You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2010.

1) Pictures from the Net

a. Pumpkin season has arrived here in Seymour.  We had our own Pumpkin Festival on September 19, http://www.pumpkin-festival.org/index.html

I didn’t see any that were close to the size of this one:

 

What is your favorite pumpkin dish, besides pie?

b. Nature

 

The ghost beetle is the whitest object found in nature – much whiter than teeth or milk. The beetle’s whiteness is thought to be camouflage when set against the fungi it feeds on. It is caused by a dusty coating of pure white, overlapping, minute scales covering its head, body and legs

What is your favorite insect?

c. Landscape

 

The moon rises into view over the Chugach Mountains in this view from the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News, Marc Lester)

2) One of my favorite actors passed away on Wednesday, Tony Curtis, from a heart attack.  He was 85. 

What actor/actress do you admire, for the way they live/lived? 

Most will remember Tony Curtis as one of Hollywood’s “pretty boys”, but his acting skills were very under rated.  He did receive one Oscar nomination for his role in the ““The Defiant Ones”, in 1958. 

Curtis had one of Hollywood’s “dream” marriages, to the beautiful Janet Leigh.  He was married a total of six times.  So while marriage  was something he never got right, it was something he seemed to really enjoying.  🙂

We think of stars as having story book lives.  Tony Curtis’ started out as anything but.

From an article in today’s New York Times, by Dave Kehr:

http://tinyurl.com/2wpydss

“Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz on June 3, 1925, to Helen and Emanuel Schwartz, Jewish immigrants from Hungary. Emanuel operated a tailor shop in a poor neighborhood, and the family occupied cramped quarters behind the store, the parents in one room and little Bernard sharing another with his two brothers, Julius and Robert. Helen Schwartz suffered from schizophrenia and frequently beat the three boys. (Robert was later found to have the same disease.)

In 1933, at the height of the Depression, his parents found they could not properly provide for their children, and Bernard and Julius were placed in a state institution. Returning to his old neighborhood, Bernard frequently found himself caught up in gang warfare and the target of anti-Semitic hostility; as he recalled in many interviews, he learned to dodge the stones and fists to protect his face, which he realized even then would be his ticket to greater things. In 1938, Julius Schwartz was hit by a truck and killed.

In search of stability, Bernard made his way to Seward Park High School on the Lower East Side. During World War II he served in the Navy aboard the submarine tender U.S.S. Proteus. His ship was present in Tokyo Bay for the formal surrender of Japan aboard the U.S.S. Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945, which Signalman Schwartz watched through a pair of binoculars. “That was one of the great moments in my life,” he later wrote.”

Curtis was best know for his role in one of my favorite funny movies of all time, “Some Like It Hot”, from 1959:

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1) The face of humanity, Tuesday, September 28, 2010, from the Guardian Photos of The Day:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2010/sep/28/24-hours-in-pictures#/?picture=367112859&index=0

Kabul, Afghanistan: A man with his bicycle passes children playing among discarded vehicles in the ruins of the Jangalak industrial complex.

 

Delhi, India: Workers rest in the shade outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium prior to the Commonwealth Games.

 

Taipei, Taiwan: Officials dressed as ancient Chinese scholars perform a traditional ritual.

 

Hebron, West Bank: Ultra-Orthodox Jews pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, also known as the Ibrahim Mosque, a shrine that is holy to Muslims and Jews. 

2) Warning, a bit of a rant about inhumanity in the deserts of Arizona

From an article in the New York Times, by Marc Lacey:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/us/27water.html?_r=2&ref=global-home

“Two years ago, Daniel J. Millis was ticketed for littering after he was caught by a federal Fish and Wildlife officer placing gallon jugs of water for passing immigrants in the brush of this 118,000-acre preserve.

Mr. Millis, 31, was not the only one to get a ticket. Fourteen other volunteers for Tucson-based organizations that provide aid to immigrants crossing from Mexico to the United States were similarly cited. Most of the cases were later dropped, but Mr. Millis and another volunteer for a religious group called No More Deaths were convicted of defacing the refuge with their water jug drops.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit weighed in on Mr. Millis’s appeal this month, ruling that it was “ambiguous as to whether purified water in a sealed bottle intended for human consumption meets the definition of ‘garbage.’ ” Voting 2-to-1, a three-judge panel overturned Mr. Millis’s conviction.

The issue remains far from settled, though. The court ruled that Mr. Millis probably could have been charged under a different statute, something other than littering. And the Fish and Wildlife Services continues to forbid anyone to leave gallon jugs of water in the refuge — a policy backed by this state’s immigration hardliners, who say comforting immigrants will only encourage them to cross.

From 2002 to 2009, 25 illegal immigrants died while passing through the refuge’s rolling hills, which are flanked by mountains and are home to pronghorns, coyotes, rattlesnakes and four different kinds of skunks. Throughout southern Arizona, the death toll totaled 1,715 from 2002 to 2009, with this year’s hot temperatures putting deaths at a record-breaking pace.”

I can understand why, with unemployment so high, many are calling for stronger measures to stop illegal immigration.  I can’t understand how some are willing to let people die in the desert.  How giving water, and medical help, to those we who are dying can ever be wrong.

I guess in Arizona it’s alright to litter the desert with died bodies, but not water bottles to save their lives.

The No More Deaths site :

http://www.nomoredeaths.org/

1) Weekend pictures from the Net:

Charmey, Switzerland: Swiss farmers guide traditionally decorated cows during the so-called Desalpe, the annual procession when cows are led back to the plain at the beginning of autumn after grazing during the summer months on mountain pastures

Khagendra Thapa, the world’s shortest man, at 1’10”, stands with Miss Nepal beauty pageant winners during a news conference in Kathmandu on Friday. The Nepal Tourism Board has nominated Thapa and Miss Nepal beauty pageant winners as goodwill ambassadors to promote tourism in Nepal.

Tourists climb the Singing Sand Dunes near the Crescent Moon Spring on July 20, 2010 in Jiuquan of Gansu Province China. The Crescent Moon Spring, named after its unique moon-like shape, is located at the north foot of the Singing Sand Dunes, about 50 meters (164 feet) from north to south and 5 meters (16 feet) deep on an average.

2) Why don’t Americans eat more vegetables?

I do now eat more vegetables than I use to, it only took becoming a diabetic.  I had to get sick to get healthy.

Besides obvious questions of health, how much money would we save in health-care cost if we just changed our diets.  The fact that most of us don’t have healthy lifestyles may be the biggest reason for our soaring health cost .  Of course we will blame everyone else but ourselves.

From a New York Times article on the subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/health/policy/25vegetables.html?hpw

“This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a comprehensive nationwide behavioral study of fruit and vegetable consumption. Only 26 percent of the nation’s adults eat vegetables three or more times a day, it concluded. (And no, that does not include French fries.) ”

“This week, the company released the 25th edition of its annual report, “Eating Patterns in America.” The news there wasn’t good, either. For example, only 23 percent of meals include a vegetable, Mr. Balzer said. (Again, fries don’t count, but lettuce on a hamburger does.) The number of dinners prepared at home that included a salad was 17 percent; in 1994, it was 22 percent.”

Looking for a Bible topic to post about I came across an article in the Christian Science Monitor, by T. Jewell Collins, “A solution for too much to do”.  In one part he quotes from John 5:19, I am using the New International Version:

 19Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

My thought is that when faced with a difficult problem a Christian prays to God asking, “Lord what should I do?”.  It seems to me clearer guidance can be found by asking, “What would Jesus do?”

Jesus’ life and actions are clearly documented in the Bible.  How he lived his life is the standard all Christians need to follow.  If a Christian acts as Jesus would have, how could they do wrong?

From the CSM article:

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Articles-on-Christian-Science/2010/0924/A-solution-for-too-much-to-do

“When I left the 9-to-5 workday several years ago, I was freed from the constraints of a job. Although it had been at times demanding, my work had meant a great deal to me. Each day was a new challenge that I eagerly anticipated.

Recently I was thinking about how I’ve spent my time in this new period of my life. At first it seemed I had a never-ending series of things to do; letters to write; articles to finish; places to travel to; commitments to church, friends, and organizations. At times, I felt pressured.

At one point I made a conscious decision never to say, “I am too busy,” either as an excuse or a statement of my life. I didn’t want that word “busy” in my vocabulary. To me, human busyness is actually a denial of being about my “Father’s business,” as Christ Jesus described his work (see Luke 2:48,49). Being about my Father’s business – doing the will of God – is the true business that gives us nothing to complain about and everything to rejoice in.

On the heels of that decision, I realized I was missing the obvious. The light came on in my thought with such startling clarity that I recognized it immediately as the absolute truth. What came to me was this: I am a reflection, not a material being struggling to balance many different activities. As the reflection of a higher intelligence, of God, I can only mirror that higher source. These words of Jesus indicate reflection to me: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). And Jesus said his example is one we can each follow.

I was quite struck with this idea, in a fresh way. It was so obvious that I marveled at its simplicity and directness. I only need to reflect. In reality I can’t do anything else.”

“When burdening suggestions of too many things to do and not enough time in which to do them try to crowd my thought, I stop and claim what it means to reflect “the central light of being, the invisible God.” For me, it means putting down thoughts of inadequacy or, conversely, thoughts of personal accomplishment. It means humbly seeing and knowing that whatever I have or whatever I accomplish is the result of reflection. It means wiping away the fretfulness, fear, and false responsibility that make me think I’ve taken on too much. It means leaving the door open for more good to enter my experience. If I am reflecting God, I can only reflect good.”

“Reflection removes the tedium of personal responsibility. Instead of thinking of myself as the one responsible for a long to-do list, I can know that I actively express order, perception, joy, spontaneity – as God’s reflection.

With this realization the urgency and pressures are lifted for all of us. Like the pieces of a puzzle, the things to be done in my life have begun to fit together naturally, leaving room for new ideas to take root and find expression. It’s an ongoing and joyful journey. I feel a surge of strength and dominion each time I “reflect” on this idea of being God’s reflection.

Recognizing God as the source of all right ideas illumines thought with the light that accompanies reflection. It connects us with the “be” in being, and that connection enables us to discharge our responsibilities while remaining open to greater opportunities for service to others that are ours through reflection.

I love the sense of anticipation and eagerness with which I greet each new day, just as I did when I had a 9-to-5 job.”

At 11:09 last night, September 22nd, the Autumnal Equinox arrived.  There was also a Harvest Moon, and as a bonus for you star gazers, Jupiter made it’s closest pass to Earth in a decade. 

1) A farmer harvests soybeans in Elkhart, Illinois, by the light of a harvest moon.

 

Cassandra Wilson – Harvest Moon

What is your favorite song about Autumn?

If you were a farm boy, or gal, do you remember any moonlight harvest?

2) In China they are celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, Zhongqiu. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Autumn_Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival at Victoria Park, Hong Kong

 

Moon-cakes are traditionally eaten during the festival, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mooncakes  .

Filipino chef, Angelito Araneta Jr., displays a 24-carat gold-covered mooncake garnished with .10-carat artificial diamonds at Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila on Wednesday. This mooncake is worth $1,830.

 

3) Summer continues to hold on here in Southeast Connecticut.  The trees are still green, but in some parts of New England they are taking on the beautiful golden hues of fall.

Fall foliage mixes with frost in White Mountain National Forest in Twin Mountain, N.H.

 

Adirondack Mountains, Catskills, New York.

 

How is Fall beginning in your neck of the woods?  Are the leaves on the trees starting to put on their spectacular Fall show?

How to describe this beautiful day. “I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.” Walt Whitman – I Sing The Body Electric.

What was the last beautiful thing of nature you saw, not counting your  loved ones.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Carl Sagen

From “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

http://www.emersoncentral.com/beauty.htm 

A nobler want of man is served by nature, namely, the love of Beauty.

The ancient Greeks called the world {kosmos}, beauty. Such is the constitution of all things, or such the plastic power of the human eye, that the primary forms, as the sky, the mountain, the tree, the animal, give us a delight in and for themselves; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion, and grouping. This seems partly owing to the eye itself. The eye is the best of artists. By the mutual action of its structure and of the laws of light, perspective is produced, which integrates every mass of objects, of what character soever, into a well colored and shaded globe, so that where the particular objects are mean and unaffecting, the landscape which they compose, is round and symmetrical. And as the eye is the best composer, so light is the first of painters. There is no object so foul that intense light will not make beautiful. And the stimulus it affords to the sense, and a sort of infinitude which it hath, like space and time, make all matter gay. Even the corpse has its own beauty. But besides this general grace diffused over nature, almost all the individual forms are agreeable to the eye, as is proved by our endless imitations of some of them, as the acorn, the grape, the pine-cone, the wheat-ear, the egg, the wings and forms of most birds, the lion’s claw, the serpent, the butterfly, sea-shells, flames, clouds, buds, leaves, and the forms of many trees, as the palm.

Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) – Morning Has Broken

1) Pictures from the Net

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2010/sep/20/1#/?picture=366875851&index=7

 Kabul, Afghanistan: Children fly kites on a hillside as the moon rises

When was the last time you flew a kite?

Canine ‘dudes’ show off their board skills during the annual Surf City Surf Dog competition at Huntington Beach in southern California.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2010/sep/20/animals-california

 

Surfer dog Deagan gets down low while riding a sweet wave

2) Arrr me hearties Sunday was “International Talk Like A Pirate Day”. 

When was the last time you did anything piratey, even if only metaphorically?  Walked the plank? Found buried treasury?

The blood thirsty office pirates sing the Pirate Victory Song

A slightly less ferocious pirate at the The Gasparilla Pirate Festival, Sun City Center, Fla, Pirate Granny:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

1) Pictures found on the Net this weekend:

a) Landscapes:

From the Christian Science Monitor

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-the-Day/2010/Photos-of-the-Day-09-17

 

Clouds form a tropical storm over Havana during dawn over Havana, Cuba, on Friday.

 

Indonesia’s Mount Bromo volcano spews smoke next to the Mount Semeru volcano (in the background) as seen from Penanjakan mountain outside Pasuruan, in Indonesia’s East Java Province, on Tuesday.

b) Astronomy

The sands of time are running out for the central star of this the Hourglass Nebula. With its nuclear fuel exhausted, this brief, spectacular, closing phase of a sun-like star’s life occurs as its outer layers are ejected and its core becomes a cooling, fading white dwarf. In 1995, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to make a series of images of planetary nebulae, including the one above.

  

The spiral galaxy NGC 1512 is revealed via wavelengths from ultraviolet to infrared. NGC 1512 lies in the southern constellation of Horologium, located 30 million light years from Earth. The galaxy spans 70,000 light years, nearly as much as the Milky Way Galaxy.

2) Athletes in the News 

We really must redefine what handicapped means.  I think being handicapped involves out brain more than our body.

a) Frenchman Philippe Croizon, became the first limbless person to swim the English Channel,  completing 21-mile crossing in under 14 hours.

 

From Sunday’s Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/19/channel-swim-man-no-limbs

The 42-year-old’s arms and legs had to be amputated after he suffered an electric shock while removing a television aerial from a roof 16 years ago.

He taught himself to swim in the last two years, and does so using prosthetic legs and a snorkel and mask.

Croizon’s father said his son had been helped by favorable wind conditions and had even had three dolphins swimming alongside at one point, which he said was a “sign of good luck”.

b) Esther Vergeer, of the Netherlands, won the women’s wheelchair US Open Tennis championship on Sunday, defeating  Daniela Di Toro, of Australia, 6-0 6-0.  Esther may be the most dominate athlete in any sport, she has not lost a match since 1999.

 

From a New York Times article about Ms. Vergeer

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/sports/tennis/12wheelchair.html?hpw

“Vergeer, 29, lost the use of her legs when she was 8. She had a risky surgical procedure for a spinal defect; it saved her life but left her paralyzed.

Vergeer went on to excel at basketball and tennis in her wheelchair. But after a few years she had to choose between the sports. She chose tennis so she would not have to rely on teammates who might not have the same killer instinct.

“When I became paralyzed, I wanted to show the world that I was still Esther, and I didn’t want people to see the disability,” she said. “So I was just trying to find something that I would be good at so that people would recognize that instead of the disability.”

Marc Kalkman, the national coach for the wheelchair players in the Royal Dutch Tennis Association, has known Vergeer since she was 12. He advised her to play tennis because it offered more potential for an athlete who was willing to push herself hard to get better.

“Her determination was unbelievable,” Kalkman said. “Her dedication was unbelievable. She was eager to learn from the best. Her mental toughness was already there from a young age.”

Vergeer said she had not decided what to do once her playing days end. She has experimented with other activities, like skiing and fishing, and she and her boyfriend recently bought a boat since she finds the time on the water relaxing. She also has a foundation that helps promote and organize wheelchair sports.

“I just want to improve myself,” she said. “The inner motivation is the best thing that you can have because nobody can touch that. I’m the only one who decides what my drive is, what the limit is and what the ceiling is.”

1) Pictures found the Net today, Friday, September 17th: 

 

Ashdod, Israel: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish believers perform the Kaparot ceremony before the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, the most important day in the Jewish calendar

 

Ahmadabad, India: A man immerses an idol of the Hindu god Ganesh in the Sabarmati river.

2) Question – Pick a passage from the Holy Book of your faith that has help you make your life better. 

Being an Atheist I am not restricted to any one holy book.  One of the tenants of my non-religious faith is that the better I understand the people I share my world with, the better I can learn to live with them.  Together we will learn to live in peace.

The doctrine of treating each other with kindness will do more to create a world where we live together in peace,  than any other aspect of faith.

The Qur’an:

 “O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous.” Chapter 49, Verse 13

The Telmud:

“The beginning and end of Torah is performing acts of loving kindness.”

Confucius 551 BC:

“Five things constitute perfect virtue: gravity, magnanimity, earnestness, sincerity and kindness.”

Dalai Lama:

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

Luther Standing Bear (Native American Oglala Sioux):

“Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching in a Supreme Power, and the principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and bortherhood as a guide to mundane relations.”

A video from The Charter of Compassion – http://charterforcompassion.org/

 

 

Trying to keep on top of advances in robotic technology is starting to make my head spin.  An article in the New York Times shows of rapidly this technology is changing how we work and live.

Would it brother you if your doctor used one of these guys to visit you?

From “The Boss Is Robotic, and Rolling Up Behind You” by John Markoff

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/science/05robots.html?ref=global-home

“Dr. Alan Shatzel’s pager beeped at 9 on a Saturday morning. A man had suffered a stroke, and someone had to decide, quickly, whether to give him an anticlotting drug that could mean the difference between life and death.

Dr. Shatzel, a neurologist, hustled not to the emergency room where the patient lay — 260 miles away, in Bakersfield — but to a darkened room at a hospital here. He took a seat in front of the latest tools of his trade: computer monitors, a keyboard and a joystick that control his assistant on the scene — a robot on wheels.

He guided the roughly five-foot-tall machine, which has a large monitor as its “head,” into the patient’s room in Bakersfield. Dr. Shatzel’s face appeared on screen, and his voice issued from a speaker.

Dr. Shatzel acknowledged the nurse and introduced himself to the patient’s grandson, explaining that he would question the patient to determine whether he was a candidate for the drug. The robot’s stereophonic hearing conveyed the answers. Using the hypersensitive camera on the monitor, Dr. Shatzel zoomed in and out and swung the display left and right, much as if he were turning his head to look around the room.”

Continuing:

“For years, the military and law enforcement agencies have used specialized robots to disarm bombs and carry out other dangerous missions. This summer, such systems helped seal a BP well a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Now, with rapidly falling costs, the next frontiers are the office, the hospital and the home.

Mobile robots are now being used in hundreds of hospitals nationwide as the eyes, ears and voices of doctors who cannot be there in person. They are being rolled out in workplaces, allowing employees in disparate locales to communicate more easily and letting managers supervise employees from afar. And they are being tested as caregivers in assisted-living centers.”

“All five of the United States companies that have announced or are already selling mobile robots are adding or experimenting with automation. For example, it will not be unusual for mobile robots in the next year to feature collision avoidance and lane-following technologies like those now offered in luxury automobiles. Already Vgo’s robot automatically parks itself when it is driven within a foot or two of its recharging station.

Such automated robots could help in caring for a rapidly aging population.

Vgo’s executives said they ultimately envisioned their robots being used by family members to pay visits and offer help to elderly parents, allowing them to remain independent longer. At the simplest, the Vgo robots could help workers in assisted-living homes check in on residents and make sure they were taking medicines at the correct time each day.

“We’re not replacing low-cost labor,” said Brad Kayton, Vgo’s chief executive. “We’re acting as a supplement for it.”

Others see the robots as a new means of mobility for the elderly, allowing them to stay in better contact with friends and family and visit museums and theaters, among other possible applications.

As technology advances, designers say, mobile robots will allow the elderly and others to do more than be in two places at one time. The robots will augment their human users, enhancing their senses by offering capabilities like better vision and hearing as well as futuristic skills like face recognition.”

Do you think the pace of technological change has outstripped our ability to understand how to use it best, and is having, or will soon have, and overall negative effect on our society?

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