Monday, July 31, 2006

Lake Tahoe 2006

It was a great wedding, and so nice to see everyone. I posted some of the pictures I took here for computer viewing, and larger sizes here for cropping and or printing.

We drove from Lake Tahoe to Everett in one shot Sunday (about 880 miles). Northern California and Southern Oregon are so pretty. I love to drive and so do my wife and daughters so it was a great trip. It was a good chance to visit and enjoy the scenic drive.

We stopped at the Olive Pit in Corning, CA. on the ride home for lunch of a delicious olive tapenade on good bread, and picked up some goodies to take home.

Nice to go...and as always - nice to be home too.


Postscript 8/7/06 -

These are some scanned images of pictures B took with her 35 mm camera -

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lake Tahoe South Shore

We're staying at the Timber Cove Lodge on the South shore of Lake Tahoe.

It's very nice - lots of things to do, good food and beautiful views. The weather has been perfect.

The lake isn't as cold as I thought it would be, it's a nice temperature for swimming.

We did a little gambling and a little shopping yesterday - after I tried my hand at roulette, craps and blackjack, I had enough money left over to buy a large pinecone and some socks.

We've had a lot of fun on our long weekend trip. It was great to do a road trip with R and B, and see family and friends.

This is a perfect spot for a wedding. I'll post some pictures once I get my USB cable for my camera.


I cropped this picture from a view out our window - I didn't change the colors, just increased the lighting because the camera was confused by the dark room and the bright beach - or maybe it was the photographer that was confused - in any event, I think it captures the view of the beach in a nice way.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Parakeet Training Record

The real audio files from the Parakeet Training Record at "Frank's Vinyl Museum" might be just what you need to perk up your day - or your parakeet's day. You can listen to the ever popular "Hello Baby!" and a more complex vocalization "Good Morning. Wanna Eat? Good Morning. Wanna eat!"

You don't need a parakeet to enjoy this record - as is pretty obvious in the third sample where the announcer imitates a parakeet.


The comments are fun to browse through. Excellent advice, like -

"If a Indian Parakeet is scared of YOU and refuses to talk, Give him a piece if suugarcane and for at least 1 hour rub his head softly."


"First, if u have a parakeet who always bites u, throw him from a great height and someone else catch it, the bird might think u r his friends,

NEVER give them green chilli or tomatoes!"

Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence

According to The Onion there's a Wikipedia article on America Inderpendance which, "features detailed maps of the original colonies—including Narnia, the central ice deserts, and Westeros—as well as profiles of famous American historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Special Agent Jack Bauer, and Samuel Adams who is also a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals."


"Peace is one of the most powerful words in the Bible. We often hear the phrases 'peace and quiet' and 'peace of mind,' but these expressions suggest only a limited view of peace. Shalom, the Hebrew word that is translated peace, encompasses much more. Shalom includes completeness, soundness, safety, health, tranquility, contentment, and friendship. When we have shalom we have everything we need."

From the July 27th Upper Room | Devotional

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Church Affliated Colleges

From the New York Times -

"David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, put it more starkly. “The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist form is incompatible with higher education,’’ Professor Key said. “In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you’re searching for truths.’’"

My intent is not to critique the Southern Baptists, but rather to reiterate the statement from Professor Key,

"In fundamentalism, you have all the truths.
In education, you're searching for truths."

When it comes to church affiliated colleges - It's a matter of balance. I'm all for church-affiliated education, provided there is freedom, and encouragement, to think. In fact a philosophy, religion or theology program outside of any faith based tradition can lead to aimlessness, new age woo-wooism, or moral confusion.

Several years ago I attended graduate classes at Antioch University in Seattle in a field of study called Whole Systems Design. The program is a combination of; Systems Engineering ala Norbert Wiener and his fellow current generation systems thinkers such as Peter Senge, an attempt to frame a worldview or philosophy of life, and development of attitudes and skills to allow students to be effective in the world.

It's the attempt to frame a worldview or philosophy of life - where, for me, the program failed. Attempting to define ethics, a worldview, a philosophy of living - outside of some tradition, leads to some la-la new age thinking, ethical confusion and aimlessness.

The program required a variety of entry-level type classes in world religions and philosophy - but there was no thread to tie those together. In the attempt to be open there was an unspoken but very real negation of traditional faith and spirituality. By traditional faith or spirituality I mean Judeo Christian, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism. The negation was not intentional but rather a result of treating every idea from Wicca Goddess worship to Zen Buddhism to Sufism to Buddhism to Christian Mysticism - the same. They are all good, all equally effective, so which to choose? Pick a little from all? Or?

Presenting graduate level new-age tinged classes in theology, religion and philosophy - with an "anything is as good as anything else" approach to teaching - and no college affiliation with a time-tested religion to provide a compass to students who have no theological, religious or philsophical foundation - sounds like a recipe for confusion at best and a misguided attempt to jump on any old cult bandwagon at worst.

I came to the program as an adult who had studied philosophy and religion in the context of a Lutheran tradition at Concordia College, as a self taught student, and a baptized Catholic who had worked for an with priests for years as a young man. There wasn't much chance that I was going to get too far off course - but being with so many new age thinkers, students and professors - studying theology, philosophy and religions, was not my cup of tea.

When it comes to learning how to live a good life, I don't think a Witch or a Warlock have equal credibility with a Sister, a Brother, a Priest, a Minister, a Rabbi...sorry - just doesn't work for me. I tend to be a pragmatist and am interested in what has proven to be effective in living a good life. As a thinker I want to be able to decide for myself what path I will take within those traditions. When you are looking for water it's best to drill a well in a promising area.

I like participating in classes, where we are going to talk about what constitutes the good life, with a variety of people (the fundamentalists, faithful, faithless, theological experts/novices etc.) If that class is at a college I'd like it to have some sort of path, time-tested tradition, that keeps me from getting blown too far off course.

If I'm going to learn what constitutes the good life I'll put my money and time into something that has been proven successful. I'd stick with the big four - Catholicism, Protestant, Judaism or Buddhism. Not to slight Islam or Hinduism but they are too complex for me and I'm sorry to say that the success of those religions in creating a good life for believers seems less than spectacular.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Match Point - Woody Allen

I watched the 2005 movie Match Point, written and directed by Woody Allen, last night.

It's a drama, romance and a thriller - about what a young man is willing to give up to keep what he has. The movie explores the, "I'd rather be lucky than good" philosophy of living to the extremes (not just good as in being good at something - but good as in not being evil).

The soundtrack is perfect - I only wish I understood Italian. Even a monolinguisticly challenged person like me can get the point that the operatic music in the background is about the things in life that make great stories - love, death, jealosy, passion - to name a few.

It's a good movie and unless someone spills the beans I'm pretty sure it will keep you guessing until the end.

Camera Obscura Are Ready to Get Heartbroken

Rolling Stone has an online article about the U.S. tour of the Scottish band - Camera Obscura.

I have a link to the video of their song "Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heartbroken" at my Cafe Jack - Yahoo! blog.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Top 10 Business Buzzwords

Top 10 Business Buzzwords according to Microsoft Encarta, include - drive, incent, delayering, narcissurfing, deep dive, bleeding edge, offline, ping, al desko, and defrag.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shopping Cart Goo

Have you ever wondered what type of goo might be on, or growing on, a shopping cart?

It's pretty easy to imagine some pretty funky stuff - considering carts carry food items that may be contaminated - like chicken parts or ground meat, with juices that may escape the packaging, making a good culture for growing bacteria.

Besides the food, the carts carry kid's with - runny noses, maybe a little drool dripping off their chins, in diapers maybe leaking a little fecal material.

Carts are well handled by people who may have any type of disease known to man, provided that disease allows them to still be ambulatory, (we'll eliminate the scooter powered carts for the sake of simplicity.)

And last but not least people are using carts who may not have access to, or are adverse to using, soap and water.

Overall you might guess that a shopping cart is one of the most bacteria/virus laden surfaces we come into contact with. You would be right.

I've noticed the big grocery stores where I live have disinfectant wipes near the carts now. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to wipe my hands off after I touched the carts or if they want me to clean the carts for them. Makes me wonder how hard it could be to have a little shopping cart cleaning station - manned by grocery store employees (never mind that would cost money...why pay someone when they can get me to clean the cart?)

It's probably not a big issue if your immune system isn't compromised. On the other hand there are some bacteria/viruses that you probably don't want to test your immune system against more often than necessary - for example Methicillian Resistant Staph A or MRSA infections are becoming more common outside of hospitals/nursing homes.

If you have a break in your skin, already have a cold/flu or some more serious disease that compromises your immune system, or you are in the very young or very old category, it probably pays to think about how to keep from picking up too much gunk on your food, and hands - and certainly for all of us - washing our hands often.

Your call of course. We probably don't want to become bubble-boys and girls, or Monk-like (the TV show Monk) with OCD germ phobias.

I sometimes think George Carlin has it right when he claims swimming in dirty polluted water as a kid made his immune system stronger. There's some evidence, in rats at least, that living in an overly-sanitized environment leads to various allergies and auto-immune disorders. The comments on the CBC article on Slashdot are interesting.

It may be obvious but there's an important distinction between a surface or object that looks clean, or looks dirty, - and what can make you sick. An object can look dirty, but not be contaminated with anything that would be harmful to your health - a muddy apple for example, or an earthworm (for you young kids out there who are inclined to eat those critters). On the other hand a surface can look clean, for example your cutting board after you cut up a chicken - or some non-sanitized area in a hospital, but be teeming with bad germs.

My thought is that you probably stand a better chance of harming your health by worrying, stressing out, and thinking you are going to get sick - than by contacting icky stuff on a shopping cart or anywhere else. I think about nurses, school teachers, and other folks who are in constant contact with germs - but remain amazingly healthy. Knowing some basic rules about hand washing and keeping a positive attitude, work wonders.

I ran across the following quotes while "researching" the Five-second rule on Wikipedia -

* O que não mata, engorda (Brazil: "if it doesn't kill you, it's fattening").
* Lo que no mata, engorda (Spanish-speaking countries: "if it doesn't kill you, it's fattening").
* Chancho limpio nunca engorda (Spanish speaking countries: ("A clean pig never gets fat").
* Dreck macht Speck (Southern Germany: A double-meaning, "Dirt makes bacon" or "Dirt makes fat").
* Dreck reinigt den Magen (Germany: 'Dirt cleans the stomach').
* Was Dich nicht tötet, härtet Dich ab (Germany: "if it doesn't kill you, it makes you tougher").
* Lite skit rensar magen (Swedish: 'Some dirt cleans the stomach').
* Zand schuurt de maag (Dutch: "Sand cleans the stomach").
* 大菌吃小菌 (Chinese: "Big germs (people) eat small germs").
* You'll eat a peck of dirt before you die
* Зараза к заразе не пристанет or Zaraza k zaraze ne pristanet (Russian: "dirt won't do any harm to a dirty one").
* Man skal have syv pund skidt om året (Denmark: "You need seven pounds of dirt a year").

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Around The House

I'm in charge of watering the flowers. I thought I'd take some pictures in case they are all dead when B gets back from Minnesota. Actually - I'm taking my job pretty seriously, and even did the dead-heading (pinching or cutting off the spent blooms to keep flowers blooming) today.

I made my freezer jam with some fresh, picked today, Washington State - Skagit Valley - blueberries. The jam tastes nothing like what I buy in the store. It's blueberrier. The jam has a sort of wild/tart/fresh taste. That's probably the stems and leaves I left in :-)

Did you know the inside of a blueberry is sort of a murky green? Also pectin tastes pretty good - sweet and a little lemony. If someone comes to see me - I can make toast...and now I have some fresh jam too.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lemon Berry Mix-Up Freezer Jam

With lots of ripe summer fruit around it might be a good time to make some fresh, simple, jam. All you need is 4 cups mashed up berries, or peaches once they get ripe, a cup and a half of sugar and a packet of freezer jam pectin.

Your fresh jam will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks or in the freezer for up to year. You can get a package of pectin at your local grocery for a buck and some change. The package looks like this -

There is also a No-sugar needed pectin that would be fun to try if you like your jam to taste more like fruit and less like fruit flavored sugar.

Recipe For "Lemon Berry Mix-Up Freezer Jam"


1 pouch Ball® Fruit Jell® Freezer Jam Pectin
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups crushed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and or blueberries)
Zest of 1 large lemon

Crush berries with a potato masher. Measure 4 cups crushed berries; set aside. Combine freezer jam pectin and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring to evenly blend. Add crushed berries and lemon zest. Stir for 3 minutes. Serve immediately, if desired. For longer storage, ladle jam into clean freezer jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace; apply lids. Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.

I found this recipe at

Pectin is a naturally occurring substance found in fruit.

Turn Off Annoying Windows File Delete Confirmation Dialog

Problem: Every time you delete a file, Windows asks you if you're sure you want to delete it.

Solution: Turn off the Recycle Bin's Delete Confirmation feature. Because the Recycle Bin makes file deletion a pretty impermanent experience, WinXP's "Are You Sure?" message is a waste of time and mouse activity. To eliminate the message, right-click the Recycle Bin, choose Properties, click the Global tab, remove the check mark from the box next to Display Delete Confirmation Dialog, and click OK.

Source - PC Magazine Discussions

High Dynamic Range Photography (HDR)

I've noticed pictures tagged with HDR at Flickr and wondered what that term meant.

This paper titled "The Future of Digital Imaging - High Dynamic Range Photography" by Jon Meyer at, has a nice explanation.

Here's a couple of examples of HDR photos posted by José Guerrero Roldán on

Pretty cool huh?

You Got to Have Friends

From the book Love and Survival : The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy by Dean Ornish M.D. -

"When I reviewed the scientific literature, I was amazed to find what a powerful difference love and relationships make on the incidence of disease and premature death from virtually all causes. It may be hard to believe that something as simple as talking with friends, feeling close to your parents, sharing feelings openly, or making yourself vulnerable to others in order to enhance intimacy can make such a powerful difference in your health and well-being, but study after study indicates that they often do."

A comment on Dean Ornish's statement from James Kouzes and Barry Posner's book Encouraging the Heart: A Leader's Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others

"What Ornish refers to as love, others refer to as social support. Studies on social isolation, social support, and intimacy have been conducted across the United States and around the world. They've been done involving old, middle-aged, and young men and women. If you're interested - or if you're skeptical - we encourage you to review the evidence for yourself. It'll make you smile, and it'll make you weep."

Oh Davey! History of the 'Davey and Goliath' Television Series Part 1.

If you have kids, or are a kid at heart, and would like to watch something besides the regular run of the mill cartoons, the stop motion animation series from the 60's and 70's, "Davey and Goliath" is a nice change of pace. It's pretty low key, the dog Goliath is cute and it has some good messages. The funny, goofy voice of the dog - Goliath, is done by Hal Smith, who played Otis on the Andy Griffith show.

"Davey and Goliath" was created by Art and Ruth Clokey, who also created "Gumby". The show was funded by the ELCA and distributed free of charge to U.S. television stations. It became a popular show in many countries and at one time was the most popular children's television show in the Netherlands.

I'm not generally a big fan of television religious shows but "Davey and Goliath" seems to be an exception to the usual "I heard Jesus and he said to send me money" message.

You can find "Davey and Goliath" on your local TBN - Trinity Broadcasting Network.

The videos and text below came from Google Video.

"Oh Davey! History of the 'Davey and Goliath' Television Series is a one-hour documentary that showcases the development of Davey and Goliath, the stop-motion animation children's program created for the Lutheran church by Clokey Productions between 1960 through 1975. It features original clips of Davey and Goliath, as well as interviews with the original animator and creators, Art and Ruth Clokey.

The program highlights how stop-motion animation is created and also includes the development of characters, photos, storyboards, scripts, commercials and public service announcements as well as insight on new productions.

The documentary is hosted by Clifton Davis and Mary McDonough. Davis is best known for his roles on the hit network television sitcoms, "That's My Mama" and "Amen." McDonough is best remembered for her role as Erin on the highly acclaimed show, "The Waltons" a role she played when she was just 10 years old.

This documentary promises to highlight the richness, diversity and quality of Davey and Goliath for children and adults. Fans will learn about progress and new programs for a new generation of Davey and Goliath viewers.

The producer for this project is Ava Odom Martin, broadcast media production manager for the ELCA. The studio portions are done by Post Effects 3D virtual studio in Chicago."

Call 800.638.3522 for information.

Oh Davey! History of the 'Davey and Goliath' Television Series Part 2.

"Part 2 of the one-hour documentary showcases the development of Davey and Goliath, the stop-motion animation children's program created for the Lutheran church by Clokey Productions between 1960 through 1975. It features original clips of Davey and Goliath, as well as interviews with the original animator and creators, Art and Ruth Clokey. Other interviews include Richard Sutcliffe, the original executive producer of the series and R. Marshall Stross, former director of the Commission on Press."

Note: The audio isn't synched to the video on this, so it might be less confusing to just listen.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sweet Potato Waffles and Blueberry Syrup

I thought this recipe from sounded good. I think I'll try making it this weekend.


For the syrup
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons water, if using fresh berries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon dark honey
3 tablespoons light molasses
Pinch of ground cloves

1/3 cup peeled and diced sweet potato, or 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat (whole-meal) flour
1/4 cup cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup plain soy milk (soya milk)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg white or vegan substitute for egg whites (1 tbsp milled flax seed, banana or tofu and 3 tbsp water)


To make the syrup, in a saucepan, combine the blueberries, water (if using), lemon juice and zest, honey, 1 tablespoon of the molasses, and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the berries burst and the juices are slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Frozen berries may take slightly longer to thicken. Set aside and keep warm.

If using sweet potato, bring a small saucepan half full of water to a boil. Add the sweet potato, return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and puree in a food processor or mash with a potato masher until smooth. Set aside. If using pumpkin puree, reserve.

In a small bowl, sift together the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy milk, sweet potato puree, olive oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons molasses. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Make sure that the mixing bowl and beaters are spotlessly clean and free of fat. Even a small amount of fat, such as egg yolk or oil, can prevent the egg whites from whipping properly. Once whipped, gently whisk 1/3 of the egg white into the batter to lighten it. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining egg white into the batter, mixing just until incorporated. (Skip this step if you use the vegan egg white substitute. You aren't going to get flaxseed, banana or tofu to whip up into nice airy stiff peaks. Your waffle might end up having alternate uses - shoe repair material, flying disk etc.)

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 225 F. Preheat a waffle iron. Spoon or ladle about 1/2 cup batter into the waffle iron, depending on the size of the iron. Spread evenly and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the batter thickens, thin with a little soy milk. Transfer the waffle to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 6 waffles. Serve topped with the syrup.

Speaking of sweet yummy stuff the Food Blog: Dessert Archives has some nice looking pictures and recipes that sound tasty.

Tony Bourdain on Vegans and Vegan Food

The idea of using a vegan substitute for egg whites and ending up with a waffle that's good for a frisbee or shoe repair material reminds me of an interview with Tony Bourdain, the chef/traveler on the Food Network in which he said the worst food he ever had was at a vegan restaurant in Berkeley. Sorry my fellow vegans but that's a fact - vegan food isn't all that great. There is pretty darn good vegan food - but we aren't going to be making or eating any great food.

Here's link to the interview with Tony Bourdain on

The quote is,
"Certainly the vegan meal I had in Berkeley was soul-destroying, and just frightening."

He goes on to say a bit more about vegans -

"They're rude! People's choice to become vegan, from people I've spoken to, seems motivated by fear. Like, "it's possibly toxic, or ungroovy, or poisonous, or loaded with chemicals or some kind of harmful things that'll make me less healthy." I certainly don't see that as a good reason to do anything, certainly not a good reason to be rude to your host.

How can you travel? Before you've even left home, you've already decided, "I reject most of the world's bounty and the expression of their hopes and dreams and culture." Some nice, possibly impoverished Vietnamese rice farmer is nice enough to offer you the one chicken he can kill a month, or a week, and you say, "Sorry, I can't"? It just seems antihuman. It's antisocial.

And for anyone who says that everyone should eat like that -- it completely ignores the fact that, well, we can't afford to. We've got hungry people in this world. Go stay with the Bushmen for a week. Ninety-eight percent of their diet is meat. [Chuckles darkly.] That would be a funny reality show."

I agree it would be rude to not accept food from someone who offers it in the spirit of hospitality and friendship, on the other hand there have been, and are, some really cool vegans who practice veganism in the spirit of compassion and non-violence. I hope he isn't saying all people who's cultures or religious beliefs cause them to follow a vegan diet are rude. The point about starving Bushmen eating meat is sort of misguided since we could feed a lot of people a plant-based diet using the land we use today to feed cows...but that's another story.

In any event I think poking fun at self-righteous, humorless, holier-than-thou vegans (or anyone else who fits that mold) is always a good thing. Tony Bourdain is funny, seems real, and you have to love his spirit of adventure.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Faith and Loss

A couple of questions for you.

Does a strong faith help when we lose a loved one?

What impact does the loss of a loved one have on our faith?

I know I can't do justice to these topics, but some thoughts...

I think the answer to the first question is obviously yes. You may disagree, of course, and prefer to call "faith" something else - perhaps - "wishful thinking", "pie in the sky when you die", "delusional thinking" etc.

I don't think anyone would argue that a simple childlike (and yes possibly deluded) faith can be helpful for those dying or those grieving the loss of another.

The second question is perhaps more interesting. When we lose a loved one our faith may be shaken - it may be destroyed. What kind of God would allow, or for those who believe in predestination - script, the death of someone we love - when that death is painful, seemingly meaningless or in the case of a young person - much too soon?

What kind of a God?


Grief over personal losses are so close to us - vivid - painful; but what if we expanded our question?

What kind of a God allows - war, hunger, disease, abuse, murder or any other tragic senseless suffering?

Each of us has to work this out. I shouldn't say we have to - we could accept what a preacher tells us, or reject religion completely or numb ourselves up with whatever we choose. However - if we want to transcend - to grow - we have to sweat it out, work on it, live it, suffer through it...with fear and trembling - anger, frustration and pain.

There's no answer.

You just end up with a bunch of scars, and your hair starts to fall out, and your skin gets all saggy and wrinkly, and you forget stuff (thank God in some instances). But like the Skin Horse you will know if you stay in the fight - that you lived, loved and were became real.


Nalanda West - Dying Well Conference

I'm planning to attend a 4 day conference on the spiritual perspectives of dying well, caregiving and healing grief at Nalanda West in Seattle this August.

The overview says the conference offers ways in which we can transform the experience of loss and grief into personal growth.

Speakers include spiritual leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Sufi traditions.

I'm looking forward to it.


According to Wikipedia, the name Nalanda refers to a historical place in India that is important to the history of India and Buddhism. Nalanda literally means the place that confers the lotus.


If the conference sounds like something you would be interested in but you can't make it - I recommend reading the book Dying Well by Ira Byock, a physician from Missoula, Montana.

From the description of the book, "Dying Well" -
"None of us gets out of here alive, but reading this book will lessen your fear of the ultimate end and give you some guidance about enjoying your life to the fullest right up until your final moment. Do people really enjoy life in the face of death? People do. The stories of individuals in Dr. Byock's book will move and inspire you to change your feelings about the end of your life, and also your feelings about your life in the present."
From the Publishers Weekly description of the book "Dying Well" -
"This study of how to die well displays uncommon vitality. Byock, president elect of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care, is a gifted storyteller. Beginning with his own father's terminal illness, he details without scientific cant the process of decline that awaits most of us. The case studies, which form the humanistic soul of this work, never devolve into the maudlin or saccharine. Life on the edge of the great crossing is explored in all its sadness and pathos, but Byock also makes room for wisdom, hope and even the joy of final understanding. By recounting the passages of patients in his Missoula, Mont., practice, Byock makes a forceful case for hospice care and against physician-assisted suicide."


My wiki to discuss and learn about Nothing isn't exactly taking off.

Or maybe it is?


Perhaps many people have been adding nothing which is why there is zero/zilch/nada?

There is still nothing on the wiki except the picture of the buffalo from over by Gardiner Montana that I stuck on there. I believe his (or her) facial expression symbolizes man's fight against nothing. Note to reader - I just made that up. I'm sorry but I couldn't stand a web page without something.

Since I'm confessing I will also admit that I'm the only person who has edited the wiki, that is except for the editors or commenters who left nothing.

There is a - Geez leave it to a philosopher-type to create a page about nothing and then provide a bunch of verbiage and a link to the "Logic of Events" which I can only assume is a book about nothing...wouldn't be the first I suppose.

I never inhaled of course but I'm thinking a bit of something like Panama Red helps a lot if you want to delve into the philosophy of nothing.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Interlude Thought of the Day

"Would that you had come yesterday, then God would have let us be friends longer."

- Hamid, Rashida tribesman, Ethiopia meeting someone for the first time.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why We Need to Be Self Centered

You need to be selfish.

There I said it. I know it sounds wrong, but it's the truth. It's as simple as knowing you have to take care of yourself if you are ever going to take care of or help another.

We need to be very in-touch with ourselves to gauge where we are emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to know when things are a little out of balance and be able to correct. When it's time to step away, relax, do something different - unwind, rewind and refresh. When it's time to recreate ourselves.

Everything we do is me-centered.

Again that sounds wrong. What about the helpful, good hearted, unselfish people who are out serving others?

They are, if they are worth their salt, getting more out of what they are doing (or at least as much) as the people they serve.

You have to be careful if you ever run into someone "pure". You might meet an angel or two in this lifetime, but it's rare. The purely unselfish types often times are a bit delusional and can at worst be downright mean. If they could consciously connect with their inner self and discover that what they are doing is not giving them pleasure (and they were honest about it) they'd stop. In some cases they would be doing those they are "helping" a favor.

Without inner consistency - integrity - we end up with someone who on the surface is good/helpful/kind, but there is something else just below the surface. The issue is what is hidden and what comes out when they think no one is looking or when they are in a position of power with someone powerless.

We can't, know matter how hard we try - be one person one place and another person somewhere else. Certainly we all have our roles - mother, father, brother, sister, friend, worker, teacher, student, etc. and we all respond differently in those roles. Responding differently is not the same as being a different person in those areas. You can't be a nice mother and a mean are either a nice person or you aren't. It's a quality that makes you who you are, and who you are is not going to vary from one place to the next. What you do and how you react yes - but your authentic self - you're you - that's fixed.

Occasionaly someone who is purported, or purports, to have saintly qualities will drop their mask for a second in your presence, and you catch a glimpse of someone who isn't so "nice" after all. One caveat here - no one is a saint all the time. No one is nice all the time. Good people, helpful people, loving people, all can have their moments where they don't live up to their expectations. We all have bad minutes, hours, days, weeks. My point is the person who puts on an appearance of perfection 24/7 is probably the person to be worried about - particularly when you catch that glimpse of some act that is hmmmmmm dare I say it - a bit evil or less damningly - mean spirited, for no other reason than to be mean.

It's about authenticity. Being who you are. Not talking about who you are, quoting the bible or going to church on Sunday. It's what you do when no one else is there to know that counts. No one is going to thank you for that, no one will know, you won't be a hero - but you might be a true saint. Pure acts of charity are only possible when there is nothing external to be gained on the part of the money changes hands, love is given without the expectation that it will be returned, no awards are given, no pats on the back - but (and this is a big but) - you know and really that's all that matters.

Have a great Friday and enjoy your weekend - you deserve it for all the good things you do.


A good book about caregivers and their relationship to those they care for is Wendy Lustbader's Counting On Kindness.

Maybe Things Really are Black and White

If life was a pen and ink drawing.

The clean white sheet of paper

the joy

The black ink

the suffering

we need both to create meaning

we need the space

of joy

to make sense of those

sharp lines of suffering

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Secret To Happiness

How to be happy.

The first thing you could do is choose the right parents.

Not so you would inherit a bazillion bucks but so you could inherit a high set point for happiness. Research has shown that people are genetically dispositioned to have a set point that keeps their happiness within a range.

It's not quite as simple as saying people are born happy or unhappy, but rather that people have a tendancy towards one or the other. We all know people who are naturally upbeat, happy and see the glass as half full. Conversely we all know people who are downbeat, unhappy and see the glass as half empty.

Studies have shown that people who win the lottery and people who lose a limb - will after time, return to about the same level of happiness they started at before those events. What does that tell you?

It should tell you that externalities are not going to make you happy or unhappy. You have to work from the inside out. You choose your attitude regardless of the situation you find yourself in. I'm going to assume for the sake of argument that people want to be happy and want the people around them to be happy as well.

The good news is that you can move your personal happiness quotient higher within your range with some simple advice -

Maintain ties with family and or friends. Foster relationships. People who are in contact with other people are not only happier but healthier as well.

Get some exercise. No matter what kind of physical activity you choose - do something. Walk, bike, garden, mow your lawn, swim, climb stairs...anything that gets you moving.

Eat healthy foods. It is true that you are what you eat. Eat foods that are high in fiber, low in added sugar (especially the all pervasive high fructose corn syrup which adds extra calories to so much really don't need sugar in your canned soup), look for natural unprocessed foods - avoid eating things that your grandparents wouldn't recognize as food.

Drink plenty of water. It's easy to get dehydrated and not even know it. The symptoms can be headaches and low energy.

Get enough sleep. Relax, take a nap when you are tired.

Practice meditation of some sort. The left frontal cortex has been shown to be active in people who are happy. The people who have the highest activity in this part of the brain turn out to be those who practice meditation. It doesn't have to be a big deal - straighten your back, turn down the external noise, take some deep breaths and watch your thoughts flow by without trying to hold onto any of them.


There's a bit of a catch 22 here though, if the only way to be happy is to be born happy and through the luck of the draw you got the unhappy genes, your natural tendency may be to choose a really bad attitude, and make yourself as well as those around you miserable. I'm not really sure there's much that can be done besides taking the advice already given - stay close to family and or friends, exercise, eat right, drink water, get enough sleep, meditate...but what do I know. Anyone who is clinically depressed should seek professional help - those professionals can help you get back on the path.

One last thing - it's a mistake to think that our goal is to be happy as a steady state condition. We should treat happiness like a direction on a compass - you want to be in tune with your mind and body enough to know when you are heading in the right direction (towards happiness). Your happiness will fluctuate - that's normal - sometimes you will be off 180 degrees and start getting really unhappy - when that happens turn around, take a different path, and if all else fails stop and ask for directions.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Waking Up to The Joy of Living

"Living As if There Were No Tomorrow" is this week's Interlude: Meditation of the Week at

Tom Barrett the creator of that site, provides a wealth of inspirational, thoughtful and useful information - as usual.

So what would you do if today was the last day of your life?

Hopefully you aren't waiting to do whatever those things are, given the uncertainty of our time on this earth. Living your life as if today is it, this moment is it, makes sense.

This isn't about taking that trip to Europe, climbing Mount Everest, riding a bucking bronco, jumping out of airplane etc. A close examination of our life informs us that what is most important are the people we love and the people that love us. If we start from that premise - that our relationships with those we love are the most important thing - then what can we do?

Ira Byock the author of "Dying Well" says there are four big things we all need to say as part of the dying process -

Please forgive me.

I forgive you.

Thank you.

I love you.


If we took away the goodbye the first four things sound like a good plan for "Living Well".

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Find Out What's Selling on eBay

eBay Pulse has trends, hot picks, cool stuff and popular searches on

Why do Ice Cream Trucks Sound the Way They Do?

The answer to that question can be found here at

You can find some mp3's of Ice Cream Truck Music, Revisited at WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

It's amazing how sometimes you can find just exactly what you are looking for on the internet ;-)

I've been thinking about ice cream truck music for a couple of weeks (off and on...not constantly), ever since the new ice cream man cruised down our street. He was a rookie obviously because he was going too fast and wasn't giving kids a chance to bug their parents and get out in the street. We didn't have ice cream trucks where I grew up in Montana and I was totally impressed the first time I visited my grandparents in Seattle and one came toodling down the street. It was amazing, almost as memorable as the huge slugs and the fact that they had more than two channels on the television.

I got steered to this useless but interesting infomation via the Lifehacker post It's the ice cream man (music)!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The American Experiment

Richard Stengle, managing editor of Time, writes in the July 3rd edition of Time Magazine, in an editorial titled "Why History Matters" how the epidemic of historical illiteracy threatens our democracy.

"Being and American is not based on a common culture - it's based on accepting an uncommon set of ideas. And if we don't understand those ideas, we don't value and protect them. A nation can never be ignorant and free, said Thomas Jefferson..."

I think about that statement and the approval of torture, holding civilians without due process, eavesdropping on U.S. citizens, writing presidential signing statements on more bills than all other presidents in U.S. history combined (which allows this president and his inner circle to interpret the law rather than having the pesky Congress and Supreme Court involved). If he vetoed a bill that would allow debate and discussion and a degradation of presidential power (yes please).

Hopefully enough citizens can think about the historical basis of a democracy and understand what a disservice the current adminstration and their supporters in Congress have done to that great experiment - and using their votes and energy make sure we never get put in this position again.

Working America - Bad Boss Contest

Working America, a group affiliated with the AFL-CIO has a contest for the best Bad Boss Stories.

The winner of the Bad Boss Contest will receive a weeklong condo vacation certificate good in the United States, Mexico, Canada or many other locations - plus $1,000 toward airfare.

Weekly winners get one of these prizes -

* A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses: Dealing with Bullies, Idiots, Back-Stabbers and Other Managers from Hell, by Gini Graham Scott.

* "Take This Job and Shove It" CD, by Johnny Paycheck.

* The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit: An A to Z Lexicon of Empty, Enraging, and Just Plain Stupid Office Talk, by Lois Beckwith.

* "Nine to Five" DVD, signed by Jane Fonda.

This is one of the top rated stories. Here's a quote from the story -

"The boss I currently work for spends his day eating long meals, sleeping on his couch, calling friends and family on the phone, or watching TV. He then will occasionally call me into his office and, while lying on his couch and half asleep, lecture me that I'm not work hard enough."

Dang, that boss gig sounds like good work. I'm sorry but a fair number of these stories are a little too whiney for me. I like stories like this more if there is an element of humor in them rather than a "poor me" spin.

My recommendation - Stay in school, work hard, be the boss....OR.....if you don't like your work or don't like the people you work with or your boss - Quit.

There's actually some stories in there that start with something like - "I worked for a boss for 15 years..."

Certainly there are some terrible bosses, but there are also people who aren't happy unless they can feel like the "boss" or "bosses" are somehow getting one over on them, not working hard enough, incompetent, not the real experts (that's why they hired you...duh)..etc.

Certainly incompetence, dishonesty, cruelty, discrimination etc. are cause for action. But you have to ask yourself if it's perception or reality - without hard proof - it's probably best to not worry so much about what we "imagine" other people (like the boss), are doing and concentrate on improving our selves from the inside out.

I do my best to never do anything that doesn't make me happy, and if I have to do something that makes me unhappy try to get it over with as quickly as possible. That's not denial or a delusion, it's a matter of keeping in mind what ultimately makes you happy, which isn't always fun. For example it may make you happy to provide a roof over your kid's heads, food and clothing, but it isn't fun to go to work every day - and the type of work you do and the people you work for might not be "fun". But you can be happy. If the work you are doing doesn't allow you to be happy - even with your bigger picture goals in mind...then move on.

I'd say the bad boss stories are a great incentive to not get stuck without options. Develop your skills, be entrepreneurial, get an education, and give yourself the ability to tell that bad boss goodbye (or go to hell, go _____ yourself, take this job and shove it or whatever is appropriate).

Consider The Lilies of the Field

Matthew 6:25-34 (NRSV)

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing?

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."

Sort of a "let it be" philosophy. Of course you can't just sit back and wish God would take care of everything, God's work in this world is done by us. What I get from this passage is that we don't have to worry, we will have enough - an attitude of abundance, there's enough for everyone. That's easy for me to say - I live in a society and am part of a class that has an abundance. Not so sure what I'd think if I was starving.

Internalizing the idea of fostering non-attachment to material things, being joy filled, and not worrying - is enough to get some people who are part of the class of abundance to share their wealth, talent and time with those less fortunate. That's a good thing.


I watched Sidney Poitier in the 1962 movie "Lilies of the Field" a couple of weeks ago.

The Amazon review by Tom Keogh says of the movie,

"Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for this endearing movie about a handyman who thinks he's just passing through a little town in New Mexico, and ends up staying awhile to build a chapel for a cluster of German-speaking nuns. The renowned actor is highly entertaining in his combative exchanges with Lilia Skala, playing a Mother Superior who survived Hitler and makes no bones about bullying the goodhearted, itinerant worker into doing more and more for her."

That's a great movie if you've never watched it you should. It's an entertaining way to get the idea of what Matthew was writing about, plus it has a wonderful song that even I can remember the lyrics for....Amen.



If you want to read a true story of someone who isn't attached to personal comforts and possesions but rather gives his time and talent to help others I highly recommend the book Mountains Beyond Mountains : The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. It's very inspirational to see how much one dedicated person has done to alleviate suffering and cure disease. Of course Paul Farmer isn't working alone - he has a large number of supporters, team members, volunteers working together as part of Partners In Health (PIH), Health Care for the Poor.

I was pleased to see Concordia College has selected "Mountains Beyond Mountains" as the summer read for students. Giving young people a chance to read, think about and discuss the possibilities for making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate (before they even take their first class) shows the vision of that college.

Concordia College Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium says, "Each summer, Concordia selects a book for all members of the college community to read and discuss. All first-year students are requested to read the book prior to Orientation Aug. 27-30, during which faculty members will lead book discussions."

Camera Obscura

A link to the Rolling Stone Camera Obscura video "Lloyd I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken". Check it out, you might find it entertaining, it's an interesting juxtaposition of weirdness, satire and a catchy pop tune.