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The weatherman informs me we are in for a heat wave, which I don’t mind. It’s the humidity wave that kills me.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
Sam Keen

As I get older my summer activies have become more and more respectful.

Another quote I really like is by Desmond Morris:

“Life is like a very short visit to a toyshop between birth and death.”

Being an Atheist I believe we only get one shot at life. We should try to wring as much joy out of it as we can.

1) Here are two vidoes that I hope will lift your spirits and make you laugh

a) Members of the Great Whale Conservancy find a humpback whale near death – entangled in fishing gear in the Sea of Cortez. They cut the whale free from the net, an act requiring great courage on the part of rescuers and great trust on the part of the whale. The result is spectacular – the whale clearly thanks its human benefactors.

b) A kitten testing its hunting skills against the wild Apple monsters.

2) Too many, for far too long, the circumstances of their lives don’t bring them much joy.

“An internally displaced Somali family are seen outside their makeshift shelter at the Hiran IDP settlement in Galkayo, northwest of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Galkayo hosts over 60,000 internally displaced Somalis in 21 settlements and there are always new arrivals due to the prolonged drought.”

Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

American has had, and still has, its share of homeless refugees, as Woody Guthrie reminds us.

3) We all need the hope that our world can be better. For people living in desperate conditions that usually means someone reaching out a caring hand. Conditions don’t get more desperate than the killing fields of 1970 Cambodia.

Muoy You was one of the lucky ones who did survive that hell. Now she is reaching out her hand to try to help her countrymen.

From an article in the Christian Science Monitor series, People Making A Differnce”

Muoy grew up poor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, during the Vietnam War. “We lived in a squatters’ shack, but I loved learning and I did well in school,” she recalls.

In 1972 she won a scholarship to study in France. It would save her from Pol Pot’s killing fields, where her parents and siblings were among the 2 million dead. She spent the next two decades in exile, raising a family and working as a teacher in Africa and the Middle East.

Now Muoy wants to transform the prospects of other Cambodian families by giving children of low-income cleaners, laborers, farmers, and tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) drivers a high-quality education.

“I don’t just want to teach them to read and write,” she stresses. “I want them to become professionals, writers, thinkers, artists – to make their country proud.”

In Cambodia today, few students have that chance; most have access only to basic education. So upon returning home to Phnom Penh in 2003, Muoy set up the Seametrey Children’s Village, a private initiative. She mortgaged a property she owned abroad, bought a small plot of land, and converted a run-down hut on it into a classroom.

“A school is just a building,” she notes. “It’s the resources that matter.”

Courteous and fluent in English, Muoy modestly calls herself “an obscure woman with dreams bigger than herself.” She started with a handful of young children – those of neighbors and acquaintances.

She ditched the rote learning that is common at crowded government schools and instead set about helping children discover the joys of learning by themselves in a free-spirited environment. “You shouldn’t just stick children behind desks,” Muoy explains. “You need to help them retain their childlike curiosity and spontaneity.”

“Parents pay according to their means. The poorest pay nothing; some pay small sums they can afford. Expatriates and better-off locals pay the full monthly fee of $290.

“A school like this would have been beyond our dreams,” says Ang Kim, a tuk-tuk driver whose two young daughters study in Seametrey. He can’t pay, but he volunteers as a security guard on Sundays.

Currently, the school has 80 students, from toddlers to teens. They learn in small groups from nursery through primary school. Whether from dirt-poor villages, urban slums, or well-heeled Phnom Penh homes, they’re treated alike – and are expected to treat one another alike, too.”

“Seametrey is a visionary project [aimed at] regenerating Cambodians’ self-respect and integrity,” says Elia Van Tuyl, a retired businessman in Palo Alto, Calif, who runs the Friends of Cambodia charity. “It seeks to attack poverty by addressing its psychological, educational, and cultural roots.

After just two years at Seametrey, young Samreth now speaks fluent English. “He’s a bright boy with leadership and oratory skills remarkable for his age,” Muoy says.

“I’m very happy for my grandchildren,” says Tes Kamsan, the boy’s grandmother. “They’ll have a much better life than their mother and I had.”

Muoy is certain of that. She points to a flowery vine in her garden. From its pot the plant has climbed all the way up to her fourth-floor balcony.

“That is my analogy for education,” she explains. “Place children in fertile soil, and they’ll blossom and flourish!”


Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr Seuss

Another beautiful sunny day, in a picture perfect week. Perfect weather, warm during the day (temps in the 80’s), cool at night (temps in the 60’s). Spent the day in the park, watching the kids and squirrels play. Mediated at a beautiful little chapel on what a great place I am in this life, in this world. Today’s mantra – beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

The art of Physic

Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.

The apparatus was built from a design published by Richard Berg at the University of Maryland. The particular apparatus shown here was built by Harvard’s Nils Sorensen.

The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that it executes 51 oscillations in this 60 second period. The length of each successive shorter pendulum is carefully adjusted so that it executes one additional oscillation in this period. Thus, the 15th pendulum (shortest) undergoes 65 oscillations.

Monday is Memoral Day here in the US. It’s designated an offical holiday, but it is anything like a holiday for me. It is to honour the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for their country. There is honour in sacrifice, but war is the least honorable activity we humans take part in that I can think. I myself took part in war. Those memories only want to make me cry.

The face of war 2011

Abun, southern Sudan: A girl weeps while clutching a suitcase in a makeshift camp for internally displaced people (Pete Muller/AP)

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
Robert A. Heinlein

Back from cat land. I wouldn’t say it was the worst experience of my life but I am thrilled not to have to deal with cat poop, cat vomit and a 4:00 am cat breakfast meal. In appreciation of my efforts they have given my their traditional going away present, 5 lbs of cat hair on all my clothes.

My cousin on the other hand talked about how she did not enjoy her vacation as much as in the past, a bus tour of Scotland, because of how much she missed her feline family.

Here is one cat who has made an unusual friend.

Comments from the Daily Mail:

“The pair clearly enjoy each other’s company – every time Gebra comes in to land, her four-legged friend trots up to greet her with a friendly rub and purr.

It is believed the animals get on so well together because they have been pals since they were young.

It is also likely that they have bonded over a mutual instinct to hunt rodents.”

2) Rob Summers was told he would never walk again after he was hit by a speeding car but was determined to prove doctors wrong.

From the Guardian

“Baseball champion Rob Summers was hit by a speeding car in Portland, Oregon, three years ago, which smashed into his legs and left him with appalling injuries. He was told he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair at best. But the 25-year-old is now making history – as the first person paralysed from the chest down to stand and take a step unaided.

The small and shaky movements that Summers has achieved spell real hope for all those who have suffered a spinal cord injury, and possibly even for those paralysed by other causes such as stroke.

When he was in hospital, doctors told Summers he would never walk again, he said. “They said that I had no hope and to just give up. My comment was you don’t know me very well. I’m going to fight until I get well again.”

To stand again and take steps, he said, “felt incredible. It was amazing. It made me optimistic and hopeful again for the future. I’m excited at being a part of this.”

Summers’ legs are able to move because of electrical stimulation from a device implanted in his lower spine. Two hard years of training, suspended over a treadmill with physiotherapists manipulating his legs to stand and walk have helped build up the spinal cord neural network which processes signals to and from his legs.

The real discovery has been that it is not the brain that is in charge of movement, but the legs and the spinal cord.

His achievement is the culmination of many years of hard work and intense scientific endeavour funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.”

My Christian friends don’t have to explain hell to me because I experience it every year, when I house sit my cousin’s six cats. This is the friendly one:

I will likely be off-line from the 7th to the 17th. If my Christian friends want to pray for me I won’t object. 🙂

1) Art In Photography

“After the Concert” by Julia Medvedev

“Boats” by Valdimir Melnik

“Fiery Tree” by Dmitriy Kiselev

2) I’ll leave you with this video, from the Planet Earth series – Mountains. I’ll back in two weeks, hopefully with most of what is left of my brain still intact

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?

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