Monday, January 31, 2011

Six Impossible Things

"One can't believe impossible things," Alice said.
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
"When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day."

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast."

~ Lewis Carroll

Of Note: Western university students are accustomed to taking a variety of courses from those that satisfy the head like the hard sciences to those that quench the longings of the heart like philosophy, human nature and justice. This is not the case in China where only strict academic subjects are offered. Thus, a booming Internet culture has been born that provides students the opportunity to audit courses not available at Chinese educational institutions from such luminaries as Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. Netease, one of China's largest Web portals that calls itself a "Digital Confucius," presents subtitled courses on a wide variety of topics including God and society in western literature, sustainable development, adolescent health and development, the history of jazz and Shakespeare's comedies, to name a few. Amazingly, one course, "Philosophy 176 - Death" taught by Yale's Professor Shelly Kagan, has a following of several hundred thousand Chinese! What's more, the courses have spawned on-line study groups, which are capped at 2,000 participants. Netease's deputy chief editor said: "Parents, the Communist Party, teachers all tell us what to do. But they all speak with the same voice. We are trying to teach people that there are different moral values, different choices." Thus, it might not be some overt political act that carries the energy of freedom to China but the subtle winds of change brought by global higher education via the Internet.

Today's Weather Report: Another gloomy day at 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Over the weekend at the various funeral activities in the Twin Cities, everyone agreed that this winter has lacked in sunshine to the extreme. Chicago is set to get a dump of almost two feet of snow! We wish it would come farther north and blanket the north woods of Wisconsin, but it appears that the storm will stay to the south. The two feet that hit the Minneapolis--St Paul area in December is still quite evident. One road we drove was reduced to a little more than a single lane with tall snow banks on either side. I asked what would happen if another car brother, the driver, did not respond as he tried to get to the end of that road as quickly as he could.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When the Heart is Open

As one can see when
the eyes are open,

so one can understand
when the heart is open.

~ Hazrat Inayat Khan

Of Note: Indonesians were surprised to wake up this week to a 70 meter crop circle in a local rice paddy. It was a first for the country. Crop circles have been found all over the world, and England is famous for its variety. Of course, man can make similar markings, and has. A few American farmers have sculpted such creations in their fields and handsomely supplemented their farming income. Japanese rice farmers have done something similar and formed elaborate culturally inspired pictures using different colors of rice. However, although similar, the self-created markings are not the same. Crop circles consist of bent stalks, not broken or mowed, in precise, unusual, some would say cosmic, patterns. They are always huge and can be viewed in full only from above. Scientists sniffed that the Indonesian crop circles were "man-made, of course" and would not even send a researcher to the site. A long-winded official with the Indonesian space program said: "We will not send investigators to the scene because we suspect the crop circle involves human intervention, not natural phenomenon, nor scientific phenomenon associated with outer space creatures commonly referred to as aliens." UFO proponents believed the sign was left by aliens. One resident opined: "I think they were left by an alien space ship like the one I saw on TV. It is impossible that this was made by wind or any animal." Could be that this was neither a hoax perpetrated by humans nor an alien intervention, but a message from our conscious planet to those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. If so, the communication has been made, and the field can now revert to its original form, leaving controversy in its wake.

Today's Weather Report: It's almost balmy today at 19 degrees Fahrenheit and heavily clouded. What I am waiting for is the January thaw when temps reach upward into the 30's but it better hurry because the month is almost past. Last night I wrote a blog that went poof on the last sentence. A single keystroke wiped out a full hour's worth of work. What a shame. It was about the Egyptian protests on the heels of the Tunisian uprising. The Christian Science Monitor predicted that the Tunisian energy would not proliferate--I disagreed because the energy of Freedom is unstoppable once begun. Today the CSM retracted their original prediction. On the positive side, the thoughts created by the blog went out into the universe anyway, even if not shared here. On another note: this will be my last blog until next Monday, January 31st, because I will be attending a family funeral in the Twin Cities, which will be a several day gathering of family and friends.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thoughtful and Committed Citizens

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead
Culture and Commitment

Of Note: This past week more than one hundred members of the La Costra Nostra, otherwise known as the Mafia, were arrested on the east coast. A handful is still at large. Several of those indicted are in prison. When reading Mead's quote, we think that "thoughtful, committed citizens changing the world" refers only to people with the common good in mind. Think again. All organized crime, whether it be perpetrated through Russian mobsters, Chinese gangsters or Mexican drug cartels, is "thoughtful and committed and changing the world" but headed down the left-hand path. Each criminal group has their specialty, which range from white-color health insurance scams and medical fraud to more nefarious pursuits like gambling, drug-trafficking, prostitution, robbery, extortion and even murder. On this planet, where desire and material wealth are king, these criminals do very well and never lack followers. As a matter of fact, people are literally dying to get into their ranks. For now. We humans are being honed on this planet of pain by these fights between the good side and the bad side. It's always a knock 'em out kind of movie scenario between these and other pairs of opposites. One day we will look up and find that our minds will lead us through this astral world into the world of ideas where goodness and love prevail. When enough of us have done that, the dark side will simply destroy itself without the Light Side raising a finger. That is good because the Light Brigade will be occupied with other matters for the good of all. That day is coming; that new beginning is guaranteed. The timing is up to us.

Today's Weather Report: Cloudy again today at 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently, now that the full moon has past, so has the sub-zero temperatures. That is good because the boiler-man was getting weary filling it three times a day. On another note: thoughtful and committed citizens joined hands 30-years ago to end smallpox globally. The question then remained what to do with the final cache of smallpox virus stocks held by the United States and Russia. The two caches were set to be destroyed soon, but now the two governments have asked permission of the World Health Organization to keep them intact. Why? To counter a bio-terrorist attack using unsanctioned stocks. Seems to me the request signals that the two governments know or highly suspect such "unsanctioned" stocks exist in the criminal world. They must have convinced WHO's Executive Board, who will recommend to the full board in May keeping the smallpox caches. I am appreciative someone is watching these things, aren't you?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Enlightenment: A Process of Unlearning

Enlightenment is not a process of learning,
it is a process of unlearning.

~Dr. Kat Domingo

Of Note: Learning is accomplished through accumulation of knowledge. Eventually, all that learning gets in the way of spiritual progress. Buddha's enlightenment bypassed the concrete mind of knowledge ruled by desire and went straight to the abstract mind where light as symbols rules the day. Here he could contemplate the true nature of Being unobstructed by any physical attachments. For mankind, who dwells predominately in the world of desire, the world of the Mind is the next stage of development. Buddha was the forerunner of this enlightened world; His Brother, Christ, was the forerunner of the next, that of Love. For much of humanity, these steps are in some future life, but we can see the inklings of humanity using its collective Mind right now. Take for example, the recent utilization of identification and shaming to halt the production of sodium thiopental, the lethal injection anesthetic. For years, groups have been trying the emotional route to halt the death penalty in the United States with little success. Although barbaric, some people simply believe it is the best way to get rid of violent criminals, and there seemed to be no way to get past it. The new, more mindful approach is to use the information made available through the courts, such as the previously secret names of manufacturers, to stop the production of the injectables used to kill human beings. Few manufacturers will continue production in the face of endless lawsuits and public derision. In response, the Attorney General from Arizona snapped back: "We will just have to turn to other drugs or other viable alternatives, like a firing squad." But will they? Could be that the day of the mindful approach has arrived and the emotional response will be relegated to the dust bin. Then the United States can join the rest of the civilized world, who on this measure were spiritually ahead.

Today's Weather Report: When I awoke this morning, the glorious sun was streaming through the window. It seemed appropriate to have this happen on SUN-day. However, the sunshine was short-lived and now thick clouds blanket the sky. It looks like snow is imminent. Last night it got down to -24 degrees Fahrenheit but has now climbed to 12 degrees--a good snow temperature. On another note: as follow-up to my blog on the Southern Sudan vote, it may come as no surprise that, in the first official tally, 98.6% of the population wanted to secede from its northern brother although the final result is not expected until February. It comes as no surprise because although the southern area is rich in oil, 90% of the people live on less than $1 a day. These impoverished folks believe it is time for a better distribution of the wealth. We will see how the north responds.

Saturday, January 22, 2011



~ Albert Einstein

Of Note: Like a butterfly, each of us must metamorphose in our lifetime from the I am to the future I am. For most, the process is quite gradual and almost imperceptible; for others, it is a daily occurrence and from the outside looks rather chaotic. It is the difference between taking the slow road round and round to the summit of the mountain or going straight up. The slow road is less fraught with danger. In the evolutionary scheme of things, however, both are assured. The souls of nations are on the same journey, and this week Tunisia took a giant leap forward in a surge toward democracy. It was so sudden that many watchers were taken by surprise. Some had to retreat to maps to find out exactly where the northern African nation was. The autocratic, dictatorial and monarchical leaders of other Arab countries were most likely looking on in horror as the energy of freedom showed itself with such force. The long-time President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled this week with his family to France after bloody protests shook the country. Yesterday, even the once-feared police force joined the protesters as the residual government assessed what to do next. The officers, who earn only $350 or 250 Euros a month, had been accused of killing protesters, and they wanted to set the record straight. One quipped: "The government always made sure the people were scared of us but this must end. Also I don't want the blood of martyrs on my hands." They piled into their official cars, blew whistles and waved flags, happy to be able to protest for the first time in decades. This is the way of freedom--first comes oppression, then the seemingly unbearable crisis, which can lead to liberation if the combination of energy is potent enough. Seems the Tunisians, little that they know it, could ignite the powder keg of pent up freedom in the Middle East. It could be the big story of 2011.

Today's Weather Report: We are experiencing a heat wave at 1 degree Fahrenheit. It did get down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday morning and only warmed to 0 degrees. So this current temp is in line with the high from last night. The dogs think they are in heaven and simply like to lie in the snow with their noses buried. When they come in, we hear the clink-clink of ice between their paws against the floor. Misty goes at the ice like a dentist pulling a tooth, Chewy not so much. Thus, he clinks around for longer than she. Sometimes, they leave little ice cubes on the floor, which turn into puddles of water. That's why shoes are essential wear in this house; cold water pockets are no fun in stocking feet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Endless Prospect of Magic and Wonder



~ Ansel Adams

Today's Weather Report: It was most likely the coldest day of the year at -30 degrees Fahrenheit. The full moon is most likely to blame since the full moon of January often brings the coldest day of winter. The four Chicago guys left the morning, each having a picture taken under the thermometer. They were gobsmacked by the frigid cold and had lots of stories to take home. This is me pointing to the evidence. I was only out there for approximately 30 seconds before retreating back to the warm house.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Be the Change

We must BE the change
we want to see in the world.

~Mahatma Gandhi

Of Note: Little is remembered of the postwar diplomats at the United Nations, who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a matter of fact, all are now dead except for one, a 93-year old French former Nazi resister and diplomat, who has re-emerged with a 30-page manifesto entitled, "Indignez-vous," or "Get Indignant." Stephane Hessel, a three-time escapee from Nazi prison camps, felt compelled "to blast the climate of antipathy, bias, and greed that is sapping France's spirit." The short document, first printed in an attic, has spread by word of mouth to over 1,000,000 million people, making it the number one best seller in a land dominated by books. His main thesis is that indifference or the refusal to think are the worst attitudes currently threatening mankind. "I can do nothing about it" spells death in his opinion. Hessel said: "By behaving in this way, we lose one of the essential components that makes us human." The elder statesman argues that the main problem facing the planet is the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and that terrorism in inefficient: "I am convinced that the future belongs to non-violence. It is through this path that humanity will be able to cross its next stage." Sounds like he has been conferring with the Masters of Wisdom, who promulgate the same concept through the idea of Tactica Adversa, which allows the enemy to destroy itself and clears the way for a future of non-violence. While we know that the Masters are warriors first, the Art of War promotes the use of the mind over the use of force, which will always prove victorious in the end.

Today's Weather Report: The sun was out a little while ago but now the clouds have moved back in. To date, no Arctic blast has hit, and it is currently 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold and clear would describe the conditions nicely. Turns out the Chicago boys are flying in but have yet to call from the local Hayward airport to say they have arrived. The local ice fishermen have been at it for hours with little to show for their effort. "One got away" is the closest they've come. It would be unfortunate if the visitors did not get to experience ice-fishing in northern Wisconsin in January. They had better hurry because it gets dark just a little after 5 PM.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Riddle's Hidden Meaning

~Johann Goethe

Of Note: Hacking has always had a bad name but that is being turned around. In November 2009 an unusual event called Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) was held in which hackers worldwide were invited to develop and improve tools aimed at helping emergency managers respond more effectively during disasters. The event was founded by such luminaries as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, the World Bank and NASA. Will Pate, with the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Reduction, said: "We are taking back the world of hacking. This is an event where people are there because they care." Since then, the event has expanded to 21 venues across four countries with 1,500 participants. Another type of hacking for the good was recently revealed in which the governments of Israel and the United States were successful in infiltrating Iranian nuclear facilities with a worm called Stuxnet. This computer subterfuge set back Iran's nuclear warhead ambitions by many years, a fact that country vehemently denies. The plot reads like an espionage thriller. Computer scientists in super-secret global facilities created the ultimate worm, which not only attacked but also blinded the Iranian computers to it. 984 centrifuges were disabled in such a sophisticated and precise manner that computer security personnel in Germany, who reviewed the matter, knew professional government computer experts were involved rather than a handful of smart hackers. As it turns out, the Bush Administration began this effort that was eventually accelerated by President Obama in cooperation with the Israeli's Mossad intelligence agency. Doubtless the Masters of Wisdom were working behind the scenes as well. One was quoted as saying earlier in the 20th century: "Cosmic creativeness is intensified through battle, and it proceeds on all planes." That includes ours, the physical, where we are their surrogates in the fight for the common good against those who work in the other direction. It might surprise pacifists that the Masters are first and foremost warriors and wield a powerful sword of Light impregnated by Love. The battle for the light will be won in the end; that is guaranteed. The timing, however, is up to us. Apparently, hackers and other computer intellects will be a part of that fight for the good, and we are glad to welcome them into the fold.

Today's Weather Report: It was 9 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon, which has been pretty typical of late. The real news is the bone-chilling cold coming our way. Apparently, an Arctic blast is heading here tomorrow and sending the thermometer to -26 degrees. I will have to carry that -40 Iditarod suit in my car if I go anywhere the next couple of days--that and some really warm long underwear plus socks, gloves and boots. Don't want to get waylaid on a day like that. Cold or not, the local boys plan an ice-fishing party tomorrow with four newbies from the Chicago area. That should prove interesting. Wonder if they will last or end up in the warm house looking out? Who wouldn't miss such festivities are the two dogs, which are pictured above luxuriating today in the cold.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Imagination + Knowledge


~Albert Einstein

Of Note: Many believe it is best to leave a vivid imagination behind with childhood as the Halls of Knowledge are explored. Higher learning is prized, and one's prestige goes up in our societies proportional to the number of degrees after a name. Master Einstein was not so easily fooled. He reminded us that past the Halls of Knowledge looms the Halls of Wisdom that cannot be entered without the key of imagination fueled by Love. Knowledge plus imagination sparked by Love leads to genius, which is underwritten by intuition. We see many pseudo-geniuses, who have yet to tap into the cosmic wellspring of loving intuition, strutting their stuff. It is easy to spot the pretenders because they invariably have selfish motives in mind rather than the common good. The day is passing when individuals like Master Einstein will be necessary to carry the torch of loving imagination + knowledge. Groups will one day be collectively and unselfishly genius and will guide the rest of the planet to a new place. Some believe it will be a colony on Mars or the Moon, but it will most likely be right here where we are--an Earth transformed by Loving Imagination coupled with Knowledge rightly used for the first time in the history of humanity. It is for that destiny that we work and serve.

Today's Weather Report: Snow is falling at 18 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the light, fluffy kind and easy to shovel. I would call it perfect 20 degree snow--don't know what the Inuit would call it. What is this thing about birds falling from the sky in Arkansas, Louisiana, California and other states the past few weeks? Each location had its own reason for the massive and sudden die-off, which ranged from firecrackers over New Years to thunderstorms and lightning. None had been shot, but many showed a violent end. While state veterinarians are assessing the situations, local officials are advising calm since such bird deaths are apparently common according to biologists. Could be, but also could be that something is going on since such deaths have rarely been reported in the press or in such numbers. I will add it to frequent and/or strange natural events of late and simply watch.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nuanced Brushstrokes to the Portrait

In fact, if there is any lesson I have learned
in these years of following science,
it is that nothing is as it seems.

Instead, things are as they seem plus the
details you are just beginning to notice.

New truths rarely overturn old ones;
they simply add nuanced
brushstrokes to the portrait.

~ Natalie Angier
The Beauty of the Beastly

Of Note: The Hubble Space Telescope has done it again--found something in space that cannot be explained. This time it is a "mysterious giant green blob" in deep outer space that is "strangely alive." The formation is apparently female because it is giving birth to new stars outside of a galaxy, the usual stellar birthplace. What's more, it is in the "middle of nowhere" according to an astronomer, who examined pictures and data. The original discoverer was a lady--an elementary school teacher--who saw the object in 2007 during a worldwide Galaxy Zoo project and said it looked like a blue smudge. It took Hubble a few years to get a better look at this enormous Thing, which is the size of our own Milky Way and 650 million light years away. With a light year being approximately 6 trillion miles, that would make it 650 million times 6 trillion miles away. That means we will most likely never see it in person. Good thing we have Hubble out there scouting out new and unusual space objects. We will find that the universe is full of them--and that is just the visible ones. Some day scientific instruments will be sensitive enough to pick up the invisible ones, which will give the word mind-blowing new meaning.

Today's Weather Report: No one could escape the sun's rays today, but it was cold, cold at 1 degree Fahrenheit this morning. The temp only rose to 8 degrees as the day progressed. It was a delightful day for a drive, and that's just what I did. The back roads were fairly treacherous after all the ice we had at the beginning of the month, but that was fine at slower speeds. All the better to take in the gorgeous scenery. So often I forget to just "stop and smell the roses," or in our case, the spruce and pine trees, which grace our landscape. Around one curve was a herd of deer standing in the road with no intention to move. After a couple of honks, they moseyed out of the way not at all fearful of my vehicle. It's one of those deer that will become a car casualty at some future date. Knock on wood, it has been several years since I've experienced a deer-car bang-up and hope never to again.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Evolution: The Process of Subtraction

God is not attained by a process of
addition to anything in the soul,
but by a process of subtraction.

~Meister Eckhart

Of Note: Mystics by definition are coming to know the Mind of God, and Master Eckhart was no exception. One of the first realizations he must have had was this: God is and, therefore, needs nothing of the physical universe, including us. No-thing. What's more, we humans have nothing to offer. So why did God create us in the first place if He doesn't need us, and we have nothing to offer? While that fundamental question is unanswerable at our stage of development, we do get hints from ancient texts that come to us from the dawn of time. Apparently, the word Quality has something to do with it. This abstract term describes "that" which is produced from the interplay of Life and matter. Consciousness is one Quality of this interplay. Could it be that the Entity we call God is an evolving Consciousness and is exploring the seven qualities or principles of Mind described by ageless wisdom? While we will not know the answer to this question for some time, acting AS IF we do expands our mind to meet His. In this interplay of consciousnesses, we contribute to our own evolution, and it is conceivable to God's as well.

Today's Weather Report: It snowed at least 10 inches last night. Beautiful, fluffy stuff that is a cinch to shovel. That is what everyone is doing this morning if they want to get anywhere. At 13 degrees Fahrenheit with the sun blazing brightly, it would be a great day to snowshoe with friends and end with a cup of hot chocolate by the warm stove. Maybe I'll get out my old snowshoes and see how they fit. Haven't used them in years because I could never get the hang of it and didn't have a good teacher. Maybe this is one of those things that just gets better with practice, practice, practice, no teacher required. Seems that it would be good exercise in the long winter months. The dogs are in dog heaven in the new snow and have recently come in covered from head to toe. In the house, though, they soon went from "Awe, aren't they cute!" to "Egad, get a towel quick!" In addition, the two canines smell like wet wool. Pee-yoo. Thankfully, it's nothing that time won't fix.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Be Gentle with your Fellow Men


~Mr. Tut-Tut
One Hundred Proverbs

Of Note: According to psychologists, America is filled with WEIRD people on whom almost 100% of their research is conducted. WEIRD--western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic-- describes a majority of undergraduate subjects on whom various experiments are conducted. The results obtained from these studies are then broadly extrapolated to the rest of the global population as if everyone senses the world alike. Not so fast said a handful of researchers, who reviewed international journals from 2003 - 2007 to see where the study subjects came from. A whopping 96% were WEIRD. The researchers went on to assess how did Westerners differ from non-Westerners? Unsurprisingly, WEIRDos tended to be more individualistic and competitive than Eastern societies. They relish choices--the more the merrier. Data showed that people living in the USA took these attitudes to new heights. The conclusions? While the non-industrialized Asian and African world was shifting to attitudes held by their WEIRD brothers and sisters, Americans were becoming further entrenched. One day it is predicted that the United States will lead the world out of this trench into the clear light of day where the spiritual values of cooperation, sharing, responsibility and selflessness prevail. Until then, we can act AS IF the day has already arrived.

Today's Weather Report: 18 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy describes the day. It is almost exactly like yesterday. As predicted, the icy layer underneath the snow has left some roads very slippery especially in town. Good day to stay in and take a nap.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Not a Snowflake Escapes


~ Henry David Thoreau

Of Note: Some people think that a God creates each and every thing on the planet. Fact is, while a transcendent God may be responsible for the original swarm of atomic particles in the universe which sparked the current creation process, It has been out of the process since. Planetary and human groups have taken up the slack by putting together their own combinations. The consciousness is infinitely creative in a very literal sense. Even classic physics experiments have proven that we change the outcome of an experiment with our beliefs, aka our thought-forms, while psychologists are on the cusp of discovering thought energy itself. Thus, it is our responsibility to this planet and all kingdoms in nature to direct our thoughts toward the best combinations based on the spiritual values of right human relations, a cooperative and sharing spirit, personal responsibility and sacrificial selflessness for the common good. While we are not there yet, a dim light is beginning to glow brighter on the horizon as the new better-formed combinations are born. All are welcome to join the activity through meditation and service. The greater universe will rejoice.

Today's Weather Report: Right at this moment it is 18 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly snowing. That means it's also overcast with no direct sunshine to brighten the day. Yesterday 49 of 50 states in America had snow cover of some kind, including Hawaii. The only escapee was Florida. Not that Hawaii was completely covered, mind you, only the top of a dormant volcano was covered in 7 inches of the white stuff, but that counted nonetheless. Last February beat these numbers--one day in that month all 50 states had snow cover! But prior to that, we had not had full coverage since the 1970's. A meteorologist who tracks such things said last winter a record snow coverage pattern emerged while spring had a record low. Seems to me, the weather has a mind of its own and does whatever it wants whenever it desires, and we are still not very good at deciphering its language. Someday when we uncover more of the variables to weather patterns, such as human emotion, more of her secrets will be revealed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dance, My Heart!

Dance, my heart! Dance today with you.
The strains of love fill the days
and the nights with music,
and the world is listening to its melodies:
Mad with joy, life and death dance
to the rhythm of its music.

The hills and sea and earth dance.
The world of man dances in laughter and tears.
Why put on the robe of a monk, and
live aloof from the world in lonely pride?

Behold! My heart dances in the
delight of a hundred arts;
and the Creator is well pleased.


Of Note: Nothing can make a heart dance like giving to others. The art of giving called philanthropy is a rather new phenomenon and has been evolving as men begin to embrace the spiritual concept of oneness and brotherhood. Eventually, we will be defined by spiritual values only, and the days of war, poverty and needless death will be put behind us. But at this moment, humanity is just beginning the transformative process: one man and woman at a time. John Wood, a former Microsoft marketing executive, knows this process first-hand. His journey began while on a self-guided tour to Nepal in 1998 during which he chanced upon an education official, who invited him visit a school. Simple enough. What Woods found, however, changed his life: a sorry collection of castoff books so prized that they were kept under lock and key. As the fairy tale story goes, upon his return, the budding social entrepreneur quit his job and created Room to Read, a nonprofit that builds libraries and schools--first in Nepal and then in Southeast Asia, India and southern Africa. South America may be next. The group recently opened its 10,000th library and 1,000th school, while funding 9,000 scholarships for young girls on a meager annual budget of $30 million. It's donors sing the praises of this tight-fisted operation, which garners accolades from evaluators for efficiency and effectiveness on a shoestring. One thing everyone knows by now is that John Woods delivers. As a matter of fact, the story goes that he went back to that same village where he started with a donkey train loaded down by 1,000 pounds of books--much to the surprise of the locals--and has not stopped since. Recently, the nonprofit executive quipped: "I want an organization with the heart of Mother Teresa and the scalability of Starbucks." Looking at the success of his mission to date, it could be said that this philanthropic choreographer has created a dance of the heart. And he's not done yet.

Today's Weather Report: At 23 degrees Fahrenheit it could be called balmy in the middle of winter. A light snow if falling, just enough to provide a new cover for what has become gray and dirty since the last time. Nothing can compare, however, to the tsunami-like flash flood that descended on the Australian town and killed many people with dozens missing. These people had zero warning about the wall of water coming at them. The one's that weren't swept away escaped up telephone poles and to higher ground. Whole homes were swept off their foundations, leaving the occupants bobbing along in what became essentially a "house-boat." Condolences to those family and friends who lost loved ones in this disaster.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Fierce Love and Loyalty

My deepest longing is to live in a
world that respects life in every form,
a world whose people have a fierce
love and loyalty to the Earth
and their particular place thereon.

~Lorraine Anderson
Sisters of the Earth

Of Note: Africa is on the move. It is like a reborn giant ready to heave off its tawdry clothes to be fit for a new costume gleaming with the treasures from its fertile land. Many pooh-pooh the idea that African nations will move past their troubled history as undeveloped, corrupt countries. These naysayers point to the stalemate in the Ivory Coast where the newly elected President is being held prisoner in a hotel by his defeated predecessor, who refuses to concede. Even given these problems, every sign points to the day when Africa will be set free. For example, yesterday in Southern Sudan, a jubilant people went to the polls to vote whether to secede from the north. The final vote will take time to tally, but the result is a foregone conclusion. Dancing erupted in the streets as people sang while waiting in line. The referendum was part of a peace deal struck in 2005 by the UN to end a twenty-year civil war between the predominately Muslim north and the Christian south. The bitter and bloody battle stemmed from deep grievances by the impoverished people of Southern Sudan, who were treated as second-class citizens by the Muslim-government situated in the northern capitol. With the secession, the north will give up a third of its land, a quarter of its population and most of the its oil. However, with concessions made by the United States and other, late last week the Sudanese government gave its tacit approval for southern independence. One voter remarked: "A lot of people have fought for this day. A lot of lives have been lost over this, and now we have a say. All we could do in the past was run. Now we're here today to show we're not running. We're here to make a difference." Ten other African nations will get a chance to make a difference by voting for new leadership in 2011. It might be the year that many begin to see the giant emerge in a sparkling new outfit--however, if not this year, it won't be long. Once people get the taste of freedom either directly or through their neighbors, it cannot be repressed.

Today's Weather Report: After a week or more of temperatures in the single digits, today's 21 degrees Fahrenheit seem downright balmy. It is partly cloudy so the sunshine is not intense, but passable nonetheless. 15 minutes in its rays today will still keep the levels of Vitamin D up to snuff. My condolences to the families and friends of the victims killed in Arizona by a crazed gunman. We hope for a full recovery of the Congresswoman shot in the head. She must be one tough woman to still be alive. Murder is craziness, and the world is still full of crazy people. It won't always be that way, but right now with the heightened energy of change, it has brought them out of the wood work the world over. It is surprising then that the Basque separatists announced recently a decision to lay down their arms after decades of terrorist-style murder by bombs and other stealthy devices. That shows that at some point collective craziness can give way to collective sanity. While the UN was not involved in the Spanish truce, we can thank them for being at the center of many "moves to sanity" such as that in Sudan.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Not Yet Finished with Creation


~ Osho

Of Note: We know that God is not finished with creation because Humanity, a Divine Outpost, is creating all the time. To date most of the creativity has been addressed to material concerns and that is rightly so. Slowly but surely, however, man's genius is turning toward brotherhood induced by cooperation and recognition of the needs and rights of all. Often, this creativity does not take the form of high tech innovation, rather low-tech inventiveness based on native wisdom. Take for example the new low-tech, low-cost method for tuberculosis detection being used in Tanzania. Researchers have found that trained 10 to 15 pound Gambian Pouched Rats, descended from animals captured in that country, were able to smell the TB bacterium in a sputum sample. While ordinary lab tests were available to detect tuberculosis, they were prohibitively expensive; the machine alone cost $17,000 and each test $17. Because of that, 100-year old smear microscopy has been used in the field. As the name implies, this test involved smearing a sputum sample on a slide and looking for TB bacterium under a microscope. However, 60 - 80 percent of cases went undetected, and the deadly bacterium continued to spread. This was where the Gambian Pouched Rat, also used in landmine detection, came in. In tests conducted at Western Michigan University, the rats picked up 44% more positive cases, and the animal's sensitivity (the ability to detect TB) ranged as high as 87% and specificity (the ability to detect the absence of TB) was an astounding 93%. Even so, the lead researcher said that "the medical community remains skeptical." That is OK. Man's genius does not stop at the entrance to the Halls of Medicine. Scientists with a burning desire to collaborate with those in need are moving forward with their own creative juices flowing, augmented by the ancient knowledge gathered from "undeveloped" countries. Skeptics, surprised at the positive results, may one day join the effort. Then, swift change will be guaranteed. Until that time, however, we can count on slow, steady progress pushed by the tide of brotherhood currently gaining momentum around the globe.

Today's Weather Report: It was a frosty and frigid -18 degrees Fahrenheit this morning but has warmed to an amazing 34 degrees! That is two degrees above freezing. At least that is the official temp recorded in the nearby town. I see no dripping off the roof or other signs of thaw so I am skeptical about the reading. Maybe the bright sunshine pelting the snow had something to do with it. Not a cloud in the sky obstructed its rays. While I am not a huge fan of snow, the two dogs are. When let outside, they romp and play and faux-fight continuously. The neighbor was so impressed with these two that he got his own German Shepherd this past week. It could get interesting with three German Shepherds in the immediate neighborhood.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vistas Through the Fabric of Illusion


~ Ansel Adams

Of Note: Wonder if there were those who were able to pull back the fabric of illusion at any time? Witches have such a reputation in Romania where officials wear purple to fend off evil spells. Their incantations are taken quite seriously. So much so, that the government has decided to officially recognize the ancient profession. Why? It needs the tax revenue. In the country where gypsies originated, fortunetellers will also have the opportunity to begin contributing 16% of their earnings to the national coffers. Many witches are not taking this lying down and have put curses on the government, which is only trying to make ends meet during the global recession like every other nation. The Queen of the Witches is the most put out. She was imprisoned in 1977 for witchcraft by a dictator, who employed his own personal witch, and proclaimed from her castle that her curses always work, "So beware!" Other more moderate witches are viewing this as a step up. They believe that witchcraft is a legitimate profession, and it will be a blessing to be recognized as such. One opined: "The law is very good. It means that our magic gifts are recognized, and I can open my own practice." We can only hope that the good from the white witches offsets the bad from the black ones. The Romanian government may soon find out which group has the most power: those who place curses on it out of anger or those who are grateful for the opportunity to use their magical gifts for the good of the nation.

Today's Weather Report: It is as if 7 - 9 degrees Fahrenheit was the official temperature of January. It's not bad really because this time of year often brings -20 degrees for days on end. I'm sure before the month is through, we will see those frigid temps. All told, it's been a very mild season with few days even below zero. The electrician is working on the generator today again. He comes usually on weekends so this has been a long, drawn-out process. What he originally thought would take 4 hours from start to finish has taken hours upon hours. What he didn't know when he started, was the state of the electrical system here, which is multi-layered as additions to the structures were built. The electrician finally decided that the generator would have to be installed like that at an institution. When the generator engages, all lines will be energized as opposed to most household installations, where only 10 to 14 lines are energized. Live and learn, but the costs have skyrocketed. Now I have some sympathy for contractors such as Boeing or Martin Marietta, who cannot keep within a budget no matter how hard they try.

Friday, January 7, 2011

More Things on Heaven and Earth

There are more things on heaven and earth
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

~ William Shakespeare

Of Note: Let's pretend there are seven planes of the physical universe "divided" by rates of vibration, color and sound from subtle to dense, and each of those major seven is divided into a minor seven. Continuing this line of imaginary thought, let's say that the bottom three of the total forty-nine presents reality for most people. Some may go so far as to accept the bottom three on each of the physical, astral and mental planes, but most only accept the densest physical as reality. This limited view presented editors at the well-respected Journal of Personality and Social Psychology with a conundrum when an esteemed professor emeritus of psychology at Cornell, Dr. Daryl Bem, presented a paper providing strong evidence for Extrasensory Perception, otherwise known as ESP. After a normal review by four social psychology peers, the research was recommended for publication. This has sent a ripple of outrage through the psychology community. Another emeritus professor of psychology exclaimed: "It's craziness, pure craziness. I can't believe a major journal is allowing this work in." Others don't go quite that far and simply suggest that such an extraordinary claim should be subject to more intense scrutiny. Some even suggested that it was a joke on the part of the researcher, who was described as having a keen sense of humor. What does Dr. Bem have to say about all this? He has joined in the fray, accusing critics of misunderstanding his findings or simply exhibiting bias for the unusual. On the other hand, he has also "received hundreds of requests for materials to conduct studies." In the end, ESP will be proven to exist. It is only a matter of time before people will have eyes to see what is happening on other planes of existence. After reading the article, an elderly agnostic friend summed it up well when he remarked: "Doesn't matter, everyone knows ESP exists anyway." Seems that psychologists may be the last to accept what others believe is obvious truth.

Today's Weather Report: Today is no day to be outside without the proper attire. Although it is 14 degrees Fahrenheit, the wind is blowing to beat the band. I would bet the wind chill is below zero. That's AOK with me. It is cloudy with little direct sunlight, and a perfect afternoon to finish the Esoteric Glossary I've been working on for 6 weeks. This self-imposed project has loomed over my head for 2-years and today all the words will be entered, although the product will not be complete until the contents are edited and maybe published. Not that there will be a huge audience for the book, but with self-publishing, even one book is a possibility.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Universe of Endless Surprises

From science and from the
spiritual experience of millions,
we are discovering our capacity
for endless awakenings in the
universe of endless surprises.

~ Marilyn Ferguson
The Aquarian Conspiracy

Of Note: Nuclear energy is the wave of the future, and its discovery constituted one of mankind's most significant advancements. That this potent energy was first used in destruction may have karmic repercussions for humanity, but the good it has done since cannot be measured. Every gift has its problems, and this one is no exception. One of these is what to do with the spent fuel. While spent fuel rods have caused enormous headaches for more than one government entity, it is essentially a political problem more than real. In the United States, the fight over the Yucca Mountain depository has become synonymous with "Not In My Backyard" syndrome. In reality, most of the fuel can be reprocessed and used in medical and other scientific applications or simply used again. France and other countries have whole industries thus dedicated. Other problems include fear of procurement by terrorists or rogue states of nuclear technology, which pushes governments to work in secrecy. The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine circa 1986 was a disaster made worse by the propensity of governments for secrecy. The result in Europe was a clamping down of future nuclear reactors, which may have been an overreaction of fear during the Cold War. The German government is finding that out as every year it extends the deadline for closing the plants. On the flip side, in an effort to make lemonade out of lemons, Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry said it plans to open the Chernobyl site to tourists starting this month since the radiation levels around the plant are returning to normal. This presents an economic opportunity it cannot pass up as it prepares for the European soccer championship in 2012 co-hosted with neighboring Poland. Soccer and a side-trip to Chernobyl anyone? Hotels and tourist guides are springing up in anticipation.

Today's Weather Report: A light layer of clouds and a sprinkling of snow are falling. At 7 degrees, small flakes are guaranteed. Snow is good right now to cover that icy layer underneath, which caused so many accidents last week. After working on the aerator for two years with no success, it is gratifying to see it bubbling away this winter. A large area of open water is the result. Because the aerator was placed at the end of the dock, the dock is safe from frozen upheavals as well. So this success was a two-fer. My job last week was to get the large snow blower working. After draining the old gas, replacing it with new and changing the spark plug, the sucker still wouldn't fire up. After thoroughly analyzing the situation, I discovered that turning the gas line back on really helped. Walla, the snow blower started with one push of the electric starter. Miracle of miracles!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Find the New and Unexpected


~ Joel Elkes

Of Note: Many have written off Africa as incapable of development. Not so fast. While the vast continent may be rife with corruption and lack basic material goods, it boasts some of the most ancient people on the planet, who have learned to innovate or die. A case in point involves the prolific water hyacinth, which invaded the shores of Lake Victoria some twenty years ago. Environmentalists, who were monitoring the situation, expected the worst, and they got it. As the years progressed, the lake became more and more obstructed. The ubiquitous tilapia did not care for the invader, and its fertility dropped precipitously, alarming thousands of fishermen, whose livelihood depended on a good daily catch. What to do? As a first attempt, governments from the three countries surrounding the lake, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and several international agencies stepped in to eradicate the water hyacinth. They met with resounding failure. The innovative fishermen, having no other options and nothing to lose, thought they might be able to exploit the economic opportunity presented by the invasive plant. One person involved explained it this way: "A community-based organization was formed to harvest and process the water hyacinth and manufacture a variety of unusual products. The product line-up is virtually limitless and includes cards, lampshades, sturdy furniture, baskets, footwear, cordage, handbags, fodder for animals and even gas." Prices range from $1 for cards to $1,000 dollars for the beautifully-crafted furniture. On the agenda is the creation of a substitute tea made from the plant, giving real meaning to the phrase making lemonade from lemons. Westerners might learn from this success story that technology does not always provide the answers and that the ancient peoples of Africa may have something to teach us about community and innovation. Indeed, they already have.

Today's Weather Report: It felt much warmer than 9 degrees Fahrenheit today most likely because the sun shone brightly all day. A layer of snow now blankets the icy ground, which has improved dangerous conditions. Australia is currently experiencing flooding in an area the size of Texas, the magnitude of which is hard to fathom. On another note, a group has discovered that dirt may provide the organic material needed to produce small amounts of electricity through normal metabolism. We are not talking lighting up a house here, rather powering up a cell phone. Those with the ability to just plug in a cord might laugh at this novel invention. The 500 million in Africa who live without power may be more excited at the ability to produce electricity from dirt--something they have in amble supply. We can thank the UN for bringing this and other inventions to the attention of a waiting public. Although technology is not ALWAYS the answer, sometimes nothing else will do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Joining the Beginning with the End


~Alcmaeon of Crotona

Of Note: Men cannot be blamed for not joining the beginning to the end. Most simply do not have the eyes to see the Whole--yet. The fact is, however, that we are getting there and rapidly. Rapidly that is in the universal sense which may seem like a snail's pace to those embedded solely on the physical planes. Over the centuries, individual intrepid souls, such as Pythagoras who ran a school on the island of Crotona, have stepped outside the confining walls if Time and explored the Eternal Now. They have brought back to humanity life-sustaining seeds of knowledge. Thus, down through time, the ageless wisdom has been passed to succeeding generations until now the seeds are beginning to bear fruit. The impact of this collective information is so potent that the energy can only be borne in groups. And so it is. These groups of forerunners, who identify with the Whole, are the guarantee that mankind will fulfill its Divine destiny and not perish. Our gratitude goes out to them for their sacrifice.

Today's Weather Report: 9 degrees Fahrenheit and holding. I don't even care it is so frigid because there is not a cloud in the sky to obstruct the sunshine from streaming down to Earth. As an experiment, I have recently added a Tea Camellia (Camellia sinensis) to my menagerie of house plants. Apparently, all white and green tea is produced from this plant which can grow 20 feet tall. But not in my house where the single stem will be kept small through judicious pruning. Over the course of years, it will make a great bonsai, or at least that is my hope. It was a trick getting it here in the middle of winter, but the grower in Louisiana did a great job of packaging the fragile plant. In addition, my rural postal carrier called to say he was going to leave it at the mailbox on Friday instead of having it sit at the post office over the New Year's weekend. That was very considerate of him because travel was quite iffy that icy day. It was a small act of kindness that will pay off in big dividends later.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sing and Dance, Live and Love

Sing like no one is listening.
Dance like no one is watching.
Love like you will never be hurt.
Live like it is Heaven on Earth.

~Mark Twain

Of Note: It seems that we humans take to pessimism like ducks to water. Listening to conversations, reading newspapers and watching 24/7 cable news could convince us that mankind is hardwired for misery. After all, "if it bleeds, it leads" is a journalistic mantra. But the truth is, as sparks of the Divine, we are hardwired for Joy and Bliss. Mark Twain had it right when he suggested Living each day as Love no matter the reaction of the neighbors. He must have known that as the emanations of Love flow from our Being, our environment responds in harmonic, rhythmic vibration. Two bodies in unison emanating Love increase this service exponentially. A whole group in sympathetic vibration could change the world. What looks like chaos and misery from the outside is in reality the evolution of humanity from the pursuit of selfishness to the unequivocal pursuit of unselfish through Love. We humans are on the Path; that is a fact. How fast we proceed is up to us. We have no time to waste. So let's begin to Dance and Sing, Live and Love, as if there is no tomorrow. Along the way our emanations will be seeding the future so that our children's children will know the Divine state of Joy and Bliss from the womb. Music anyone?

Today's Weather Report: 17 degrees Fahrenheit is nothing special this time of year, nor was the -10 degrees early this morning. What is unusual is the sheet of glare ice calling itself a road that proceeds out my garage door all the way to the main highway. The township is trying to keep some grit down by sanding, but it is only marginally helpful. Yesterday a friend and I saw a three or four car bang-up on the major highway that could only be explained by black ice, that thin layer of frozen precipitation that looks like blacktop and takes unsuspecting drivers by total surprise. One lady was being loaded into a stretcher--several others standing next to their smashed cars simply looked dazed. It made the rest of us slow down and pay closer attention to what looked like clear road. Today while in town, a clerk told us of an accident she had a few days back in which she stopped at a stop sign but her car kept moving forward into an oncoming car. The responding policeman slipped as he was getting out of his vehicle and was quite sympathetic to her plight. Several blogs ago, I mentioned the problems ice can cause this time of year. This current situation, however, is the worst I've ever seen.