Thursday, February 19, 2004

Interlude - Meditation Site

I've got a permanent link to this site. It is so good I wish more people could have a chance to experience it.

This weeks meditation -

Interlude: Meditation of the Week at interluderetreat.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Hi Monkey

I happened across this page about a monkey who visits some Tibetan monks.

monkey and his tibetan monk friends

He also watches over his neighbors until their house blows away, luckily they were unhurt. He's a good monkey.

m o n k e y - my new neighbors.


hi monkey reminds me of a monkey my three year old sister had. This monkey went by the name of Company G. One time Company G came up missing. Colleen was so upset. It seems like just yesterday she was crying, "Where is Company G. I want Company G."

I was a hero that day. I found C.G. on a basketball rim. He was playing basketball with some boys and got stuck up there. Company G was a sock monkey with a good sense of humor. We never knew where his name came from. I think Viola made him for Colleen and he just told her his name was Company G.

One of my daughters had a doll named Dean when she was little. Dean was a Cabbage Patch doll and also coincidently had the same name as my first lead engineer at work.

We had another nice fluffy animal who went by the simple name of Lammie or maybe it was Lambie. He looked like himonkey. He hung from the ceiling in our first apartment over Rachel's tiny baby easy-chair. He made a squeek when you moved him, had shiney black eyes and nice soft lamb-like cotten hypo-allergenic faux fur. I wonder where lambie is these days?

Have you ever read about a guy called the Skin Horse?

One of my friends gave me that book many years ago when I was a shiny coltish lad. It's so good.

An excerpt from
The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams


The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."


I hope you can get that book too. And that you have someone to read it to or read it to you.

Amazon.com: Books Search Results: velveteen rabbit

Have a wonderful Thursday kind and gentle reader.

Smell the flowers, eat a chocolate, let some sun shine on your face.





Friday, February 13, 2004

Play - Coke - Calming Down

Good Friday night gentle reader.

Have you ever tried your best and still didn't win the game?

I hope so.

Better to have played and lost than to never have played at all.

As long as you did your best you didn't lose. You are a winner baby. Play hard, play smart and have fun.

By doing your best and giving it your all, you are a GOOD player.

Doing your best, giving it your all and supporting the people on your team to help them to be better makes you a GREAT player.

Here's to all the GREAT players out there. In sports, in business in life. Rock on!



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What else is up on a Friday night?

I'm doing some Coke. Diet coke that is.

I bet there are some people bowling. Some kids cruising main streets. Some fun dances. Some lonely people. Some sick and dying and some getting better. Some laughing some crying. Some fussing some fighting.

I'm sounding like a wacked out Cat in the Hat.

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You know one of the nicest things about getting older?

You can calm down.

Being frantic and flying is fine when your twenty nine or nine or nineteen. I'm 49 and finally at a point where I can sit still on Friday night and not be flippin out because I'm not at a bar, or a party or doing something extra special wild and fun.

I'm probably going to read about syncros before I go to sleep tonight. You don't want to know why. I'm a geek...the world needs geeks.

I think I'll take a look at some college basketball previews for tomorrow.

You all take care of yourselves out there.



Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Interlude Retreat

Please visit this site it has many great thoughts, prayers, and meditation suggestions INTERLUDE: An Internet Retreat

Have You Ever Thought?

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Have you ever thought?

I mean have you ever really thought?

Have you ever considered how deep reflective focused thinking is important to our selves, our culture, our world but treated with very little regard at times by our selves, culture and world?

The ability to focus, concentrate, reflect, to think is undervalued in our society.

I woke up this morning with this picture in my mind of thought.

Thought can be focused and cutting like a pin-point laser that cuts through things

or

it can be a larger light like a flashlight that illuminates many things at once.

The ability to focus your thought back and forth from the details to the big picture is crucial to be able to solve problems, gain knowledge, learn.

The key is to be able to switch back and forth appropriately.

Have you ever met someone who if you ask them to describe an automobile (we are assuming you've never seen one) would give you an explanation like, "A car is made up of over 7863 separate parts, the bumper is one part, bumpers are made of chrome, chrome was mined in the United States until the late 1950's after which it became cheaper to mine in Argentina......"

Instead of saying, "an automobile is a motorized vehicle used to transport people, here let me show you a picture."

Our society has very little respect for focused thought. There are a variety of possible reasons. We are lazy, we like others to think for us (TV, radio, books, magazines, newspaper), we like quick fixes (read easy). Real focused attention is hard work.

We are a society of attention deficit prone adults and children.

Why?

Noise.

Internal and external.

Breathing, meditating, getting in tune with nature, being quiet, praying will all help quiet the internal noise.

Take a news break, turn off the TV, radio, visit a church, take a break from listening or participating in conversations to quiet the external.

The ability of a system to create or receive information is a function of the signal (containing the intelligence) to noise ratio. What we want to do is maximize our ability to create and process signals and minimize the noise.

We are a culture of short attention span. Take some time to think and exercise your mind. Practice quieting your mind by paying attention to your breath. Say something simple to yourself like I breath in, I breath out in synch with your breaths. Find some prayers you like and recite them with relaxation and mind clearing as your goal.

There are some difficult problems we all face, everyday, as individuals, as members of society. Take some time out of your busy day to quiet yourself, to think, to reflect, to concentrate. It works great.

Your mind is like a muscle the more you use it the better it will serve you. You will be happier.

I guarantee it.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace Is Every Step - The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

Buy this book!

Borrow this book!

Lend this book to a friend!

Get this book from the library!

It's really good. I found it by accident years ago at the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. Now through the wonders of the internet you can get it from Amazon.


Amazon.com: Books: Peace Is Every Step : The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Very simple ideas that can change your life.

Amazon is cool but if you have a chance I recommend you go to a local bookstore or if you are in town, to a famous bookstore like City Lights, or Powell's Books in Portland, Elliot Bay Books in Seattle and pick it up there.

After you pick it up be sure to stop at the cash register and give them some money for it. Not like in the 60's when Abby encouraged people to

Vintage Vinyl:Steal This Book

I wonder how that ever worked out? It sounds dare I say; stupid.

You have my permission to steal this blog. It's sort of like an old console TV left on the curb with a "Free" sign on it anyway. So you aren't really stealing anything.

Have a good Monday.







Saturday, February 07, 2004

Saturday Night - A Good Partner - Laughter - Christianity - Spiritual Path

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Here we are on a Saturday night dear reader. I hope you are well, relaxed, happy and full of light.

Or light beer if you are inclined to that sort of thing.

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Have you ever thought about what the most important characteristic of a partner, co-worker, spouse, boy or girl friend might be?

Of course you have.

Maybe it's a hunky good looking thing, or someone who is smart, nice, rich or some combination?

Over the years I've pondered this and I think the most important thing we can bring to our relationships is a sense of humor.

I think everything else flows from that sense of being light, not self-important or bogged down in the bad things that happen to all of us.

It gets to the point of not being a victim or circumstance but making a choice of how we will react to our circumstances. Certainly some things are incredibly sad. In fact life itself, because of the impermanent nature of things we love, is guaranteed to be full of sorrow.

Have I cheered you up yet?

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What can we do to escape the inevitable suffering of life? Nothing. So I think as long as we are here we might as well have as many laughs as we can.

Actually there are things you can do to deal with the pain of being alive besides trying to turn everything into a joke (I've tried that and it doesn't always work). These things will not allow you to escape suffering but rather put things into a context that allows you to live with Joy.

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I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus died so our sins would be forgiven and we all are saints (some of us have dirtier faces than others). If we ask to be forgiven for the bad things we have done, or think we have done, we will be. This is incredibly liberating not just from a high minded religious point of view but from a practical pyschological "lets move on" point of view as well. The point of Christianity is to free us from all our negative baggage and let us live with peace of mind and a joyful spirit. At least that's my story.

A good way to understand the beauty of Christianity is to consider from a child's point of view. Listen to the song on this webpage Songs Children Are Taught In a Faith Based on Love and read a few of the songs this Sunday school teacher and her children sing. I think it gives you a feel for the simple loving nature of this faith.


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I also like to read and think about other spiritual paths. I love to read some Buddhist literature and think about infinite compassion. A couple of web pages that look like a place to start are

  • What Is a Bodhisattva?


  • The Thirty Seven Practices of the Path of the Bodhisattva


  • I can't recommend too strongly the book Peace Is Every Step - The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh. Here is one little piece of his writing -

  • Over-developed Nations - Nourishing Our Awareness



  • ----------------------------------------------------------------------


    Is a puzzlement

    isn't it? That to be happy one should be able to understand what it means to be sad?

    Not really though. It's the space in between, the light and the dark, the highs and the lows that make life so wonderful.

    To have compassion we have to understand suffering. On the other hand of course we shouldn't confuse less lavish lifestyles than what we are accustomed to in the West as suffering. Money can't buy you love baby. Or happiness. True joy comes from within. I can guarantee you that some child we consider "poor" by our materialistic standards playing with his paper kite in the poor part of Bombay is just as happy as a fat american kid with a ton of video games. Wanna bet?

    Have you ever watched a sporting event on TV and they cut to the rich owner and he's sitting by himself looking like he isn't having any fun with a scowl on his face? Did you ever read about Howard Hughes?

  • Is A Puzzlement - From The Musical The King and I



  • If you've never seen the 1956 movie The King and I with Yul Brenner please do. It's a wonderful movie. While you are at it pick up South Pacific and My Fair Lady too. They are just marvelous.


    Be strong my friend. But let yourself bend like a willow...ah yes grasshopper that is the way ;-)

    We will be just fine.





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    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    More Sun - Pharmaceuticals - Darius McCollum - Kid's Being Kid's - It's a Matter of Degree

    Good Morning to you friendly reader.

    I hope things are looking up for you and you are enjoying the increasing daylight if you live in the Northern hemisphere, or a nice summer for you in the Southern hemisphere.

    I've been pondering the idea of sanity, or normality, illness or wellness, lately.

    Have you ever read the description of an illness or side effects of a drug, and thought some or all of the symptoms somehow described you?

    In many cases I think they do. But here's the key -

    It's all a matter of degree.

    Let's say you are listening to the ad for a drug, which you happen to be taking, and when they get to the possible side effects they say something like, "may cause dry mouth, diarhea, muscle fatigue, and backache."

    You think wow that sounds like me. Not remembering that you drank a quart of Jack Daniels yesterday and have a terrific hangover today. You sort of have a hazy memory that after you went to bed it got so hot up in your second floor bedroom you decided to move out to the roof to cool off. It's a little fuzzy when you get to the part where you fell asleep, rolled down the roof and dropped the 12 feet into the bushes in front of your house.

    Ah yessss but the matter of degree part.

    Let's say you read the symptoms for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder provided courtesy of the Eli Lilly Company maker of a drug called Strattera that can help you with your malady. Eli asks us, "Have you felt unfocused, disorganized, restless for as long as you can remember? Does your concentration drift in and out? A flood of thoughts that you can't seem to control? Like the channel keeps changing in your mind and you don't have control of the remote."

    Yes that describes me and you too. The key is, all together now...it's all a matter of degree.

    You know you could get some of that Strattera or you could try taking a deep breath and learning a little bit about relaxation techiques. The link I have on my main page to the Interlude Meditation site has a lot of thoughts about breathing and a variety of ways to focus, clear your mind. There are people who devote a lifetime to trying to keep their minds focused...they are called yoga's or something. Maybe they are called bodhisatvas? Why do all that work though...take a God Damn Strattera.

    Whoops I'm swearing again, must be the Tourette's kicking in.

    Have you ever heard of Prader-Willi syndrome? I knew a guy who worked in a house for the poor souls with that syndrome. One of the symptoms is an insatiable appetite. The residents would eat any food that wasn't locked down. If a bag of flour was left out...bam..it was eaten.

    Sound like your house? Sound like you?

    Have you ever heard of Darius McCollum? There's an excellent article about him in Harpers May 2002 edition written by Jeff Tietz called "The Boy Who Loved Transit". Darius did all kind of jobs for the New York City Transit Authority...driving subways, inspecting tracks, drinking coffee and eating rolls with the crew. The wrinkle is described in this paragraph from the Harper's article where Darius is getting ready to go to work in the morning by putting on his work clothes, getting his 139 keys used for access to trains, subways....

    "Six weeks earlier, Darius had been paroled from the Elmira Correctional Facility, near Binghamton, New York, where he had served two years for attempted grand larceny--"attempted" because he had signed out NYCTA vehicles for surface use (extinguishing track fires, supervising maintenance projects) and then signed them back in according to procedure. Darius has never worked for the NYCTA; he has never held a steady job. He is thirty-seven and has spent a third of his adult life in prison for victimless offenses related to transit systems."

    Darius was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. One description I found for Asperger's is that it is, "characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities."

    Yes that describes me and most of the other 100 or so engineers and techs I work with :-)

    Back on the ADHD track again though. Oh forgot to mention ADHD is a new disease.

    Here's how this progresses -

    1960 - Parents had small people living with them called children. They acted weird or downright bad some times. Some more often than others. No one knew a generic term to categorize those kids so we called them Jack, Joe, Jan, Larry, Kim, Betsy or a variety of other names.

    1963 - Someone figured out that some kids were overly active. Overly active of course was a matter of opinion and not an objectively defined condition. I think it was actually Miss Ellis my second grade teacher who discovered the medical condition known as hyperactivity and I may have been the first person to be diagnosed with this disorder.

    1980 - Some kids weren't paying attention in school and are generally just screwing around. Back in the early 60's those kids were known as "kids", later they became hyperactive, now they have Attention Deficit Disorder. Don't worry though since this condition can be treated with a drug provided by our friendly pharmaceutical companies.

    1990 - Some kids aren't paying attention in school and are generally just screwing around. Do those kids have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or a newer form of the disease known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)? Good question; but not to worry since it can be treated with a drug provided by our friendly pharmaceutical companies.

    2000 - Some adults aren't paying attention and are generally just screwing around. It's not just that though, they have Adult Deficit Attention Hyperactive Disorder (ADAHD).

    Dear God please save us from this crap.

    Here's the description Eli Lilly provides for Attention deficit -

    "Some of these symptoms include not paying attention, making careless mistakes, not listening, not finishing tasks, not following directions and being easily distracted."

    and for Hyperactive -

    "Symptoms include fidgeting, talking excessively, running around at inappropriate times, interrupting others and having difficulty awaiting turns."

    Yes that's any kid and it's a matter of degree. If I'm a teacher or a parent without the patience or love to take care of those kids maybe we could medicate them? That's all a matter of degree too. There are certainly some cases where a child needs some thing more than love and patience.

    I want to wrap this up with one last thought. In the area of sanity/insanity normality/abnormality it's all a matter of degree. Let's think of some behaviours we would define as insane.....Maybe -

    Talking to yourself, thinking or saying outlandlish things.

    Yes we all do those things. Some really smart people like you and me do them quite often. It's okay...because by golly we are smart enough and funny enough and kind enough to be just fine.

    I think I'll be moseying along now. I hope you have a good day and may you find peace within.

    justjack