Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Inner Voice of Love

The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom is a collection of passages from Henri Nouwen's journals, written during a period when his self-esteem evaporated, his energy to work disappeared, and God seemed entirely unreal. This is not a book to be read straight through: each short chapter takes time to digest, because, like the following passage, each of Nouwen's thoughts has the raw complexity of real honesty.

This book is a series of touching essays. Touching not in being a tear jerker, but in how deeply they reach into truth. The books title, A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, is very right on with the subject of the essays. For example, Open yourself to the First Love discusses the divine love. The 'first love' is that which God is waiting to give you. In general the book points the reader in the direction of the transformative power of the divine.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

7 Ways to Grow the Action Habit

7 Ways to Grow the Action Habit: By becoming a doer you’ll get more done and stimulate new ideas in the process.

...One average idea that’s been put into action is more valuable than a dozen brilliant ideas that you’re saving for “some other day” or the “right opportunity”.

...Use action to cure fear - Have you ever noticed that the most difficult part of public speaking is waiting for your turn to speak?

...Start your creative engine mechanically - One of the biggest misconceptions about creative work is that it can only be done when inspiration strikes.

...These distractions will cost you serious time if you don’t bypass them and get down to business immediately.

...Once people see you’re serious about getting things done they’ll want to join in. The people at the top don’t have anyone telling them what to do.

Ten minutes of sun 'could stop 30,000 cases of cancer', researchers say

Ten minutes of sun 'could stop 30,000 cases of cancer', researchers say: The researchers believe vitamin D deficiency may be to blame for 600,000 cancer cases worldwide each year, particularly in northern European countries where sun exposure levels are relatively low.

...In the latest study, scientists at the Moores Cancer Centre at the University of California, San Diego, estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing the intake of vitamin D3.

...The study combined data from surveys of blood levels of vitamin D during winter from 15 countries, along with satellite measurements of sunshine and cloud cover.

...Dr Cedric Garland, the cancer prevention specialist who led the study, said: "This could be best achieved with a combination of diet, supplements and short intervals - ten or 15 minutes a day - in the sun."

14 Foods that Lower Cholesterol

14 Foods that Lower Cholesterol is an interesting overview of controlling cholesterol with diet. The typical way to treat high cholesterol is with drugs, right? But what if you could just change your diet a little? The suggestions aren't just to eat less fatty foods, but there have been a range of studies showing foods which act positively to decrease cholesterol levels.

Reviewing the list of recommendations I see some which have their own unwanted effects. For example Whole grains and oats, which is a great idea because high fiber foods help clean the colon (probably reducing colon cancer) and according to the above blog posting, they act to decrease artery wall thickness. However if you have a gluten intolerance or celiac condition, whole grains and oats are a bad idea as they contain gluten and will trigger the gluten allergy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Remembering to do something when there's no way you can do it

Ever remember to do something when it's the last thing you could possibly be doing? Like, you're at the barber shop having your hair cut, and your to-do list starts coming out of the woodwork. Like how you've been meaning to clean out the closets, or shine up the chrome on your car, etc. Why is your subconscious reminding you to do something when it's the last thing you could possibly do? Why don't you remember to do this when it's convenient?

This, and more, is covered in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. In this and his other books David Allen has been exploring the subconscious processes that interfere with getting things done, and he offers practices to help one better manage the tasks we have in life.

The way he puts it, the source of this is the operation of human consciousness. How many items can you hold in short term memory? Psychologists have studied this in every way, and shown it's possible to hold 5-7 items in short term memory. This means the vast majority of things we are remembering are stored in long term memory, and long term memories surface when the triggered, not necessarily when they're convenient.

For example, sitting in a barber chair is a very relaxing place, and when the mind relaxes the pending items in your mind will tend to surface. Meditators through the millennia have known this, they call this the monkey mind. When meditating it's widely recognized a flood of ideas will surface, and it is part of meditation to learn how to focus on something even with the distracting thoughts surfacing from the subconscious. The same process occurs in the rest of our lives, with the subconscious surfacing ideas and thoughts at a time and place of its choosing.

In Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity the focus is on practical issues of more efficiently recording ones to-do list. The idea is to help your subconscious relax by purposely recording all the to-do items you've entrusted to the subconscious. By recording all your to-do items your subconscious doesn't have to work to keep reminding you of these things, and instead you can trust the system you build that holds the reminders.

It sounds great, but in the back of my mind I'm wondering, what happens if the reminder system is lost or stolen? For example if you have a "smart phone" which you've used to hold all your to-do items, what happens if the phone is left in your pants and goes into the laundry? Or if it's stolen or lost? Hopefully you kept the phone backed up onto a computer, but since when does anybody make backups? And what if the backup of your phone contents cannot be copied into the replacement phone (because the phones are incompatible)?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ways to make new habits stick

I think in many ways habits drive us in ways that create pain in our lives. For example I am somewhat shy, and the shyness is really a habitual not-speaking. I have been outgoing at times, especially when I spent lots of time in friendly talkative situations, but being quiet and retiring has been a lifelong habit. There are of course deeper issues which are what led me to be shy in the first place, but that just means there are multiple ways to understand the phenomena of why we do what we do. At one level it's our habitual behavior, at another level it's the life history of woundology which led us to decide one behavior is better or safer than another.

At some point in ones self healing process it is necessary to begin to change. Once you understand why you chose to act the way you do, why not work to change how you act? Probably you can think of other behaviors that are more agreeable with your understanding and preference of life.

Here are a few good recommendations, some of which I've done for myself.

18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick

Changing lifelong habits cannot be done overnight. You've been doing this for years and years, so it will take some practice and awareness to make the change to newer habits. The writer suggests a 30 day period, but I would say it's actually not a fixed time period but whatever time period you find necessary. Another suggestion is experimentation, and having a period of time where you focus on a specific behavior gives you time to experiment and learn about the new and old behaviors. It is important to have a way to remember the habit changing experiment you are undergoing. It's so easy to, throughout your day, just fall into the habits and having a trigger to remind you of the experiment will help.

Good luck

Friday, August 17, 2007

Two views to health

I came across these two articles one right after another and find them interesting together. The Secret to a Healthy Body is a set of recommendations to health that essentially boil down to being active. Their specific suggestions include aerobic exercise, and stretching and balance exercises. Then Why New Yorkers Last Longer goes over research showing that New Yorker's live longer, and it attributes this to the fact that they walk more. New York, as a city, is organized such that it's easy to walk around the city rather than drive. This moderate exercise, walking, apparently is enough to give them an average longer life, and is enough to overcome all the pollution in that city.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Love in its essence is spiritual fire"

Had an interesting fortune cookie today: "Love in its essence is spiritual fire"

Gosh, this just makes me think of the experimentation which led to my writings on Inner Homeopathy. This is a practice of Love, to love ones self, to love every single part of you, to love the self destructive parts of ones self, to love, and to love more. This is a very self transforming practice, so very simple yet so comprehensive.

Love is acceptance, as it accepts the loved one without regard for anything the loved one is doing. This is God's love this is, it is a sort of love which humans often have a time accomplishing.

Humans so often have conditions on their love. I'll love you only if you treat me a certain way and so on. Is that God's love?

The Inner Homeopathy practice I've written about can be very challenging. Inside us are so many conflicting ideas about ourselves, not all of which are consciously known. In the subconscious is held all the beliefs we've made about ourselves and the world, many of which paradoxically contradict each other. We may have a belief of our competence and love-ability, but find another part that's self doubting and certain nobody loves us. These subconscious beliefs swirl around based on the events around us, the memories inside us, etc, each belief being triggered at various times depending and affecting how we act from moment to moment.

Not all of our inner beliefs appreciate being held in love, just as we don't always recognize love when it is offered to us, and we don't always trust those who claim to love us. So is it also true when we practice loving ourself.

Yet I know from the experience of my experimentation, loving ones self can transform such inner beliefs. It is as if unconditional acceptance and unconditional love, Gods love in other words, is the ultimate in remedies, the cure for all ills.

Love to you all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

First day on the job

A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done. The monsignor replied, "When I am worried about getting nervous on the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip."

So next Sunday he took the monsignor's advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink. He proceeded to talk up a storm.

Upon his return to his office after mass, he found the following note on the door:

  1. Sip the vodka, don't gulp.
  2. There are ten commandments, not twelve.
  3. There were twelve disciples, not ten.
  4. The communion wafer is consecrated, not constipated.
  5. Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
  6. We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.
  7. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not generally referred to as Daddy, Junior and the Spook.
  8. David slew Goliath, he did not kick the shit out-o-him.
  9. When David was hit by a rock and knocked off his donkey, don't say he was stoned off his ass.
  10. We do not refer to the cross as the "Big T."
  11. When Jesus broke the bread at the Last Supper He said, "Take this and eat it for it is my body." He did not say "Eat me."
  12. The Virgin Mary is not called "Mary with the Cherry."
  13. The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, yeah God.
  14. Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at St. Peter's, not a peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A tip for keeping track of your life

I've recently been studying the material in the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and it's a very enlightening book shining a light on habits which create mental clutter, and showing ways to rid yourself of that clutter. The idea is the more "stuff" you carry in your head, the more appointments or to-do list items you carry in your head, the more your mental and emotional energy is tied up with the act of carrying those factoids in your head.

It's a mental juggle trying to remember all that stuff... and if you think about it, the reminders don't always come out at the most convenient time. Say you need to buy a pound of hamburger for dinner, but you think about it during a meeting in the afternoon, but it's completely gone from your mind until you get home. Emotional costs arise because of fears of what might happen due to forgetting these factoids.

The more of these little factoids you try to carry in your mind, the heavier is the burden. Looking at it from another angle, the less you carry in your mind the greater will be your peace.

One idea I'm using pretty successfully is to use a computerized calendar to track appointments. However it is not perfect, yet. In the past I've used a paper calendar and that is pretty successful, but for two issues. One is I found it easy to forget to look at the paper calendar, leaving it as a continued mental weight to remember to look there. Second is the paper calendar isn't always on my person, and again you have to rely on memory during those times you aren't carrying the paper calendar.

With the goal being to reduce the mental burden to zero, any solution which involves remembering factoids is something to resolve.

My current method is to use the iCal application on my Mac, and to use the iSync application to exchange appointments between iCal and my cell phone. The advantage is that I'm always carrying my cell phone (well, almost always). Because iSync does a good job of synchronizing appointments, they can be entered either into the cell phone or the iCal application and kept synchronized.

What happens is my cell phone kicks off an alarm shortly before every appointment. I find it very comforting to have this widget remembering my calendar for me.

I said it isn't perfect, so here are the issues I know of.

First, entering appointments through my phone is clumsy. It means entering text through a numeric keypad. While "the kids" seem very comfortable doing SMS messaging through their cell phones, I find it tedious.

Second, I don't remember to enter all appointments and end up keeping some of them in my head. Oops. That may be partly to do with the clumsiness of using the phone to enter appointments.

Third, synchronizing my phone with the iCal calendar does not help my colleagues know what my schedule is. My iCal calendar is in my home computer and there isn't a way to synchronize appointments from my home computer to the calendaring service my employer uses. This means my colleagues have no idea what my schedule is. While that could be a problem, many of my colleagues also do not synchronize their appointments to the corporate calendar service.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Life is a Verb?

Yesterday my fortune cookie said "Life is a verb", which has me pondering. It also said my lucky numbers are: 5, 38, 11, 50, 29 and 34, but I'm more interested in the words than the numbers.

The first thought was, life is about action and movement. One of the distinctions between a living and a non-living object is that the living object moves on its own accord, or rather it does things on its own accord. Bacteria and the like may not move on their own accord, but their life process is to take in stuff (nutrients) process the stuff and expell other stuff. Clearly the distinction I'm thinking of is the living object does things on its own accord, while non-living objects don't do anything on their own accord.

Life is about action. Actions are verbs, right? That's because verbs are the action portion of sentences. Hmm....

The second thought is to remember this be-do-have paradigm. The idea is that the ideal pattern to follow is to "be", then from your beingness to "do", then you will "have" the desired result. If you want to be rich, first "be" happy, then "do" things based on being happy, and eventually you will "have" happiness. The key concept is your way of being, how you are. Meditation is a way of practicing "being" because meditation is largely about experiencing how you are.

The typical person, however, is all about "doing" and not at all about "being". There's so many things to do, rush rush rush and do do do seems to be how most people are living their lives. Wasn't modern technology supposed to give us more leisure time? And in any case if most people are unhappy perhaps they aren't taking enough time to stop and smell the roses or otherwise to simply "be".

In sentences the "be" portion is everything but the verbs, so being is not action. Does that mean being is not an aspect of living? Oh, in a sentence if there is no noun, there is no object for the verb to act upon. Even in a single word sentence like "Go!" there is an implied object of that sentence. If life is a verb, life is about action, then there must be an object on which to perform the action. Hence to "be" gives an object for your action, or life, to act upon.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's not the job you perform, but creating and manifesting your vision of the world

What career or work or job or activity do you want to do? How will you occupy your time? How will you earn your living and keep food on the table and a roof over your head?

It occurred to me this morning that many times someone sees a job being done or a skill they can learn in school. They learn the skill and then pursue as their life "I'm going to be a X" where 'X' could be Nurse, Barmaid, Soldier, Lawyer, Barber, etc. What occurred to me is how this misses an interesting option.

What is your goal? What world do you want to live in? What is your vision of the perfect world? In answering the question try to remove from your thinking any concern over how you're going to achieve that vision of the perfect world to live in. We're dreaming here for a moment, so let the dream sink in and become vivid.

With any vision there are many ways to bring that vision into reality. Let me ask, do you know the best way to accomplish your goal of world peace, one where people live in harmony with each other and their environment, where the plants and animals are given sufficient consideration in the planning of the affairs of human kind? Do you know the best way to accomplish this? Most likely not. However there is wisdom held in the jointness of us all, you might call this Divine wisdom, and that wisdom has a path for each and every one of us if we choose to follow that path.

We can choose to follow a path where we see some skill, enjoy using that skill, and then decide we want to earn our living using that skill. Or we can choose to follow a path where we see a vision or goal of a desired outcome, and then learn the skills necessary to achieve that desired outcome, and make connections and communities of people who will together create that desired outcome.

The interesting option we miss by saying "I'm going to be an X" is to ignore the desire which led us to learn X and to be drawn to X. The desires which drive us to specific X's are threads that, if we pay attention to them, represent the tapestry of our personal wants and desires.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Making peace with mass media tragedies in our society

Today in the news we have: Officials: Gunman dead after bloody campus rampage ... the story? A lone shooter goes on a rampage on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg VA, he managed to kill 31 people and wound many more. The police sent in SWAT teams, found the killer, and shot him dead.

This is clearly a tragedy, one which will be a focus of the mass media attention for a couple weeks. Or at least until the next mass media tragedy comes along. We don't yet know why this happened, what motivated the person who perpetrated the shooting. We know from past shooting incidents like this that the people have been disaffected people in pain about their lives, etc.

Such violence can only be perpetrated by a person who believes violence is a way to ease their pain. Perhaps they are unwilling to acknowledge their pain, and need to lash their pain out to others instead. But it's easy to get lost in second-guessing why someone else might commit such an act. Many spiritual traditions such as Buddhism teach that the universe is one consciousness, and that our ego's create an illusion of being individuals with identities separated from the identities of everybody else. Hence, the spiritual teaching is that our true identity is unitive consciousness and that everything which happens, every persons individual thoughts and hopes and fears and pains, all happen within that unitive consciousness.

Clearly in our world as it stands a lot of people are in pain. We have seemingly unnecessary death happening all over the world in all forms. If the teachings of the spiritual traditions are true, then in our true identity as a being of pure universal consciousness, all those unnecessary deaths and pain is happening within us. In particular Buddhist practices ask us to seek inside ourselves the pain we see in the world. And to hold that part of ourselves in compassionate awareness.

Essential Phowa Practice contains a very good and clearly described method from a Buddhist perspective.

While looking at the CNN.COM web site for news I saw the following title: Having baby at 12, 18K dead a day; $34 to stop it

It's a link to a video about world hunger, and discusses how at least 18,000 people per day die of hunger. There's an intriguing contrast between this figure, 18,000 people per day, and a single incident involving 32 deaths. This clicked something in my mind .. often the mass media goes into a frenzy over certain stories while ignoring other stories that have similar attributes. Last week the frenzy was over "shock jock" Don Imus and an inflammatory and racist statement he said on his radio program. The frenzy over that event led to his firing as a radio personality, but isn't it interesting how there's a whole industry of "shock jocks" who are famous for pushing the bounds of indecency, who regularly get fined by the FCC for public indecency, etc, and why does this one incident by this one guy get so much frenzy when the same thing happens every day by dozens of other shock jock's?

Similarly why will this shooting incident get so much coverage compared to the tragedy of 18,000 deaths per day due to hunger?

Tragedy is happening every day in every corner of human society on this planet. While we may be led to incredulously ask Why?, it's clear this has been the path of human society for millennia and it shows every indication of continuing for the forseeable future. I believe that a practice of praying for and manifesting peace around the world is a necessary part of changing the course of this pattern in human society.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

How to fall in love?

I came across a blog posting by Mario Torre How to fall in love... where he linked to an image of a beautiful young lady. Yup, as a red-blooded male she sure catches my attention.

But it occurred to me ... is that Love? Okay, lust, love, but what I really mean is this question: With whom is your primary relationship?

You may say, oh my Wife/Husband/Lover is my primary relationship you silly person, what are you talking about? I'm talking about ones relationship with ones own self.

Any relationship with another person will eventually go away. That person might die or might become disinterested or might grow to hate you etc, and what happens to that being your primary relationship? Hopefully when that person leaves your life and stops being in relationship to you, you'll find a way to move on gracefully. Many people aren't able to make this transition gracefully, leading to long morose periods of longing for this person that is no longer in their life.

If a relationship can end can it be considered to be your primary relationship?

The one relationship that cannot end is your own relationship with yourself. It seems to me, then, that this, your inner self relationship, is the primary relationship. And that the longing for another, the type of longing that caused Mario to post about that beautiful young lady, that is a fleeting relationship, one that is destined to end in time.

As I've explored the ideas I'm calling Inner Homeopathy I'm learning that one key is ones inner relationship to themselves. That the Inner Homeopathy practice is a way to learn to have a wholesome relationship with yourself.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Organizing the home by "stations"

The Seven Essential “Stations” Every Home Should Have offers an interesting thought that makes some sense.

Like many my house has clutter. Clutter has a cost in making it hard to find things, in keeping a constant chaos in your life, and by filling the space it limits what you can do in your own home. And it seems to me after long reflection on it, the condition of ones home really does reflect ones inner condition. So I'm looking at ways to be more organized one aspect of which is to have less clutter.

The article linked above suggests seven "stations" every home should have. By "station" they seem to be referring to the adage: A place for everything and everything in its place This adage is said to mean that everything should have a place to be stored in and that it should be tidily returned there when not in use.

The article linked above suggests seven places they think are applicable to every home. But it is obvious to me their specific seven stations do not apply to everybody, as they certainly do not apply to me. But the general concept is worthy of consideration.

The Destination Station is meant to be inside the front door and is the place where you dump all your stuff just as you enter the house. Such as keys, coats, gloves, etc. This one makes a lot of sense and I recognize I've been doing this ad-hoc. I'm going to take a look at how I can improve this. However what happens when you use different doors at different times? Sometimes I might enter or leave the house through the garage rather than the front door, depending on which vehicle I've used.

The Communication Station is meant for messages between family members. Well, since I live alone there are no family members with which to communicate. Further in this age of ubiquitous cell phones perhaps intra-family communications can be done with SMS messages? It occurs to me though that a helpful thing would be a place to leave messages to myself. If I think of something that needs to be done, but the current moment is not the right time, what do I do with that idea? There's a need for a place to record those ideas or else they'll be forgotten, right? This could be as simple as a corkboard or a whiteboard somewhere.

The Donation Station is something I do, because I'm always giving excess stuff to the various charitable agencies like Goodwill. Like the Destination Station I've not done this as a specific "station" but it's a corner in the house where there's usually a pile of stuff getting ready to go to Goodwill.

The Gift and Shipping Station contains, not the gifts themselves, but the paraphenalia for gift giving and shipping stuff. I'm having a hard time seeing this one. Well, I do have various items like this stuffed in nooks and crannies around the house, perhaps bringing those all to one place will be helpful. But I don't ship things often enough that it's been a priority. So I wonder if there's a pre-condition to establishing a "station" of the activity being something you do regularly..?

The Education Station is meant to be a place for the kids to do their homework and other paraphenalia related to their education. For my case I don't have any kids (no family) so it seems this one doesn't apply to me. Except, I think education never ends so why does this have to be only for the kids? Why not store the adult education stuff in this station? If you do have kids it might help them get the importance of education if they see their parents continually to educating themselves.

The Creation Station is meant for artists and has all the stuff related to their art. Makes sense in a way, but I wonder about the under-theme that only artists can be creative.

The Administration Station is the home office and would have stuff related to household records, etc. This is obvious and probably most homes already have this, I have this in my home.

Some other stations that I might suggest are for Outdoor Recreation, the Home Library, etc. The bathroom could be seen as a "station" for personal cleanliness.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A little clue in finding ones calling

For several years I've felt a desire to do more with my life than the job I work in the high tech industry. In the high tech industry I've had the opportunity to participate in producing services and products which have had a large impact in the world, by helping define the World Wide Web as it is today. But it seems these things, these technological marvels, do not change anything about the human behaviors that, for instance, lead to warmongering, mass death, destruction of civility among people, environmental destruction, etc. In other words I'm in the same boat as are many others. My day job seems to not help the world to become a better place, but instead seems to help the world either stay the same as it's always been or perhaps become worse.

It may be hard for most to see this connection, I know it's difficult for me to truly grasp it. It's not like I work in a bomb factory and the direct result of my work is the tools which the military industrial complex uses to sow death around the world.

It just occurred to me the way I choose the work I perform is perhaps just as important as the content of what that work is.

I originally chose this work in technology based on interests in gadgetry. In high school when I found the computer lab (this was 1973 when high school computer labs were very rare) it was really cool working out how to make the machines do things. That fascination is what drove me to learn more, and to pursue the studies in college that eventually led me to Silicon Valley. The choices were from my head being fascinated with the workings of these machines, and from recognizing that working with machines allowed me to retreat from being around humans. My life up until then led me to deep distrust of other people and in my subconscious it seemed far safer to be around machines than around people. In other words I've chosen this career path based on a fear of being around people, and based on mental fascination.

There's a truism that what you pay attention to grows. By choosing a life path based on fear and mental fascination, that's about giving attention to those fears and mentality.

It seems that I'm not alone in making choices this way. What if "we" were to choose what we do in a different way? For example what if "we" were to make our choices from a desire to bring more peace and love to the world. Oh, and I am speaking about myself as much as anybody else.

"How"? The first step is to recognize the problem in the first place. The first step in curing an addiction is to recognize that you're addicted to something. Then once you recognize how this pattern works for you, is the path of breaking out of the mold of habitual thinking. One way is meditation since it is a way of learning to focus ones attention on something. Meditating on love should give you practice in having or being love.

Another method is to consciously partake in activities that offset your habitual patterns. If you habitually get serious, find ways to loosen up and have fun. Such as reading the comics every morning and learning to laugh with them, or to watch silly movies and enjoy the silliness.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Why do health products get tied up in multi-level network marketing campaigns?

Some acquaintances of mine are very impressed with the IsaGenix product line. They think it's wonderful and keep saying it has made a great change in their life etc. They sent me some website links including an online movie, and I went to take a look. Expecting the movie to inform me of the benefits of the product, it instead informed me that health aids is expected to become a $1 trillion market very shortly and that if I wanted to get my piece of the pie, to live richly beyond my dreams, to have a McMansion in the suburbs and drive a Hummer, that I'd better join the IsaGenix sales team.

The movie told me all that while at the same time giving snippets of information about their product line. For example it's geared to removing toxins from the body and has a very strong weight-loss story. But the network marketing part of the movie intruded into selling me on the product and has me walking the other way wondering what they're thinking about.

This isn't the first time I've had this experience. Generally network marketing programs try to sell two things in the same sales pitch. They're selling both the product and the potential for individual business ownership selling the product. I've seen this same pattern over and over.

I've looked over the product and the ingredients seem about right. For weight loss their "Natural Accelerator" product depends on thermogenic supplements. The thermogenic approach is to increase metabolism levels through supplementing with an herb of some sort, they do not use Ephedra but instead use a variety of herbs such as Ginseng, Cinnamon, Cayenne pepper, etc. These are heating herbs which mean that they increase the inner heat or metabolism strength. The increased metabolism burns off fat.

So, once again we have something which may be a great product .. but to buy the product you have to go through this sales pitch about joining up to sell the product yourself. After all, you like the product, you think it's doing good things for you, so why don't you tell your friends about it and make a few bucks on the side.

I dunno about you .. but often when I go to the store to buy something, all I want to do is buy the thing. Opening a similar store just because I bought something at the store is the last thing on my mind, usually. And in any case my friends just might be turned off from being my friend if I'm always nagging them about this wondrous new product.

It seems such a shame to have good products buried inside network marketing programs.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On leg pain and self love

My leg pain and a healer is an interesting read about someone exploring the relative value of "normal medicine" (going to a doctor for pills or surgery etc) and seeing a spiritual healer. It was written by someone experiencing leg pain which worried him considerably. Thinking of mechanical causes he thought about poor circulation in his legs, and scheduled an appointment with a circulation specialist. As the appointment was far away he ended up going to a Healer who was able to help him, and who was able to pinpoint the cause being something other than poor circulation.

One thing it indicates is the natural abilities we have, if we were to open to them, to see more than the physical world leads us to believe is possible.

Reading this makes me think of an experience I had with leg pain, about a year ago.

23 years ago I was in a horrid car accident. The short story is I was standing behind a car, in a lane of traffic, rummaging in the trunk. At the time I worked as a tow truck driver and was getting ready to tow this car. It was late at night and that section of road has a confusing set of lights. While I was working a car slammed into me and the car behind which I was standing. The impact was strong enough to push the car into the back of my wrecker, and to push the wrecker forward six feet, despite the emergency brakes being engaged. My legs were at the point of impact and it is basically a miracle that I survived and can walk.

A year ago I had another round of strange leg pain. This is something that's come and gone since that accident, but this time it was nearly disabling, it felt so sharp. The leg pain would come on suddenly and didn't seem to have anything to do with how I was walking, how I sat, etc. One time I was walking around in a computer store pondering a purchase, and suddenly my legs were engulfed in horrendous pain so severe I could barely walk or think.

What I eventually learned to do was to "bring my heart into my hands" and hold my legs. Through a couple times doing this I began to experience the value of touching myself in a more loving way. That my legs had suffered greatly in that accident, and that they needed a soothing and loving embrace more than anything. Each time the pain dissipated almost immediately.

The experience led directly to developing the Inner Homeopathy practice. Inner Homeopathy is about connecting ones self up to their own power of love. It is through love that ones life can begin to transform and heal the pains one carries.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The creation of the computer.

In the beginning, God created a bit. And the bit was a zero: nothing.

On the first day, he toggled the 0 to 1, and the Universe was. (In those days, bootstrap loaders were simple, and "active low" signal didn't yet exist.)

On the second day, God's boss wanted a demo, and tried to read the bit. This being volatile memory, the bit reverted to a 0. And the Universe wasn't. God learned the importance of backups and memory refresh, and spent the rest of the day (and his first all-nighter) reconstructing the Universe.

On the third day, the bit cried "Oh, Lord! If you exist, give me a sign!" And God created rev 2.0 of the bit, even better than the original prototype. Those in Universe Marketing immediately realized that "new and improved" wouldn't do justice to such a grand and glorious creation. And so it was dubbed the Most Significant Bit, or the Sign Bit. Many bits followed, but only one was so honoured.

On the fourth day, God created a simple ALU with 'add' and 'logical shift' instructions. And the original bit discovered that by performing a single shift instruction, it could become the Most Significant Bit. And God realized the importance of computer security.

On the fifth day, God created the first mid-life kicker, rev 2.0 of the ALU, with wonderful features, and said "Screw that add and shift stuff. Go forth and multiply." And God saw that it was good.

On the sixth day, God got a bit overconfident, and invented pipelines, register hazards, optimizing compilers, crosstalk, restartable instructions, microinterrupts, race conditions, and propagation delays. Historians have used this to convincingly argue that the sixth day must have been a Monday.

On the seventh day, an engineering change introduced [name of buggy component deleted to keep lawyers happy] into the Universe, and it hasn't worked right since.

I just wanted to prove my background as a geek is honest.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Recognizing flaws in debunking of psychics

A week ago Shawn Hornbeck was found after having been kidnapped four years ago. That was a nice and touching story and my heart goes out to the kid and his abductor, the abductor has apparently been doing this gig for awhile and indicating a wounding inside himself which draws him to do this. May they all find peace.

What I want to write about is an interesting side story. The parents of Shawn Hornbeck, a month after his kidnapping, managed to get onto the Montel Williams show when Sylvia Brown was to appear and was able to ask her for his whereabouts. She reported bad news, oh, he's no longer with us, and went on to describe a location where his body was to be found. And of course Sylvia Brown read this incorrectly because Shawn has since been found.

First here's a couple videos about this:

Sylvia Brown Told Kidnapped Child's Parents He was Dead: Is some CNN reporters discussing the case.

CNN Sylvia Browne Fraud: Is an expose on Anderson Cooper's show about this story, including an appearance by Robert S. Lancaster, of and James Randi the famous professional psychic debunker.

The subtext of this story is that psychics are obviously wrong, and that it's horrifying that psychics are preying on peoples fears and anxiety, and misleading people. I agree (to an extent) that this story and other occurrences of mistaken readings end up misleading some. I am sure there are fraudulent psychics in existance just as there are frauds in every field of endeavor. At the same time that is not the entire story.

I'm going to focus on the tail end of this clip where James Randi is explaining how the process works. His broad brush negation of all psychics just is not upheld by the truth as it has been shown in a number of studies that there are ways of perception in addition to the five senses, and sources of information other than what's in our brains. It's especially interesting how he describes the conduct of deceptive psychics.

The cold reading is a process he describes where the psychic is asked a given question, and then the psychic just starts rattling off whatever impressions they get. The impressions may be pictures, words, smells, etc, and it is those impressions which constitute the psychic reading. At least for those who use this process. James Randi goes on to explain that the person receiving the reading is left with a tape full of these impressions and afterward, in an attempt to get something of value from this, will string together their own story from those impressions.

What strikes me is how this is so much like the first stage or two of technical remote viewing. Technical Remote Viewing is a process developed by Hal Puthoff and Russ Targ in the 1960's to 1970's. They were researchers at SRI, and their job for awhile was to teach psychic operatives in the U.S. Defense Department and CIA how to be psychic so they could spy psychically upon the enemies of the U.S.A. They were hardnosed researchers who had previously done ground-breaking work in developing lasers, and somehow they got involved with psychic research. Over a course of over 20 years doing psychic research and training secret psychic spies they developed a body of teachings and research that constitute the most extensive scientific study of psychic phenomenon ever. Unfortunately most of it is hidden as Top Secret but I understand a study was conducted late in the program of the effectiveness, and it was found their psychic spies were 70% accurate. Now it's unfortunate that the military wanted 100% accuracy and the spies were "only" 70% accurate, but if you think about it 70% accuracy is much better than chance and is pretty darn good.

Technical Remote Viewing is a multi stage process where the psychically read information is improved step by step. In the first stage of the process the viewer is recording raw impressions of the sort exactly as James Randi described in the video on Anderson Cooper. But in Technical Remote Viewing the viewer is supposed to go further, with each of the raw impressions they are asked to connect deeper with them to get a clearer picture. In the final stage the viewer is asked to draw full pictures or perhaps model their target.

If you remember the movie Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind the hero of the film went through a process of receiving information that led him, psychically, to go to Devils Tower Wyoming. Coincidentally the process he went through was almost precisely Technical Remote Viewing.

So what I take from this is that what James Randi describes as a psychic who does cold readings is one who is only doing the first stage of technical remote viewing. Their success rate might be higher if they followed through to the later steps of TRV. The other thing I take from this is that part of James Randi's condemnation is rooted in his expectation of how psychics work. He expects that a psychic will be a perfect source of absolute truth, you ask a question and out pops an answer that is always correct. Hmm... that shows either an unawareness of the psychic process, or else he has an agenda to undermine all psychics everywhere and he doesn't care about spreading a little bit of false information if it helps his crusade against the paranormal.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Humorous thoughts

Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

Drive carefully; it's not just cars that can be recalled by their maker.


If you are lost, admit it and ask a native for directions.

Birthdays are good for you; the more you have the longer you live.

Nobody cares if you can't do things perfectly, just get up and do it