights are respected,
where the people are fed and
where individuals and
nations are free.

~14th Dalai Lama

Of Note: India, the adopted home of the the exiled Tibetan leader, has been hit by an as yet unnamed terrorist group in a series of bombs and other violent raids over the last two days. The 10 attacks were coordinated at 15 minute intervals. Watching it long distance was like watching a war movie. The thugs began the attacks by indiscriminately opening fire at one of the busiest train station in the world and moved on from there. Americans, Brits and Jews were the apparent targets, but these guys had poor aim for many others were killed. Countries around the world have decried the violent acts. Our hearts go out to the nation of India and all its people at this time.

Even in the face of such murderous behavior, however, I'm fairly certain the Dalai Lama would not change his attitude of non-violence and goodwill toward all. He would most likely concur with the Masters, who have promised that "goodwill is man's first attempt to express the love of God. Its results on earth will be peace . . . Goodwill really practiced among groups in any nation and among the nations can revolutionize the world." In a mere two sentences, these Elders go on to outline the problems preventing this from happening and the result: "The key to humanity's trouble has been to take and not give, to accept and not share, to grasp and not to distribute. War is the dire penalty which mankind has had to pay for this great sin of separateness." Though painful to watch, the exiled Buddhist leader knows that humanity will learn the lessons given time and that peace and goodwill will prevail in the end. He also knows, however, that it is up to a united humanity to decide the time frame, be it long or short.

Today's Weather Report: Snow greeted us this morning, just a light dusting as it turned out. Thanksgiving dinner found us at the house of my daughter's new in-laws in the next town over. Just the elders sat around chowing down smoked turkey and all the fixings thinking of the newlyweds in Florida enjoying their first holiday together. We will all be together again at Christmas with the kids joining the festivities. Thanks to Marie for this close-up photo of colorful Texas berries--perfect for this Thanksgiving post.

Watch For Change Snippet: Bombs are still a problem in Germany even 60 years after the big war ended. Surveying for new construction sites there includes ordnance checks, which over the years has uncovered many live 500 pounders and other aged but still deadly munitions. Worldwide, this detritus of war continues to maim and kill innocent people. It is thus refreshing to find that diplomats from around the globe met in May and decided that the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs should be banned. While this does not cover all munitions like the bombs in Germany, it may be a start to ending humanity's utilization of these specific barbaric killing devices, whose purpose is to kill civilians both during and after a conflict. The signing conference sponsored by the United Nations is set for December 2 - 4.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One Elementary Truth

Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
there is one elementary truth -
that the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then Providence moves.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Of Note: God must have been in a humorous mood when creating this unique plant. I call it a pitcher plant and it is like nothing I've ever seen before in the northwoods. Look how it captures the rainwater in its leaves and reflects the trees above. In droughty times, the plant is withered and brown. When the rains come, it perks up again and provides this showy display in lime green and maroon. The gangly flower above sprouts about a foot tall around June and lasts the whole summer. To find out more about wildflowers and view some gorgeous photos, check out, an award winning Website presented by the Botany Program of the US Forestry Service.

Today's Weather Report: Ah, the sun is out again. Must mean December is close at hand. Whew, we almost made it through the gloomiest month of the year. It's in the low 30's today--perfect for a walk outside with just a light jacket. Local hunters were over for a lunch of soup and beer. Light on the beer if they continued to hunt, heavy on the beer if not.

Watch For Change Snippet: Computers are wonderful tools and provide unlimited access to knowledge. One can spend hours in search of information. I remember only ten years ago short lists of good Websites that were circulated like treasures. Now, we need Google or Yahoo to even scratch the surface. One creative Website to watch is Scientific American describes it as providing "digitally modified maps depicting regions of the world not by their physical size but by their demographic importance on subjects ranging from population to how many toys we import to who's eating their vegetables." You have to see these maps to believe them. In some the United States resembles a huge balloon (imported toys, for example) and in others it is barely visible (population 2000 years ago.) The initial set of 366 maps, which can be freely viewed and printed, is now complete. If a computer is not handy, a newly published atlas is also available. As we consider how resources are to be distributed in the future, this mapping concept could be invaluable. Future generations looking at this data may be astonished at the patterns tolerated by their ancestors.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Best Form of Therapy


Gordon Allport

Of Note: This is one of my five cats, Gipper, contemplating his next move. We got him from the local humane society the day President Reagan died--thus, his name. I'm not a real animal lover, but cats have shown me what peace can come from the simple act of petting. They love the petting, we love the soft touch and purring that ensues. Because of this mutual exchange, nursing homes have long kept pets as therapy for the residents. Many of them have left beloved animals behind and, even in brains that cannot remember what day it is, the comfort of that soft touch remains. Sometimes it is the only memory that does.

Today's Weather Report: Cloudy and sunny. Sunny and cloudy. It can't make up its mind outside. Awhile ago, the snow tumbled down in giant waves whipped by the wind. Then the sun said, "Enough of that! We want some time here." This human just watches the show in wonder. I forgot to mention earlier in the month that the lake is now frozen tight, a process that finalized on or around the 15th. We won't see the water again until April.

Watch For Change Snippet: Many forms of loving exchange exist, of course, even between nations. Some might cynically remark that aid is given just for what a nation can get. But more broadly and imaginatively, aid might be envisioned as love given from one country to another. The 81-year old chief of the Japan International Cooperation Agency seems to hold this attitude. Sadako Ogata previously ran the UN's High Commission for Refugees from 1991 to 2000 and in that capacity helped many countries through a multitude of humanitarian crises. This octogenarian could have retired comfortably but chose instead to lead her country's aid agency. She believes it is now time to formalize Japan's aid to Iraq. Ogata is quoted as saying: "We've been helping Iraq during the conflict in an indirect way because of concerns that the security situation would expose our civilian workers to danger. Now the situation is stabilizing, so it's best that we go in." This elder added: "About half of our staff have master's degrees, and they have a variety of academic backgrounds ranging from international relations to business, law, economics and engineering. I also expect them to have a commitment to serve people and developing countries." This could be viewed as love in action and eventually such love will change the world.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blessed Life

It's not doing the thing we like to do,
but liking the thing we have to do,
that makes life blessed.


Of Note: The old farmers who used implements such as these certainly would have agreed with Goethe. For those stalwart men and women, unrelenting work was the order of business every day. Living was often rough, and blessings were counted, particularly at holidays. Death and life were constant companions, and old farmers understood how the two were captured in an eternal dance. Stories were passed down often with few words. It was just like that. This milk can belonged to Jim's German grandpa who used it for many years until it ended up in our yard as a reminder of a pioneer long gone and an age forgotten by most. With a deep economic downturn looming, resurrecting some of the old stories of the tough but blessed times might help us through.

Today's Weather Report: Would you believe it, I did not step one foot outside today. Too many things going on inside. Right now it's dark even though only 5 pm. The soup and bread cooking are promises of a delicious dinner and then early to bed.

Watch For Change Snippet: The Elders have returned. We've been waiting patiently for retired statesmen and stateswomen to make themselves useful, and now they have. Launched in 2007 by former South African President Nelson Mandela on his 89th birthday, the Elders--including 12 former world leaders and prominent rights activists--have mediated several political crises, including those in Sudan and Kenya. Even with their collective clout, it has not always been easy going. This week, for example, their assignment ended in frustration when Zimbabwe barred the way as its humanitarian crisis was reaching "catastrophic levels." I have to admit, it took guts to say no to former President and Nobel Peace prize winner, Jimmy Carter, former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and former South African First Lady, Graca Machel. The official newspaper of Zimbabwe said that the group would be invited back after crops were planted. That means never. It is well known that no crops have made it into the ground and many are dying from cholera and hunger because aid has been curtailed at the government's request. The Elders said they will persist in their efforts, however. Godspeed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Exploring the Uncharted

A paradoxical universe
requires enlightenment
to explore the uncharted.

Vincent Wee-Foo

Of Note: This scientist knows of what he speaks. He has taken on the whole astrophysicist colony by suggesting that the universe is a vortex in shape, which creates many illusions that throw the scientific community off. Even the venerable Big Bang would have to go as would an expanding universe. On his very illuminating website, Mr. Wee-Foo quotes Albert Einstein, who opined: "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." While this maverick might not be on the right track either, it is good to know that other ideas exist about the origins of the cosmos which are not often printed in the popular press. Therefore, might I suggest a healthy degree of skepticism when looking at any complex subject understood by only a few?

Today's Weather Report: It was close to 0 degrees first thing this morning, though the sun is now out and may warm things up. At sunup, the bare branches sparkled in the light like jewels. It was a fleeting view, lasting only a short while. It warmed the heart, though, especially when watching in wonder with a cup of hot green tea in hand.

Watch For Change Snippet: Speaking of warming the heart, it was reported that Iraqi soldiers donated $500 to help California wildfire victims. What's more, this wasn't the first but rather the fourth time they reached into their pockets to help Americans. In the past they raised $1500 to aid those devastated by hurricanes Gustav and Ike and sent $500 to the National September 11th Memorial. These are impressive showings of solidarity and compassion from an impoverished people. On another front, Libya wants to invest in American companies through its sovereign wealth fund said the younger son of Mohammar Gadhafi, who was making the rounds in the United States. His visit coincided with the announcment of the first ambassador to Libya in 36 years. Seif al-Islam Gadhafi summarized his visit by saying: "We are good people and nice. We'll make business. We'll invest. We have friends here in the states, and we have a new chapter in the relations. Libya for the first time has normal relations with the rest of the world." Now that's progress.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Great Battle


Philo of Alexandria

Of Note: We each are inhabited by two entities--the soul and it's shadow, the personality. At some point in the evolution of our consciousness, the soul asserts its authority. The personality puts up a great fight and a battle rages, sometimes for more than one lifetime. We have met these people; they are the ones who are conflicted, many times are less than healthy, and often self-destruct. Looks really bad from the outside--but the soul-work is being done. Eventually, the personality is subsumed by the soul, and the battle is won. All of us have this in store. Obviously, Philo was familiar with the ancient teachings and was passing the word along. It was kind of him to give us a heads up.

Today's Weather Report: The water is dripping from the roof under the intense sunlight. Even through the window, I can feel its warmth. Make no mistake, it was 2 degrees at 6 this morning and is set to be zero tonight. But right now, the light touch of the sun is entrancing.

Watch For Change Snippet: What do you think is keeping pirates on the high seas from coming to justice? Certainly if we can put a man on the moon and explorers on Mars, we can free the oceans from thieves. Well, as it turns out, besides infighting between shipping companies and various governments as to which is responsible to pay for freedom from violence in international waters, what to do with captured pirates is the other hurdle. Surprisingly, human rights is the issue. A consensus has yet to be reached between western nations as to how to handle the human rights of pirates. Piracy has not been a problem since the early 1800's for western nations and back then human rights had yet to be defined. Indonesia and Malaysia are taking care of their longtime piracy problem by capturing the thugs, trying them and instituting stiff punishments for those found guilty. The outcome apparently is not always pretty. Some pirates have been turned over to Somalia with the promise they will be tried and not tortured, but the final outcome of their treatment is in question. In addition, UK has instructed its naval ships not to take pirates as this could confer some British rights to the thieves with which the country does not want to deal. And to complicate matters even more, just this week, Islamic terrorists in Somalia have said they will take care of the problem under Sharia law because capturing Muslim ships in the past two weeks has crossed the line. We will stay tuned as this seemingly strange human rights story unfolds. Why would anyone read fiction when the real thing is so much more exciting? Marie provided this picture from her trip to Galveston earlier in the year. US ports do not have to contend with pirates any longer, only hurricanes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our Chidlren As Teachers

While we try to teach
our children about life,
our children teach us
about what life is all about.

~Angela Schwindt

Of Note: Weddings are a good time to recognize the meaning of families as incubators of love. Through families, we learn about sharing and caring, passion and compassion, sympathy and empathy. Can you imagine a day when we will feel about every member of humanity how we feel about our families? That day is coming. These two munchkins are my Texas grandkids who were taking ring-bearing duties very seriously at their aunt's wedding in September. This is the generation that will have much to teach their elders, starting most assuredly with their parents.

Today's Weather Report: Light snow is falling, though it's been heavy now and then. With temps in the teens, cold describes any experience outdoors today. Bone chilling, really. All the animals are huddled by the fire downstairs like there is no tomorrow.

Watch For Change Snippet: November 20th is Universal Children's Day--a recognition by the United Nations of the need to treat each and every child like a precious jewel. Worldwide this is not always the case, and millions of children go hungry or die from preventable diseases every year. Education is ultimately the key to a better life for our collective children. The world will change when they are taught the value of truth, a sense of justice, a spirit of cooperation, a sense of personal responsibility and the importance of serving the common good. With these attitudes institutionalized in coming generations, their subsequent actions will inevitably benefit the planet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Going Beyond Our Limits


~Albert Einstein

Of Note: You know the saying "The sky is the limit?" Well, put together with Mr. Einstein's words we have a picture of a limitless horizon. That is the unexplored dimension that President-elect Barack Obama is entering as far as race. Where this nation goes with the illusion of separation by skin color may rest on his shoulders. It could be a heavy burden, but he seems to be taking it all in stride. When it came up off-handedly at a press conference following the election, he joking called himself a "mutt" as in "Mutts like me." The message seemed to be that this President will be quite at ease and open in discussing the meaning of race. Al-Qaida's second in command has taken notice and released an 11 minute tape slinging racial pot-shots at the future President by derogatorily calling him a "House Slave." Al-Zawahri also retorted: "Be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands of them." With this gauntlet thrown down, the new President will have his hands full. Race as an issue may simply dissolve as the President shows of what he is made to the world. I have a feeling he will have ample opportunities. Thanks to my sister, Marie, for this tranquil evening shot of the boundless west Texas skies taken in the spring.

Today's Weather Report: Very cloudy as usual in November and definitely looks foreboding. Like snow. An inch or so of the white, fluffy stuff currently covers the ground. Temps are mild in the 20's. Not much movement outside at all, though something big stirred in the woods when I groped my way to the garage the other night in the pitch dark. Hunting season starts Saturday though we will not be hosting a hunting party as usual.

Watch For Change Snippet: Before I leave Barack Obama for the day, let me share an interesting number correlation. Last Saturday, the Wall Street Journal had a LONG article relating the fact that Mr. Obama is a big fan of Abraham Lincoln. The paper even morphed a picture of Obama and Lincoln. The finished product looked strikingly like Lincoln with dark skin. I began to ponder if Lincoln might not be coming back as the next President. After all, Lincoln made a black President possible, and he might want to finish that which he started. It may be no coincidence then that Lincoln was the 16th President and Obama will be the 44th. 4 x 4 equals 16 with the Number 4 representing the energy of Humanity as a whole. If this is indeed the case, we can look for great leadership including moving oratory skills that may carry the planet to the next stage of its development.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Destiny: A Thing To Be Achieved

Destiny is not a matter of chance;
it is a matter of choice.
It is not a thing to be waited for;
it is a thing to be achieved.

~William Jennings Bryan

Of Note: A human is a creator, plain and simple. But being human, our creations are imperfect. Maybe we should call ourselves Creators-In-Training. Because of this, we can't blame anyone else for our destiny, only ourselves. Darn. It was always so emotionally satisfying to be a victim. Basically, our troubles boil down to three root causes: separateness, an illusion of the mind; selfishness, a glamour of the emotions and materialism, a veil of the physical. The future lies in our ability to create good out of the apparent mess we've brought upon ourselves. Three energies are available to those willing and able to tap the source: Synthesis in thought; the Will-to-Good, otherwise known as Pure Love; and Creative Intelligence in Action. Check out for more on tapping our inherent creative talent. We can thank Marie for sharing her creative talent with us in this great dragonfly photo!

Today's Weather Report: So glad to be home watching the weather from my own window rather than from a hotel. Snow blanketed the area yesterday all the way to Chicago. It was a good decision not to travel. The sun is actually out today--must be one of the four days it shines in November. But man, it's cold. Down in the single digits! The old cat is huddled next to the fireplace like they are one unit.

Watch For Change Snippet: For the first time, humans are using their collective creative talents to conduct a sea census. More than 2,000 scientists from 82 nations are taking part in the global effort. In the process, many discoveries have been made of heretofore unknown sea creatures. Doesn't it surprise you that we know so little about a body of water that covers most of the world? But, in fact, we know very little about the oceans and its inhabitants. Some of the discoveries to date include: the mid-Atlantic Ridge is home to a unique and previously unknown population of sea creatures that live at depths of 2.5 miles; reefs in the Black Sea are made of bacteria formed into mats 13 feet tall; at 4.5 miles deep, jellyfish hide off the cost of Japan raising questions of their food source; deep-ocean octopuses share an Antarctic origin and the migrating patterns of white sharks have brought many surprises including wonderment at their frequent deep sea dives. Three books will be published when the census is complete and the information will be freely available for use by future researchers and the public. The information will prove invaluable during future discussions as to the future of the high seas.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Electric Soul

What is a soul? It's like electricity -
we don't really know what it is,
but its a force that can light a room.

~Ray Charles

Of Note: Being blind, performer Ray Charles seems to know what he's talking about. Probably because what can be seen can also be felt and heard and even touched, if only with the Mind. If you've ever seen Ray Charles perform, you have seen Soul in action. Ageless wisdom would go one step further, however, and say the soul is not LIKE electricity, rather it IS electricity like every other substance. The whole universe and everything in it are electrical in nature. For more on this, see, an illuminating website from a group of scientists who will someday prove this to be the case. They have posted several wonderfully illustrated ebooks for laymen showing how the universe works from an electrical angle with no big bang, no black holes and no dark matter or energy needed to explain how things work. This is not voodoo science but the real thing with Nobel Laureates among the leaders of the pack. You might want to check it out and be on the cutting edge of the next big "uncovery."

Today's Weather Report: Well, because of heavy snowfall, we have cancelled our trip. No reason to risk life and limb for one meeting in a city far away. Instead, we will figure out how to put the new-used snowplow on the new-used truck. This will either go smoothly or not. We can hope for the former rather than the latter. One thing's for sure, it's always better the second time around.

Watch For Change Snippit: Can you believe the Internet is forty-years old? Well, it is, and according to Discover Magazine, this antique is in desparate need of renovation. 1.5 billion people are now hooked up worldwide on a system that was meant for a few hundred. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding the global endeavor and chose BBN Technologies to oversee the project. These are the same folks who sent the world's first email and built the first internet router--so, NSF made a good choice. Twenty-nine workgroups have begun defining the Internet's flaws and will eventually begin building and testing solutions. The challenges are formidable: "How do you reconfigure an entire universe that's already overclocked, jacked-in, and densely coded?" But leave it to the great Minds of humanity to come up with solutions. Hum, maybe that's the point.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nature: A Common Language

Like music and art,
love of nature is a common
language that can transcend
political and social boundaries.

~President Jimmy Carter

Of Note: Where political and social boundaries are amiss, nature has always taken a hit. Some of the most beautiful places on earth are also the most deadly. President Carter would have seen this over and over as he travelled the globe. This visionary may be on to something, however. If warring parties would put down their arms and open their eyes to the devastation of the land, sea, animals, plants and air that they have caused, a new era of rebuilding would surely dawn.

Today's Weather Report: The sun peeked out a few times this morning and was it a glorious sight to see! In November, I have to remind myself every day that above the gray clouds, a sun shines mightily. In between the sun show, flakes of snow wisped down as a reminder that I should not get too accustomed to seeing the glowing orb. The forecast is for an inch of snow today with temps in the 20's. FYI: we will be out of town for a few days, and thus, this blog will be out of town as well.

Watch For Change Snippit: On November 11, 2008 following a moving ceremony, a bridge reopened linking Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods after being closed three years ago following a rumor-driven stampede that killed almost 1,000 Shiites. The Sunnis were blamed and an intense mistrust followed, sparking the bridge's closing. This latest move is a sign of the detente growng between Sunnis and Shiites. Hundreds from the two neighborhoods walked across the now open bridge chanting: "Sunnis and Shiites are brothers." One Iraqi who attended the ceremony joyfully exclaimed: "We are very happy to see the bridge of solidarity being reopened. This bridge sends a message that Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites are brothers and that sectarian strife is over." Now the greater rebuilding can begin. Some day Iraq, the seat of an ancient civilization, will again flourish, and its antiquities uncovered to the delight of the world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Am Not Discouraged

I am not discouraged
because every wrong
attempt discarded is
another step forward.

~Thomas Edison

>Of Note: Going round and round in circles, getting nowhere fast? Thomas Edison knew that feeling. He is famous now but in the beginning of his illustrious career, not so much. Had this genius stopped his often faulty experiments before the final successes, it would have put the breakthroughs regarding electricity back for some time. It is always true that for two steps forward, one step back is necessary. That's part of the earthly experience that includes chaos-emergence-liberation. On another note, it is no coincidence that the electrical discoveries of Edison and others such as Tesla came when they did. The light that shines in us ever more brightly as a whole must also make its way onto the physical plane. This physical light now shines so brightly as to be seen from space. Now that's progress. Thanks to Marie for this inspirational shot!

>Today's Weather Report: It's very cloudy with small-flaked snow coming down in buckets. Haven't heard that we were to get much accumulation--but this looks as if it could last awhile. So, we'll see. The cats are not impressed.

>Watch For Change Snippit: America has been one of the most generous nations in the world. Now with the economy the way it is, philanthropy has been affected negatively, particularly at the corporate level. Some corporate donation pledges have even been scuttled--much to the chagrin of the intended recipients. Now to the rescue is a $1 billion year-old Arab philanthropy called Dubai Cares that is targeting primary education in developing countries. It has sent millions to a California based charity called Room To Read, that builds schools and libraries around the world, and other charities including Save the Children, Oxfam and CARE International. Previously, Arab philanthropy was almost exclusively spent on Islamic causes. This new approach could have an earthshaking effect. Leading this charge is the Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a visionary previously featured on these pages, who started a $10 billion educational foundation in 2007. Ironically, many of the foundations of knowledge were incubated in Arab lands. It is appropriate and timely that an Arab leader returns to these roots.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Looking For Love

Instead of looking for love, give it;
Constantly renew it in yourself
and you will always
feel its presence
within you.

It will always be
there smiling at you,
gazing upon you kindly.

~Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

>Of Note: Give and you shall receive. It couldn't be much more plain. Jesus was like that. He spoke in simple terms. Love thy neighbor as theyself was another of those simply statements. We have figured out ways to garble His basic message of love and somehow clothe it in structure, pomp and ritual, but carrying no real meaning--except here and there when we feel like it. However, Jesus spoke without qualifiers. Some say that when we pass over, the only question asked will be this: Did you love and gave to your brothers and sisters as you were able? We might spend a part of every day asking ourselves this very question ahead of that major, unavoidable exam.

>Today's Weather Report: It must be November because this is the month cloudy days out-number sunny days. It has something to do with shifting hot and cold waves in the fall, but don't ask me what exactly. That's why this flower picture is so necessary as a reminder of the beauty that once was this past summer. [Is it just me, or does this day lily appear to be smiling?]

>Watch For Change Snippit: Speaking of giving love, in September groups of volunteers picked up trash along the sea shore all around the globe. The AP noted that "volunteers scoured 33,000 miles of shoreline worldwide and found 6 million pounds of debris." They went on to quote a report by the Ocean Conservancy that people from 76 countries participated and from 45 states of the USA. 378,000 volunteers collected 182 pounds of trash per mile on average--although in the United States because of the number of people, 390 pounds per mile were discarded. Our beaches are now cleaner not only for humans but for other animals and wildlife which rely on this ecosystem for their survival. Some day, this kind of cleanup will be unnecessary when we have matured as one humanity to understand that Earth is not a wastebasket. But, since we are not there just yet, we thank these volunteers for their concerted sanitation efforts.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Leveling Creation

~Albert Einstein

>Of Note: In our ponds are a million frogs. Well, maybe not a million, but a whole bunch. These are fake ponds but the frogs don't seem to mind at all. They just go on reproducing year after year. You wouldn't know it by looking around here, but come to find out that amphibians--including frogs, toads and newts--have been dying off for a couple of decades at least. Many of the ones that do reproduce have deformities that has been linked to water contaminants such as antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. The reduction in habitat has also been assigned a place among the top reasons for frog loss. But, a new one to add to the list is a wee waterborne fungus called chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease that kills amphibians by the score. Because of my own personal experience with blastomycosis, this article in Discover Magazine caught my attention. The article went on to say that decline of amphibians may be just a harbinger of the "world's sixth mass extinction." Interestingly, ancient teachings predicted such an extinction to begin slowly right about now. Remember the darkness before the dawn law? Well, according to ancient texts, the purpose of an extinction is to destroy in order to rebuild a better model. Only our future selves would be around to see that--but our current versions may be on the cutting edge of such an event.

>Today's Weather Report: Here is where we go from the lofty to the mundane. Remember the gloomy weather yesterday. At least today the gloomy clouds are producing rain. Above it all is a full moon. So, if you feel a bit imbalanced this week, that could be the reason. Best to stay as centered as possible--even if that means taking it extra easy.

>Watch For Change Snippit: Because of my belief in reincarnation, I'm always looking around for the next genius who exhibits Einsteinian characteristics. It could be one Terrence Tao, a young mathematician out at the University of California. Among others heady pursuits, this brain is studying the distribution of prime numbers. For some strange reason not yet known to me, I've been doing the same. Not being a mathematician at all, rather more of an artist, my interest has been in the shapes created by prime number distributions. Huh, I can hear you say. As it turns out, when numbers are placed in a sequence of rows, spirals emerge all over the place and go in every direction. Even more interesting, the prime numbers happen to be the places where there are no spirals. While the subsequent pictures are intriguing, the real meat of the matter is the meaning. Could it be that at some level, led for example by an illustrious young mathematician named Tao, the collective consciousness is taking on this question?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Unrepeatable Miracle

The only way to live is to accept each
minute as an unrepeatable miracle.
~Margaret Storm Jameson

>Of Note: I was a lucky Mom one year to receive a gorgeous Streptocarpus plant on Mother's Day. At that point, I was running a clinic and the plant name sounded like a disease. But through the years it has brought untold joy as the delicate, remarkable flowers bloom. There's something about flowers that draws us to look deeply inside in wonderment at their near miraculous structure. Check out for more reasons to appreciate each minute of the day.

>Today's Weather Report: Gloomy. Did I say, gloomy. What I should have said is REALLY gloomy. What's more, it was starting to get dark by 3:30 pm! Jim crawled into bed at 4 pm and said he'd had enough. Me? I'm just perking along like usual, doing a little of this and a little of that. Each minute counts and gloomy can't get in the way of a productive, envigorating day.

>Watch For Change Snippit: Here at Mt. St. Mossback Monastery the Abbot and Abbess are happily married and enjoy all the benefits of that union. Some day a World Religion will emerge that will have no requirements for leading a celibate life. It is this unnatural state that has gotten so many clerics into trouble down through the ages. Mind you, many of these men and women had illicit affairs, but that sadly only added to their inner turmoil. Popes of old even fathered children, which must be a geneaological surprise to many. When the Catholic Church opens its doors to married priests and women priests, we will know that the future has arrived. Speaking of the Catholic Church, the Vatican has quietly halted the canonization of Pope Pius XII. Even they could see that it would not go over well to declare a Nazi sympathizer as a saint.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The True Meaning of Life

The true meaning of life is to plant trees
under which we do not expect to sit.
~Nelson Henderson

>Of Note: Two summers ago, I was immersed in planting trees in a field out back. It was hard work digging throught the sod, clearing the old grass and making way for the new trees. That whole summer was spent watering the 80 trees. I'd make the rounds twice a day, every day all summer. As a thanks for all the effort, half of the pines died from a destructive bark beetle which took the trees down in no order at all. One by one the tractor would pull up the dead plants. Eventually, a tall morgue of spruce cornered one section of the field. Not being deterred, I planted more this past summer in the vacant holes. Someone asked me why bother? Mr. Henderson had the answer. In my imagination, I could see these pines forty, fifty, sixty feet tall someday--the backbone of a forest where the field currently sits. I understand that no one will know or care who planted them. But they will be enjoyed by our collective children, we can count on that.

>Today's Weather Report: Sunny and cloudy all at the same time. What that means is that it's sunny out one window and cloudy out another. Snow is forecast for the day, though I don't see it at this moment. Meterorologists are pretty good these days, so it's out there somewhere for sure. It's at times like this that I'm glad we purchased that new-to-us snowplow in September. No more old-timer snowplow that worked only went it had a mind to. Hurrah!

>Watch For Change Snippit: Speaking of children, many books are being written about the current generation of young adults. They are spoken of as spoiled and words akin to that. Guess this "new way" is causing headaches for employers who aren't accustomed to employees who think of themselves first--and want a life outside the job. 75% of these young adults voted for Barack Obama. My guess is that everything will be fine. It's just a change and most likely a part of the inevitable evolutionary process--both individually and as a group. Another cohort of youngsters called "piggy-bank entrepreneurs" are making a name for themselves as well. They have gone beyond protesting which was big in my generation and are using their brains to accomplish their global goals. For example, one teenager organized an effort to get bednets to Africa. She will have saved more folks with her efforts than many doctors will in a lifetime, says the newspaper.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Imagination Vs. Knowledge

~Albert Einstein

>Of Note: Can you conceptualize the imagination it took for God to come up with the spirical formation so common throughout nature? Spirals are everywhere. They are so common as to even appear in listings of prime numbers which makes me believe they are at the very core of Life itself. Like spirals? Check out more spiral formations at for a mind-blowing concept on the shape of the universe with a few optical illusion illustrations thrown in for emphasis.

>Today's Weather Report: Sunny and bright, even if it's only in the thirties. Today I've got sunflowers on the brain as I dry three huge seed heads the size of dinner plates that grew on 10 foot tall plants. These were from a mammoth variety seed I picked up in Idaho in May. Hopefully, I'll be able to use some of these seeds again next year to grow more of these huge beauties.

>Watch For Change Snippit: Since we are talking about the universe, it is slowly coming to pass that some astrophysicists are beginning to the realize that there is a literal connection between us and the universe in which we live and move and have our being. That galaxies, stars and even people are not discrete individual widgets floating in a sea of nothingness. One such visionary scientist, most likely with a huge imagination, was quoted as saying: "Does this mean that understanding all the properties of our region of the universe will require a deep investigation of our own nature, perhaps even include the nature of our consciousness?" Could he mean by this that we are a part of the consciousness of some Entity of which our consciousness is only a reflection?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Senses Put In Order

I go to nature to be soothed and healed
and have my senses put in order.

John Burroughs

>Of Note: If life seems overwhelming at times, nature has a way of reducing anxiety and can be better than a pill. It seems that a calming energy is emitted outdoors and is ours for the taking. And what's more, it's free. This quote was taken from the Rainforest Section of where you can donate daily with one click. Check it out.

>Today's Weather Report: It is snowing hard, big flakes. These were only supposed to be snowshowers, but this has a look of something entirely different. One forgets from season to season what to expect exactly--but the routine returns quickly after a storm or two. This summer I organized the snow shovels so all six are in one place. Last winter we could find none of them when needed. There is nothing like the frustration of buying yet one more snow shovel when you know five more lurk somewhere.

>Watch For Change Snippit: I'm not the only one tired of buying unnecessary items. With the economic downturn, luxury items are not the hot ticket they used to be. Wall Street Journal quotes a lady as saying, "It's definitely all of a sudden very cool to be cheap." This newspaper has an article almost daily about this changing psychology and says that people aren't shopping anymore to feel better. Rather, folks are actually NOT shopping to feel better. Another newspaper went even further by suggesting the slowdown can be good for us. Kind of like the realizations that occur after waking from a binge.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Changing the World

No doubt that a small group of
thoughtful committed citizens
can change the world.
it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

>Of Note: Ever heard of William Wilberforce? Nay, didn't think so. Neither had I until I read about this mover and shaker who lived in late 18th century, early 19th century England. His claim to fame was leading the efforts to end slave trade across the British Empire, which at that point spanned the globe. Actually, few thought it was possible but this stalwart Parlimentarian thought otherwise. After 20 years of fomenting change through a persistant campaign to shift public opinion and success in ultimately building a political coalition, the deciding vote was cast in July 1833. Wilberforce died that same month. Author William Hague said that a religious conversion in 1785 brought this man to the foot of the cross. Wilberforce likened his conversion "to waking from a dream and recovering the use of my reason after a delirium." That is not an unusual description for awakening. What is more unusual is how the man went on to change the world. Had England not abolished slavery when it did, America might have taken even longer to do so. Consequently, we might not be in the place we are now with a black President-elect. To read more about this visionary forerunner, consider picking up Hague's book, William Wilberforce, from your library or local bookstore. Marie contributed this unique swirling cloud photo shot recently from her home in Texas. My, they make inspirational clouds in that state!

>Today's Weather Report: Cooler by far and in the forties. Tonight it will get down to freezing. Now, this is more like the November to which I'm accustomed. Even the cloud cover seems more familiar. There's a bird making a ruccus out the window, must be a crow because they seem to be around no matter what.

Watch For Change Snippit: Since we are on unusual movers and shakers, let's not forget Mr. Gene Sharp, an 80-year old hermit-like Boston scholar. Oh, never heard of him either? Well, many dictators around the world have and rale at the very mention of his name. Mr. Sharp's claim to fame is a life spent writing books and pamphlets on non-violent resistance, very powerful books and pamphlets that have led many freedom fighters to foment political change using brains rather than braun. He was recently the star featured in an Iranian documentary on foreign plots against the state. Hugo Chavez considers him a national threat. Opposition activists consider him a global hero and have found his tactics quite powerful in Burma, Georgia, Iran, Kyrgystan, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, to name a few. To read more about this Server, you might check out the Albert Einstein Institute, his brainchild.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pairs of Opposites

At levels of reality revelant to the human journey, duality often presents itself in the form of incompatible or conflicting pairs of opposites. It is easy to make a value judgment, identifying one as 'good' and one as 'evil.' However, from a different perspective, pairs of opposites provide opportunies for exploration, for experiencing consequences of each and learning the importance of balance. Until balance is attained, suffering and other 'evils' can be expected.
John Nash

>Of Note: The colorful inclusion in the rock above will one day be freed from its gray surroundings. Until that time many moons from now, the duality of light and dark will remain, always a reminder of imprisonment of one by the other. But liberation will come. That is the promise. Indeed, it is culmination of the law.

>Today's Weather Report: Very cloudy with thunderstorms forecast, though the sun keeps popping its head out to remind us its still above it all. Here at Mt. St. Mosback Monastery, we work for our heat, and each piece of wood is lovingly cut and stacked before being thrown into the maws of the hungry boiler. Every day of mild weather like this brings another day the guys can peck away at cutting the wood piles for later use. That's not a task to pursue mid-winter for sure.

>Watch For Change Snippit: After 27 years in prison, a convict in Texas, who never waivered in professing his innocence, was freed when DNA testing exonerated him from a murder he did not commit. He holds the distinction of being the longest held individual wrongfully held and subsequently liberated. The Innocence Project gets the credit for uncovering the grevious error. The state's District Judge said, "No words can express what a tragic story this is." All the ex-convict could say was thank god for the Innocence Project, who utilizes DNA testing and other methods to free wrongfully convicted prisoners.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In Harmony With You

First thing in the morning,
before you meet or greet anyone,
remember to greet all of nature,
all visible and invisible creatures.

Say to them: "I am grateful for your work,
I love you and want to be in harmony with you!"
At this very moment, in response to your greeting,
all of nature will open to you and send you
energy the entire day.

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Of Note: Nothing could be finer than to open the day with meditation and/or prayer. The greeting suggested by Mr. Aivanhov would be a novel way to begin these lofty endeavors. Substituting the word "we" for "I" would expand the declaration's meaning and send the potent energy generated to all humanity. It's a simple act of service, would only take a minute. But that one minute could potentially change the world.

Today's Weather Report: Well, I have to find a hat and decide on an appropriate recipe, because yesterday did indeed get above 70. Amazing. It was the all-time high and the tank top was pulled out for a second run in a week. Today heavy clouds are moving in for thundershowers, though it will be warm in the mid-60's. The lake is still way low--so, bring on the rain.

Watch For Change Snippit: With the election of Barack Obama for President, we don't have to look far for change that could rock the planet. His acceptance speech was moving and promised hope not only to his constituency but to his wider constituency, all peoples worldwide. He is the first President, it seems, that may have this wider view of reality. A measure of any government according to Hubert Humphrey was "how it treated those who were in the dawn of life, the children; those who were in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who were in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped." The time may have come when these words will be put to the test globally.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What We Give

We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

Of Note: Today is election day and the campaign for the highest office of the land will mercifully come to a close. May the best man win and may love and light shine down upon him. He's going to need everyone's support. Winston Churchill understood about campaigning. After the great war, this venerable statesman was turned out of office. The electorate is sometimes fickle and often does not reward Servers, especially if they have some perceived personality flaw. That's OK. They get their rewards by giving to the best of their ability and that's all that matters in the end.

Today's Weather Report: Great sunshiny day. Supposed to get into the 60's--though if we see 70's again this fall like yesterday, I'll eat my hat. Remind me of that if we do, OK? The forecast also includes a 50% chance of showers. Must be somewhere, but not on the horizon out my window.

Watch For Change Snippit: Exxon has worked for years, of course, producing gasoline for our cars. The incident many moons ago with the Exxon Valdez certainly tarnished its image as has its record quarterly profits of late. Given all of that, it might surprise you as it did me that this behemoth is moving into battery R & D to power hybrid cars. The company is specifically working on the plastic separator film used inside batteries which connects the dots since plastic is a derivative of petroleum. Exxon executives see this as a good, diversified business opportunity. Doesn't matter a bit that the motive is money. It's good news that one of the largest corporations in the world is working on the alternative energy front.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wanting What You Have

Geoffrey Abert

Of Note: In this time of "economic uncertainty" as the newspapers like to call the current situation, Mr. Abert is on to the right idea. Looking around all that we have accumulated, we are more affluent than our minds lead us to believe. But luckily we can change our minds regarding prosperity. One immediate advantage would be an improvement in mental health toward an attitude of gratitude. Another would be a more intimate feeling of connection with the rest of humanity. Not a bad deal at all for letting in a little light. This quote is from the June 2nd "Word For The Day" at Prescient I would say.

Today's Weather Report: Can you believe it, it's now in the 70's!! Just last week as you know, I was preparing for winter. Now, I've had to pull my tank tops out again for another run--even if it's only today.

Watch for Change Snippit: How in the world are we going to supply 1.6 billion people--a quarter of the world's population--with light and power? This is the question that three MIT students pondered in an 2003 school assignment. These guys went on to create the Mightylight, a waterproof, portable LED lamp that runs on solar powered energy. 10,000 have been distributed to date. Their next project is a solar powered mobile-phone charger, which would allow mobile phone use in much of the developing world. Onward and upward.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Beneficent Universe

We ever live within the embrace of a beneficent universe,
wherein our natural birthright to experience the soul
qualities of love, joy, true happiness and serenity
is always ours to lose and cast aside, as opposed to
the popular view that it's something "taken away.
R. Andrew Griffiths
"Regarding the Soul's Purpose"
Of Note: The sky the other night was the most vivid shades of purple and red. I think meteorologically that particular sky means rain or something. But rain or not, it made me want to drink the vibrant colors in as a healing elixir. One of those gifts from the beneficent universe to be sure.
Today's Weather Report: Today on the way back from Chicagoland, we came through rain--a few sprinkles in Tomah or thereabouts. It looked cloudy in the distance for most of the trip. Funny thing though, when we'd get to the place "in the distance," the clouds were further still. South of Hayward, the sun popped out and road with us all the way home.