Saturday, December 02, 2006

Chinese Saints

I have fairly frequent dealings with a handful of the good people of Taiwan. They are interesting to me in many ways and many have become good friends. Yet there is a certain youthfulness about them that I have a hard time charitably describing. "Staid" and "Refined" and "Mature" are not words that come up a lot. One huge thing that is missing from their culture is a pervading notion of religion - although there are temples and small sacrifices to ancestors. I would dearly love to win some of those souls for heaven.

Who are some good intercessors from Taiwan??

Of course Taiwan is largely, in culture and heredity, of China. So Our Lady of China is apt. Though she is so busy already!! St. Fracis Xavier is legendary for his work in the orient so I include him. I vaguely know of a lot of martyrs in China but didn't know any of the stories until I noticed this one from a page in the St. Peter and the Vatican book we have.

St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre
Sounds like quite a guy!! I will include him in the post rosary litany. But I still haven't found out names of some indiginous saints. Taiwan preferred but larger China is definately OK. Please contribute your recommendations with links to more info if possible.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I love seeing the real deal. Here is the weather radar for the US... the entire US all in a picture/movie.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

From Scratch

I am an engineer and yet I work on the shoulders of so many (giants and minor players too) that I could not do what I do now from scratch.

That gets under my skin a little bit. So I too find myself pondering how I would survive - not on an island - but if I, like the Conn. Yankee, were suddenly transported back in time. Though I confess I was pondering this long before I read that book. I wondered what I could do to be worthy of the gift in my chosen capcity of tinkerer. What could I do to advance technology if I were to land in the year (?)??? B.C./A.D.

In Conn. Yankee Hank is just close enough to the non-industrial past to know a lot of things from the ground up. He can take things that you would find in Arthur's world and recognize them for what the industrial world would make them into - wires, lightning rods and blasting powder to mention one scene. We will say nothing more about his motives or the great wit with which it is written.

But that, in essence, is what I would like to be able to do. I would like to return the favor by advancing man's struggle with nature. Alas, I cannot do it using a PLC and a good computer - they are too far from the earth. The blasting powder is a bit of chemistry I don't understand. But I think I could probably do some good work with motors, solenoids and switches. I even think I could recognize both copper ore and magnetite. Oh, and chocolate cake is now more within reach!! And I think that I am carrying a few ideas around in my head (thanks to some giants) that could be useful regarding science, math, religion and politics.

(On second thought I probably couldn't add too much to religion after about 1400 A.D. - there is some amazingly advanced thought found in some pretty ancient archives of the Catholic Church!)

I would not spend time worrying about the the "grandfather paradox". If I was sent back I would know that it must have a reason.

In addition to the very essence of practicality in this endeavor I like to think it makes me appreciate my current world a little more. For example, I thank heaven I was born after these few advances: indoor plumbing (esp. the commode), the light bulb, the automobile, natural gas heating and readily available sweetened chocolate... No emperor of any age save our own had such luxury!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Old songs in MIDI

I am the first to admit that MIDI, while it has a lot of merits, tends to be the idiot uncle in the digital music age. You would never sit down in front of your entertainment system with a glass of Merlot and fire up an album of MIDI renditions!

However, while being a very svelte way to encode music it is a clinically faithful audible representation of the notes. So for those of us who don't sight-read but still like to sing it may be a good portal.

Here's a website that should be just such a boon. However, I don't seem to be getting the lyrics they "advertise" in my Windows Media Player. I sure would appreciate some advice. I'd like to learn some of these songs.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Themapguy's Geography Meme

Sorry Mapguy that this took so long! In recompense I have given each question several answers.

1. A Place You've Visited and Your Favorite Thing there
The California Coast - Sun, surf, sand, mountains and the feeling that anything is possible.
Sanabel Island - Banyon Tree that is not just interesting to look at but wonderful for climbing!!!!!
Michigan - Sand Dunes so big you can "swim" down them.
King's Canyon - Alivanmom (and the luxury to dote on her).
Kohler - the tour followed by the bratwursts at the American Club.

2. A Country You'd Like to Visit and Why
Japan. Bleeding edge high tech stuff, Mountains (both lush green and snow covered for skiing), sake and the world's best sushi.
Italy - Museums, food and people.
Ireland - the stories coming right from themselves in a nice thick brogue. Maybe on a soft day with some peat making me cosy. Maybe a little music and dancing. Some fine old whisky.
England - London and the countryside

3. A Place From History You'd Like to Visit and Why
The Garden of Eden in summer (i.e. before the fall)
King Arthur's Court and Countryside
Duke d'Berry's court (Louvre as a baby)
Mission San Buenaventura a few years after it was started

A small town about halfway from London in the 18th century to hear people talk.
A british country castle where Psmith and Wooster are in for the week.
A French castle though I can't get more specific than "the ambiance"
An Austrian castle when things were really hopping. Music, food and baroque - even Rococo

4. A Place You Know a Lot About
I wish there was such a place! I know something about the places I lived but only a scratch on the surface. The wood behind my childhood house, the campus of TAC, the beach in Ventura, the parking spots around UWMilwaukee!, the town of Poway and the inside of the Trader Joe's in Carmel Mountain Ranch, the inside and outside of my first house on Park Ave.

5. A Place You'd Like to Learn More About

Heaven. Book me a one way ticket please!

OK. Earth too. Really what place doesn't have interest? But maybe I am thinking about the history of the places rather than the place for the place's own sake. Hmm. I would like to learn more about Africa - good choice Mystical_Rose.

If you press me I will get smaller - Madagascar. It seems that that island is home to all kinds of uniqueness and wonder animal, plant and mineral. Of course this is true of the Galapagos islands too. And probably more than a few in the south pacific. I really can't decide.

6. A Fictional Place You'd Like to Visit
Woodbridge Castle - when they get around to the living happily ever after part of it.
But for those who have yet to hear about Woodbridge here are a few other intruiging spots: Bag End, Perelandra, Valinor, Mount Olympus.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Youtube Catches Shakespeare

Ok - from the sublime (say what?) to the earthy. This shakespeare video is pretty funny.

(Hat tip to - good find!!)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Be Who You Want to Be

"Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way... you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions. " - Aristotle

It may not be perfect but it works!! Maybe there is a little something extra - what we christians call grace. However, if you try out this "advice" from Aristotle you find that it works well.

This also works in becoming a LEADER. People are suprisingly willing to follow. More often than not the leader is the one who DECIDES to lead - nothing more than that. However, be prepared to buck up on the other virtues if you do - people also seem to like to topple leaders at signs of weakness.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Books to think about

I have read a number of books lately (last year) that I am too muddled about to write reviews for. Apologies to love2learnmom!

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Goodbye Mr. Chips - James Hilton

A Ring of Endless Light - Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time - ibid
A Wind in the Door - ibid
(The kids enjoyed Wrinkle so much they had me do Wind by popular demand)

Brave New World Revisited - Aldous Huxley

- - - - - - - - - -

Now here's some of the muddle.

- - - - - - - - - -

Brave New World Revisited is Mr. Huxley's chance to explain the context and thoughts that surrounded and shaped BNW in his mind. It is interesting to get a glimpse of this. I reviewed BNW on but I have learned more about it from this book. Actually, I have only read about 2/3 of this book. It's harder and harder to read. It is depressing and dated. Maybe I could have guessed that. I don't think that this invalidates my review. But I think that it shows some of the "more and more and more" that I felt was present. Huxley makes a summary statement comparing BNW to 1984. He thinks that 1984 is what society would look like if the world's dictator favors control through fear, punishment and torture. But that BNW is an exploration should the world's dictator choose pleasure as his primary means of maniuplation. That alone is a staggering premise. It is even more impressive to witness this in BNW itself. For carnal pleasure is so often thought to be the fulfillment of man's desires that we even ply our children with images of the physical pleasures that await us in heaven. In BNW everyone's material needs are taken care of, and even carnal pleasures are addressed. Everyone is subjected to the government by being given food, shelter, etc - even an occupation suited to thier conditioning. And yet it is clear that there is a gap between that and fulfillment.

Here's part of the difficulty. He spends a lot of time talking about "modern psychology" and Hitler and USSR. It is neither impassioned nor completely clinical. But it is too agnostic to sit well in my stomache. I have to both finish it and come to peace with it before I can write a real review.

One other snippet that is particularily interesting (in light of the fact that he bases it on NO religious premise) is that he notes that nature has gone to great lengths to make sure that every person is different. Nature has worked not to make mankind homogenous but just the opposite. How interesting to see that come from this angle. It is something I had begun take for granted because I have been raised Christian. Christianity is where religion took an astonishing turn towards the notion that God values each of us as unique individuals.

- - - - - - - - - -

Goodbye Mr. Chips is a pleasant book. It's feel is mainly reminiscent. Mr. Chipping is a teacher at an english boarding school. He is old now but has become as much a part of the school as a great Linden by the cricket field. He is even old in the fact that he is the Latin teacher. He grows into the school by force of time and I-know-not-how-to-call-it. He grows older, he marries, he becomes respected then formidable then an institution. It is kind of a simple story of a simple fellow's life. I understand that it was a story written without much expectation of notice or even return on the investment. And yet it became unexpectedly popular. In a way it was much like "Chips" himself.

What to "make" of this book? Hmm. Umm. It is a story of a simple but good life. One we can learn from. It is a "little way" book - though not nearly so little nor profound as St. Therese. It is a life to learn from that life goes on and on and that simple good has simple but good rewards.

... besides - it is a pleasant book!

- - - - - - - - - -
A Ring of Endless Light is a much tougher nut! It is mostly about death. Vicky is an interesting girl of about 15 or 16 from a very aware family. They are at once bohemian in openness and stolid in their grounding in christian culture. She is learning about death this summer. They are staying with her grandfather whose cancer is killing him. Her reckless rich would-be boyfreind from the previous summer who during a suicide attempt has caused the death of a good sailor who happens to be the father of another would-be boyfriend - of the solid homely type. And because that isn't enough she meets a college guy who is doing research on dolphin telepathy (it's not quite as wierd as it sounds - more like dolphin emotional communication). Oh yes, he is a would-be boyfriend too. And he is dealing with the death of a friend that happened a year or so hence. The dolphins are dealing with death, Vicky's reckless friend keeps brushing up against death and sometimes taking Vicky along for the ride yet swears that she means life to him. Oh and just to put a dagger through your heart a cute little kid is introduced to us so that she can die in Vicky's arms late in the book. I don't really like this book. Ironically I kept reading it all the way to the end. I kept waiting for a few events that I read about in a review on the internet - of the Disney movie version. Ha ha ha - no suprise that it was far afield of the actual story!

- - - - - - - - - -
A Wrinkle in Time is a much better M. L'E book. Still on the just about out there side if you ask me. It's got a sort-of science fiction thing going on. But without the lasers and blasters and droids that make Star Wars such a fun movie.

What it has is a really interesting little boy named Charles Wallace. - that's his first name not his first and last name! Charles Wallace Murray. Meg Murray is his older sister and the focal point of the book. She has to learn about love and hate to overcome the evil-borg sort of antagonist. She has to do some heroic things to save the universe - or at least some pretty important members of her immediate family. Anyway she does self-sacrifice almost to the point of death. And I think it probably won't spoil too much to say that she is victorious.

It's an engaging story and a good read-aloud. However, it descends into some odd corners of speculation sometimes - which is to say I think M L'E goes a little too far for my philosophy. I have to think more carefully about all the things that get said about love, hate, order and freedom before I could write a proper review.
- - - - - - - - - -
A Wind in the Door is the successor book to A Wrinkle in Time. It feels like it too. There are some interesting new ideas to think about. M. L'E stretches our concept of our world by introducing us to a cherubim who still has a bit to learn and demons who impersonate her old principal (hmm. anyone else ever think these thoughts?). And in a rather brilliant leap she takes Meg and company into a "farandola" world which exists inside a mitochondria inside a cell inside Charles Wallace. Some interesting concepts about "size doesn't matter here" really are worth thinking about. In the order of creation, she is told, a mitochondria may have personhood and a star may have personhood and a cherubim who is not material has personhood. In their personhood there is no difference in size or fullness. Good concept. But I am a little on edge about whether stars and mito's have personhood so it is an excercise rather than a wholly believable story. I don't know why it irks me - I am perfectly comfortable with Tolkien's elves and hobbits and dragons having personhood. Maybe it is that I don't like to have this world twisted in this way.

- - - - - - - - - -

The Great Gatsby is a good book. But it is not easy to review. You can find the storyline on many other sites so I won't get into that here.

This book is full of interesting characters as they weave their way through the world of the rich. The rich are by no means glorified here!! They aren't dismissed either. They are explored. They have different personalities and backgrounds and different degrees of character. That's what makes this more interesting than your average read.

Gatsby is enigmatic and yet seems good through most of the book. But the people that populate his lawn and mansion during his opulent parties fancy thinking of him as sinister. The "old money" across the bay seem to think him gauche and look down their noses at him as nouveaux riche. Yet many come to his parties anyway.

Tom and Daisy are those "old money" folks. And they seem just plain bored. Tom talks about the new ideas and yet is pretty thick. Daisy is a fading flower. They drink - a lot. And in this stupor and life of languor they somehow manage to leave destruction in their wake. Daisy by a trick of fate has twisted Gastby's very life around her little finger. Tom gets away with murder.

I don't know what to make of Jordan. She reminds me of people I knew. She is fetching but selfish. She too is afflicted with boredom where she actually has the means to achive real successes.

Nick Carraway is the narrator. We see the others through his eyes. It's OK though because he is fairly likeable and pretty inert. I have remembered since I first read it that he made a pretty good bit of money by learning to launder rich men's socks just the way they liked it. There is a vocational lesson to be learned here!! And as I have lived I have seen that it is pretty accuate.

There are some pretty dark messages in this story. The lifestyle of the idle rich has its draw. Much in the way of luxury and beauty surround them. It seems that I could live with that! And then along comes this book. And F. has not made it any prettier than it is. He insisted on a gross but critical and I think significant (or should I say symbolic) detail be left in the book - Myrtle is not just killed in a car crash but maimed - and it is important to F. that we see it without glossing over. In the end no amount of money buys character. Having means can reveal the character you have (or lack!) more readily than you would like to believe. - - - which reminds me of another good story along those lines that is much shorter and better for little kids: The Old Woman who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Aspergers Syndrome

A careless self diagnosis suggests that I may have Asperger's Syndrom in some very mild degree or another. Hmm. It's nicknamed Geek Syndrom too. So I perked up at an NPR story that was pretty interesting.

I have 2 take-aways to savor a little bit more:

If a cure were invented for autism, would he take it?
Carley does not hesitate before answering.
"No. Never will. Never ever will," he says. "I love the way my brain works, I always have and it's one of the things I can now admit to myself. I like the way I think in terms of numbers. I like the way visualize things. I like the way most especially that I can bury myself in work that I love to a degree that makes everybody else in the world looks at me and go, 'God! I wish I could do that.' No, I am not changing anything."

I concur to a point. I like being able to do those things too but I wouldn't mind an opportunity to improve my people skills. If the drug (like some drugs do) just returns you to a medium level on ALL fronts then I would reject it - I don't want to lose what I have. Besides - it may take a while but as I get older I am learning more and more of the cues all the time.

2) I thought the convention sounded really neat. Normally I am a little averse to the "do your own thing" mania. But at the convention the circumstances seem to make it the best of all options. Neat.

Monday, June 26, 2006

From Poem

I haven't posted in a while. - I haven't needed to. - And I have a hard time making a post to follow Easter.

All the rage lately seems to be the poem anybody can write. Here's my version:

I am from a plastic pen that writes well, from an old blue Toyota Corolla and a pair of well made leather docksider shoes.
I am from a red brick home in the woods, from a brown stone school well into the evening, and meaningful chapel under the mighy mountains of
southern California and a studio apartment full of big sunny southern windows and love.
I am from the unmowed field of grass and wildflowers that wave above our heads as we look at the sky, the rose just perfected hung about with
the morning fog and dew which no-one sees but me - yet.
I am from long trips in the car with the whole country all around and an engineering family with an artistic streak, from Germany, Ireland,
France, Belgium and Scotland, from the hedge and from the mill.
I am from a grandpa who TOLD me about when he was a little girl.
I am from and I am for the Roman Catholic church; and it is from the chosen people of Israel; and they were chosen from before the foundations
of the world were set. From before the worlds foundations were set I was known and I hope to read my name in the book of life - written of the
mind of God.
I am from an elm grove in the land of lakes, from bratwurst and cheese and burger-for-a-bunch. I am from Oolong tea, Taiwan beer, tempura
shrimp with mayonaise and pinapple sauce, and also from chicken knuckles, palate-poking krill and stinking tofu.
I am from wheat-bread sandwiches wrapped in wax paper in my brown bag lunch and dry milk because it was cheaper. Yet I am from down-hill skiing
since before I can remember and from golf with dad, and grandparents and friends.
I am from a grandpa who sold insurance but read the Harvard Classics. And from another who with half a thumb became a doctor and the best of
men and beat alzheimers - I hope I never forget where I am from.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gaude et Laetare!!!

Easter IS the best time. I just have to share...

In fact I am particularily partial to Holy Saturday personally.

I remember vaguely (VERY vaguely) back into the shadows of my youngest days. All Good Fridays seemed to be grey and drizzly. We would suffer from lack of food and drink for 3 long (but not endless) hours. We would color pictures of Jesus' passion. We would talk about it in hushed voices. [ Although my mom was always there I am guessing her story would vary slightly from mine :) ].

Holy Saturday was the waiting time. Easter was just about here. Candy was just about to be devoured. When we were just a little older (10ish?) We learned that you could eat some candy at noon on Saturday - whoo hoo!

- - -

In college the mood of Holy Week intensified and grew immensely rich. We were learning whole new avenues, streets and alley-ways of the faith from the great teachers and fathers of the Church. The kitchen (where I was doing work-study) was being scrubbed in every nook and cranny. Up to our elbows in accumulated dirt we were finding out what the kitchen was intended to be - all clean and purposeful (symbolic eh?). At the same time there was a retreat with meditations by our good priests. Ponder the life and suffereings of Christ. Learn stories of the saints. Remind us of things we knew but in ways that were new. Searching our own experience and cleaning our souls (like to the kitchen). Taking flight down and up with the rich ancient music that the Church has reserved especially for this time. Sad to tears. Happy to tears.

Holy Saturday in college was yet again different. Good Friday had passed. Jesus was dead now. We could not save him. We could only wait. We were subdued and serious - waiting. The "fishbowl" classroom - the waiting place between the sacristy and the chapel - was quiet but intense. The brass was out on the table being polished; the vases were being arranged in preparation; the smells of the coming feast were beginning to alight. All were subdued - and serious - and hopeful. Anticipation was growing. The resurrection was coming but was not yet here - we must be subdued - but it was getting harder and harder to do. Easter was unstoppably on its way. Preparations were coming to a culmination. All pointed towards Easter. The relief of lenten sufferings was happening partly due just to the proximity of the end. Hope was easy now. Here the day seemed always sunny.

It was on this day, in the midst of all this rising tide of hope and anticipation that it became finally clear to me that love2learn mom was standing there right in front of me, sunlit and smiling right there where the path of my life was taking me. I didn't propose to her that day but there was never any doubt from that moment on that I should commit myself fully.

Then well after dark a fire was lit in the spring wind and blackness of that mountain valley night. The chant was repeated at intervals as we processed, haltingly, inside: "Lumen Christi". Then the flame was passed from the easter candle to another, and another and another. The mood and the symbolism were in thick, sweet harmony - the light of Christ brought to the darkness of the world was freely shared and not dimished but rather increased by the acts till the glow was all around me and showed the people and the world more clearly than before. The Mass was begun and grew in beauty and brighness as it went on. The careful eager voice of Johnny H chanting the Easter sequence. The youthful voices of the schola and choir with moderate songs at first and rising to a crescendo of Alleluias. It ALL grew brighter and better as the Mass turned time, turned us all, into Easter.

Then in the very middle of the night completely bathed in and surrounded by light of every kind we ended Mass and began to serve the feast. Everyone fresh and happy and talking and drinking and eating. Everyone happy! Happy Easter!!! Gaude et Laetare Virgo Maria. Alleluia!
Quia surrexit Dominus vere Aleluia!
Regina cæli lætare, Alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia:
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Allelluia:
Ora pro nobis Deum, Alleluia

(I turned it around a bit so that I could start with the Gaude. In this re-arranged order it is translated:

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia!
For the Lord is truly risen. Alleluia.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice! Alleluia!
For the Son thou wast privileged to bear, Alleluia!
Is risen as He said. Alleluia!
Pray for us to God. Alleluia!

cool heh? You gotta hear it chanted sometime.)

All this is so dear to me. It is a part of me. Each year it touches the inside of me.

This year I was touched again. We decided last-minute to ALL go to the Easter Vigil Mass at the local Shoenstatt center (Good solid Catholic place). It was all dark. In a webber grill outside the fire was lit. The mood was set! (Even little 2-yr-old Frank was now impressed :) The Easter candle was lit and prepared, the service begun. As we turned to head into the Church at the next "Light of Christ" I caught sight of my own god-father. I didn't know that he was still a regular communicant I have been praying for him for years - and here I see him on Good Saturday at a great Catholic place! (Tears of joy again). Gaude et Laetare! Happy Easter! Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The curse of intelligence

Named for the shock value. It is not a curse!! I often am sad at the fact that I cannot pursue ideas, commit to pursuits or refresh relationships that have fallen off my day-to-day radar. There is so much I want to do with my eternity! – I wonder if THAT will be enough time?

St Cletus – Ora pro nobis.

St Cletus – Ora pro nobis. This is a very efficient way of praying. Consider that the Saints reside in the presence of God himself and that they have an eternity ahead of them. I can in 3 seconds invoke the help of one whose prayers are clearly desirable to God and probably more intense and more prolonged than I have time for here below. In fact by turning over the petition to the free will of a saint I never know how much "time" and effort they will spend looking after me - - - one prayer, uttered early in my youth, to Saint Cletus may by his graciousness lead to a lifetime of intercessions and graces won by his prayers to God for me. Wow!


Skeptometer. John Of ’Worke introduced me to this wonderful term. It seems that one of the deplorable results of our indoctrination-style school curriculum these days is that people have not learned how to be appropriately skeptical. (I won’t even get into how easy that makes the advertisers’ jobs!!) Basically, as we gain experience we start to learn who we SHOULDN’T believe unconditionally. We look for inconsistencies. We learn to look for signs that might indicate closer examination is warranted. I guess this is one of the elements of wisdom. And it is why we expect that people who are young don’t have fully functionional skeptometers. – and why we expect adults to gain accuracy on their skeptometers as they become seasoned with life. The term itself is brilliant. In one word I can communicate with my friends the whole idea. And it is simple code to refer to someone who’s skeptometer is broken. To refer to my skeptometer pointing to redline as I am hearing a story related via email (about, for instance, someone from a small African nation that wants me to help them recover their lost millions…)

Closely related, perhaps, is the fact that TAC graduates have come to be known by the phrase “careful readers of text” by many in the higher education world. And I believe it is used in an attempted pejorative way sometimes. But I wear the title as proudly as that of “geek”. I would not surrender the tendency to be a “careful reader of text” – in fact I work to maintain it. The tendency is what helps sharpen my skeptometer! It was funny to hear it for the first time because, again, the term describes the situation elegantly and accurately. The method at TAC, of course, includes plenty of calls of “can you cite the text for that Mr. Honey?”

Monday, February 13, 2006

Movies Can Be Worthwhile

I don’t really like to chat that much. It doesn’t suit my taste. Yet I love a good argument – not the fistfight sort of course – the spirited but logical dialogue gets me going. I find myself trying to turn small talk into something bigger all the time. Some topics lend themselves to this – like the discussion of movies. Almost any movie yields one or two topics of universal content – be it a positive or negative example or even an occasion to recognize privation!

A list of favorite movies would be bad without an indication as to WHY the movies are on the list. Wow that would be a lot of work. Maybe SOMEDAY I will do that.

Here's a few that have so many things in them I don't have to elaborate - you can begin on your own to analyze these:
Casablanca, I Remember Mama, Seven Samurai, Gone With the Wind, A Man for All Seasons. (Any good Shakespeare rendition).


Early in life we learn mostly through our senses. Even what we learn from others looks through the heavily-tinted glasses of sense-experience. As we age we learn to see through others eyes (an expression which stands for all senses here). In that way we become wise – looking beyond ourselves and beyond our natural instincts into a world we more and more are responsible for ourselves. I wonder if the person who becomes wise begins even to understand what was hidden from his gender early in life – begins to understand some of what belongs to only the other gender in the early years.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Every human on earth has been trapped in time. All events are sequential. Yet we are given the inestimable gift of intellect so that we may understand beyond the moment. We can remember the past, witness cause and effect and guess the future. Yet we still only know at 10 what we have learned before 10. And in this respect we are very limited by time – and also by those events which began to shape our temperaments and understandings. In fact the current trend is to assume that the earliest events are the only real indications of who we become. It is as if these events trap us into a lifetime confined to a restricted allowable set of consequences as if life were a syllogism whose principles were all in place before the age of reason.

This is not wholly untrue but it is vastly deficient. Just as I am composed of feelings and intellect I am also privy to sensation and revelation. I must believe that no person is so bereft of will that he cannot at any time grow more wise. And so I would not have so much emphasis placed on merely my youthful experiences – which I tend to find so hard to recall anyway!! It bugs me that so many "modern" people think everything can be blamed on some youthful experience rather than their own decisions.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Chinese Character Book is WOW!

The book is What's in a Chinese Character by Tan Huay Peng.

This book is amazing! The publisher should really let Amazon show you a couple sample pages - that would tell the story much better than my description. But since they have not - here is my attempt:

The author attempts to trace the lineage and reasons for each of the characters in this book (there are about 100,000 chinese characters - he only shows 2 per page in this 185 page book). In chinese each character is a word. It seems most characters are composits of 2 characters. He looks at the shapes to see if he can make pictographic sense of the characters and radicals. And he draws cartoons of what he sees, and adds explanations and even lists some similar words.

Sometimes his explanations are more of a stretch than others. Sometimes it is very clear and very insightful. By understanding what goes into a language you gain insights into the world and how the people understand it. In this respect it is heavy duty philoosphy. In fact in this case - that is when every character is its own word - the written language is its OWN language - it doesn't really have a natural link to the way it is spoken. I guess this is why the Japanese could so easily borrow the characters to apply to their own language (as they are said to have done). That in itself is a mind-stretcher.

Here is a fair-use sample:

A spoon full of yogurt and the Medicine goes down.

Science is so cool. They are going to use yogurt bacteria to deliver drugs to the body. There are huge advances here. A whole new method to deliver drugs that the body would otherwise reject in other delivery methods. If I am not mistaken the bacteria will actually produce the drug for us. And lastly, how great can this be for little kids who can't swallow pills? Just delivering tylenol and stuff in yogurt is good idea.

Yogurt bacteria may soon fight HIV
PROVIDENCE, R.I., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Brown University scientists say they've genetically modified some of the 'friendly bacteria' found in yogurt to release a drug that blocks HIV infection.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hello world

Hello world works for anything on the computer doesn't it?