Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Evolution of Truth

All truth passes through three stages. 
First, it is ridiculed. 
Second, it is violently opposed. 
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. 

Arthur Schopenhauer
German Philosopher (1788-1860)

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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Great War

Great War Monument in New Rochelle, NY

The war that was supposed to end all wars began exactly hundred years ago on July 28, 1914 and lasted till November 11, 1918. It is estimated that more than nine million soldiers perished on its battlefields. 

The Great War changed the way wars were to be fought in the future. It completely altered the political map of the world. But most importantly, it set conditions for an outbreak of a war that was even more unimaginable in its scope.

“In the Somme valley, the back of language broke. It could no longer carry its former meanings. World War I changed the life of words and images in art, radically and forever. It brought our culture into the age of mass-produced, industrialized death. This, at first, was indescribable.” - Robert Hughes in The Shock of the New


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Monday, July 21, 2014

Everything Is An Illusion

~ The Rope and the Snake Zen Parable ~

There is an old Buddhist parable that tells of a man walking home one evening. In the half-light he sees on the path a snake apparently crossing in front of him. He starts and jerks himself away, heart beating fast, wide-eyed and alert. Peering closely he suddenly realizes that he was mistaken, in fact it is an old piece of rope! Relieved and laughing to himself at his foolishness he goes to step over it and glancing down suddenly realizes the rope is a string of jewels. He gasps in awe!

A simple story and we nod and ‘get the point’. But do we realize how often each day opportunities arise for such mistaken identities?

The playwright Alan Bennett tells the story of a holiday at a hotel in Harrogate with his mother. They were taking tea, one afternoon, when a smartly dressed middle-aged woman entered the room with a younger man in tow. Alan’s mother turned to her son and said, “She’s here with her boyfriend, I see!” The next day, while taking tea again, the woman enters alone. Alan’s mother says “I see they’ve had a row then!”

It’s not just that I continually commentate and interpret what goes on around me, but that this ‘story’ - of thoughts and feelings I weave filters my perception of what is real. If I think you are a great person then I see you as one. If I feel the world is a hostile place then I see other people out to get me everywhere I go. Once I think something, it is as if it becomes real and I cannot distinguish between what the situation is and what I think and feel about it.

Walking home at twilight in India it would not be unrealistic to see a cobra slithering across the path. An expectation, a flutter of fear, the half-light, an ambiguous object across the path, imagination can supply the rest. It might be worth remembering that next time you meet with someone you have a bad feeling about and they seem to be antagonizing you.

Story as told by the Venerable Sochu

Story source here
Image source here


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Watermelon Slush

When I look back in time, watermelon always was the ultimate summer fruit for me when I was a child. We had peaches, cherries, young apples, and apricots, but nothing could top up a large wedge of chilled watermelon and all that juice that was flowing dawn our arms as we tried to eat our way to the rind. 

You may disagree, but for me there is nothing better on a hot summer day than a watermelon! 

Watermelon is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acid citruline and lycopene. Because of its very high water content, watermelon is a wonderful thirst quencher. Moreover, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the red flesh of the fruit is considered as cooling.

Watermelon is quite versatile and can be eaten in many ways. You can add it to smoothies, salads, and juices. You can turn it into a sorbet, granita, or a slush.

In the recipe that follows I used a very ripe watermelon. Since it was very sweet I did not have to add any sweetener. I also did not discard the seeds. Many people do not know that the seeds are rich in B Vitamins, minerals, especially magnesium, omega 6 fatty acids, and the cardiovascular system supporting amino acid arginine.  

~ Watermelon Slush Recipe ~

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 2 cups frozen watermelon, cubed
  • juice of 1/2 lime (optional)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)

  • Cut watermelon into manageable chunks. Put 2 cups into freezer and wait for 20 minutes or so. Thanks to a high water content watermelon freezes quite quickly. 
  • Place the fresh and the frozen watermelon in a blender, add lime juice and chopped mint. Blend until smooth. Done!
  • Pour into tall glasses and enjoy in good company on a hot summer day.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Books to Read This Summer

I have always imagined that Paradise 
will be a kind of library. -  Jorge Luis Borges

Summer is a time of many activities. If you are not an avid book reader, reading may not always be at the top of your to-do list. Book lovers, on the other hand, always find time to read, and most are able to find some balance between physical activities and reading. 

 There are quite a few books that were suggested to me by friends. I usually pick up one or two that really catch my eye. This year it will be The House on Mermaid Point. Was it the cover or was it the story line that intrigued me, you may ask. Well, you will have to get the book to find out for yourself.

I travel a lot and sometimes spent a few hours at the airport waiting for my connecting flight. I use this time to explore bookstores and news stands. Sometimes I even discover the most interesting books and new authors I never heard about. One such discovery was Daniel Silva whose latest book, The Heist, I am currently reading. Next on my shelf is The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street which I discovered at the Detroit Metropolitan Aiport.

If you are adventurous enough you are probably contemplating the joys of reading your favorite book on the beach, with suntan lotion on your fingers, the fresh breeze and all the sand that loves to get everywhere. You might decide against it, out of simple, practical reasons. But nothing should stop you from reading on a long haul flight. Once you immerse yourself in your reading adventure you will not even notice how quickly time flies...

By Dominique Allmon

Books you could be reading this summer


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Do Not Grow Old!

Do not grow old, no matter how long you live.
Never cease to stand like curious children
before the Great Mystery into which we were born.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Image: Suzy Parker, Paris 1953 by Georges Dambier
Image source here

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Nation's Strength

Happy Independence Day, America!

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

By Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It Will Always Be Summer...

The serene philosophy of the pink rose is steadying.  Its fragrant, delicate petals open fully and are ready to fall, without regret or disillusion, after only a day in the sun.  It is so every summer.  One can almost hear their pink, fragrant murmur as they settle down upon the grass: 'Summer, summer, it will always be summer. - Rachel Peden