You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

The NFL season is over, MLB has not begun, and March Madness is not yet upon us. It’s also too cold for the beach or park. So here is a weekend edition of my mini-magazine.

1) Words

From “Calamus (In Paths Untrodden)” by Walt Whitman

“I proceed for all who are or have been young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.”

From “Wolf Cento” by Simone Muench –

“Age approaches, slowly. But it cannot
crystal bone into thin air.
The small hours open their wounds for me.
This is a woman’s confession”

2) Pictures

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Girls are taken for a ride on a bike to school (Photograph: Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Shizuoka, Japan: Tea pickers work on the plantation of fourth-generation tea grower Masataka Ota, who has been awarded the highest prize in Japan for his fine teas (Photograph: Everett Kennedy Brown/EPA)

Marathon runner Joseph Tame, wearing the ‘iRun’ apparatus, stretches prior to a test run in Tokyo for Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon. Tokyo-resident Tame, of Hereford, England, intends to run the Tokyo marathon with his self-made, mobile, social-media studio that is equipped with four iPhones, an iPad, two Android handsets, a weather center pinned on his helmet and a heart monitor with a GPS, to give viewers a real-time experience of the marathon on his website (Christian Science Monitor)

A community of coal scavengers who live and collect coal illegally for a few dollars a day in the village of Bokapahari, India. (Photo by Kevin Frayer)

3) Broken body, Mended Life

Questions – Have you been broken? Are you mended?

For the first eighteen years of my life I was broken. There are probably many people as happy with life as I now am. I doubt there are many happier.

An article in the Guardian, by Kirsten Anderson, where Jacqui Paterson speaks about losing her beloved grandmother, then two friends. Her depression which led to trying to take her life by stepping in front of a train, which severed her legs. Jacqui now counsels suicidal teens.

I always felt so happy growing up. If anything, my childhood was too perfect; I never wanted for anything. I was close to my parents, and the youngest child with two doting elder siblings. I was pretty, popular and getting good grades at school.

Looking back, maybe I was a little too sheltered from bad experiences. That all changed when I was 15. My grandmother, to whom I’d always been close, died following a long illness. I was still reeling from her death when within 18 months four of my school friends died – two were killed in car accidents, one took their own life and the fourth died of a brain tumour.

I’d always been positive, but now I was constantly low and lethargic. I wasn’t sleeping, and my schoolwork was suffering. I was arguing with my parents and life felt bleak. Before, I’d had a sense of purpose – I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon. Now I felt I’d lost my way.

In early January 2000, my parents had grounded me for staying out all night, but I’d sneaked out to visit a friend. I was on my way home, dreading facing my parents.

So I headed to the local park, alongside a set of railway tracks. It was a freezing cold evening and, for some reason, I thought it was a good idea to shelter in one of the empty carriages on the sidings. I wanted to clear my head, escape home for a bit longer.

“This will get better,” I told myself. “No, it won’t,” a darker voice answered. Just then I heard the deep rumble of a train approaching. “If you throw yourself in front it, all this pain will instantly go away,” I suddenly thought. Before I realised what I was doing, I was scrambling up to the train tracks and lying face down across the steel rails.

I closed my eyes tightly – “There’s no way I’ll survive this,” I thought. I was exhausted and waiting for oblivion. The train was approaching and I thought it would hit me – bang, that would be it. But I didn’t black out for a second, I was awake the entire time. I heard and felt everything – the vibrations of the train, the screech of grinding metal, and unimaginable pain.

The train thundered over me. The momentum sucked my body upwards, then I was thrown down hard between the tracks, with only my legs hanging over the rails. Everything went quiet. “Am I dead?” I wondered, opening my eyes. I was alive, but trapped under the train. I could feel hot metal inches above my head, and smell smoke.

I managed to angle my head to the right to look out between the carriages. With a strange sense of detachment I could see my jeans and the white sneakers Mum and Dad had given me for Christmas lying some way up the track.

I dug my fingertips into the gravel and dragged myself free of the carriage. I swung my body around so I was lying on my back, facing away from the train. Confused, I reached down to where my legs should have been. When I pulled my hand back, it was covered in blood. Then the pain hit. “Mum, Mum!” I screamed.

I saw a rescue worker talking into a radio, then someone was cutting off my favourite yellow winter coat.

I was rushed to hospital, where doctors told me I’d lost eight pints of blood. Staff crowded around me, shouting orders and pushing needles into my arms. When I came round from my first surgery, my entire family was circled around my bed.

The next few days passed in a haze of medication. I remember one doctor telling me that 33 carriages had run over my body, severing both my legs – my left above the knee joint and the right just below.

I was in hospital for three months, then in and out for several more corrective surgeries. It was a gradual recovery. I completed my final high school exams in hospital, so was able to graduate alongside the rest of my class later that year. Then I was fitted with prosthetics, and learned to walk again with crutches.

In 2003, I was asked to tell my story to a local youth group. From that more speaking engagements followed. I began counselling vulnerable and suicidal teens, telling them my story and reassuring them that, despite how bad things might seem, they could get better. In a strange way, I feel this needed to happen to set me back on the right course. However terrible that night was, ultimately, I got my life back


1) Quotes

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.
(Thomas Merton)

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.
(Ingrid Bergman)

I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her.
(Rodney Dangerfield)

2) Some amazing, up close and personal, photos of different life forms from the Wellcome Image Awards 2011. These come from a Guardian slide show –

Rows of suckers on the foreleg of a male great diving beetle – the largest freshwater beetle in the UK. Great diving beetles mate underwater and the male has evolved plate-like joints on his front legs that are covered in suckers, allowing him to hold onto the female. This polarised photomicrograph (created by Spike Walker) shows a portion of the joint, revealing part of one of the two larger suckers and five rows of small ones.

Ruby-tailed wasp (Spike Walker). To photograph the wasp, Walker first had to calm it down by putting it in his freezer for a few seconds, causing it to curl into this protective posture.

Photomicrograph of the base of a silkworm caterpillar’s proleg (Spike Walker). Prolegs are short, stubby structures that grow from the underside of the caterpillar’s abdomen. Each has a circle of hooks (yellow and orange), which enable the caterpillar to climb up vertical surfaces. Caterpillars can have up to five pairs of prolegs and three pairs of true, jointed legs that remain in the adult moth. The prolegs disappear.

3) The Henry Viscardi School, Albertson, New York, is demonstrating that the term “severely disabled” refers to the body, not the mind. Seventy per cent of Viscardi’s students continued their education in college and vocational schools.

What do you think is the greatest handicap you have had to overcome?

From an article in the New York Times, by Sarah Maslin Nir –

“Viscardi is one of several private schools in New York that enroll severely disabled children, using technology and on-site medical care to keep its students, some of whom are incapable of speech or even movement, in the classroom.

Its 185 students, in prekindergarten through 12th grade, come from all over the New York region, some arriving daily by ambulance. The nurse’s office is not just a place for students to escape a pop quiz, but also an in-house triage unit that handles 100 or more visits a day to administer medications and provide services like suctioning clean students’ airways. Almost every year, a few medically frail students die.

“We have the same expectations for our students to achieve academically and for them to fully participate in the whole educational experience,” said the school’s executive director, Patricia Kuntzler. “Whether it’s a field trip for the kindergarten to the pumpkin farm or whether it’s being part of a school paper.”

“Before coming to Viscardi two years ago, Dayna Stropkay, who previously attended public schools in Garden City, in Nassau County, was under the constant supervision of an aide. She is unable to speak, walk or care for herself, and the arrangement in school seemed to be increasing her dependency, said her mother, Denise Stropkay. In public school, Dayna repeatedly failed her Regents examinations, but nevertheless dreamed of attending college.

“There can be great isolation,” Ms. Kuntzler said, “with one student and one aide rather than a group of kids and independent mobility and a social situation that says, ‘No, you’re expected to follow the schedule, you’re expected to complete the assignments.’ ”

At Viscardi, Dayna, who is 20 (students can stay until they turn 21) has no dedicated aide. But things like bathroom attendants and a class size of nine have allowed her a degree of autonomy she never knew before, her mother said. She received a hearing aid after a specialist working for the school discovered she was nearly deaf. She recently passed four Regents exams.

“You have to get through all these layers before you get the person,” Ms. Stropkay said. “At Viscardi, you’re right at the person.”

“They study the same curriculum used in New York City public schools, but it is adapted through technology for children who may not be able to see, hear, speak or turn a textbook’s pages. Art class, for instance, features baseball caps mounted with drawing implements for children who cannot move their hands.

Along with math and history, students’ therapies may incorporate academics. In speech therapy, Dylan Cuevas, a second grader who is fed by a tube and breathes with the help of a ventilator, reads his course work aloud, said his mother, Debbie Cuevas; in occupational therapy he learns the motor skills to manipulate a computer mouse. “They are trying to strengthen his hands,” Ms. Cuevas said, “and also are giving him independence.”

My brain power gauge has been running on low today so I will use my shiny new scanner to post some vacation pictures. I have posted them on FB and linked to them on Twitter, so I might as well bore you on WordPress as well. 🙂

Me at the Grand Canyon. Picture was taken by my Uncle Jim, who for some reason kept asking me to step back further. No idea who the lady was.

This is the Painted Desert in Arizona. I was amazed at how colorful the desert can be.

I took this picture in Monument Valley, in the Four Corners area of Arizona. It is easy to see why so many movies have been filmed there.

My favorite vacation spot. Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. That’s my uncle Jim standing at entrance to the Chateau Lake Louise, facing the emerald green lake.

This is a beautiful pond on the walk up to the top of one of the mountains surrounding Lake Louise.

My second favorite city, after New York, is San Francisco. My favorite spot in the San Francisco bay area is Angel Island. This picture was taken from the top of a hill(?), 1,000 ft high, from which you can see a panorama of the whole Bay, including SF in the background

1) Pictures from the Net, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011

A Mayan priestess prays during a ceremony marking the Mayan solar new year in Guatemala City. According to the Mayan Language Academy, the new year is called Kab’ Lajuj’ E’, or 12th Road. (Christian Science Monitor)

People sit along Havana’s seafront boulevard “El Malecon” during sunset (Christian Science Monitor)

Baraka, Democratic Republic of Congo: A woman waits outside a mobile military tribunal before the sentencing of 11 soldiers accused of rape and crimes against humanity (Guardian)

Sringagar, India Kashmiri fisherman on waters of Dal Lake (LA Times)

2) I have never played “Angry Birds”. If you have this is the perfect birthday cake. Even if you haven’t it is still a great, fun, addtion to any birthday celebration.

3) My friend Mandy asked a great question on her blog “I am …..”

My answer to the question:

“I am a free man bound by the human spirit locked away in my DNA, and the chains of social law that make me civilized.

I open my mind to the great beauty in all living things, and lock my heart with the fear of being rejected by love.

I am human with all the imperfections of my species, and the amazing human gift of imagination that keeps us working to make a better world for our children.”

Mandy made an awesome video out of the answers. If an alien from space came to earth and asked, “What does it mean to be human?” the answer is in this video

How would answer that vistor from space?


“I am” is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that “I do” is the longest sentence?
George Carlin

“Suddenly I realize that if I stepped out of my body I would break into blossom.”
From Blessing by James Wright –

I think it is our rational mind that keeps us from stepping out of our bodies. It is in those moments when we can free our imagination that we see the great beauty in the world in its purities form.

When was the last time you stepped out of your body?

2) Weekend pictures from the Net:

The aurora borealis over Glenshane Pass, Maghera, Northern Ireland (By Martin Mckenna)

There are a lot of dirty jobs in the world. The guy on the other end of that sick has one of the direst.

Panompa, Thailand: A man holds a stick as he installs a pump to extract mud at a primitive gold mine. (Guardian)

Tomato seed hairs (Robert Rock Belliveau). From a slide show of the 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the National Science Foundation

On each tomato seed, tiny hairs called trichomes secrete the goo that encases them. The sticky substance not only protects would-be seedlings from drying out, but also glues them to soil so they don’t blow away.

3) Some smooth jazz to brighten up the winter doldrums.

Jeff Lorber and Eric Darius Live At Java Jazz Festival 2008

Today I’m posting some personal pictures. Found an old family album an aunt had given me. I have added them to my Personal Photo page above.

Proving that I actually did smile as a child, not sure what age I was.

My father, Ed Jr, with his brother, my uncle Jim, on the front steps of my grandfather’s house. Picture was taken in 1940,

My grandfather, Ed Sr, with his youngest son, my uncle George, also taken in 1940.

My favorite person in the world, my grandma Nell, she died when I was 9. That’s the last time I cried.

My with my step-mother Tony, next to me, and my aunt Aggie behind us, in the back yard of our house. My guess is picture was taken sometime in the early 1960′s.

Everyone in my family in the above picture is now gone. This is a picture of my sister Lynn’s family, with her 4th, and last husband, Rocky, and her five daughters, clockwise, Stacey, Debbie, a young man, don’t know his name, from a troubled family my sister took in, Wendy, Heidi and on my sister’s lap Vicky. Lynn passed away. All her daughters are married with children of their own, and Debbie is now a grandmother.

1) Quotes – Abraham Lincoln

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.”

What is a favorite quote of yours?

2) The World In Pictures – Thursday

a. Bilbao, Spain: Cloud formations during sunrise

b. Kinolawa, Japan Workers wearing protective suits prepare to dispose of culled chickens after a case of bird flu was confirmed (LA Times)

c. On Friday, a government report will recommend whether a raft of proposed uranium mines should be approved, which would jeopardize some of the canyon’s natural beauty and its flora and fauna

A million acres of land in the canyon was withdrawn from exploration in 2009 to allow time for an environmental assessment

Should mining be allowed in the Grand Canyon National Park? Even if this will reduce our dependents on foreign sources of these minerals?

3) Science

NASA STEREO Reveals the Entire Sun

1) The World In Pictures – Tuesday

a. From Christian Science Monitor slide show – National Parks In Winter

Tourists stand at Mathers Point as snow blankets the upper rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

b. Another slide show from the CSM – The 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Looking like a resplendent ivory mop, a Komondorak enters the ring. From formal up-dos to wash-and-wear hair, behold the classy canines of the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Question – Should animals be breed specifically because their appearance appeals to us?

c. From a Guardian slide show – Stunning Astronomical Images –

These images from the Hubble Space Telescope showcase two dramatically different views of the spiral galaxy M51, nicknamed the Whirlpool Galaxy. The image on the left, recorded in visible light, reveals the curving arms, pink star-forming regions and blue strands of star clusters of a typical spiral galaxy. On the right, most of the starlight has been removed to reveal the Whirlpool’s dusty skeleton glowing with near-infrared light

2) A girl, a mummy, a love story:

Josh Ritter – The Curse

1) Pictures of daily life in Pakistan & Afganhistan.

An Afghan refugee girl stands with others in an alley of a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

From a slide show on the Boston Globes Big Picture Blog “Daily Life In Pakistani”

Pakistani children gather by a vendor on a bicycle selling balloons on the outskirts of Islamabad. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press

2) From a Los Angeles Times slide show of winners of the World Press Photo Awards.

I could add a warning label, and then just link to the following picture. I won’t because this blog is about my world view, which I feel needs to include both the best and worst of what we humans do to each other.

An 18-year-old Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by her abusive husband, with Taliban approval, as punishment for running away. (By Jodi Bieber)

3) From NASA

This oddly colorful nebula is the supernova remnant IC 443 as seen by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. Also known as the Jellyfish Nebula, IC 443 is particularly interesting because it provides a look into how stellar explosions interact with their environment.

Like other living creatures, stars have a life cycle — they are born, mature and eventually die. The manner in which stars die depends on their mass. Stars with mass similar to the sun typically become planetary nebulae at the end of their lives, whereas stars with many times the sun’s mass explode as supernovae. IC 443 is the remains of a star that went supernova between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. The blast from the supernova sent out shock waves that traveled through space, sweeping up and heating the surrounding gas and dust in the interstellar medium, and creating the supernova remnant seen in this image.

What is unusual about the IC 443 is that its shell-like form has two halves that have different radii, structures and emissions. The larger northeastern shell, seen here as the violet-colored semi-circle on the top left of the supernova remnant, is composed of sheet-like filaments that are emitting light from iron, neon, silicon and oxygen gas atoms, in addition to dust particles, all heated by theblast from the supernova. The smaller southern shell, seen here in a bright cyan color on the bottom half of the image, is constructed of denser clumps and knots primarily emitting light from hydrogen gas and heated dust. These clumps are part of a molecular cloud, which can be seen in this image as the greenish cloud cutting across IC 443 from the northwest to southeast. The color differences seen in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared emission.

The differences in color are also the result of differences in the energies of the shock waves hitting the interstellar medium. The northeastern shell was probably created by a fast shock wave (223,700 miles per hour), whereas the southern shell was probably created by a slow shock wave (67,100 miles per hour).

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

4) Words of Love

a) From a letter by John Keats to Fanny Brawne, written in 1819 –

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”

b) Lullaby by W.H. Auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

1) Friday In Pictures

Indian school girls wearing traditional dress help each other get ready for the Basant Panchami festival celebrations, which mark the start of spring, in Amritsar, India. (Altaf Qadri/ AP)

Whooper swans at dawn in Hokkaido, Japan. This photo earned Stefano Unterthiner, a National Geographic photographer based in Italy, second prize in the Nature Stories category of the World Press Photo contest.

A traditional rural wedding in Henan province, China, of Rebecca Kanthor, an American citizen, and Liu Jian, a local musician (Photo by Carlos Barria)

2) Human Planet

Below is the trailer, spactaular in its own right, of a new series produced by the BBC series that marvels at mankind’s incredible relationship with nature in the world today.

3) Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

Christians believe Jesus saved mankind from original sin. For Atheist it was Charles Darwin.

The International Darwin Day Foundation

4) San Antonio by Naomi Shihab Nye

Tonight I lingered over your name,
the delicate assembly of vowels
a voice inside my head.
You were sleeping when I arrived.
I stood by your bed
and watched the sheets rise gently.
I knew what slant of light
would make you turn over.
It was then I felt
the highways slide out of my hands.
I remembered the old men
in the west side cafe,
dealing dominoes like magical charms.
It was then I knew,
like a woman looking backward,
I could not leave you,
or find anyone I loved more.

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.