Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dell Comes Through

We had a laptop hard drive bite the dust this weekend so I called Dell on Sunday for a replacement.

The new hard drive arrived today (Tuesday) and now the computer is as good as new. It takes about 30 seconds to remove and install a hard drive on this Dell Inspiron 600M, then a couple of hours to reload the various programs and drivers.

I put the broken hard drive in the box the new one came in, using the shipping tag Dell included, and called DLH Airborne Express to come and pick it up at my house.

It really couldn't have been easier.

I just wanted to say how pleased I with with Dell's service.



Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fremont and Bick's Greenwood Grill

We celebrated my wife's birthday with our daughters in Fremont Saturday afternoon. Did the usual fun stuff - went to Peet's Coffee, the girls browsed in some shops, I did some browsing with them - but I started hyperventilating outside some of the more girly shops so I spent some time looking at the bottom of the rocket...looking for stuff on the sidewalk etc., before we got together and visited the troll under the Fremont Bridge.

In my wandering I learned that if you happen to have some Birkenstocks or good hiking boots that need repairing - Fremont has an authorized Birkenstock repair place run by Dave Page, Cobbler who at one time was a professor of History at the U.W. You can read more about the shop and the owner in this article from the Seattle Weekly.

One of the stores had a live potted palm tree that was a little over 12 feet tall. The owner is selling it because it's outgrowing her shop. The palm tree has a nice bending shape and big green leaves. It would be perfect if you had a room with a tall ceiling and wanted a tropical motif. The owner is only asking 130 bucks for it, all you need is to figure out a way to move it and where to keep it.


We had dinner at Bick's Broadview Grill. I had the fry bread with tomato habanero salsa, a black bean salad and a drink made with pomegranate and lime juice (the drink was the best part of the meal). They have a big selection of hot sauces that are fun to try. It's a nice family friendly place - I only wish the server would have been a little less stern.

Amazon has a scanned copy of the menu. Bick's is located in Seattle's Greenwood Neighborhood.

Rachael Ray, from the Food Network visited Bick's Broadview Grill and shared their recipe for Ginger-Lemongrass Portobello Mushroom Caps.



Computer Repair - Laptop Hard Drive

I went to bed at 9 o-clock today. Nine in the morning...

I love fiddling with computers and got a chance to troubleshoot the failing hard-drive on a Dell Inspiron 600M laptop, that is not quite a year old. We couldn't get the computer to boot from the Window's disk. I ended up having to format the hard drive (which wipes all your files) and had the laptop working this morning and all the software reloaded.

Then...the dreaded "DST Short Test Fail Error Code 1000-0146" showed up again on the diagnostics about 7 am. I like to play with computers and found this exercise educational and fun in a way...granted not like "I'm going to Disneyland fun"...but still fun. It would have been nice to have a fully functional laptop after 10 or 12 hours of reading, loading, reloading, diagnosing etc. but the laptop is still under warranty and I know what's wrong with it now.

I called Dell and after about half an hour of talking to a robot got through to a nice guy named Sylvester. We agreed he will ship me a new 60 gig hard drive this week.

Three lessons from that experience -

(a) don't buy a computer unless the seller includes the operating system and other program disks. Some stores will sell you a computer without the OS or program disks. That doesn't work so good if your hard drive flakes out. It's probably okay if you are the sort who would bring a computer to a technician for repair anyway, but if you have any intention of do-it-yourself repair, make sure you get the disks.

(b) hard drives are really easy to take out of a Dell Inspiron 600M laptop. The HD is a module held by a single screw and is easy to remove (no disassembly of the computer required), it just slides out from the side.

The time consuming thing about putting the new HD in won't be the hardware installation...but rather the software installation - finding the right drivers, program disks and various software programs we all download from the internet and depend on...plus a half hour or so to load Windows.

(c) if you are into do-it-yourself computer repair it's best to have at least two computers in your home. It really helps to have a working model for dipping into the internet knowledge bases while you are working on the broken one.

I'm looking forward to getting that new hard drive in the mail - installing, formatting and reloading it will give me something to play around with next weekend.

Wishing you a great beginning to this week.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What I Learned From Leonardo

"In the master's secret mirror even at the moment of highest renown and accomplishment there is an image of the newest student in the class, eager for knowledge, willing to play the fool."

Author and Aikidoest George Leonard on Curiosita'


I finished my book club / class on "How to Think Like Leonardo" by Michael J. Gelb yesterday.

It's a good book. Not a how-to, step by step guide to become like Leonardo Da Vinci but some good advice about methods you might use to expand your intelectual and creative horizons a bit. It's the sort of book you could take time (and would need to) in order to practice the exercises. We got the book and the workbook for the class. They are both useful and they sort of thing you world sketch in, doodle, write notes, underline...in other words a book you can use.

Besides the quote above, which I really like, here's a few other tidbits -

Dimostrazione is a Leonardo biggie - it means learning by doing, by making mistakes and making corrections.

Uoma Senza Lettere - this is a term Leonardo like to be known by. It means "man without letters". Leonardo was happy to be a self-taught learner and didn't assume the PHD, BS, MS, JD, had much meaning in and of themselves.

Leonardo was a discepelo della experienza or a disciple of experience.


For those of us who like things in groups of seven, the seven Da Vincian Principles, according to Michael J. Gelb, are -

- An insatibly curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

e - A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Sensazione - The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.

Sfumato - (literally "going up in smoke") - A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.

Arte/Scienza - The development of the balance between science and art, logic, and imagination. "Whole-brain" thinking.

- The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise.

Connessione - A recognition and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking."


I have to make a little editorial comment about the how to think like Leonardo that people have asked me about or I've heard people talk about in the class.

The question/comment centers on hmmmm....

What is art? or maybe How could anyone (as untalented as you/me) paint like Leonardo?

My answers in order would be (a) whatever moves you and (b) why would anyone want to?

Not to put Leonardo down, he could paint a heck of a detailed horse or human. Today we would use a camera to get that realistic look. My point is that art/painting is as you know - HUGE. It's diverse it's amazing - Leonardo was a realist, I tend to like impressionists, folk artists, children's art, some abstract or other modern art - or basically like anyone else - I like what I like. I'm not sure I could tell you why - or for that matter why I'd want to or why you would care. Suffice it to say art moves us somehow - it might be beauty or upsetting or ?

I walked throught the National Museum in London once and just stopped and looked at the paintings that appealed to me. I found some of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings to be very appealing, but Vincent's sunflowers aren't a detailed "accurate" representation of a sunflower that Leonardo might have painted. That doesn't mean one is a better artist. Just different.

Finally when it comes to composition, theme, color, light..techniques. I'm not that interested either in learning or studying those topics. If you want to take a class in mechanical drawing those are available and certainly the ability to provide perspective and composition in a sketch or drawing can be a requirement (depends on what you are trying to do).

Wassily Kandinsky a Russian born abstract impressionist is only one example of an artist who's style is far removed from Leonardo's realism - but for some, quite appealing. Art scholars say that Kandinsky combines color/sound/spirituality in painting...all I know is I like the colors and form. Here are a couple of examples of Kandinsky's work -

I was playing with this idea back in September when I wrote my little Blog essay - Paint or Draw like Anybody.

May you occasionally find artistry, grace, and beauty, in whatever it is you do.

Who's In Charge Here?

Thinking about the question Who's In Charge Here? and what happens if it happens to be nobody?


Is it just me or does anyone else miss the word tete-a-tete?

You hardly ever hear it anymore. I'm going to say it today - a lot.

I prefer the second pronounciation in Websters, and then modify it by dropping the hard t at the end...so it ends up being tay da tay.

I haven't heard anyone say soiree lately either. I think I'll save that word for Saturday.

Life Is Too Precious To Be Enjoyed

The Onion - America's Finest News Source reports, "Life Is Too Precious To Be Enjoyed" and provides a variable plethora of tips on how to stay safe and more or less alive.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sketch Swap and Question Swap

Sketch Swap is fun to play with. You submit a sketch and get one back.


Question Swap is interesting too.

I really liked this answer....

"Q. Lately, I have come to the personal conclusion that I can not find true happiness in my life. I am making more money then any other person I know at my age, I just got out of a horrible relationship that lasted three years, and I am living on my own for the first time in my life. despite all these things, I still feel...empty, hollow. The only things that seem to make me happy is when I am spending money. I used to take much joy in programming, spending time with friends, etc. I suppose I am just doing self reflection and I am not happy with what I have become. I look at friends, and they enjoy most of what they do with their time. I want to be able to do that...I want to be able to be happy. I suppose spending this money is simply filling a void that should be filled with something else. I don't know what to do.

A. Well, my friend. I shall start by saying that I'm only 16, and therefore probably not very well qualified to give you a respectable answer due to lack of experience/life knowledge. All the same, I think I can understand what it is you are getting out. What you need to take into account is that, while you have money when you need it, and enjoy spending it, the only things you'll ever really need in life to be happy (apart from food/water etc) are small things money can't buy - Good friends, a loving relationship, an affectionate kiss, the feeling of well-being you get when you do something selfless and know it. So my advice to you would be to re-assess your life, ask yourself what the single most important thing is to you at the moment... This will lead you ultimately to what it is that makes you feel so hollow and empty. What, or who, in this life, would you be willing to die for? Sorry I couldn't be of more help. I wish you the very best of luck, and I hope you find happiness in everything you do in life. "

Sunday, February 19, 2006

We Love Katamari Damacy

Boing Boing has a link to something called the We Love Katamari Damacy Minigame

The game is a little hard to understand but still oddly fun to play with.

From what I gather...You're that little gray faced guy with the crown. Your job is to get stuff to stick to you. Eventually you are part of a big ball of stuff that clears the screen to reveal a pretty picture. I think that might be level 1 but since it's in Japanese it's just a guess on my part - but you'll figure it out.

I pulled this off the Amazon review by J. Roberts aka R.P. Madman -

"For those who don't know, in Katamari games you control a super-sticky orb (a katamari) that rolls throughout a world packed with stuff. Roll up enough caramels and you'll be big enough to roll up a mouse. Roll up enough mice and you can roll up cats. And so on, until you're rolling up clouds, islands and thunder gods. All this is built up over the course of a few levels, but it can be disorienting to roll up cookies under a car at the beginning of a level and roll up the car itself in the end.

With each level a new star is added to the sky (replacing the ones your monolithic and rather drunken father, the King of All Cosmos, accidentally destroyed)."

Snow Then Daffodils

On Tuesday we had one of our only bits of snow this winter. About a 1/2 inch or so. I saw a raccoon's tracks on the back deck that morning. I think the space under our deck makes for a pretty good home for him.

Today was sunny and clear.

We have signs of spring and what's left of our winter so far - The daffodil's are blooming and a couple of red-mittened snow people are still hanging in there.

Daffodil and Sun Today

Tracks on the deck

Small paws

Still hanging in there Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Franciscan Radio

Franciscan Radio - includes American Catholic Radio, Saint of the Day and Sunday Sound Bites.

The Franciscan's also have a Lenten Radio Retreat for 2006 with U.S. Catholic Bishops encouraging you to put aside today’s cares and worries, and take a “Radio Retreat” — online.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

MSN Offers $1 Million in Prizes

MSN Offers $1 Million in Prizes and Charitable Donations With Search and Win: Promotion gives Web surfers the chance to win big, simply by searching on MSN.

This isn't the first time a search engine has tried to attract users with cash and prizes.

Blingo Search gives you a chance to win a prize by searching.

Amazon gives you a 1.57 percent discount on purchases for using their search engine at A9.com

Diet Coke and Tab

Diet Coke has had many incarnations.

According to the Wikipedia article on Diet Coke, we've had -

1. Diet Coke ('plain') (1982)
2. Caffeine-Free Diet Coke (1983)
3. Diet Cherry Coke (1986)
4. Diet Coke with Lemon (2001); in some countries, it's known as Coca-Cola Light Lemon.
5. Diet Vanilla Coke (2002)
6. Diet Coke with Lime (2004)
7. Diet Raspberry Coke (was only available in New Zealand from late 2005, but is already being 'deleted' from their range as of Jan-06).
8. Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda (2005)
9. Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke (2006)

I have to admit I'm confused over Coke Zero and the Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda. They both taste better than plain old Diet Coke to me, so I guess it's not really important what the formula is...

The Wiki article, doesn't really help explain things -
Diet Coke does not utilize a modified form of the Coca-Cola recipe but is instead an entirely different formula.

Fans of Diet Coke often express a strong preference for the continental European formula over the British-American version, as it tastes far closer to regular Coke. This is because the Diet Coke formula is based upon the New Coke formulation and Coca-Cola Light, now being sold in the U.S. as Coca-Cola Zero, is based on the Coca-Cola Classic formula.

Maybe I should try mixing up my own batch using this purported Coca-Cola Recipe.


Speaking of diet soda (or diet pop as some of us call it), Tab is an interesting drink. It came out in 1963 after the first diet soda - Diet Rite Cola (introduced in 1958 for diabetics and then marketed to the general public in 1962).

The first two versions of Tab had a strange lingering artificial sweetener aftertaste. It was originally sweetened with cyclamate and then saccharine and, after various cancer scares - switched to aspartame in the 1980's. It is still produced and popular with some soda aficianados.

Tab also has a place in popular media; as described in the Wikipedia article -

# In the Steve Martin comedy The Jerk his character's favorite beverage is Tab.
# On an episode of Futurama, Bender and Fry find a giant Tab can on Planet Amazonia.
# In one episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, a live-action dream sequence shows Harvey strolling the beach with a human-sized, ambulatory can of Tab.
# On an episode of The Simpsons, Homer confuses the tab button on the computer with the soft drink, and expected the computer to dispense the drink when he pressed the button.
# Bill Pullman's character in the film Zero Effect consumes nothing but tuna fish straight from the can and Tab.
# According to America (The Book), the last remaining Tab machine in the US is located in the White House.
# Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy are shown drinking Tab in the movie WarGames.
# In the movie Scrooged, Bill Murray drinks a mixture of Tab and vodka.
# In the movie Austin Powers, Austin can be seen drinking Tab while learning about the years he had been cryogenically frozen.
# In another episode of "The Simpsons" Bart is seen drinking a can of Tab after doing a ballet recital.

The article also mentions, Tab is not an acronym for Totally Artificial Beverage but rather a name intended to appeal to people that keep tab of their calorie intake.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Safety First - Rules for Safe Hunting

In the state of Texas you have to be at least 12 years old, and if you were born on or after September 2, 1971 you need to take a Hunter's Safety Class, before going hunting.

One of the rules for safe hunting is -

Be Sure of Your Target and what lies beyond it!

* Avoid hill top shots, or shots with an obscure background.
* Best backgrounds are hillsides or dirt banks free of big rocks.
* Identify your animal from tip (nose) to tail before you shoot. Never shoot at a sound or   movement.

A sample question -

When taking a shot:

(a) do not worry about what lies beyond your target, the bullet will not travel through the     game animal or target
(b) take shots at game when on a hill or ridge, for the bullet will be traveling upward
(c) be sure of your target and what lies in front of and beyond it
(d) always shoot at the nearest sound in the brush

Safety First - Four Rules for Safety


There's been a fair amount of confusion about the circumstances that led to Dick Cheney shooting his hunting partner Harry Whittington.

I figured ESPN would be fairly unbiased in their report so I checked out ESPN Outdoors -- VP Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter. What I learned from ESPN -

Harry came up behind Dick Cheney. This isn't quite the same as saying Harry snuck into the line of fire, as some are reporting.

Harry didn't announce or otherwise signal his presence behind Dick Cheney. Birds are pretty easy to spook, being quiet would seem to be a reasonable approach when hunting them.

Texas law does not require a hunting party to report an accident unless a fatality is involved. In other words it's not against the law to shoot someone, as long as you make it a hunting expedition and just wing them.

Dick Cheney shows a great deal of deference to the rights of property owners. He didn't report the shooting for over 24 hours because he was "deferring" to the ranch owner the right to report what happened on her property.

Dick shot Harry at 30 yards. The 28 Gauge Shotgun that Dick Cheney was using is "good" to 35 yards as reported in the Progressive Farmer Great Outdoors, it's referred to as the Ideal Upland Game Gun. The article says -

"While the 28-gauge is not considered a good waterfowl, deer or wild-turkey shotgun, it does deliver small-game harvesting energy loads out to 35 yards. And it compares favorably with the 23/4-inch 20- and 12-gauges. For example, the 12-gauge energy load per pellet at 30 yards is 1.77 foot-pounds of energy, the 20-gauge is 1.58 foot-pounds and the 28-gauge is 1.47 foot-pounds. The 28-gauge is well within the necessary energy load to take small game at that range, and it's not too far under the 20- and 12-gauge shotguns."

I heard on the news last night that Harry may have to live with some buckshot embedded in him. Gonna be tough getting through those metal detectors.

A Little Snow This Valentine's Day

We got a little bit of snow this morning in Everett.

First Snow of 06

Monday, February 13, 2006


del.icio.us, owned by Yahoo, is intended to be used as an organizing tool for storing bookmarks to your favorite websites, music, and books and also to share them with family and friends.

In my case it's more like a dis-organizing tool.

I look at the front page links and end up reading about bearskin rug designs, or how accordians are made, or where zirconium comes from...the kind of stuff I need to know ;-)

In other words it's also an interesting place to browse around and discover interesting things.

Computing History

This is a picture of the ENIAC computer at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania. It is available at Historic Computer Images.

History of Computing Information has a wealth of links to pictures and stories related to the development of the ENIAC and other computers.

The ENIAC was developed in the 1940's to compute firing and bombing tables for use by the U.S. in World War II.

From The ENIAC Story -

"By today's standards for electronic computers the ENIAC was a grotesque monster. Its thirty separate units, plus power supply and forced-air cooling, weighed over thirty tons. Its 19,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors consumed almost 200 kilowatts of electrical power.

But ENIAC was the prototype from which most other modern computers evolved. It embodied almost all the components and concepts of today's high- speed, electronic digital computers. Its designers conceived what has now become standard circuitry such as the gate (logical "and" element), buffer (logical "or" element) and used a modified Eccles-Jordan flip-flop as a logical, high-speed storage-and-control device. The machine's counters and accumulators, with more sophisticated innovations, were made up of combinations of these basic elements.

ENIAC could discriminate the sign of a number, compare quantities for equality, add, subtract, multiply, divide, and extract square roots. ENIAC stored a maximum of twenty 10-digit decimal numbers. Its accumulators combined the functions of an adding machine and storage unit. No central memory unit existed, per se. Storage was localized within the functioning units of the computer."

Pretty amazing how much progress has been made in 60 years.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

First BBQ of 2006

We've had a few days of sun so we mowed the lawn, washed cars and broke out the barbeque yesterday. Cooked a vegetable medley on the grill using mesquite charcoal chunks. It was fun and tasty.

Yellow, red and green peppers, fresh mushrooms, small potatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, Boca burgers, asparagus, and a fresh baguette. Sea salt, pepper and garlic powder for some extra garlicy zing and, I almost forgot...lots of tinfoil.

First BBQ of 2006 

Learning About Living and Dying Well

These are two good books written by thoughtful people with lot's of experience in the field of palliative care and hospice.

"Dying Well" is written by Ira Byock M.D.

"Final Gifts" is written by Maggie Callahan and Patricia Kelley who are hospice nurses.

The books are filled with stories of the people who were preparing to die; finishing up unfinished business, surrounded by loving caregivers. The dying, their families and caregivers find meaning, beauty and the healing power of love in the midst of sadness.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Puerto Rico's Coqui - The Singing Frog

The official mascot of Puerto Rico is a tiny tree frog known as the the Coquí. The name comes from the "co-qui" sound the male frogs make when the sun goes down. From the website -

"The coquíes begin to sing when the sun goes down at dusk. Their melody serenades islanders to sleep. Coquíes sing all night long until dawn when they stop singing and head for the nest. Puerto Ricans love their coquíes and have written poems, stories, and Aguinaldos about them.

During the time of the Taíno Indians trillions of coquíes serenated our ancestral home. Many Taíno Indian myths surround the coquí. Coquíes are found in much of the Taíno art like pictographs and pottery."

You can click on the picture of the coqui to hear this little critter sing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Gillette Unveils 5-bladed Razor

What I learned from watching this year's Superbowl -

(a) Officiating can be really bad.
(b) Gillette has a 5-bladed razor.

I have to let go of the first one but I can look forward to getting one of those 5-bladed razors.

NPR is Testing Out the 5-Blade Razor this morning. I sort of half-listened to it. Explaining how a razor performs on the radio has it's limitations.

I guess I missed it but according to this Money/CNN article Gillette unveiled the 5-Blade Razor With TWO Lubricating Strips last September.

You can learn a lot about razors from The Onion - America's Finest News Source.

Telling Stories About a Warmer World

No one knows at what point the big picture effects of energy policy on the economy and the environment will enter the public consciousness, but Orion online has an article on how the The Restorative Power of Mythology might help us accept, and then begin to deal with global warming. As our climate continues to change, we have a choice of being like Noah and saving ourselves or like Moses and doing our best to save our human tribe.

Maybe mythology will help some people, come to grips with energy policy and our environment, but it's likely that the type of people that read articles like the one in Orion don't need help understanding what is, and will happen to our environment, as much as people who depend on TV, or some other mainstream single-viewpoint source, for information.

Not to be a doomsdayer but I can't help but think as a society we have very little capability for dealing with serious complex issues, that are not immediately threatening, in ways that offer potential for real progress. We have highly developed denial skills, or emergency-response skills and less well developed future-planning skills. Even though some in the mainstream media are telling us Climate Change Is Hazardous To Your Health we see very little in the way of governmental policy change to address these issues. Not surprising given the success of electing candidates who run on an environmentally-friendly platform vs. the candidates that are forced to kowtow to the money/power conglomeration that runs America.

Listening to President Bush talk about his non-plan for energy is a case in point. Increasing our use of ethanol is not a solution to the peak in oil production, rising world demand for oil or the effect of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere. How can an energy policy not address federally mandated vehical gas mileage requirements? We need real policies that maximize energy from solar, wind, geothermal, wave, and nuclear sources.

I pulled this from a Forbes article on oil -

"We are consuming oil faster this year than previously thought--and there's no sign of slowing down. In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) now forecasts that the world will consume 115.4 million barrels per day by 2030, up from 82.1 million barrels per day in 2004."

Even the oil conglomerates like BP Chevron are telling us we need to reduce our dependence on oil - by conservation, driving more fuel efficient cars, and planning our cities wisely. Aside from the effects on the environment due to greenhouse gases the fact that the world consumes two barrels of oil for every barrel discovered and oil consumption is expected by some to grow 40% in the next twenty years, would seem to be a wake up call for people strictly from an economic basis.

Beyond economics, but certainly related, is the impact on peaceful coexistance of the world's people as competition for an ever shrinking natural non-renewable resource grows.

At some point we will have to decide what's really important. We can't have it all.

Monday, February 06, 2006

One Cool Car

I've noticed this car gliding around the neighborhood a few times. It's really neat looking - it's like a miniature pickup with a bubble cab that reminds me of a helicopter when you see it from the front. I think it's an electric vehicle.

Balance and Tone

I sometimes wonder what a person reading my blog thinks the "point" is.

There really is no point. I tend to think of my blog as a sort of poor-man's Reader's Digest where you find a variety of topics. I might be writing, or pointing to articles, about technology, religion, education, philosophy, books, music..etc.

It really depends on what interests me at the time, and what's happening in my life.

One thing I choose not to do is make my blog overly personal in regards to what I'm doing day to day. I'm involved in hospice and CASA/VGAL activities now that are tremendously moving..emotional...meaningful, but I will not write about those things in this Blog. I will say one of the most important lessons I'm learning so far is perspective.

The only reason I mention this is to let anyone who may read this blog know the reason why you might see writing that seems to have a particular tone - and then jumps from that tone to something totally different e.g. writing about death then writing about the Seahawks. It's how life works. At least if you want to experience the fullness of life. There is suffering and joy and hope and hopelessness and whole range of things going on around you.

For example for the last week or so I have been posting religious, spiritual, philosophical thoughts. I find this helps me put some order to things when I have, or I am involved with other people who have, experienced loss.

We all struggle to maintain balance in our life, and a positive tone. Sometimes we are out of balance for awhile, but that's okay.

I return to the Mind, Body, Spirit, Friends/Family parts of my life on a daily basis to see how things are going and try and re-allocate my time and energy to balance an area that may need a little shoring up.

Everyday try to do a little mind work, say a prayer, move a little, and be nice to family/friends/strangers - that's about it.


There's any number of authors, consultants, gurus who would like to help you balance your life. I was a facilitator for Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits" at one point in my life - because I found the techniques in his book were effective for me, and wanted to help pass them on to others.

If you only looked at one thing from Covey I'd check out the listening piece - Seek First to Understand and Then to be Understood.

I think I'll review some of that material today using the Seven Habits Discussion Guide: Table of Contents

Wishing you a fine Monday and beginning of this week as we remember all the things we have to give thanks for. We are truly blessed.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Found a Spiritual Teacher? -- Run Away Fast

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Beware of strangers bearing gifts.

If someone wants to sell, teach, or instill - faith, religion, spirituality, mysticism etc. to, or into, you run away – quickly.

Sometimes when I start to think I have some philosophical, ethical, spiritual answers I find it useful to go back to some difficult philosophers. Maybe Nietzsche, Hegel, Wittgenstein, or good old Søren Kierkegaard to give me a dose of confusion, something to think about, reason to believe - how little I know.

Some people say Kierkegaard's book, "Fear and Trembling" is the most accessible of his works. It's short – as far as being easy to understand – no.

It's a discussion of ethics, faith, paradox and maybe salvation based around the Biblical story of Abraham climbing Mount Moriah to kill his beloved son Isaac, as he has been ordered to by God.

Killing is universally accepted as wrong, is it acceptable in this particular instance for a father to kill his son? How could the father of Judeo Christian Islamic traditions be a would-be murderer? If God is love how could God ask a father to hate his own son – to the point of killing him?

Soren thinks and thinks and thinks. He wraps himself around ideas and won't let go. He brings forward very difficult ideas and won't back down. What are we to make of it when the Gospel of Luke tells us –

"If any man cometh unto me and hate not his own father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:26

Who knows the answers? If someone claims to know the answer – should you run away fast?

Here's the part of Kierkegaard's work that strikes me as meaningful this morning –

In talking about people who would mistakenly think they could show another "the way" he writes,

"He does not comprehend what it is all about, that if another individual is to take the same path, he must become entirely in the same way the individual and have no need of any man's guidance…The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and therein lies his deep humanity."


Note: If, and I'm assuming this to be true for most people, you don't have the time or the inclination to try and wade through Kierkegaard – but would like to learn something about him, open up the text of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling in your browser and search through it for the phrase, "knight of faith". Read the surrounding sentence. I think Soren was talking about himself and what he would aspire to be when he uses the phrase "knight of faith". If you try this experiment I think you will get a pretty good feel for what the old Dane was talking about..hey and if you do - could we talk about it? I'd like to know too ;-)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Notes From Today

The basis of this post are the scratchy notes I took at a retreat for hospice volunteers today. After I got home I wanted to write and expand a bit on what I heard.


This comes from a poem by Rumi -

Don't go
Don't go
Don't go
To sleep
Be awake to the spirit - the beauty - the mystery of life.

The actual words are not what I wrote above. The idea, as I understand it - is to be awake to, and in, the present moment. You will find similar thoughts in Buddhism and Christianity.

This is the translation by Coleman Barks of that section of the Rumi poem -

For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn't decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.


Margaret Mead said something along these lines - "When someone is born we rejoice, when someone is married we celebrate, when someone dies we pretend nothing happened."

Our society values strength, beauty and youth. Death is something to "deal with" so the living can get on with life. People in mourning are not encouraged to show their pain or even the fact that they have suffered a loss. Rather than a natural part of life's process of birth, growth and death - we treat dying by relegating it to the funeral industry. When a funeral home comes to take the body they use an unmarked van in order to not upset the neighbors with the fact that someone has died. Rather than having someone who has lost a loved one wear black or some external sign of mourning we choose to pretend that life goes on...same as before...same as always.

Note: I believe this may be the actual quote from Margaret Mead but I can't find a reliable source to attribute it to -

"We jubilate over birth and dance at weddings, but more and more hustle the dead off the scene without ceremony, without an opportunity for young and old to realize that death is as must a fact of life as is birth."


Anam Cara is a Gaelic phrase that means Spiritual Friend or Soul Friend. It's a beautiful thought that you meet someone who is connected to you in such a way that they help you spiritually throughout life including the time of your death stand beside you (even if they have died before you). You can read more about this belief in Celtic Wisdom: A Conversation with John O'Donahue.


We all desire in the deepest part of our heart - to be needed.


Viktor Frankl writes about suffering and Man's Search For Meaning by telling us suffering without meaning leads to despair, suffering with meaning leads to hope.

We give,
we receive
we are able to find redemption

As a former prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp and survivor of the Holocaust Viktor Frankl tells us, as paradoxical as it may seem, that we are able to find redemption, in our own suffering and the suffering of those we love.

We find meaning, redemption and salvation by finding and following a spiritual path to something greater than ourselves. This is a very freeing thought - that there is something greater than "me". I'm not responsible for everything - it's not my job to try and control all that happens in my own or another's life. I am not responsible for the happiness or suffering of others. I do what I can with what has been given me. Some higher power has the ultimate responsibility for what happens on this earth. This allows us to let go - of worry, our pain, and ultimately the physical presence of those we love and our self.

In the presence of one who is dying we stand on sacred ground. The externalities of life are distilled to the essence -

Who have I loved?


Who have I allowed to love me?


It sometimes hardest for patients who are used to giving, taking care, providing for others - their family, friends, pets, strangers. One gift we can give those people is to encourage them to give their permission to be loved in return (which of course they are) but to allow others to show that love by caring for that person in their time of need.


I believe this thought was attributed to John of the Cross, it's my interpretation not a quote -

When you don't feel love.
Give it.
And you will get it.


Pain that is not transcended is transmitted.


The desire to help is a uniquely human phenomona. The book Help : The Original Human Dilemma by Garret Keizer a former Episcopal Priest, writer for Harpers and other magazines and newspapers explores the differences between altruism - providing something that may or may not be helping receipient, and helping - meaning the receipient receives what they need. It is a dilemma I suppose.

From my point of view, by listening we can learn what people need, which may be just that - someone to listen to what they have to say. Once we know what people need we can provide what we have to offer.

For those of us who have our basic needs of shelter, food, clothing and safety taken care of we can move higher on the spiritual plane and create a spirit of abundance within ourselves. We have enough - love, laughter, joy, kindness, and material things - to share with others.

As the prayer says - "It is in giving that we receive."

St. Francis of Assisi - Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment



Holden Village Spiritual Retreat Center

Sacred Art of Living Center

Why Blog?

A blog makes a wonderful daily notebook to yourself, and if you don't mind sharing some of your private thoughts you can make it public - as I have now for several years. If you are more of a private person you can limit access to your blog to yourself only...or yourself and the people you want to share things with.

I highly recommend blogging for anyone interested in journaling or just jotting down things that interest them for future reference. It's a great way to organize your thoughts (well maybe not in my case) but for some.

Blogs make it easy to see what you were thinking about a month ago or a year ago etc. If you have a web link you want to keep, it's easy to embed it in a blog post. A book you are interested in...an idea..a picture...put it in your blog and it's easy to find. A blog is like a huge spiral bound notebook (you can rearrange posts by changing the date if you find you don't like the order of things you have posted). You can paste pictures in it, make it different colors, different styles...

You can organize things by topic if you use Movable Type (not so easy with Blogger). Blogs can be a great learning, recording tool. They are super easy to create and update.

Be Good To Yourself Fellow Saint

Judging ourselves or others as good or bad, likeable or not, lovable or unlovable leads us nowhere. Once we have ourselves or another "pegged" there's no hope of learning, change or growth.

Accepting ourselves and others, as we are and as we can become - leads us to personal growth, greater happiness and richer more rewarding relationships with others.


"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye." - Matthew 7:1-5 (NRSV)


"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another." - Romans 14:13 (NRSV)


How easy it is to judge another. I’ll often make up my mind about a person in literally a blink of an eye – using their physical appearance, body language, and clothing. If they speak - the words they use, the tone of their voice help me climb the ladder of inference.

As hard as I try, I still find myself doing this. I think it’s a function of a primitive part of our brain, a throwback to the time when we had to decide if fight or flight was the proper response. Haven’t seen any saber tooth tigers in the neighborhood so for the most part this auto-response is not very useful, and can be darn right harmful in situations where I am trying to connect with the people around me.

There are times when we need to make split second decisions about another. Walking across a dark deserted parking lot for example. What’s appropriate in a dark parking lot is not appropriate in a meeting where you wish to interact with other people. Have a conversation. Learn from them. Walk a mile, or even a couple of feet, in their moccasins.

The best I can do is be aware of this primitive mind-set and attempt to withhold judgment, categorizing, stereotyping – indefinitely. No two people are the same – they might look the same, wear the same clothes, talk the same – but they haven’t lived the same, loved the same, learned the same or lost the same. Celebrate the differences.

Looking at another with envy or disgust both involve my ability to judge who that person is. The bible passages above tell us even if we did know something about another it is not our place to judge. We are all sinners. But the good new is that we are also all saints.

Be good to yourself, fellow saint, and be as good as you can be to others. If you can love yourself you are well on the road to learning to love others.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Go Hawks Day!

Mayor Greg Nickels proclaimed today "Go Hawks Day!" and encouraged everyone in Seattle to wear the Seahawk's colors to show Seattle’s support for the team as it prepares for its first Super Bowl.

Seahawks fans are invited to a rally at noon in Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.

"Nickels also officially announced the details of his Super Bowl bet with Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O’Connor.

On the table from Seattle: Starbucks coffee, Larry’s Smokehouse salmon, Pike Place beer, Pagliacci pizza, Dilettante chocolates, dinner for two at the Space Needle, a compact disc sampler of great Seattle bands, and two bottles of Washington wine.

Mayor O’Connor is countering with a “Taste of Pittsburgh” tailgate smorgasbord that includes: Bloomfield Bridge Tavern Pierogis & Kolbassa; Nicholas Brothers Coffee; Heinz ketchup and fries; Iron City beer and Primanti Brothers famous Pittsburgh sandwich."

All I can say is that I imagine that Primanti Brothers sandwich is going to taste mighty good.

I'd like to thank the Texas Aggies for allowing us to use the word "twelfth" followed by the word "man" for the time being at least.

Interesting to see that other folks have stumbled on that combination of words. A Google Search for "twelfth man -texas" turns up quite a few examples. Not to take anything away from the Texas Aggie Tradition - which has a long and honorable history, but I'm glad we can use the term too.

Just Show Up

Just Show Up

Often times in life we run into situations where the best we can do is just show up.

Showing up, being yourself and letting things unfold can work much better than worrying about what might happen, thinking - you aren’t ready, good enough, the wrong person at the wrong time, or a million and one other things we might find to think about that reinforce the reason why we should opt out.

For a Christian, the faith that things will be okay if we put ourselves in God’s hands can work wonders in giving us the confidence to proceed in a difficult situation. Attending to a person who is sick, visiting a grieving person, stepping into any human situation where someone is suffering, with the intention of providing comfort, a shoulder to cry on or just a listening ear is an opportunity for us to make our self an instrument of God’s infinite compassion and love. Simply giving in, letting go of our anxiety and having the faith that Jesus will guide us provides us with the courage to move forward.

We know this to be true by example. From the Christian social worker, minister, nurse, or millions of other examples of people right where you live that do God’s work everyday in millions of little ways. The beauty of a deep and abiding faith is that it frees a person. Frees us from our self-doubt, negative self-talk, allows us to forgive ourselves for our human frailties and get on with the business of living everyday to the fullest.

Having faith allows a person to be a compassionate calming steady presence in circumstances where pain and suffering are causing the people involved to lose their bearings. It’s taken me a long time to start to understand this, and at fifty something I have a lot to learn. Thank God and all the good teachers I’ve encountered over the years on my path.


Christians of course don’t have the corner on human kindness and if your philosophy of life, or religion, allows you to be present, compassionate, kind and helping in times of other’s needs, or for that matter in times of your own needs, then may God bless you.

It’s hard for me to fathom in some particular instances how a person without faith - without a sense of awe - mystery - spirituality of some sort; would be able to approach those situations in life where they, or someone they love, are suffering greatly. It would seem hard to not have overwhelming feelings of panic, dread and sadly - hopelessness in the utter meaninglessness of it all.

For a non-spiritual atheist who believes there is no mystery in life, that "it" is all right here - it's unclear to me how that person could be present for a person who is suffering what seems to be unbearable physical or pyschic pain. To stand beside that person. It seems to me that would be very hard. I’d think the inner voice would be saying, “this is scary, sad, hopeless….”

The key is the last word – hopeless. Without hope there is nothing. Suffering and death is pointless and therefore extremely frightening and unbearably sad. A Christian would be scared and sad but having hope, faith and love could work through those feelings to help themselves and others. To go on, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, knowing, Robert Frost wrote -

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

As they say – whatever brings you peace and joy. If you have worked out your personal salvation and redemption in some secular way, then more power to you.


Every case we show up for is not going to be heavy, deep and real as we used to say in the 60’s. Sometimes it’s showing up for a meeting, a class or a gathering of friends or family.

Just getting there is 90 percent of the battle. I was in a class last week where a participant said he had found that by giving up on worrying about doing - he found he had a lot more time to spend doing.

May you find the courage to just show up for the things that are important to you.

Wishing you Love – Peace and Joy.

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Why Site Registration Is a Bad Idea

I have a little tip for website owners who require a "registration" before they let you look at a story. This practice is going away for the most part, but you still see it in some newspaper and TV news websites.

You are really shooting yourself in the foot. You won't get links from bloggers, which will impact your Google rank and the registration process only serves to decrease page views in general. If your intent is to make money from your site either via page views or click-thru ads you really should stop locking up your pages.

If you believe your content is uniquely valuable to the point that someone is going to go to the trouble of spending time to register by giving you personal information, perhaps you should consider a "view ad then read content" model like Slate uses, or try to sell the content via subscriptions or a pay for view model.

Whatever you might do with the email address, password or other personal information you ask a reader to create...it isn't going to make up for the loss in viewership and links.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Some Really Good Advice

I had some really good advice I was going to pass on early this morning.

I forgot what it was but I'm pretty sure it was profound and fascinating.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Firefox 1.5.01 Released

Firefox 1.5.01 Released

How to Fix a Stuck Pixel

How to Fix a Stuck Pixel on an LCD Monitor, from WikiHow, sounds great but I'm not so sure if it would work for the dead pixels I've seen on LCD's, which show up as white dots.

"Stuck" pixels according to the article are stuck in one color - red, green or blue.

I thought it might be worth a try if you have an LCD with some stuck pixels that are not covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

Lead Me Home

From the hymn "Precious Lord" by Thomas Andrew Dorsey -

"Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand!
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn,
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home."


Thomas Andrew Dorsey was a young black musician living in Chicago in the 1930's. He was out of town for a musical performance, when he received word that his wife had died during childbirth. The next night his newborn son died as well. He wrote the hymn "Lead Me Home" while recovering from those losses.

"As the Lord gave me these words and melody, He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home." - Testimony by Thomas Andrew Dorsey