Saturday, September 01, 2007

Collage: Blurring the Line Between Memory and Nightmare, IV

[NOTE: It might be useful to see parts I, II, and III before reading this post, but it's not essential.]

* * * * *

Pain is the best teacher. So why do we spend so much energy trying to escape it, repress it, bury it in the dark recesses of our psyches? Without pain, how could we ever know pleasure?

Our pain is so rooted in our lopsided view of reality. Who ever got the idea that we could have pleasure without pain? It's promoted rather widely in this world, and we buy it. But pain and pleasure go together; they are inseparable.

Sophia is the face of my soul, the woman who lives inside this body, the energy that animates this flesh. Her wings carry me above myself.

She alone, among my many selves, embraces pain, courts it, seduces it as a lover.

It burns her wings. Grounds her in the flesh of this world.

Pain is masculine is so many ways, but the experience of it depends on the feminine within me.

So many parts of me are broken. Especially the part that loves, or not so much broken, as wounded, betrayed, left wandering in the wilderness of doubt.

this is the first day of my last days
i built it up now i take it apart climbed up real high now fall down real far
no need for me to stay the last thing left i just threw it away
i put my faith in god and my trust in you
now there's nothing more fucked up i could do
wish there was something real wish there was something true
wish there was something real in this world full of you
i'm the one without a soul i'm the one with this big fucking hole

* * * * *

Once upon a time, on a hot summer morning in Louisville, I became a raven. I was 26 years old. That day changed my life forever. I finally knew who I was, where I had come from, what I had to do. Nothing has ever been the same since.

I left the woman I loved a few days later.

With wings carried by the wind, I flew over ocean to a land offshore, far from anything I had ever known in this life. I felt the freedom that I was born to know. The ocean was so far below me as my wings carried me through the clear sky.

With this new form came a new understanding, a new awareness, a new sense of what my life could be. I knew in that moment that suffering is not my true nature. I knew that I could be anything I set my mind to becoming. I knew that love is the true essence of my life.

But visions must be reconciled with reality. I have spent the last 14 years trying to embody that vision, trying to earn that awareness.

* * * * *

One night in college, after drinking most of a half gallon of red wine, I realized that pain is inescapable. I decided to carry that realization in my flesh.

I took the stainless steel cross that was given me upon my confirmation, held it in a candle flame until it glowed red, then placed it on the soft flesh of my inner forearm. I left it there until the room wreaked with the scent of burning flesh.

I still carry that scar. A reminder that the body is mortal.

* * * * *

I am born of Raven, a child of wings,
in this flesh I am lost,
wings misplaced in my birth

I once dreamed I killed the Raven of my soul:

A thing held too tightly dissolves,
as in a magician's trick,
the one where a raven vanishes
through some slight of hand
and there is only the absence of the raven.

It's like that, only different.
The raven doesn't really vanish, it dies,
its neck snapped by fingers
clenched, struggling against
the ethereal power of wings.

But magicians don't use ravens,
so it's not like that at all.
The raven struggles, its wings
attempting the defiance of weight
the earthbound can only envy.

But the fingers hold, and they are my hands
killing the messenger, the bird
I once trusted to reveal my soul.
The snapped neck, a hush over all things,
no awareness, no applause, no magic.

Maybe it is like that. We kill that which we cannot bear to witness, to own, to hold as who we are.

* * * * *

When I was a boy, I used to climb trees to be closer to my brothers. I sat among the highest limbs, cradled in the branches of pines, feeling the freedom of being closer to sky.

One day, the wind shook me from those branches, dropped me limb to limb until I hit the ground.

I knew that day that I dare not breach the order of things. I knew I was mortal and subject to the laws of gravity, of mortality, of the flesh.

* * * * *

So many days spent avoiding the awareness of pain. That which is inescapable. But no more. I am pain, I am the seeking of pain as a teacher. If I am ever to know pleasure again, I must befriend the pain I have sought so long to avoid.

* * * * *

To be continued.

Sources, in order of appearance:
1. Pema Chodron, Comfortable With Uncertainty, pg. 94
2. "Fallen," Jason Beam
3. "Broken," Nine Inch Nails, the whole album
4. "Wish," Nine Inch Nails
5. Raven Mandala, Nathalie Parenteau
6. "The Magician," William Harryman
7. Golden Trees

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week -- Attachment

Attachment is the root of most of my suffering, so this is a very useful dharma quote for me.

Attachment increases desire, without producing any satisfaction. There are two types of desire, unreasonable and reasonable. The first is an affliction founded on ignorance, but the second is not. To live, you need resources; therefore, desire for sufficient material things is appropriate. Such feelings as, "This is good; I want this. This is useful," are not afflictions. It is also desirable to achieve altruism, wisdom, and liberation. This kind of desire is suitable; indeed, all human development comes out of desire, and these aspirations do not have to be an affliction.

...when you have attachment to material things, it is best to desist from those very activities that promote more attachment. Satisfaction is helpful when it comes to material things, but not with respect to spiritual practice. Objects to which we become attached are something to be discarded, whereas spiritual progress is something to be adopted--it can be developed limitlessly, even in old age.

~ From How to Expand Love by H.H. the Dalai Lama, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins.

Mississippi Fred McDowell - John Henry

Old school deep delta blues.


Thelonius Monk: Straight, No Chaser [full film]

Produced by Clint Eastwood, this film is one of the best of Jazz documentaries available -- rare footage, interviews, a great primmer for those interested in one of the most enigmatic, popular musicians of the last century.


Friday, August 31, 2007

New Poem: The Minutes

The Minutes

Do the minutes ever coalesce into anything other than loss? The dark night, a dog barking in the apartment below mine. So many ways to say, "I am forgotten." But so few ways to say, "I am saved."

I do not believe in God. Maybe a hell of fire and brimstone awaits me, or maybe when this body ceases to breathe there is nothing, an emptiness that contains all.

We fight for minutes, seek solace in escaping the hands of the clock, but when the moment comes, we are unprepared. Afraid. Forsaken in a desert of doubt.

Half past twelve and still the dog barks, its owners still out. If for one moment any of us could fathom what comes next, there would be no need for alarm.

But we do not know, so we fear that which is a mystery.

Gratitude 8/31/07

Some things I am grateful for today:

1) Mostly a three day weekend. Nice.

2) Some clients I haven't seen in a while are coming back to training.

3) I continue to explore some of the exiled pain of my childhood. Not fun, but necessary. And I am grateful that I am able to do the work.

What are you grateful for today?

Collage: Blurring the Line Between Memory and Nightmare, III

[NOTE: I originally posted this last weekend and pulled it because it wasn't right. This version is not drastically changed, but the changes are important. You might want to see parts I and II before reading this one.]

There is a thin line between genius and insanity, between memory and dream. That line is a vast liminal space, a bardo zone where no reality pertains.

* * * * *

Emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form and form is not other than emptiness. Similarly, feelings, discriminations, compositional factors, and consciousness are also empty.

~ The Heart Sutra

I've glimpsed emptiness. I've felt the purity of that truth. And yet I am always drawn back to the suffering of samsara. How do we attain this clear state when there is so much wounding anchoring us in pain?

I love a women haunted by demons. The demons convince her that she is not worthy of my love, not capable of receiving love.

How can she ever know emptiness?

We all have hungry ghosts, demanding of us attention that is wasted.

She lives, as do most of us, in an in-between place -- not alive, not dead, not fully human. Are we insane? Are we dreaming? Or is all of this a vast nightmare from which we can awaken?

Raven says:
The true bardo is the gap
between each moment.
Explore that gap.

* * * * *

When I was young, I knew that I did not belong. Somehow, I had ended up in the wrong family. Only that knowledge kept me alive when everything went to hell.

Recently, I dreamed that I had stuck a knife into my father's chest, twisted the blade until he fell over, dead. He died of a heart attack. I know where this dream came from. I know now that I blamed myself for my father's death. What child would not feel responsible upon learning that his father intentionally stopped taking the medicines that kept him alive?

What father does that to his children?

* * * * *


What truth is there in the realization that all is an illusion?

When I was in college I had a girlfriend who liked to play child's games. Maybe she was trying to heal her inner child? We often sat on the swings at the park in the middle of the night. But I never really let myself access that child within.

Now he raises his head and demands attention. A hungry ghost, or something more?

The cries for attention haunt me.

He pleads for a tender heart. Someone to hold him and tell him everything will be OK. But will it?

Can there ever be any real healing for those old wounds?

Nice limbo you have here
Nice limbo you have here
Nice field you have on
Baby go back to your womb
Baby go back to your womb

You grow the apples around me
I'll spit the seeds in your grave
Bead me a necklace
A decade I'll wait

Always the waiting . . . . But for what?

Raven says:
They who wait
are never free.

* * * * *

After I killed him, or he left us, nature became my refuge -- the source and destination.

It was only in the wild areas that I could feel at peace. Being alone, with no other people for miles in any direction was bliss. At this point in my life, hell was other people. I always liked Sartre.

It was years before that changed, before the child locked in the inner closet
began to demand contact with other human beings.

Now that child wants more. He want to be free.

But if form is emptiness and emptiness is none other than form, why bother?

Raven says:
Emptiness is the ground,
form is not other than emptiness.
Learn to spread your wings.

* * * * *

When I was five years old, I locked myself in the closet with a box of crayons and drew on the walls. I had a candle for light, and I drew until it burned down. Years later, my younger sister simply drew on the walls in the hallway-- she felt no need to hide.

In high school, I was most likely to die from drugs or alcohol, yet it was my sister who became a crack addict and died in a fire at the age of 36. She left five kids in the world to suffer from her death. My mother died two months later from grief. They said it was the cancer returning, but I know it was the pain of her daughter's death that brought the cancer back, like an invitation.

I'm an orphan. I'll never have answers.

* * * * *

We all have a child living within us that wants to be healed from all the pain it suffered.

What use is emptiness in the face of suffering?

There is no ignorance and no ending of ignorance right through to no aging and death and also no ending of aging and death. In the same way there is no suffering, no cessation, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and no lack of attainment.

~ The Heart Sutra

Can suffering really be an illusion?

Can you convince my inner child of that? He would claim that until his suffering is recognized and healed, there can be no realization of

Raven says:
How far will you walk
to know that which
you already know?

He is correct.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

To be continued.

* * * * *

Credits, in order of appeareance:
1. "Pinion," Nine Inch Nails
2. The Heart Sutra
3. Hungry Ghosts
4. Inner Child
4. "Limbo," Throwing Muses
5. Nature
6. "No Exit," Jean-Paul Sartre
7. Inner Child
8. The Heart Sutra
9. Nursery rhyme.

Speedlinking 8/31/07

Quote of the day:

"We do what we must, and call it by the best names."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image of the day:

~ Half-Rep Heroes: A Rant -- "Are you tired of seeing all those idiots in the gym doing everything wrong? Are you tired of the laziness, the stupidity, the lack of backbone, and the careless disregard for everything you hold dear? Move over, so's Jeff Ingram."
~ Ice or Heat: The Great Debate -- "Ice or heat? As straightforward as this question sounds, these two choices are often points of hot debate amongst athletes attempting to soothe injured body parts. Yet despite strong arguments from both sides, here’s the simple truth: ice and heat both have their advantages and neither is a cure-all."
~ Case Strengthened For Daily Calcium Pill -- "A landmark study by University of Western Sydney researchers has found people over 50 who take calcium supplements suffer fewer fractures and enjoy a better quality of life.The meta-analysis of over 63,000 people taking calcium or calcium and vitamin D supplements, conducted by the UWS Centre for Complementary Medicine Research (CompleMED), has been published this week in the prestigious international medical journal, The Lancet."
~ Lose Your Love Handles Workout -- "Love handles, those pinchable rolls of fat that sprout from the waistline, are one part of the body we love to hate. Even "six-pack" abs don't look their best with handles attached. So what's the deal with this extra jelly that clings stubbornly, frustratingly around your belly? Is there any way to get a handle on those handles? Absolutely. And the approach is twofold: Burn off body fat, build muscle."
~ Hotel room workout -- "Exercise physiologists show that your conditioning level can fall to pieces in as little as 3 days, which is exactly the amount of time that is required for a short business trip or a weekend get-away trip. Although most hotels have gyms you can use, many of them disturb your regular workout routine."
~ Veggies may lower aggressive prostate cancer risk -- "Men may be able to halve their risk of aggressive prostate cancer by adding large amounts of broccoli and cauliflower to their menu. However, the overall risk of prostate cancer was not changed." These cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that reduce estrogen or help eliminate estrogen from the body -- so this study would strengthen the link between estrogen and deadly prostate cancers.
~ How to Win the Weight Battle -- "Ten years and billions of dollars into the fight against childhood fat, it's clear that the campaign has been a losing battle. According to a report released last week by the research group Trust for America's Health, one third of kids nationwide are overweight now; other stats show that the percentage of children who are obese has more than tripled since the 1970s."

~ We’re no slaves to our senses -- "Free will and agency are not merely the creation of nerve endings in the human brain. So while neuroscience can tell us a lot, it does not hold the key to understanding human uniqueness."
~ Babies develop imagination by age 2 -- "If someone tells you a friend got her nose pierced, you can visualize the new look and incorporate the information into your thinking and expectations. Young infants can't imagine such things. So when do children gain this ability to visualize things based on what they've been told?"
~ Are you your own worst enemy? -- "I'm going to tell you about seven bombs you can blow yourself up with. There are more. But I like lucky seven, because if you pay attention, you may be fortunate enough not to stab yourself in the eyes. So pay attention!"
~ 15 Quick Ways to Give Value and Make a Positive Impression -- "Making a positive impression on someone you met through a networking event or online need not be a difficult or use much of your time or resources. The following 15 quick ways to make a positive impression are designed to be easy to implement and most only take a few minutes to do, depending on where you are at."
~ Master The Simple Science of Positive Thinking! -- "Just by simply spending some effort and time, staying positive every day can be easily achieved. All that is required is a fraction of your time, 10-15 minutes a day to cultivate the positive you! But first, what is really positive thinking? Do you have to be in an upbeat, cheerful and enthusiastic mood all day to be positive minded? No. Positive thinking simply means the absence of negative thoughts and emotions - in other words, inner peace!"
~ How to Build Courage Through Personality Traits and States of Mind -- "New research suggests courage is driven by personality traits, self-efficacy, hope, resilience, values, beliefs and social forces. PsyBlog shows how all these can be enhanced."
~ The problems of dualism -- "Dualism works on the principle that there are two distinct forms of reality; the mental and the physical. The most well known form of it is interactionism. Descartes in The Meditations argued that mind and body (or what we can interpret as mental and physical) had to be distinct realms of reality due to their difference in properties."
~ What is the Self? -- "'The self' is one of the most challenging and interesting issues in philosophy of mind and Cognitive Science. We all have a phenomenal conscious feeling that our experiences are unified into one identity – a self; that our experiences belong to someone. However what this self actually is or whether it actually exists is open to debate."

~ Congress has enough evidence for an impeachment inquiry -- "Detractors of an impeachment inquiry by the House judiciary committee into whether President George W. Bush has committed impeachable offenses contend that no questions should be asked until conclusive incriminating evidence is either volunteered up by the suspects themselves or appears before them by spontaneous combustion. In other words, they say, no inquiry should commence until proof of the president's guilt has been unearthed—proof which would, of course, make the inquiry superfluous!"
~ A New Mingus Concert -- "A previously unknown 1964 recording surfaces to supply us with another dazzling look at one of the greatest jazz bands to ever take a stage."
~ Warner Decides Against Sixth Term -- "Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, one of the most authoritative voices in Congress on the military and a key figure in the debate over Iraq, said Friday he will not seek a sixth term in 2008." This is our loss -- I may not always agree with him, but at least he's a thinking politician, not a politico.
~ Politics: The Fed Won't Help the Working Class -- "By pumping more money into the economy to bail out hedge funds and subprime lenders, the Federal Reserve will only worsen inflation's bite into average Americans' paychecks, Nicholas von Hoffman writes."
~ Top 10 Greatest Hoaxes of all time -- "A hoax is an attempt to trick an audience into believing that something false is real. We came up with a selection of the Top 10 Greatest Hoaxes of all time."
~ Time for a Reality Check on Iraq -- "Incomprehensibly, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the dwindling number of Iraq war enthusiasts continue to push the false argument of "They attacked us on 9/11, and we're fighting them in Iraq." Who are "they"? There was no Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before we overthrew Saddam Hussein. The self-proclaimed "Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia"--a band of Iraqi and foreign terrorists who are, at most, loosely affiliated with Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda--came into existence after our invasion. We are not in Iraq because of Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is in Iraq because of us."
~ The Friends of Larry Craig -- "As the nation now knows, Craig was arrested in June in an airport men's room in Minneapolis, charged with propositioning an undercover cop, who was on duty there because the place had become notorious." I'm always scared when I agree with Pat Buchanan.

~ One Species' Genome Discovered Inside Another's -- "Scientists at the University of Rochester and the J. Craig Venter Institute have discovered a copy of the genome of a bacterial parasite residing inside the genome of its host species."
~ Lost City Apollo Found at Stonehenge -- "Could Stonehenge be home to the mythical Lost City of Apollo? Highly acclaimed archaeologist Dennis Price, noted for his startling discovery of Stonehenge’s lost alter stone near a roadside in Berwick St James last year, believes he’s found the reknowned Lost City of Apollo in the land near Stonehenge."
~ Arctic Habitats Melting Away -- "The icy north is disappearing faster than ever, report scientists."
~ Digital Dandelions -- "What looks like the head of a digital dandelion is a map of the Internet generated by new algorithms from computer scientists at UC San Diego. This map features Internet nodes - the red dots - and linkages - the green lines. But it is no ordinary map. It is a (mostly) randomly generated graph that retains the essential characteristics of a specific corner of the Internet but doubles the number of nodes."
~ Extinct dolphin possibly sighted -- "A white dolphin native to China's Yangtze River that scientists had declared extinct last year has possibly been spotted swimming in the wild, offering a small shred of hope for its revival, a researcher said Wednesday."
~ Agreement Reached on Greenhouse Gas Curb -- "Negotiators from 158 countries reached basic agreement Friday on rough targets aimed at getting some of the world's biggest polluters to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming."
~ A genetic trigger for the Cambrian explosion unraveled? -- "A team of scientists led by young Croatian evolutionary geneticist Tomislav Domazet-Lošo from Ruder Boškovic Institute (RBI) in Zagreb, Croatia, developed a novel methodological approach in evolutionary studies. Using the method they named 'genomic phylostratigraphy', its authors shed new and unexpected light on some of the long standing macroevolutionary issues, which have been puzzling evolutionary biologists since Darwin."
~ Climate, Conscience, and Atmospheric Carbon -- "Both the NGO that I run, and the consultancy that I own, regularly send people around the planet, on planes powered by that ancient congealed plant matter we call "fossil fuel." What about the carbon dioxide emissions associated with all that travel? It has become more and more popular to "neutralize" carbon emissions by making a financial investment in renewable energy projects or tree-planting programs."

~ New book from Integral Life graphic designer Joel Morrison -- "Our own graphic design guru, Joel Morrison, has finished work on his new book: SpinbitZ - Volume 1 - Interface Philosophy: Mathematics and Nondual-Rational Empiricism. Joel is an amazing guy with an amazing mind, and i highly recommend that you take a look at his work. You can purchase the book (or download the ebook for free) here."
~ Why You Should Think Twice About Your Public Face -- "Few people, I think, share about the downs in life half as much as they share about the ups. And when our “business reputation” is on the line, who wants to sound like they don’t have it all together?" I guess he's never read IOC.
~ On Mother Theresa again: "Unfaith" -- "I'm loathe in a sense to bring this up again because it doesn't matter a whit obviously for Theresa. She is wherever she is. It matters (I guess) only for us, which ought to be remembered in all this commentary (mine included)--how self-centered this whole thing can easily become."
~ shadow 101 -- "Of these (admittedly too general) four major camps, I'm more drawn to the body realm at this point of my life. I still read Jung and find him fascinating, but I'm not in any way looking to heal my archetypes. I bring this up in my continued thread around self-esteem, becoming more process-attentive and creative."
~ Personal reflections on integral -- "I find these days that I’m becoming less and less interested in this thing called “integral.” It seems like a fad that has come and is now going, fading into the sunset with bellbottom jeans and long sideburns."

Satire: Heartbroken Bush Runs After Departing Rove's Car

From The Onion:

Heartbroken Bush Runs After Departing Rove's Car

August 31, 2007 | Issue 43•35

WASHINGTON, DC—A confused President Bush broke free from the restraint of Secret Service agents and ran in pursuit of departing deputy chief of staff Karl Rove's car for several blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue before being outdistanced by the vehicle.

Enlarge Image Heratbroken Bush

Bush sits in disbelief as his longtime buddy disappears forever and ever and ever.

"Why can't I go with him?" Bush tearfully asked advisers as the longtime Republican strategist's sedan disappeared over the horizon. "When is he coming back?"

White House staff were deeply moved by the scene, saying that despite their best efforts, no one was able to explain to the president that he would no longer be able to remain at his chief adviser's side. Onlookers were clearly choked up as a tearful Rove, trying to close the car door behind him, told Bush in a stern, commanding tone to back away.

"Go on…you hear me? Get out of here, I say!" Rove said. "I don't love you anymore, understand? Now get! Get!"

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice witnessed the emotionally charged moment. "We knew that deep down [Rove] still cared, that he was only pretending to be mad at the president," she said. "But he had no choice. Leaving was the only way to avoid the ongoing Congressional inquiries."

Rove reportedly tried to prepare Bush for this inevitability in late July by taking him on a special fishing trip so they could spend some quality time together and he could also give Bush a brief rundown on how the presidency works. Rove said he "didn't have the heart" to break the news to the president, who fell asleep in their rowboat with the fishing pole still in his hands. On his last day, nearly two weeks later, Rove spent the whole morning with Bush before the tear-jerking exit, ruffling his hair, telling him to "be brave" and "listen to Cheney," and explaining that he was going to have to be "the man of the White House now."

Enlarge Image Bush Heartbroken Jump

Rove was finally able to leave the White House, despite Bush's heartrending stalling tactics.

Though Rove's resignation had been imminent for weeks, Bush appeared oblivious to the situation, which is evident in photos of him smiling as if nothing were wrong until the moment he discovered several suitcases near one of the West Wing's back-door exits. According to high-level administration sources, Bush asked Rove, "Where are we going?"

While sneaking the departing official out to a waiting town car, Secret Service agents were briefly able to deceive Bush by telling him Rove was just running down to the cellar to get him some ice cream. But when Bush heard the car's engine start in the driveway, he burst outside to stop Rove.

"I'll never forget the sight of the president, watching Rove's face in the back window becoming smaller and smaller as the car pulled away forever," Rice said.

The president continued to ask about his former adviser throughout the day, often clutching Rove's day planner, dialing his extension, and blinking uncomprehendingly when told that Rove was never coming back.

White House press secretary Tony Snow was finally called in to attempt to convey the reality of the situation to the president, but he was unable to do so.

"He kept looking up at me with those wide, innocent eyes, and I didn't know what to say," Snow told reporters. "Maybe someday when he's older, he'll understand how the public lost trust in his big buddy after a series of crucial political missteps, and how firing those attorneys and the..."

At this point in the briefing Snow fell silent, overcome with emotion, and moving many in the press room to tears.

White House officials say they would like to give President Bush more time to process the loss before pressuring him to appoint a new deputy chief of staff, since he does not yet appear ready to confront the concept of a "new Rove."

Bush sits in disbelief as his longtime buddy disappears forever and ever and ever.

Rove was finally able to leave the White House, despite Bush's heartrending stalling tactics.

Lou Reed - What's Good

From Magic and Loss, my favorite Lou Reed album.

VR Out-Of-Body Experiences

This is cool.

From New By deliberately scrambling a person's visual and tactile senses, it is now possible to give them an "out-of-body" experience.

Two procedures, which are the first to imitate an out-of-body experience artificially, use cameras to fool people into thinking they are standing or sitting somewhere else in a room. They provide the strongest proof yet that people only imagine floating out of their bodies during surgery or near-death experiences.

"The brain can trick itself, and when it is trying to interpret sensory information, the image it produces doesn't have to be a real representation," says Henrik Ehrsson, of the Institute of Neurology, University College London, UK, who designed the first experiment.


Beautiful Free Wallpapers

I love nature photography. I stumbled upon this collection of wallpapers that are mostly nature themed. Here is the text from the site:

Welcome to one of the largest, highest quality and most stunning nature wallpaper resources on the net.Be sure to bookmark this page for easy access the next time you want to switch things up on your desktop. Some of the different wallpaper categories include mountain wallpapers, desert wallpapers, canyon wallpapers, forest wallpapers, beach wallpapers and much much much more.

And here are some samples:

Cultural Mindset for the Class of 2011

Each year, Beloit College publishes a list of things young people entering college this year will likely have no recollection of -- because they are that young and probably not very well educated. Here is this year's list.

Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.

  1. What Berlin wall?
  2. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
  3. Rush Limbaugh and the “Dittoheads” have always been lambasting liberals.
  4. They never “rolled down” a car window.
  5. Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.
  6. They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.
  7. They have grown up with bottled water.
  8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
  9. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
  10. Pete Rose has never played baseball.
  11. Rap music has always been mainstream.
  12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
  13. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
  14. Music has always been “unplugged.”
  15. Russia has always had a multi-party political system.
  16. Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
  17. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
  18. The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.
  19. Classmates could include Michelle Wie, Jordin Sparks, and Bart Simpson.
  20. Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.
  21. Eastern Airlines has never “earned their wings” in their lifetime.
  22. No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of “liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
  23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
  24. Being “lame” has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
  25. Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
  26. Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
  27. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
  28. They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola “MagiCan.”
  29. They were too young to understand Judas Priest’s subliminal messages.
  30. When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.
  31. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
  32. They grew up in Wayne’s World.
  33. U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
  34. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as “The Joker.”
  35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
  36. American rock groups have always appeared in Moscow.
  37. Commercial product placements have been the norm in films and on TV.
  38. On Parents’ Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz with daughter Zöe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford with son Cody.
  39. Fox has always been a major network.
  40. They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-Head laugh.
  41. The “Blue Man Group” has always been everywhere.
  42. Women’s studies majors have always been offered on campus.
  43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.
  44. Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.
  45. They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
  46. Most phone calls have never been private.
  47. High definition television has always been available.
  48. Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.
  49. Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.
  50. Smoking has never been allowed in public spaces in France.
  51. China has always been more interested in making money than in reeducation.
  52. Time has always worked with Warner.
  53. Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
  54. The purchase of ivory has always been banned.
  55. MTV has never featured music videos.
  56. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.
  57. Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.
  58. They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
  59. They’re always texting 1 n other.
  60. They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.
  61. They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
  62. They have no idea who Rusty Jones was or why he said “goodbye to rusty cars.”
  63. Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.
  64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.
  65. Illinois has been trying to ban smoking since the year they were born.
  66. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
  67. Chronic fatigue syndrome has always been debilitating and controversial.
  68. Burma has always been Myanmar.
  69. Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.
  70. Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.

Faith No More - Midlife Crisis

If you are old enough to remember when MTV actually played music, you probably remember staying up late to watch 120 Minutes. There's a blog of the same name devoted to featuring music that once played on 120 Minutes.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gratitude 8/30/07 -- An Integral Approach

I've been thinking of late about why gratitude works -- and it does work. One way is to look at the role gratitude plays in our lives from the perspective of integral psychology.

Arthur Deikman wrote a book several years back called The Observing Self. In this book, the noted psychotherapist seeks to combine Western Psychology (especially psychoanalysis) with Eastern Mystical traditions. One of his key notions is the observing self, a self separate from his three primary selves (thinking, emotional, and functional).

Here is his definition:

The observing self is the transparent center, that which is aware. This fourth self is most personal of all, prior to thought, feeling, and action, for it experiences these functions. No matter what takes place, no matter what we experience, nothing is as central as the self that observes. In the face of this phenomenon, Descartes' starting point, "I think; therefore, I am," must yield to the more basic position, "I am aware, therefore, I am."

This is essentially Ken Wilber's Witness or anterior self. This is also the aware ego of Voice Dialogue and the Self of Internal Family Systems.

My experience of what happens in the presence of true gratitude is that I am removed from my proximate self (the experience of I/Me) and from the distal self (Me/Mine) and allowed entry into the anterior or observing self (I/I).

The more I practice gratitude, the more access I have to the observing self. Stepping back from the state experiences of my life -- whether that is sadness, anxiety, or anything else -- allows me to see my life objectively from this inner place of calm and awareness. When I can do that frequently, I have much better access to the observing self in other moments of my life as well.

I don't know if this is true for anyone else -- I'm just offering conjecture here -- but a regular gratitude practice seems like a good way to strengthen that inner awareness that is always present, always available to us, and to forge a more intimate connection with our true nature.

Today, I am grateful for this.

Speedlinking 8/30/07

Quote of the day:

"There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking."
~ Thomas Edison

Image of the day (Tristan Campbell):

~ The Real "Core" Exercise -- "Mike Boyle throws a bucket of cold water on the people who don't approve of core training. By the way, in throwing that bucket, he trained the anti-rotator function of the core versus the rotator function."
~ Black Raspberries May Help Prevent Esophageal Cancer -- "Black raspberries are highly effective in preventing the development of cancerous tumors, according to a study published in the October issue of Acta Pharmacologica Sinica published by Wiley-Blackwell. The black raspberries will, however, have no therapeutic value if the tumors have already developed."
~ Understanding How Obese Fat Cells Work -- "In obese individuals, fat cells are bloated and inflamed because they receive too many nutrients, including lipids. In these cells, various components cannot work properly anymore and, instead, they activate new proteins to cope with the situation. One of the most challenged organelles in obese fat cells is a maze-like compartment called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that makes proteins and lipid droplets and senses the amount of nutrients that enter the cell."
~ Flaxseed Shows Potential To Reduce Hot Flashes -- "Data from a new Mayo Clinic ( study suggest that dietary therapy using flaxseed can decrease hot flashes in postmenopausal women who do not take estrogen. The findings from the pilot study are published in the summer 2007 issue of the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology."
~ Five diagnoses that call for a second opinion -- "If Marci Smith hadn't gotten a second opinion on her brain tumor, doctors right now would be giving her the wrong drugs. In this week's Empowered Patient, CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen tells you five procedures where you don't want to proceed without getting a second opinion."
~ Estrogen That Protects The Brain Without Increasing Cancer Risk May Treat MS -- "UCLA scientists have found the first evidence that a specific form of estrogen can protect the brain from degeneration yet not increase the risk for estrogen-induced cancers of the breast and uterus. The study took place in mice infected with the animal equivalent of multiple sclerosis."

~ How to Sleep Less and Stay Healthy -- "How much sleep do we really need? Of course it’s very personal, but “seven to eight hours should be enough” is what we keep hearing from most sources. But is it possible to shorten this time, without hurting your health?"
~ How to Win from a Loss -- "What starts out as a loss can become an exciting win which helps me to power towards later successes. Let me explain how."
~ Communication 101 -- "Why does person-to-person communication fail all the time? Because one of those people has assumed that communication has taken place - when in fact it hasn’t."
~ You: The Science Experiment -- "I don’t expect you’ll be drinking mystery potions or hooking yourself up to a car battery anytime soon. But conducting personal experiments are probably the best way to find answers. By actually testing (instead of assuming) your habits, beliefs, methods and systems you can make real improvements."
~ Married Men Do Less Housework Than Live-In Boyfriends, New Study Finds -- "The age-old stereotype that women do more housework than men has gotten more credibility with a George Mason University study co-written by sociologist Shannon Davis.The study of more than 17,000 people in 28 countries found that married men report doing less housework than men who are live-in boyfriends."
~ How to Change a Bad Mood, Raise Energy and Reduce Tension -- "What strategies to you use to make yourself feel better, increase your energy levels and reduce your tension? That's the question Robert Thayer and colleagues at California State University were motivated by in looking for the strategies people use and find effective (Thayer, Newman & McClain, 1994)."
~ Overcoming Emotional Eating -- "If you eat when you're hurt or sad (or you have an emotional eating disorder), diets & adult boot camps won't help. Get past emotional eating & try these weight loss tips."

~ Americans Sacrifice Slumber for Leisure -- "Long hours at work and suburban commutes come at the expense of sleep."
~ Why the GOP's Gay Wing Is Forced to Hide in the Bathroom -- "It's time for Republicans to embrace their own gay wing and stop fueling the sickness of suppression that drives men like Larry Craig into airport bathroom stalls."
~ The 30th Anniversary of Punk -- "In 1977, a new form of rock hit the scene led by bands like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones. A multimedia look back."
~ Justice Department Lawyers Refuse Detainee Cases -- "Some lawyers in the civil appeals division object to the government's policies on Guantanamo Bay."
~ White House pushes back on Iraq report (AP) -- "An independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of U.S. troops drew fierce pushback from the White House on Thursday and provided fresh ammunition for Democrats who want to bring troops home."
~ Trade unions back Clinton, Huckabee, Edwards -- "One of the biggest U.S. trade unions made an unusual dual presidential endorsement of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Mike Huckabee on Thursday, while Democrat John Edwards won the 2008 backing of the carpenters' union."
~ Thompson to announce candidacy -- "Republican Fred Thompson, whose entry into the presidential race has been long anticipated, will officially launch his candidacy Sept. 6 in a webcast on his campaign site, followed by a five-day tour of early primary states, the Associated Press has learned."

~ Mold and Moods -- "A new study says that mold isn’t just a costly and unsightly blight on homes, it may also be linked to higher rates of depression."
~ Weird 'Engine of The Reef' Revealed -- "A team of coral researchers has taken a major stride towards revealing the workings of the mysterious ‘engine` that drives Australia`s Great Barrier Reef, and corals the world over."
~ Microfluidic chambers advance the science of growing neurons -- "Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a method for culturing mammalian neurons in chambers not much larger than the neurons themselves. The new approach extends the lifespan of the neurons at very low densities, an essential step toward developing a method for studying the growth and behavior of individual brain cells."
~ New research challenges previous knowledge about the origins of urbanization -- "Ancient cities arose not by decree from a centralized political power, as was previously widely believed, but as the outgrowth of decisions made by smaller groups or individuals, according to a new study from researchers at Harvard University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh." See also: Ancient Squatters May Have Been the World's First Suburbanites -- "In fact, rather than an ancient ruler willing a city into existence, the potsherds of Brak tell a story of a metropolis that grew as people, for their own reasons, flocked to it."
~ IBM Brings Single-Atom Data Storage, Molecular Computers Closer to Reality -- "IBM today announced two major scientific achievements in the field of nanotechnology that could one day lead to new kinds of devices and structures built from a few atoms or molecules."
~ MIT unraveling secrets of red tide -- "In work that could one day help prevent millions of dollars in economic losses for seaside communities, MIT chemists have demonstrated how tiny marine organisms likely produce the red tide toxin that periodically shuts down U.S. beaches and shellfish beds."

~ "Never Fall Down Without Getting Up" -- "Dear Bodhisattvas, for some time now I’ve wanted to share with you some elements of my life and observations that were first offered to the public in my book Bad Dog! A Memoir of Love, Beauty, and Redemption In Dark Places, Wisdom Publications (2005). So the postings that will follow for some time can be thought of as Bad Dog! postings."
~ God... and Two Teresas -- "So now we learn about Mother Teresa. The news media are shocked, shocked... and are convinced that we must share their alarm. I don't. It seems to me that the "dark night of the soul" is something every human being is given to experience in one way or another, and that the more sensitive among us will suffer it for longer."
~ Artwork by Robert Spellman -- "Below you’ll find artwork from Buddhist teacher and professional artist, Robert Spellman who was our featured interview this week."
~ Feldenkrais and body image -- "I am getting back into the Feldenkrais lessons/explorations again through a friend studying to become a Feldenkrais practitioner and also classes just down the street. These sessions are great opportunities to explore body image and how this mind creates an image of the body and uses it in different ways."
~ Mother Teresa: Whipping Girl of Atheists -- "The recent media coverage of Mother Teresa's crisis of faith, as documented in the book, Come Be My Light, caused a lot of stir (read: publicity) in the religious and, of course, the atheist groups. Case in point: Here are two essays from Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, both are cross posted on"
~ Truth, a Rare Commodity -- "Truth is one of the ten paramitas (perfections) and the Buddha often stressed the importance of adherence to the truth. There are many stories in the commentaries about the power of a "truthful asservation." Telling a lie is really a grievous moral breach in the Buddhist world-view because it is a means of directly implanting delusion in another being's mind-stream, and delusion or ignorance can be called the ultimate root of all suffering."
~ *Disclaimer -- "Integral Praxis blog is just days old - and is currently under construction - and should be viewed as a 'rough draft' only, and then only as a part of a more extensive research venture. This blog is the product of the Integral Research Group. The Integral Research Group operates independently from Integral Institute and Integral Life Inc."