Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oh My God, like Totally....

Subconsciously I've been noticing what I thought sounded like a pronounced 'nasality' in young women's voices for awhile. All I know is that I was 'wicked' annoyed by the way some young women spoke. Now a study has been published in the "Journal of Voice," finding that many young women use 'vocal fry' at the end of their utterances. To the listener it's like a drop in the voice at the end of sentences, that sounds gravelly and gutteral. To me it's a subconscious way of saying: "I've got nothing important to say, cause I'm a girl, but I'm going to do something weird with my voice to get your attention." Like, wow. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

1940 Federal Census

On April 2, 2012, the 1940 Federal Census of the United States will be released. For amateur genealogists like me, this is exciting news. I was very interested when the 1930 census was released ten years ago. My parents and grandparents will be on the 1940 census, living in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Actually my mom might have still been living in Chelsea at the time. We will see. The census is released after 72 years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Several of My Friends Are in This Video

Charlotte Bronte's Juvenilia

I am gratified and interested when I hear about literary treasures selling for millions. In an e-book infested, computer dominated world, it reinforces that perhaps printed books are still valuable and worthwhile. A while back I wrote about a first edition Edgar Allen Poe selling for a whopping 662,500. Poor Edgar didn't have a penny when he died, and would be shocked.             

The book in question is a work written by Charlotte Bronte when she was just 14 in 1830, entitled "The Young Men's Magazine, Number Two." When I read and studied English literature in college,including "Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights," I remember discussing juvenilia. Juvenilia is a work written by a subsequently famous author, while still a child or teenager. Charlotte and her sisters Emily and Anne wrote many such works.

A museum in Paris ended up outbidding the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire England for 1.07 million. Too bad, it seems the little book certainly does belong in a dark parsonage on the windy moors, but at least it is well preserved in Paris. The book contains some precursors to Bronte's later "Jane Eyre."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Three Women of Color Receive the Nobel Peace Prize- 2011

Tawakkul Karman; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Laymah Gbowee
I require a little uplifting, so this news is nothing but good. Three women of color have received the Nobel Peace Prize this year--- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, Leymah Gbowee, a social worker and peace campaigner from Liberia, and Tawakkul Karman, a journalist and activist from Yemen, are the recipients.

Here's what the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee said about the three women:
"You give concrete meaning to the Chinese proverb which says that 'women hold up half the sky.. We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women acquire the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society. We thank you for the hope you awaken in us all."

Johnson Sirleaf, a graduate of Harvard, is called the 'Iron Lady' because of her strong leadership in Liberia. She has been president since 2006, and is the first democratically elected woman in Africa. 

Leymah Gbowee, age 39, organized Liberian women to protest in 2003 for the end to the Liberia civil war, and the use of rape and child soldiers. At one point she suggested a 'sex strike," in order to get the treaty signed. She said to men: "You can't go and kill mothers and daughters and then come home to expect sex." Unfortunately her idea was never carried out. 

I've often thought of this tactic as a method to change the world overnight. I've never heard of any feminist actually suggesting it or doing it. 

Tawakkul Karman is the first Arab woman, and one of the youngest women ever, to receive the Nobel Prize. She founded the organization "Women Journalists Without Chains."

Friday, November 25, 2011

50 Words For Snow

There is a widespread linguistic myth that the Eskimo have 50 plus words for snow. That would make sense, but it depends on how you define a word, and what Eskimo tribe you single out. In the meantime, to satisfy one's linguistic yearnings, there are hundreds of documented Sami words for snow. Who are the Sami? The Sami are the indigenous people of Arctic Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Not surprisingly, they also have hundreds of words for reindeer. 
These are some of the terms that describe the condition and layers of snow:
 1. čahki “hard lump of snow... hard snowball”
2. geardni “thin crust of snow”
3. gaska-geardi “layer of crust”
4. gaska-skárta “hard layer of crust”
5. goahpálat “the kind of snow-storm in which the snow falls thickly and sticks to things”
6. guoldu “cloud of snow which blows up from the ground when there is a hard frost without very much wind”
7. luotkku “loose snow”
8. moarri “brittle crust of snow, thin frozen surface of snow
9. njáhcu “thaw”
10. ruokŋa “thin hard crust of ice on snow”
11. seaŋaš “granular snow at the bottom of the layer of snow”
12. skárta “thin (more or less ice-like) layer of snow frozen on to the ground”
13. skáva “very thin layer of frozen snow”
14. skávvi “crust of ice on snow, formed in the evening after the sun has thawed the top of
the snow during the day”
15. soavli “very wet, slushy snow, snow-slush”
16. skoavdi “empty space between snow and the ground”
17. vahca “loose snow (especially new snow on the top of a layer of older snow or on a road
with snow on it)”

The following describe conditions of travel through snow:
18. bearta “heavy going because the ground is bare (without snow) in many places”
19. bohkolat “deep snow of varying depth; small (steep) snow-drift on road
20. časttas “hard snowdrift (smaller than skálvi)”
21. čearga “snowdrift which is so hard that it bears”
22. činus “firm, even snow (but not firm enough to bear)”
23. dobádat “sticky snow, heavy wet snow”
24. fáska “snow blown together by the wind
25. gálja “very slippery going, frozen, slippery surface”
26. girrat “heavy (of the going in frosty weather)
27. joavggahat “place where the snow lies particularly deep after a fall of snow”
28. lavki “slippery going: ice covered with loose, dry snow with no foothold”
29. moarri “the kind of going, surface, when the frozen snow or crust of ice breaks and cuts
the legs of horses or reindeer”
30. muovllahat “place where people or animals have ploughed through or plunged along in
deep snow or a soft bog”
31. njeađgga “’ground drift’ (drifting snow which gets blown up from the ground)
which covers roads or tracks.”
32. oavlluš “depression, hollow, with slushy snow in it, on land or on ice”
33. oppas “untouched, untrodden, covering of snow
34. rodda “hard going (too little snow)”
35. sievlla “the state of things when the spring snow is so soft that one sinks in it”
36. skálvi “big (high, steep and usually hard) snow-drift”
37. skoarádat “the kind of going in which one hears a grating noise as the
kjerris, sleigh, ski passes over a rough surface”
38. spoatna “hard, firm, snow to drive on (when there is little snow)”
39. veađahat “place where snow has been blown away; (nearly) bare patch

Words for Tracks in Snow
40. čiegar “snow-field which has been trampled and dug up by reindeer (or sheep in
autumn) feeding there”
41. čilvi “ice-covered area where reindeer have been grazing in mild weather”
42. doalli “winter road or track covered by snow but still distinguishable”
43. doavdnji “snow of such a depth that skis or a sleigh will not come in contact with the ground
44. fieski “area where a grazing herd of reindeer has been 
45. jođáhat “tracks in the snow left by a migrating reindeer herd”
46. jolas “tracks made in the snow by reindeer, dogs or wolves which have gone in a row”
47. láhttu “ski-track”
48. loanjis “tracks of the whole herd of reindeer”
49. márahat “large, beaten winter-track”
50. rádnu “tracks of a hare (where the hare has gone frequently to and fro)”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Politics Mixes With Fine Art

I was intrigued by some of the meme images circling around the blogosphere lately of the pepper spray wielding police officer. What bizarreness can be created with PhotoShop! Some of my most beloved paintings!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Signature Strengths

I took this survey on the Authentic Happiness website.The pink areas are my signature strengths. Areas of weakness for me are spirituality, leadership skills, optimism, and self-control and self-regulation. I think lately I have improved in some weak areas, namely the capacity to love and be loved, expressing gratitude, cultivating kindness and generosity, and self-control and regulation. I'm not sure what one is to do with this survey. Do you mainly engage in activities that capitalize your strengths? Or do you also work on your weaknesses? 

VIA Survey of Character Strengths

Here are your scores on the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. For how to interpret and use your scores, see the book Authentic Happiness. The ranking of the strengths reflects your overall ratings of yourself on the 24 strengths in the survey, how much of each strength you possess. Your top five, especially those marked as Signature Strengths, are the ones to pay attention to and find ways to use more often.

Your Top Strength

Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Your Second Strength

Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Your Third Strength

Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a "real" person.

Your Fourth Strength

Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Fifth Strength

Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.


Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.


Humor and playfulness
You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.


Industry, diligence, and perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you "get it out the door" in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.


Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.


Social intelligence
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.


Capacity to love and be loved
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.


Perspective (wisdom)
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.


Caution, prudence, and discretion
You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.


Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.


Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.


Kindness and generosity
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.


Modesty and humility
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.


You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.


You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.


Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.


Bravery and valor
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.


Self-control and self-regulation
You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.


Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.


Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Long Lost Da Vinci?

A portrait of Jesus Christ entitled "Salvador Mundi," or "Savior of the World" will be on display at the National Gallery in London from November 2011 until February 2012. Most art scholars have agreed that the portrait is a restored and rediscovered Da Vinci. The painting does have a provenance which can be documented. I do find the history somewhat confusing, though, since there were also many copies of the masterpiece by others throughout history. Also the painting changed hands many times in 500 years. 

Scholars have long known that Da Vinci was commissioned by Louis XII of France in 1506 to paint a portrait of Jesus. The painting was believed to be completed in 1513. For most of the years "Salvador Mundi" has been in the hands of royals, most notably Charles I of England, in 1649. Eventually, an American in New York acquired the painting in the 20th century. The last time the painting sold was in 1958, and it sold for 100 dollars. At the time it was attributed to Da Vinci's student Giovanni Boltraffio, and was quite damaged. 

After restoration and authentication, the value is now estimated as 200 million.

To me, it is a very haunting portrait, typical of Da Vinci. It reminds me of the Mona Lisa, and seems to bear the stamp of the master's style. Yet many others would have wanted to copy Da Vinci. 

How exciting if it is a Da Vinci! I'd see it in London if I had the chance. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Zion National Park, Day Two

The second day at Zion was our big hike to Angel's Landing. Ashley, Laurie and I got up at 5:30 for an early breakfast with our hiking team and guide Charles. Everybody had met the night before, but I had retired early so I was new to everyone except Ashley and Laurie. We gathered our gear, retrieved our sandwiches and delicious snacks, and then took the shuttle to the park. 

When we first got out at the base of the trail, it was still dark, and rather cold. I had on a winter hat, and fleece gloves. We set out at a quick pace on fairly flat ground. Charles was an excellent guide, though, in my opinion, and moved along but stopped frequently enough for me. Pretty soon we started climbing a series of switchbacks. We got a good view of the valley below, as the sun began to rise. Awesome. 

The Angel's Landing trail is similar to the Observation trail, in that you end up after climbing a bit in a chasm or canyon, that's flat but cooler and rocky. At the Angel's trail, it's called Refrigerator Canyon. I'm sure in the summer it's a welcome reprieve. 

The next part of the trail involves climbing a series of short but steep switchbacks called the wiggles to Scout's Lookout. Before you get to Scout's Lookout, you have to 'squiggle the wiggles." Scout's Lookout is a large flat area at the base of Angel's Landing. We rested here and hung some of our packs and gear in the trees. We left our trusted hiking poles behind, because Angel's Landing is so steep they're useless. Also, you frequently have to use both feet and both hands to hold on. 

Our Team of Fearless Hikers
I was nervous but excited. The adrenaline was definitely pumping, which helped a lot to pay attention. You have to become somewhat Zen as you're climbing Angel's Landing, and watch every step carefully. I found it helpful to not look around as I was climbing. It's disorienting and scary, as the drop on both sides is thousands of feet. When there was the opportunity to rest at a landing, that's when you realized how high up you were. The views were simply spectacular.

It's a steep and long climb, but we took our time. Several times I thought we had made it to the top, only to discover in the distance another enormous jutting rock cliff waiting to be scaled. When you look at what you are about to climb, you can't believe you can do it.

High on Life
At the top we rested and ate. The air was so clean, the view so stunningly beautiful, and my body felt so good, I'm pretty sure I was high on being alive.

I was appropriately worried about the descent. Going down Angel's Landing can be more treacherous than going up. As my coach said: "Ascending is optional, descending is required." But it was easier than I expected, and seemed quick. When I got back to Scout's Lookout, I couldn't believe I had done it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Evolution Quiz

Origin of Species quiz

I found this quiz on I got 80%.  Try your hand or paw at it mates.

It's 150 years since Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species. But can your evolutionary knowledge survive our quiz?

1. A more complete title of Darwin's book was On the Origin of Species by Means of…

2. Darwin wasn't the first scientist to come up with a theory of evolution. Which scientific predecessor of Darwin argued that an organism can pass on beneficial characteristics it acquires during its lifetime to its offspring?

3. While studying variation among related species on different islands in the Galapagos, Darwin struck the core of what would become his theory of evolution. Which of the following animals was crucial to Darwin's discovery?

4. Which of the following Australian cities did Darwin NOT visit when he came to Australia in 1836 during his voyage on the HMS Beagle?

5. Which iconic Australian animal did Darwin describe as being like a European water rat?

6. In a scientific context what does the term 'survival of the fittest' mean?

7. After 20 years of research, why did Darwin rush to publicise his theory of natural selection in 1858?

8. Which missing part of Darwin's theory of evolution did Gregor Mendel explain with his experiments crossbreeding pea plants?

9. On the Origin of the Species includes a drawing of Darwin's 'tree of life', a metaphor to explain the evolutionary relationships between different species. What do scientists now say Darwin got wrong in his tree of life?

10. Which of the following could NOT be considered an example of evolution?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Zion National Park, Day One

On the Plateau
I just returned from my trip to Zion National Park in Utah. It was a whirlwind mini vacation with lots to see! Where do I begin? On the flight to Phoenix we saw the Grand Canyon from the air, landed in Phoenix, and flew on to Las Vegas. We ended up in Springdale, Utah after a long drive through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Springdale is a lovely little town just outside the entrance to the Zion park. 

Lauren hiking through the Canyon
On Friday Gilda, Lauren, and I decided to hike the Observation Trial. This trial offers spectacular views, and very varied terrain. At the beginning of the trail you immediately start at an incline and make your way up dozens of long switchbacks. What's interesting for a New Englander is that there's sand on the trail, which can be hazardous, and yet much of the trail is semi-paved with cement. Also, since the altitude is high, the air is thin and you feel it. It took some gasping and getting used to, we admit. 

A view of Angel's Landing, which I hiked the next day
After a series of switchbacks you come to a large canyon which you wind your way through. It is a lot cooler and therefore the vegetation is similar to New England. At a couple of points you make your way through tunnels of sandstone rock and arches. There are crevices and holes you can climb into, which Lauren attempted to do.

Then comes the most difficult part, a series of grueling switchbacks that seem to go on and on. At this point you hike through a canyon of amazing sheer cliffs all around you as you climb and climb. Then you reach a plateau, finally, which I think was my favorite part of the hike. It's flat for about a mile, with a rocky terrain similar to hikes in New England, and there's actually many sand dunes that reminded us a lot of Cape Cod. The views from this angle are spectacular. 

From the summit of Observation Point
Finally you come to the last bit of trail, and you are out on a jutting rock cliff surrounded by 360 degrees of mountains and cliffs, with the Virgin River below. It's simply amazing! 

By the way, watch out for the ground squirrels. They are very cute but will steal your lunch and burrow into your pack!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two's Company, Three's a Crowd

Yes, you did it. You are guilty
If you want to have a bit of linguistic amusement, check out the vocabulary associated with groups of animals. Some words are just downright funny, and the visuals are priceless. How would you like to face a parliament of owls? How about a mob of emus? Now that's a bad day.....

1.   A gaggle of geese
2.   A congregation of alligators
3.   A sloth of bears
4.   A clowder of cats
Are emus aggressive, or is that ostriches?
5.   A coalition of cheetahs
6.   A rout of coyotes
7.   A murder of crows
8.   A mob of emus
9.   A siege of herons
10. A cackle of hyenas
11. A prowl of leopards
12. A parliament of owls
13. A muster of peafowls
14. A rookery of penguins
15. A nursery of raccoons
16. A harem of seals

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mt. Monadnock, Jaffery, NH

Moving on up
My Zion Leukemia/Lymphoma Team had our last hike of the season this past Saturday at Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire! It's hard to believe we've been hiking together since May, and next week we leave for Zion! Some of the team will be leaving this week.

Monadnock is a very popular mountain in New Hampshire, and climbed by many, but I wouldn't call it an easy hike. With the wet leaves and flowing streams of water covering all the boulders, we had to be extremely careful. For our ascent we began on the White Dot trail, then crossed over to the Cascade Link trail. We then took the Red Spot trail and finally ended on the Pumpbelly trail. The final quarter of a mile was very steep with large boulders, but the view was magical. Monadnock is known for its open slabs of rock at the summit.

At the summit we did not stay long, as it was very windy and somewhat cold. We had a little snack, snapped some pictures, then began our descent. The descent was crowded with people and somewhat treacherous. It was very steep and very wet and mossy. I took the White Dot trial but I think my companions took the White Cross trail. In any case I was separated from my fellow hikers, and reached the headquarters 45 minutes in advance of everyone else. I waited for a bit and had some hot cocoa. Physically I felt good, but on Sunday and Monday I was very sore, especially in my hamstrings!  Thank goddess for trekking poles!
Joey, Laurie, Me, and Gilda
Suddenly it's Fall!

The Happiness Trap

Upon recommendation from a friend, I'm reading The Happiness Trap, by Russ Harris. ACT therapy, or Acceptance and Commitment therapy, is new to me, and it's exciting to check it out. Here's one of the first quizzes in the book. Naturally I answered b for every question....

Control of Thoughts and Feelings Questionnaire
© Russ Harris 2008

This questionnaire has been adapted from similar ones developed by Steven Hayes, Frank Bond, and others. For each pair of statements, please circle the one that most accurately fits how you feel. The answer you choose doesn’t have to be absolutely 100 percent true for you all the time; just pick the answer which seems to be more representative of your general attitude.

1a. I must have good control of my feelings in order to be successful in life.
1b. It is unnecessary for me to control my feelings in order to be successful in life.

2a. Anxiety is bad.
2b. Anxiety is neither good nor bad. It is merely an uncomfortable feeling.

3a. Negative thoughts and feelings will harm you if you don’t control or get rid
of them.
3b. Negative thoughts and feelings won’t harm you even if they feel unpleasant.

4a. I’m afraid of some of my strong feelings.
4b. I’m not afraid of any feelings, no matter how strong.

5a. In order for me to do something important, I have to get rid of all my doubts.
5b. I can do something important, even when doubts are present.

6a. When negative thoughts and feelings arise, it’s important to reduce or get rid of them as quickly as possible.
6b. Trying to reduce or get rid of negative thoughts and feelings frequently causes problems. If I simply allow them to be, then they will change as a natural part of living.

7a. The best method of managing negative thoughts and feelings is to analyze them; then utilize that knowledge to get rid of them.
7b. The best method of managing negative thoughts and feelings is to acknowledge their presence and let them be, without having to analyze or judge them.

8a. I will become “happy” and “healthy” by improving my ability to avoid, reduce, or get rid of negative thoughts and feelings.
8b. I will become “happy” and “healthy” by allowing negative thoughts and feelings to come and go of their own accord and learning to live effectively when they are present.

9a. If I can’t suppress or get rid of a negative emotional reaction, it’s a sign of personal failure or weakness.
9b. The need to control or get rid of a negative emotional reaction is a problem in itself.

10a. Having negative thoughts and feelings is an indication that I’m psychologically unhealthy or I’ve got problems.
10b. Having negative thoughts and feelings means I’m a normal human being.

11a. People who are in control of their lives can generally control how they feel.
11b. People who are in control of their lives do not need to control their feelings.

12a. It is not okay to feel anxious and I try hard to avoid it.
12b. I don’t like anxiety, but it’s okay to feel it.

13a. Negative thoughts and feelings are a sign that there is something wrong with my life.
13b. Negative thoughts and feelings are an inevitable part of life for everyone.

14a. I have to feel good before I can do something that’s important and challenging.
14b. I can do something that’s important and challenging even if I’m feeling anxious or depressed.

15a. I try to suppress thoughts and feelings that I don’t like by just not thinking about them.
15b. I don’t try to suppress thoughts and feelings that I don’t like. I just let them come and go of their own accord.

To score your test, count the number of times you selected option “a” or “b.”
You may like to repeat this test and see how your ideas have changed, after you have finished reading The Happiness Trap, or completed several sessions of ACT.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And Now Let Us Once Again Turn to the Buddha

Sharon Salzberg's excellent book, "Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness," has provided me with solace and guidance many times over the years.. It is now that I am turning once again to some of the wisdom in this book. A few years ago I wrote down several meditation mantras from the book, in a notebook entitled: Metta Book. Keep in mind that all of these mantras are directly from her book. I am writing them out as a kind of self-therapy. Some of the metta loving-kindness meditation I am not ready for yet. Please see Salzberg's  book for more details..

Exercise #1 Metta Towards Self
"May I be free of danger."
"May I have mental happiness."
"May I have physical happiness."
"May I have ease of well-being."

Exercise #2 Metta Towards Self
"May I be happy; may all beings be happy."

Exercise #4 Metta Towards a Beloved Friend
"May you be free from danger."
"May you have mental happiness."
"May you have physical happiness."
"May you have ease of well being."
"May you be happy; may all beings be happy."

Exercise #6 Asking Forgiveness for harm you have done
"If I have hurt or harmed anyone, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask their forgiveness."

Exercise #8 Offering of Forgiveness to Yourself
"For all the ways I have hurt or harmed myself, knowingly or unknowingly, I offer forgiveness. I forgive myself."

Exercise #10 Direct Metta towards difficult aspects of yourself
"May I accept this."
"May I be filled with loving-kindness towards this."
"My I feel compassion towards this."

Exercise #13 Compassion toward the self
"May I be free of pain and sorrow."
"May I find peace."
"May I find a loving acceptance of pain and sorrow."
"May I find peace with things as they are."

Exercise #18 Equanimity for the Self
"May I accept things as they are."
"May I be undisturbed by the comings and goings of events."
"I am the owner of my own karma. I can choose my intentions and actions."

The Precepts
1. Refrain from killing and physical violence.
2. Refrain from stealing, taking that which is not given.
3. Refrain from sexual misconduct, using sexual energy in a way that causes harm.
4. Refrain from lying, harsh speech, idle gossip, and slander.
5. Refrain from taking intoxicants that cloud the mind from clear thinking.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Phippsburg, Maine

Ellyn scouting for Vikings
Got to spend part of the weekend in Phippsburg, Maine, located not far from Bath and Brunswick, with a bunch of good friends. This area of Maine, with its endless coastline, jutting peninsulas, and numerous islands, is gorgeous, quintessential, Maine. To top it off, we had summer like weather throughout. We enjoyed hiking near Popham Beach, and spent the day on the beach at Hermit Island. I didn't get to spend the whole weekend, so my friends enjoyed more. We also shared a delectable dinner Sunday night, with lobster, pasta, and salad. It was quiet and beautiful at the house, and it was situated right on the water. We played games, sat around relaxing, and drank copious amounts of coffee.
Me on the dock

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Man With Autism Sings At Fenway

He sings the National Anthem in the exact way every little kid, and every little kid inside every big adult has ever wanted to sing it...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Angel's Landing Zion National Park, Utah

Incredibly, this is where I'll be hiking at the end of October. Hopefully the weather will be cooperative, and the hike very pleasant. I'm also going to be fording through the Virgin River for part of the hike, something I've never done.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't Ask Don't Tell For Real

As many of you know, today the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays, lesbians, and bisexuals serving openly in the military was repealed. Well, the repeal took action today. In the meantime, here's the story of a young soldier serving in the Middle East directly affected by the policy. Beginning in May of this year he films a series of YouTube videos, in which he's very discreet and doesn't show his face or reveal his name. It's kind of amusing because he's the headless man throughout most of the videos. Today he filmed himself live coming out to this Dad in Alabama. Very poignant. 
September 20th, 2011  
First Video

Monday, September 19, 2011

Affirmations I Can LIve With

My friend referred me to a website with a long list of affirmations. In general I usually find affirmations too 'polly-annaish,' and absolute, such as: "I will feel good about myself always." Such a statement just doesn't gel with reality in my book. So I took a few affirmations and edited them, because I think it is valuable to think positively whenever you can manage.

  • I feel worthy.
  • I strive to create positive mental pictures.
  • I embrace positive self-esteem.
  • I have inner resources.
  • I am valuable.
  • I am intelligent.
  • I take actions to improve my life.
  • I am worthy of love and friendship.
  • I strive to accept myself as I am.
  • I strive to say positive things about myself to myself.
  • I am an interesting person.
  • I am proud of my accomplishments.
  • My self worth comes from inside me.
  • I love and approve of myself.
  • I strive to improve myself.
  • I strive to help and appreciate others.
  • I strive to appreciate the positive.
  • I strive to maintain my health.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Marriage is Between One Man & One Woman, Unless She Has Alzheimer's

Pat Robertson is such a gargantuan ass! If you haven't seen this clip already, check out Robertson's advice to a caller who asks about  the behavior of a friend whose wife has Alzheimer's disease. Pat, what about the sanctity of marriage? Right wingers are worried about a couple of lesbians tying the knot? I think people like Pat Robertson shouldn't be able to get married!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rescue Me

I'm sure most of you have heard of or seen this incredible story. While I would agree that these rescuers can call themselves heroes, I wonder about why people will sometimes risk their lives for others, and at other times not. It's an interesting query about human nature.

In most cases, despite our best wishes, people do not risk their lives for others. 

Perhaps you're heard of the famous case in 1964, in which a woman named Kitty Genovese was murdered in a parking lot in Queens within hearing range of dozens of people. Despite her screams during the crime no one intervened or called for help. Psychologists later coined this phenomenon 'bystander apathy.' There are many other cases of bystander apathy known, including the beating of Reginald Denny during the L.A. riots.

People may not help for a host of reasons, but social perception and fear play a role. Psychologists have noted, for example, that witnesses will assess the situation by gauging others' reactions. If other witnesses to a crime are doing nothing, then most people will also do nothing. They'll assume that someone is handling the situation, or there is some reason why no one is acting.

Of course some people will not interfere in a crime or accident due to fear of injury to themselves. This goes without saying. Unfortunately for as many celebrated cases of successful heroic acts, scores of good Samaritans are killed attempting to help. If you notice on the Salt Lake City video, even though many folks are helping, some witnesses are standing by, including the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash.

Then why do some people still intervene even at peril to themselves? One reason I think is strength in numbers. I think the young motorcyclist in the Salt Lake City accident was lucky, because he crashed near a construction site with several workers present. 'As a group' I think the construction workers felt safer intervening together. Danger seems neutralized when faced with others. 

A second reason is the opposite of bystander apathy, perhaps call it 'bystander sympathy'. When other bystanders observe people taking action, they join in too. A couple of active people serve as a catalyst to others.

Another reason I think people intervene despite danger is that they have the capacity to go 'into the moment,' and act without thinking. The more dire and shocking situation, the more likely they'll just act. Many people will say this after a rescue: "I'm not a hero. I just did it."I think if people perceive they can act in the moment, they will.

Finally, I think some people intervene and risk their lives because that is their personality, and outlook on life. Otherwise we wouldn't have people willing to work as EMTs, soldiers, or firefighters.

Hopefully a group of these folks is milling around during the next human tragedy.

Humpback Whale Freed

I heard about this video, but couldn't find it when I looked for it. Then I saw it on a friend's post. This story demonstrates how incredibly perceptive children are, and whales too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Living With You

My friend Molly singing, and my friend Doug playing guitar for Chris' 50th birthday. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Where were you on the morning of 9/11/2001? Click on to add yourself to an interactive map, and leave your comments.!/40425

Well, I was nowhere near ground zero, but New York didn't seem that very far away that day, as I knew the planes had left from Boston and Portland, Maine. I was at work in an elementary school. When I first heard about the attacks, I thought it was the World Trade Center in Boston. I felt panicky and scared, but also felt a sense of resolve. I had a responsibility for the safety of the children, and was prepared to act .

I remember being concerned about my maternal Aunt, who was still working in Government Center in Boston at the time. The FBI was one floor below her, so I thought her building might be a target, and I heard they were evacuating buildings. 

I was prepared that administrators might decide to evacuate our building and send the children home from school, but we stayed. For the most part, I was shielded from the events of that day. The principal decided not to have T.V.s or computers on, except for the older children. He rightly considered that the news would just frighten and confuse the younger children. Since I mostly worked with younger children, I went about my business mostly unaware.

When I got home from school that day, I was more shocked than I ever have been in my life when I finally saw the image of the planes hitting the towers. It was an utter sense of disbelief and horror that this could happen. 

That weekend my friends and I had a get together, a vigil of sorts. We gathered together and talked about our feelings about that day. Our friend Rosalie was in NYC that day, only blocks from the towers. She took the subway every morning to school. Later on we also found out that my friend Julie's brother took his life that Saturday night. He suffered from multiple sclerosis and depression. 

It was a memorable time for all.