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October 31, 2005

Predictions: Most Likely versus Most Liked

Over the past many years, I've read various predictions, both dire and pleasant, and have made a few of my own (not dire). I've read many predictions that have said, when you boil it all down, that the earth is doomed and we are all going to die.

Aside from the fact that all possibilities do exist in some universe and on some timeline, none of these predictions has ever felt "right" to me in the sense of being very likely. And yet it seemed that the person making the prediction was convinced of the truth of their vision.

Knowing as I do that there is a certain feeling one gets when one is tuning into the Infinite and getting accurate information, this has always puzzled me. Why would people get such widely varying visions of the future? Why are they so convinced that their dire predictions are going to come true? And if they are accurately tuning into the future, why don't those dire futures ever manifest?

I do recognize that a certain love of fear-mongering (and the attention and notoriety that goes along with it) comes into play—some of the people so publicly making these predictions enjoy the sense of control they feel when engendering fear, chaos, and doubt in others. But again, I am quite willing to believe that most or even all of these people are conveying a message they feel they genuinely received.

Today, as I was discussing this with a friend, I got the answer in an intuitive flash. When I tune in to the future, since there are many possible futures, I tune in to the future that is most likely to happen. Of course, the future can and does change, and is also influenced by what people believe and do based on the information they have, but as my friend said, my predictions tend to be so close to what actually happens that it seems clear to her, anyway, that what I see is what is going to happen, not that what happens happens because I saw it.

But, although when I tune in, I am tuning in to what is most likely to happen, when some others tune in, they are tuning in to what they would most like to see happen. They tune in to a possibility, yes, but one that is remote—perhaps something that has 1/5th of a 1% chance to occur, while I might tune in to something that has an 80% or better chance to occur.

I am not saying that everyone who makes predictions tunes in to what they would most like to happen instead of what is most likely to happen. What I am saying is that people who make predictions that are in the nature of very dire things happening (things that never seem to happen) have not yet developed the internal clarity and self-honesty and calmness and trust and positive outlook that are all required to be able to set aside their own fears and doubts and secret attraction to harm so that they can tune in to what is most likely to become real, instead of tuning in to realities that resonate with their own fears. In other words, it is those people who tune in to what they would most like to see become real, which is a very different thing that what is most likely to become real.

Also, it is my experience that the best predictions, even if they do predict what could seem like scary events, do not engender fear in people, but instead wonder and empowerment.

So the next time you read a dire prediction about the future of the world, take a few minutes to check your internal sense of rightness. Did you go into fear when reading the prediction? Did your chest tighten and your breathing become shallow? Did you instantly start worrying about yourself, your loved ones, and your future, maybe even feeling a bit of panic? If so, then the prediction was probably not of something that is very likely to happen, but was instead brought through someone who has his or her own fear issues to deal with, which issues strongly colored the message that was brought through.

Step back mentally and tell yourself that, although it could be that this prediction is true, it is almost certainly only true in some other reality, far, far removed from yours. Then move on and let that prediction slide back into the general sea of information, to be floated away and dissolved into neutral energy that can be reused for something more productive in the world.

October 30, 2005

What NOT To Name the Baby

Every time I come across this Web site on baby names, I end up laughing so hard tears come out of my eyes. This site reveals just the tip of the iceberg concerning the crimes some parents commit upon their children by way of naming them weird, odd, horrible things.

Mind you, some of the "humor" on this Web site isn't very kind. Still, some of it is dead-on.

Which reminds me of a book I once read long, long ago called People Named Smith, by H. Allen Smith. It is very funny. Long out of print, it is still available in some libraries. If you can't find it there, it is certainly on the used book circuit for very reasonable sums. I just ordered it for myself, because over the years, every now and then, I find myself wanting to quote from it but, not having it to hand, unable to share the humor with others with anything like the original sparkle and wit that H. Allen Smith brings.

October 26, 2005

Drugs Are Bad for the Environment

I feel strongly that everyone has the right to do whatever they wish as long as they are not harming others and as long as they accept full responsibility for their actions while doing whatever it is they want to do. That includes the right to take whatever drugs they wish to take, fry their brain however they wish, ruin their health however they like—SO LONG AS THEY DON'T HARM OTHERS.

Unfortunately, too many drug users don't give a rat's whisker about others. They work and drive while under the influence, for example, causing accidents, making mistakes at work, and so on, costing others a great deal in terms of time wasted re-doing badly done tasks, paying for medical bills, and other related costs. It may be a lost cause to try to appeal to drug users to be more responsible, but I keep trying.

My latest effort is to point out that the drugs you take—which includes the illicit drugs you are taking, yes, but also birth control pills, over the counter drugs, doctor-prescribed hormones and other drugs, even the caffiene from your coffee—all end up being excreted from your body and going into the environment. See Science News for one of many, many articles on this problem.

So before you pop that next pill, please take a moment to reflect on the fact that everything is related. You may think it is none of anybody's business what drugs you take, but unless you don't excrete, you are affecting the environment, and therefore it is everybody's business. We all thank you for refraining.

Some more links:

  1. "Pharmaceutical drugs given to people and to domestic animals --including antibiotics, hormones, strong pain killers, tranquilizers, and chemotherapy chemicals given to cancer patients --are being measured in surface water, in groundwater, and in drinking water at the tap. Large quantities of drugs are excreted by humans and domestic animals, and are distributed into the environment by flushing toilets and by spreading manure and sewage sludge onto and into soil. German scientists report that anywhere from 30 to 60 drugs can be measured in a typical water sample..."
  2. Pharmaceuticals In Our Water Supplies
  3. "Drugs As Toxic Waste"

October 24, 2005

Existentialist Cowboy Joke

"Say your prayers," Butch said, hand poised above the sandlewood grip of his chrome-plated forty-five.

"God is dead!" came a tiny voice from his hand.

The other gunslinger was confused, but didn't have
time to think about it. He reached, but was gunned down
before his hand reached his own weapon.

A hanger-on from the crowd had the guts to ask,
"So what was with that 'God is dead' stuff?"

"I," said Butch, "have a Nietzsche trigger finger."

October 22, 2005

Vaccinations Redux

Pretty much my entire adult life, I've been suspicious of vaccinations. I am not alone, not by a long shot, and there is a huge amount of data to back us up.

Recently, another piece of evidence arose concerning a coverup regarding the dangers of the mercury present in vaccines.

I would never presume to tell anyone else what to do or not do with their children, but I cannot urge strongly enough that parents do their homework and read everything they can get their hands on concerning vaccines before they decide to vaccinate their children.

One problem is that vaccines contain mercury in amounts that far exceed acceptable levels. This means we are exposing our children to the hazards of mercury poisoning every time we have them vaccinated. For more information, see

There are so many links I could provide on vaccinations, and some books to read too, but this should be enough to start with. I encourage you to search the Internet yourself. Also, remember to ask yourself, when reading about vaccines, "Who has a vested interest in this information?" If you are reading information distributed by vaccine companies, obviously their objectivity is suspect. If the information comes from someone who is only trying to educate people, then objectivity is, perhaps not guaranteed, but certainly a whole lot more likely to be present.

October 20, 2005

Weird Experiences: The Roof Peels Away

I have up until now been pretty circumspect about the weirder things I have experienced in my life. Most of them are pretty unbelievable, even, I admit, to me, should someone else have told me that they experienced them instead of me experiencing them myself. It helps me to remind myself that I am not a drug user and have never tried any number of drugs that were common recreational vehicles when I was younger, so I can safely say these experiences aren't flashbacks.

But still, I haven't wanted to risk trotting out these weird things and have people think that I am either lying or have had some kind of episode, so I've only shared a few of them with friends and family, and rarely even then.

But now, for some reason explicable only to some part of me that I sincerely hopes knows what it is doing, I feel that it is now okay to share some of these experiences. The somewhat less weird ones, anyway.

The one I am sharing this morning happened a few years ago. I woke up in the middle of the night, opened my eyes, and saw that the roof had completely peeled away. I saw a lovely cloudy night sky and a beautiful glowing light, like a full moon only without a specific light source, and I knew that I was being offered the chance to leave this earth and move on to the next plane of existence. Mind you, there was no sense of there being any kind of presence inviting me—instead, it was like some kind of time lock had released, and a portal had opened, and it was there to be used or not as I wished.

This isn't to say that I don't believe in a Presence, because of course I do. It is just to say that in this particular instance, I didn't have a feeling of there being one.

I thought about my daughter, then about 14, sleeping in her room down the hall, and I knew I couldn't go. I couldn't leave my daughter alone. I couldn't leave her motherless. I knew she still needed me.

So I said "no" to the opportunity. I figured it was always going to be there—whenever I am ready to go, I can—and so I said no. I also, just to make my answer quite clear, ducked my head under the covers like a little child. I waited a while, emerged from the covers to check the ceiling again, and all was back to normal. And then I went back to sleep.

Now, I know what some people are going to think, and I will respond to that. Some people will think that I was asleep and dreaming. (Some people might claim drugs or some kind of flashback, but as I've said, that isn't possible.)

As for it being a dream: I have spent my entire life since age 13 paying attention to my dreams, exploring and thinking about the various levels of consciousness within dreams, having many lucid dreams and other weird varieties of dreams and sleeping levels of consciousness, including dreams in which I have thought I was awake until I really woke up (and dreams in which I thought I was awake, woke up, then woke up again, then woke up again...), and I have, as a result of this dream/consciousness state exploration over many decades, developed a fine sense for what is what. This is why I can state without doubt that I know I was awake. This was not a dream. It was not a lucid dream. It was not a dream of being awake from which I later woke up. I know the qualities of each, and the differences between them all, and I know I was awake. It was not in any way any other kind of awareness than plain, ordinary, everyday wakefulness.

I know some people won't believe me when I say that, and it is a sad reflection on today's society when a person's word is no longer considered enough, but ultimately, I know that this experience was real, and my opinion is what is important in this case.

I told my daughter about it a few years after it happened, and she felt bad, thinking that I had somehow given up something wonderful for her. I told her that being in this life is something wonderful, something never to be repeated, and that what I would have gone to is always going to be there, and that I wanted to spend time with her in this life, but I think she still feels a little bad anyway, like I somehow gave up something for her sake.

Truthfully, there are many things that loving parents* give up for their children, and I have given up many things, but I can't think of a single thing, including this opportunity, that I have given up that I ever regret, or that I value more than her presence in my life. She is a most precious human being, a joy and a treasure to me, and I have never regretted having her for even a single second.

Anyway, that's one of my weird experiences. I'll share more as time goes on.

(* I say "loving parent" because parents who are less loving—or even unloving—don't give up those things, or give them up but make their children pay in other ways. But I am not going there with this essay. I just wanted to make a distinction there.)

October 19, 2005

A Different Kind of Music in My Head

About two months ago, I found myself wishing to hear a different kind of music. I didn't know what I meant by that, except that I didn't want to hear anything that is currently being composed or that has ever been composed, at least in the past 2,000 years. My musical tastes have always been extremely broad and extremely eclectic, so it isn't like I was wishing for something easily achieved.

Only recently did I realize that it has been a while since I've heard the music in my head, and that that music is perhaps what I am longing to hear, only now I want to hear it with my ears instead of just inside my head as before. Please allow me to explain. Maybe you've had similar experiences, or can shed some light on what I am about to describe. I have no training in music, so I know I am not using the right terminology, so those of you who do, please bear with me as I try to discuss this.

From when I was a very young child (earlier than 2) to sometime around the age of 7 or 8, I used to walk around hearing full symphonies in my head. This wasn't something my ears were hearing, but instead was something that I was hearing inside, similar to remembering something one has heard, but like it is being heard right now. One thing about these symphonies is that I always knew exactly what was going to be "playing" next. Another is that they were complex and complete and lasted a long time, with full movements and everything.

Later, as I grew older, I would find that I could listen to "real" symphonies (Mozart and Tchaikovsky especially, but others too) and know the same thing—I would know what was coming next (what instruments were going to play, which sounds were coming, which lyrical lines of music), so I could hum along, as it were. I always assumed that this was because it was obvious what was coming next, but now I am not so sure.

This internal music was something I enjoyed but never questioned. I don't know why or exactly when this went away, but it did. It never went away completely, however, though the music branched out into other kinds of music. By "other kinds of music," I don't mean rock and roll or country or jazz or the like; I mean a kind of music that is different from anything I am familiar with. Since I listen to a large range of music types, this is saying something. But it is hard to describe that music. I don't usually hear it if I am "listening" for it, but instead I hear it if I am concentrating on something else, like driving (especially if driving long distances alone at night).

If I were to explain it, I would say that in some ways this other kind of music sounds both very familiar and yet entirely new every time I hear it. It never seems to repeat itself, but there is a comfortableness and a sense of, "Oh yes, that's right" to it when I notice that I am hearing the music. The music is partially composed of instruments I know and partially of sounds arising from no source that I am familiar with. It has a very wholesome, organic, right feeling to it.

Often, when I listen, I can kind of hum along inside my head in a way that is both me contributing to the music and also, sometimes, directing it to go in new directions. Likewise, with the symphonies, when I do hear them (which is very rarely now), I can "compose" the music on the fly by doing something with my brain—I really don't know what—and having the music go in a direction that I want it to go: More horns, or more strings, or whatever.

In any case, however, if I focus too strongly on the music, it recedes into the background or goes entirely away. The fact that I cannot fully focus on it is probably why I have always both taken it for granted and never really thought about it my entire life.

It occurred to me just today that perhaps either other people have had the same experiences, or perhaps they might have some clues as to what this phenomenon is. It is tempting to think that I might have been some kind of musical genius in another life, but honestly, I have never had any feeling that I was such. It is also tempting to think that somehow I am listening to some wavelength of life energy which is carried by music, or which sustains music, or both, or that there is some kind of spiritual meaning to it. But again, I don't know. It is just there. The thing is, I haven't heard it as much lately (though I also haven't been driving much lately), and I think that somehow listenting to that music was sustaining me in a way that I can't articulate.

Any comments on this are more than welcome. Remember you have to sign in with TypeKey to make comments, but that is fast, free, safe, and private.

New Terms: Libertarian versus Coercive Collectivists

An attempt at normalizing definitions so that neither "liberal" nor "conservative" are themselves considered bad by their opposing counterparts. Instead, this Web page focuses on behavior and attitudes. He polarizes it, as so many do, but it is still a useful step in the right direction.

October 18, 2005

Using Your Real Name on the Internet

While I understand completely the needs for privacy and safety on the Internet, and I especially think that it is important for younger people to use handles or aliases whenever posting to the Internet, I feel that once one is an adult, it is far better to use one's real name whenever making posts or in any way putting something up on a Web site. I believe this to be true even for communities that have a habit of using aliases, though I know in that case that some might disagree, arguing custom as the reason.

There are many reasons for my belief that one should use one's real name.

  1. Credibility: If you are speaking out on an issue, especially a controversial one, your opinion will have a lot more weight if you sign your own name. Imagine, if you will, that you are reading through a forum discussion on an important issue and you come across a post signed by "Datagrrl." How professional can "Datagrrl" be? Not very. How much weight are you going to give to "Datagrrl's" opinion? Not much. Now imagine reading a post signed by a person's real name, even their real first name. Uh-huh. That's right. Let's say the person's real name is Janie Strewzynski. You are going to give a lot more weight and consideration to Janie Strewzynski's opinion than to "Datagrrl," even if you don't necessarily agree with what Janie Strewzynski has to say.
  2. Doing as the Romans do: If you haven't noticed this already, in many online communities of a more serious nature, using a pseudonym is the exception rather than the rule. Here's an example. On the page I've linked to, almost all commenters post with at least their real first names, if not their full names. But the second commenter posts anonymously. In response, the fourth commenter says, quite mildly, "Your opinion would have more weight if you weren't hiding behind a pseudonym." In short, if you are posting in a forum where others use their real names, use yours too.
  3. Maturity: It is an act of maturity to take accountability for yourself. If you are tempted to make a post using an alias, that can be a sign that perhaps you shouldn't make that post. Is what you want to post something hasty? Hot-tempered? Mean-spirited? Nasty? Are you attacking someone? Calling names? No matter how justified you may feel in the moment, I guarantee that making such posts will serve no one any good, and it will haunt your conscience long after the flames of your temper have died down. If you really must make such a post, try this method instead: Write the post. Say every nasty thing you want to say. Call names until you run out of ideas. Read the offending person the riot act. Then—and this is the most important part—DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT MAKE THE POST! Save it to a file if you wish. Print it out and burn it if that makes you feel better. Best yet, just delete it.
  4. Professionalism: Using your real name is more professional. However hard it may be to swallow the fact that names mean something, the fact is, they do, and people do pay attention to them, and people gain impressions of you, good or bad, based on the name you present. Imagine, if you will, that you are reading a forum of doctors who are carrying on a medical discussion. As you read, you come across a post signed by "Datagrrl." Imagine the picture you get in your head from that pseudonym. However "fun" or "wild" she may be, and however much you may like or admire those attributes in a person as personal characteristics, "Datagrrl" just doesn't seem like much of a doctor, or at least like much of the kind of doctor you would want to consult. Now imagine the picture you get from Janie Strewzynski. Unless her posts belie the image, you get the idea that here is someone who is cool-headed and considers her words before speaking; someone who takes her profession seriously and doesn't dishonor it by bringing a pseudonym to an important discussion. Don't get me wrong; "Datagrrl's" pseudonym, in the right place, is fine. There are just some places where you need to park your personas at the door and bring out the real you.

For all these reasons, I decided long ago to either have the guts to sign my real name to everything I say on the Internet, even when I know I might catch flak for my opinion, or keep quiet on an issue. I have never regretted that decision, even though I have at times posted opinions that weren't popular. At least I was standing up for myself using my own real name, and at least I was standing up for my beliefs, and in many forums, that in itself has counted for something.

Now, mind you, if you are in any way not sure of your safety, then of course you should take all measures to make sure you are safe. If one of those measures is to be anonymous or use a pseudonym, then by all means do so. Especially, children should not use their real names ever.

But I encourage you not to hide behind a pseudonym, especially if you are doing it in order to make posts that you may later regret. Instead, just don't make those posts, as discussed in point 3, above. Everyone, including (perhaps especially) yourself, will be happier in the long run.

October 17, 2005

Avoiding The "Dead Man" Commands

A long, long time ago, when my daughter was tiny, a co-worker told me that she had learned in a parenting class that the kinds of commands she was giving her children weren't appropriate. She was always telling them to "don't" do this and "don't" do that. Her instructor said these are "dead man" commands--they are commands that you can give a dead man and have him obey.

Well, okay, the image is kind of gruesome, but the phrase is memorable. The idea is that you want to tell your children to actively do something, not to not do something. So, for example, instead of saying, "Don't hit the cat," you would say, "Please pet the cat gently." Instead of saying, "Don't yell," you would say, "Please speak quietly." Instead of saying, "Don't hit your brother," you would say, "Please treat your brother nicely." Instead of saying, "Don't be rude," you would say, "Please be polite." And so on.

Of course, if there is an urgent need to stop something, you can always say, "Stop fighting" or whatever is needed at the time to get your children's attention, and then move on from there.

I never attended that parenting seminar, but I benefitted from my co-worker's sharing of what she learned. As my daughter grew, I made it a habit to give her "living person" requests, instead of "dead man" commands. And now I thought I might share this with you, in case you can benefit from this too, if you haven't already been doing this.

October 16, 2005

Taking Political Action: Easier Than Ever!

If you care about issues but don't think you have time to contact your elected representatives about those issues, take heart. The Internet has made taking political action easier than ever. Many groups, including, I am sure, some group that supports the same things you support, have Web sites providing very easy ways to send messages to your representatives. They will even write the letter for you. All you have to do is "sign" the letter with your real name and address and click the Send button. Easy peasy.

If you don't even know who your representatives are, you don't need to worry: These sites will look them up for you.

Furthermore, if you sign up for notifications, these sites will send you emails letting you know that an action needs to be taken. These emails generally have a link right to the page you need to sign. In two minutes, you can send an email (or, often, a fax or even a real letter) to your representatives, all at no cost to you. It couldn't get much easier.

The letter-writing process works, and it works really well. Without input from the voters, representatives have no way of knowing what people want, and they may vote in ways we don't like. Even just a few letters can sway them in one direction or another.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in regard to an action I had taken recently.

"This is just a quick a note to say thanks for contacting Governor Schwarzenegger via EFF's Action Center and encouraging him to sign SB 370 - a bill intended to ensure that electronic voting machines use the voter-verified paper ballot as the official ballot of record.

We're pleased to say that your lobbying worked. Last week, over heavy opposition by California's Secretary of State and local election officials, the Governor signed that bill into law.

Matt Zimmerman, our attorney specialising in electronic voting issues, has fuller details at EFF's DeepLinks blog: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004048.php

In short, it's another victory. Every day we hear more evidence that your personal letters and communications with elected officials make them think and ultimately wins their support. ..."

(Emphasis mine.)

So I strongly encourage you to start taking action by sending emails to your representatives on issues that matter to you. Even one letter a year is better than none. But make it fun! Set yourself some challenges, such as writing one letter a month, and see if you can beat your own challenge. You could decide to concentrate on one issue, such as the environment, and sign up for every site that takes political action in that arena. Or you could decide to spread your efforts over a larger area, taking action at several different sites on several different issues. The important thing is to do something.

To get you started, here are some sites I use regularly. I am sure you can find more if you poke around the Internet.

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation: Heavy hitters fighting to protect civil liberties and the right to free speech.
  • BioGems: Fighting to protect and preserve nature and natural environments.
  • NRA: Fighting to protect our rights as affirmed by the Bill of Rights.

A note for people who are used to using handles or aliases

Handles and aliases are very common on the Internet. They are used to protect your privacy and shield you from scammers and stalkers, and other times using a handle is just the way a community is. In those cases, handles are appropriate.

However, when you take a political action, such as writing to your elected representative, it is important that you use your real name and real address. This is partly because it is presumed that your political representatives are not scammers or stalkers (though they may be scamming the public, but that is a topic for a different political discourse), and therefore you don't need to protect yourself from them.

Also, a handle is not a valid political entity—your real name is. You wouldn't register to vote with a fake name and address (I hope); you can't sign a petition with a fake name and address (otherwise, it wouldn't count); neither would you send a letter to your elected representative signed with a fake name and address. In all cases, your representatives need to know that the opinion being expressed belongs to a real person.

So use your real name and address when taking political actions.

October 15, 2005

12 tips for better e-mail etiquette

I came across this quick article that says mostly things you already know (I hope), but says it well. Worth sharing.

October 14, 2005

Help Yourself; Help the Environment

In case you haven't discovered it before, I have a page on things you can do to help the environment.

October 13, 2005

Comments are a Go!

With the excellent help of both the Moveable Type people and of my ISP's technical support, the comment problem has been ironed out. You can now leave comments! Play nice, now.

Cool Web Site of the Day

Joe.My.God is a Web log. I loved the post on people who weren't right for him.

October 12, 2005

Wednesday Quote

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

—Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles," 1992 (commonly misattributed to Nelson Mandela, 1994 inauguration speech) (source)

October 11, 2005

Comment Sign-In Not Working

I only recently discovered that my comment sign-in isn't working. Please have patience while the good folks at TypeKey and I try to figure out what is wrong. Thanks!

Meanwhile, you may have noticed that I am back to making a post a day. This is just the first in a number of planned improvements to this site. Visit often! Add me to your RSS feeds by browsing to http://www.thelighthouseonline.com/messages/index.rdf and adding that file to your news reader.

Too Much Rosemary

Last year, I ordered a number of herbs so that I could put together my own blend of Italian seasonings. We use Italian seasonings in a wide variety of tasty ways, and I thought I could save a bundle by ordering herbs in bulk and concocting my own blend.

The plan has turned out fine for the most part, but when the orders arrived, I was surprised and amused to find that the one pound of rosemary I thought I had ordered had somehow ballooned into five pounds. It might have had something to do with my firewall preventing cookies from being accepted and therefore the shopping cart not updating and me clicking on 1 pound several times, and then when I did fix the firewall thing, I didn't notice that there was a 5 where there should have been a 1, but how it happened doesn't matter. The fact was, I had bought and paid for five pounds of rosemary, and I have a thrifty soul that doesn't like wasting anything.

Bearing in mind that herbs are light and bulky, and therefore a pound of herbs can be the size of a small cat, you have some idea of how much rosemary five pounds is. Yes, that much.

Fortunately, we like rosemary in this household, so I have been using it with a much bolder hand than I might have, say, were I using it out of those tiny two-ounce bottles you pay $5 for at the grocery store.

As a result, I've been delighted to find that rosemary adds a wonderful flavor to a wide range of dishes that I hadn't used rosemary on before. Of course, I mix my own Italian seasonings blend, which has rosemary in it, in with a nubmer of foods, such as spaghetti sauce. I also mix the Italian seasonings blend in with ground chuck, along with some other seasonings and spices, to make very tasty burgers.

But I have also branched out into using rosemary solo.

  • I sprinkle rosemary over chicken pieces, add some lemon juice from the lemons in my garden, and cook the chicken just like that--simple, but delicious.
  • I sprinkle rosemary over meat roasts of all sorts.
  • I add rosemary to chicken broth, along with some cayenne, for when my daughter is feeling peaked and needs something that won't upset her tummy. (She has recently added the delicious refinement of ground ginger to the soup.)

And so on. Anything that looks savory might get that little sprinkle or rosemary. And so far, no one has grown tired of it. Yet.

Camden-Grey Essential Oils

While on the topic, allow me to share with you my favorite source for essential oils and herbs and related supplies: Camden-Grey. They carry pure, high-quality essential oils, including a number of organic versions, as well as herbs, ditto. I recently signed up to be an affiliate with them, not because I necessarily expect to get anything out of it, but because I want to spread the word. The more customers they have, the more items they can carry. And they already carry a huge selection. Check them out!

October 10, 2005

The Shopping Queen: Great Towels at a Great Price

Today, I am introducing a new category that I am calling "Shopping Queen." The history behind this is that, when I went to Egypt with a tour group in fall 2000, I really got into the spirit of bartering, so, although I didn't buy a lot of things, what I did buy, I got good prices for. As a result, other members of the tour started to call me "The Shopping Queen."

I don't like to pay retail price for anything. I do understand the need for people to make a fair price on something, but often the prices just are not fair. Seeing how little the same items sold for in Egypt, I realized just how much we Americans overpay. So, I like to do a lot of research and find the best price that I possibly can find on items. Depending on the item, that would either be research done locally or on the Internet.

I often share my information with other people, who are always glad to hear where they can get something they need for a lot less money than they thought they would have to pay. Therefore, I thought others might want to share this information as well.

So here is my new feature, The Shopping Queen. Today's topic is towels. Everybody needs them; nobody wants to pay a large sum of money for them. There are lots better ways to spend one's cash than on overpriced towels.


About a year ago, I realized that all of my towels were dingy, many were fraying on the edges, and some were only fit for the cats to use as bedding. Time to replace them.

Unfortunately, I love the large bath sheet size of towel, and most places want to charge $25, $50, $35, or even more per towel for that size. I just can't bring myself to spend so much on what should be a basic item basically priced. It is, after all, just a rectangle made of cotton, an iminently renewable resource. And it isn't like the highly overpriced towels I was looking at were even organic cotton. They just shouldn't cost so much.

So I spent a number of hours researching towel sellers on the Internet, and now you can save yourself a ton of time and a ton of money by benefitting from my research.

The place I settled on, Textileshop.com, charges a very reasonable $9.99 for their bath sheets, which measure in at a very respectable 35" by 70". For those who care, their bath sheets weigh 2.25 pounds each. They offer 19 colors to choose from, and you can get matching washcloths, hand towels, and bath towels as well as the bath sheets. Here is a direct link to their towels page. The towels I've purchased from them are very attractive and have stood up to the test of time and repeated washings quite well.

Another source of towels that I have not tried is the Towel Emporium. I mention this site because, if you want a quantity of towels for something like working out, for example, it looks as though you could get a very nice price here. (They sell many towels by the dozen.) I haven't purchased from them, but the prices seem very good for towels for that purpose.

October 09, 2005

Endangered Species

"They've come back from the brink of extinction," Naruba sang with satisfaction. "They were once down to only 146, and now they are up to a healthy 15,000. No further legislation is required to protect them."

"But that's not enough! That isn't even a tiny fraction of how many there once were!" Botari protested hotly. "We must have this new legislation to protect them! Their wide-spread habitat destruction, the illegal poaching, the fact that there is still one group that eats them as a delicacy—all that has to stop!"

"That group only collects scientific specimens," Naruba replied coolly. "And after they have dispatched the specimens, it only makes sense that the remains go to a good use."

Botari snorted. "'Dispatched.' You mean killed. Illegally. And collecting them as 'scientific specimens' is just a cover for hunting a species that is teetering on the brink of extinction."

Naruba glanced fondly at Botari. "You worry too much. And who are we to judge another's customs? So what if they eat them? They only harvest 500 a year."

"Harvest," Botari growled. "Exactly, As though they are some kind fo crop or food animal. And that 500 is a significant percentage of the remaining population," Botari paused to marshal his arguments. "And what about all the other threats to their survival? How can any of us feel good when there are so few of them left alive? What are we going to do to educate others so they stop hunting them, stop killing them, stop destroying their habitat? The world will be a far poorer place without them. They are a part of the vast circle of life, just as we all are, and they play a vital role in their interactions with all other species and with the world. We're not taking good care of them!"

Naruba gave Botari a long, assessing look.

"I know we can co-exist with them," Botari added, but with less heat.

Naruba kept looking at him silently.

Botari was the first to drop his eyes and turn away.

Finally Naruba spoke softly. "And how many humans do you think protested on our behalf when we were the endangered species? How many species went extinct before the Big Change nearly wiped out humans, giving us 'animals' a chance to recover, to thrive?"

"Many! I know there were many!" Botari wailed in anguish.

"Indeed. And whether you are saying that there were many species who went extinct—and there were, or whether you are saying that there were many humans who cared, there were too many, and not enough. Who knows what the world would be like now had the Change not happened? Some Divine Providence intervened on behalf of all other species, to stop the humans from destroying everyone's habitat, to stop them from poisoning everything with their dangerous chemicals and their pesticides and their herbicides and their polluting industries. Be grateful there are even 15,000 of them left. Let the grizzlies hunt their quota. Let the human habitat destruction continue. Maybe the world will be better off without them."

"I can't accept that, Naruba, and you know it. You know how close we once were to humans—how we loved them, cherished them, comforted them when all other species turned their backs on them."

Naruba nodded in sympathy. "I know that, Botari. You dogs were always faithful to them. But my species has only recently recovered enough for us to feel that we have a good chance to thrive. Why, for a while there, some of us thought we were the last of our kind left."

Botari sighed. "You are right. You are right on all points. And yet I still cannot help but wish that we hadn't turned around and done the same thing to them that they did to us. There were many kind, loving, decent humans who did not do any of those things."

"And did they all speak up, as you are doing? Did they protest? Did they communicate their concerns, and stop using pesticides and herbicides and the products of bad industries?"

Botari hung his head and spoke in a small voice. "No, not all." He brightened. "But many did. Many did. Should they all suffer because of the ill actions of the majority?"

Naruba pondered this a moment. "Perhaps not, but that is how it happened. They made their bed; let them now lie in it."

Botari made a small anguished sound. "That isn't how I like to think we are, Naruba."

"Perhaps not," Naruba replied thoughtfully, "But it is how they were."

October 08, 2005

Evidence of Ancient Technology

I recently found a number of Web pages with information pointing to the existence of technologies used in ancient times that rival those we have today. Although one might conjecture where these originally came from (Atlantis? Aliens?), the bottom line is that these are technologies that were actively being used by human beings. Regardless of source, we humans have had the smarts and the savvy to use technologies that until recently were considered the provenience of only we modern folk.

As C. Wilfred Griggs says in one of the articles cited below, "The story tells us how sophisticated ancient people really were. Sometimes our cultural arrogance gets in the way of our being able to appreciate how people from other cultures and times were able to also think and act in quite amazing ways. The story has so many ramifications for how we look at the past. It also tells us how little we truly know."

Read and marvel!

There is much, much more to be found, but I know how it is when I find a set of fascinating links. One link leads to another, all of which I want to pursue further, and yet I also want to want to check out the initial set of links as well. On the assumption that you may have the same curious bent of mind, but a lack of desire to be overwhelmed, I will keep the initial set short for your viewing pleasure.

October 07, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

An election is coming up, and I recently received a call asking if I would be willing to participate in a survey regarding the issues on the ballot. I said, "Sure, why not?" After all, I'd love to have my voice and opinions represented, since I know I am way outside the norm when it comes to my political stance; the more of us oddballs who weigh in, the better for all the other oddballs out there who feel alone.

So the woman started to ask me questions. Her first few questions were generic—whether I was registered to vote, that sort of thing.

Then she asked me whether I would describe myself as Democratic or Republican. I said neither; I don't like what either party has done to our country. She pressed me, asking if I at least leaned one way or the other, and I said, "Not really." Then she pressed me some more, asking that, if I had to choose, which one would I choose. So I answered her.

And that was the end of the survey. I was quite startled, because she had said she was going to ask me my opinion on the issues on the ballot, and as soon as she found out which way I would lean if forced, she stopped the survey.

(I won't say which way I said I would lean, as it isn't very relevant and I don't want to cloud this short essay with issues of party lines. For the sake of argument, I am going to say that it was Republican.)

The obvious implication here is that the survey is deliberately being biased in favor of one party. The researchers have an agenda and they want to stack the deck as strongly as they can to support their agenda. They are not interested in a true random sampling or in getting a cross-party opinion on the issues; instead, what they are doing is preselecting respondents whom they have a pretty good assurance will give the opinions they seek.

Let me explain. Let's say the issue is one that Democrats strongly oppose. If the researchers only poll Democrats, but don't mention that they only polled Democrats when they publish their survey results, they can say, "90% of the voters we surveyed are strongly opposed to this issue." Yes, it may be true that 90% of the people they surveyed are strongly opposed to the issue, but the survey itself is tainted, biased from the start, and therefore the result itself is dishonest, because they didn't actually survey a true random selection, but instead only surveyed people who would tell them what they wanted to hear.

The dishonesty of this appalls me. They know and understand that the herd mentality often kicks in, especially around politics. If people are told that "90% of the voters we surveyed oppose" an issue, then the tendency on the part of most people is to think that 90% of the voters can't be wrong, and if one hasn't studied the issue, perhaps going with the majority is the safe bet.

However, if people are told that "90% of the Democrats we surveyed" oppose the issue, then that's a horse of a different color. Then people can decide whether they want to go along with the Democratic platform or not.

This is a deeply insidious, despicable, and unethical trick that the bottom-feeding researchers (and whoever is paying them) are playing on the unsuspecting public.

That is why I am making this post today: To warn you, if you didn't already know, to closely examine and question any survey results you read. Better yet, don't pay attention to any surveys, but instead read about, study, and reflect upon the issues yourself, and make up your own mind on what is the best course of action to take.

Oh, and remember to vote, too!

(PS In case you are wondering about the title of this post: Either Mark Twain is said to have said the following, or he is said to have quoted Benjamin Disraeli, the prime minister of the British Empire from 1874-1880: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.")

October 06, 2005

Montana Amber

Some years ago, I purchased a bottle of Montana Amber Safflower Oil at my local Trader Joe's. It was the best safflower oil I had ever used--it was a lovely deep golden color, tasted great, and had wonderful energy.

When I went back to Trader Joe's for more, I found they were no longer carrying it, despite the fact that the Trader Joe's personnel told me that numerous customers had come in asking specifically for that oil. If it were still being made by Montana Amber, I would still be using that oil.

Although I am very sad to see that it appears that Montana Amber no longer makes the safflower oil, it looks as though they are now selling flax oil. Although I haven't tried their flax oil, I am sure that any product made by this company would be of the highest quality. So the next time I run out of flax oil, I am going to order some from them. Meanwhile, if you try it, please let me know how it is.

October 05, 2005

How Gullible Are You?

I took this short, interesting Gullibility Factor test and received this score:

Free Thinker

Welcome to the top 5%. You're a true free thinker and a person who is well informed about the reality in which you live. Although you may have been easily manipulated earlier in life, you eventually gained lucidity and developed a healthy sense of skepticism that you now automatically apply to your observations and experiences. You are endlessly curious about human behavior and the nature of the universe, and you have one or more lifestyle habits that most people would consider odd or unusual. You are not only of very high intelligence, you are also extremely creative in one or more areas (music, art, software development, inventing, etc.)

If you were in The Matrix, you would have taken the red pill, completed the combat training, and started fighting (and beating) agents from day one.

Your architects: You have cast off reality distortions taught to you by your parents, schooling, corporate advertising and government propaganda. You create your own beliefs based on what serves you best, without much regard for what the rest of the crowd is doing. You are guided by your own internal code of ethics (which may or may not agree with politically-correct ethical codes) rather than any pre-set system of ethics (such as from any one religion).

After you take the test, your score is revealed, with an explanation of each answer, including a link to further information. All of those links contain a wealth of fascinating information; one of them is particularly worthy of being repeated here: Articles on Mercury.

In particular, I was very interested to notice the information in this article about the link between autism and the mercury in vaccines. I received information in a dream many years ago that autism was directly related to vaccinations. I didn't have anything further to go on, but was just glad that my mother never had my siblings or myself vaccinated, and that I likewise didn't have my daughter vaccinated.

October 04, 2005

A Tempest in a Teacup (or Baby Bottle)

I recently came across a Web log written by a woman who went through elaborate and probably uncomfortable and painful measures in order to get pregnant. Now successful and the mother of a baby boy, she carries on a conversation with the world through her Web log about her parenting experiences. In a recent post, she wails that she made a mistake with her child, and asks for others to post their mistakes too.

Although I have made mistakes with my daughter, I had never done any of the things the other mothers posted: Dropping their children, feeding them soap for medicine, leaving them unattended with sleeping people who had no idea that the baby was in the house, and so on. This is because I was careful and cared about what happened to my child and was horrifically aware of the possible dire consequences if I wasn't careful.

As I read the confessions, I realized that not a single one of these women seemed to be aware that the majority of these "accidents" were due to their own negligence. Instead, there was a lot of smug, self-congratulatory talk going around about how it was all okay and how "everyone" does it. Drop the baby on its head? Fine, fine, we're here together in solidarity with you, sister. Leave the kid locked in the car while you go grocery shopping? Hey, we all make mistakes! Feed them soap, ignoring their screams because you just "know" that they don't have a legitimate reason to complain? Sure, sure, the physical discomfort only lasted a few days, and no one can see the scar that not being trusted or listened to or validated left on his soul.

The Pit of Vipers

I once worked on an archaeological dig, long, long ago while working on my bachelor's degree in sociology/anthrolopology. Each "hole" we were digging was assigned a crew. There was one crew that was so collectively bitchy with each other and toward everyone else that everyone started to call that hole The Pit of Vipers. Mind you, there was a great deal of affectionate amusement in that label, and even the putative vipers themselves took pride in upholding their end of the need to entertain people by their antics. And truthfully, there was no real sting to their bitchiness, but instead a great deal of humor, so that even the targets of their tongues would laugh. At least, that's how I remember it, but that was close to 30 years ago, so it is possible that time has softened the edges.

Still, the point is that sometimes a pit of vipers isn't so benign, and I should have remembered that. I should have just shrugged and moved on when I read these posts. I do know that there are many people who ignore the fact that their children are not inanimate objects, but are instead human beings in their own right who deserve the very best a person can give them in terms of honor, respect, love, and care--includng carefulness. I also know that saying something to that type of person is futile. They just aren't ready yet to take that next step.

I also should have paid attention to my own intuition about the tone of the posters, which was that I had stumbled into a nest of a certain kind of female, and that I had best run far and run fast and not let them know I even saw them.

But I didn't. And that's where I made a big mistake. I found these women lacking in the carefulness department, and then made the unfortunate mistake of posting a comment in which I said so. This was bad enough, but I came across as smug about the fact that I myself had been so careful and conscious and aware of my surroundings and my daughter's whereabouts and so on as to have managed to avoid those kinds of "accidents." The subtext of my message was, "what the hell were you all thinking?!?"

The Vipers Grow Enraged!

My entry touched a number of nerves. Subsequent posters rose up en masse to villify me. Not surprisingly, what they focused on was not whether it is, in fact, possible to be careful enough with your child that "accidents" of the sort they relayed didn't have to happen. I chalk this up to the possibility that perhaps they are not yet capable of accepting enough responsibility for themselves, nor are they strong enough in themselves, to be able to bear the thought that maybe they could be better mothers than they already feel themselves to be.

So instead they focused on the tone of my post, saying that, because I had come across as smug and self-satisfied (and I did), that of course nothing I said had any validity (this is a fallacious argument on their part) and, furthermore, I deserved to have horrible things to happen to my daughter and myself. A pit of vipers indeed. Rational debate took one look at their faces and ran for cover, like I should have.

So, I posted an apology for having come across so badly, but I didn't apologize for feeling good about myself for having done all right so far, and I didn't let myself get browbeaten into retracting my original post, which said that it is, after all, possible to be careful enough with your child.

Then I made what they saw as another mistake, but to those of you who know my stance on self-defense, it will come as no surprise: I had the gall to actually stand up on my hind legs and respond to my attackers--without, mind you, responding in kind by calling names or wishing nastiness upon them, but instead by responding to the attacks with rationality. I also said that ad hominem attacks do not a valid argument make. I should have remembered that it is never a good thing to put your finger right on people's insecurities or on their points of blindness about themselves (their areas of denial) simply by being different from them.

The tar, feathers, and torches came out in earnest then.

The Monopoly on the Smug Franchise is Broken

Ironically, while the names rained down on my head, with "smug," "self-satisfied," and much, much worse being frantically thrown my way in desperately abusive attempts to shout me down and make me feel bad about myself and make me crawl back into the hole they apparently think I came from, I couldn't help but notice that the tone in each of those posts was, not to put to fine a point on it, smug and self-satisfied.

Not that it would have done any good to point that out--these females had blood in their eyes, and that would have played right into their hands by seeming to be name-calling on my part. Of course, all the name-calling they did was okay and apparently justified in their eyes because of my attitude.

But if I had resorted to name-calling, then I would have wrong from my point of view. I deeply disapprove of name-calling as a way of settling anything. And alhough naming a behavior isn't name-calling, it would have been seen that way by these particular females.

Luck Has Nothing To Do With It

I have no wish to repeat the vile things that were said, but I do want to address one thing that was said several times, because it is pertinent to parenting.

Most of the things that people confessed doing to their children were from just not being vigilant enough or careful enough to prevent harm coming to their child. Yet several women said that I hadn't experienced the things the others had, not because I had been more careful, but because I "got lucky."

This, of course, is just another way to invalidate a person, so I at first ignored it, but then I got to thinking--perhaps those women who said that really and truly believe that luck is all that is involved. In other words, in their mind, my daughter didn't suffer any of the things their children did because of anything I consciously did; no, not at all. To think that was true would have called into question their own carefulness, or lack thereof. So instead, to those people, I just got lucky.

But luck has nothing to do with being careful. Carefulness is a conscious choice. Luck is beyond one's control. Either a person is careful or they are careless to some degree in any given situation; either they are more or they are less conscious and aware of their surroundings and responsibilities at any given time. That degree of consciousness and awareness isn't luck; that's choice.

We all have choices in this world and we make them daily. If we make a choice whose results we don't like, we can learn from those choices and make different choices the next time.

However, if a person doesn't recognize that they have choices, but instead believes it is all a matter of luck, then they are going to be less vigilant about things. They won't, by definition and by accepting the belief in luck, think that they are themselves responsible to as great a degree as they truly are. They may feel some responsibility, but they can easily wash away the feelings of guilt and remorse for making a mistake by calling it "bad luck." Yet how can they learn from their mistakes if they don't think they genuinely made a mistake in the first place, but instead think that it was all just a matter of luck?

I would like to think that eventually these women will look back on their behavior in this instance and think, "Wow, maybe I was a bit over the top. And what, after all, was the real issue there? What was Marina mirroring back to me about myself that I truly, deeply hate about myself, and that I am afraid to confront? What can I learn from that in order to make myself a better person?"

I am just idealistic and optimistic enough to believe that it is truly possible that such a thought might occur to them sooner or later, though I am realistic enough to know that it might be a long, long while, if ever, before it happens in this lifetime. I remind myself, though, that they are all very likely to be much younger than I am, too, so I also make allowances for their age and lack of life experience.

But after all, one of the most important jobs in the world is to be good parents to our children, and in order to be good parents, we must practice a large degree of self-examination and dedicate ourselves to making ourselves better persons so that we are better parents. We can't wait until a child is 20 to decide to be better, more conscious, more careful, and more aware. By then it is too late to have much of a positive effect on our children.

October 03, 2005

Reasons to NOT Be An Organ Donor

Believing as I do that our bodies are a part of our spiritual makeup, I have never wanted to be an organ donor, because I didn't want to leave behind pieces of me were I to die. However, I never had anything to back up my intuition on this issue until I found this:


Take the Pledge to Think Good Thoughts Once a Day

Wonderful idea! A few people consciously creating can offset a lot of people creating unconsciously.