You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2008.

What do you think a day in Heaven could be like.  I mean besides being with God and every one you loved who was “saved”.
 
Let’s say some miracle happens and God makes his presences known to me.  I win the powerball lotto.  I win a free lifetime supply of gasoline.  I get an X-rated Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar, no, wait that’s the other guy.
 
What would my days in Heaven be like?  Should I pack my swimsuit?  Should I bring my cool Calvin and Hobbes t-shirt?  Should I bring my leisure suit, no that’s probably what they wear down in the other place.  What do kind of clothes do people in Heaven wear anyway, robes?
 
Are pets allowed in Heaven?  I know Papa would really miss Amos.  If pets are allowed should I bring a pooper-scooper?  Are their toilets in Heaven?  Are cats allowed, no that would have to be the other place for me.

Is there music in Heaven?  Van Morrison flowing “Into the Mystic”? Eva Cassiday singing about the “Songbird”?  A Vanilla Ice concert, no then I would know for sure I was in the other place.

 
Would my every wish be fulfilled?  If MY every wish was fulfilled, like all female angels had to wear Victoria”s Secret lingerie, then I definitely would windup in the other place.

I would like to hear some of your ideas.
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My back has decided to remind me of my advancing years.  🙂  Nothing major, just a few days off my feet.   Siting in a chair, or in a car, does aggravate it so I will be taking a few days off from blogging.

I will end the week with a story of another “miracle” of modern technology.  A system were people with severe disabilities can “operate a computer, control a powered wheelchair and interact with their environments simply by moving their tongues.”
 
I remember a seeing a clip of physicist Stephen Hawking, who is disabled with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and he is now almost completely paralysed.  It showed him playing with his children.  He would chase after them in his wheelchair.  His children were giggling and laughing, like any other children playing with their dad.
 
The Wikipedia article on Stephen Hawkings- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking .
 
A video of the tongue device and article follows:
 
 
A new assistive technology developed by engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology could help individuals with severe disabilities lead more independent lives.

The novel system allows individuals with disabilities to operate a computer, control a powered wheelchair and interact with their environments simply by moving their tongues.

“This device could revolutionize the field of assistive technologies by helping individuals with severe disabilities, such as those with high-level spinal cord injuries, return to rich, active, independent and productive lives,” said Maysam Ghovanloo, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Ghovanloo developed the system with graduate student Xueliang Huo.

The tongue-operated assistive technology, called the Tongue Drive system, was described on June 29 at the 2008 Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. An article about this system is also scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

To operate the Tongue Drive system, potential users only need to be able to move their tongues. Attaching a small magnet, the size of a grain of rice, to an individual’s tongue by implantation, piercing or tissue adhesive allows tongue motion to direct the movement of a cursor across a computer screen or a powered wheelchair around a room.

“We chose the tongue to operate the system because unlike hands and feet, which are controlled by the brain through the spinal cord, the tongue is directly connected to the brain by a cranial nerve that generally escapes damage in severe spinal cord injuries or neuromuscular diseases,” said Ghovanloo, who started working on this project about three years ago at North Carolina State University. “Tongue movements are also fast, accurate and do not require much thinking, concentration or effort.”

Movement of the magnetic tracer attached to the tongue is detected by an array of magnetic field sensors mounted on a headset outside the mouth or on an orthodontic brace inside the mouth. The sensor output signals are wirelessly transmitted to a portable computer, which can be carried on the user’s clothing or wheelchair.

The sensor output signals are processed to determine the relative motion of the magnet with respect to the array of sensors in real-time. This information is then used to control the movements of a cursor on the computer screen or to substitute for the joystick function in a powered wheelchair.

The system can potentially capture a large number of tongue movements, each of which can represent a different user command. A unique set of specific tongue movements can be tailored for each individual based on the user’s abilities, oral anatomy, personal preferences and lifestyle.

“An individual could potentially train our system to recognize touching each tooth as a different command ,” explained Ghovanloo. “The ability to train our system with as many commands as an individual can comfortably remember is a significant advantage over the common sip-n-puff device that acts as a simple switch controlled by sucking or blowing through a straw.”

The Tongue Drive system is also non-invasive and does not require brain surgery like some of the brain-computer interface technologies.

Ghovanloo’s group recently completed trials in which six able-bodied individuals tested the Tongue Drive system. Each participant defined six tongue commands that would substitute for computer mouse tasks – left, right, up and down pointer movements and single- and double-click. For each trial, the individual began by training the system. During the five-minute training session, the individual repeated each of the six designated tongue movements 10 times.

During the testing session, the user moved his or her tongue to one of the predefined command positions and the mouse pointer started moving in the selected direction. To move the cursor faster, users could hold their tongue in the position of the issued command to gradually accelerate the pointer until it reached a maximum velocity.

Results of the computer access test by novice users with the current Tongue Drive prototype showed a response time of less than one second with almost 100 percent accuracy for the six individual commands. This is equivalent to an information transfer rate of approximately 150 bits per minute, which is much faster than the bandwidth of most brain-computer interfaces, according to Ghovanloo.

The researchers have also tested the ability of twelve able-bodied individuals to operate an electric-powered wheelchair with the Tongue Drive system. The next step is to test and assess the usability and acceptability of the system by people with severe disabilities, said Ghovanloo. He is teaming with the Shepherd Center, an Atlanta-based catastrophic care hospital, and the Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access, to conduct those trials.

The research team has also begun to develop software to connect the Tongue Drive system to a wide variety of readily available communication tools such as text generators, speech synthesizers and readers. In addition, the researchers plan to add control commands, such as switching the system into standby mode to permit the user to eat, sleep or engage in a conversation while extending battery life.

“We hope this technology will reduce the need of individuals with severe disabilities to receive continuous assistance from family members or caregivers, thus significantly reducing healthcare and assistance costs,” noted Ghovanloo. “This system may also make it easier for them to work and communicate with others, such as friends and family.”

A friend of mine sent me of couple of funny articles.  One a cleaning poem, the other a story about the deadly garden snake.
 
Do you think you spend too much time on-line? Why?
 
Have you every had a terrifying experience with an animal, or insect (spider, wasp, etc) or really, really big fish (Jaws)?
 
1) Cleaning Poem
 
I asked the Lord To tell me why my house is such a mess.
He asked if I’d been ‘computering’ and I had to answer ‘Yes’.
 
He told me to get off my fanny and tidy up the house,
and so I started cleaning up ….the smudges off my mouse.
 
I wiped and shined the topside, that really did the trick.
I was just admiring my work …I didn’t mean to click.
 
But click, I did, and oops I found a real absorbing site.
That I got SO way into I was into it all night.<Sigh>
 
Nothings changed except my mouse, it’s very, very shiny.
I guess my house will stay a mess while I sit on my hiney.
 
2) Garden Snakes Can Be Dangerous
 
Snakes also known as Garter Snakes (Thamnophissirtalis) can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes.  Here’s why.

A couple in Sweetwater , Texas , had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze.  It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants.  When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.

She let out a very loud scream. The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was.  She told him there was a snake under the sofa.

He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him on the behind.  He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor.

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance. The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher.  That’s when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake.  He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch.  Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.

But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around.  She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa. The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor’s wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband’s mouth on the woman’s mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.

The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man’s throat.

By now, the police had arrived.  They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little green snake.  The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.

Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it.  He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table.  The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.

The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.

Meanwhile, neighbors saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department.  The firemen had started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power, and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).

Time passed!  Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world.

A while later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.

And that’s when he shot her.

Over at Mandy’s, her “Twisted Wednesday” theme is “Summertime”.

What is your favorite summertime music, list as many artist as you want.

Three of mine:

Surfing USA – Beach Boys

The Girl From Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto

Dancing In The Street – Martha & The Vandellas

Seventy-two years young, Wavy Gravy holding court at his circus camp for kids.

Wavy Gravy (born Hugh Nanton Romney on May 15, 1936) is a life-long activist for peace and personal empowerment, best known for his hippie appearance, personality, and beliefs.  I can’t think of a cooler guy on the planet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavy_Gravy

 
His parents knew Nobel Prize winning physicist Albert Einstein who once held his hand and took him for a walk around the block when he was small.  At one time he shared an apartment with singer-songwriter Tom Paxton in Greenwich Village and Romney was one of Bob Dylan’s earliest friends in New York CIty.  The blues guitarist B.B.King gave him the name ‘Wavy Gravy”.
 
Wavy founded a commune, the Hog Farm Collective.  They were hired to help organize the Woodstock Festival in 1969.  When asked by the press — who were the first to inform him that he and the rest of the Hog Farm were handling security — what kind of tools he intended to use to maintain order at the event, his instant response was “Cream pies and seltzer bottles.”

Today, the Hog Farm is still in existence, with various locations including a headquarters in Berkeley, CA and a 200+ acre farm in Laytonville, CA, known as Black Oak Ranch.  Black Oak Ranch is also home to Wavy Gravy’s performing arts camp for children, Camp Winnarainbow.

Wavy founded the Seva Foundation in 1978.  Seva, based in Berkeley, CA, is an international development organization dedicated to ending poverty around the world.

 
Wavy Gravy is also the co-founder (along with his wife) of Camp Winnareinbow, a circus and performing arts camp. The camp emphasizes experiential learning by urging campers to try new skills. The camp also teaches how to be a positive influence to the community.
 
 
Have you ever been to summer camp?  Have you ever been a camp counselor?
 
If you have it is hard for me to see how you could have had as much fun as Wavy, 72 years young, and his kids.
1) Alcohol Study 
 
A recent study found that the average American walks 
about 900 miles in a year. 
 
Another study found Americans drink, on average, 22 
gallons of alcohol a year. 
 
That means, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to 
the gallon. 
 
Kind of makes you proud to be an American
 
Question – Do you have a daily, or weekly, exercise routine?  I do 15 minutes of slow stretching exercises every morning.  I also power walk one to three miles a day.  If you do house work or have to run after kids you probably don’t need any other exercise.  🙂

2) BBC  science news – “Breastfeeding” – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7513267.stm 
 
“Scientists have for the first time shown how a “trust” hormone is released in the brains of breastfeeding mothers.

It is further proof that breastfeeding promotes the maternal bond through a biochemical process.

The team at Warwick University said the hormone oxytocin was known to be released during breastfeeding but the mechanism in the brain was unclear.

Oxytocin also produces contractions during labour and causes milk to be “let down” from the mammary glands.

The hormone is produced in the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that controls body temperature, thirst, hunger, anger and tiredness.

It has been shown to promote feelings of trust and confidence and to reduce fear. ”

Seeing a women breast feed their child in public “freaks” out some people.  I think is a very natural act and even find it inspiring to see the look of love on the face of a mother sharing her body with her child.

Do you think women should not be allowed to breastfeed their child in public?  Why?

3) Some final words on love. Excerpts from “Song” by Allen Ginsberg

“the weight, the weight we carry is love.”

“No rest without love, no sleep without dreams of love – no mad or chill, obsessed with angels or machines, the final wish is love – cannot be bitter, cannot deny, cannot withhold if denied”

“The warm bodies shine together in the darkness, the hand moves to the center of the flesh, the skin trembles in happiness and the soul comes joyful to the eye”

Once a week I drag my butt of of bed and drive down to the local beach to watch the sun rise over the ocean.  In that moment when the sun’s brilliance peeks over the water I think of all the people, all over the world, who watch that same sun rise over their ocean.  I feel a connection to everyone and everything.  My spirit and soul is revitalized.
 
Church cathedrals are beautiful places.  At the end of my daily walk around town I make two stops.  Because I am 65 one stop is the restroom in the Town Hall.  🙂  The other is at a local church.  They have a beautiful little chapel which is always open.  I sit back, clear my mind, and just let my thoughts flow freely across my brain.  That also restores my soul.  I always have a smile on my face when I leave.
 
I go to two church services a year, at Christmas and Easter.  I get to share in the love express by my neighbors as they honor their God.  That restores my spirit.
 
Question – When was the last time you could really feel your soul and spirit soaring?
 
Another thing that restores my spirit and soul is music.  I’ll leave you with my favorite uplifting song, “Wonder” by Natalie Merchant.  I have posted this video several times.  I just can’t hear this song enough.
My perception is that when someone says they find the guidance they need to live in the Bible it’s not the words themselves that is providing this guidance, but the presence of their God that is directing them, in some way, to the passage(s) they need.
 
I read the Bible a lot as a teenager, looking  for the guidance I needed to get me through my trouble youth.  I never felt the presence of God and the Bible did not help me.  I turned to other books which helped me understand why I felt the way I did and gave me the information I need to learn how to make my way through life.
 
My inspirations were Buckminister Fuller, Henry David Thoreau and Charles Darwin.
 
A question for my Christian friends – when did you first read the Bible and sense the presences of God guiding you?
 
A question for everyone – Who provided you with the inspiration you needed to choose your walk in life? (for my Christian friends I mean someone other than Jesus or God)
I spent the last week with two of my friends from the “Beat Generation”, Jack Kerouac, “On The Road” and Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”. 
 
From Wikipedia:
 
“Author Jack Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation” in 1948, generalizing from his social circle to characterize the underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York at that time”
 
They employ a writing style known as ‘stream of consciousness”.  From Wikipedia:
 
“In literary criticism, “stream of consciousness” is a literary technique that seeks to portray an individuals point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her sensory reactions to external occurrences.”
 
 
To me that means you feel the thought, you write it down.  No days or weeks, or months, searching for the perfect word – first word, best word.
 
I can recommend to anyone that you go to your local library and get a copy of  “One The Road”.  After a few paragraphs you will quickly know if you will enjoy the book or hate it.
 
Howl on the other hand is a much more challenging read because it is a tortured tale with some “obscene” passages that speak to gay love.  In the introduction to “Howl” William Carlos Williams wrote:
 
“Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of angels.  This poet sees through and all around the horrors he partakes of in the very intimate details of his poem.  He avoids nothing but experiences it to the hilt.” 
“Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through Hell.”
 
The first and last lines of Howl will give you a view of Ginsberg’s hell:
 
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical naked”
 
“with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their bodies good to eat a thousand years”
 
Howl is clearly not for someone who is not prepared for a trip thorough hell.
 
The other thing about Howl is that it is considered by many to be obscene.  Copies of the book were seized by US Customs when they arrived from England.  The American publisher was arrested and charged with disseminating obscene literature.  The courts however ruled that it was not obscene because it had “redeeming social significance”  Howl is still banned from public libraries in some parts of the US.
 
The only words I consider obscene are those which direct hateful thoughts, or encourage hateful actions, towards another person.  For me war is a more obscene word then F—.
 
Questions:
 
1. Can you think of a phrase in any book that just jumped off the pages and give you that “oh wow” moment.
 
2. What is your definition of an obscene word?
 
3. Should any books be banned from public libraries?

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