Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

 Brandenburg Gate Quadriga - Berlin, Germany

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. - Neil Gaiman

Wishing everyone a fabulous and inspiring New Year!  

With Love Light and Laughter - Dominique

Image source here

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to Make Your New Year's Resolution Work This Time

 Chasing dreams

May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall! -  Aleister Crowley

The end of the old year and the beginning of a new one is a perfect time to reflect on our lives and the changes we want or need to make. Every year countless people make New Year's resolutions with a hope that they will have the strength and motivation to adhere to the promises they made to themselves.

A New Year's resolution involves a commitment to a particular project such as change of a habit or a creation of a new one. A change is usually interpreted as advantageous and involves behavior modification of some sort. 

The name "New Year's resolutions" comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year’s Day. Most people assess their physical appearance or their financial status. They want to lose weight, exercise more, reduce stress, save more money, spend less, quit smoking. All these New Year's resolutions are quite ambitious, but unfortunately, more often than not, they are bound to fail. People fail because they do not understand the process of change. One simply cannot start anew with an old mindset. Some deep seated, false or outdated beliefs may stand in the way to a better, happier and more fulfilled life.   

Most of the New Year's resolutions are abandoned in the first few weeks if not days of the New Year as individuals discover that they either cannot follow the self-designed schedules or that their resolutions add stress and frustration to their already stressful lifestyles. One excuse is made up after another to find a "rational" explanation for procrastination or lack of motivation and self-discipline. In no time people revert to the old routine no matter how miserable they may feel.
So, what shall we do if we want to succeed in 2011?

 It is very important to understand that change of any kind creates stress. People who are trying to change too many aspects of their lives all at once are inadvertently increasing their stress levels. They put too much pressure on themselves. It is only natural that they give up their resolve quickly as the old routine is less stressful and allows one to "relax" on the laurels of his or her failure.  

My suggestion would be to pick up one item off the list and commit oneself to it for the first few months of the year.   

It is said that a new habit is formed in a period of twenty eight days. One should therefore consequently follow the new pattern of behavior for this period of time to make it a habit.  

It is much easier to stay motivated if one sees some progress. The sense of success on the other hand, motivates to an even greater commitment.

There are probably as many strategies as there are people who tried to implement a major change in their lives. Some strategies are more successful than others, but the degree of success depends on many factors, among others on one's personal circumstances, mentality, personal beliefs, needs, and experience. Every individual is unique, but no one has to feel compelled to reinvent the wheel as there are time-tested strategies successfully used by others. Some degree of modification may be necessary to suit one's needs, but the program should include following steps:
  • Identify your goal - it is vital to know what one wants to achieve and why it is important to reach that goal. Vague expressions like "I want to lose weight" or "I want to save more money" are rather useless as they do not set a precise goal. They may delineate the direction one wishes to take, but they do not pose any concrete challenge. Instead write down how much weight do you wish to lose by June, or how much money you wish to save for your Summer vacation. It is important to set a deadline because otherwise you will self-sabotage your own goal.
  • Do some research - find out what to do to change a particular behavior and what benefits such a change may have for you. For instance, if you want to lose weight, find out what effects particular foods have on the human body, what are your caloric needs, how to increase metabolism, etc. This will give you an idea about the challenges you may have to face and what has to be done if you want to achieve your goal. This knowledge will not only empower you, but will help you devise a step-by-step plan.
  • Create realistic schedule - do not expect the results to come over night. Remember that success is a gradual process and plan your strategy accordingly. For instance, if you want to save money, set your goal in relation to your income and monthly expenses. You may wish to save $25 or $250 per week and nothing stops you from saving more, but if you set your goal too high, you may realize that it is impossible to keep up with the growing cost of living and you will stop saving altogether.
  • Find support - no matter how skeptical your friends and family may appear at first, inform them that you decided to work on your particular issue and ask for their support. Find a coach or join a support group, especially if you are living in an non-supportive environment or have a history of failure. Like-minded people are more likely to understand your "struggle" and give you the support you need. 
  • Monitor progress - it is very very useful to have a journal in which you can write down your experience and monitor your progress. As you are trying to change your ways, you will experience a wide range of emotions. It is important to understand where your frustrations stem from or what makes you unhappy. Do not ever blame yourself for temporary set-backs, but rather prize yourself for your endurance. The journal will not only help you watch your progress and gain confidence. It will help you monitor your inner talk.
  • Reward yourself - as you gradually progress on your path, celebrate your success. This does not mean that you have to reward yourself with a piece of cake if you manage to lose more weight than you expected. Instead, go to a gym or a yoga class or visit a spa where you can relax and pamper yourself. If you managed to save more money than you previously intended, go to a library and educate yourself about the financial markets. You may want to understand how money can work for you in the future.

There is nothing as sweet as success. Remember that you are the master of your life. You hold the key to your success. No one can change you and you cannot change anything unless you really want to. You may have to slow dawn and take an honest look deep into your psyche to find out where your weak spots reside. Some problems may sit deeper than you think and you may have to seek professional help. Do not try to give up before you really tried to change. Believe in yourself and be brave. You can succeed.

By Dominique Allmon


Image source here
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How to Make Your New Year's Resolution Work This Time by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Love Yourself

Simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy… all these are undoubtedly great virtues…

But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea, the very fiend himself - that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved - what then?

By Carl Gustav Jung

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

Scientists working on the ice cup in Canadian Arctic by Gautier Deblonde

And with these, the sense of the world’s concreteness, irreducible, immediate, tangible, of something clear and closer to us: of the world, no longer as a journey having constantly to be remade, not as a race without end, a challenge having constantly to be met, not as the one pretext for a despairing acquisitiveness, nor as the illusion of a conquest, but as the rediscovery of a meaning the perceiving that the earth is a form of writing, a geography of which we had forgotten that we ourselves are the authors. -  Georges Perec

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Buddha in Glory


Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet -
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

By Rainer Maria Rilke


Image source here

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best Season of Your Life


Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn
A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
This is the best season of your life.


Image source here

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Magic

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. - Augusta E. Runde

The Little Black Dress


For James

I knew Kate for quite some time already. We used to work together and exchanged occasional e-mails, but never met socially. Until last Christmas, that is...

We decided to celebrate Christmas in New York City and booked a suite at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We wanted to see some shows, so Broadway looked like best place to be. I booked my flight and got my stuff together. I was very anxious not miss my flight. So much snow fell over the last couple of days that I decided to drive to the airport earlier. I still did not have any gift for Kate and hoped to find something at the airport. O'Hare is huge and I hoped to find something she might like. 

I checked in my bags and went through the security control. Not as horrible as the last week. I found a store I liked and bought the most expensive perfumes I could find. Joy. I even had them gift wrap it for her. She was an amazing woman with an incredible taste. Elegant, unobtrusive, and yet very sexy, but never vulgar. My eyes used to wander around her body at the company meetings and I was glad we still had those. Who on earth invented video conferences?! 

Finally on the plane, I sent Kate a text message that I would be on time. She was coming from Boston and would check into our hotel before me. She wanted to catch the early flight. Something she had to do... Was she looking for a gift for me?

I had no problem to catch a cab at JFK. Traffic to Manhattan was horrendous and I was anxious to get there as quickly as I possibly could. Every minute was precious! It was our first time together. Finally on Broadway! The cab stopped in front of the hotel and I could already see Kate behind the revolving glass door. Smiling the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. I paid the driver. The tip would feed his extended family in Pakistan for a week! What the heck! I was in such a hurry. I grabbed my bags and run to the door. Wow! She dressed for me! She wore what they call a little - very little! - black dress and a tiny black jacket over it. She wore high heals and had the longest and most beautiful legs I remember to have ever seen. She smiled and hugged me. I kissed her on a cheek and could not take my eyes off her while we rushed up the escalator to take a lift to the 25th floor. 

We worked our way through a crowded lobby and finally made it to the elevator. We were alone. She smiled mischievously and whispered "I am not wearing anything underneath..." I heard that and could not believe my ears. She repeated it once more and I just froze there frantically holding on to my bags. Believe me, I did not want to imagine how my face looked right then. With a speed of light my mind was trying to figure out if there was a camera in the elevator. What if someone was watching us? 19th floor...

She was still smiling her beautiful smile and I felt her gentle touch on my arm... "Sir? Sir? You have to fasten your seat belt now. We are approaching JFK airport." I opened my eyes quite astonished. I saw green eyes and a beautiful smile. "Please, fasten your seat belt, Sir. We are about to land."

By Dominique Allmon  ©2009

Image source unknown

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

 Winter Solstice by Peter Kurdulija

When you startle awake in the dark morning
heart pounding breathing fast
sitting bolt upright staring into
dark whirlpool black hole
feeling its suction

Get out of bed
knock at the door of your nearest friend
ask to lie down ask to be held

Listen while whispered words
turn the hole into deep night sky
stars close together
winter moon rising over white fields
nearby wren rustling dry leaves
distant owl echoing
two people walking up the road laughing

Let your soul laugh
let your heart sigh out
that long held breath so hollow in your stomach
so swollen in your throat

Already light is returning pairs of wings
lift softly off your eyelids one by one
each feathered edge clearer between you
and the pearl veil of day

You have nothing to do but live

Author Anonymous, but greatly appreciated 

Image source here

Friday, December 17, 2010

André Kertész Retrospective in Paris

Washington Square by André Kertész, Winter 1954

The most valuable things in a life are a man's memories. And they are priceless. - André Kertész

The Hungarian  photographer André Kertész (1894-1985) whose career spanned more than seventy years is featured with an important retrospective of his work at Jeu de Paume in Paris. The retrospective runs through February 6, 2011. 

Kertész is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, both for the richness of his body of work and for the sheer longevity of his career. This is the first proper retrospective of his work in Europe, even though he donated all his negatives to the French state.

The exhibition brings together a sizeable ensemble of prints and original documents covering the various periods of the photographer's life revealing how he developed a genuine poetics of photography. With a chronological and linear exhibition layout reflecting the various periods of his creative life, the exhibition presents thematic groups highlighting the unique aspects of his output: his personal photography featuring the photographic postcards -  the Distortions, his involvement in publishing - the book "Paris vu par Kertész" aa well as his recurrent creative experiments - shadows, chimneys, etc.

Here we discover some previously neglected periods (his time as a soldier between 1914 and 1918, the New York period and the Polaroids of his last years). In particular, it highlights the beginnings of photojournalism in Paris in 1928, and the dissemination of his photographs in the press. Thus numerous copies of magazines are presented (Vu, Art et Médecine, Paris Magazine).

Kertész considered himself an amateur in the best sense of the word taking his pictures with emotion and passion. "I never document," said Kertész, "I always interpret with my pictures. This is the great difference between me and many others... I interpret what I feel in a given moment. Not what I see, but what I feel." 

Between 1912 and 1985, Kertész remained true to his approach even though his style changed and circumstances were providing new vantage points: "I have never just ‘made photos,'" he said, "I express myself photographically."

Jeu de Paume, 1, place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, métro Concorde

Article source here
Image source here

Relationship As a Transformative Path

Snowing in Brooklyn by Barry Yanowitz

By John Welwood

Never before have intimate relationships called on us to face ourselves and each other with so much honesty and awareness. Maintaining an alive connection with an intimate partner today challenges us to free ourselves from old habits and blind spots, and to develop the full range of our powers, sensitivities, and depths as human beings. In former times, if people wanted to explore the deeper mysteries of life, they would often enter the seclusion of a monastery or hermitage. For many of us today, however, intimate relationships have become the new wilderness that brings us face to face with all our gods and demons.

Most people in our society share a peculiar belief: We imagine that we should be able to establish a rich and satisfying relationship with someone we love even if we have never learned to relate to ourselves in a rich, satisfying way. We imagine that a successful relationship largely depends on finding the right person and doing the right things. We often don't see that how we relate to another is an expression of how we relate to ourselves, that our outer relationships are but an extension of our inner life, that we can only be as open and present with another as we are with ourselves.

The increasingly precarious state of our planet and its inhabitants is calling on us to wake up, reevaluate how we are living, and align ourselves with a larger, sacred vision of human life. In these times when our world and our very humanity are increasingly at risk, we need a new kind of grounded spirituality that addresses the challenges of ordinary living and that can transform the quality of life on this planet through being fully embodied in the here-and-now. Fortunately, we have a powerful vehicle close at hand for developing this kind of wisdom - our intimate relations with those we love. 

Article source here
Image source here

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best Christmas Gifts

Deep down inside we know
that the best gifts
don't come from catalogs
or shopping malls
They don't come in brightly-colored packages
or fancy envelopes
and they're not sitting under a tree somewhere...
The best gifts come from the heart.
They come when we look at each other
really look at each other
and say 'You mean a lot to me'
or 'I'm so glad you're a part of my life'
A gift like that
will never go out of style
or be forgotten
or be returned for a different size.
A gift like that can change the world.

By Ron Atchison

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Sleep

When against earth a wooden heel
Clicks as loud as stone on steel,
When stone turns flour instead of flakes,
And frost bakes clay as fire bakes,
When the hard-bitten fields at last
Crack like iron flawed in the cast,
When the world is wicked and cross and old,
I long to be quit of the cruel cold.

Little birds like bubbles of glass
Fly to other Americas,
Birds as bright as sparkles of wine
Fly in the nite to the Argentine,
Birds of azure and flame-birds go
To the tropical Gulf of Mexico:
They chase the sun, they follow the heat,
It is sweet in their bones, O sweet, sweet, sweet!
It's not with them that I'd love to be,
But under the roots of the balsam tree.

Just as the spiniest chestnut-burr
Is lined within with the finest fur,
So the stoney-walled, snow-roofed house
Of every squirrel and mole and mouse
Is lined with thistledown, sea-gull's feather,
Velvet mullein-leaf, heaped together
With balsam and juniper, dry and curled,
Sweeter than anything else in the world.

O what a warm and darksome nest
Where the wildest things are hidden to rest!
It's there that I'd love to lie and sleep,
Soft, soft, soft, and deep, deep, deep! 

By Elinor Wylie

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Argument Against Tax Cuts For the Rich?

In his infinite wisdom, in an interview on FOX News, Democratic Senator Jim McDermott (WA) made an argument against the Bush tax cuts extension for the rich: The rich do not create any jobs. They just put their money into their bank accounts and keep it there... 

In contrast, the unemployed people spend their unemployment money immediately. They buy food in the grocery stores or 711s. They buy gasoline, pay their mortgage and keep the economy going. 

The Senator forgot to mention that the wealthy, even if they do not directly create any jobs, also spend their money on groceries. They not only buy gasoline, but are more likely to buy another car. Or a boat. They may not be shopping at Wallmart, but help the employees of Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Sacks 5th Avenue keep their jobs. They enjoy fine dining and support in this way the restaurant and catering industry. They travel, stay in fine hotels, play golf, visit spas. With their lifestyle, the wealthy make sure that thousands if not millions of people in the service industry keep their jobs. The wealthy enjoy arts, music and theater. This not only helps keep the artists, actors, opera singers and symphony orchestras employed, but most importantly, stimulates the culture in the economically difficult times. 

While many people may be quick to condemn the rich for their sometimes excessive lifestyles, many also forget that it is the rich who engage in philanthropic activities and who support the cultural and learning institutions in the country. 

Just like not all the long-term unemployed people are simply lazy, not all the rich people are crooks who got their money in some illicit way. Like no other country, America still offers genuine chance of upward mobility. Hard work, creativity and ingenuity are rewarded and fortunes are built - maybe not over night - but most certainly in a lifetime. The American dream is not dead. One just have to keep in mind that capitalism is the only economic system that genuinely stimulates and rewards the will to succeed.

By Dominique Allmon ©2010

P.S. We must also keep in mind that some of the policies may be bordering on pure injustice. While the very rich and the corporations enjoy tax exemptions, the middle class is burdened by the ever rising taxes. A tax reform is due and the complicated tax laws must be simplified. 

Image credit here

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Castles in the Air

Neuschwanstein Castle by Luiz Pires

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost... that is where they should be. Now put foundation under them." - Henry David Thoreau

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany - a fairy tale castle that was build "in the air" by King Ludwig II, also known as Ludwig the Mad.

Image source here

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Healing Properties of Quartz Crystal

Pure quartz, also known as quartz crystal, rock crystal or clear quartz, is a naturally occurring form of silicon dioxide that crystallizes into various shapes. It can be found everywhere around the world in form of grains, druses, clusters, and hexagonal prisms.

Quartz crystal is colorless and transparent or translucent. It has piezoelectric properties and can develop high electric potential under the application of mechanical stress. This quality of quartz makes it indispensable in many branches of science and technology.

Quartz crystal is considered to be a mystical stone. It has been used in various rituals since prehistoric times in most civilizations of the world, most importantly in Europe and Australia.

In esoteric circles quartz crystal is known as the master stone or a master healer. It can amplify positive energy and channel thought. It has a strong effect on other crystals and can be used to magnify their energetic potential. It can absorb, store, release, conduct and regulate energy.

Quartz crystal has the unique capacity to clear and dispel negative energies. It is powerful enough to neutralize background radiation and electromagnetic smog. It may also protect from the petrochemical exhaust and should therefore be used while driving or traveling on the airplane.

Quartz crystal has been successfully used to balance all aspects of being - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It can be applied to revitalize all planes of existence. It can be used to amplify energy of the subtle bodies and to enhance psychic abilities. The stone is potent enough to create altered states of consciousness in susceptible individuals.

Quartz crystal is a perfect stone to establish a connection between the physical dimension and the mind. It helps concentration, stimulates memory and enhances recall. It balances the brain hemispheres and helps retain calm and clarity in stressful situations. It helps define and clarify one's convictions and beliefs and establish a harmonious connection with others and the universe. 

On the physical plane, quartz crystal is used as a potent healing stone that has the capacity to improve  the function of many organs. Applied to the neck, it helps stimulate under-active  thyroid gland. It is also useful in balancing respiratory ailments and sore throat. Worn in the vicinity of the heart, quartz crystal is able to stimulate the thymus gland, thus enhancing the immune function and one's ability to fight infections. Worn on the wrist, it helps balance the flow of energy in the meridians. 

It helps align the chakras and balance energy flow in the body, thus contributing to physical, mental and emotional wellness. Worn or carried on a person, it protects the aura and amplifies one's energy field, thus reducing the vulnerability to external influences.

Spaces where quartz crystal is placed are experienced as energetically balanced and harmonious. Quartz crystal produces a strong energy field that transmutes negative energies and amplifies the positive attributes of the space.

Quartz crystal is associated with the crown chakra. It is believed to activate this energy center and facilitate communication with the higher self. It aides meditation and enhances spiritual experience.

Quartz crystal should be cleaned and recharged from time to time. You may want to use salt water to wash the crystals and place them in the sun to recharge. 

Quartz crystal is a beautiful healing stone. It is not only a powerful healing stone, but also a wonderful decorative element. It comes in many shapes and its beauty and clarity makes it a perfect object for contemplation.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Image source here


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Healing Properties of Quartz Crystal by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Woods in Winter

Winter Beauty by Garen Johnson

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O'er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river's gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater's iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long. 

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Image source here

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tycho Brahe and Kepler

  Tycho Brahe demonstrating a celestial globe to Emperor Rudolph II by Eduard Ender, 1855

“Now it is quite clear to me that there are no solid spheres in the heavens, and those that have been devised by the authors to save the appearances, exist only in the imagination.” - Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler are two colorful characters who made crucial contributions to our understanding of the universe.

Tycho’s observations were accurate enough for Kepler to discover that the planets moved in elliptic orbits, and his other laws, which gave Newton the clues he needed to establish universal law of gravitation.

Tycho built vast instruments to set accurate sights on the stars, and used multiple clocks and timekeepers. 

He achieved his goal of measuring to one minute of arc. This was a tremendous feat before the invention of the telescope. His aim was to confirm his own picture of the universe, which was that the earth was at rest, the sun went around the earth and the planets all went around the sun - an intermediate picture between Ptolemy and Copernicus.

Tycho himself was not a Copernican, but proposed a system in which the Sun orbited the Earth while the other planets orbited the Sun. His system provided a safe position for astronomers who were dissatisfied with older models but were reluctant to accept the Earth's motion. It gained a considerable following after 1616 when Rome decided officially that the heliocentric model was contrary to both philosophy and Scripture, and could be discussed only as a computational convenience that had no connection to fact. Tycho's system also offered a major innovation: while both the geocentric model and the heliocentric model as set forth by Copernicus relied on the idea of transparent rotating crystalline spheres to carry the planets in their orbits, Tycho eliminated the spheres entirely. 

He was aware that a star observed near the horizon appears with a greater altitude than the real one, due to atmospheric refraction, and he worked out tables for the correction of this source of error.To perform the huge number of products needed to produce much of his astronomical data, Tycho relied heavily on the then-new technique of prosthaphaeresis, an algorithm for approximating products based on trigonometric identities that predated logarithms.

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) believed in Copernicus’ theory. Having been raised in the Greek geometric tradition, he believed God must have had some geometric reason for placing the six planets at the particular distances from the sun that they occupied. He thought of their orbits as being on spheres, one inside the other. 

One day, he suddenly remembered that there were just five perfect Platonic solids, and this gave a reason for there being six planets - the orbit spheres were maybe just such that between two successive ones a perfect solid would just fit. He convinced himself that, given the uncertainties of observation at the time, this picture might be the right one. 

However, that was before Tycho’s results were used. Kepler realized that Tycho’s work could settle the question one way or the other, so he went to work with Tycho in 1600. Tycho died the next year. Kepler stole the data, and worked with it for nine years. 

The death of Tycho Brahe was more than suspicious and some people even consider that Brahe might have been murdered by Kepler. At the age of fifty four, Brahe was considered to be a very healthy person, but one day in October 1601, after attending a banquet, he suddenly fell ill and died within ten days of the event.

For a long time it was normally assumed that Brahe had died either from uremia, or from a burst bladder. But a forensic analysis of his hair that was conducted in the 1990s, shows an elevated amount of mercury in Brahe’s body short before his death. This discovery would rather confirm the old suspicion that Brahe was poisoned. There is a suspicion that Kepler poisoned Brahe. The two man had a very difficult relationship and Kepler was known for his unbecoming personality, but could Kepler really kill Brahe? But who wouldn't kill for knowledge and fame?

Brahe was not only a great astronomer, but like most scientists of his time, a great alchemist although he wasn't really trying to transmute base metals to gold, but rather develop medicines. Some of his potions contained mercury and it is a known fact that he took some of his preparations to cure minor discomforts. The amount of mercury in his medicines, however, was much too small to produce such a surprising forensic result. Brahe simply could not have overdosed.

The high amount of mercury in the analyzed hair sample actually suggested two separate poisonings: The first, that most probably occurred at the dinner party, where he had suddenly fallen ill. The second, the night before his death, when his condition had seemed to improve at first. A spike in his calcium level a few hours before his death also suggests that the poison was most certainly administered in a glass of milk.

Although Kepler makes a perfect suspect, there is no definite proof that he murdered Brahe. Brahe's death may forever remain a mystery although a new team of scientists under the leadership of Danish archeologist Prof. Jens Vellev certainly hopes to solve it with the help of the modern technology.

Article sources here, here & here  Also worth reading

The Art of Deep Listening

By Kay Lindahl

Perhaps one of the most precious and powerful gifts we can give another person is to really listen to them, to listen with quiet fascinated attention, with our whole being, fully present. This sounds simple, but if we are honest with ourselves, we do not often listen to each other so completely.

Listening is a creative force. Something quite wonderful occurs when we are listened to fully. We expand, ideas come to life and grow, we remember who we are. Some speak of this force as a creative fountain within us that springs forth; others call it the inner spirit, intelligence, true self. Whatever this force is called, it shrivels up when we are not listened to and thrives when we are.

The way we listen can actually allow the other person to bring forth what is true and alive to them. Sometimes we have to do a lot of listening before the fountain is replenished. Have you ever noticed how some people seem to need to talk? They go on and on, usually in a very superficial, nervous manner. This is often because they have not been truly listened to. Patience is required to listen to such a person long enough for them to get to their center point of tranquility and peace. The results of such listening are extraordinary. Some would call them miracles.

Listening well takes time, skill, and a readiness to slow down, to let go of expectations, judgments, boredom, self-assertiveness, defensiveness. Iêve noticed that when people experience the depth of being listened to like this, they also begin to listen to others in the same way.

Listening is an art that calls for practice. Imagine if we all spent just a few minutes each day practicing the art of listening, being fully present with the person we are with. There would be a collective sigh of contentment and joy. Listen!


Image by Edouard Boubat

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Memorial Wall

 Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation
Delivered on December 8, 1941 

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. 

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu. 

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya. 

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. 

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Quote of the Day

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. - Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy Birthday Mr. Rilke

Things aren't all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life. - Rainer Maria Rilke 

Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875 – December 29, 1926) was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and art critic. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety: themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. Among English-language readers, his best-known work is the Duino Elegies. His two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.

Rilke was sensitive and introspective. His poetic style was rich and supple, varying from the simple to the elaborate and profound. It is generally characterized by striking visual imagery, musicality, and a preponderant use of nouns. The erotic and spiritual love between men and women is a constant theme. In tone Rilke's verse was often mystical and prophetic; he used symbolism as a means of expression and created poetry that bears a strong resemblance to medieval verse. This resemblance may reflect Rilke's religious outlook - his probing into the emotional and spiritual issues involved in the search for goodness and transcendence in the absence of a personal God and his absorption with death as a poetic theme. Rilke was anti-modern in many ways, an attitude particularly evident in his antipathy for large modern cities.

Friday, December 3, 2010

False State of Harmony


 "Sincere repentance" after Paolo Coelho

The monk Chu Lai was beaten by a teacher who did not believe anything the monk said. However, the teacher’s wife who was a follower of Chu Lai, demanded that her husband apologized to the monk.

Displeased, but afraid to contradict his wife, the man went to the temple. He was accompanied by his wife who wanted to make sure that her husband apologized to the monk. Without much sincerity the man murmured some words of repentance.

“I do not forgive you,” replied Chu Lai, “go back to your work.”

The woman was shocked. “My husband is humiliated and you were not generous!”

 But Chu Lai calmly responded:

“Within my soul there is no rancor. But if he is not truly sorry, it is better for him to recognize now that he is mad at me. If I had accepted his apology, we would be creating a false state of harmony, and this would further increase the anger of your husband.”

Image source here