Sunday, October 06, 2013


“You can't think yourself into better behaving, but you can behave yourself into better thinking.”

Troy D. Davidson

Monday, September 23, 2013

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design into the present.”

“Do not fool yourself into believing that you must live the same day over and over again for the rest of your life, simply because it’s the responsible thing to do.

So many people live daily with unhappy circumstances, and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation. They somehow believe that conforming to their current circumstances will eventually lead to a life of comfort, security, and peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to their spirit.

 Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design into the present. The very basic core of the human spirit is a natural passion for exploration and growth. This growth originates directly from our encounters with new ideas and experiences that intrigue us; and hence there is no greater destination in life than to have an endlessly changing horizon – for each day to have a new and different sun.”

 Marc Chernoff

Friday, September 20, 2013


“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.

We are, by nature, creative.”

Dr. Brene Brown

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mostly HarmlessMostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last weekend I traveled with Andreas and Randall to Seattle to Keith and Glen's wedding. Andreas' research showed that flying into Portland, renting a car and driving to Seattle to be significantly less expensive than flying direct. That worked well except we should have left Portland earlier. As it was we got on the road to Seattle about 3pm on a Friday afternoon, hitting rush hour traffic in both cities and turning a 120 mile trip into a 4 hour drive. But we got to walk around beautiful downtown Portland.

The weather was perfect the whole trip; sunny and warm, not too hot or humid. The wedding was in Gig Harbor on a rocky beach steps from Puget Sound with a lush forested island in the background. Both the grooms were beaming. All of their friends and family that were there were super nice people and fun to share the event with.

Did you ever see, possibly in high school science class, the short film clip of the bridge twisting in the wind and finally collapsing? The bridge they called Gallopin' Gertie? That's the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Rebuilt it was known as Sturdy Gertie. A few years ago a second bridge was built right next to it so each bridge carried traffic in only one direction. Sturdy Gertie was closed for repairs so all traffic was routed over the new bridge, but going by it on the way from the SEA-TAC Holiday Inn Express to Gig Harbor I felt like I was shaking the hand of a celebrity. Here's a youtube video of the 1940 collapse of Gallopin' Gertie:

The drive back to Portland was much faster. We got through security quickly and had half an hour to kill before they began boarding our plane. On my way to look for bottled water to take on the plane I discovered a rather nice book store named Powell's. Apparently they have a huge store in downtown Portland which I didn't see. And it's a good thing, too, because if I had I wouldn't have seen anything else of the city. And that's were I picked up this used edition of Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless; in a surprisingly nice bookstore near the gate in Portland's Airport.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My inner 12 year old loved this:
“She removed my empty plate, replaced it with a bowl containing a steaming slice of spotted dick with thick yellow custard drizzled all over it. I ate it with joy.”

My inner adult appreciated this:
“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I found joy in the things that made me happy.”

This book further solidifies Neil Gaiman as my favorite author. Though much too small, I enjoy his writing so much he could have held my attention for much longer, it is a complete story full of supernatural imagery and the pathos of an adult looking back on his childhood. Mr. Gaiman's writing most easily fits the category of supernatural horror. And though horrible things do happen there's always a hint of optimism so that I never dread what's going to happen next.

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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal FreedomThe Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Possibly the best spiritual self-help book I've read. Don Miguel Ruiz uses simple, direct, clear narrative to convey deeply spiritual concepts. The first agreement: “Be impeccable with your word” means not only speak plainly, say what you mean and mean what you say, but also don't use your words to tear down yourself or anyone else. The other three agreements stem from the first. The last two chapters tell how to get rid of old, negative agreements, adopt the new agreements, and create heaven on earth for yourself and those around you. I love that he talks about heaven and hell being experienced right here in this life. I've always felt heaven and hell were not remote places we go to after death but are this life, based on the choices we make. Don Miguel Ruiz gives voice to those concepts and a clear path on how to get there. Highly recommended.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Birthday to my Grandma who was born on this day in 1912. In 2010 she joined my Grandfather in the next life. The black and white photo is their wedding picture from 1930.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Proud Tower

The Guns of August/The Proud Tower (Library of America #222)The Guns of August/The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume includes two books by Barbara Tuchman: The Guns of August and The Proud Tower. The first book; The Guns of August is a detailed account of World War I. The Proud Tower is an in depth look at all aspects of society leading up to WW1; social structures, economics, politics, socialism, anarchy in Britain, Europe, Russia, and the U.S. Consider the whole volume a chronicle of Western civilization right before and through Season 1 of Downtown Abbey.

I read The Proud Tower first since it concerns the time before WW1: 1890 - 1914. Do not be put off by detail heavy long paragraphs leading to longer chapters. Ms. Tuchman tells history as a story and tells each story in an easy to follow, chronological, cause and effect narration that relates detail effortlessly while giving the reader a sense of the big picture.

I especially enjoyed the part about the English aristocracy and how the same forces shaped and were changed in America. I also loved the detailed account of politics in the U.S. at that time. Reading about the machinations of the different parties in Congress and how they're not that different than today. They didn't have the filibuster but they had other rules and ways to block progress they didn't like. Unlike now there was a very strong Leader of the House who brilliantly made things happen despite the other parties obstructionism.

I didn't try to remember all of the names and dates. I just kept reading and the really important ones kept appearing making them easy to remember, and the dates fell easily into place due to the authors clear narration.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

 But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see
through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped
and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks
of another breeze
and the trade winds soft
through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting
on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands
on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts
on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped
and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

Friday, May 03, 2013

Quote: Dalai Lama

“We need to understand the inadequacy of an educational system so slanted towards material values. The solution is not to give an occasional lecture, but to integrate ethics into the educational curriculum. To do this effectively requires a secular ethics, free of religious influence, based on common sense, a realistic view and scientific findings.”

 Dalai Lamia

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Martian Child: A Novel About A Single Father Adopting A SonThe Martian Child: A Novel About A Single Father Adopting A Son by David Gerrold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book after watching the film based on this book starring John Cusak and his sister Joan Cusak playing his sister in the story. The movie is a wonderful film I fell in love with instantly. The movie tells the story in a very straight forward, chronological format focusing on David's son's coping with his feeling of disconnect by believing he's from Mars. The book spends more time in David's head explaining his, David's, creative thought process and how he comes to understand his son. The plot is basically the same; most of the events in the movie are in the book, just not featured the same way. But they both are wonderful stories and both have equally rewarding endings.

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Friday, April 05, 2013

TED Talks: Adam Sadowsky engineers a viral music video

Life lessons plus OK Go!

TED Talk: The Power of Disconnection or Going Dune Blasting with Yoda

Make every day your first day.
Who're you letting live rent free in your head?
Why do you matter?
Only hurt people hurt others.
The most extraordinary people don't care about winning as much as they care about being successful.

Word of the Day: Interstitial

Interstitial; something in between, eg. interstitial music between segments, interstitial page between regular text, interstitial fluid or fiber between internal organs. Interstitial.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Quote: Abraham

“You are magnificent beings, in the perfect place at the perfect time, unfolding perfectly, never getting it done, and never getting it wrong. Be more playful about all of it. "Today, no matter where I'm going, no matter what I am doing, and no matter who I'm doing it with — it is my dominant intent to look for that which I'm wanting to see. I'm wanting to find thoughts and words and actions that feel good while I'm finding them. For in doing so, I am, in the moment, practicing the art of allowing all that I've been telling the Universe I'm wanting, for all of the days of my existence.”

 — Abraham

 It occurs to me that this is also what people who are their own worst enemies are doing. People who never had any love, safety, food, or positive role models in their life; who never learned how to be a force for good in their own life. They're also looking for that which they want to see. Looking for thoughts, words, and actions that feel good while looking for them, living in the moment, telling the universe who they are and what they want. And they're not going to look for anything different or tell the universe anything different until someone comes into their life in a way that they recognize and respect and shows them a different way.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brene Brown: Shame and Vulerability

“When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.

Your raise can be on the table, your promotion can be on the table, your title can be on the table, your grades can be on the table. But keep your worthiness for love and belonging off the table. And then ironically everything else just takes care of itself.”

“Be brave and vulnerable.”

“You can’t raise children who have more shame resilience than you do. Because even if you don’t shame them, and even if you are actively trying to raise them feeling good about who they are, they’re never going to treat themselves better than you treat yourself. If you want to raise a daughter with a really healthy body image, you better love your body as a mother, because that counts way more than looking at your daughter and saying “You’re beautiful and your body is beautiful.” All that matters to her is how she sees you acting with your own body. We can’t give children what we don’t have. We have to be the adults we hope they grow up to be.

“Connection is why we're here. It's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

“ Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, and of love.”

“Vulnerability is not weakness.”

“Vulnerability is emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It's our most accurate measurement of courage.”

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

We have to talk about shame.

Shame is an epidemic in our courage.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quote: Theodore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Psychology of Evil

He speaks really fast, but it's worthwhile to stay with him.

More about the talk by Mr. Zimbardo is at this link.

Quote: Don Miguel Ruiz

“(This) is why humans resist life. To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive—the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourself is the biggest fear of humans. We have learned to live our life trying to satisfy other people's demands. We have learned to live our life trying to satisfy other people's point of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.”

Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quote: Marc Chernoff

“Making money is pretty easy.  Attaining true wealth is not.  Most people have jobs and bring in an income.  What’s difficult is to earn it by doing something that makes a positive difference. 
Knowing deep down that you counted; that someone else’s life is not as rich without you in it —that’s priceless.  That’s something worth working for.”
  -  Marc Chernoff

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

This isn't about equal rights on paper.

This isn't just about not getting fired or seeing our partner in the hospital or marriage or adoption.  This is about not getting our head bashed in to the pavement.

A witness at the scene with her two teenaged sisters says the violent actions of the officers involved left her younger siblings seriously traumatised. “They were crying while the police bashed the boy’s head into the cement,” she said. “It was horrible, disgusting behaviour.”
Another witness adds: “They picked him up by the throat and slammed him into the ground with his head hitting the ground that hard it sounded like a bowling ball hitting the ground,” she said. “This was while he was in handcuffs.”  - From the news site Same Same.

This video is quite violent. If you aren't disturbed by it have someone check you for a pulse.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

What happens when a neuroscientist gets to experience a stroke from the inside out.

“We have the power to chose moment by moment who and how we want to be in the world.”  -  Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fixing Our Broken Systems

Looking at what's broken in our system isn't easy. Fixing it could be an even greater challenge.

"Rules are like a road map that gets you to the right city, but not to the right street."
  -  Barry Schwartz

We depend on rules, guidelines, and laws to provide structure, order, and function, but too often these systems fail us. These TED speakers propose how to fix our broken systems by looking to trust and practical wisdom as ways to mend education, medicine, and the law. Plus, how games might be our best resources to solve real-world problems.

Listen to the full episode.

Note:  The last part on games is especially fun. It may make you think better of folks who spend so much time on online games. They may even have the key to our most challenging problems.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the AfterlifeProof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A well-written, intelligent, detailed account of a neurosurgeon's near death experience. Dr. Alexander goes further into his near death experience than other accounts I've heard and tells his tale in an easy-to-follow compelling way.

Reading this book moved me from "I believe in near death experiences but atheists my be right about the brain having a deep self-preservation response" to "yes, NDEs are absolutely real experiences." If I'm to expect everyone to believe and respect me when I tell them I'm gay; and I'm to believe and honor someone when they tell me they're transgender; then I'm compelled to believe Dr. Alexander when he tells me of his experience. Our experiences are most of who we are. Maya Angelou said, "When someone tells you who they are, believe them."

I believe him.

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Different Perspective

It used to be that when a man got a woman pregnant the honorable thing for him to do was to marry her. But now, according to John McCain and Newt Gingrich, when a man cheats on his wife the honorable thing to do is to marry the mistress.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This American Life

487: Harper High School, Part One FEB 15, 2013 We spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. 29. We went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances. We found so many incredible and surprising stories, this show is a two-parter.

Listen to part one here.

487: Harper High School, Part Two FEB 22, 2013 We pick up where we left off last week in our second hour from Harper High School in Chicago. We find out if a shooting in the neighborhood will derail the school's Homecoming game and dance. We hear the origin story of one of Harper's gangs. And we ask a group of teenagers: where do you get your guns.

Thought of the Day:

Self-fulfilling prophecies work both ways. Choose one that's positive.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quote: Alice Walker

"Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is proof."

  -  Alice Walker