Friday, March 2, 2007

Free To Fly-Or Tied In A Bottle ~ Early Morning Thoughts

This evening I was working at clearing out some of the "stuff" I've had around for awhile. And while going through old notes, class preparations, and some interesting nostalgia I ran across this. I have no idea how old the story it - but after I re-read it, I knew exactly why I held onto it. (This has been published on the web, along with two other stories attributed to him.) Sometimes, what can cause the deepest thoughts, come to us in child-like form.

Dream of a Butterfly

This story is from the gossip of the sparrows on my balcony this morning...

Once, there was a butterfly that lived in a bottle. It was a cowardly butterfly; when it was young, as a silkworm, it hid inside a bottle to avoid hungry sparrows. It only came out at night, eat some leafs, and returned into its bottle. Until one time, it slept very long through its metamorphic process in a silk cocoon, and turned into a butterfly.

After it had grown as a pretty butterfly, its wings were colorful but too wide to escape the bottle neck. Thus it lived in a bottle, laid under a bench on a park.

It survived only because little ants brought it food. But that was it, the price of staying in a comfortable place, without a challenge in life.

One day, the butterfly was found by a bottle-picker. He almost traded it for coins from a shop. Suddenly he saw something moving in it. Butterfly wings moved like hand clapping in slow motion.

"So what happened then?" I asked the sparrow. "Well, there was a wise spider that came helping," it answered. "The spider was the bottle picker's friend. It went into the bottle and tied the butterfly's wings with its fiber. Gentle spider. The wings
were somehow tied to the body that the butterfly could fit out the bottle neck."

Since that time, the butterfly became one of the bravest insects on earth. They roamed here and there, and you might even find some of them migrating in large number, known as Migrating Monarch. From North America to Mexico, every year, despite the challenge of wild nature...
--story written by Vahd Mulacela

Life without adventure
is like a book without page numbers.
We pass it all through -
read it day by day,
but we don't know where we are.
Here, or there, or
perhaps nowhere at all...

--Vahd Mulachela

An Afternoon Case Of WHAT??? ~

As I was digging around today (OK, surfing around) two absolutely amazing little pieces of news caught my eye ... the first an invasion, the second a complete lack of .... well, you decide what is lacking.....

Imagine reading this on a headline service this morning: (or being a news "puller")

Yes, it's a screen shot of an actual posted headline. However, before anyone feels that they need to start looking for some kind of shelter - the truth is quite amusing - and far more mundane.

Once upon a time, there was a training exercise ... and a few soldiers got lost in the process.

The second story caused some clean-up of my monitor and keyboard from the coffee spilled (OK, spewed) on them as a result of this little tale.

Remember awhile ago when Boston was shut down over a publicity campaign? I thought you might. If you remember, the offending hardware that caused so much Police panic were a Light-Brites cast around for people to find and (if you ever watch Cartoon Network's Adult Swim) recognize.

It seems that today** Wednesday, the City of Boston placed traffic counters around. You know, those identifable boxes attached by chain to a pole with a small cable running across the road that counts the cars as they drive over it.

I'll let Wonkette tell the tale:
Well, the brave anti-terrorism officials of Boston most certainly do not know of these common devices — so they shut down the city today, again, and blew up the traffic counter. You know, the traffic counter the City of Boston was paying for ….
(Article and picture here)

Now that I have cleaned up the keyboard and monitor - I can go back to feeling safer in knowing that any car I ride in Boston is going to go uncounted.

Why do people make up news, when there's so much really interesting (insert any other word here) true news to look at?

**edited correction of date

The Wonder Of It All ~ Early Morning Thoughts

I had been "doing" today, and when I got home there were still things I needed to be "doing." Finally, there was time to sit and contemplate. All that I could accomplish (OK, read that as WOULD accomplish) had either been done or passed onto that list of to do later. I was looking up something on-line, and instead found an amazing article titled "A Wonder-full Life" by Juan De Pascuale: (edited/abbreviated, full link below)
All of us are a little like Gulliver in Jonathan Swift's masterpiece Gulliver's Travels-- sailing the sea of time in our fragile bodies, repeatedly finding ourselves shipwrecked on our voyage to the Unknown. In this parable of the human condition, Gulliver's accidental voyages take him to strange worlds inhabited by odd creatures. Perhaps most bizarre is Laputa, the island world that floats like a Zeppelin in the sky high above the ground.

The Laputans who inhabit this island have one eye permanently turned inward as though in literal introspection, while the other is turned upward as though in permanent contemplation of the stars. They worship the abstract sciences and have a passion for theoretical reflection; they are devoted to the study of mathematics, music theory and astronomy.
(additional note:The population of the island mainly consisted of educated people, who are fond of mathematics, astronomy, music and technology, but fail to make practical use of their knowledge (the rest are their servants). They had mastered magnetic levitation and discovered the two moons of Mars, but couldn't construct well-designed clothing or buildings - reason for this being that measurements are taken with instruments such as quadrants and a compass rather than with tapes.)
The cerebral Laputans are masters of a wide array of esoteric arts and sciences that gives them the ability to control the land below and hold subject the ordinary earthly citizens. However, they have difficulty in social situations. When they go out into society, they must be accompanied by a servant carrying a stick to bash the Laputans on the head so that they don't drift off into flights of absentminded speculation, ignoring the person in front of them.

What is truly astonishing, however, is not the mystery of life, that some things move and other things don't, that in every life's voyage there are shipwrecks, that you never know what tomorrow will bring ...
These mysteries are merely the tip of the metaphysical iceberg hiding beneath our everyday concerns. What is truly amazing is the fact that there is anything at all.

Being itself -- to be! -- is the most uncanny datum of our experience, and yet it simply stands for everything. It is this very act of writing, the air we breathe, the space we move through and this time that we are sharing. It is here, there, all around us, between us, it is us. It is now. From... to the thoughts in your mind, to the most distant galaxy: All this, the world itself, is, and it is wondrous that it is. And yet we tend to lose sight of the wonder of it all in the midst of it all.

It is our capacity to wonder at the mystery of being that makes us human and separates us from the rest of creation. To wonder about being is like having the top of your head removed and feeling with your naked brain the icy cool presence and unfathomableness of everything.

When you fall into wonder only one sentence forms on your lips: Why is there anything at all and not, rather, nothing? I am not seeking a "cause" or a general explanation of what is, which might or might not be provided by philosophy, religion or science. I am, rather, acknowledging a deepening experience of everything around me. Prior to the experience of wonder, I now realize, I took the full weight of existence for granted, as most people do most of the time.

You cannot, however, deliberately choose to wonder. You can only ready yourself for it. Wonder always happens as though from the outside in. One slides into wonder, is surprised by wonder, is overtaken by wonder; but one cannot will to wonder. And all of this happens under the most ordinary of circumstances. Maybe it has already happened to you. Maybe you have already fallen into wonder. Or maybe you have been touched by wonder but turned away.

Maybe you have had the experience, as I have, of awakening in your familiar bed only to find it inexplicably alien, and not because of what you drank or took the night before. A morning when, for reasons unknown, you woke up before the alarm rang and, somewhere between a dream state and clearly felt reality, found yourself bathed in astonishment at your mere being. At the fact that you are at all, let alone here, now, in this particular place at this particular time in this familiar yet so strange bed of yours. A moment when everything you cast your eyes upon-- your shoes on the floor, the plant on the windowsill, the pile of books on the desk -- fills you with a mixture of awe and anxiety as you let yourself admit to yourself that the mystery of life, of being itself, is so overwhelmingly shocking that it leaves you powerless and speechless.

Many of us, however, have had ...moments of realization of what it is and means to be. If you have, then you know that no amount of description can capture the actually lived felt-sense of being in awe of being. You also know with certainty that it changes you forever. You know that you have rubbed up against the very edge. There is nothing that could be further or deeper.

No one knows what being is or why it is. Not Plato or Aristotle or the Buddha or Einstein. There is no knowing the what or the why of what is. There is only the understanding of life that is acquired through the asking in the state of wonder. But that's enough. And it better well be because that's all there is for us mere mortals.

The experience of wonder brings the world into relief and makes a person take life seriously. In wonder you realize that this is it. You have the opportunity to swim through the river of life rather than just float on it, to own your life rather than be owned by life. If attended to, the experience of wonder gives birth to self-examination and to a mindful awareness of the world. In time you come to know yourself as you have been and are -- and this gives you the possibility of choosing how to be. Through the experience of wonder we become true individuals and true citizens of the universe.

Most people, however, live out their lives unaware of the mystery of existence. Everyday routines of work and entertainment keep them from seeing the world and themselves in the light of wonder. They drift quietly through life like the autumn leaves that float on the surface of a river, barely noticing that they are adrift even as their place in the river of time empties into the ocean of death. This is the most common kind of life, literature and art tell us. It's the life of Tolstoy's Ivan Ilych, Arthur Miller's Willy Lohman, W.H. Auden's Unknown Citizen and Kierkegaard's aesthete. The average life of the average person seeks to become just that, average -- to be "just like everyone else."

But why do people drift through life like dead leaves? The answer is simple: Drifting is easy and has obvious advantages visible to everyone, while the advantages of letting wonder teach you to swim through life are known only to those who actually do it. Yes, drifting can lead to worldly success, but it can cost you the only thing in life that you can truly call your own -- your self. And therein lies the tragedy.

What good is it to know the world but not to know yourself -- to be the scientist who succeeds in mapping the 30,000 genes of the human genetic code and thereby hold the biological secrets of all of mankind in the palm of your hand, but not to know the very person who holds this knowledge in his hand?

What good is it to find a high paying job, fit well into the community, be well-liked and thereby succeed in "living well" but, for a lack of time or attention, fail to succeed in dying well?

You cannot will yourself to wonder any more than you can will yourself to love, but you can prepare yourself for it just as you can for love. You can choose to move slowly through this fast life mindful of your experiences. You can strip down to your bare self and press up against what is.
That is where I want to be, how I want to be. To be completely open to wonder (remember child-like enthusiasm) and the sheer wonder and joy of living. However, I don't want someone to have to bash me in the head to bring me "back to earth."

-- from Notre Dame Magazine
Spring 2003 issue

--laputa picture from
--photo of ice ribbon by Andy Goldsworthy
--picture 8 courtesy of "eternal"

--boy on sidewalk - "Sidewalk Circus" by Paul Fleishman and Kevin Hawkes

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Not An Ed Wood Space Movie ~ An Elegant Time Waster

The folks at Game Show Network have "launched" this fun little game - just to make sure you don't get everything done today you're supposed to ... and a little space love thrown in for good measure ... oh, and of course, it's not as simple as it looks!!!! (oh yes, click on the sound button to get rid of the space sounds ..)

My thanks to one of my favorite blogs: The durnMoose blog.

(UPDATE: A technical problem developed with the game, it has been "retired" for a bit, until I can solve the issue ... :( )

For now -- GO HERE to play this delightful space(y) game!!!


Surprised - But Not By Joy ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Tuesday, D&D and I decided to get together for a bit. We were going to celebrate several things, talk about plans - and have an enjoyable early evening. We had a wonderful late snack, and again headed to one of our favorite places - which was as packed as any place serving $2 well drinks (all night) would be. As noisy as it can get - it is possible to still have a conversation that doesn't involve shouting into someone's ear as if you were trying to break their ear drum, or trying maneuver around a "gaggle" of S & M (stand and model) types clustered around with blank expressions or expressions of absolute horror at someone who doesn't measure up.

D&D had to run a couple of quick errands - and I decided to stay behind and wait for them. At this point, the popcorn (yes - fresh popped) and free chicken (of the fast food variety - thank you very much!) were sounding quite good. I was sitting and enjoying the snacks and people watching. J came over and sat by me. We had chatted for a moment as I was making my way to the rest room - other than that I had never seen him before. He was pleasant , charming and ... a hustler. Now, I have a very different approach then most folks. First of all, I'm not going to pay them. Nor will I buy them a drink if they ask me. (oh, and by the way - the quickest way to end ANY conversation is to start a sentence calling me Daddy. I've raised my three ... there are going to be no more!) So, that puts a totally different slant on most conversations. As a matter of fact, one of my more famous lines has been: "Don't drop your meter, I'm not getting in your cab." I enjoy people...and they, after all, are people. I've had a lot of fascinating conversations and laughs with them - as with most people. I bought him a drink, we chatted for a bit , he shared a couple of horrendous jokes and then he toddled off to find someone else. The point of all this: there was a feeling that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Later, after D&D's return from successful errand running. Toby (not his real name or initial) whom I had never seen before, literally came and starting "working" me...I'd use the term hitting on me, but I didn't want to give the impression of violence. I found that unidentified feeling really rubbing me ... and then I realized with a shock what it was. I was surprised by cynicism. Actually a very deep rooted cynicism. Something I was totally unprepared for, and unaware of how much I had.
cyn·i·cism(sĭn'ĭ-sĭz'əm)-n- An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others:
And how was it expressed? Thank heavens only mentally. I think I realized it before it became expressed either in body language or verbally. My inner reaction was one of very high mistrust of the integrity of him and his motives.
A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
--H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
--Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900),
Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892
Immediately upon Toby's coming to sit down with us, I felt distrust and continual questioning of motives. He had not given me any reason for acting that way. I simply had placed him into a neat little category and was starting to react accordingly.
Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It's unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don't have to try.
--Peggy Noonan (1950 - )
Had I not realized what I was doing, I would have lost a wonderful time with a delightful person - who went out of his way to affirm someone he barely knew, and who treated me as a terminal romantic desires to be treated. And it troubles me that my response could have been less than kind or open. I would have lost any reasonable conversation with someone who is delightfully informed and drew out of me some amazing shared interests.

Regardless of orientation, cynicism creates incredible boundaries and barriers to life and other people. Of course, I'm not talking the healthy questioning of motives and such. Let's face it the person that calls during dinner to tell you about that stock you just HAVE to buy, or the people at your door with the magazine to help you find your way, all have motives that need to be guarded against. Or the person who you've just met that wants to "take" you somewhere. That's not where I'm heading with this. If I had let my cynicism take over, I would have cut off all avenues for any discussion, any sharing and any enjoyment of time with this person. And I would have lost for myself as well. I'm not talking about not being careful what is shared, what is decided and such.

I'm merely talking about being with another individual and enjoying them as they are ... not continually questioning how they should, could or might be.
--more on this later
--Seal picture by Rolf Hicker

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Late News And An Even Later Joke ~

Yesterday afternoon my cable and internet connection decided they deserved a vacation -- this, of course, without arranging for any kind of vacation coverage or even the courtesy of letting anyone know they were going. It caused a number of problems, but thankfully management took the situation in hand - and made it worse then it was before. So, the lower levels revolted and solved the problem. And, now my connection is back and running --

It doesn't hurt to take a good hard look at yourself from time
to time, and this should help get you started.

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No." said the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Friends(hip) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

As I continued to think about friends and friendships today, I was struck again by the truth of the quote:
True friendship is at once selfish and selfless. And both sides are necessary. Both sides are good.
Otherwise, it becomes something that is one-sided and (as I have learned) very unhealthy. And at times, that has been a problem for me. I have had a tendency (that I still have to battle with) to simply become a conduit for the other person. It's been a sense of giving them more importance than myself. I would placing their problems, joys, hopes, dreams above my own. I'll be posting as to how I realized what was going on, and what I've had to do to make changes. Tonight, I wanted to stroll through some ideas that have meant a lot to me about friendship and what it means.

The Gift Of Friends

There are days when
bubbling from us comes
the innocent child within,
who giggles at the little things
and wears a silly grin.

There are days when
melancholy comes to
visit for a while;
the mind feels tired, the body weak;
we have no strength to smile.

There are days when
joy abundant
grabs a hold of you and me;
wraps us up in all it's splendor,
lifts us up and sets us free.

There are days when
sorrow wraps us
in its cloak of grief and fear,
'till our hearts ache to the breaking,
'till our eyes can't shed a tear.

There are days when
love bestows us
with its wonderment and light;
with its beauty and its mystery,
its power and its might.

And there are days when
life rewards us
and seems to make amends
by granting us a marvelous gift,
the precious gift of Friends.
--Karin Schaefer

The next poem/statements really struck a chord with me the first time I read it. As a series of simple statements - each one if packed with power and truth. I also discovered that if I didn't agree with something he wrote, if I left it alone - I discovered he was generally right all along...

I am not your friend if. . .
you have to think a long time before you speak to me!

i am not your friend if. . .
my presence ever makes you feel uncomfortable!

i am not your friend if. . .
you have to continually say sorry for everything you don't do!

i am not your friend if. . .
you hesitate to ask me for favors!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think i would not be curious to know your new philosophy of life!

i am not your friend if. . .
you go by what i say and do not understand what i don't say!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think that listening to your dreams would put me to sleep!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think that seeing you in pain, would not bring a tear to me!

i am not your friend if. . .
you don't realize how your smile brightens up my day!

i am not your friend if. . .
you would rather keep quiet when you really wanna to talk!

i am not your friend if. . .
you hesitate to ask me to stay back when you think we should be together!
--attributed to a Serbian freedom fighter

And for the final thought in this post, a very short poem that absolutely made a difference in MY outlook the first time I read it. But then - being a terminal romantic (we're the ones that pat the sandwich after we make it - remember?) it would speak to me in many different levels.

Lost Treasures

They told me

that to truly find something,
you must first lose it.

So I lost myself,
and what I found was

They were right.
--H. Lamb

--more tomorrow

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Friendship~Early Morning Thoughts

This actually started a couple of weeks ago. I had posted about meeting someone who I thought might become a very good friend. Sadly, that appears not to be. After a couple of further conversations, a few emails and a couple of e-cards. I was told on night when I called: "I need to (.........), I'll call you later tonight." That was over a week and a half ago. I'm sure there are reasons, but later in this post you'll see what I'm talking about.

And, of course, no week would be complete without D&D putting strain on everything called friendship in their own inimitable style. This, of course, brought flooding back the problems with ZZ and what he termed friendship...or, it's lack.

Friendship is incredibly important in life - and I'm struck how close friendship can be to the love we all seem to seek. After all, doesn't friendship combine trust, support, communication, a sense of loyalty as well as understanding. Perhaps that's why a very wise man once said: best friends often make the best lovers.

I remember when I was young, and went somewhere - a sleepover, a long weekend trek with friends...and while it was fun while gone, there was an incredible sense of "home" upon returning. That's what I want my friendships to be.

I want to go out in the world and try to "slay the dragons" or at least, get something accomplished. Along the way I'm going to have the ups and downs, joys and sadness. But when I connect with a friend I need the sense of "home." Mentally kicking off shoes, a sense of relief or a sense of having a comfortable situation. But friendships have to be maintained (sounds like a love relationship doesn't it!). It requires contact, being together and a deep sense of understanding. However, sometimes friends because of things they can not control - drift somewhat apart. But maintaining contact is incredibly important at those times.

Somewhere I read that friendships end for one or a combination of three reasons:
  • Unexpressed expectations
  • Undelivered communication
  • thwarted attention
I'm going to want to think about this for awhile before I post more on those three items, but I wanted to let you know where my mind was heading. And yes, my heart is filling with sadness as I think about what is going on and/or has gone on. I spent much of this afternoon looking back on people I've known and lost - friendships I've tried for and lost. (to say nothing of some seriously damaged/damaging relationships.)

Of course, a friendship based on manipulation is not a friendship at all. True friends do not do that to each other, or to those around them. In his book "The Friendship Factor" author Alan Loy McGinnis talks about the things that can make up a manipulative friendship: always needing to be needed, always having to take charge, always appearing to be weak and pitiful to gain control over another individual.

And more and more, I'm beginning to look at those I consider standard bearers of great friendships (even though some may be lovers, they strike me as being incredibly good friends as well). I consider Steve-Warren (Our View on Superior) and, of course, Yen and Jesse (Two Lucky People) as almost standard bearers of what a deep best friend situation should be. And those I regard as personal friends? There's K (I value and cherish his friendship) who always greets me with such warmth and honesty, I can do nothing be reply in kind. There's SGB who (as I've said before) always makes me feel incredibly sensual - usually when I look my worst. And there's EW with whom I'm renewing a friendship that had suffered a lengthy separation. And of course dear D who said of friendship in an email to me: sometimes friends say things that HAVE to be said, even though the other person does not want to hear it. Hopefully, this can be done in a loving, compassionate way that helps rather than hurts.

So, no my life isn't full of "sturm und drang." But, I'm willing to share where my mind is headed ... sometimes on it's own!

--more on this tomorrow

For The Afternoon ~

If you're having a tough day - or need something to just set the right mood for a "cuppa" and some relaxation ....

Then go here ..... The sheer beauty of the kites, and their movement, along with the music will make relaxing that much easier ....

(p.s. - evidently the fellow controlling the kites is in his 70's!)

Check Those Bills ~

I can only begin to imagine the shock:
Perhaps his $24 billion electric bill will teach Richard Redden not to leave the heat running. Thanks to a printing error, Redden and more than 1,300 Weatherford utility customers this week received billion-dollar electric bills marked as late notices.

Irving-based DataProse, which prints customer bills for Weatherford Electric, said the company was embarrassed by the error.

“Obviously, this is not something we are pleased about,” said Curtis Nelson, DataProse vice president and general manager.

Weatherford Electric spokeswoman Pam Pearson said customers can expect their correct bills later this month. She said the company's records were correct and showed the right balances.

"I know they raised the rates on kilowatt hours a little bit," Redden said. "I guess we shouldn't have run the heater quite so much this month."

As they say - things are bigger in Texas!!!