Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Too Shall Pass Away

A king ordered his wise men to come up with
a single sentence that would never be false.

Their solution covered all possible contingencies:
"And this, too, shall pass away."

~Abraham Lincoln

Of Note: We usually think of "passing away" as dying and fight its inevitability every step of the way. In reality, "passing away" is simply a change of form. I watched as this streptocarpus plant created buds which ever so slowly opened last fall, bloomed for a few glorious days, then passed on--leaving its purple carcasses on the wooden floor. Teeny seeds soon appeared where the showy flowers once stood guaranteeing that future streptocarpus plants will live another day. The beauty was transitory like so much else in life. And thank heavens for that. Without the passing away, we would never have the freshening rebirth which affirms evolutionary progress.

Today's Weather Report: The predictions of below zero temps were certainly accurate for last night. Upon arising this morning, it was 18 degrees below zero. Again. We have not had a break from this extreme cold since the end of November. However, "This too will pass away" reassures us that the spring follows winter every year without fail. For some reason that is difficult to recall this time of year.

Watch For Change Snippet: President Obama said this week, "There are times when you can afford to redecorate your house, and there are times when you have to focus on rebuilding its foundation." His recently introduced budget if successful would carry the nation in a new direction, one in which spiritual values could play a central role. What better foundation than that built on serve to the common good, personal responsibility for the whole, a recognition of the rights and needs of all, a spirit of cooperation and a love of truth. A wise man once said, "As truth surpassed imagination, so is the future beyond dreams."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Doing a Little Each Day

However much concerned I was
at the problem of misery in the world,
I never let myself get lost in brooding over it.

I always held firmly to the thought that
each of us can do a little to bring
some portion of it to an end.

~Albert Schweitzer

Of Note: If you look out your window at this very moment, you will see Venus cradled in the arms of the 10% moon. Of course, the eyes will see each of these more clearly and revel at the sight. Apparently, this particular configuration happens but rarely--so don't miss it tonight!

Today's Weather Report: It is cold on my birthday today, near zero most of the day with a wicked wind. Tonight it is going to be 15 or 20 below zero again. My husband, who has faithfully filled the wood burning outside boiler, says, "Enough already!"

Watch For Change Snippet: The Bushes have now settled into their new Dallas home. They've been almost forgotten over the last month as our new President and family have taken up residence in the White House. Exactly one year ago today, I began a time capsule of Bush memorabilia to be opened 25 years hence--in 2033 to be exact. All year I placed items pertaining to the Bush legacy and am officially closing it today with an article about the big Bush move last weekend sent from my Mom, who lives in the Dallas area. It was my prediction last year that the former President's legacy will be positive in the end. Even though the financial situation worsened between February 27, 2008 and now, I haven't wavered from that belief. Many think I'm a bit daft. Guess we will see.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Threads That Weave Us

Catastrophe is the essence of the spiritual path,
a series of breakdowns allowing us to discover
the threads that weave all of us into a whole cloth.

~Jean Halifax

Of Note: Few might realize but to the Earth the rising of a mountain is a cataclysmic event. The great mass is pushed up from the depths to be exposed for eons until broken down into dust at some distant time--and then the process begins anew. Over and over, up and down, the cycles continue. Humans have much in common with their mountain brethren. Life after life the consciousness evolves through the form animated by crises. The beauty in this process becomes apparent when one day the Human awakens to his Real Self in full consciousness aware of the interconnectedness of all Life. Then he can say triumphantly to the mountain, "Ah, you too will be here one day. The evolution of Humanity is your guarantee!"

Today's Weather Report: We are having a certifiable blizzard at the moment. It hasn't snowed like this in months. But that's OK because we could use a little "freshening up" outside. With temps in the 20's, it is relatively warm, though the flakes look small. Much different than the huge, wet spring snowflakes which generally don't stick around long. Marie took this cerebral shot at Big Bend National Park last April. That seems like so long ago.

Watch For Change Snippet: I was pleased to see that a national food aid group, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will ask Congress to change our food aid laws to encourage farming in Africa rather than food subsidies from US farmers sent exclusively in US ships. This kind of protectionism has helped create a situation where Africans are starving while our subsidies often rot. Congress, of course, was not the only institution to blame for the problem. African governments and other international groups and nations also bought into the program. However, when the cost of commodities skyrocketed last year, the folly of food subsidies instead of farming infrastructure became apparent. My guess is that if the Bill and Melinda Gates are on this, we can expect that Africa may once again become the breadbasket of old.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Magical Things


~Eden Philipotts

Of Note: Look at this delightful and magical picture Marie took this week. What on earth could have caused that circle in the clouds? Maybe that's it; maybe it wasn't "on earth" at all. Glad she shared this intriguing shot caught at just the perfect moment of observation.

Today's Weather Report: We have no interesting cloud formations like the one above over our house in northern Wisconsin. Here it is just gray and overcast with a fine mist coming down. At 30 degrees Fahrenheit that can be dangerous on the roads. Hope the road crews have put something down since I have to go out later in the morning. We haven't seen these warm temps in quite a while, and the house is noticeably more comfortable. I talked to one individual this winter who has paid over $7,000 in heating bills. Ouch.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Forgetting Ourselves

To forget how to dig the earth and
tend the soil is to forget ourselves.


Of Note: We know wise men by their writing. Sages write succinctly and every word carries profound meaning. Likewise, when I read Ageless Wisdom, it can take an hour to read a page. What I've discovered--if knowledge goes in without moving my brain cells, then I should move on to something that does. Why is that? Time is short, and our responsibility is great.

Today's Weather Report: Another gorgeous day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood. However, the weatherman predicts that most mornings will be below zero through March. So much for my belief that these extreme temps were behind us. The cats feel a difference outside--though, it must be the sun's angle rather than the temperature. Several of them have taken to frolicking in the crusty snow and falling through unexpectedly now and then. It's a real spectacle to watch. Marie photographed these two "farmers" at her local nursery last fall. Believe it or not, she sent me shots of her first blooming flowers yesterday. What a difference a 1200 miles can make!

News You Can Use Snippet: Researchers have found that a male and female mosquito synchronize their wing beats and harmonize their buzzing in a mating ritual. If the male can't keep up with her song, she finds another male mosquito who can. This sounds awfully familiar to human mating habits. Some things never change, do they?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Personality Pimples

Everything that irritates us about others
can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

~Carl Jung

Of Note: Carl Jung was a very wise man. He was describing what I call the mirroring effect. It is truly the most perfect way to find our own faults. Many of us don't want to see those personality pimples. But the satisfaction that comes from popping them, can bring relief--just like with the real thing.

Today's Weather Report: It was a bright, sunshiny day that started at 10 below and rose to the 20's by late afternoon. Not sure exactly what is predicted for the rest of the week--but if other years are any indication, these below zero days should be well behind us. Marie took this amazing shot of two resting turkey buzzards on a walk recently. If anyone has never seen these birds, let me tell you they are HUGE and take care of carrion along the road. Up here in northern Wisconsin, they can vie for roadkill with Bald Eagles, another large bird. Sometimes from a distance, both animals can look the same though closer inspection, of course, shows what's what.

News You Can Use Snippet: We have all heard the simple truism that laughter is the best medicine. Research has shown that laughter indeed aids health by shutting of four different stress hormones while triggering happiness-making endorphins. It came as a surprise that fake laughter has the same effect since the body does not know or care whether we are really amused or not. So go ahead, laugh right our loud at the fact that the body is so easily fooled--your day will be better for it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Illusion of Knowledge


~Daniel J. Boorstin

Of Note: Mr. Boorstin was a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. He obviously knew that those who consciously get in the way of true knowledge are more dangerous than the ignorant. The situation is usually dictated by two interconnected forces: politics and money. John Q. Public might be surprised to discover that science, for example, is not particularly interested in the pursuit of Truth. What it comes down to these days is pursuit of dollars usually from the government--directly or indirectly through universities or industry. Either way the result is the same--either tow the party line or funding is withheld. One of the current hot issues is climate change. Like any complex scientific question, a vigorous scientific debate is justified and should be expected with money funding both sides. The opposite is happening, however. Yesterday, a radio news report described many situations when scientists with legitimate disagreements about the current state of the climate were being shunned. What we have then, it seems, is faith-based science bordering on a religion--which is to say we have no science at all.

Today's Weather Report: More beautiful sunshine graces the sky. Couldn't ask for a nicer day in the twenties. According to the local electrician working at the barn, a few inches of snow will fall tonight and tomorrow, and after that we have to brace for another cold snap. 20 below zero Fahrenheit is the predication for the coming weekend! We had hoped the extreme cold was behind us, apparently not. My sister, Marie, snapped this unfurling Datura flower last summer. Isn't it elegant in its symmetrical simplicity?

Watch For Change Snippet: There may be argument that the world would benefit from a open-minded debate on climate change and other scientific matters, but there is no argument that mercury has been poisoning the seas for a long, long time. 6,000 tons of mercury settle in the oceans each year from many sources including chemical production, small scale mining and coal-fired power plants. From the oceans, the mercury climbs the food chain until ultimately reaching humans, where even small amounts can be poisonous. Children are particularly susceptible. Thus, it was refreshing when President Obama reversed the previous administration's opposition to an international legal agreement on mercury. The welcomed change was presented this week at the global conference of environmental ministers in Nairobi, Kenya. The United States will work with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to help countries reduce their mercury use, clean up contaminated sites and find environmentally sound ways to store mercury.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Spiritual Journey

The spiritual journey is one of
continuous learning and purification.
When you know this, you become humble.

There is a famous Tibetan saying:
"Do not mistake understanding for realization.
and do not mistake realization for liberation."

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: Only when we look back do we know what's what. With no knowledge of previous lives, the whole equation becomes imponderable. Thus, blindly we move forward with faith that striving and fortitude will take us to the next step.

Today's Weather Report: It's cloudy but somehow bright. The snow is glowing although I have no idea how. The stomach flu bug has hightailed it out of here much to our delight. Now it's back to business as usual at the Schirott's place. Thanks to Marie for this tranquil photo!

Watch For Change Snippet: On Valentine's Day, the Saudi king dismissed the head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, better known as the religious police. This is significant because the day of love is banned in this country. The religious police are the enforcers who assure that no one sells gifts for the occasion, wears red, or in any way celebrates. The monarch also cut lose the chief of the kingdom's highest tribunal, the Supreme Council of Justice, who condoned killing the owners of TV networks that broadcast "immoral" content. One editor of a Arabic newspaper commented that "This is the true start of the promises of reform." Asked why reforms have taken so long, the newsman explained that more moderate appointees had to be trained for the job. The biggest news of the day, however, was the appointment of a woman as deputy minister for girls' education, marking the first time that a woman has held a ministerial level position in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah does not have unlimited power and must build coalitions in the large royal family and in the Muslim cleric community before making radical changes such as these. Insiders now believe that the necessary consensus has been reached, and more reforms will surface in the days to come.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Fusion of Many Minds

The fusion of many minds into one directed
activity is today of supreme importance.
Unity of directed thought and purpose is the
guarantee of inevitable and future success.

The power of massed thought is omnipotent.

~A. A. Bailey

Of Note: With the election of the President, we can easily see that massed intention can make a difference on the physical plane. What we might not have considered is the potential power of massed intent on the mental plane. This is where the meditation comes in. Mindfulness meditation, so popular now in the west, touches the physical plane and brings relaxation or other benefits to the meditator. That is certainly a step in the right direction as a person attains balance and internal peace. However, ever higher and higher meditative practices are available. Universal-mind meditation, which fuses the minds of the participants on the mental plane into one whole, could change the world. It is my belief that some day it most assuredly will.

Today's Weather Report: Even if it's in the teens, with the sun out, who cares? We've had so few sunny days lately, every one we do presents a welcomed sight. The stomach flu at the Schirott's lingers. It could depart at any time as it's been an unwelcome guest in our house for a week. Maybe tomorrow it will finally slink out the door.

Watch For Change Snippet: Kenyans are justifiably proud of their "native son" who became 44th President of the United States. However, many in America would say "He's not FROM Kenya, he's an American"--implying he's ours, not yours. That's apparently not what Kenyans believe. In fact, many Kenyans, even those from opposing tribes, have taken to adding an "O" in front of their names, indicating they are from the Luo tribe, as was Obama's father. A detente may be in the making between Kenya's historically confrontational tribes, who just last year tore the country apart over questionable election results. A member of the Luo tribe living in Jersey City said of the matter: "Everybody wants to be his tribe now, even those fighting his tribe. The Luos lost the presidency in Kenya, but they got the presidency of the U. S. so it's like a compensation; he's brought tribal reconciliation." Hey, we are glad to be of global service and this time without even raising a weapon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Each Others Bond


~Gwendolyn Brooks

Of Note: Wonder if we were literally each others bond? Today being Valentine's Day, it's a good day to contemplate love as a bonding agent. Kind of like superglue. Compassion, mercy and the like work too. Come to find out, all of these emotions release chemicals in us that promote bonding and make us feel good. It's part of our DNA. Thus, we are hardwired to bond. I would guess that anything that gets in the way of that chemical reaction would cause illness, pain or both. So, my recommendation on this day of love? Let's get back to our natural state of love--it is obviously the path of least resistance.

Today's Weather Report: The sun was out earlier, but soon went behind snow-filled clouds. Now a very light snow is falling. At 12 degrees, these fine flakes are to be expected. Jim and I have been ailing with a nasty stomach flu all week, thus no blog until today. It was the first day this week that sitting for an hour at the computer was even feasible. Jim's Mom turned 90 this week. What change she has seen during her long lifetime! Marie took this shot of the moon and its companion Venus recently. Thanks so much for sharing!

News You Can Use Snippet: Could it be possible that the seat of the self-consciousness is in the heart? One of the Tibetan Masters said as much in his tome Heart. If taken literally, that piece of information could revolutionize scientific thought on the subject, which puts the seat of self-consciousness in the head....along with the brain. When you think about it, though, there is really no reason that self-consciousness must "reside" in the brain. Could be that the brain, shared with all animals, would be a bad place to seat the self-consciousness of humanity. Maybe that is the reason that those who exclusively use their brain to the exclusion of the heart can run into trouble. We have only to look as far as the current financial mess to confirm the concept of overused animal-brain, little used human-heart. It give the phrase "getting to the heart of the matter" new meaning, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do All You Can

Do all you can with what you have,
in the time you have, in the place you are.

~Nkosi Johnson

Of Note: This poignant bit of wisdom came from a twelve-year old Zulu boy living with AIDS. It was brought to us by which just passed 16,000 in the number of people on its daily quote list. If you have not checked out this site, please do. They have great e-cards as well. I am always grateful to Marie for sharing her colorful photos that decorate this blog.

Today's Weather Report: It is hard to describe cold, wet air at 37.5 degrees. The clouds seem only a few feet from the ground when conditions are like this. The snow has shrunk 6 inches, maybe more as the day has progressed. The half-mile road to the house is almost impassable. Welcome to an intense "January thaw" in February. The Birkie cross-country skiing race folks can't be at all happy with this sudden turn of events.

News You Can Use Snippet: Sometimes we need a boost of energy to keep going in the right direction. The Tibetan Masters were cognizant of the habit of Humanity to unhappiness and recommended the following cure-all: "I close with an appeal to all to rally their forces, to renew their vows of dedication to the service of humanity, to subordinate their own ideas and wishes to the group good, to take their eyes off themselves and fix them anew upon the vision, to guard their tongues from idle speech and criticism, from gossip and innuendo, and to read and study so that the work may go intelligently forward." He continued earnestly: "Let all students make up their minds in this day of emergency and of rapid unfolding opportunity to sacrifice all they have to the helping of humanity. Now is the need and the demand. The urgency of the hour is upon us, . . .I offer to you opportunity and I tell you that you are needed--even the very least of you. I assure you that groups, working in unison and with deep and unfaltering love for each other, can achieve significant results." If this prescription was followed, unhappiness would be forgotten in joyful service. What are we waiting for?

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Battle

The battle is therefore on between the form side of life and the soul. The Dweller on the Threshold (the threshold of divinity, my brothers) is humanity itself with its ancient habits of thought, its selfishness and greed. Humanity today stands face to face with the Angel of the Presence--the Soul Whose nature is love and light and inclusive understanding.

The great problem today is which of these two will emerge the victor out of the conflict, and which of these two great agencies of life will determine humanity's future and indicate the way which humanity will decide to go.

The issues at stake are clear to all right-thinking people. Intolerance and an intense national pride and self-satisfaction can blind men to the facts of the case today, but there are enough people thinking clearly to make the future of right decisions more probable than at any previous time in the history of the race.

~Master Djwhal Khul

Of Note: This passage spells out the situation clearly. The ramifications of the conflict can be seen everywhere. When we do not follow the Soul, pain ensues to bring us back to the Truth. At this point, most of us are creators of pain--physical, emotional and mental--rather than divine creators of loving understanding. The decision to change is ours and in that thought lies hope of a lighted future for Humanity. Marie caught this surreal sunset one evening from her backyard in Texas. It symbolizes the lighted future we all crave and to which we strive.

Today's Weather Report: Finally a warm day, in the mid 30's. The sun shone for a short time before the clouds creeped in. Freezing rain is now predicted which we do not need before heading out of town tomorrow. Jim's mother will celebrate her 90th birthday on Sunday surrounded by family and friends. Nothing can get in the way of that sojourn out of town.

Watch For Change Snippet: On January 26th, the International Criminal Court, the only permanent international court with jurisdiction to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, met for the first time. Prosecutors began with the case against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the former leader of the rebel group Congolese Patriots, for conscription of child soldiers, some as young as 8. The trial got off to a rocky start as the issue of prosecution of witnesses back in Congo made a few retract their statements. Even with that, the beginning of this historical trial puts the perpetrators of crimes against humanity on notice. One witness, a Congolese militia fighter, stated that Mr. Lubanga told the child soldiers: "Do not be afraid. The war will not be difficult." Because of his alleged egregious acts against children, it would appear that Mr. Lubanga's difficulties have just begun. It should be noted that the ICC began without the backing of the United States. It will be interesting to see if the new President decides to change that official stance.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lost and Found


~Sufi Proverb

Of Note: Often pain--physical, emotional and mental--brings us closer to revelation. Pain is like a solvent wiping the glass clean to reveal a beautiful window outside of which milk and honey flows. It is invariably a part of the ascendant evolutionary path as the debris from many lifetimes is cleared. Those who know do not fear but welcome the purification as one small part in the purification of all humanity. Robert Kennedy said that "each of us can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation." Invariably this is a painful process but when joyfully accepted can change the world.

Today's Weather Report: Can you believe it? Last night the temperature got down to 25 degrees below zero again. Just to make us feel better, though, the sun blazed gloriously today and heated the place to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. It's been ages since we had a real snow storm, knock on wood.

News You Can Use Snippet: The Earth is really little. From our vantage point, it might appear gargantuan but it is just a spot when compared to the whole solar system. If a map of the entire universe was available, our planet would be invisible. Oliver Morton of the New York Times eloquently described the situation: "If the inner solar system were the size of the United States, the Earth would be the size of a football field; if the distance to the center of the galaxy was a mile, the Earth would be less than an atom." Could it be that tiny Earth is merely a stopping-off place for Humanity before it ventures on to bigger and better things?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't Fence Me In



~Turkish Proverb

Of Note: Fence building to stop human movement is nothing new. One has to look no further than pictures of the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall to see that. Lately, though, fencing people in and out has received a new level of attention in such places as Jerusalem between the Israeli and the Palestinian sections and along the border between Mexico and the United States. This past week National Geographic reported on the plight of refugees fleeing from North Korea to China and points beyond. A stark picture of a fence topped with concertina wire showed the difficulty and courage required to get out. Frankly, fencing to keep people apart smacks of barbarism and perpetrates the illusion of separatism. Someday light-filled future generations, who know that freedom is ultimately unrestrainable, will look back and shake their heads at these futile fencing efforts. Marie provide this serene picture of horse fencing from a walk she took in the fall. Modern human fencing never looks serene.

Today's Weather Report: It was just a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit this morning, not enough to make the house too cold when first getting up. A light snow is falling. Small flakes mirror the cold temps. Meterorology reports predict these gray conditions will last all day.

News You Can Use Snippet: Recently, measurement technology has reached new heights. In some instances, it can go no higher. Take the measurement of time: the Max Planck Institute for Quantam Optics found a way to measure time to within a millionth of a billionth of a second. They accomplished this feat by measuring the "ticks" that a single atom of mercury emits. A clock has already been built using the new method that will not lose even one second in a billion years. An official from this esteemed institute elaborated on other uses for the technology: "Such tools would constitute a space-time microscope that would make the motion of electrons visible in slow motion."

Given these advances, one wonders how humanity can advance so far on one hand and be so far behind on the other?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Something To Be Thankful For

If we take the time,
no matter how crazy
or troubled we feel,
we can find something
to be thankful for.

~Terry Lynn Taylor

Of Note: For some reason gratitude does not seem to come naturally to us. At times, it seems that the troubles and cares of the day compound like a heavy weight. Maybe that's why we have so many aches and pains around our shoulders and necks. Hard as it may be to believe, a joyous state is our natural set point as a human being. It's our divine legacy but can only be reached when we discover how to be grateful each and every day for the abundance showered upon us, rich and poor alike. The hard part is changing our views about what constitutes abundance. The Universe has much in store for anyone who cracks that nut.

Today's Weather Report: The northern tier of the USA thawed this weekend. That was good because we all needed a break. Apparently, January was one of the coldest months on record. But then, Jim and I had guessed that already. The temps are heading down again today though will not reach the minus 20's and 30's as before. We can be grateful for that.

Watch For Change Snippet: Once thought to be the panacea for future fuel shortages, biofuel has come under fire the last few years and for good reason. Turning food into ethanol doesn't make much sense, which is why a biofuel from a weed has the world talking. The weed tree in question is called jatropha, which produces seeds heavy in oil. This miracle oil is then refined into diesel fuel for trucks and manufacturing--up to an astonishing 1,600 gallons per acre! According to the alternative energy firm Clean Edge, the fuel emits negligible greenhouse gases while the weed captures 4 tons of carbon dioxide per acre. Because of this, growers might also be eligible for carbon credits on the global market.

Originally, jatropha was indigenous to the Caribbean before transport to India in the 1600's. Now, several countries have shown interest in the plant's production including New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and China. Setting aside 100 million acres for jatropha production, India expects to produce 20% of its diesel from this source by 2011! A company called My Dream Fuel led by two entrepreneurial brothers is leading the move into US markets. Since 2006, these visionaries have planted 900,000 jatropha trees in Florida, which grows in even marginal soil. What's more, as a way to give back, they have donated jatropha trees to energy-starved nations like Haiti. One of the brothers said plainly: "We want to make money with jatropha, but we also want to make a difference." Thanks to innovators like these men, the next wave of alternative fuel might be in reach of the world. For that, we can be thankful.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Working for the Benefit of All


Many an individual has turned from the mean,
personal, acquisitive point of view to one that sees
society as a whole and works for its benefit.

If there has been such a change in one person,
there can be the same change in many.

~Mahatma Gandhi

Of Note: If Gandhi was alive today, he would see a different society than the one he left. It still has warts and pimples, to be sure, but slowly a visible transformation is occurring in Humanity as a whole. Getting back to basics is a common theme these days. With austerity as a background, many folks are joining together in a discovery of spiritual values: a love of truth, a recognition of the rights and needs of all, a spirit of cooperation, a sense of personal responsibility and the sacrifice of selfishness for the common good.

Today's Weather Report: The January thaw is one day late. Today, February 1st we are having a delightfully warm day--well, warm for northern Wisconsin at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Water is dripping from the roof, and a thundering cascade of accumulated snow just fell to the ground. It sounded like a mini-avalanche. Startling, really. Many thanks to Marie for this ethereal moon shot captured during a warm Texas evening.

Watch For Change Snippet: Multiple articles have highlighted the new, simple lifestyles of westerners during this current financial crisis. Ordinary people are cutting back in many ways but some wonder if the executives at the center of this maelstrom have increased their own sensitivity quotas. Dozens of these men and women gathered this past week in Davos, Switzerland for the Global Economic Summit. Austerity measures were noticeable including less party-time and more actual information exchange. Though limousines were still the preferred method of transport, Angelina Jolie and Sharon Stone stayed home. Really innovative was a refugee simulation in the basement of the main forum building. A refugee simulation? Yes, the Crossroads Foundation of Hong Kong, along with the UN and other refugee aid organizations transformed the basement into a refugee camp along with sights and sounds similar to that experienced by the world's 33 million refugees. The intense role-playing activity for 15 - 30 was staged 4 to 5 times a day. While originally intended to "rope in" some of the Davos participants to contribute money or technology, it was hoped that the event might also shake the executives' awake to the needs of others in this time of economic downturn. The lead UN refugee spokesman said: "We should have the same level of determination in saving lives as in saving banks."