You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2011.

1) Tony Campolo, of the Red Letter Christians Blog, writes of truisms we should live by. I am an Atheist not a Christian but I belive they apply to everyone on the planet http://tinyurl.com/3c2hq7u

1.You have no control over what you get; only over what you give.
2.You have no control over how long you live; you only have control over how well you live.
3.Play the hand that you are dealt. If you look at it closely, it’s a better hand than you think you were dealt.
4.It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. In other words, it’s never too late to become what you might have been.
4.“It’s not what you do that makes you great,” said Henri Nouwen, “it’s how you do it.”
5.Mother Teresa said, “We can’t all do great things, be we all can do small things with great love.

2) The “It Gets Better” project was started by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, http://tinyurl.com/2dvusvc

“Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can’t imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted — even tortured — simply for being themselves.

Justin Aaberg. Billy Lucas. Cody Barker. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Raymond Chase. Tyler Clementi. They were tragic examples of youth who could not believe that it does actually get better.

While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves, we can. The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.”

This video by 13 US Senators shows some of our politicians are supporting this project of acceptance, and equality.

3) World In Pictures

a. In Jordan women get all the good jobs.

“A Jordanian female deminer uses a detector to clear a minefield in the northern Jordanian- Syrian border area, near Ramtha city.” (Nader Daoud/AP)

b. A picture of children playing should make us laugh. This one makes me cry.

Children play on waste products at a tannery, Dhake, Bangladesh (Andrew Barij/Rueters)

4) Music – Sugarland “These Are The Days”

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Rather then try to explain what a beautiful day it is I’ll let James Russell Lowell do it.

From The Vision of Sir Launfal :

“And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers”

1) Joy

We will find no better picture of joy than on the faces of those whose loved ones have been saved.

Libyans wave to their relatives as a ship docks in the rebel-held port of Juliana, in Benghazi. The trip was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to evacuate some 300 people from Tripoli to Benghazi. (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany /Reuters)

2) Despair

The sound of silence that can be found in every heart that has yet to find a source of faith that can help them believe tomorrow can be better.

3) Hope

Two homeless men, Brad Carter and Norman Gignacir, have formed the HOME of Daytona Beach to aid others on the street.

From an article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, by Eileen Zaffiro-Kean http://tinyurl.com/5vtvdwk

Jon Pichardo, right, checks in Norman Gignac for the midday meal Friday at the Volusia-Flagler Coalition for the Homeless in Daytona Beach. (N-J | Nigel Cook)

“Brad Carter can hardly remember the last time he got more than two hours of sleep at night.

The homeless man doesn’t feel safe disappearing into remote thickets of woods, and the public places he chooses usually draw too much attention to his snoozing. Not long after the 44-year-old closes his eyes, someone is usually shaking him and telling him to go somewhere else.

So he wanders, and sometimes he plunges into such exhaustion he falls asleep walking.

“Try sleeping with your door wide open and see how safe you feel,” said Carter, who’s been homeless for four years. “That’s what it’s like sleeping on the streets.”

A year ago, Carter reached his saturation point with never having a spot to slow down, never having a roof over his head, never being given a chance to prove himself on a job.

So he and a homeless friend, 60-year-old Jon Pichardo, started a group they hope will not only help them, but also hundreds of others on Daytona Beach’s streets struggling to return to a reliable paycheck and a place with four walls and a roof they can call their own.

They launched HOME of Daytona Beach, a nonprofit agency that’s helping with jobs, shelter and permanent housing, and also working toward improving the perception of the homeless.”

“To work toward changing stereotypes, some of the group members volunteer at the homeless coalition, Halifax Urban Ministries and other social service agencies. They’re also trying to organize a one-day art and music festival this summer that would showcase the talents of local homeless people.

“We feel the only way that conditions are going to change for the homeless is to change public perception of the homeless,” Carter said.

The conditions they want to change are pretty basic. They’d like to see another homeless shelter in the city with about 150 beds. ”

Anyone who can’t find inspiration isn’t looking very hard.

1) Natalie Merchant is both a great performer, and inspirational person:

Wonder

2) Griffin Latulippe and friends have started a company that will build devices to help the disabled.

From an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Rachel Signer – http://tinyurl.com/3sp479l

“Inspired by his own experiences living with muscular dystrophy, Griffin began imagining how wheelchairs and walkers could be improved. The company’s prototypes for a wheelchair that provides easier access to a rider’s backpack, and an adjustable walker, are now being finalized.

How did you come up with these assistive technology devices?
Griffin Latulippe: Along with four other high school students in the Junior Engineer Technical Society. I entered into the National Design Challenge. Our goal was to create a device to help disabled people in the workplace. We came up with the wheelchair first. It has an arm that swings around so you can easily grab things from the backpack most wheelchair users have to carry their things. Our interest in disabled people’s needs grew, and in the second year, we created a walker for going up and down stairs, with front legs that expand and retract.

What kind of distribution are you envisioning?
We will sell as many products as there’s need. If that means globally, we’d love that. The goal is not necessarily to make money. The goal is to help people.

3) Dominic Deng Diing, who escaped the violence in Sudan, raises funds to help schoolchildren there.

From another article in the Christian Science Monitor by Amy Liberman http://tinyurl.com/6djfcfh

“Dominic Deng Diing’s first teachers were his uncles, who sang the ABCs to the then 6-year-old as they undertook the painstaking walk from Sudan to Ethiopia in the mid-1980s.

Mr. Diing’s brief foray into education was cut short when his uncles and brothers died of starvation during the trek, along with thousands of other “Lost Boys of Sudan” children who fled on foot from the civil war that raged for nearly 20 years.

But the significance of the early lessons stuck with Diing, now a resettled refugee living in Buffalo, NY. He earned his high school degree in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya, and later completed undergraduate and master’s programs in western New York. He’s currently working toward a doctorate degree in education.”

“Diing is trying to spare more than 3,000 children in South Sudan from his experience. They now attend the two-year-old New Hope Primary School, a project of Diing’s Buffalo-based nonprofit group Aid and Care for Africa.”

“Some 55 percent of the students are orphans, living with foster families. They include 10 of the 34 children Diing sponsors himself and his mother looks after. The remaining 24 live with two of his sisters in Kenya and Uganda, where they can receive care for various ailments.

In total, Diing supports about 50 people aside from his mother, including his deceased father’s seven other wives.

“I live a simple life here,” says Diing, speaking at a buffet restaurant near his tiny apartment just north of Buffalo’s downtown. “But it’s the same as my friends do – the little amount we make, we share.”

4) Some more Natalie Merchant “San Andreas Fault”, from a 1999 concert in New York City. I own a DVD of the concert, that I highly recommend.

Daddy’s Home comic strip – One big fish to another, “You know sometimes when father’s day rolls around I wish I hadn’t eaten my children.”

I was born during World War II, while may father was serving in the Navy in the South Pacific. We didn’t meet until I was two years old.

He worked seven days a week, to pay for my mother’s medical bills, never complained. I would stay with his family when my mother was in the hospital, about half her life.

I can’t share any fond memories with you about him, I can’t remember any. Not anyone’s fault, it was just the circumstances of our lives.

My father was a devoted Catholic. I hope he was right about Heaven, if anyone deserves to be there he does.

1) Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has named Eric Lantz, 40, of Houston, it’s “Best Dad on Wheels” for 2011.

Eric Lantz with his daughter Alyssa

When I was growing up in 1950 America having your mobility limited to a wheel chair to a great extent limited your ability to fully take part in society. Eric Lantz proves how far we have come in 60 years.

From the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation site – http://tinyurl.com/65bjdpf

“Eric Lantz, 40, of Houston, Texas, is thrilled to be named the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s 2011 Best Dad on Wheels. At 18-years-old, Eric assumed he would ever have the opportunity to even be a father when he was involved in a car accident that changed his life.

“Dads in wheelchairs, in general, automatically have more appreciation for being in a dad,” says Eric, living with a T5 complete spinal cord injury. “We don’t take as many things for granted compared to people who haven’t been through this kind of experience.”

Having had such a life altering experience, Eric says, “I appreciate being a dad more because of my injury not necessarily in spite of it.”

“There are certain things that I have to be more creative about,” says Eric of the challenges of teaching his daughter, Alyssa, age four, how to play soccer and swim. “But that’s part of being an OT; breaking down and teaching her how to do things a different way. It’s kind of what I do every day at work, just break down activities, figuring out how to get the job done.”

Aside from being able to apply what he does at work at home, Eric is able to carry his experiences to his patients. “And being a dad too, that’s just a whole other thing I can share with my patients,” says Eric. “Figuring out in a wheelchair how to change a diaper, how to give a baby a bath, all that stuff.”

Eric’s wife, Brenda, and his coworkers nominated him for the Best Dad on Wheels Contest, but best of all was Alyssa’s ability to hide it from her dad.

Being a dad allows Eric to connect much more at his job, too. As an occupational therapist at TIRR Memorial Herman, Eric is able to both help his patients and learn from them.

“I learned my daughter is real good at keeping a secret,” jokes Eric. “She knew about this way before I did!” After discovering Eric was part of the top ten finalists, Alyssa told him: “Dad, we put you into vote for the best dad talent contest!”

So, what does Alyssa love most about her dad? “She says that she thinks it’s great that I’m in a wheelchair,” explains Eric, “because she always has a lap to sit on wherever we go.”

Most of all, our 2011 Best Dad on Wheels winner says, “I try not to let the wheelchair be a limiting factor on what she experiences in her life.”

2) I will guess there are many dads who would have a heart attack if there daughter started dating some guy in a rock band. At least before the record label gave him the big bucks.

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions” Albert Einstein

Children have the best kind of imagination, they don’t know the difference between their dreams and reality. The most sucessful people retain that child like vision and use it to make their reality match their dreams.

What dream that you had as a child would you most like to make real?

2) The Dance by Humberto Ak’Abal
(translated by Ilan Stavans)

All of us dance
…on a cent’s edge.

The poor—because they are poor—
lose their step,
and fall

and everyone else
falls on top.

3) World In Pictures

Backlit droplet of heptane fuel burns in microgravity on the Int’l Space Station. Fuels burn very differently in the absence of gravity. Image-processing techniques quantify the soot concentration at each point to produce a grey-scale image, which is then colourised. This is a composite of individual video frames.

Chelsea pensioners line up on their mobility scooters as they attend the annual Founders Day Parade at the Royal hospital in west London.

Emily Demgen, 93, poses for photos at Richard I Bong Historical Center, Superior, Wis., with the Red Cross uniform that she wore during World War II. Demgen was a Red Cross volunteer in Milwaukee and Chicago during the war. She came to museum as part of an open house for veterans.”
Photo by Paul M. Walsh/The Country Today/AP

Nutrioso, US: A forest burns during an operation to contain the Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona. The fire has destroyed more than 30 homes and forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate. Photograph: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

4) The Long Ride of Damian Lopez Alfonso

From an article in the New York Times by J. David Goodman

http://tinyurl.com/62jwsta

“With only the tips of his elbows touching his bicycle’s upturned handlebars, Damian Lopez Alfonso pedaled along the Hudson River bike path on a cool March day. His balancing act elicited stares from disbelieving pedestrians and curious double-takes from fellow cyclists.

Because not only does Mr. Alfonso ride his bike without forearms, lost in a devastating childhood accident, but he also rides it very, very fast.

Tracy Lea first witnessed his unorthodox cycling method during a race outside Havana nearly eight years ago.

Ms. Lea, a former elite racer from Maryland, found herself in a ragtag pack of riders on a highway pocked with “car eating” potholes outside the Cuban capital. “I’m worried about these guys in tight, fast conditions,” she remembered thinking, “and all of a sudden, I’m racing next to a guy with no arms!”

She watched as he powered through the course, lifting his body to shift gears with the nubs of his elbows or press down on the brakes. “Then I realized he had more control than most of the people in the race,” she said.

Despite his disadvantages, Mr. Alfonso, 34, has won local competitions at home in Cuba and he races nearly every weekend against able-bodied cyclists in informal events. But the alterations to his bike that allow him to do so — turning the handlebars nearly 180 degrees upward, so the brakes and gear shifters face him — have also kept him out of officially sanctioned international competitions, which have strict equipment rules.

But not for much longer.

In July, Mr. Alfonso is scheduled to race in Canada, the first event on his road to qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. If all goes well, it will be the culmination of a nearly decade-long journey for Mr. Alfonso, a story of sudden tragedy, grim determination and a little help from a lot of perfect strangers in a bicycling community thousands of miles away.”

“Mr. Alfonso’s childhood was radically altered at 13, a time when he was less passionate about cycling than about homemade wood-and-paper kites. “I had the record for finding the most lost kites of all my friends,” he said in an interview in March.

So when he saw a particularly attractive one — large, and decorated with a hand-drawn picture of a skeleton — caught in the power lines above a neighbor’s building, he and a friend climbed to the roof to get it down.

He recalled his friend, Igor, who was slightly older, telling him: “Just leave it there. Don’t mess with that.”

Ignoring the boy’s advice, he reached for the kite with a metal rod.

“We heard an explosion,” his aunt, Ms. Tamargo, recalled. She lived with Mr. Alfonso’s family in a three-story green concrete home in the Casino neighborhood of Havana, where Mr. Alfonso still lives with his mother, a retired military typist.

“I look up,” Ms. Tamargo said, holding back tears, “and I see this blond hair hanging off the roof.”

She paused for a long time.

“Thirteen thousand volts,” she said finally. “They lost the fridge, the TV — the whole building.”

The metal rod had bounced off the power lines, delivering burns to Mr. Alfonso’s face as well as to his arms and torso. Infections cost him his forearms; he was horribly disfigured; but a team of doctors, including a prominent Argentine plastic surgeon, were able to save his life. He spent about a year hospitalized in Havana.

“When he first saw himself, I was walking him around the hospital in a wheelchair,” Ms. Tamargo said. “He saw in a crystal door and he screamed, ‘I’m a monster!’ But he didn’t cry. He just hollered. He never cried. Never. Never. He has never been ashamed of himself.”

“While might can only govern, love can only win.”

I don’t know the source of this quote but I love it.

I have added Jesus to my FaceBook list of people who inspire me, which might seems strange since I am an atheist. While I don’t believe he was divine, if everyone lived with his love and compassion, as these Red Letter Christians do, the world would be a better place.

1) “LOVE WINS” message on the giant wall that divides the people of the Holy Land by students from the Willow Creek Community Church. A day later a group of Westmont College students repeated the message in Arabic.

From the Red Letter Christian Facebook page:

“Red-Letter Christians believe that Evangelicalism has been exploited by both right-wing and left-wing political movements, and they endeavor to create an Evangelical movement that focuses on the teachings of Jesus, particularly in regard to social issues. “Red-Letter” refers to New Testament verses printed in red letters to emphasize the actual words that Jesus spoke without the use of quotations. While many Christians have defined themselves as such over the years, a mass-market movement was initiated by authors Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis who felt the religious right spend too much time on two issues: abortion and homosexuality. They believe Christians should be promoting biblical values such as peace, building strong families, the elimination of poverty, and other important social Justtice issues.”

The social issues valued by Red-Letter Christians include taking care of the poor, spreading the Gospel, and loving one’s enemies. They believe that these are the issues that Jesus spoke of directly, and therefore these issues should be political priorities. Other issues such as homosexual rights, abortion, and war are viewed as important but over-emphasized by both liberals and conservtives.”

Red Letter Christian web site – http://www.redletterchristians.org/

2) World In Pictures

Smoke from the Wallow Wildfire is seen in the distance along US Route 180 in Luna, N.M. The wildfire has charred more than 350 square miles in eastern Arizona and now ranks as the third-largest fire on record in Arizona. (Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Art from Space

With some 15 million inhabitants, Istanbul is one of the world’s megacities. In this detailed view of the city from more than 500km up, the airport can be seen to the west – the taxiways and runways reflect the radar signals away from the satellite, causing the asphalt surfaces to appear as black lines. Areas of dense housing appear in yellow. The urbanisation snakes along the Bosphorus right down to the Black Sea. In the city itself, only a few areas remain undeveloped and are shown in green. This is the case on the headland where the Golden Horn, an inlet, extends into the European part. Having an exclusive panoramic view of the city and few neighbours, this is where the Topkapi Palace, the former residence and seat of government of the Sultans, is located.

(TerraSAR-X/ DLR)

Dassow, German: Mist over fields (Jens Buettner/EPA)

2) Another video from my favorite rock concert flim – Stop Making Sense

Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

Had a great day at the beach, exercising my old bones, trying to get back into shape with my power walking program. Most of the power has gone out of my walking, its now more of a power crawl. When the guys with walkers are passing you out its time to get serious.

Exercise is done against one’s wishes and maintained only because the alternative is worse.
George A. Sheen

Week In Pictures

Kampala, Uganda: Women pray at the doors of the Martyrs shrine. (Marc Hofer/AFP/Getty Images)

Misrata, Libya: Rebel fighters take a break and enjoy the sunset at the beach. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

This smile is more beautiful then that of any fashion models. I hope that young girl gets a chance to grow up an pass on her smile genes to the next generation.

Poverty-stricken Pakistani children get free food at a charity outlet in Karachi, Pakistan (Shakil Adil/AP)

Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense – 1984

My favorite rock concert film is the Talking Heads “Stop Making Sense”. If you are looking for a work out try dancing to the tune below, my favorite of the concert.

Life During Wartime

It has been an amazing streak of beautiful days. Every day sunny, temps in the 80’s. Cooling off at night into the 60’s. Perfect for walks at the beach and park. I hope the weatherman has been just as kind to you.

‎”A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
Lou Holtz

1) Nature slide show from the Guardian. Half the butterflies in the United Kingdom are under threat of extinction, and more than 70% are in decline. These pictures capture their beauty which, if this trend holds, future generations may not get to see with their own eyes.

Glanville fritllary, Photo by Pippa111

Photo by Woodmore

Orange tips by Photo devonteg

2) I hope sustainable living will become the lifestyle of the future. If the worst predictions of global warming come true, we won’t have a choice. There are a growing number of people who have made this choice, like the couple below. At present the hard part for many is having the time, and money, to be able to make the transition.

From a New York Times article about the sustainable lifestyle Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen have chosen:

http://tinyurl.com/446ub8f

“Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen do not subsist on a diet of lentils and gloom. Yes, the Los Angeles couple proselytize for a more self-reliant household in their new book, “Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World,” just published by Rodale. And to that end, they include in it illustrated directions for making things like homemade dog food and washable sanitary napkins.”

“Promoting a do-it-yourself revolution — in the book and on their blog, Root Simple (rootsimple.com) — is an unusual occupation. With their olive oil lamps (see page 8 in the book), dental twigs (page 12) and dry toilets (page 237), the couple can seem like historical re-enactors. Or prisoners of “Frontier House” on PBS.

Their 1,000-square-foot bungalow in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, on second thought, might be a junkyard Biosphere2, an experiment in the future of sustainable homemaking. This is the way we all could live if we weren’t working 50 hours a week, sitting in traffic on the way to the mega-mart, burning gasoline at $4 a gallon.”

“Just a few years ago, Ms. Coyne and Mr. Knutzen were trapped in the car themselves (a 1994 Nissan Sentra), commuting to jobs. Mr. Knutzen was a researcher and writer at the Center for Land Use Interpretation, a semisubversive think tank. Ms. Coyne worked nearby as the administrative director of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a meta-museum filled with imaginary natural history and assorted magic.

But the drive to the Palms district of Los Angeles, an hour each way on a typical day, was a haul. “Toward the end, I was biking nine miles to the center,” Mr. Knutzen said.

“And it was faster,” Ms. Coyne said. “That’s one thing I don’t miss. We are both old-time, crunchy slackers, and we’ve tried our whole lives not to have office jobs.”

“Outside their apartment in San Diego, the couple started growing tomatoes in a container. Unlike their studies, this act was down-to-earth and fruitful, in a literal sense. According to David Wilson, 65, the director of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Ms. Coyne and Mr. Knutzen had found a new philosophy to replace their academic training. ”

“The couple’s homestead is just such a project, down to its foundation. The 1920 house sits on a steep hillside on the fringe of Silver Lake. Ms. Coyne calls the area HaFo SaFo, after a revolving podiatrist’s sign (a cartoon of a happy foot and a sad foot) on nearby Sunset Boulevard.

“We bought it in 1998 for $198,000,” Mr. Knutzen said. “It was worth half that,” Ms. Coyne said.

By the time they closed, the little clapboard box was already sliding, “California-style,” downhill. For $80,000, contractors injected two truckloads of concrete under the house. Now, pylons connect the home to the bedrock.

“We basically have the Hoover Dam now,” Mr. Knutzen said. “When the Big One comes, our house will stand,” Ms. Coyne said.”

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