Wednesday, November 30, 2005
"Q. More than 100 years ago, Charles Darwin proposed that human facial expressions are universal. Anthropologists like Margaret Mead thought the opposite. What do you think?
A. Initially, back in 1965, I thought Margaret Mead was probably right. But I decided to get the evidence to settle the argument. I showed pictures of facial expressions to people in the U.S., Japan, Argentina, Chile and Brazil and found that they judged the expressions in the same way.
But this was not conclusive because all these people could have learned the meaning of expressions by watching Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne. I needed visually isolated people unexposed to the modern world and the media.
I found them in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. They not only judged the expressions in the same way, but their posed expressions, which I recorded with a movie camera, were readily understandable to people in the West."
You can read a little more about Dr. Paul Ekman in Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age
Here's a link to the Amazon "look inside the book" page 155 and page 156 where Daniel Pinkman discusses the universal human ability to recognize facial expressions.
As Daniel Pink says in his book,
"Empathy is largely about emotion - feeling what another is feeling. But emotions generally don't reveal themselves in L-Directed (left brain - analytical) ways. "People's emotions are rarely put into words; far more often they are expressed throught other cues" writes Daniel Goleman. "Just as the mode of the rational mind is words the mode of the emotions is nonverbal" And the main canvas for displaying those emotions is the face. With fourty-three tiny muscles that tug and stretch and lift our mouth, eyes, cheeks, eyebrows, and forehead, our faces can convey the full range of human feeling. Since Empathy depends on emotion and since emotion is conveyed nonverbally, to enter another's heart, you must begin the journey by looking into his face."
Emotional Intelligence : Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
So far I've uploaded over 1200 pictures to my website as part of this archival effort. It's actually (I think) a pretty good deal to use a website as a storage space for photos. Yahoo Small Business provides 5 gigabytes of storage for 11.95/month, plus regular backups to protect your files and a "latest snapshot" capability in the event you were to accidently delete some files you wanted.
I could use Flicker or Hello but I like the thought of having these pictures under my control.
Friday, November 25, 2005
The audio retreat with Father Larry Gillick, a Jesuit priest, is wonderful. You will need to find some quiet time to appreciate this material, which can be hard with the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping/parties/cooking/traveling, but I think you will find it very worthwhile, if for no other reason than to slow down, take a deep breath, quiet our internal dialogue and listen.
If you listen to Father Gillick you will begin to see he is talking about an inclusive loving attitude where we all share our human flaws - and beauty. We are loved by God just as we are. It's a powerful message that moves a person to love themself. A way of working from inferiority, believing we aren't good enough, to the belief that we are works in progress, becoming the beautiful beings God intended. Becoming more alive every day.
In this day of designer religions, some familiarity with the Jesuit teachings could help one form a firm foundation for a personal spirituality. Jesuits are known for their intellectual and educational contributions to society, appreciation for the spiritual benefits that can be attained from everyday work done well, and a focus on working from the inside out - conversion begins from within the human heart.
Conversion in this sense in no way means conversion to a particular religion or belief system...only that we are changed to have a softer heart, a more compassionate attitude, both for ourselves (this comes first) and then for our fellow travelers.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
We often think about stretching our bodies and know how good stretching feels and how natural it is (watch a dog stretch sometime and think about how natural and good that must feel).
Some of us might not think about activities that stretch our minds/our selves, activities that help us grow into more complete, more whole, interesting and capable, human beings.
Simple stuff like -
If you don't cook give it a try, read a book or magazine that's outside your normal interests, if you think you aren't good at math do some anyway to keep that part of your mind sharp.
If you are tough try being weak or vice-versa.
Make eye contact, say hi or smile at someone out of the ordinary - recognize your connection as human beings.
If you like talking give listening a try for a change of pace.
Take a class in something that's new for you.
Spend time every so often turning off your internal "judge" and just look at, explore, listen and learn about some thing/person/group without using internal dialogue like good/bad, agree/disagree...just be open.
Put yourself in a position to learn experientially (by doing). Do something that's completely outside your normal routine. Maybe volunteer to work with some people who need basic things like companionship, food, shelter and clothing if that's outside your normal day to day. Take on a new task/assignment at work that's outside your normal comfort zone.
Doesn't have to be a big deal all the time, maybe just try a food that you normally wouldn't.
If we are working towards that never perfectly attainable goal of "balance in all things", we could consider stretch activities for these four areas:
Mind - Read something new, see a movie that's different for you, talk to people you normally wouldn't, listen, do some math if your a liberal arts type, do some liberal or fine arts stuff if you're a scientific type, turn off the TV (or maybe turn it on if that's a stretch for you).
Body - Stretch, walk, lift some weights, dance, try tai-chi, take a sauna or a steam bath, go outside and spin in a circle until you fall over.
Spirit - Learn something about meditation, explore spirituality and what it might mean, read about various world religions, vist holy places, talk to spiritual people, listen.
Social/Emotional - Do something nice for a stranger, call a friend you haven't talked to in awhile, write someone you care about a letter, be good to yourself...take care of yourself so you can help others, listen.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
An article by Julie Muhlstein talks about Sister Georgette's 60 years of generosity as a sister in the Catholic Sisters of Providence.
The Seattle Times article Quite a ride: 60 years with Sisters of Providence, provides another look at Sister Georgette's life. Being 83 hasn't slowed her down and she still participates in a yearly motorcyle ride to help raise funds for hospice and home care.
Along with her pioneering work with Providence Hospice & Home Care of Snohomish County and the Providence Sexual Assault Center, Sister Bayless is a member of Zonta International and Pax Christi USA.
I was fortunate to be able to meet Sister Georgette today with a group of other people. She has authenticity and a quiet presence that is quite powerful. It's encouraging to think about the ripples one strong woman started that resulted in positive effects on the lives of so many people in a community.
Hospice is many things but at it's core it is a celebration and appreciation of life, respect for human dignity and a recognition that as humans, we all experience loss and suffering and...
No one should have to go through that loss and suffering alone.
Hospice provides a team of health care professionals, social workers, counselors, spiritual leaders, health aides and volunteers to help people on their individual journey.
There is a free community celebration party with cake, coffee and punch; in honor of Sister Bayless tomorrow Sunday November 20th from 1 to 4 pm at the Immaculate Conception Church, Mattie Hall, 2517 Hoyt Avenue, Everett Washington. For Information call 425-261-4766
Find lot's of great deals, including free shipping at many retailers and avoid the holiday rush when you Shop Online.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Thanks to the wonders of medicine I'm on the mend this morning, having an arsenal of decongestent pills, sprays, fever reducers, pain medicine and antibiotics working for me.
As with many drugs there are a variety of side effects. I noticed my ears were ringing and found my blood pressure had gone to 130/100 yesterday. That's one of the side effects of antihistamines and nasal decongestants according to this Mayo Clinic brochure.
We stop taking drugs when the side effects begin to outweigh the benefits.
As good old Ben Franklin said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." I'm thinking a good preventative strategy would be to live in an area less conducive to the growth of mold and mildew. Somewhere in the high desert would be good. Anyplace drier than this would probably help. Since I'm not in a position to pack up my yurt and move right now I'll have to think of plan b.
I'm going to try some alternative medicine. A friend recommended I try some propolis, also called "bee glue". This NIH summary says of propolis -
"Propolis is a multifunctional material used by bees in the construction and maintenance of their hives. Use of propolis by humans has a long history, predated only by the discovery of honey. Use of products containing propolis have resulted in extensive dermal contact and it is now increasingly being used a dietary supplement. Unlike many 'natural' remedies, there is a substantive database on the biological activity and toxicity of propolis indicating it may have many antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and antitumour properties, among other attributes. Although reports of allergic reactions are not uncommon, propolis is relatively non-toxic, with a no-effect level (NOEL) in a 90-mouse study of 1400 mg/kg body weight/day."
I've been interested in alternatives to traditional Western medicine since watching Bill Moyer's Healing and the Mind on PBS and reading the companion book.
Have you ever wondered why it is that when you visit a Doctor you feel better just by showing up? This has happened to me over the years, I feel bad, but by the time I get to the Doctor's office, I've already started to recover.
It's an example of your mind effecting your body. Your brain associates doctors with healing and the process of setting up the appointment, sitting in the waiting room and then the examination room (smelling the alcohol and other unique scents) causes your immune system to begin ramping up and you start to feel better.
The University of Rochester Review talks about the mind/body connection work done by neourobiologists David Felten and Robert Ader.
One of Robert Ader's breakthrough discoveries came through a study of rats response to Cytoxan, a drug that suppresses the immune system and causes belly aches. Ader's experiment was to give rats Cytoxan mixed with sugar water for a period of time, then remove the Cytoxan and give them pure sugar water to see how long they associated sweet water with belly aches.
Not sure how the researchers determined a rat knew he or she was going to get a belly ache from drinking sweet water. I can picture a rat thinking...
"Oh boy I know I shouldn't be drinking this sugar water but it tastes so good."
or maybe talking to the researchers -
"Hey you! The guy in the white lab coat, yeah you - get me some Pepto Bismol wil ya?"
Back to the story...
An interesting and unexpected side effect was that the rats began to die after the Cytoxan had been replaced by sugar water. Their minds/nervous system associated Cytoxan with immune system suppression and caused the suppression after the drug had been removed. They were exhibiting a Pavlovian response...same as we do. This University of Rochester Review article describes how this research with rats led to an application for a human being.
In this case a young girl had a hyperactive immune system that was attacking her body. Because of the adverse side effects, the doctors didn't want to give her Cytoxan long term so they created a strong correlation between her sense of smell and taste and administration of the drug intravenously.
This was done by giving her rose perfume to sniff and a bit of icky tasting cod liver oil to sip during the administration of the Cytoxan.
As the article states,
"Once a month, accordingly, she received Cytoxan intravenously, sipped (ugh!) the cod liver oil, and sniffed the perfume, all the while calling up in her mind the image of a rose. In the fourth month, she drank the oil, sniffed the perfume, and conjured up the rose, without the Cytoxan. By the end of the year, she had received only half the total dosage she would ordinarily have been given, with the same results as from a full drug regimen.
Surviving the disease and subsequently in college, whenever she was in need of an immune suppressant, she imagined a rose."
Monday, November 14, 2005
"Daniel Goldman, author of the groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence, has examined an array of academic studies that have attempted to measure how much IQ (which like the SAT, measures pure L-Directed Thinking prowess) accounts for career success.
What do you think these studies found? Grab a No. 2 pencil and take a guess.
According to the latest research, IQ accounts for what portion of career success?
a. 50 to 60 percent
b. 35 to 45 percent
c. 23 to 29 percent
d. 15 to 20 percent
The answer: between 4 and 10 percent. (Confining oneself only to the answers presented is a symptom of excessive L-Directed Thinking.) According to Goldman, IQ can influence the profession one enters. My IQ, for instance, is way too low for a career in astrophysics. But within a profession, mastery of L-Directed Thinking matters relatively little. More important are qualities that are tougher to quantify, the very kinds of high-concept and high-touch abilities I've been mentioning - imagination, joyfulness, and social dexterity. For instance, research by Goldman and the Hay Group has found that within organizations, the most effective leaders were funny (that is, funny ha-ha, not funny strange). These leaders had their charges laughing three times more often than their managerial counterparts....But where have you seen a standardized test that measures comedic aptitude?"
Friday, November 11, 2005
"An Act of Congress approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - - a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace...
A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good."
From the history of Veterans Day on va.gov.
There are many stories, letters and interviews with veterans at the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. A project established by Congress in 2000 to collect memories of veterans of all modern day wars in which Americans have served.
I've been watching the video interviews with Senator John S. McCain.
I found the video titled "The Inspiration For Whom The Bell Tolls" to be particularly moving.
In the interview, John McCain, speaking of heroes, says of Robert Jordan, Hemingway's hero in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" -
"He was dedicated, selfless, brave, capable, - but also stoic, he recognized the cause he served was flawed but he still served it to the point that he was willing to sacrifice his very life."
Robert Jordan, Hemingway's hero, final words are,
"The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I'll hate very much to leave it."
John McCain, when asked, "What is your idea of honor?" replies,
"My idea of honor is to serve a cause greater than your self-interest."
He goes on to say,
"There's lots of good causes. You can serve them in many ways. You don't have to serve them in the Spanish Civil war as Robert Jordan did. You can serve them in your own community and even in your own home."
For the Children
The rising hills, the slopes,
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
In the next century
or the one beyond that,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.
To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:
learn the flowers
~ Gary Snyder ~
Thursday, November 10, 2005
How about the 6 second abs?
No time at all?
Just put on a pair of Absonic Pants and you'll be lean and mean in no time - no sweat required.
The Body Burner sounds like an idea gone wrong.
Funerals are expensive but do-it-yourself cremation kits just aren't right ;-)
As if the Salad Shooter wasn't powerful enough - now if you hurry you can get two Salad Blasters! for the price of one.
For those people who either don't own a spatula (sometimes called a "pancake turner") or haven't mastered the fine art of spatulism perhaps the Perfect Pancake pancake maker would be the perfect gift.
No more pancakes that are only cooked on one side.
I wish I could find links to a couple of other items, one a kitchen item and one an exercise device -
We had a hot dog cooker for awhile when I was a kid that was basically a plastic box with an electric circuit that was completed by attaching hot dogs across two prongs. The dogs cooked sort of like a fuse gets hot in a fuse box...it was a very weird device. One might ask - couldn't you cook a hot dog in a frying pan, or a pan of water (why the special cooker?). No one knew why.
The other thing I can't find is a more recent exercise tool. I thought it was called a Bow Flex but that's not it. It was a fiberglass strip - maybe three feet long or so and the people advertising it were of course very fit (apparently from holding the fiberglass strip in front of them and wiggling it up and down).
Wiggling a fiberglass rod in front of you looks cool on T.V. but I'm guessing in the privacy of your own home it gets old fast.
I liked the old Charles Atlas information you could get by sending in a dime in response to an ad in a comic book. Charles told you to get a broom (plain old kitchen broom) and try and hold it out in front of you as long as you could. At least you could use the broom for something else after you decided in about 45 seconds that holding a broom wasn't going to turn you from a 98 pound weakling into a muscleman.
Generally I'm a big proponent of power to the people - if you need a label, what might be called a progressive or a populist.
In the case of ballot initiatives though, I've had enough, I can't take any more.
I would like to petition the petitioners to stop the petitions.
I don't think the general public has the time, knowledge or resources to cast an intelligent vote on many of the complex issues that are put on the ballot as initiatives.
The initiative process sounds like a wonderful exercise in participative democracy, but many hinge on the flawed concept that we can get something for nothing, or less obvious but still part of the theory, that we can change something "over here" and not inadvertantly effect something "over there".
As systems thinkers like to say there is no "over there".
Everything is connected.
Cut taxes - close schools - increase unemployment - increase crime - increase prison populations - then raise taxes to pay for building more prisons.
The other side of that story is that by cutting taxes we encourage economic growth which may be true but it's not the whole story...any more than my simple example above.
Some of the latest initiatives are a way for a special interest group to bypass careful consideration by informed people (our elected officials and their staff) and instead get a law passed via the "popular" mostly uninformed or under-informed vote.
Washington state isn't the only place suffering from initiative fever -
Why the California Initiative System is Undermining Democracy written by Jules Tygiel, professor of history at San Francisco State University.
California Initiatives: No Longer of the People an NPR interview with political commentator/activist Peter Asmus
Our next initiative should be to eliminate the initiative process.
It's dated 2003 but still interesting to read.
Pretty straightforward - hire enthusiastic smart creative people, give them an environment that fosters their creativity, assign work to small empowered teams, minimize the organization's hierarchy and keep the customer in mind.
It's fascinating to think about how many "keys" are available on how to succeed in business...life, love, dieting, physical fitness etc.
We seem to want to emulate rather than innovate, not admitting that either one often involves a lot more work and risk than most people or organizations are willing to expend.
It would be hard to be a consultant and have to tell your client you have nothing to sell, because people or organizations with the best success stories to tell, write their own book.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Some of the writing tickled my funny bone as well as amazed me with the focus on one thing - LED's. I'm a nerd at heart so this kind of stuff tends to fascinate me.
I'm daydreaming about making a small windmill with a DC motor (generator) and colored LED's in the blades...or covering a car with a rainbow of LED's...or using LED's in place of incandescents at home.
I love those little lights too. They remind me of computers and electronics. The LED flashlights/headlamps are really cool, bright, and last a long time. The colored ones they have now are neat for party lights, art type stuff or toys.
The official title of the page is -
WWW.LEDMUSEUM.ORG * THE LED MUSEUM - Reviews of LEDs & LED Flashlights - Gallium Indium Nitride UV, violet, purple, blue, aqua, turquoise, green, white. Also Gallium Arsenide and others. New LED MUSEUM! GaN, InGaN, SiC, GaAs, GaP, GaAlP, ZnSe, LED flashlight, LED flashlights. Formerly For The Love of LEDs
Saturday, November 05, 2005
A couple of points:
Nice guys and gals finish first - not true in the past but with Enron/Worldcom etc. debacles - the paradigm of the future is being nice, being concerned with the health of the organization and the workers that make up that organization.
Entrepeneurs view risk, not as something bad to shy away from, but rather as an opportunity
Here's a review from an Amazon reviewer of the book "Instinct" -
"For all you Entrepreneurs out there a Must Read!! Finally the answers to why some of us have a burning desire to be entrepreneurs...its in our genes. For those with the desire but lack the correct DNA, you now have the know-how, the tools you need to be successful. Thomas Harrison's Instinct is for anyone who has ever dreamed of having their own business. A great book to use as a reference guide for years to come. Thank you to those who shared their stories. Instinct is Incredibly motivating and insightful!!"
M. T. Palacio
Friday, November 04, 2005
This is a short essay I wrote in 1999, using some pieces of the book as a departure point for thinking about technology (and just thinking in general).
Here's a couple of snips -
Pirsig talks about the Buddha or Godhead residing as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or gears of a motorcycle as on the top of mountains or petals of a flower.
Robert talks about Poincare's supposition that given an infinite amount of time a scientist could come up with an infinite number of hypotheses to describe some thing. He says this is the idea that Phaedrus raised in the laboratory that got him failed out of school. Robert then says Poincare lays down some rules that help scientist's from seeing too much. There is a hierarchy of facts to choose from. More general facts are good. Simple facts are good.
The book is an interesting read. A story about a man's journey through life using motorcycle maintenance as a metaphor. It covers a lot of territory - mental illness, quality, technology, classicism, romanticism, various philosophies and of course some Zen.
Depending on where you are in your journey it may be worth having a look at.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
You can listen to the interview on the KZOK audio archive page. The movie, and now the book deal with ?? (not sure) - maybe -
Quantum theory, duality, our dimensionally challenged minds? Asking great questions? The effect of thought on reality (and what implication this may have for you personally).
Sounds very interesting.
For you Pacific Northwesterners it may be of interest to know the "What The Bleep Do We Know?" phenomena originated in the little town of Yelm...and also has some ties to Ramtha.
Ramtha aka JZ Knight is a 35,000 year old spiritual being who happens to live in Yelm and has generated quite a bit of controversy, and of course skepticism, over the years.
Even though I feel like I fell into a big bowl of woo woo when someone claims to have channeled a a "35,000 year old Lemurian warrior who conquered the continent Atlantis and later became enlightened", I still think the book and movie look like they are worth having a look at. Ramatha is just one of many characters, scientists, philosophers involved in the book and movie.
Here's a few quotes -
"If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet."
"If the universe is this wild and unpredictable, so full of possibility, why are your thoughts about your own life so limited?"
From The Book "What The Bleep Do We Know?"
“The most bizarrely intriguing movie I’ve seen in a long while . . . I couldn’t turn it off. In fact, as soon as I finished watching it the first time, I immediately started up the DVD screener again to give it a second go . . . “What the Bleep Do We Know?’” is a film about quantum physics, spirituality — and the meaning of life . . . It’s full of head-scratchers, and the kind of talk I’m not used to hearing from scientists and other academics. The ambitious film attempts to answer existential conundrums such as: What is God? What are emotions? What is the soul? And the ever-popular why are we here?”
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
I just ran across the Singapore site yesterday. I've looked at Sacred Space off and on for awhile and find myself returning to it. The daily prayer at Sacred Space includes prayer guides with body, breathing and listening exercises to help you center yourself and quiet down enough to begin to pray, as well as good background thoughts for the simple prayers.
The Jesuit daily prayers are of course just one way to practice quieting and calming your mind to aid your own spiritual journey. I personally like the historical aspect of the Jesuits and Christianity. In my simple minded way I think of Jesuits as smart and Christian's as kind...which seems like a good combo.
In our day of designer religions, spirituality in lieu of religion, televanglists - most with a hand in your pocket, and what is loosely defined as New Age Thinking it's not too hard to get blown about by the wind, and maybe sometimes a bit lost.
Studying great philosophers and world religions gives us a foundation for a worldview to define what we see as a good life, as well as a compass to find our way back home if we stray too far from our path.
Whatever way works best for you is best.
"Mahatma Gandhi when asked if he was a Hindu, replied, "Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew".
From the Wikipedia article on Mahatma Gandhi.