Saturday, July 30, 2011

#12 Three Things

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. ~ Lao-tzu

-How much of the 'three things' do you have in reserve?
-What three things might you teach?

Friday, July 29, 2011

#11 Are you Sunshine?

Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch. ~ Walt Whitman

It's interesting to reflect upon how much sunshine we emanate, and whether or not we could bump it up a couple of notches.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

#10 Finish Hoeing

Once while St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, he was asked, "What would you do if you were suddenly to learn that you were to die at sunset today?"

He replied, "I would finish hoeing my garden."

This quote serves as an interesting juxtaposition for the previous quote, I think.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

#9 The Present is your Life

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. ~ Annie Dillard

How did you spend your day yesterday? Today? Welcome to your life.

Or you could make changes...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

#8 The Shoreline of Wonder

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder. ~ Ralph W. Sockman

It's interesting to think about personal areas of knowledge which have extended our appreciation for life and the new 'islands' which still await to be explored.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

#6 Music Cleanses

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Berthold Auerbach

It's interesting to reflect upon the music which motivates, energizes, soothes, inspires us...

Friday, July 22, 2011

#5 Life is a Battle

You thought you have problems?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. ~ Plato

Thursday, July 21, 2011

#4 Dare Adventure

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it. ~ Mother Teresa

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Share your Passion

Holstee's slogan is "kickass products, sustainably made, with a social impact."

As a kind of mission statement or manifesto for their perspective, they have designed a poster which captures some key elements of a vital life.

It's interesting to discover that the founders like the idea of people pursuing their passions and harnessing their personal skills to create, doing what you love and sharing with other vibrant people, and keeping life focused and simple in pursuing your dream.

#3 Love First

I don't want to live; I want to love first and live incidentally. ~ Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Manifesto for a Vital Life

A manifesto is a declaration of intent, policy, aim, etc. as issued by a political party, government, movement or

The word comes from the C17 Italian word manifestare to manifest.

As I gather 1,000 vital quotes about life, I wonder about the parameters.

The chief areas, it seems to me, include:

-spiritual enrichment
-personal skills
-social responsibility
-relationship with the environment
-contentment/happiness level
-community interaction
-use of time

For example, Life Optimizer sees seven key elements of good relationships:
- Both sides are willing to give/change/admit mistakes/listen/support/are open to each other/ and have integrity.

Also, the United Nations is about to declare that a serious famine exists in the horn of Africa. How does one react to such news?...

Consequently, you can expect quotations which indirectly address these areas and others....


Monday, July 18, 2011

#2 Be Yourself

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

(I am on an intriguing quest to find 1,000 vital quotes about life.)

Care to share the quote using the icons below?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

#1 Hope in Each New Day

We are new every day. ~ Irene Claremont de Castillego

(I am on an intriguing quest to find 1,000 vital quotes about life.)

Care to share the quote with others using the icons below?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A New Focus

Dear Readers,

After over 1,400 posts over the last three and a half years, I have decided to redirect my sails and simplify my regular blog posts by focusing on uplifting and enlightening quotes.

One goal is to provide a celebratory affirmation of life and its exciting possibilities. Another is personal growth and enrichment.

I have also decided to post six times a week.  I hope to focus on individual authors and themes periodically and provide enriching quotes.

Thanks for reading, and any sharing and recommending of this blog are appreciated.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dinosaur Dig Fascinates

Dinosaurs have long enthralled young and old. It's interesting to visit museums with large specimens which have been meticulously reconstructed from ancient archaeological digs.

Researchers from Yale University have now unearthed the bones of a dinosaur in Montana which lived just before the catastrophic meteor impact 65 million years ago. They "discovered the fossilized horn of a ceratopsian—likely a Triceratops, which are common to the area—in the Hell Creek formation in Montana last year. The fossil was buried just five inches below the K-T boundary, the geological layer that marks the transition from the Cretaceous period to the Tertiary period at the time of the mass extinction that took place."

The find reveals that certain dinosaurs may still have thrived before the calamitous event.

In a related article,"Some scientists propose that the meteorite caused a long and unnatural drop in Earth's atmospheric temperature, while others claim that it would have instead created an unusual heat wave. The consensus among scientists who support this theory is that the impact caused extinctions both directly (by heat from the meteorite impact) and also indirectly (via a worldwide cooling brought about when matter ejected from the impact crater reflected thermal radiation from the sun). Although the speed of extinction cannot be deduced from the fossil record alone, various models suggest that the extinction was extremely rapid, being down to hours rather than years."

To view the photo above of a discovery like this is exhilarating. One can tell that some natural erosion helped to unearth the ancient bones. What fun it would be to be part of the team to uncover the skeleton.

Via Futurity

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

U2 Inspires Quest

U2 rolled into Toronto for a packed concert on their 360 Tour in the 65,000 seat Rogers Center stadium on Monday night. I was struck by the broad range of the band's music which kept the fans enthralled for over 2 hours.

After over 3o years since the group's formation, they still put on a charged, inspiring performance. The themes included the search for love and meaning and global social justice.

The mammoth set, which has traveled around the world with the band, resembles "a large disco ball-studded UFO" and provided a variety of stunning stage effects. The giant 360 video screen, which ascended and descended in various positions, conveyed stats, phrases, and images complementing the lyrics of the songs.

At one point the action onstage paused while U.S. astronaut Mark Kelly offered a taped hello to Toronto from his orbit around planet Earth.

"He arranged a written note reading “Imagine it’s a beautiful day” in zero gravity to introduce “Beautiful Day,” a song that U2 front man Bono dedicated to Kelly’s wife, Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who survived an assassination attempt in January."

Also Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi was celebrated with her release, and she included a brief message on the video screen.

The retractable dome of the Rogers Centre was open to allow the amazing neon light show of the CN Tower to complement the scintillating performance.

Narcissistic Entitlement?

Are many parents raising teacup kids who are fragile and vulnerable as teens and adults in the face of challenges and stresses?

Lori Gottlieb, a parent and a therapist, writes a perceptive essay in The Atlantic entitled 'How to Land your Kids in Therapy: why the obsession with our kids' happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods.'

Gottlieb refers to a number of current theorists on the subject, “Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing, but happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster. It’s precisely this goal, though, that many modern parents focus on obsessively—only to see it backfire. Observing this phenomenon, my colleagues and I began to wonder: Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?"

She warns against parents who have a “discomfort with discomfort.” Too much protection and indulgence can prevent kids from cultivating a "psychological immunity."

"When ego-boosting parents exclaim “Great job!” not just the first time a young child puts on his shoes but every single morning he does this, the child learns to feel that everything he does is special. Likewise, if the kid participates in activities where he gets stickers for “good tries,” he never gets negative feedback on his performance. (All failures are reframed as “good tries.”) According to Twenge, indicators of self-esteem have risen consistently since the 1980s among middle-school, high-school, and college students. But, she says, what starts off as healthy self-esteem can quickly morph into an inflated view of oneself—a self-absorption and sense of entitlement that looks a lot like narcissism. In fact, rates of narcissism among college students have increased right along with self-esteem."

Maybe it's better to be good parents who allow kids a little more slack rather than trying to be super parents.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dogs: The Here and Now

Do dogs have it as good as they used to? The beloved pets in my youth enjoyed the back country lanes and sniffing about chasing up pheasants and rabbits.

A wonderful excerpt from John Bradshaw's book In Defence of Dogs, (Penguin, July 28) is published in The Independent. If you wonder about the status of dogs today, their dilemma faced in a changing society, the latest training perspectives for your dog it's most enlightening reading.

For example, Bradshaw, an animal behaviorist, reflects on a dog's perspective of the immediate present,

"One reason that domestic dogs fit into human communities so well is that they find human contact very rewarding and become anxious when separated from their human companions. They are strongly motivated to do things that please their owners. It is crucial to appreciate that dogs live in the here and now to a much greater extent than humans do. For example, many owners punish their dogs when they come home to find that the dog has done something wrong. They assume that the dog will think back to whatever that deed was. However, dogs do not do mental time-travel at all well. What the dog actually does is to associate the immediate situation – the owner's return – with the owner's angry words, and physical punishment. It does not understand what has caused the punishment, nor has it had any warning that punishment is imminent. Because it does not understand, the dog is unable to predict when its owner is going to come home angry and when not. It is like a rat in a cage, being shocked at random."

Image and Book from Penguin

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Color Palette of the Land and Sky

It's interesting to read about a couple's dream cottage on a remote, windswept spot on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. They originally wanted to build on the coast in northeastern Maine, but picked a spot a little farther up the coastline in Canada.

They bought the 54 acre parcel of land for $450,000 and decided that they wanted to build a cottage which fit in well with the landscape. The architect modeled it after existing barns in the area, and the interior designer paid close attention to colour.

"The windows frame views in every direction: Cape Breton Highlands National Park to the north, the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the west, forested hills to the east and headlands to the south. And the landscape dictated the way the house looks inside as well.

The interior designer "took long walks, photographing the densely wooded terrain in different seasons — the changing colors of the spruce, pine, birch, maple and cedar trees, and the goldenrod, rosa rugosa, blueberries, raspberries and cranberries."

“We designed this house based on the color palette of the land and sky. There are 10 different shades of blue, gray and green.”

A lobster-crate-style deck wraps around the exterior; inside, a channeled window seat spans the width of the living room. Green pots and chartreuse goblets sit on the open shelves in the kitchen, over blue-gray cabinets. The maple floors are all stained white.

And an added feature?...the closest neighbor is half a mile away.

Via: NYT

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?

Clint Ober, a former cable technician, knows the importance of grounding electrical equipment as a protection from electromagnetic interference. One day he had a revelation. Modernity has insulated people literally from the earth. Through a simple grounding mechanism which he devised he discovered that the high electrical charges in the home could be negated and that chronic pain and insomnia could be cured.

"Ignored by mainstream researchers, Ober went on to conduct the first study of what he now called “Earthing.” He procured some conductive fiber material bonded with wool-lined sleeping pads attached to grounding wire, then rounded up 60 volunteers. The 38 women and 22 men all complained of sleep problems and various forms of joint and muscle pain. He split the volunteers into two groups: 30 slept on pads that were properly grounded, and the other 30 on pads with a hidden disconnect. Only Ober knew who was actually grounded for the month-long study.

The results were astonishing: 85 percent of the grounded sleepers fell asleep sooner; 93 percent slept better; 100 percent were more rested upon waking; 82 percent “experienced significant reduction in muscle stiffness”; 74 percent “experienced elimination or reduction of chronic back and joint pain”; and 78 percent reported “improved general health,” Ober says. Furthermore, many participants reported “unexpected but significant relief from asthmatic and respiratory conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep apnea, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). There were also reports of fewer hot flashes.”

Since his 'groundbreaking' study "a variety of mainstream medical scientists have reached the conclusion that many diseases—from heart disease to diabetes to arthritis—are ultimately signs of chronic inflammation, in which the body’s natural defenses have been turned against itself. The problem seems to be an overabundance of positively-charged “free radicals.” A variety of expensive supplements and dietary regimens are designed to provide electrons to neutralize the free radicals and lessen their damage."

Ober with several colleagues formed the Earthing Institute:

"Earthing is the landmark discovery that Earth energy upholds the electrical stability of our bodies and serves as a foundation for vitality and health.

In an age of rampant chronic disease, reconnecting with that energy beneath our very feet provides a way back to better health...."

And what about those cell phones and transmission towers?

Via Utne Reader

Friday, July 8, 2011

Love: The Saving Force

Disclosure: I am a Christian who accommodates other global faiths. I like to think that the spiritual jewel is multifaceted.

I am also a humanist. One definition puts it this way:

"Contemporary humanism entails a qualified optimism about the capacity of people, but it does not involve believing that human nature is purely good or that all people can live up to the Humanist ideals without help. If anything, there is recognition that living up to one's potential is hard work and requires the help of others. The ultimate goal is human flourishing; making life better for all humans, and as the most conscious species, also promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings and the planet as a whole. The focus is on doing good and living well in the here and now, and leaving the world a better place for those who come after."

In light of this admission there is an interesting article by Holland Cotter for the NYT about an art exhibition in Brooklyn entitled "Vishnu: Hinduism's Blue-skinned Savior." It provides a vivid perspective about Hinduism with its three gods, Vishna, Brahma, and Shiva who lead the pantheon.

"Shiva is an indisputable star, thanks partly to some exceptional luck with branding. The sculptural image of him as a high-stepping dancer has always been, and for very good reason, a hit. Brahma, by contrast, has only the vaguest of visual profiles. There aren’t many images of him, or temples in his honor. His fan base even in India is small; his celebrity, what remains of it, is left over from antique times.

Purely in terms of power, Vishnu is every bit Shiva’s match, though again, appearances can be deceiving. In sculptures and paintings — and I’m simplifying here — Shiva tends to look active, Vishnu passive. Shiva creates new life by stamping up a storm; Vishnu does it by lying down in a milky sea. Even standing still, Shiva looks flexed and sexy, but the earliest images of Vishnu in the show give exactly the opposite impression."

Vishnu seems to gain the most attention with his descent to earth in 10 different forms or avatars. #9 is through Buddha.

Holland concludes, "Once you’ve grasped the idea that love, that saving force, is the show’s true theme and have immersed yourself awhile in that thought, carry it back through the galleries. Look at everything through a lover’s eyes. Confusions may begin to lift. Wariness may begin to ebb. Images that the first time around seemed stiff and cold may start to feel warmed to life by energies coming from you don’t know where."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

'Hypnotic Scribbles and Abstract Allusions'

Sometimes it's pretty hard to make sense of modernist painters.

A wonderful essay in The Economist takes a look at Cy Twombly's work, a post-Abstract Expressionist who passed away recently at the age of 83.

His work can "be difficult, full of scratches and phalluses, filth and the occasional lofty classical allusion. His mix of subversive vulgarity and grand ideas earned him zealous followers and not a few detractors. Indeed it is this divisiveness—this singular ability to excite—that has helped to secure his place as one of America's most important postwar painters. But little of this attention seemed to affect the man, who was always something of a loner. He had long traded America for Rome, where he could paint in peace and read his Rilke, far away from the noise of the art world."

The essay looks at a hand full of his creations included the image here Hero and Leander 1 which is a "welter of dark greens, reds and blacks. This great Hokusai wave is a tsunami of passion, not just a natural phenomenon. What the rest of the triptych records might be the period after some great cataclysm. The violence passes, leaving only a dark mutter of paint sinking like treacle, and finally a huge rippling surface. These are not recordings of violence, but meditations on its aftermath and its creative power."

The writer suggests that Twombly's paintings represent the creative burst of a fading genre: "...He is a painter towards the end of painting’s history."

Billions in Jewels Discovered in Temple

Perhaps one of the largest treasure troves of gold, diamonds, and precious stones has been discovered in a Hindu temple in southern India.

The hoard, which has lain untouched for nearly 140 years, includes coins minted when the East India Company dominated trade with the sub-continent.

The value of the collection has been estimated at up to £14 billion, with new discoveries still to be made and catalogued. Antiquarians described the treasure's worth as "astronomical".

"Highlights include gold and silver bullion dating back to the Napoleonic era, precious stones wrapped in silk bundles, thousands of intricate pieces of diamond and emerald-studded jewellery."

According to locals, generations of rich maharajas who built the temple more than four centuries ago hid immense riches within six of its thick underground stone vaults. Many of the treasures were offerings given by devotees to the royal families.

All are located deep in the recesses of the temple at the end of a dark and dangerously steep flight of stairs.

"Accounts state that besides more than 2,500lb of gold coins and precious stones, the booty recovered from vault 'A' included gold ropes; a 3ft 6in idol of the Hindu god Vishnu embedded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, and an 18ft-long gold chain weighing more than 75lb to adorn it."

This discovery is reminiscent of perhaps the most dramatic one ever of Tutankhamun's (1341-1323 BC) nearly intact tomb in 1922. Numerous exhibitions have allowed millions to marvel at the amazing and priceless artifacts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Internet: Search, Share, Shop and...Play!

Zynga: 'connecting the world through games' is going public and the four year old social media company could be worth $20 billion.

"The company has more than 230 million monthly active users in nearly 140 countries. Players of Zynga games spend about two billion minutes every day tending to their virtual crops, interacting with CityVille neighbors and more."

Zynga games include: Cityville, Farmville, Empires and Allies, Frontierville, Mafia Wars, Zynga Poker, and Words with Friends.

"We believed play -- like search, share and shop -- would become one of the core activities on the Internet," founder and CEO Mark Pincus wrote in the S-1's introduction. "Play is one of life's big macros -- it's an activity people love to do and do often. Zynga was founded on a deeply held passion for games that family and friends play together -- connecting, collaborating, gifting, bragging, nurturing, admiring and sometimes just doing silly stuff together. Reality is, we all wish we had more time to play together."

Soon after FarmVille debuted on Facebook, it was being played by millions of people who, together, spent millions of hours on their digital plots of land.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Speak about your Passion

Most have heard about TED; their slogan is "Ideas worth spreading, riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." They hold several conferences a year, videotape the speakers' twenty minute speeches, and promote the exchange of vital ideas.

In a similar format Ideacity is ‘Canada’s Premier Meeting of the Minds’, and is "an eclectic gathering of artists, adventurers, authors, cosmologists, doctors, designers, entertainers, filmmakers, inventors, magicians, musicians, scientists and technologists."

Each June "fifty of the planet’s brightest minds" converge in Toronto for a three day conference to speak to a highly engaged audience of 600 invited people. Each speaker has 17 minutes to talk about whatever they're passionate about.

For example, Dickson Despommier, a Columbia University professor, spoke recently about 'Building up instead of out: the rise of the vertical farm.' These farms are built within urban areas to maximize environmental efficiencies.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

No Antibiotics, Pesticides, or Hormones

Most have heard about urban chickens with homeowners raising several in a trendy little backyard coop. How about urban fish?

Scientist Martin Schreibman from Brooklyn, New York has developed a sophisticated Jacuzzi sized tank to raise home grown, delectable fish.

"His tanks are part of a system very different from a fish farm or natural ecosystem. Schreibman's worked for years to develop an advanced water-recirculation system that eliminates the need for chemicals during the growth process. It filters plain old tap water in and out of a tank, constantly circulating and removing fish waste."

Over the course of years of work, Schreibman says, "it just occurred to me and my colleagues that we can grow a lot of fish in a very small area, on land, under controlled conditions. And there are no antibiotics, pesticides or hormones."

He calls this method urban aquaculture, and believes it could catch on as people grown increasingly concerned about where their food comes from and whether it's sustainably produced.

"This is the future," he says.

He also has developed a hydroponic garden using fish waste as a fertilizer.

"Lettuce, herbs, bok choi and kale can all be grown this way. The plants float on a foam sheet, their roots dangling into the water below...."


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Coffee for Philosophers to Mull

There's a new wave of coffee shops attracting attention "where brews have been hailed as seductive and pure, sublime and crack-like." Stumptown coffee also offers cold-brewed coffee available in little stub-necked bottles. The shops have been praised for its "retro-hip baristas and ethical-indie business practices."

The director of operations for the company philosophizes about the coffee waves—"the first was when espresso arrived on our shores; the second was when Starbucks brought us expensive specialty coffee; and the third is now, when coffee has gotten really expensive and is treated less like a commodity and more like wine, something for connoisseurs to palate and philosophers to mull."

The refined experience is now only available in Brooklyn, Portland, and Seattle, but a new partner is planning to grow the business.

Via The New Yorker

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 1: Poignant Celebrations

The royal tour of Prince William and Catherine is in its second day as they help Canadians celebrate Canada Day (July 1). As many as 500,000 people will join them on Parliament Hill with the ideal weather conditions. Onlookers have already been overcome with "Kate-mania."

Also, a significant remembrance today is that William's mother Lady Diana would have turned 50 today.

Time magazine features 50 rare photographs of Princess Diana to commemorate the anniversary. (The photo features Diana modeling a casual outfit for the family album in the late 60's.)

Andrew Morton, the British biographer of the late Diana, suggests that if she was alive, "I'm quite sure she'd be probably be living in America now, and she'd be watching the whole thing on TV..."

Food Choices Add Up

Imagine yourself 4.., 8.., 12.., 16.., 20 years from now. Will you be heavier than you are now?

According to a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, your food choices will play a large part. Researchers tracked over 120,000 men and women in three large ongoing medical studies every four years, over two decades. All were healthy and none were obese at the start of the study.

On average, participants gained 3.35 pounds during each four-year period. That added up to a weight gain of almost 17 pounds over the 20-year period.

When lifestyle changes associated with weight gain were evaluated, the findings were similar in all three studies.

"People who regularly ate French fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes, processed meat, meat, sugary drinks, sweets and refined grains were more likely to gain weight."

On the other hand, "folks who increased their intake of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and yogurt during the study were far less likely to gain weight. In fact, they were more likely to lose a little weight over time."

Therefore, one's weight hinges on many factors including, quite significantly, your food selections.

Via Globe and Mail, Leslie Beck, dietician whose website is here.