Friday, January 30, 2009


The knowledge and respect even for the smallest
will help one also to acquire patience.
What patience is needed when facing Infinity,
especially when we know its inevitability!

~Helena Roerich

Of Note: Patience has never been my long suit. Looking around, I can tell it does not run very deeply in the fiber of Humanity either. When put into the perspective of eternity, however, patience takes on a whole new meaning--one worth pondering.

Today's Weather Report: Well, it was 20 below zero again last night, but that is supposed to be the end of it for awhile. Alleluia. The days are getting noticeably longer. We had no January thaw this year, rather more of a January freeze. But at least we have power which is more than a million Kentuckians can say after their devastating ice storm this week.

News You Can Use Snippet: Liberia is experiencing a destructive caterpillar epidemic that is wiping out much of its crops. Locusts, too, are eating their way through Australia. Such insect annihilation is not uncommon. We sometimes forget that insects are much more numerous than humans--this might be their way of reminding us who's in charge. A breakthrough came this week when it was discovered that the neurotransmitter Serotonin was responsible for the swarming behavior of locusts. These are normally solitary desert creatures. But when they congregate and touch each other, Serotonin goes up five-fold and induces the group flying behavior. One scientists commented: "Serotonin profoundly influences how we humans behave and interact so to find that the same chemical in the brain is what caused a normally shy anti-social insect to gang up in huge groups is amazing." Amazing indeed.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Invent It


~Alan Kay

Of Note: Of course, that's what we do as creators each and every day--invent it or let others invent it for us. Best that we should take command of the process and do it consciously for ourselves. And in doing so, if we joined heart to heart with others, a grand future for Humanity would be in store. It's simply up to us.

Today's Weather Report: Light snow, big flakes fell all morning with temps starting at 10 degrees Fahrenheit and moving up from there slightly. A welcome, almost blinding sun popped out later in the afternoon. Thankfully, all the pipes have defrosted without bursting. Taking care of the half inch gap around that out-of-the-way door didn't hurt that problem one bit! Funny, the things that become glaringly apparent when crisis ensues.

Watch For Change Snippet: Mark your calendar for March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm. That is the moment that tens of millions--a billion hopefully--will turn off their lights for one hour as an act of solidarity for the cause of global warming. Those interested can sign up for news about Earth Hour at The global event is sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Indomitable Striving

There are very few who strive to
become citizens of the Universe.
This title demands numerous cares,
observations, vigilance, and
primarily, indomitable striving.

~M. Morya
Heart, #97

Of Note: Mrs. Frog here doesn't have to worry about becoming a citizen of the Universe. She's off the hook for vigilance and indomitable striving. That lot falls to Humanity. As a matter of fact, it is part of our destiny if we choose to step up to the plate. As we make the fateful choice, we pull up with us the other kingdom's in nature. So one day, Mrs. Frog will thank us--but of course she won't be Mrs. Frog then. She might be the Secretary of State or Prime Minister of Ukraine or CEO of Xerox.

Today's Weather Report: Well, the big weatherman in the sky must have heard my pleas because it was only -20 below this morning. From -30 degrees yesterday, it almost feels balmy. Well, not really, but it makes me feel better that it is warming up, even if just a bit. One of the kitties had an ear infection so was whisked off to the vet this morning. It's bad when the poor creature went voluntarily into the pet carrier without so much as a protesting meow. We now know this big boy weighs 14 pounds. It is no wonder he is the King of the Cats around here. Interestingly, we were first aware he was ill when his rival was sitting by him yesterday in protective mode. We hadn't seen that before and most likely won't again after recovery, which the vet assures us will be in a few days.

Watch For Change Snippet: Rock star Bono has a great reputation as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor throughout the world. He has been featured in this blog more than once. Because of that, it was surprising that he is at the center of an on-going legal battle over use of vulgar language on the air. Mind you, Bono has apologized profusely for saying "This is really, really f------ing brilliant!" after winning a Golden Globe Award in 2003. That made no difference to the FCC who called his one-word blooper "shocking and gratuitous and a threat to the well-being of the nation's children because it employed one of the most vulgar, graphic and explicit words in the English language." Reversing three decades of precedent, the FCC went on to create the "Bono Rule" whereby such singularities were deemed unacceptable and subject to fine. Many programs including one on PBS about blues musicians were found guilty of indecency. The networks did not take this lying down and appealed the rule in federal court, which struck it down. The Bush administration appealed that decision to the Supreme Court which agreed to hear the case. While most folks don't like or use the "f" word, many hope that the Obama administration will simply take the Bono Rule issue off the table and direct the FCC to engage in activities more worthy of its mission.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Eyes of Compassion

When you understand,
you cannot help but love.

Practice looking at all living beings
with the eyes of compassion.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Of Note: Social science explains that we are "unconsciously drawn to people and things that remind us of ourselves." Because of that folks with the same name--like the Jim Johnson's or Sam Blackman's of this world--feel a kinship, even if they have different skin color, culture or nationality. This unconscious psychological trait might be a way to achieve universal brotherhood if manipulated creatively by our brains. Let's say we concentrated on the heart--everyone has one--and every time we saw another person all we saw was their heart. Nothing else. No poverty, no toothless grin, no brand-name clothes. Nada. All that filled our sight was one big beating heart just like our own. Now, if science has this right, we would be drawn to that heart whether we wanted to or not. Pretty painless, really. Maybe even contagious. Think I'll give it a try. You could too.

Today's Weather Report: Enough already. Some of our water pipes froze again because it was close to -30 below last night. We are expecting more of the same tonight. I found the problem with the pipes, though--a draft from an out-of-the way door that will have to be fixed pronto. Thank heavens the pipes did not burst before they defrosted later in the morning. That would have added insult to injury.

News You Can Use Snippet: An MIT research lab has it really cold. A Nobel Prize winner there achieved the coldest temperature on record, 800 trillionths of a degree Fahrenheit above absolute zero. Absolute zero is -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit, although none will ever reach that milestone. Why? Because a little heat-producing energy is latent in every substance and cannot be totally eliminated. I have to admit, absolute zero makes our little cold problem seem rather insignificant. Think I'll just add a layer of clothes and go fix that door. Hot chocolate, anyone?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Filled with Singing Birds

Some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it, that it may leaf and bloom
and fill with singing birds.

~Black Elk

Of Note: In many of these pictures, you have seen the rooftops of my sister's neighborhood in Texas. My Mom lives only 4 blocks away. This past week her neighbor committed suicide in between their houses, right outside her bathroom window. That image could haunt. Or it could be a catalyst for another image, one filled with Light and Love for the departed. Such a sending could help him now for without a physical body, his etheric body may be roaming in confusion following his violent end. Thus, he might appreciate a guiding Light energized by compassion, understanding and love.

Today's Weather Report: More sub-zero temps. WAY sub-zero at -25 degrees again this morning. The difference between -20 and 20 is forty degrees. It's the difference between filling our wood-fueled boiler once or twice a day. Or the number of layers of clothing required to stay warm in the house. With no wind, 20 degrees requires one layer while -20 requires two. My-oh-my, we've gotten this down almost to a science as have many across the country during an unrelenting winter.

Winter Recipe Snippet: Looking at cookbooks is one of my favorite pastimes. It always amazes me the number of recipes available when the basic number of ingredients is not infinite. That might be one of the reasons I go back to my old Betty Crocker Cookbook so often when looking for timeless recipes. The other day it was corn fritters. No other cookbook had it. Turns out, a fritter is nothing more than a thick pancake batter with something in it--like corn. One simple favorite of late is vegetable chips. It took several attempts to get this right because the original recipe did not work in our industrial gas oven. But we've got it down now, and it only takes minutes. Yesterday we baked two sweet potatoes and a bag of carrots. All were gone by day's end.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple cookie sheets with foil or use any kind of cooking implement available. I use a two by three foot industrial baking sheet with one inch sides. Take two sweet potatoes or several carrots or any other hard-type vegetable and slice thin--no more than 1/16th of an inch thick. I use an inexpensive Asian mandolin set at the thinnest setting. Put sliced veggies into a large plastic bag and poor in about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon sugar (helps in crisping) plus cinnamon and salt to taste. Shake well until all pieces are coated. This will take some doing with the sweet potatoes since they like to stick together. Dump the vegetables onto the prepared sheets and arrange in a single layer. Place on the top shelf of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and wait 1/2 hour.
If the chips are not quite crisp, wait awhile longer, but watch closely as they can go from not done to way over-done in a matter of minutes. This is no time to go off and read an engrossing book. Walla! Put the chips on a plate and watch them disappear.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Each Minute of LIfe


~Paramahansa Yogananda

Of Note: No one could have said it better--the spiritual encompasses each and every one of us each and every day. Therefore, just simple acts of BEING are often enough. Sometimes that's all that's possible. There are those who feel an added tug from their Souls to do the stupendous acts that become part of the official historical ledger. For the rest of us, we face the day knowing that simply living love constitutes a divine quest. Who knows. It is not inconceivable that our grandchildren and their children could look back in the history books and find that as a group Humanity saved the world. After all, that is our destiny. But it all starts with each minute of life.

Today's Weather Report: I thought I might have seen things yesterday when -16 degrees was predicted as the overnight low. You know, meteorologists just can't get it right. It wasn't -16 last night, rather -20! Jim can confirm that it was VERY cold since he ran in it this morning. Our neighbors are getting quite accustomed to seeing this multi-layered dude running up and down the road. Some folks wanted to know what the difference was between running and jogging. Jim's reply: " A race entry form." Jim knows about running races. As a charter runner in Duluth's Grandma's Marathon, he receives a free entry every year. Thus, every year he starts to train but then is sidelined by injuries. We will see what this year brings. The race is in June.

Watch for Change Snippet: Something is happening at the Vatican. First, back in October the Vatican rolled-out a re-tooled Vatican Daily newspaper that featured the market crisis, extraterrestrials and other sectarian topics sure to attract more readers. Then around Christmas, an announcement was made that the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communication was endorsing a new product called iBreviary that was downloadable from iTunes for $1.10, with free upgrades. Because of this modernization, priests can now access their daily prayers on any computer or iPhone. But the most surprising and innovative development was announced yesterday--the Pope launched his own YouTube channel to be updated daily with important papal news items. Monsignor Celli, the head of the Pontiff's communications council said that Pope Benedict was "a man of dialogue who wanted to engage with people wherever they were." What will be next, possibly a Facebook or MySpace page? Maybe so. Pope Benedict himself said that Facebook and MySpace were a gift to humanity and provided the ability to forge friendships and understanding. Check his YouTube channel for further updates.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Many Small Ones

Great opportunities to
help others seldom come,

but small ones surround
us every day.

~Sally Koch

Of Note: The call going out right now is to recognize these small opportunities. It could be said that not much more is asked of us on any given day. There are very few great men and women working for the good of all humanity, so it is up to the us--both great and small--to bring about change through daily acts of good will.

Today's Weather Report: The glorious sun has been out for several hours. If the orb is going to come out at all, it invariably does so in the hour of meditation each day. That makes it an illuminating hour in more ways than one. Temps continue in the teens with a gusty wind, which is blowing plumes of snow horizontally here and there.

Watch For Change Snippet: The United Nations has a checkered history of helping during times of crisis. For example, recently 17,000 UN peacekeepers were routed by Congolese rebels as they advanced toward Goma, and other peacekeepers have been accused of rape and pillage in refugee camps. Little can advance in a Security Council where conflicting views force stalemates such as that in Darfur, where genocide is suspected. Some believe that the world would be better off without the United Nations and that a different organization composed of democracies should takes its place. Yet, the Secretary-General wrote almost a year ago in TIME magazine about his "cautious by resolute optimism" for the United Nations as a united world body: " Every problem of the world finds its way to the U.N., our global crossroads of politics and diplomacy. But if the problems come together at the U.N., so do the often hidden connections among them--and through those connections, the ways to real resolution."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

To Train in Compassion

To train in compassion is to know
that all beings are the same
and suffer in similar ways,
to honor all those who suffer,
and to know that you are
neither separate from
nor superior to anyone.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: Everyone would benefit from internalizing these words, but even more so those with Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS.) A noted Bush-hating columnist yesterday had apparently not figured out that Bush had gone home to Crawford, and Obama was the new man in the White House--reconciliation a central theme of his incoming administration. Nope, some have been hell-bent to gnaw on the moving boxes and eat the packing peanuts. Well, we've got news for them. A new day is dawning, and their day has ended. We hope they join us in reconstructing a better world devoid of senseless rancor, but if they don't, a nice padded cell will be made available at no additional cost. The decision is theirs.

Today's Weather Report: More of the same hangs over northern Wisconsin. That would be gray and white. There's just no way to get away from it. However, the mood in the nation is so upbeat, it really makes no difference what the landscape looks like outside. Inside a smile warms my heart as does this picture of a reclining Buddha taken by my sister, Marie.

Watch For Change Snippet: For many years, prayer circles have been a common occurrence when necessity calls. Little did I know until recently that meditation circles were equally as common. For Inauguration Day an "Invocation for the Soul of the United States" circulated between many folks, some of whom are proudly secular. That's one of the nice things about a non-religious though highly spiritual invocation--most everyone can get their brains around making the world a better place through a mutual voicing of an inspiring message. Moreover, its lines shadowed the President's theme of reconciliation and hope. It went like this:
"Let the wounds of separation and division be healed by opening our hearts to listen to the truth on all sides, allowing us to find a higher truth that includes us all;

May we learn to honor and enjoy our diversity and differences as a people, even as we more deeply touch our fundamental unity;

May we, as a people, undergo a transformation that will draw forth individuals to lead our nation who embody courage, compassion and a higher vision;

May our leaders inspire us, and we so inspire each other, that a new spirit of forgiveness, caring and honesty can be born in our nation;

May we, as a united people, move with clear directed purpose to take our place within the community of nations to help build a better future for all humankind;

May we as a nation rededicate ourselves to truly live as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We can thank the Center for Visionary Leadership for making this invocation available. May the words find root in fertile hearts and minds ready to embrace the concept of compassion as a working principle in daily life. The Dalai Lama would be glad for the company.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Invincible Summer

In the depth of winter,
I finally learned that
there was in me an
invincible summer.

~Albert Camus

Of Note: About this time of year, cabin fever becomes a real thing for those who live in the north woods. As I look out today upon the gray and white scenery, I understand why. There is no color. Color begins to transform the landscape in the spring followed by a summer that unfolds in a riot of blues, greens, reds and yellows with some purples thrown in for fun. At every turn glorious views beckon to be immortalized. Not so in the winter when looking outward. Ah, but looking inward provides a different view--one where the seasons of the year cyclically play their tune upon the strung heart. Where quiet accelerates growth, and growth begets opportunity. Mr. Camus understood this and shared his insight with the rest of the world. For those with cabin fever, it's a timely reminder of truth.

Today's Weather Report: Bet you could guess that it was pretty dreary today though "warm" for January in the upper teens and twenties. It's the kind of day that makes pushing a cart full of groceries and cat litter through a parking lot almost impossible. If anyone saw that spectacle today, they would have laughed out loud at the humorous scene of me pulling a cart with both hands to the car. Pushing through the deep slush was definitely out of the question. What's more, because parking lot lines are not visible, vehicles are positioned in makeshift "rows" that are impressive in their attempt to be orderly. It says something about humanity that out of chaos comes order--even in a store parking lot in the middle of winter.

News You Can Use Snippet: Hugh Hefner was recently interviewed by TIME magazine. No one would argue that this man helped shape the sexual mores of America more than any other human being alive. He reminded us that before the advent of Playboy, "nice young people did not live together before they got married. Having a baby out of wedlock was a scandal that drove some people to suicide. Oral sex was illegal." When asked did he ever feel like a dirty old man, Hefner replied without hesitation: "Not for a moment. I'm on the side of the angels and always have been." His resolute statement definitely gave us a different idea as to angelic occupations these days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Walk Humbly, Now

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.

~The Talmud

Of Note: Well, folks, the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States is over. After two years of hard scrabble fighting and the most costly campaign in history, we are now ready to move on to the work ahead of us. And work it will be. We look forward to joining with our new President and taking part in one of the largest experiments in human living and loving ever conceived. In the Inaugural Address, the new President invited the rest of the world to join us in moving past the spirit of separatism to which humanity has become habituated. Only by joining hands will it be possible to move into the Light. Our destiny awaits us.

Today's Weather Report: It was the most glorious sunny day this morning and in the 20's, very similar to Washington DC. 2 million people watched from the Mall as the events of the day unfolded. None looked very cold. Excitement will do that. Some I know didn't want to watch the Inauguration today. That's OK, but I figured history in the making is worth watching. The video above of the President taking the oath of office will be a part of this blog forever.

Watch For Change Snippet: My sister, Marie, sent me a great syndicated column by Arianna Huffington that fits in nicely with the inaugural theme today. This usually outspoken woman is known for her far-left rants--at least that's what I thought. For this observer, ranting is assigned to the discard bin whether from the right or left. Thus, it was a surprise to read these inspiring words: "Barack Obama is not the only one being inaugurated Jan 20. We all are." Her thesis? It is up to us, We the People, to take the matter in hand and do the right thing for our fellow man starting today. No knight in shining armor is going to save the day without millions backing him. Huffington quoted a noted psychologist who said: "Goodness like evil, often begins in small steps." She challenged all of us to start taking those small steps if we hadn't already. Hope itself is a great feeling but it dissipates over time. Loving action is the balm that provides real healing. Beginning today, we can watch change unfold on the Huffington Post where people's efforts to meet unmet need will be highlighted. Now that's not left-leaning at all. It might even be a kumbaya moment. Bring it on....

Monday, January 19, 2009

Giving and Giving Some More

A million times a day,
I remind myself that my
inner and outer life depend
on the labors of other people,
living and dead.

And that I must exert myself
in order to give in the full measure
I have received and am still receiving.

~Albert Einstein

Of Note: Today is the National Day of Service. No other day is more important to get the message out that Service is the premier way to attain illumination. Service comes in many shapes and forms--from the simple such as daily meditation to the complex such as participation in volunteer efforts like VISTA. What's more, with the availability of the Internet, folks have even more ways to give. This becomes particularly important to the elderly and home bound. One day, service to others will be part of a school's core curriculum which will not be a surprise because it will first be part of each family's value system. If President-elect Obama has his way, we will be hearing the word "service" often in the future as part of a national agenda. Thus, we may be witnessing the emergence of Service as part of a national conversation, a necessary prerequisite to social change.

Today's Weather Report: Snow fell all morning then dissipated by mid-afternoon. The flakes were large and fell as if they had not a care in the world. Perfect for a contemplative afternoon. Marie was kind enough to share this serene Texas sky scene taken recently.

Watch For Change Snippet: The retail company Target posted the following full-page ad in this week's TIME magazine:
"Follow in his footsteps. This day and every day. Be inspired. Be of service. This year, let Martin Luther King, Jr. Day be an inspiration that lasts all year long. Keep the dream alive each and every day by getting involved in your community."
Apparently, others outside of political circles are hearing the message of Service as well. Companies have often promoted volunteerism, charitable giving and the like internally. This striking ad, black on red with stark white lettering, displayed a corporate act of Service with no tag line to buy anything. The approach was new and refreshin
g, particularly during this time of economic downturn when an inspiring message of hope and a call to action can mean so much.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Seeds You Plant


~Robert Louis Stevenson

Of Note: Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day and the newly minted National Day of Service. Our new President has asked all people to consider giving of themselves on Monday as a prelude of better times to come. It might work. As Divine creators, we might find that a collective day of giving might just turn the tide through the sacrifice of selfishness, at least for a day. Who knows, for some it might even turn into a habit of serving the common good on a daily basis.

Today's Weather Report: Finally the bitter cold has passed and the usual winter temps in the teens has settled in once more. Frozen pipes and a furnace out on the night it was -32 degrees kept us busy for a couple of days. It was fortuitous that we have a large fireplace to keep the house warm as all this was getting sorted out. Well, I should say fairly warm. Only one more layer of clothes was required. Soon, though, very soon it will be time to consider seeds. Marie has promised a truck load from her garden last year, which is pictured above.

News You Can Use Snippet: Life is great when we can even LISTEN to a blog, isn't it? This is possible on a Website called BlogTalkRadio. Lucis Productions is hosting a series on the theme of Service this week in commemoration of the first National Day of Service. If the topic resonates, you might want to check it out. The following is from their email announcement:

In support of Obama's call for the "National Day of Service" on January 19, 2009, which also commemorates Martin Luther King Day, Inner Sight Radio will feature special talks on the theme of service throughout the week beginning Monday January 19 through Friday January 23.

Join us in recognizing and supporting this day by listening to the following segments as well as radiating light, love and the will-to-good into the hearts and minds of humanity.

Monday, January 19


Service: A Law of the Soul

Tuesday, January 20


The Value of Service

Wednesday, January 21


Service and the Soul

Thursday, January 22


Serving with Goodwill

Friday, January 23


Service through the Power of Thought

All archived segments can be heard at

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Last 5 Seconds

Carl Sagan brought to us a famous imaginary picture of the history of Earth condensed into a calendar year. His illuminating tale, worth retelling over and over, started with the Big Bang 15 billion years ago. Amazingly, the Milky Way did not come into being until May 31st. Then nothing much happened until dinosaurs appeared on the planet on Christmas Eve. Three days later the first flowers bloomed. On the last day of the year, December 31st at 10:30 pm, the first humans arrived on the scene. At 11:59:20, humans took up agriculture; 20 seconds later the European Renaissance began. Right now, we humans stand at the final moments of the imaginary year, 11:59:55.

~Adapted from a speech by Ramu Damodaran
"Private Faces in Public Places"

Of Note: Whether each of these occurrences is exact or just imaginary, Sagan's message is clear. Humanity is at a decision making point, and it is up to us to consciously decide how to use those 5 seconds.

Today's Weather Report: Well, well, it did reach 30 below last night after all. God knows what the wind chill temperature was, but in some parts of northern Minnesota, it reached -50! Maybe it was -50 degrees here as well since we are not too far from there. It was a mistake to sleep in our unheated bedroom last night. This morning up awakening, I could see my breath. Even though the heating blanket was toasty, the hands and feet that crept out were not. Tonight more of the same is expected so a move downstairs to the heated bedroom is in order.

News You Can Use Snippet: Alice Bailey wrote a large volume of illuminating books in the first half of the 20th century. She comprehensively laid out the rudiments of Ageless Wisdom. Even in their vastness, the books barely brush the whole library of universal knowledge. Bailey covered many topics, even contemporary, and said of democracy:
"True democracy is only a dream at the present but will take form when people everywhere are regarded in reality as equal, in which differences of race, culture, or history are not barriers but simply give a particular texture which enables each individual to contribute something to the good of the whole."
She emphasized that the battle for true democracy would be take place in the United States, not because we are so good at it because we are not, rather our racial and cultural diversity makes us the best place for the experiment in right human relations to unfold. This is our destiny. Thus, the United States plays a significant and leading role in Sagan's last 5 second scenario. How this plays out is up to us collectively and individually. Thanks to Marie for providing this shot of the sun-streaked horizon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Divine Creativity


~Marcus Borg
Conflict, Holiness and Politics

Of Note: And this is so because we humans are divine creators. Just think, if we turned all of our creative efforts to the nourishment and care of all our brothers and sisters, the world would indeed be a different place. Marie furnished this inspirational shot, a great backdrop to Borg's quote. Some, like my sister, send out love through their creative efforts shared with others.

Today's Weather Report: It was only 20 below this morning, not the 30 below that was predicted. Jim even went running. He looked like a teddy bear in three layers of garments as he headed out the door. I applaud the effort though do not quite understand it. We keep the kitty door covered at these extreme temps. Because of this, the five cats have been bouncing off the walls--a couple quite literally--after which they sleep soundly until the next round of activity.

Watch For Change Snippet: Electric cars are the talk of the town in Detroit this week at the annual car show. Although these alternative vehicles have been on drawing boards before, this time it appears that they are going to make it all the way to production and sales. The problem in the past has been the power source issue which is now basically resolved--though R&D is still ongoing. Two sources said that the sleeper in the mix could be Chinese auto maker BYD Company. This innovator began as a battery company and branched out into automobile manufacture at the insistence of its entrepreneurial CEO. The company's board was at first reluctant to move past its original mission, but was finally convinced when their engineers created a product that would work in cars--one of the first in the world. This company now produces inexpensive electric and hybrid vehicles, which others have yet to offer. What's more, it plans to sell them in the USA and is starting that push at the Detroit show. Not thinking small, BYD Company plans to become the largest car company in the world by 2025. If they do, remember you saw it here first.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hungry for Love

The world today is hungry not only
for bread but hungry for love,

hungry to be wanted, to be loved.

~Mother Teresa

Of Note: Mother Teresa worked in the slums of Calcutta under the worst conditions imaginable. Leprosy, death, flies, hunger and exhaustion were part of the everyday life of those she served and thus became her life as well. Even given all of these deprivations and challenges, she found these people to be open and loving and reveled in their company. In later life, when she finally visited the United States, the visionary was moved by the hunger in the west. This condition was not created by lack of bread, rather by a soul-sucking lack of love. Though initially she came to ask audiences to open their pocketbooks to serve her causes, she found another resonating message for those who attended her talks: Open your Hearts.

Today's Weather Report: This thermometer showed a warming trend once the sun rose this morning. Prior to that, the dial was down 4 notches at 26 below zero Fahrenheit! That's not too bad, actually. In parts of North Dakota, it was 38 below (real temperature, not wind chill.) We are snug in the house with a fire blazing in the fireplace. Not a day to go exploring outside--though, I do wonder what the forest animals do in the cold, cold like today.

News You Can Use Snippet: Much has been made of the "team of rivals" that Abraham Lincoln assembled in his Cabinet. It is said that President-elect Obama has attempted to emulate the practice in the various Secretaries he has selected. The thought is that rivals will induce healthy discussion upon which the President can make the best decisions. Thus, it was somewhat surprising to find that when Abraham Lincoln asked his Cabinet to vote on the history-making Emancipation Proclamation, all voted "No." Not deterred, Lincoln was reported to have replied without wavering: "The ayes have it!" Hopefully, if President-elect Obama is to be a great leader, he will have read this little known but illuminating story as well.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Aspire to Inspire



Of Note: This pithy quote was part of a larger piece that I received today via the Internet from a dear friend. Every day as I connect with folks around the globe, I revel in the fact that in seconds my thoughts can be theirs. Could it be that all of the messages sent with loving intent whirling around the globe from one in-box to the next are silently but steadily changing the world? If so, it would represent a simple act of service to keep these salutary messages flying.

Today's Weather Report: It was zero degrees Fahrenheit this morning but is supposed to rise to the teens and snow a little before the evening. After that reprieve, a plunge in temps is predicted for the rest of the week. The weather forecasters say the temps could be the coldest in 15 years! Considering it's been consistently cold this winter and minus 20 below many, many days, I can only imagine what the "coldest in 15 years" means. Stay tuned. This could be interesting. My heartfelt thanks go to Marie for this meditation-inducing photo taken just last week near her home in Texas.

News You Can Use Snippet: The Internet piece received this morning also contained another potentially life-changing quote worthy of note: "Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly." These are particularly powerful words and provide a formula for happiness in these economic times of uncertainty. Buddha could not have said it more clearly Himself.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Make Haste Slowly

Don't be in too much of a hurry
to solve all your doubts and problems,
as the Masters say, 'Make haste slowly.'

I always tell my students not to
have unreasonable expectations,
because it takes time for spiritual growth.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: And we might add to this "a number of lifetimes" as well. That's why it's always a good idea not to beat up too much on ourselves as we grope forward in the darkness with every one else. Speaking of darkness, my sister's picture above illustrates beautifully the light that shines in each of us ceaselessly--even when we don't sense it through the dark veil.

Today's Weather Report: Snow fell this morning lightly, but then the sun popped out when I was meditating. It does that many days before being enclosed again in the clouds. Last night the haloed full moon reflecting the sun shown like daylight. Not enough for me to get any good pictures, however. That's OK because the magic of the moment would most likely not have been caught digitally anyway.

Watch For Change Snippet: History books tell a tale of a black Congressmen whose name was George White, who was elected to office like other blacks following the Civil War. However, by the turn of the century, prejudice raised its ugly head in the form of Jim Crow laws, and blacks were no longer elected. Thus, as he was stepping down in January 1901, Rep. White prophesied a time when blacks would return to the political scene and bring reconciliation. He could have gone away hate-filled, but his eloquent words carry another tone altogether:
"This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the Negroes' temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are on behalf of an outraged, heartbroken, bruised and bleeding but God-fearing people. . .The only apology I have for the earnestness with which I have spoken is that I am pleading for the life, the liberty, the future happiness, and manhood suffrage for one-eighth of the entire population of the United States."
Mr. White might be smiling now with the ascendancy of a black man to the Presidency. But to get there, many men and women of all races laid down their lives in the civil rights movement mid-century. Only after that "Second Reconstruction" were blacks once more elected to office making the coming "miracle" a possibility. Our hats go off to all of them, but especially to the little known man who predicted it all along.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Diameter of the Atom


Everything in the universe is composed of atoms--yet atoms are almost entirely empty space. The reason is that 99.9 percent of the atom's mass is concentrated in it's nucleus. If the atom were the size of a basketball, its nucleus would still be invisible to the naked eye. If the nucleus was magnified to the size of a softball, the nearest electron (in the first shell) would be located about 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometer) away. In reality atoms are about 1 angstrom (one-ten-billionth meter) in diameter.

~The NY Public Library Science Desk Reference, 1995

Of Note: We learn the rudiments of science starting in grade school. Most of us don't get past the bare essentials so rely on "experts" to tell us what we don't know about the world. Ageless Wisdom brings a person smack-dab in the middle of science once again. These new scientific teachings are difficult because they often turn our old crystallized beliefs upside down. The inquirer comes to realize that the effects viewed by scientists are subject to interpretation that may or may not approximate the Truth. Thing is, the scientists themselves don't admit their lack of certitude. Often unsubstantiated "facts" become purported "truths." Once printed, crystallization ensues. What to do? One idea--hold judgment, act as the Observer. This sounds easy until we butt up against such entrenched concepts as Black Holes or Red Shift, for example. Each is a mathematical hypothesis and not proven fact. If that is a surprise, then it might be time to stand back and realize how little we really know for lack of direct observation. Even the description of the atom above is open to debate as one has never been directly observed. (If an atom were to be seen, however, it might resemble the skyward formation Marie captured in this recent photo...a little imagination might help as well.)

Today's Weather Report: 20 below zero again greeted us upon rising. With the sun shining, though, the temperature has finally risen above zero, but Jim said running at 10 below this morning was a real treat. Reports have it that next week we are to get a blue norther' streaming down from the Arctic and temps may be minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit in NYC! Here, who knows. 30 below maybe? That will make the 45 degree temp in the unheated bedroom seem like Florida.

Watch For Change Snippet: Whether science knows exactly WHY something works does not stop it from innovation and inventions that DO work. Technology can be bane or boom depending on how it is utilized. One innovative use of technology put wireless Internet access into Grapevine, Arkansas school buses. The program called the Aspirnaut Initiative gives high-performing students laptops or video i-pods so they can take online courses for the long rides to and from school--sometimes 60 minutes or more in this rural area. The program was the brainchild of a local who was on the verge of dropping out of school when a mentor helped kindle an interest in science. The man later became an renowned kidney specialist in a big city. A few years ago, he and his physician wife went back to Grapevine to return the favor and find a promising student to mentor. After accepting a school bus ride, however, these two visionaries realized that many students could be served rather than just one, and the Aspirnaut Initiative was born. On-line classes now allow regular interaction with far-flung teachers. The response has been enthusiastic though tempered by the fact that balancing a computer on a lap with the distractions on a bus can be challenging. The project is slated to grow to all of Arkansas and into parts of Kentucky and Tennessee if additional funding can be procured.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Startling Life


~Emily Dickinson

Of Note: If we think about it, most of our days are not spent truly alive. Running around hither and yon creates a situation that is the antithesis of conscious living. But every once in awhile, Life does say HELLO to the startled observer, often during a break in the routine. What would happen if those rare moments were expanded to fill the day? It would appear that Dickinson knew what that all-consuming experience was like. Life yearns to reveal Itself so it is possible to join Dickinson and others who have transcended the "mundane." The meditative process is one way to safely accomplish this feat. Meditation presents the opportunity to "get behind" appearances and unveil Life's essence. One warning however: once experienced, there is no going back to the old way.

Today's Weather Report: The warmth of the sun is streaming through the windows in my office. What a difference the sun makes to the temperature in the house. I know since I meditate daily in an unheated area of the upstairs bedroom. Two days ago, I guessed it was 45 degrees Fahrenheit in there--turned out to be 44.7, pretty close. Jim gave me a heating blanket for my chair which has worked remarkably well to keep my body from becoming overly chilled, though the meditation process itself provides a surprising source of heat from within. One might wonder why I don't move to a warmer locale. The reason is simple: meditation in the same spot day after day is more powerful because of the energy built into that location. So I figure, what's a little cold. Marie doesn't have to worry about cold in Texas where she snapped this striking moon shot this week. Her photos provide some assurance that warmth will return north in the spring because it retreats to the south in the winter--just like a migrating bird..

Watch For Change Snippet: A year ago following the Iowa Caucus, I opined in this blog about our President-elect: "And what did Barack say of change during his campaign in Iowa? Little of substance, I thought. Thus, many, myself included, relegated him to the category of nice guy, but a young idealist not yet ready to lead the country. My attitude changed after listening to his moving acceptance speech in Iowa. I can now understand why Iowans came out in huge numbers for the man. With the advent of this transcendent speech, we may be seeing the beginning of a surprising enlightening trend of national healing, and, yes, maybe even unity:
'You know, you said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided; too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night--at this defining moment in history--you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do. In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and big cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to stand up and say that we are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come.'
If that's the kind of change this idealist is looking to bring, he may indeed carry the day in November. We will see if the time is right for the emergence of a new national attitude of cooperation and collaboration led by a potentially inspired visionary." With this visionary's inauguration quickly approaching, we will see if these words prove true.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009




~Mother Teresa

Of Note: Oh my, Mother Teresa was quite a women. Some have called her a saint--many who were not even Catholics. In a recent book Mother Teresa's Secret Fire, Father Joseph Langford explained the event that changed his mentor's life at the age of forty. It occurred on a train from Calcutta to Darjeeling as Sister Teresa headed for a retreat between semesters while teaching school. Her life was comfortable although she sometimes ventured outside the school walls to walk among the poor--though she did not serve them. The September 10, 1947 train ride changed all that. Jesus spoke to her directly on that fateful day and asked that she work among the most needy in Calcutta as a conduit of His Love. Her immediate response was to deny that she was worthy--that she was indeed weak and didn't know if she could handle the deprivation the mission would entail. However, we know that Sister Teresa did accept the challenge and served fifty years as Jesus' emissary before passing in 1997. Even now we can hear her say quietly but forcefully: "Let us begin."

Today's Weather Report: The sun finally shines though it was playing hide-and-go-seek there for awhile with the roving clouds. Snow was falling when I awoke this morning. Drifty flakes with little force behind them. A "January Thaw" might be just around the corner. What's that, I hear you say? It's a short period when temps get above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the snow melts, though not all the way, and sometimes the roads get really mushy. A strange sight in January for sure. This dirt road photo taken by Marie in Texas is a reminder of what lies underneath the compacted snow.

Watch For Change Snippet: January 1st marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. TIME magazine opined: "With a new year and a new U.S. Administration, there's hope that Washington and Havana can wake up from their Cold War time warp and smell the cafe cubano." What came to mind was "What would Mother Teresa say?" Most likely she would suggest something in the most simple of terms. "Let us begin" might work.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Wonderful Stroke of Luck

Remember that not getting what you want
is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.


Of Note: We humans are born creators. It's our divine inheritance. But, frankly, we're not too good at it for the most part. Imagine the havoc produced if most human imaginings came to fruition. Might that not describe the world in which we currently reside? God sometimes gets a bad rap for the present chaotic state of worldly affairs. We only have to look in the mirror to see the true perpetrators. But there is hope for Humanity. After the dust has settled a bit, a look in that mirror will show millions of needy looking back. When we begin to see the need and serve unselfishly the common good, then oh what creators we will become. It is a promise.

Today's Weather Report: Partly cloudy with no sunshine streaming in the window at the moment. With temps in the teens, it's not even that cold. Just another regular winter day. This gorgeous flower photo taken by Marie captured the feeling of the white day.

News You Can Use Snippet: is a great Internet site. With only a click, FREE resources are given to a worthy cause; with six clicks, six worthy causes are covered. Takes about a minute. It's starts feeling personal when done daily. At the end of the year, each of the six posted the amount of resources given in 2008. For example, almost 15,000 acres of land were purchased by the Rainforest section. That's quite laudable. Equally generous was the 77.8 million bowls of food given to rescued animals through the Animal Rescue section. The Hunger section, that is human hunger, provided 72 million bowls of food last year. Since the site's inception, 500 million bowls of food have been distributed to those in need. Check it out. Psychologically in this time of economically troubling times, it could have a salubrious effect.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Heartfelt Laughter


~Maya Angelou

Of Note: As we ring in the new year, we might take Angelou's thought to heart. Literally. If we let it work it's magic there, we might find ourselves joyous even in the face of adversity. Joy may not show as a broad smile but rather a crooked, determined grin on the face of those striving each day to serve humanity even in small ways, like spreading the energy of gratitude and laughter.

Today's Weather Report: 20 below this morning. The whole house shivered at that frigid temperature. But even at that, the sun did not shrink from it's responsibilities and is now shining brightly, warming the air. Just think, 20 above which it might reach today is 40 degrees warmer than 20 below. At temps below freezing, it might not seem to matter much. But think of the difference between 40 and 80 degrees--or 70 and 110 degrees to realize how much it really does. Marie reminds us in the colorful photo above what it was like in the fall when we weren't discussing sub-zero temps, the snow's depth and snowplowing issues.

News You Can Use: Since we were talking about Heart, another piece of useful information might be in order here. It has been proven that gratitude emanating from the heart can change the brain in an uplifting manner. Try this. Next time a feeling of anger, disgust or irritation arises toward another, instead of lashing out say something nice, like "Thank You" Or "You must be really stressed out about xxxx. Is there any way I can help?" Or even better, the magic words "I Love You." This method works even if the other person is not around. Mr. Obama, for example, would greatly benefit from this exercise as would the country. It might feel strange and unnatural at first, but practice, practice, practice could make it an automatic response. Changing the world is thus in the reach of each and every one of us every day. We might not think that small steps like this could make a difference. But I would contend that small steps like this could create a tidal wave personally and globally.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Be Not Afraid

The one thing we should
not be afraid of is death.

What we should be afraid of
is having lead an inadequate life.

~Bertolt Brecht

Of Note: Wouldn't it be nice if life were just simple. If like a flower, we could just grow from a seed, produce a gorgeous head, make seeds, then die peacefully. But unlike the flower, we are expected to do something with ourselves each and every day--often times not quite knowing what that something is. What's more, death is like a dog trailing us all the way. We don't often stop to consider, however, from where the urge to move forward comes. Contemplation on that one point could bring Light and ultimately Joy, which in and of itself would be a daily global contribution.

Today's Weather Report: Jim is at the store procuring food for two days as the forecasters say a big snowstorm is heading this way. Up to a foot of snow could fall. Considering we already have a foot on the ground, we could wake up Monday to "double the pleasure." The sleeping perennials under the ground are happy, though, with the thickening blanket over their heads. Marie provided a reminder this week in the photo above of the spring that awaits us in a few months.

Watch For Change Snippet: Pharmaceutical companies have often gotten a bad rap for putting monetary gain ahead of patient need. From the old-school business standpoint, this made sense as shareholders cried for continued excellent returns on their investments. From a PR standpoint, however, their frequent less than benevolent actions often spelled disaster. Along with large non-profit hospitals, many believe that pharmaceutical companies have strayed too far from consideration of the common good. Thus, it was big news before Christmas when the UK-based GlaxoSmithKline PLC announced it would no longer use corporate funds for political contributions. Glaxo's Chief executive said: "We need to ensure that there is no implication whatsoever that corporate political contributions provide us with any special privilege." Along with the transparency of clinical trials posted on pharmaceutical company websites as well as planned data regarding physician payments, these companies have made a start in becoming responsible corporate citizens. There are no secrets is my mantra. When applied to the corporate world, business practices aligned with global patient need could ultimately eventuate.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Times Have Changed

We have to accept the fact that
many of our institutions are imperfect
not because they were ill designed,
but because the times have changed.

~Ramu Damodaran

Of Note: Perfection is only relative. Evolution makes sure of that. It might be controversial to say, but at some level, even God is not perfect for He too is evolving. Actually it is His evolution which is "dragging" us along. The Higher takes no major step without significant reaction from all below. Some would argue that the seismic movement taking place right now heralds such an event.

Today's Weather Report: Ah, the bright sun is shining with little temperature effect since it's still zero degrees Fahrenheit. Zero is very cold, and the skin burns in seconds when uncovered. I try not to test it.

Watch For Change Snippet: Greg Mortenson was a free spirited mountain climber before creating a new role for himself as international best selling author and humanitarian school builder. This visionary believed that ignorance bred violence, and education was the antidote to the hateful rhetoric of Islamic extremism. Taking action, his foundation has established 78 schools in remote, poverty stricken parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as 48 other schools in refugee camps in the region. More than 28,000 students attend the institute's school. Interestingly, Mortenson's success caught the eye of the US military in Afghanistan. As their focus shifted from killing the enemy to re-building war torn societies, military leaders asked Mortenson to give advice on building stronger relationships with village elders and tribal leaders. Although many have given the visionary grief for working with the military, he has no regrets and said that "he respected the military's willingness to admit past mistakes and seek new ideas about how to accomplish its objectives in Afghanistan and in the broader war on terror." It's refreshing to see that BOTH sides admit the times have changed and have found common ground on which to build new relationships.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Peaceful Mind, Peaceful World

Any kind of expectation creates a problem.
We should accept, but not expect.
Whatever comes, accept it.
Whatever goes, accept it.

The immediate benefit is that
your mind is always peaceful.

~Sri Swami Satchidananda

Of Note: New Year's resolutions come in all shapes and sizes. Lots of times we pick something on which to work like weight loss or exercise. These effect the physical plane and are to be commended. Another approach might be to pick something that effects the mental plane like the thought above. Doing so could be magical and a life more full of peace might be ours come January 1, 2010. Of course, what is ours touches the whole world. So in our small way, we would have contributed to ringing in a more peaceful world in 2009.

Today's Weather Report: Cloudy but not so cold with temperatures in the teens. Jim is seen above retrieving wood this morning to fill our fireplace after filling the outside boiler. As it bobbed down the road, his orange cap was the only spot of bright color in the whole landscape.

News You Can Use Snippet: It has been scientifically proven that if we smile, we feel happier. The act of smiling creates an uplifted feeling even if that was not the intention. So it might be worthwhile to paint on a smile even when it feels like a fake. Apparently, our brain doesn't know the difference, and it may make us feel better without spending a dime. Taking a minute and doing this before rising in the morning might make a difference in the whole day.