Friday, October 24, 2008

"Secrets of Enlightenment With Deepak Chopra"

If you get a chance, catch Deepak Chopra on PBS. He's really on a roll. I don't necessarily agree with him 100% (for example when he seems to refer to the hierarchical ordering of states of consciousness) but I tell you what, it's really good stuff and if you're inclined towards a secular and intellectual approach to spirituality it's well worth a listen and probably a purchase.

Seems to have been produced by public television--have been unable to find the DVD except through public television via a decent sized donation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to Sheryl !

Sheryl is 50 today. Happy happy happy! She posted some birthday videos here. We're going to see Sark tonight at a local bookstore. Not sure what we're doing today.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Great Egret Video

Walked up on a Great Egret in Santa Cruz, California at a local city park. He was feeding in a little trickle of a stream. I tried to hand-hold my little video camera at 34x zoom. Bad idea. I'm nowhere near that steady, and the on camera image stabilization is either primitive or non-existent. Otherwise we love our little Samsung and it was the cheapest bonified camcorder at Circuit City. I shot this at the lowest resolution and then compressed it way more for web use, but you can still generally see the bird. First time I've shot with a camcorder in years, first time editing in about ten years, first time use of iMovie and first take at a voice over, so, it is what it is.

Anyway, despite the shaky cam you get a decent enough look at a great egret and I did a voice-over explaining some of the differences between a Great Egret and the smaller Snowy Egret which looks very similar. Main differences: Great Egret is bigger and taller, has black feet which match his legs. Great Egret has a longer neck with a "hinged" appearance; not quite the smooth s-curve of the Snowy Egret. Snowy Egret has bright yellow feet. That's all I know, I'm no bird expert so take it with a grain of salt.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Good Question

"I was just wondering on how to meditate. I looked it up online but I just wanted to know how you do it. Is meditating just thinking about nothing? I learned at church that excessive worrying is like meditating on the wrong thing and I do that a lot....It would take a lot of will power for me to just not worry at all. "
~Britney Pieta

I actually would say that "thinking about nothing" is the most concise definition there is for meditation. However that is not inclusive of the many dimensions of meditation, especially in a spiritual context. Consider that worrying is giving in to fear, and that fear is the opposite of faith. If you focus on increasing your faith, then will power is not required in order to stop worrying. It's actually a very joyous process to surrender to faith, it's not about will power and it isn't exactly "work" to do so, although focus and determination may be required.

What's brewing? Or, why I only ever finished one philosophy class.

Is the mug half empty or half full? What are your assumptions? It's not about what's in the mug, but the possibilities of the whole picture. So, step one is to invalidate the question and instead determine a better course of inquiry.

We can see that the coffee is still dripping from the Melitta cone into the cup. Therefore we can assume that no matter what the coffee level was when the picture was snapped, it continued to rise higher. We can't see enough of the cone to know how much brewing coffee is left to go. Based on what we can't see, we know that it's possible that there is enough brewing coffee to fill the cup to a reasonable level. Conversely, it is possible that what we view from the bottom of the cone is just about to stop.

For those of us with experience in brewing coffee, we also know that a continuous stream first changes to a series of rapid drips, then the rapid drips slow to more infrequent drips before stopping. Therefore we might assume that the picture above depicts a half-brewed cup which will continue to brew for awhile yet, perhaps not filling the cup, but it's not in the absolute last stages of brewing.

However, the continuous stream could be an illusion if the shutter speed of the camera were slow enough to blur the dip-drip-drip which is nearer to the end of the production cycle. What do we know of the photographer, and is it possible to obtain the EXIF data from the exposure?

But wait, the top of the cone indicates that it has been filled, because the coffee grounds are coating the filter up to the brim. Also, there are clear water droplets on the glass mug, and on the outside of the cone itself, indicating that both have recently been washed. Is this the first cup, or a subsequent cup of coffee?

Before I answer this great mystery, ask yourself if the price of housing could continue to rise indefinitely without a major setback, when the whole real-estate investing industry is based upon this presumed to be perpetual price inflation plus the ability of the average worker to keep up on the mortgage. Then ask yourself how to predict when said prices might bobble back to four or five years earlier in the cycle (or more), because, obviously, wages don't always keep up with inflation.

OK, here's some pertinent information. It was my second cup of coffee. The coffee mug is a huge 20 oz cup, therefore half a cup is still a good sized cup, especially when I add cream. The shutter speed was 1/60th at f 6.3, and from that you'll have to interpret your own conclusions about whether it was really a continuous stream. If you look close, the stream was bending from the vertical and about to go to rapid drips but that doesn't matter because I still had plenty of hot water to pour in, which I did, and then Sheryl asked for the last of the weak coffee to be put in a mug of her own rather than pour it down the drain (she likes it weak ). I couldn't possibly write this blog entry without prodigious amounts of caffeine.

Caffeine artificially inflates my perceptions, temporarily raises my blood sugar-- and then if I'm not careful, I crash.

If you have done your research, you'll know that I'm highly unlikely to ever brew just half a cup of coffee. If you've done even more research, you'll know that I almost never drink more than 2 cups in a day, which by US standards is what the average male drinks. If you do more research you learn that I sometimes elect to drink tea instead, which has far less caffeine but a lot more theo-bromides and theo-phyline. (So I can't drink it after 4pm either and expect to sleep well). Better yet I could drink juice or milk; even a glass half full might do me more good.

One way or another, I'm not going to die of thirst.

You might be interested in Charlie Rose interviewing Warren Buffet, this year he became the world's richest man.
He had a lot to say about our current economic situation. It's also well worth reading about Warren on Wikipedia, or anywhere else you choose to look for (more?) credible sources. Warren still lives in the house in Nebraska that he bought for $31,000 in the fifties. Despite having more money than anybody else in the world, he lives on a salary of $100,000. He calls the current crash "poetic justice" even though he clearly does care about the state of the US economy. I think he's somebody who sees beyond the cup in front of him, and considers all the factors. He plans to donate about 85% of his general wealth to charity when he goes, and said he's never really had much use for a lot of material things. He's an interesting case. One can learn a lot just by observing.