Saturday, December 30, 2006

Early Morning Thoughts ~ friendship broken

I wanted to
be a friend.
To be there when
you needed me,
and share with
all you wanted.

I yearned to
make things
in your life,
in your thoughts
in your hopes.

We would stand
united in our
dreams and
each other.

I've had a long-term friendship with D for almost 9 years now. She been what I would call a very dear, long-term friend. We often were separated by distance or job, but when we talked it was almost as if no time had passed. She had an uncanny ability to see into the heart of situations and people. But then it began to change.

It's always been an important part of me to accept people as they are - I have often said: If you can't accept me at my worst, you have NO right to see me at my best. Having said that, I also realize the importance of being who I am in relation to others. As was posted last night, I had been through a situation where I gave up being me. And you can't be you and keep you on track if the fences aren't mended and the boundaries aren't set.

The reason I like to use the fence analogy is because fences have gates...and you can let people in or out. You can also keep people out. When a fence is in need to mending however, that boundary is not there. And without boundaries, there is chaos. And try as I might, there seemed to be no repairing the fences/boundaries. I finally gently but firmly re-established some boundaries that I felt were essential to keep the friendship intact. There is a risk in any relationship - friend/lover/partner/relative - when that is done. There is the risk that they will not accept that and either try and tear it down, tear you down or end the friendship.

While not going into details, she chose two of the options, one of which was to end the friendship. As I had already weighed the risks - I was somewhat prepared. I say somewhat, because you can never be completely prepared for something based on human interaction.

I had written a long time ago: "The ending of a friendship is a painful as the click of a coffin lid." And I still believe it now. However, I gained so much during this time and have enjoyed many many things with her that while there is a great loss, I have not lost myself or what is part of me. While you can have many acquaintances, you will only have a few close friends. Cherish those you have, and enjoy them - nurture that friendship. Build them up in ways that complement not only them, but yourself as well.

End Thought
Buddah once said: Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.

Bias And Reality ~

Over 170 buses in Richmond, Virginia USA have one of three signs with Arabic writing promoting silly sayings like, "Paper, Scissors, Rock," "Paper or Plastic and the “I’m a little tea pot” rhyme. The bus company has been getting calls from riders wanting to know what the signs mean.

Sometimes when people see or hear a language they do not understand it scares them. Muslims stare fear and mistrust in the face almost daily. These bus signs are saying that even though we fear what we don't understand we are able to overcome that fear by learning about others. We can rethink bias, but it starts with learning about our neighbours.
This campaign is from Rethink Bias, a program of the Virginia Interfaith Center. It's meant to challenge people's biases and expectations.

staples and ads ~

This certainly has been a year of surprises, and continued problems around the globe. One of the problems that seemed to continually be in the headlines and discussions is torture - of all types. I recently ran across a very unusual set of ads. Some people have complained that they are too "high-brow" to be effective, but I have to disagree.

What struck me was the amazing use of not only the fold in the page, but the staples that hold the magazine together.

Look closely at them, and you will see what I mean.

I'm not sure what magazines these are/will be appearing in, but look for them in upscale magazines.

This first one uses space and imagery to make a powerful impact ....

the next two use imagery to evoke emotions as well as impact ... again using the magazines staples.

These were done by Amnesty International.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Ray Bradbury and the paper burners

Several years ago, I worked for a professional theater company part of which was a touring company that concentrated mainly on schools. One of the most requested and popular productions was an adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. The production was well done and received well throughout various school systems. One day, the touring office received a phone call from one of our future bookings saying there was a problem. Assuming it was a scheduling conflict (not uncommon when dealing with schools) the director of touring asked if they needed to change the time or the date.

Neither, was the reply. The problem, it seems, was - the title. It seems the Principal was concerned with it and wanted to suggest a couple of changes. First - was it possible to change the word witch to bad or confused person! (By this point, the director or touring was the one confused!) The Principal was concerned that his parents would object to the word witch. Then, this Principal want to change the word wardrobe to closet. This request had no reason, and at that point the director or touring was, frankly, afraid to ask. When asked if he had ever read the book, the Principal suggested that was not the problem, the title was.

But what about major authors? Do they receive suggestions from the public on way to "improve" their work? Of course they do.

Ray Bradbury is a major author, thinker and delightful storyteller. One of his best known works Fahrenheit 415 was first published in 1953 - is a multimedia age horror story of genius about firemen who are paid to set books ablaze and is more important than ever in our era of 'political correctness' and shallow consumerism. Got an unpleasant reality? BURN IT! Does that hurt your 'self-esteem' or make you uncomfortable? BURN IT! Below is an addendum where Bradbury scathingly deals with those who have tried to censor his book on censorship (imagine that!).

Coda from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed reading my experiment in space mythology, The Martian Chronicles

But, she added, wouldn't it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women's characters and roles?

A few years before that I got a certain amount of mail concerning the same Martian book complaining that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn't I "do them over"?

Along about then came a note from a Southern white suggesting that I was prejudiced in favor of the blacks and the entire story should be dropped.

Two weeks ago my mountain of mail delivered forth a pipsqueak mouse of a letter from a well-known publishing house that wanted to reprint my story "The Fog Horn" in a high school reader.

In my story, I had described a lighthouse as having, late at night, an illumination coming from it that was a "God-Light." Looking up at it from the viewpoint of any sea-creature one would have felt that one was in "the Presence."

The editors had deleted "God-Light" and "in the Presence."

Some five years back, the editors of yet another anthology for school readers put together a volume with some 400 (count 'em) short stories in it. How do you cram 400 short stories by Twain, Irving, Poe, Maupassant and Bierce into one book?

Simplicity itself. Skin, debone, demarrow, scarify, melt, render down and destroy. Every adjective that counted, every verb that moved, every metaphor that weighed more than a mosquito--out! Every simile that would have made a sub-moron's mouth twitch--gone! Any aside that explained the two-bit philosophy of a first-rate writer--lost!

Every story, slenderized, starved, blue penciled, leeched and bled white, resembled every other story. Twain read like Poe read like Shakespeare read like Dostoevsky read like--in the finale--Edgar Guest. Every word of more than three syllables had been razored. Every image that demanded so much as one instant's attention--shot dead.

Do you begin to get the damned and incredible picture?

How did I react to all of the above?

By "firing" the whole lot.

By sending rejection slips to each and every one.

By ticketing the assembly of idiots to the far reaches of hell.

The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/ Unitarian, Irish/ Italian/ Octogenarian/ Zen Buddhist, Zionist/ Seventh-Day Adventist, Women's Lib/ Republican, Mattachine/ FourSquareGospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.

Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever.

"Shut the door, they're coming through the window, shut the window, they're coming through the door," are the words to an old song. They fit my life-style with newly arriving butcher/censors every month. Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn Del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.

A final test for old Job II here: I sent a play, Leviathan 99, off to a university theatre a month ago. My play is based on the "Moby Dick" mythology, dedicated to Melville, and concerns a rocket crew and a blind space captain who venture forth to encounter a Great White Comet and destroy the destroyer. My drama premiers as an opera in Paris this autumn. But, for now, the university wrote back that they hardly dared do my play--it had no women in it! And the ERA ladies on campus would descend with ball bats if the drama department even tried!

Grinding my bicuspids into powder, I suggested that would mean, from now on, no more productions of Boys in the Band (no women), or The Women(no men). OR, counting heads, male and female, a good lot of Shakespeare that would never be seen again, especially if you count lines and find that all the good stuff went to the males!

I wrote back maybe they should do my play one week, and The Women the next. They probably thought I was joking, and I'm not sure that I wasn't.

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate by Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mush milk teeth, let them each stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my "Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" so it shapes "Zoot," may the belt unravel and the pants fall.

For, let's face it, digression is the soul of wit. Take philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Hamlet's father's ghost and what stays is dry bones. Laurence Sterne said it once: Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the write--he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.

In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.

All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It's my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset I've won or lost. At sunrise, I'm out again, giving it the old try.

And no one can help me. Not even you.

An Elegant Time Waster ~

It's Friday...and the Friday before a holiday no less; and you've got to be at work. You have to appear to be at work anyway. The folks at eyemaze have come to your rescue. They make some of the most elegant, frustrating and at the same time enjoyable short games I've seen. None of them take long to play - but can take a LONG time to "master."

Since they offer NO explaination for their games, I'm going to offer a little help.... When you click on the link at the bottom of this post, you will be presented wth this:

The objective of the game, in it's devilish simplicity, is to drag each of the ten items to the cube in such a way that they "max" out and complete the puzzle. Yes, there is an order to them. Yes, there is a surprise at the end if you max out all ten items. Yes, it is possible to complete. No, I will not post the solution. I have been known, however, to supply the solution via e-mail - .

As you face the holiday weekend, enjoy this moment ... and prepare for the moments to come!!!

There is a tip system on the game, which would allow you to send the desgner a dollar or two if you enjoyed the game ....

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Early Morning Thoughts ~ What a wonder -

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being's heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what's next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.
Samuel Ullman
For several years I was involved in a roommate situation that basically became a relationship. Not a physical one, but one that became to involve everything else but that. It was, as most relationships are, one that involved my tearing down boundaries, letting my fences wear out and taking defences completely away. I didn't want to realize just how damaging that can be in the wrong hands and the wrong situation. I literally began to lose myself in what was and wasn't going on. This is not to label, blame or cast negatives. It's just a simple (ok - not so simple) statement of fact. I had forgotten the powerful words from the book The Prophet:

And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow

This led me down a path where who I thought I was began to shift, and how I thought about myself began to slide away. It ended, after almost nine years, with my loss of childlike enthusiasm and the wonder of what was to happen next. It also goaded me back into finding what I had lost - what I had given up during this time. What all occurred over several weeks is for another day, but the road that became apparent to me is one that I am determined to keep walking and even sometimes running!

When I lost the childlike wonder and enthusiasm I also lost the ability to be myself, and to give to those around me. If I am running my own tank on "empty." there is no way I will be able to help others. No way I can see what needs to be done and help to do it.

The other day I started this theme with some wonderful "children's" poems and as you read my posts over the last several days, hopefully you have looked - searched - and realized some truths for yourself as well.

"Who Has Seen the Wind" by Christina Giorgina Rossetti:

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

And I WANT that wind of growth, power and love to blow on me; and for me to feel it, rejoice in it and welcome what it brings!!

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motions of the stars,
and they pass by themselves without wondering.
St. Augustine

picture of 2 piece sculpture "who has seen the wind" by Ruri

Maybe The Crystal Ball Was Dusty ~

One of the members of a very active forum I'm a part of posted these reminders about those who want to make predictions about the future ...

Here’s a couple of dozen predictions from the past that weren’t so accurate.

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"
Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."
A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."
Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."
Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we' ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"
Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."
Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon".
Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"640 thousand ought to be enough for anybody."
Bill Gates, 1981

1) from May 1936 edition of Modern Mechanix
2) 1920's french radion
3) Robert Goddard from 1920's NASA history site

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Youth, an overpraised season?

Continuing last nights thoughts about childlike enthusiasm, as I was around today I looked for what makes childlike and yet adult. I realized that it depends on the inner outlook. I may not have all that I had when I was younger, but (for the most part) I wouldn't trade what I have gotten in my life to go back in my life.

Samuel Butler in The Way of The World summed it up very well.
Some satirists have complained of life inasmuch as all the pleasures belong to the fore part of it and we must see them dwindle till we are left, it may be, with the miseries of a decrepit old age.

To me it seems that youth is like spring, an overpraised season-- delightful if it happen to be a favoured one, but in practice very rarely favoured and more remarkable, as a general rule, for biting east winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits. Fontenelle at the age of ninety, being asked what was the happiest time of his life, said he did not know that he had ever been much happier than he then was, but that perhaps his best years had been those when he was between fifty-five and seventy-five, and Dr Johnson placed the pleasures of old age far higher than those of youth. True, in old age we live under the shadow of Death, which, like a sword of Damocles, may descend at any moment, but we have so long found life to be an affair of being rather frightened than hurt that we have become like the people who live under Vesuvius, and chance it without much misgiving.
I am not young enough to know everything.
J. M. Barrie

The London show's master of ceremonies noted that "he's fifty-two now but so fears old age that he prefers to think of himself as eleven centigrade."
Jeremy Bernstein, Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos (1993)
"Having Fun with Tom Lehrer"

The older you get, the more important it is not to act your age.
Ashleigh Brilliant

You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.
George Burns

When you're young, you don't know, but you don't know you don't know, so you take some chances. In your twenties and thirties you don't know, and you know you don't know, and that tends to freeze you; less risk taking. In your forties you know, but you don't know you know, so you may still be a little tentative. But then, as you pass fifty, if you've been paying attention, you know, and you know you know. Time for some fun.
George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

Old Boys have their Playthings as well as young Ones; the Difference is only in the price.
Benjamin Franklin

A person's maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1885-1886)

It takes a very long time to become young.
Pablo Picasso

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
"Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

You're never too old to become younger.
Mae West

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Resolutions ~ or not ....

As the New Year bears down on us, it's often the time when people begin thinking about making their New Year's Resolutions ... or perhaps you are not one to make resolutions; then look at these affirmations as an alternative!!!

It is a time of resolutions. I made one resolution several years ago
to never again make resolutions.
Instead I make affirmations ... I offer you this years collection.

1. As I let go of my feelings of guilt, I am in touch with my inner sociopath.

2. I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

3. I assume full responsibility for my actions, except the ones that are someone else's fault.

4. In some cultures what I do would be considered normal.

5. My intuition nearly makes up for my lack of wisdom and judgment.

6. I need not suffer in silence while I can still moan, whimper, and complain.

7. When someone hurts me, I know that forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly as rewarding.

8. I am at one with my duality.

9. Blessed are the flexible, for they can tie themselves in knots.

10. I will strive to live each day as if it were my 50th birthday.

11. I honor and express all facets of my being, regardless of state and local laws.

12. Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so!"

13. A scapegoat is almost as good as a solution.

14. Just for today, I will not sit in my living room all day in my underwear. Instead, I will move my computer into the bedroom.

15. I will no longer waste my time reliving the past; I will spend it worrying about the future?

16. The complete lack of evidence is the surest proof that the conspiracy is working.

17. Before I criticize a man, I walk a mile in his shoes.
That way, if he gets angry, he's a mile away and barefoot.

18. I will let people know if they are the ones the voices inside my head don't like.

And now I know why my presents didn't arrive ~

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Where did it go?

As I watched the Kennedy Center Awards - one of the presenters really struck a deep chord in me. Sarah Brightman was the lead in honoring Andrew Lloyd Webber and she was giving a list of his characteristics and used the words: childlike enthusiasm.

I have a dear friend who has been diagnosed with a very serious disease. While there are treatments, it non-the-less causes concern, worry and some fear. He and I have established "Where are you?" as the phrase that needs an answer about what's going on with him and how I can help.

I decided that I needed to get quiet and ask myself just that question: Where am I? I wasn't sure that I liked the answers I was coming up with. They did, however, seem to have a common theme which was solidified and clarified with Sarah Brightman's comment: childlike enthusiasm. Somehow, that seemed to have leaked away as water from an unlined pond.

What makes us lose that ability to be enthusiastic about what's happening around?

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?
Forgotten language - by Shel Silverstein

Now, if this were a movie or a sitcom on TV, I would immediately stand up, give a loud cheer and we'd all go out for ice-cream. Unfortunately, life is not a rehearsal. And the ice-cream stores are closed at this time of the morning. Instead I'm struggling with the hard questions, and one of them is where did it go? As you probably guessed, this is not going to be just one post - but here's where some of the problem seems to be ... I know there are a lot of people who don't like the following - but here and now, this one speaks to ME. I think part of my problem is all tangled up in this.

Listen to Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.

Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.

Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.

Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein

And You Thought You Didn't Want To Go Back To Work ~

While some people were blessed with today off, others have to head back to work and act as if they enjoyed it. There are, however, some jobs that I'm not sure anyone would be able to pretend they enjoyed ~

The World's Worst Jobs

1. Diaper sorter
One lucky woman in the US spends her day sorting through thousands of used baby diapers before they are bleached, cleaned and reused. Cleaning one nappy every two seconds, the colourful contents often drip onto her shoes. No matter – she merely uses the next nappy to clear up the offending spillage and moves on without even a pause for thought.

2. Animal masturbator
Researching animal fertility or artificial insemination poses one rather obvious problem: how is the sperm extracted in the first place? Researchers who want animal sperm have a number of less-than-attractive options at hand. Electroejaculation involves a rectal probe being used to send pulses of electricity through the ‘lucky’ animal’s nether regions. In the case of gaining semen from dairy bulls, an artificial vagina known in the trade as an AV is commonly used (now you know what to spend Aunt Maud’s Christmas voucher on). Apparently, bulls soon learn what’s going on and follow instructions. Digital pleasure, which is used on pigs and even turkeys, involves the animals being administered a more, er, traditional method of relief.

3. Pesticide drinker
According to an old Discover magazine, you can get up to $200 a day for testing pesticides. No US laws govern such practises, and an industry spokesman commented, “It surely kills fewer people than drinking alcohol does and it also pays the victims, rather than having the victim pay.” We can’t help but think he’s missing the point.

4. Flatus odour judge
While odour judges might be used by dental companies researching the efficiency of toothpaste or mouthwash, one Minneapolis gastroenterologist recently paid two brave souls to indulge repeatedly in the odours of other people's farts. 16 healthy subjects volunteered to eat beans and insert plastic tubes into them. The gas was collected and inhaled by the odour judges.
Remember that next time you want to complain about a funny smell coming from the office fridge.

5. Isolation chamber tester
“Imagine taking a car trip cross-country with your family. Now imagine that it lasts for months on end, that you can't open the windows, and that you can never get out of the car.” That's how Marc Shepanek, NASA's Deputy Chief for Medicine in Extreme Environments once described the severe psychological challenge that astronauts face on long-distance space missions. But at least they’re going somewhere. Just imagine the torture of the men and women picked to test the immobile isolation chambers on the ground. At NASA, space engineers responsible for on-board life-support systems regularly spend months at a time in uncomfortable captivity to test the equipment. Extra cash? No. Still not convinced? You try recycling your own urine for drinking water. Then repeat it a dozen more times over the next 91 days. Exactly.

6. Carcass cleaner
Natural history museums display clean white skeletons or neatly stuffed animals, but their field biologists drag in rather less attractive specimens, commonly carcasses ripe with rotting flesh. Each museum's on site taxidermist has his own favourite technique for sprucing his specimen up to display standards. One zoologist swears by his preferred strain of flesh-eating buffalo-hide beetles, while Jeppe Møhl at the University of Copenhagen Zoological Museum deposits sperm whales and dolphins into vast empty tanks and lets nature take its course. Finally there's the old Fatal Attraction boiling method which is useful for samples that even the bugs won't touch. It’s an approach favoured by archaeologist Sandra Olsen, who can only say of boiling down tough old hyena paws: "It felt like inhaling the gases would literally kill us” Luckily for her it merely gave her a lung infection.

7. Sewage plant gate cleaner
Working in a sewage treatment plant is a grim proposition at the best of times. But some lucky individuals are plucked from obscurity to scrub the gates that filter out all the ‘material’ from the water as it passes through the plant’s cleaning cycle. Not so much ‘diving for pearls’ as ‘diving for - well, you get the idea, right? I put this in the same category as the sewer divers of Mexico City.

8. Asbestos remover
The developed world now has a clear understanding of the risks of being in close proximity to asbestos (lung cancer, heart disease, skin complaints, infertility) and it is no longer used as a building material. Luckily, it is now uniformally being removed - sometimes by individual. One poor soul explains, ‘All day I crawl around in dirt, grime, and spiders in my underwear inside an air-tight suit wearing a very uncomfortable respirator. Millions of asbestos fibres float around me, getting in my hair and eyes. I would be a prison guard any day of the week over an asbestos remover. This is by far the worst job in the world.’

9. Endangered species ecologist
Think your job is pointless? Can’t see where you’re going or why you even bother turning up to work anymore? Try being an Endangered Species Ecologist. The lush island of Hawaii (okay, it sounds pretty good so far, granted...) has 34 bird species on the endangered list. Half a dozen of these feathered friends haven't been seen for decades, but faithful scientists don't have the heart to declare them extinct. Futile much?

10. Taxi driver
The job you’re most likely to be murdered while doing. Enough said.

So now, you have ten reasons to say to yourself: "My job could be a lot worse, and I know just what to put in the suggestion box for the boss to take on as a new vocation."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Early Morning Thoughts ~ leaving

I will be gone for today (12/24) and tomorrow (12/25). I will be staying with dear friends who are becoming family to me (see yesterdays early morning thoughts). As they have no computer, I will have no access to post.

So let me take this time to wish you and yours the best of the holiday!!! May the spirit that should be a part of all throughout the year be with you!!!

And as the new year bears down ... it is a good time to begin to evaluate:

Stretch ourselves in new directions:

And finally soar where we never thought we would be able to go:

and what's the most exciting - it is ALL up to us individually.

Enjoy days of christmas, enjoy those around - make the most of the opportunities presented to us to be part of someone's life and to make a difference in their life and in our own!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

You Just Think You're Going To Fly ~

My heart goes out to all those trapped by fog, snow and other reasons travel plans have been interruped. Hopefully, their sense of adventure will take over and they will make the best of what could be a dreadful situation ...

One Of Each Is Fine ~

It's almost C-day and just in case you are still wondering what to get your significant or in-significant other, I have a few last minute shopping suggestions!!!

Jewel-Encrusted Ice Bucket $100,000 PLUS $1,500 per bottle

Not content with storing your bottle of bubbly in the fridge? Taffin jeweler James de Givenchy has created a platinum-lined Krug commissioned ice bucket with white opals dotting the red lacquer exterior. Combine it with a bottle of prestige cuvee and you have yourself a party.

Diamond Earrings

These 60 carat, flawless drop diamond earrings are sure to please those who love their ice.

For more information, visit

Trip To Space
$1.8 million

Those in search of a fantasy flight of a lifetime might want to reserve Virgin Galactic’s six-seater suborbital space plane, which takes flight in 2009.
Before the two-and-a-half-hour trip, passengers will undergo several days of pre-examination and physical fitness preparation in the Mojave Desert. Post-landing, those aboard and one guest head to Necker Island, Branson’s private Bahamian getaway, for four days.

For more information, go to

But in reality, it's nothing material that we give that's the most important in the end. Yes, it's nice to have the excitement of something wrapped and pretty. It's also nice to have something that lasts FAR longer and means much more. And that is the gift of ourselves. The who we are, the what we are and all the "how" we are. The quiet moments, the open sharing, the wonder of someone understanding. These are gifts that remain long after the others are forgotten, broken or no longer needed.

So - going into the wonders of the season - let's go after the wonders of other people and what we can mean to them!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Early Morning Thoughts ~ family

As I read blogs and commentaries this week, I was struck by the number of people dealing with family, family issues and repairing/bringing back family bonds. As I will not be with direct family this holiday, I began to think about the connections that bind us together. The bonds that create the world around us. Are we family by DNA or family by choice. I'm not sure there is always a difference.

What Is Family?
Family are the shouts in the dark that keep you awake
trying to be invisible under your blankets.
Family is the warm heart you run to
when everyone else at the rink skates too fast
and you've cut your knees on the ice.
Family are given to you at birth
with your eyes and lips and nose.
They will stick to you wherever you go
and shape how you see
and what you say
and how you are seen
Family are found new each day
wherever you put your heart last.
Family are the people you share bread with,
and whoever you share the lack of bread with.
Sometimes your family aren't people.
Family is whoever lives under the tent of your soul.
Your family can be as big as you are,
and from birth to death, your real, real family
are the ones who make you grow bigger

poem by Anitra L. Freeman from "Families of Poems"

So, during this holiday, I intend to examine my connections to those around me and those who are my DNA family. I want to learn even more where I fit in, what I need to change to make those connections better ... and how I can help in bringing those around to their full potential of who they are and what they can be. A wise man once said: There are only two kinds of people in the world - those that want to lower you to their level and keep you there and those that want you to soar higher than you or they thought possible. I only want to be in the latter group.

On Self-Knowledge

And a man said, "Speak to us of Self-Knowledge."

And he answered, saying:

Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.

But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge.

You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.

You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.

The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;

And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.

But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;

And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.

For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth."

Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path."

For the soul walks upon all paths.

The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.

The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
Kahlil Gibran "The Prophet"

AbFab Or Not ~

'Tis the season to be jolly, and totally surprised at gifts, thoughts and people. The other day on public transportation I was amazed at how people were reacting to each other, and anything that might happen. Let's just say that Santa was going to make a lot of notes on naughty or nice.

I was invited to attend an afternoon party. I knew it was going to be trouble when the host(ess) used the word fabulous four times in the conversation to describe the

So, looking at some ideas that are fabulous (AbFab) or not ....

For those who just have to grab something for a last minute gift, this is NOT what you should offer - even at a white elephant party... No, just NO!!!

Christmas is the time of peace on earth, etc. I have difficulty thinking that these little fellows do much to promote that...actually, nothing at all to promote peace.

And you know your day is less than fabulous if the school calls to say something about your child saying something....

And while we're on the subject of doing ~ This is NOT an option, even if your neighbor IS playing "Grandma' got run over by a reindeer" with his flashing lights from 9pm until midnight EVERY night.
(your punishment if you do would be having to watch the Cartoon Network movie of the same name for eternity!!!!)

Now, this one will do without explanation. Perfect for that relation. Just tell them it's building character, muscles and whatever else you can think of!!!

And now, just for me ~ I wish for peace, joy, happiness all that "stuff." But what would really make my day, month, year would be to find just the right person under the mistletoe ... and then someone could sing (a HUGE choir would be fabulous!!!) I saw Daddy kissing Santa Claus! Who would be daddy and what would happen later is NONE of your business!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Early Morning Thoughts ~ hold fast to dreams

This was going to be a night I slid into the comforting arms of sleep early. I was going to curl up in the warmth of my mind and allow my body to sink into the relaxed state where pain went away. And, here I am somewhat awake, somewhat sleepy. Feeling as if I am unable to participate totally in either state.

So I began to contemplate dreams - not the air-brushed kind that fade in the morning as the light fog in the garden, but the kind that poets use to drive us onward, upward and to greater accomplishments than we ever thought possible.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Dreams by Langston Hughes

Once in the dream of a night I stood
Lone in the light of a magical wood,
Soul-deep in visions that poppy-like sprang;
And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.
Excerpt from: Song of a Dream
Sarojini Naidu

Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation.
Darkness wakes and stir imagination.
Silently the senses abandon their defenses,
Helpless to resist the notes I write,
For I compose the Music of the Night.

Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendor.
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender.
Hearing is believing. Music is deceiving.
Hard as lightening, soft as candlelight.
Dare you trust the Music of the Night?

Close your eyes, for your eyes will only tell the truth,
And the truth isn't what you want to hear.
In the dark it is easy to pretend...
That the truth is what it ought to be.

Softly, deftly, music shall caress you.
Hear it, fear it, secretly possess you.
Open up your mind; let your fantasies unwind.
In this darkness which you know you cannot find.
The darkness of the Music of the Night.

Close your eyes, start a journey to a strange new world.
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before.
Close your eyes and let music set you free...
Only then can you belong to me.

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication.
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation.
Let the dream begin; let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write,
The power of the Music of the Night.

You alone can make my song take flight.
Help me make the Music of the Night.

"Music of the Night" by Andrew Lloyd Webber

And so I take hold of the music of my dreams
and push them toward reality.
For this is the time of day when
I alone am in charge.
I can dare to hope,
dare to plan
and dare to believe.

I am here!