Archive for February, 2008

Weather Quiz for the Weekend

Posted on February 29, 2008. Filed under: Games, Musings |

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THIS IS A FIRE RAINBOW – THE RAREST OF ALL NATURALLY OCCURRING ATMOSPHERIC PHENOMENA. CLOUDS HAVE TO BE CIRRUS, AT LEAST 20K FEET IN THE AIR, WITH JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF ICE CRYSTALS AND THE SUN HAS TO HIT THE CLOUDS AT PRECISELY 58 DEGREES.

It’s a blogthings quiz kind of weekend. As I’ve noticed some intense weather phenomena going on around the world during the past few weeks, I thought I’d find out my weather personality. We had snow in the desert—not uncommon, but it was cold! and cloudy! for a few days! So here are my results—“weather or not” :)


You Are Sunshine


Soothing and calm
You are often held up by others as the ideal
But too much of you, and they’ll get burned.
You are best known for: your warmth Your dominant state: connecting

Enjoy what is left of the winter, if it’s happening where you are. It can be a wonderful, magical time. Here in the desert, spring is starting to spring. Happy weekend :)

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I didn’t sign up for this…Did I?

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: Games, Musings, Spirituality |

We’ve all installed software on our computers. We’re familiar with the advice to read every contract before signing it, right? Yet, right before the install there is a LOT of text explaining in a LOT of detail what the “terms of use” are. I will guess that 98% of us don’t read every word of those agreements before clicking the “I accept” button. We just want to get Quest for Egyptian Treasure in the Caves of Montana our new Accounting Software installed, already, dangit! What I usually do is scroll down a few pages so the software will “think” I read it. :) For some reason that makes me feel better. But, and here’s the point, I know on some level that even though I haven’t read the thing, I’m bound by the terms stated since I did, of my own free will, click that “accept” button.

Here in the WordPress . com help forum(s) I see many questions along the lines of “Why did my Blog get suspended? I’m a good person; I’m a nice person, but those despots froze me out!” The answer comes back: “Because you violated the Terms of Service“. Sometimes that’s enough to cause the blogger to actually read the terms, but often they’ll come back and say “I didn’t know this was illegal or that wasn’t permitted! They’re picking on me!”

Now I, for one, did read the WP TOS, but, I haven’t always read everything I’ve ever signed or agreed too. I see the Universe as having a terms of service agreement that we signed onto at birth (or even before—I’m not sure how these things work). And I’ve been confused, bewildered and unhappy when I receive feedback from the Universe that seems to come out of nowhere. It’s just these things we’ve agreed to, but perhaps not consciously, that cause the “glitches” in our lives, in my opinion.

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It’s bold, and for some, uncomfortable to think this way. It just doesn’t feel right to me, though, to suppose that things happen “out of the blue” for no reason. There is a wonderful book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold Kushner which I would recommend if you don’t like or agree with my point of view. In it, Rabbi Kushner states that there is indeed random evil in the world, and provides a warm and compassionate way to deal with that. He writes of experiencing the death of his young son, and being amazed by comments made to him in his grief. Some were along the lines of “Well, that’s God’s plan for you, it will make you stronger!” First of all, this is not the Rabbi’s belief, although it may be that of the person offering the “condolence”, but also even if it were true, it’s probably not what a grieving parent needs or wants to hear right away. I would never say anything like that to someone, or worse still—and I’ve heard this often—“Well, you must have attracted that into your life in some way.”

I certainly cannot be presumptuous enough to know why a person’s path goes the way it does, and while I may not see death as a “bad” thing, per se (more on that in a minute) the pain of loss and separation is very real, and I can, at the very least, offer compassion for that.

Not every culture views death as a “bad” thing, but rather as another step on the spiritual journey. This tends to be my view. I am not a person of faith, so I cannot “know” this to be the case. If I’m wrong, I suppose I’ll find out the “real deal” eventually, or I’ll never know! I’m comfortable either way. All I know is it suits me and allows my life to be more pleasurable and useful if I believe I can choose its circumstances. The “truth” in this case, pragmatist that I am, matters less to me than the joy.

So, do “bad” things happen? I believe nearly every one of us experiences events or interactions which do not give us pleasure. I have these experiences often, although not nearly as often as I used to. Once I get past the initial anger, or grief, or hurt, I can often see these occasions as real opportunities towards more growth and joy. The main thing is to not focus on what “I don’t like”. I will give myself a little time to indulge in that not-good feeling, because it actually makes me feel better to engage it rather than repress it. I also have some therapeutic and meditative tools which come in very handy at such times. It makes the most sense to me to then go on to focus on what I do like, or how things are good in my life. After all, that’s what I want more of, so it feels best to go there!

If we want to, we can edit the Terms of Service of our Lives.

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We Made a Story!

Posted on February 22, 2008. Filed under: Games, Musings |

I recently participated in a book meme where bloggers were asked to pick up the nearest book, turn to page 123, and report sentences 6, 7, & 8 on that page.

The following was not part of the meme, but since I ended up with nine players and very interesting quotes, I decided to string them all together to make a strange yet somehow compelling tale.

For the participants, books, authors, and what a meme means, please see this post.

Thanks to those of you who helped compile it for sharing a bit of your story!

It was a dark and reflective night. . .

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Holbrook was the wise actor of the era, cerebral and high-minded. He was the one who seemingly knew the entire story but wouldn’t tell it all. It was a powerful performance, capturing the authoritative and seasoned intensity, cynicism and gruffness of the man in the underground garage.

Klein is a decision researcher with a Ph.D., a deeply intelligent and thoughtful man, and he wasn’t about to accept that as an answer. Instead, for the next two hours, again and again he led the firefighter back over the events of that day in an attempt to document precisely what the lieutenant did and didn’t know. “The first thing was that the fire didn’t behave the way it was supposed to,” Klein says.

But if it had already happened, someone would probably have called me. Maybe Bozie, but most likely Pam. “It’s suicide.” This time telling the room. “It’s suicide and it hasn’t happened yet.”

I don’t use this term in the psychological sense, but in a purely spiritual context. Instead of attending to their own inner work, judgmental people are actually doing another’s “work”; they are projecting outside themselves, imputing motives or intentions on others, as if they know the others’ hearts. The spiritual journey only begins in earnest when we no longer experience the need to judge others, when we begin to take responsibility for our own inner development.

The Israelite foremen saw that they were in a bad way, having to go back and tell their workers, “Not one brick short in your daily quota.”
As they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them. The foremen said to them, “May GOD see what you’ve done and judge you – you’ve made us stink before Pharaoh and his servants! You’ve put a weapon in his hand that’s going to kill us!”

We act as though we are not affected when we take and take and take. We strive for external power and in that striving create a destructive competition. The introduction of consciousness into the cyclic process of creation through which the soul evolves permits the creation of a world that is built upon the consciousness of the soul, a world that reflects the values and perceptions and experiences of the soul.

We all have similar comfort zones in regards to restaurants we go to; hotels we stay at; the brand of car we drive; the home we live in; clothes we wear; where we go on vacation and people we connect with. You might have walked into a very fancy store on Fifth Avenue in New York City or on Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills and you didn’t feel at ease in there. The store seemed too upper-class for you.

An understanding of the principle of our own growth enables us to search out correct principles with the confidence that the more we learn, the more clearly we can focus the lens through which we see the world. The principles don’t change; our understanding of them does. The wisdom and guidance that accompany principle-centered living come from correct maps, from the way things really are, have been, and will be.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

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The Moon and the Satellite

Posted on February 20, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Science |

Is it just me, or is it kind of weird that the last full eclipse of the moon for over two years will occur on…the same day the Pentagon is scheduled to shoot down a spy satellite? This chart shows the path the eclipse will take, and where and when it will be visible (in the Pacific, Americas, Europe and Africa). This amazing animation shows the entire night sky for tonight, including labeled constellations, and this one answers all those burning questions, such as “Why is the moon red during an eclipse?” Our current full moon is the “Snow Moon” and the lunar show starts shortly after moonrise.

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The spy satellite business is another thing. If you can get past the ads and the comments (nowhere near as intelligent as those on WordPress . com!) this link is to some pictures of both the missile and the satellite, and a good illustrative video of the entire operation. The story is getting remarkably little coverage here in the US. I wonder if we’ll know it’s happening when it does?

It’s going to be busy in the sky tonight. Look up! You might see something.

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Intercultural concert

Posted on February 18, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Music, Spirituality |

I attended this concert last night:

“Four years ago, visits to Arab, Jewish, and Buddhist villages inspired a dream of breaking barriers between cultures in conflict. That dream is now a reality. Intercultural Journeys, an organization dedicated to promoting understanding among people of diverse cultures through dialogue and the presentation of world-class performances, in partnership with UApresents, has developed a unique concert event bridging cultures in an evening celebrating the universality of music.

Artistic Director Udi Bar-David, cellist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, leads a superb Arab-Jewish virtuoso ensemble: Hanna Khoury Arab-Israeli violinist Margo Levertt Klezmer clarinetist Kareem Roustom Syrian-born oud player Michel Mirhej Baklouk Jerusalem born, Lebanese resident on hand drums.”

Oud

The music was wonderful. The spirit was alive and free. The concert also included excerpts from a new film featuring dialog between Arab and Jewish families in Israel and the occupied territories who had lost family members to the ongoing conflict there. Many of these people just want to heal, move on, and allow peace. Very moving.

You may watch either a 4-minute or 7-minute trailer here: http://www.encounterpoint.com/trailer/index.php

The cellist for the group is also working on a project playing traditional Jewish music combined with traditional Native American Flute music. There’s a video on his site featuring flutist R. Carlos Nakai, in beautiful Sedona, which is near where I live: http://www.interculturaljourneys.org/

Enjoy! Peace. Salaam. Shalom.

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If you ‘Blink’ you’ll miss it…

Posted on February 16, 2008. Filed under: Musings, Science |

The journey continues. I was pleasantly surprised to be tagged by RubyShooZ, wonderful poster of peace, for the following meme. I’ve seen it around on a few blogs, but, now, I’m it! Thanks, Rub, I’m flattered. I already liked this before I got started, because the book Ruby picked sounds fascinating, and I want to read it!

Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Klein is a decision researcher with a Ph.D., a deeply intelligent and thoughtful man, and he wasn’t about to accept that as an answer. Instead, for the next two hours, again and again he led the firefighter back over the events of that day in an attempt to document precisely what the lieutenant did and didn’t know. “The first thing was that the fire didn’t behave the way it was supposed to,” Klein says.

I followed the instructions precisely. It’s amazing which three sentences came from this. Is this book a mystery? horror? sci-fi? metaphysical quest? — Maybe all of those, hmmm. I’m just finishing Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, and had recently posted about some political and musical aspects of this book. So out of several really amazing books I’m reading at the moment, this one chose itself to be on my blog again.

Now, who shall I bother honor with the meme……How about:

Brightfeather, who is always doing the most interesting research;

Colourful Vision, as it’s bound to be something wonderful;

ella:  It might be a cookbook, which would make this really interesting, but it could be anything!;

Joyful Seeker—I want to know what’s currently giving her joy; and

Walkingbetween: Is it travel? Is it ancient literature? Is it about cats?

This is a fun and enlightening post for the weekend. I wish you Peace and Joy.

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Who are we, really?

Posted on February 14, 2008. Filed under: Music, Musings, Science |

If you’re looking for a romantic Valentine’s Day post, you’ve come to the wrong place! Granted, I am wont to post about the pagan origins of this or that secular or religious holiday, but others are doing that today better than I would, so I’ll just share my views on another form of love.
It’s an old, theme, really: being judged by who we are, not how we look. Many have gone through some approximation of the following four stages in attempting to overcome prejudice:

1. “They are different” (Read: less worthy) than the group I belong to.

2. I want to be able to feel differently. I see the illogic of discrimination, but it’s uncomfortable and difficult to get past many years of programming about stereotypes.

3. I make many efforts to believe and treat people as if we are all equal.

4. We are all one, or equal, and I do not discriminate based on age, gender, sexual preference, or race.

I would say that I’ve been with conclusion #4 for many years, if not most of my life. A fascinating new study, though, tells us we behave in response to many clues known only by our subconscious. We may intellectually, logically, consciously–even spiritually–agree with the statement made in conclusion #4, yet subtle cultural conditioning may still be in place.

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In these times of political campaigning here in my country, USA, I am distressed (when I allow that) to hear news reports on the radio after every state primary or caucus vote. On the heels of “Super Tuesday” and “Potomac” election days, when voters in many states chose their favorite Democrat or Republican, I hear “news analysts” comment on how candidate “A” got “x” percentage of the “white” vote, while “B” got “y” percentage of the “Hispanic” vote. The “male” vote went primarily to “C”, but the “young” voted for “D”. And then there are the multiple results, something like: “Gay, black, female voters who eat noodles on Thursdays voted overwhelmingly for _____.”

Perhaps the pollsters and politicians find all this useful, but segmenting society this way does not help us to value each other, in my opinion. I would hope I’d be able to pick a candidate I thought could do the job decently; not based on my, or their, belonging to “this” race or “that” age group. Every election I’ve ever experienced in my country has had this sort of reporting, but it is of course intensified this time by, for the first time in US history, having a prominent candidate who is black, and one who is female.

Which brings me back to the study. Well, in a minute it will. I’ve heard people say that Mr. Obama isn’t “black enough” or that Ms. Clinton isn’t “feminist enough”. Good Heavens, what’s a person to do? In the study reported on in the wonderful book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, we’re told that the subconscious clues we harbor will influence our choices no matter what we consciously decide. The author reports on perhaps the “worst president in US history”, Warren G. Harding (1921-23). How did such a person get elected? There are many circumstances including being in the right place at the right time, but, people were quoted as saying he “looks presidential”. I leave you to speculate upon what kind of person would have been considered to “look presidential” in 1920, but I’ll bet that many of those qualities would not have applied to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Beyond this though, there is also the tendency of the press to refer to Ms. Clinton as “Hillary” whereas Mr. Obama is “Obama”. There is still a reluctance to call a female by her last name, without a title. It’s somehow disrespectful, although, it seems to me using her first name only while calling every other (male) candidate by their last names is demeaning to her.

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So, while I will state with great conviction that race and gender do not come into my choice of a presidential candidate, or a job applicant, or a tenant, Mr. Gladwell’s book will say I may be fooling myself. What I find particularly fascinating about the book is that while he commends anti-discrimination and affirmative action efforts as helpful with educating people who don’t even believe in equality, yet, he says they really don’t fix the problem, or at least won’t, for several generations. He cites hiring practices of major European and American symphony orchestras as examples of this. Before a certain procedure was instituted, less than 5% of major orchestra members were female. A lot of this could be put down to overt discrimination, of course. He reports a common belief at the time that females’ lungs were not strong enough to play a trombone (or several other instruments) with good tone for long periods of time. Female writers have long been familiar with this sort of thinking. Many, including the Brontë sisters wrote under male pseudonyms for that reason. Read this for more on that.

While educational efforts could be put into place: “Gee, it’s the 21st century. C’mon, give the poor women and minorities a chance!”, …another orchestral audition method was tried. Potential players auditioned from behind a screen. The hiring committee could not see them, their gender, race, physical stature or how they were dressed—any of a variety of things enabling them to pre-judge the musician. All they could do was listen, and all they could hear was the music itself. Guess what happened?

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Fiction, this time.

Posted on February 9, 2008. Filed under: Games, Musings |

Some weeks back, I participated in a book meme (questionnaire) and chose only non-fiction books. There are so many books I find important, that it felt like a good idea to break it down that way. Now, I’m back with my fiction list, along with some reasons for picking the ones I did.
01. One book that changed your life
Replay / Ken Grimwood~~~I tend to enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, metaphysical fiction, time travel–you know, something with just a bit of departure from everyday reality. Replay has that in spades. It’s a classic time travel tale with a twist. I won’t give away the plot, but the reason it changed my life is that it still does encourage me to “replay” life situations, and change them into what I wish they were.
02. One book that you’ve read more than once
The Shell Seekers / Rosamunde Pilcher~~~It’s one of those few that I re-read every few years because its characters have become family. They’re so very real, well drawn, and believable, and I find myself cheering them on each time.
03. One book you’d want on a desert island
A Wrinkle in Time / Madeleine L’Engle~~~This is the first (and most famous) in a quartet of books about an unusual family. It has semi-religious overtones (the later books more so), but what I loved was how it incorporated theoretical physics into a magical and moral tale. I’d want it on a desert island because it’s a good guide to learning how to tesseract, and I’d have lots of time and motivation to practice and master that skill.
04. Two books that made you laugh
Jitterbug Perfume / Tom Robbins; Breakfast of Champions / Kurt Vonnegut~~~Both these books make me howl, actually, and also were achingly poignant commentary on the human condition. A good combination.
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Pan, in Jitterbug Perfume
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05. One book that made you cry
Old Yeller Fred Gibson~~~I’m not actually recommending this book. It fulfills the request (“made me cry”), but I didn’t like it. Like many of us, I read this children’s book when a child, and it caused me much distress. In looking back upon it, I find it a terribly cloying and manipulative story, designed to teach children about how life is hard, and to learn to be stoic. I feel stoicism and childhood are not a necessary mix, and it’s unkind to teach them this.
06. One book that you wish had been written
How they lived happily ever after, what they did, and why it’s not boring
07. One book that you wish had never been written
I don’t. Every book has its purpose and audience.
08. Two books you’re currently reading
The Rule of Four / Caldwell & Thomason; The Murders of Richard III / Elizabeth Peters~~~The first is similar to another wildly popular “secret code hidden in manuscripts” novel, but more fun and engaging, to my mind. The second is an old-fashioned, yet modern murder mystery by one of my favorite authors of such. I’ve read all her “Egyptian” novels as well.
09. One book you’ve been meaning to read
“T” is for Trespass / Sue Grafton~~~If you don’t know who or what this is, then start with “A” is for Alibi, and work your way through the alphabet. I’ve read them all, hope Ms. Grafton makes it to the end of the alphabet, and have thoroughly enjoyed each. While some are better than others—probably inevitable in a series this long—I find the main character funny, engaging, weird, and non-conformist. While the last thing I’d be is a private-eye, I sort of identify with her a little bit.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
So, there’s the rest of my meme, only a few weeks late. I’ve omitted my favorite science fiction, and also my favorite novel of all time, as I’m working on posts about them—A taste of things to come!
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Partial solar eclipse and another New Year

Posted on February 7, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Science, Spirituality |

Currently in the world, along with political and social events, are the natural, interpretive, and cultural ones, too. We live in a busy time in our galaxy, and I wanted to take a moment to wish you once again a Happy New Year, [Gung Hay Fat Choy], and invite you to take a moment to contemplate the universe.

Here is a great site to explore the partial solar eclipse going on now, and able to be seen in parts of New Zealand and Australia.

For an astrological perspective on how this natural event affects and intersects with Politics, go here.

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Chinese New Year 4706 is here! I wrote elsewhere that my extended family celebrates this holiday, and it works as a better “New Year” celebration for me, personally, than does January 1st, because I’ve had some time to settle down after the frenzy of late December, and look at things from a quieter perspective. This blog does a great job of outlining some aspects of the Year of the Rat, including things we can make and do to celebrate.

And do see my friend Walkingbetween‘s great post and links about this year. Apparently, this is an “Earth Rat” year! Time to get grounded, folks! :D

Here’s a New Year’s Quiz!

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Are you rare? or well done?

Posted on February 6, 2008. Filed under: Games, Musings |

I had taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator several times before, but I’d never seen anything quite like this take on it by our friends at Blogthings (otherwise known as Blogger’s Block’s Best Friend) ;)

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Your Personality is Very Rare (INFP)


Your personality type is dreamy, romantic, elegant, and expressive.Only about 5% of all people have your personality, including 6% of all women and 4% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.

# # # # #  

I didn’t realize I was so rare!  The characteristics seem right, though.  Every version of this test I’ve taken has a different narrative interpretation.  After taking the above test, this next one also showed up on Blogthings.  It’s much more extensive than the first, but I’m still the same personality type.

# # # # #


You Are An INFP


The Idealist-You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.
Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.
It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.
But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.In love, you tend to have high (and often unrealistic) standards.
You are very sensitive. You tend to have intense feelings.At work, you need to do something that expresses your personal values.
You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.How you see yourself: Unselfish, empathetic, and spiritual-When other people don’t get you, they see you as: Unrealistic, naive, and weak

# # # # #  

Finally, as if I needed confirmation—apparently some of you people think I’m a freak! :o Naw, not really.  I’m just enjoying a little break from deep thinking.  So, how rare are you?  Do you find such psychological tests helpful in self-understanding and acceptance?


You Are 80% Non Conformist


You are a pretty serious non conformist. You live a life hardly anyone understands.
And while some may call you a freak, you’re happy with who you are.
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