Friday, August 28, 2015

Stephen King

As a young man, my head was like a crowded movie theater where someone has just yelled “Fire!” and everyone scrambles for the exits at once. I had a thousand ideas but only 10 fingers and one typewriter. There were days — I’m not kidding about this, or exaggerating — when I thought all the clamoring voices in my mind would drive me insane.
-Stephen King

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fundamental Painting: A Blog

An interesting painting blog by Neill Clements called Fundamental painting. The author's web site is


I dreamed Lyle Lovett was going to play at Chan's. There was a set list taped to the inside of the piano.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Robert Markowitz

Abandoning the Work I Hated by Robert Markowitz

Mount Tambora

The repercussions were global, but no one realized that the widespread death and mayhem arose from an eruption halfway around the world. What emerged was regional folklore. New Englanders called 1816 “eighteen hundred and froze to death.” Germans called 1817 the year of the beggar. These and many other local episodes remained unknown or unconnected.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

We Smell for a Living

People sometimes would settle for a quick jolt of calm. That was what Symrise, a fragrance company, tried to provide. When the company was building out its new headquarters on Park Avenue in Manhattan, Rhona Stokols, vice president of fine fragrances, pushed to have a sealed, scent-free space created for the noses that design the scents.

“It’s a place to refresh when you smell all day long,” she said. “The nose goes directly to the brain. How do you wipe it clean? You go in there and you calm down. We smell for a living.”


Ray Bradbury

The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was 12.
- Ray Bradbury

Friday, August 21, 2015


What If Your Emotions Are In Fact Perfectly Rational?

Balancing Tips

From Blah to Balanced
by Lisa C. Palmer

Jennifer Finney Boylan

I spoke at the event, and told everyone to open their hearts.
-Jennifer Finney Boylan

Riding the Rims

I hear a scratchy metal sound. Terrel, is riding his bicycle around the parking lot. The front tire is missing and he is riding the rims.

Sam Quinones

I have been reading Sam Quinones book DREAMLAND: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic. Here's an amazing letter Mr. Quinones received from a mother posted on his blog.

William Zissner: On Writing Well

“There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published. Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is to come to terms with your life narrative. Another is to work through some of life’s hardest knocks—loss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failure—and to find understanding and solace.”
― William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“Trust your material if it’s taking you into terrain you didn’t intend to enter but where the vibrations are good. Adjust your style accordingly and proceed to whatever destination you reach. Don’t become the prisoner of a preconceived plan. Writing is no respecter of blueprints.”
― William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“Don’t try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience — every reader is a different person.”
― William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide To Writing Nonfiction

“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”
― William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force on themselves.”
― William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“But nothing has replaced the writer. He or she is still stuck with the same old job of saying something that other people will want to read.”
― William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“Not every oak has to be gnarled.”
― William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I LOVE Anne Lamott

This is the Anne Lamott Anti-Diet that I usually post right before New Year's Eve, when you may feel vulnerable and somewhat battered after the last few days/weeks/years of festive family get-togethers, or estrangement, and have decided that you are going on a diet. Your life will improve beyond measure and everyone will like you more! Plus, in an act of Christian charity, you will help bail out the ever-struggling 80 billion dollar diet industry.
But summer is just as much a nightmare as the holidays, in terms of assaults on one's sense of self and beauty, so I am going to run it now, for those of you--ie me--who need a tiny reminder:
We need to talk.
I know you are planning to start a diet next Thursday, January 1st. I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, " Oh, that's great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.
Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart, to a jungly glade that had always existed deep inside me, to mostly healthy eating, but that I'd avoided all those years by achieving, dieting, binging, people-pleasing, multi-talking, and so on
Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: "Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I was able to successfully put on weight during my last book tour by eating room service meals in a gobbly trance in 13 different cities. So that was exhilarating, as I may have mentioned several hundred times that I have had the tiniest, tiniest struggle with food and body image for the last--well, life time. Hardly worth mentioning.
And then, after book tour, I accidentally forgot to starve myself in December, or to go back to the gym, which I've been meaning to do since I had a child, 24 years ago.
So I am at least five pounds up--but thankfully, I do not currently have a scale, because as I've said before, getting on a scale is like asking Dick Cheney to give you a sense of your own self-worth every morning.
I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, volunteering random thoughts about my butt.
By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor's care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won't work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious sickness with sugar: if I start eating it, I can't stop. I don't have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat candy corn and Raisinets until the cows come home--and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.
But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with no sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts.
So please join me in not starting a diet January 1st.
It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Horribly, it's yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.
Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems.
I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor--let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own" And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now. Wow! And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Comedic Improvisation

One of the most daunting elements of a comedic series, Mr. Stewart said, was the idea of stepping away from the printed page and improvising, something fairly new for someone who has done so much stage work. “When they first talked about that, it made me rather nervous,” he said. “Because it takes you right back to absolute basics. Listening, thinking, and being in the moment.” His accent helped. “There are things that are just inherently funny about the English, especially the English in America,” he said. “Just the way we pronounce things is funny.”

NYC Urban Summer Scents


Autism: Enhance Abilities

We have autism all wrong: The radical new approach we need to understand and treat it
Autism often gets portrayed as checklist of deficits. Rather than curb these behaviors, we should enhance abilities
Barry M. Prizant PhD

Anne Lamott: Earth is Forgiveness School

Anne Lamott from Friday, Apr 10, 2015

I am going to be 61 years old in 48 hours. Wow. I thought I was only 47, but looking over the paperwork, I see that I was born in 1954. My inside self does not have an age, although can’t help mentioning as an aside that it might have been useful had I not followed the Skin Care rules of the 60s, i.e., to get as much sun as possible while slathered in baby oil. (My sober friend Paul O said, at 80, that he felt like a young man who had something wrong with him.) Anyway, I thought I might take the opportunity to write down every single thing I know, as of today.

1. All truth is a paradox. Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift; and it is impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It has been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It is so hard and weird that we wonder if we are being punked. And it is filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.

2. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

3. There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you are waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve or date it. This is the most horrible truth.

4. Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides. Also, you can’t save, fix or rescue any of them, or get any of them sober. But radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air. It is a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.

5. Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.

6. Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart — your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.

7. Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. They kill as many people as not. They will hurt, damage and change you in ways you cannot imagine. The most degraded and sometimes nearly evil men I have known were all writers who’d had bestsellers. Yet, it is also a miracle to get your work published (see #1). Just try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you, will fill the Swiss cheesey holes. It won’t, it can’t. But writing can. So can singing.

8. Families: hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. (See #1 again.) At family gatherings where you suddenly feel homicidal or suicidal, remember that in half of all cases, it’s a miracle that this annoying person even lived. Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants. When Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But that you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderellie. You will be amazed.

9. Food: Try to do a little better.

10. Grace: Spiritual WD-40. Water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Dick Cheney and me exactly as much as He or She loves your grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and our world. To summon grace, say, “Help!” And then buckle up. Grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost, but the phone will ring, or the mail will come, and then against all odds, you will get your sense of humor about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness, even if you are sick of me saying it.

Thomas Merton

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.”
― Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
― Thomas Merton

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.”
― Thomas Merton, Love and Living

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”
― Thomas Merton

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
― Thomas Merton

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”
― Thomas Merton

“The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.”
― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”
― Thomas Merton

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image.”
― Thomas Merton

“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.”
― Thomas Merton

“If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”
― Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

“Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.”
― Thomas Merton

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.”
― Thomas Merton

“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.”
― Thomas Merton

“But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.”
― Thomas Merton

“Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against the murderous din of our materialism.”
― Thomas Merton

“A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.”
― Thomas Merton

“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.”
― Thomas Merton

“Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in a complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true. ”
― Thomas Merton

“Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think. When you re-read your journal you find out that your latest discovery is something you already found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and the same experiences.”
― Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.”
― Thomas Merton

“If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.”
― Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation

“Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more.”
― Thomas Merton

“Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity.”
― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

“First of all, although men have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out his own personal salvation for himself in fear and trembling. We can help one another to find the meaning of life no doubt. But in the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. You cannot tell me who I am and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?”
― Thomas Merton

Celebrate your Victories: Gold Stars and Rubber Stamps

Appeal to your inner kid: try using gold stars or rubber stamps to record achievements in your calendar.

Gas Free Seneca Lake

We are a group of concerned citizens and business owners who have joined together to stop a proposed liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industrial storage facility and a methane expansion facility, with plans to store methane, propane, and butane in unlined, depleted salt caverns that were never engineered to store anything, on the shores of Seneca Lake. These projects present innumerable risks to our safety, our water , way of life, and our livelihoods. Please join us!

Best Bread in the World

I just made the best bread in the world. TRUE!! My secret? The flour, and sourdough starter and 40 years of dough handling.

Desnudas: Dry Land Urban Mermaids


Mark Iacono

What he couldn’t possibly have known, because nothing in his life other than a love of his grandmother’s cooking led him there, was that he would create a matchless pizzeria. Lucali is high-end dining unlike any other in New York.
Aunt Marie — her name is Marie Gambardella, and she is not a relative; it’s just what everyone calls her — catches him as she leaves her job as a receptionist at the 76th Precinct. He’s well regarded here, liked by the cops who used to give him five bucks for standing in a lineup. “I’ve known him since he was a baby,” Aunt Marie proudly points out.
The name Lucali is a sort of mash-up of the names Louie, the proprietor of a beloved candy store that used to occupy the space, and Kalista, Mr. Iacono’s daughter.

Universities Hoarding Money

Endowments are exempt from corporate income tax because universities support the advancement and dissemination of knowledge. But instead of holding down tuition or expanding faculty research, endowments are hoarding money. Private foundations are required to spend at least 5 percent of assets each year. Similarly, we should require universities to spend at least 8 percent of their endowments each year.

Frank McCourt

Today is the birthday of memoirist Frank McCourt, born in Brooklyn, New York (1930). He was the oldest of seven children born to an Irish immigrant couple, and they moved back to Limerick when McCourt was four years old, after the death of his baby sister. His childhood was marked by poverty, the deaths of half of his siblings, and his father's alcoholism.

He went back to America when he was 19, and eventually served in the Korean War. After the war, he went to college at New York University on the GI Bill, even though he never graduated from high school, and he became a high school English teacher in New York City. He wanted to write a memoir for years, but he was too angry and bitter. Finally, while listening to his young granddaughter playing, he realized he had to write it from the viewpoint of his child self. And that became his best-selling book, Angela's Ashes (1996).
-Writer's Almanac


On this date in 1829, French painter and physicist Louis Daguerre presented his photographic process to the French Academy of Sciences. The first actual photograph had been made a couple of years earlier by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, but the quality wasn't very good and the plate had to be exposed for eight hours to capture the image. Daguerre worked with Niépce to develop a more practical method. He found that if he coated a copper plate with silver iodide, exposed it to light in the camera for 20 to 30 minutes, fumed it with mercury vapor, and then fixed it with a salt solution, he was able to capture a permanent image. He called the finished product a "daguerreotype." Many early photographers became ill, or even died, from mercury poisoning using this method. The daguerreotype was best suited for still objects, but people nonetheless lined up to have their portraits taken. This was not for the faint of heart: subjects had to sit in blazing sunlight for up to half an hour, trying not to blink, with their heads clamped in place to keep them still. It's not surprising that most of the early daguerreotype portraits feature grim, slightly desperate faces.

An early professional daguerreotype photographer remarked on people's reaction to their portraits: "People were afraid at first to look for any length of time at the pictures he produced. They were embarrassed by the clarity of these figures and believed that the little, tiny faces of the people in the pictures could see out at them, so amazing did the unaccustomed detail and the unaccustomed truth to nature of the first daguerreotypes appear to everyone."

-Writer's Almanac

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Andrei Voznesensky

“Poems have their own fates, like children. You have only to give birth to them.”
—Andrei Voznesensky, Paris Review

Interview with Adam Phillips about his Freud biography

An interview with Adam Phillips about his Freud biography.

Adam Phillips

“Everybody is dealing with how much of their own aliveness they can bear and how much they need to anesthetize themselves.”
― Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips: Missing Out


Attention Surplus Disorder

“Maybe I have Attention Surplus Disorder.”
—Susan Sontag, Paris Review

Batman in Batmobile

On March 21, at 10:47 a.m., Montgomery County Police (Maryland) stopped Batman for not displaying his license plate. When Batman showed officers the plate IN his car, they let him fly - after a picture or two. They did not want to make him late for an appearance for kids at a local hospital.


Nobody Home

by Ram Dass

The question of whether a being is fully realized or not depends on whether that being is really egoless or just appears to be. If a person still identifies with thought forms or desires, the work is not complete. In perfection there’s no clinging at all.

Perhaps now you begin to see the subtlety of the attachments that must be surrendered. The attachment to experiences, including the experience of God and the ecstasy and rapture of that union, even experiences of omniscience, of omnipresence, of infinite power, the experience of being the One (as opposed to just being One) – these are described in southern Buddhism as jhanas, or temporal absorption states. As long as there’s a trace of an experiencer, there is still an element of self-consciousness, the ego of being the experiencer. If it’s still an experience, it is not the ultimate reality. It’s simple: if you’re having an experience, you know you have to go beyond it. Isn’t it beautiful?

For a perfect being, a Buddha, there’s nobody home. They are completely here and nowhere and everywhere at once. A perfected being is fully in the flow of existence, so there’s no place where they’re not. The paradox of emptiness (sunyata) is that it is really fullness. Egolessness is not nonexistence, but an effulgence of being. Finally there is just function at every level. That’s what Christ referred to when he said, “Had you but faith, you could move mountains.”

With Maharaji there was nobody there; there was just love. I used to see him turn into a mountain, like Shiva, the pure absolute, but then I would feel this intense love. He is unconditional love, but it’s impersonal. It wasn’t him loving me; it was him being love. I turned it into something interpersonal, but it wasn’t.

Love is the emotional color of the soul. Unconditional love is the color of enlightenment, unfettered by personal barriers or distinctions, devoid of ego, yet reflecting the highest Self. It’s like sunlight unfiltered by clouds or the taste of water from the purest spring.

If thou desirest to be a Yogi
Renounce the world.
Dye thy heart deep in His Love.
For real lovers drink the cup of Nothingness, and
Pass away into the Valley of Amazement, in remembrance of Him.

– Shah Latif (1689-1752)

– Excerpt from Be Love Now by Ram Dass & Rameshwar Das

Camus: Create Happiness

An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.
-Albert Camus

Men are convinced of your arguments, your sincerity, and the seriousness of your efforts only by your death.
-Albert Camus

By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.
-Albert Camus

The society based on production is only productive, not creative.
-Albert Camus

Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.
-Albert Camus

Your successes and happiness are forgiven you only if you generously consent to share them.
-Albert Camus

There is no love of life without despair of life.
-Albert Camus

Integrity has no need of rules.
-Albert Camus

Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
-Albert Camus

Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.
- Albert Camus

To be happy we must not be too concerned with others.
- Albert Camus

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
- Albert Camus

Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that's what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.
- Albert Camus

Don't wait for the last judgment - it takes place every day.
-Albert Camus

Against eternal injustice, man must assert justice, and to protest against the universe of grief, he must create happiness.
-Albert Camus

Art is a Confession

A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.
- Albert Camus

Albert Camus: Giving All

I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live as if there isn't and to die to find out that there is.
- Albert Camus

Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.
-Albert Camus

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
- Albert Camus

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
- Albert Camus

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
- Albert Camus

Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.
- Albert Camus

Watching Thoughts

Ram Dass on Awareness and Watching Thoughts

Wherever there is attachment
Associated with it
Brings endless misery.

– Gampopa, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation

Your ego is a set of thoughts that define your universe. It’s like a familiar room built of thoughts; you see the universe through its windows. You are secure in it, but to the extent that you are afraid to venture outside, it has become a prison. Your ego has you conned. You believe you need its specific thoughts to survive. The ego controls you through your fear of loss of identity. To give up these thoughts, it seems, would annihilate you, and so you cling to them.

There is an alternative. You needn’t destroy the ego to escape its tyranny. You can keep this familiar room to use as you wish, and you can be free to come and go. First you need to know that you are infinitely more than the ego room by which you define yourself. Once you know this, you have the power to change the ego from prison to home base.

Consider awakening on a usual morning. The alarm clock rings, you come out of sleep, focus enough to think “Alarm clock,” and reach over to turn it off. Your thoughts might go something like this:

“It’s time to get up. I have to go to the toilet. It’s warm in here. Do I smell coffee perking? I could still sleep for ten more minutes. Oh, I forgot to do the dishes last night. I need to go to the toilet. Gee, my mouth tastes awful. I could still sleep for ten more minutes. What was I dreaming about? Who was that person in my dream? Wonder if it’s warm outside. Boy, I’m hungry. What’s that sound in the other room? I really need to go to the toilet. God, I wish I could stay in bed all day.”

Thought after thought with the rapidity of a trip-hammer. Thoughts about what you hear, what you taste, what you smell, what you see, what you feel, what you remember, what you plan. On and on they go. A raging roaring river of thoughts pouring through you: “Think of me, think of me, think of me, me, me, me, me first, think of me.” And so it goes all day, until you go to sleep.

You are totally in the control of your senses and thoughts. The alarm sounds and captures your attention, draws your awareness to it. But “you” are not your ears hearing the clock. You are awareness attending to your ears hearing. It’s like when you’re reading something so absorbing that you fail to hear someone enter the room. The sound of their steps triggers the process of hearing, yet you do not “hear.” For you are busy reading and thinking. Just as you are not your ears hearing, you are not your other senses either. You are not the eyes seeing, nose smelling, tongue tasting, or skin feeling. Only your thoughts are left. Here is where most people cannot escape. For they identify totally with their thoughts. They are unable to separate pure awareness from the thoughts that are its objects. Meditation allows you to break this identification between awareness and the objects of awareness. Your awareness is different from both your thoughts and your senses. You can be free to put your awareness where you will, instead of it being grabbed, pushed, and pulled by each sense impression and thought. Meditation frees your awareness.

A being whose awareness is totally free, who does not cling to anything, is liberated.

– Ram Dass

Monday, August 17, 2015

Brilliant Susan Cain

“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions--sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments--both physical and emotional--unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss--another person's shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“...I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.”
― Susan Cain

“Don't think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Or at school you might have been prodded to come “out of your shell”—that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and that some humans are just the same.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it's a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers -- of persistence, concentration, and insight -- to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man's world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we've turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don't let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don't force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Solitude matters, and for some people, it's the air they breathe”
― Susan Cain

“I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they're good talkers, but they don't have good ideas. It's so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone seems like a good presenter, easy to get along with, and those traits are rewarded. Well, why is that? They're valuable traits, but we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“If you're an introvert, you also know that the bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain. As a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness. Or at school you might have been prodded to come "out of your shell" -that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and some humans are just the same.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Everyone shines, given the right lighting.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“It's not that there is no small talk...It's that it comes not at the beginning of conversations but at the end...Sensitive people...'enjoy small talk only after they've gone deep' says Strickland. 'When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“It's as if they have thinner boundaries separating them from other people's emotions and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme...If you don't love Jesus out loud, then it must not be real love. It's not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“We don't need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard's education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of power, but to use well the kind you've been granted.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to. Stay home on New Year's Eve if that's what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you'll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“I had always imagined Rosa Parks as a stately woman with a bold temperament, someone who could easily stand up to a busload of glowering passengers. But when she died in 2005 at the age of ninety-two, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was "timid and shy" but had "the courage of a lion." They were full of phrases like "radical humility" and "quiet fortitude.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“We don’t ask why God chose as his prophet a stutterer with a public speaking phobia. But we should. The book of Exodus is short on explication, but its stories suggest that introversion plays yin to the yang of extroversion; that the medium is not always the message; and that people followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can. This does not mean aping extroverts; ideas can be shared quietly, they can be communicated in writing, they can be packaged into highly produced lectures, they can be advanced by allies. The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Don't think of introversion as something that needs to be cured...Spend your free the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“Now that you're an adult, you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you're told that you're "in your head too much", a phrase that's often deployed against the quiet and cerebral.

Or maybe there's another word for such people: thinkers.”
― Susan Cain

Neuro Tribes

The history of science is studded with stories of simultaneous discovery, in which two imaginative souls (or more!) turn out to have been digging tunnels to the same unspoiled destination. The most fabled example is calculus, developed independently in two different countries by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, but the list stretches back centuries and unfurls right into the present. One can add to it sunspots, evolution, platinum, chloroform . . . and now autism, as the science journalist Steve Silberman informs us, identified separately by Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. The crucial difference is that Kanner had the fortune to publish his work in Baltimore, while Asperger had the misfortune to publish his in Nazi-controlled Vienna, and this accident of geopolitics lies at the tragic core of Silberman’s ambitious, meticulous and largehearted (if occasionally long-winded) history, “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of ­Neurodiversity.”

Over his many years at the Children’s Clinic in Vienna, Hans Asperger studied more than 200 children he would ultimately treat for what he called autistische Psychopathen (autistic psychopathy). Some were prodigies who couldn’t make it through school; others were more disabled and were shunted into asylums. But what they all had in common was a family of symptoms — in Silberman’s words, “social awkwardness, precocious abilities, and fascination with rules, laws, and schedules” — that Asperger recognized, right away, made up a continuum, one occupied by children and adults alike, and he viewed those differences as cause for celebration, not distress. When he finally shared his findings with the world, the only reason he focused on his higher-­functioning patients, Silberman contends, was a chilling function of the era: The ­Nazis, on a mad campaign to purge the land of the “feebleminded,” were euthanizing institutionalized children with abandon. In so doing, Asper­ger accidentally gave the impression that autism was a rarefied condition among young gen­iuses, not the common syndrome he knew it to be. His paper on the subject, published in 1944, remained unavailable in English for decades, and his records were “buried with the ashes of his clinic,” which was bombed the same year.


Fair Share

I think we can sell the idea that when the rich are getting much richer and corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits that yes, they should start paying their fair share of taxes.
-Bernie Sanders

David Foster Wallace

“I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic and a dyslexic?"

"I give."

"You get someone who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there's a dog.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest

“You can be shaped, or you can be broken. There is not much in between. Try to learn. Be coachable. Try to learn from everybody, especially those who fail. This is hard. ... How promising you are as a Student of the Game is a function of what you can pay attention to without running away.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“We all have our little solipsistic delusions, ghastly intuitions of utter singularity: that we are the only one in the house who ever fills the ice-cube tray, who unloads the clean dishwasher, who occasionally pees in the shower, whose eyelid twitches on first dates; that only we take casualness terribly seriously; that only we fashion supplication into courtesy; that only we hear the whiny pathos in a dog’s yawn, the timeless sigh in the opening of the hermetically-sealed jar, the splattered laugh in the frying egg, the minor-D lament in the vacuum’s scream; that only we feel the panic at sunset the rookie kindergartner feels at his mother’s retreat. That only we love the only-we. That only we need the only-we. Solipsism binds us together, J.D. knows. That we feel lonely in a crowd; stop not to dwell on what’s brought the crowd into being. That we are, always, faces in a crowd.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“It did what all ads are supposed to do: create an anxiety relievable by purchase.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

Chinua Achebe

“I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to teach me how to write.”
—Chinua Achebe, Paris Review

Distractions & Hindrances

By Ram Dass

Meditation texts name certain mental states that are hindrances. Try to be aware and work to overcome them in your meditation. The major unhelpful states are: tiredness and torpor, strong desires, distractedness, agitation and worry, and anger, depression, and doubt. Each of these is bound to occur from time to time, and each represents a special danger to meditation practice, because they are so compelling.

Should any of these states of mind arise – e.g., a sexual fantasy, or the thought “I’m too tired to keep meditating, I’ll go to sleep instead,” or ruminations over some pressing problem – they should be treated like any other distraction. Simply return your full attention to the meditation. These hindering states demand that you exert greater effort to get your mind back to meditation than do most of the other random thoughts that cross your mind. Making this effort is the essence of the meditation.

I’ve meditated hours and hours where nothing at all seemed to happen. I became increasingly bored and disgusted. Every tactic I could think of for cutting through these emotional states was useless. I had to examine my inadequacies, my doubts about my practice, my belief that it would lead me to God. I had to confront my reactions to meditation. Take fatigue, for example. It was a chronic problem for me. I remember propping myself up with piles of cushions so that I would not fall over into sleep. I often went to meditation courses because I was afraid that alone I would drift off into sleep. I’ve since learned to handle drowsy states with breathing techniques. What I experienced as fatigue often was actually a state of deep stillness that I misinterpreted. Instead of taking the feeling of fatigue as an invitation for a nap, I now regard it as a passing state, and keep sitting.

By letting go of whatever thoughts may come, no matter how powerful or fascinating they may be, and constantly returning to the meditation, our mental habits lose their hold over us. We create space for new possibilities, new realities, new being.

– Ram Dass

Stanley Kunitz

“I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world.”
—Stanley Kunitz Paris Review

The Witness

Healing from Childhood Injury as a Prelude to Spiritual Practice

by Ram Dass

Do you see healing from deep childhood injury as a prelude to doing spiritual practice or can that healing be practice in itself?

Ram Dass: Any action in the universe can be something that is unconsciously part of the karmic web in the sense that it is not awakening you quickly. It is in the slow sense of working out your karma over lifetimes. Or it can be an intentional act to awaken. It can be either one. For example, when you help somebody, you can help them in a way where you don’t awaken through the process. They were helped, but you didn’t awaken in the process, and they didn’t awaken in the process, but they got their belly filled if you gave them food. Alternatively, you can give them food in a way that feeds their belly, and also both of you awaken in the process. So the same thing can be done in two ways.

Whether you can use your healing as an awakening process depends on the perspective from which you come at it.

The minute you have a little space around the whole process, you find a little bit of the witness in you that notices your predicament, and notices how you’re working with the predicament, and that witness is developing strength to the extent that you keep practicing it in the situation. So somebody comes to you and says, “I don’t know whether to stay married or not,” or whatever their issue is, and we’re talking about the issue and at the same moment we’re putting it in a contextual framework which makes it both relevant and irrelevant. That’s the way it’s spiritually growing. It’s spiritually growing to the extent that it shows you how you have been trapped in thinking you are somebody.

Now, the interesting issue that I’ve talked about before developmentally is that you really have to become somebody before you can become nobody.

It isn’t an error that when you were born you closed down into somebody-ness and then later you awaken out of the illusion of your separateness. That’s all part of the necessary sequence of taking birth and learning a curriculum on this level, if a child doesn’t close down, they don’t develop an ego structure that makes them functional on earth. So it’s necessary for that to happen. The question is, how they close down will determine, in part, how quickly they open later on because if they close down later and more conceptually, like at 6 years old, rather than at 2 years old, it’s easier for them to open later on.

So when you’re around parents who are very open, who are not immediately trapping you into your container, because they’re not trapped in their containers, it’s much easier for you to open later on because you grew up in a context that made your doing it your work, not theirs. It’s a very interesting issue.

– Ram Dass, 1989 Listening Heart Retreats – Q&A Session

Sunday, August 16, 2015

John le Carré

“If you see the world as gloomily as I see it, the only thing to do is laugh or shoot yourself.”
—John le Carré, Paris Review

National Treasure Priced out of Neighborhood

People in the arts are really struggling.


Hanna Louise Poston

When we’re too angry to touch each other, we’ll still both touch Sadie, and we end up standing in the middle of the living room, warring nations, both clinging to the bridge over the sea between us, silently sending across the first ambassadors of truce: wandering fingers that meet in her fur.

One afternoon this last fall, Sadie brought in a dead sparrow. There’s an aftertaste of tragedy to a cat-caught bird; what used to be unpredictable and wind-battered is reduced to a handful of silk and laid on our kitchen floor like a sacrifice.

Once Sadie was sure that Joe and I had both seen her offering, she ate the entirety of that bird: claws, beak, bones and every last feather. It took her less than a minute. By the time we had gotten used to the idea of seeing her eat the bird, she had already eaten it and left the room, dribbling a few specks of blood onto the tile.

Sadie is our happiness, elusive and impure. Our happiness grins and licks blood off her chin. Our happiness only snuggles when she feels like it, and given that she’s feline, those times can be few and far between.

But at least she lives in our house now. Morning sun on Joe’s black hair, the three of us tangle together in the blankets, sailing the bed like a rickety boat into what, if recent days are any indication, will be another pretty good day.

-Hannah Louise Poston is pursuing her M.F.A. in poetry in the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan.


Oliver Sacks

In December 2014, I completed my memoir, “On the Move,” and gave the manuscript to my publisher, not dreaming that days later I would learn I had metastatic cancer, coming from the melanoma I had in my eye nine years earlier. I am glad I was able to complete my memoir without knowing this, and that I had been able, for the first time in my life, to make a full and frank declaration of my sexuality, facing the world openly, with no more guilty secrets locked up inside me.

In February, I felt I had to be equally open about my cancer — and facing death. I was, in fact, in the hospital when my essay on this, “My Own Life,” was published in this newspaper. In July I wrote another piece for the paper, “My Periodic Table,” in which the physical cosmos, and the elements I loved, took on lives of their own.

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.
- Oliver Sacks

Water Temperatures

Water Temperature
One of the most important features of facility design is the ability to vary water temperatures for specific populations and programs. Many articles have been written on this subject. Here are some general guidelines:

82 degree water (and lower)

Competitive swim team training
Adult aerobic lap swimming
High intensity vertical water exercise

Note: The ideal air temperature for these activities is 78-80 degrees; never higher than 82 degrees. The more aerobic the activity, the lower the air temperature needs to be.

86 – 88 degree water

Moderate vertical water exercise and water walking
Younger age (10-under) swim training
Low intensity lap swimming
Synchronized swimming
Recreational swimming

Note: The ideal air temperature for these activities is 82-84 degrees; never higher than 84 degrees and slightly lower is OK.

90 – 92 degree water

Aquatic therapy
Learn-to-swim for children

Note: The ideal air temperature for these activities is 84 degrees; never higher than 84 degrees and slightly lower is OK.

95 degree water

Aquatic Therapy
Learn-to-swim for preschool

Note: The ideal air temperature for these activities is 84 degrees; never higher than 84 degrees and slightly lower is OK.

Winter Polar Bear Plunge Swimmers

People have been taking dips in ice cold water for generations, both for pleasure and for generations-touted health benefits. It may seem crazy to plunge into freezing water for any length of time, but this video from the folks at DNews runs down some of the benefits—and sets the record straight on the dangers.

In many parts of the world, a quick dip in ice cold water after a trip to hot water baths or a trip to the sauna are essential for good health. Of course, no one is saying you should take a dip in the arctic waters of the Bering Sea just for giggles, but a quick dip in an icy lake after a hot steam bath or once in a while can actually improve circulation, make you feel more energetic and brisk even during those cold winter months, and can alleviate pains from rheumatism, fibromyalgia, and respiratory issues like asthma.

Of course, just because some people experienced benefits doesn't mean everyone will, and there's no understating the dangers of diving into ice cold water—especially unsupervised and without knowing what you're doing in advance. There's a reason why polar bear plunge swimmers get plenty of coaching and warnings before they dive in. That said, if it sounds crazy to you but the benefits sound nice, it might be worth a shot. Hit play on the video above for more, or check out the video description at YouTube below for linked articles and studies on the topic.

Heat Peak + Cool Pool

I have not panicked over the heat this year because we have the RI Athletic Club next door. They are friendly and fantastic and the place is clean. Check them out. They have free childcare and they are open early and late. Ask for Mike, he's the owner.

Octavio Paz

“I didn't set out to be a troublesome writer, but if that's what I've been, I am totally unrepentant.”
—Octavio Paz, Paris Review

Important Writers

“The important writers in my day were much more important to me than movie stars.”
—Norman Mailer, Paris Review

Ram Dass: Spiritual Evolution

Importance of a Spiritual Family

As your spiritual practices start to work, your reasons for being with people start to change, and who you want to be with changes too. Sometimes it’s not easy, as longstanding relationships or jobs are discarded. Your old friends might find you a little dull because you’ve experienced a taste of a certain kind of truth – a deeper truth connected to a different quality of being. Social interactions that used to be engaging pale next to the attraction of the Beloved, and social life begins to seem surreal. Not everyone can “hear” the quality of the spiritual experience you are having. You are looking for God, for whatever form of the Beloved touches your heart. You are looking everywhere.

The poet-saint Kabir says:

Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas,
not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues,
nor in cathedrals:
not in masses,
nor kirtans,
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me,
you will see me instantly —
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

When you are first awakening and developing a spiritual perspective, satsang is especially supportive. Satsang is like having a spiritual family. Satsang is a community of truth seekers. It is a group of people with the shared awareness that there is a spiritual dimension to the universe. Goethe had this beautiful thought:

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”

Once we get a taste of the freedom that comes with letting go of our stuff – anger, righteousness, jealousy, our need to be in control, the judging mind, just to name a few – we start to look at those things in new ways. That is the teaching of being in the moment. For someone who understands that this precious birth is an opportunity to awaken, is an opportunity to know God, all of life becomes an instrument for getting there – marriage, family, job, play, travel, all of it. You just spiritualize your life.

Christ said to be in the world but not of the world. You are simultaneously living your story line – keeping your ground, remembering your zip code – and having your awareness free and spacious, not caught in anything, just delighting in the richness of this timeless moment.

– Ram Dass

Slavery was Never Abolished

“Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”
- Charles Bukowski

Singing in the Night

Last night we were perched at the windowsill in the attic watching the lightning show. We could hear the Lao family below on Elbow Street having their singing party. A beautiful night.

Ramiro Gomez

Reminds me of Yosuke Kawamura's cut outs.

Life size cardboard cut-outs of gardeners, nannies and housekeepers are popping up on streets and parks all over Beverly Hills in California.
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They’re the work of 25-year-old artist and nanny Ramiro Gomez, who says he wants to bring attention to what he calls the “invisible workers.” Gomez says these mainly Latino workers help raise the children and maintain the homes of wealthy Hollywood residents, but go largely unseen.

“These people do hold up a specific amount of society on their backs and on their hard work. They’re upholding households (and) taking care of families, so that the families can go on and live their lives,” Gomez said.

The faces on the cardboard cut-outs are purposefully vague, lacking in crucial details like eyes, noses, and mouths. They’re painted very lightly in acrylic, just to represent the image of the workers.

“There’s no details for the fact that when we drive by the real people, we don’t have the time necessarily to observe the details: their eyes, their nose, their moles, and their imperfections. We just have time to view the physical outline and my cardboard cut-outs are interpretations of that,” Gomez said.Article

Our Lady of Perpetual Distraction

Our Lady of Perpetual Distraction raised us. She had no head. She looked like the brides in the windows of the shop, headless, modeling dresses.

William Maxwell: Breath of Life

It’s the birthday of novelist and editor William Maxwell (1908). He was born in Lincoln, Illinois, and his writing features small-town, middle-American life in the early 20th century. He joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1936, and he worked there for 40 years, first in the art department and later as a fiction editor. He was beloved by such contributors as John Cheever, J.D. Salinger, Vladimir Nabokov, and John Updike. Working with their manuscripts had a side benefit: “I came, as a result of being an editor, to look for whatever was unnecessary in my own writing,” he said in a 1995 interview. “After 40 years, what I came to care about most was not style, but the breath of life.

Charles Bukowski Birthday

Bukowski summed up his philosophy in a letter he wrote in 1963: “Somebody [...] asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: ‘not’ to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.”
-Charles Bukowski, Writer's Almanac

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bulldozing Blight

WOONSOCKET — Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt is ramping up her fight against urban blight by hiring another housing inspector to help the Building Department tackle the more than 200 abandoned and eyesore properties throughout the city.

Some quotes from "Stage Performance" by Livingston Taylor

Some quotes from "Stage Performance" by Livingston Taylor

On nervousness:

Remember that your audience means a lot more to you than you mean to them. Your performance is more than likely one small part of their whole time out. They may have been out to dinner, may be celebrating a birthday, may be talking closely with friends. If you don't perform at your all-time best, it will not matter to the audience, especially not nearly as much as it matters to you.

Sometimes the worst does happen, and is spite of your best efforts and wishes, you wind up being absolutely awful. This is normal. Don't be so hard on yourself.

On the audience:

They want attention, and they want to feel that their presence is special to you, that it makes a difference in the course of events that make up your show. They want to believe you are glad to be with them. If you're focused on yourself and caught up in nervousness, you're taking attention away from your audience- the attention they want and deserve...Their attention is a gift. Don't throw it away. Even if you think you don't deserve it, receive it graciously.

Look at, and pay attention to, your audience.

If you are tense, your audience will be tense too, and will become exhausted.

Expect that the unexpected will often happen. Work with material that is basic enough to your skill level that, if an unexpected event occurs, you will be able to respond to the event, while still maintaining your composure.

The performer has the absolute right to be on stage. The audience also has the right to not like what the performer is doing. Sometimes people will love what you do, other times not like it at all. Just do your best at the time, and be patient, and enjoy performing to the end of your show.

Ask yourself where you can add to the audience's enjoyment. If you do something once and the audience likes it, do it again. If they don't like it, don't do it again.

Be patient.

Let your audience know when it's time to respond.

Periodically you need to be still, or at least slow down, as with dancers, or your audience will become tired out.

It's okay to be human on stage...They love you to be normal, to make a mistake, acknowledge it, smile, shake your head slightly, forgive yourself, and move on.

The key to your success lies in making your audience comfortable.

Do not beat yourself up for not being 100 percent. Do the best you can with what you have at the time.

Do not rush the music. This tells the audience you are nervous.

Accept compliments graciously.

On hecklers:

Group pressure solves nine out of ten cases of boorish behavior. If it doesn't resolve it, then someone may have to directly speak with the heckler, troublemaker.

If you are an opening act, be quick and good. Know when to get off the stage.

On sex and the entertainment business:

The real problem comes when we use inappropriate sexuality in an attempt to advance our careers. Attractiveness is not a substitute for skill/ability. And you may attract unwanted attention.

On your career:

Don't get lost in the fantasy of how your career should be. It's good to have heroes and inspiration, but not good to compare yourself to others, and the career progressions of others. Each person's path will be different.

Livingston Taylor: Be Ferociously Curious

Livingston Taylor

Professor of Voice Berklee College of music

"What I teach in Stage Performance starts with the assumption that we need an audience—the audience does not need us. And the audience has the right to reject what we offer. I ask my students, 'What's going to happen to you if they don't buy into your reality?' And they say, 'Oh, we'll all be sad,' or 'Maybe I'll do something else,' and I'll go, 'Stop it. It's gonna kill you.' And they laugh out loud at that, because that's the way they feel, and finally somebody isn't saying, 'Oh, you'll be fine, honey.'"

"Above all else, performers need to be what I call 'ferociously curious.' Secondly, they need to watch their creativity land: to watch it arrive. It's not enough to just create and throw it out there. You have to watch it land. When you do things that people like, do those things again. When you do things that they don't like, don't do 'em any more. This is not rocket science here."

Livingston Taylor: Performance is a Conversation

The Care and Feeding of Your Audience

by Mark Small

Stage Performance by Livingston Taylor. New York: 2000, Pocket Books, 144 pages.

Over the past 10 or so years, numerous experts have published books that shed light on the mysterious workings of the music business. One new book, Stage Performance by Professor Livingston Taylor, should be read before those tomes on getting a record contract or releasing your own CD. In it, Taylor deals with the most basic need of any music professional: an audience. Ultimately, they are the ones who pay your salary. Taylor's pearls of wisdom will benefit anyone who is now or hopes to someday become a career performer.

For three decades, he has seen the view from many quarters of the music/entertainment complex. He has played thousands of concerts, released a dozen albums, penned and sung hit tunes, jingles, and TV themes, and even been a TV host. In the book's introduction, he describes his innate curi-osity about how things work. The experiences he has had in the industry and his gift for analyzing things give him the credibility to espouse the precepts that should be core knowledge to all performers.

Taylor's own career provides encouragement and proof that it doesn't have to be feast or famine for musical performers. He has made a comfortable living and enjoyed a fulfilling career flying happily below the radar that tracks the movements of superstars. In this book, he discloses some important dos and don'ts that artists should observe in their efforts to launch and then control their careers.

The sole source of income

Taylor's main thesis is that success in the music business comes as a result of the cultivation, care, and feeding of your audience. An artist's following is the foundation of a career, and, most importantly, "the source of all money in the music industry." He defines them as a group of individuals "who have decided that your art has value." Record companies, managers, and agents are important, but "they do not generate income directly (at least not for long). The only enduring source of support for a career is an audience." He spends much of the book underscoring the wisdom of courting that audience (rather than music industry power brokers).

The book is largely based on conversations he has had in his performance techniques class at Berklee over the past decade. He presents his philosophy in Socratic fashion. "What is a performance?" he asks rhetorically of his young charges. "It's when you play onstage," one student replies. "It's going in front of people and doing what you do," says another. "It's entertaining people by showing them your talent," adds a third. You can almost imagine Taylor pacing at the front of the classroom, brows knit, right hand gripping his chin, replying in a professorial tone, "Good answers, but they all indicate that a performer is doing something 'to' an audience. I don't quite view it that way." For Taylor, a performance is a conversation between the performer and an audience, and listening—on the part of the performer—is crucial. "The best conversations are based on taking in as opposed to putting out."

Taylor stresses that much of this communication is nonverbal. Body language and facial expressions reveal to the ticket buyers more than many performers realize about their comfort level and confidence. "Everything you do onstage tells a story about who you are and how you feel. You cannot hide." An audience comes to your gig wanting more than a musical experience, he says. "They want to feel that their presence is special to you, that it makes a difference in the course of events that make up your show. They want to believe you are glad to be with them." Consequently, the performer has to be completely in the moment to know how the audience is receiving the show.

Getting branded

He describes how listeners bond emotionally with a piece of music and, hence, with an artist. He calls it being "branded." Many view a favorite artist as one of the composers of the soundtrack of their lives. An anecdote from Taylor's life illustrates the circumstances under which he got branded. "I am at a truck stop south of Macon, Georgia. It's 2:00 a.m. and I am eating eggs and toast after a week on the road. I'm tired and drained and completely available to be beat up by a song. I've probably heard it 20 times before with no reaction, but now I'm ready. 'Anything for You' by Gloria Estéfan comes on and slaps me around. Why didn't it do that the other times I heard it? Because I wasn't ready. But at that diner when I was tired and lonely, it got me. I needed to cry and the song let me.

"In 30 years of making recordings and playing shows, I've done my share of branding other people," he continues. "I see them come to my shows to retrieve those moments. Touching people with your music is the best. This is a major component of the maturing career. Our songs remind them of past worlds. When they want to relive those worlds, they seek us out."

Two views of stage fright

Taylor shares that his way of dealing with jitters before a performance is turning to the divine. "When nervousness and fear threaten to drown me as I take my place before some important career event," he says, "I love having a conversation with God. But what I enjoy saying is thanks. I thank God for putting me in a position where I can be nervous. If I am nervous, it is because it's important to me. I asked for it. I've been given what I asked for."

He examines stage fright from the other side of the footlights, too, speaking with candor calculated to coax inexperienced performers out of self-absorption. He contends that an audience, no doubt composed of very decent and kindly people, really doesn't care how you are feeling about yourself as you go onstage. "They have given you their time and money and they expect you to pay attention to them. They want to have a good time, to suspend their reality and be part of the reality that you as a performer are creating."

No democracy onstage

A theme that surfaces throughout the book is that the performer has to take control. "When you are onstage you are not running a democracy. You're in charge and people want you to be." This is one good reason why a performer should not go onstage under the influence of drugs and alcohol. A performer is like the designated driver he contends, so when he or she demonstrates that everything is under control, it leaves the audience free to have a good time.

He also says that when a performer presents something that is challenging to listeners, they oftentimes don't know right away if it was good. They look to the performer for information. "With a light smile and pleasant countenance," Taylor advises, "you nonver-bally inform them that what they heard was good. Although it might have been strange and new, they can go ahead and like it."

The subject of silence also comes up. He tells what a valuable tool silence is in the hands of the seasoned performer. Taylor encourages enlisting the venue management's help before the concert to reduce extraneous noise (from air conditioning units, ventilating systems, blenders, etc.) in the club or concert hall. He explains that most people live in noisy environments and consequently rarely experience true silence. A performer who is comfortable with it can lead an audience through that unfamiliar environment. "Silence is the canvas on which we paint our performance. There is nothing more wonderful than complete silence in a sold-out hall—the anticipation of the paint on canvas."

Great expectations

How should a performer deal with failing to meet his or her own expectations onstage? Taylor makes a lesson of an experience he once had when, after some hard travel and little sleep, he found himself unable to read and therefore connect with the audience and give his all to the performance. "I refused to compound my difficulties by beating myself up for not being 100 percent," he says. "My responsibility was to monitor myself, take stock of what I had left, and do my best. I didn't play very well, but people came up to me afterward and said, 'Livingston, you were great!' I looked them in the eye, shook their hands and said, 'Thank you, I had a terrific time too.' It was a lie. But what gives me the right to dispute or to take someone else's pleasure at anything other than face value? A compliment is a gift, and graciously receiving a gift is a very kind act. You do the monitoring. Let God do the judging."

He brings up a point that will resonate with many who play instrumental music. He advises all to know and play within their limits. Too many players feel that they have to come out and show everything they've got immediately. "Don't go beyond your comfort level," he cautions. "Do not ask your beautiful music and talent to do more than they can. You will find yourself resentful of your talent when it doesn't live up to your expectations. Said another way, your music is fine; it is your expectations that need work." Beating yourself up onstage for being imperfect (in other words, human) "scares an audience because they are human too."

With humor, Taylor reveals his humility in showing how willing he is to do tasks that I imagine few headliners do before a performance. He recounts times when he has arrived at a club and found the premises a mess. He has rolled up his sleeves to wash the glass doors in the entryway, clean toilets and sinks, and pick up trash in the lobby. He quickly points out that it is not for the benefit of a slovenly club owner that he does it—it is for the people who will be coming to see him that evening. "They buy the tickets and I work for them. They are my boss, and I don't like my boss having to stand in line looking at cigarette butts or using dirty bathrooms. The ability to show up early and do the low and funky jobs speaks volumes about how seriously you take your performance."

Practical matters

Taylor also devotes some space to practical matters like approaching record companies and handling money and fame should they come your way. He provides a checklist for neophytes hitting the road in beat-up vans: steam clean the engine and drive train (makes it easier to diagnose and fix problems), get a new battery, change all hoses, fan belts, and fluids, and check the brakes and tires. Replacing burnt-out bulbs may spare you an encounter with a bored police officer late at night.

One area where he has little advice to give is on eating well while out on the road. "A club sandwich with potato chips is hard to mess up," he says. "But when it's 2:00 a.m. and the only place open is 7-Eleven or the Toot and Scoot, you're on your own. Hint: stay away from the pickled eggs."

I found Taylor's book both enlightening and entertaining. Being just 144 pages, it is a quick read, but it presents a lot of concentrated wisdom that Taylor has gathered bit by bit over the past 30 years. Stage Performance will help developing performers gain perspective and set their sights on worthwhile and achievable goals.

Noam Chomsky

In this episode of press TV's documentary program renowned American academic Noam Chomsky says the United States would be recognized as a leading terrorist state if international law is applied.

FOLI (there is no movement without rhythm) original version by Thomas Roebers and Floris Leeuwenberg

Video from my Nephew


When I was a child my mother hated everything related to parenting. It was all a chore. For dinner she made one of two things for us every night: hamburger or cheese ravioli. "Your favorite foods!" she said. "Not every night" I replied. She hired a live-in Barbados maid to clean the house and serve us lunch and dinner so she could stay away at lunch and have date night with my father, every night. We were not happy. My siblings and I fought like hell during meal time. When my step-father came home I was so excited to tell him about my day at school. He would snap at me "What about MY DAY? Why don't you ask me about MY DAY?" When it was vacation time my mother drugged us with Dramamine so we'd pass out in the back of the station wagon so she'd have peace and quiet in the car to chat with my dad, uninterrupted. And people ask me why I don't have kids.

Edward Thomas

The Houston Police Department has no mandatory retirement age, and had he been physically able, Officer Thomas would gladly have worked there to the end of his life.

“Mr. Thomas, when are you going to retire and draw some of that pension money?” Councilman Bradford recalled hearing colleagues ask.

“This is what I want to do,” he replied.

To the end of his career, however, Officer Thomas did not eat in the department cafeteria. If in his early years he could not set foot there, in his later ones he would not — a small, telling act of free will.

Officer Thomas retired on July 23, 2011. Until then, in his 80s and 90s, he manned the security desk at the staff entrance of Police Headquarters, in downtown Houston.

His was the first face that his colleagues encountered as they passed through the back door — today the designated entrance for all officers — of the building that now bears his name.


Community Resiliency

Article Post Katrina Community Resiliency

Frederic Patenaude: European Eating

Eating Habits of Americans vs. French People and Europeans

Food Violence

I know there's a lot of discussion about violence in the media especially violence towards women but have you ever noticed how much violence towards food is depicted?

Phoebe Gloeckner

Phoebe Louise Adams Gloeckner (born December 22, 1960), is an American cartoonist, illustrator, painter, and novelist.

Associate Professor, School of Art & Design University of Michigan

Minnie comes from a particularly bereft family environment, with no one patting herself on the head and telling her she’s great or can succeed. So really to survive, she had to learn to love herself, and I think so many people feel that way—teenagers, young people … even older people. Anyone going through a transitional stage in life goes through this kind of self-hatred and doubt, And so, I think that message—that we do all need to learn to love ourselves—is a very important lesson.

Mute Twins

There are two young boys that moved into the neighborhood. They make squeaks but they don't use words. My husband says I have never seen the adults talk to them! The adults talk to each other but never to the children. They won't learn to talk if they are not spoken to, my husband says, not until they get to school. Maybe they have their own language, I say. That's highly likely with twins. Some parents only bark orders at their children. Then the children grow up to fear their parents. That was my experience. It wasn't a conversation. But that is not what is going on here. Time will tell.

Here's a similar story.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Killingly Pond Paradise in New England

Before you decide to travel anywhere else you must visit the most magical place in the world. It's a pond that is half in RI an half in CT. The water is clear like a tropical island and the silky texture of velour! There are no motor boats, and only a few homes. A perfect swim spot. It's maybe 50 minutes from Woonsocket. There is a public access peninsula where you can park and walk out to the point. Our friends told us about it years ago when they babysat for one of the families that lived there. I call it the secret swim spot.
Killingly Pond is crystal clear in the summer, and the depth of this 122 acre lake ranges from 6 to 20 feet depending on where you are. Boating is mostly utilized for fishing as motors are limited to 12 cubic feet and approximately 10hp.

Ice fishers who are after yellow perch adore this pond, but the pond also includes chain pickerel, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sunfish, and yellow perch.

At only 162 acres, Killingly Pond is small, but offers some hiking through Connecticut's natural beauty.

There are several opportunities for hunting. Small Game, Waterfowl, Spring Turkey, Fall Archery(Deer/Turkey), and Fall Firearms Turkey attract hunters to the park. Special Note: no hunting allowed north of Quinns Hill Rd. Location: Killingly; East Killingly Quadrangle

Grab your picnic basket and a summer lunch for a lovely opportunity for food and friends.

Driving Directions

From DAYVILLE, CT on HARTFORD PIKE go toward TOWN FARM RD - go 4.2 mi Turn Left on POND RD - go 1.0 mi Arrive at KILLINGLY POND STATE PARK

From I-395 S Take exit #93/E. KILLINGLY/DAYVILLE - go 0.2 mi Turn Left on HARTFORD PIKE(CT-101) - go 4.0 mi Turn Left on POND RD - go 1.0 mi Arrive at KILLINGLY POND STATE PARK

View Killingly Pond RI + CT
- YouTube
► 1:09
Underwater scenes of Killingly Pond - Nancy L. Barrett Photography
More about Killingly State park here.

El Niño and La Niña


What are El Niño and La Niña?
El Niño and La Niña are complex weather patterns resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

El Niño, warmer than average waters in the Eastern equatorial Pacific, affects weather around the world.

El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of what is known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. The ENSO cycle is a scientific term that describes the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific (approximately between the International Date Line and 120 degrees West).

La Niña is sometimes referred to as the cold phase of ENSO and El Niño as the warm phase of ENSO. These deviations from normal surface temperatures can have large-scale impacts not only on ocean processes, but also on global weather and climate.

El Niño and La Niña episodes typically last nine to 12 months, but some prolonged events may last for years. While their frequency can be quite irregular, El Niño and La Niña events occur on average every two to seven years. Typically, El Niño occurs more frequently than La Niña.

El Niño

El Niño means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. El Niño was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year (around December) during which these warm waters events tended to occur.

The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.

Typical El Niño effects are likely to develop over North America during the upcoming winter season. Those include warmer-than-average temperatures over western and central Canada, and over the western and northern United States. Wetter-than-average conditions are likely over portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida, while drier-than-average conditions can be expected in the Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The presence of El Niño can significantly influence weather patterns, ocean conditions, and marine fisheries across large portions of the globe for an extended period of time.

La Niña

La Niña means The Little Girl in Spanish. La Niña is also sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Niño, or simply "a cold event."

La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Global climate La Niña impacts tend to be opposite those of El Niño impacts. In the tropics, ocean temperature variations in La Niña also tend to be opposite those of El Niño.

During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.