Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How powerful is Television?

(From Slate Magazine) Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of three.”

I’m not an expert on autism, but recently I took a refresher psychology class at The College of Southern Idaho. When we arrived at the chapter on dreams, something reminded me of the textbook from my previous psyche class, three decades ago. Back then, a statement claimed that 95 percent of us Americans dream in black and white. That study was from the early 60's, an era when we watched over 90 percent of TV shows through black and white sets.

The textbook from my recent CSI class, posited precisely the opposite: that 95 percent of us now dream in living color! What was there to explain for this grand shift? Is there a correlation between the tones of Americans dreams and the types of TV’s they own?

This made me wonder: Is television high-definition hypnotism, a force so powerful, that not only does it connect as a crucial cause of autism, when used as a primary babysitter; but also that its programming transforms our dream colors?

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Barefoot from Africa by Catharina ©

On a recent cold snowy morning, I was visiting a friend who reminded me that as dazzling as the hypnotic snow is, it’s customary to brush the snow from our cars. Moving slowly and not accustomed to the cold; being from a continent of sunshine with no winters, I find snow enchanting. I was even amused when I saw that the bottle of water kept in my car was frozen.

Funny, in my country there is always a lack of freezers. You have to search for ingenious ways to keep things cool; here you are searching for ways to keep things warm. Odd...funny, inside out and upside down, from where I come. -That is, barefoot from Africa.

As I was trodding around my freezing little blue car, which was the color of my

skin after five minutes out of the warmth of his shack; trying to look intelligent and knowing what I am doing in this cold; I noticed the soft inner feather of a bird's wing stuck in the ice of my car's windshield. I called my friend over and we were amazed at the little message. My friend remarked that birds are messengers and the message mesmerized me. I’ve heard an ancient story about four feathers and inquired about this tale, but my friend could not remember it.

However, in the next breath, he pointed way above us in the sky. As the snow was drifting down from the heavens, we observed a flock of wild geese flapping gracefully through the foggy atmosphere, resolutely migrating to warmer regions.

During the day and the rest of my time at the shack, I became shrouded by thoughts and memories from my past. I had been the victim of attempted murder a few years ago, a vicious act that left me temporarily paralyzed from the head down, and without the ability to speak, read or write for a long period, until I won the fight of my life and recovered.

I remember a dream, or rather a time traveling experience six months prior to the attempted murder. I refer to it as a holographic experience. Some said I was nuts at that time, but criticism tends to makes me stronger and gives me more courage; like the little feather. It was not criticism involved this time, but rather the patience of my gentle and courageous friend, from whom I learn how to be patient with myself, and come to terms with saying goodbye to my many silent self-criticisms.

I am freshly barefoot from Africa. During my long spell there, I learned much about the spiritual paths of our many ethnic black cultures and always held those values in high esteem.

As I grew to know my western friend better, I started learning more about American Indian cultures and their sacred spiritual teachings. Much of those lessons correlate with what I learned in Greece about all religions, while working on my Hypnotherapy degree. Combined with what I learned from African ethnocentric cultures, makes this immeasurable; but most remarkable is the line of connections extracted from book knowledge. Combining book knowledge with inner knowledge, drawn with what I learn from my friend makes for a mind-broadening experience.

I was stuck in making one of the most important decisions of my life. Was it time to bail out of the U.S. and return to Africa? -Not an easy decision if you have lost all your earnings, are down and out financially and facing obstacles of a thorny economy. Although I once ‘owned’ many Earthly possessions, rubbed shoulders with ambassadors, and had a private hospital, I also had an unfulfilling marriage that nearly claimed my life. I gave it all up, because I had visions of fulfilling my life purpose.

What would that be? -Some would ask. To help others, some suggest. Others, I’ve met, who have experienced powerful life-directing epiphanies, asked, what makes yours different? Mine is different and so is everyone else’s, Why? Since we all contribute to a Greater Whole, each of us experiences a unique awakening. It certainly keeps things more interesting that way, the same way we all have diverse personalities, fingerprints, facial characteristics, DNA and dreams. The specific tasks for each individual are different, but it all forms a magnanimous whole, even more so, for those of us who have received awakenings at synchronous times.

Which brings me to my insight: When I was on the opposite end of the world facing my near-death experience, my friend on American soil was phoning his office at the same precise time, to explain he was returning nevermore. My understanding is that he did not know what he was going to do to support himself, but he knew if he didn’t quit that day, he would have soon been snared by the golden handcuffs. This is only a part of the synchronicity he will be able to reveal, when he is ready.[i]

I, on African soil had to overcome a limp unresponsive body and almost defy medical history and predictions so readily verbalized by professionals around my bed. All the while on life-support, I was quite aware of their dire forecast. However, I refused to accept this. I wanted to live. My reservoir of inner knowledge told me where I had to escape, but I had no idea where those tall misty mountains were, nor how I was to get there. The visions came and were confusing at times, but from my limp body I kept asking guidance from the Greater Awareness.

Today I am walking, talking, reading, and writing...obviously not very fluent and with the level of artistry as my friend is, but he is the author of my life story as I reveal the path experiences I have walked. My purpose is to share...to help...to encourage...to love...life with compassion as the Greater Divine Awareness is not a God of wrath; but a God of love...deep, deep love. It is only through our veil of tears and moments of intense anger that we view the Greatness as an authority that is punishing us. So let us now lighten up and tell jokes as my friend would say.

The little soft brown feather was a sign for me. I will be homeless soon, not spiritually without a home, but materialistically. I am currently not making enough money to keep my apartment. That is least of my concerns. As I’ve said before, keeping my breath is more important than retaining the roof over my head. It is scary, but there are more frightening things happening to others. And in times of hardship, I think about how the Great Awareness cares for crows during harsh winters. And I know that somehow, I will be ok; how this is, I do not completely understand, but my reliable intuition strongly whispers that I will be ok.

Upon return from visiting my friend, I studied through candlelit hours, the ancient wisdom of the Native Americans. Then I realized a pattern. That was what the little feather told me and the message revealed itself at the sacred Eastern daybreak. Many Native American beliefs maintain that the divine door you open in your life with intent is the spiritual seed that needs fertile ground and nurturing.

The choice is how to accept the role of nurturing, depending on the situation and state of mind. My current overall situation is neither soothing nor securing. Nor is my frantic state of mind.

Facing the south is a challenge. In Native American Tradition, the wisdom lies in knowing when to advance, and when to be passive. I took the option of wearing the War bonnet...meaning: to take advance. Make the most of the choices you have at hand. Choosing the advance position, you might ask whereto? The South expresses where you should place your faith or where a shift in faith has caused you weakness. Somehow, Western psychology teaches us to contain the child within, which I believe -as one who works in counseling fields- is baloney. I believe that our inner child can often sense the truth better, because of its untarnished faith and innocence. With aspects of our inner child’s pure faith and innocence, we can utilize those strengths, cementing them with our adult logic and reasoning to make wise discernable decisions. Our child within, holds the key to our central knowings; the gem we’ve always had, even at a pre-birth stage. It is our life experiences and conditioning by parents, peers and societal rules that influences us to believe we cannot trust our inner child, simply because society believes it is "childish". We lose ourselves, becoming too serious and stiff about being human. We often cut off ‘being a spiritual being’ while having human experiences.

Coming to this realization, I joined the official Native American Council Fire or the West, seeking better inward answers. To reach my goals, I must seek my own truth as to what I desire, how I plan to fulfill that desire, and what my purpose is in meeting that goal. My purpose is to help others, through my hypnotherapy, and writing; and is this when I realized that I neglected the main rule: That is to delegate the part that I cannot be in control of; the writing. That is the part my friend hungers for, in order to make him whole. I have been known as a perfectionist that tried to do it all and be everything. Moreover, this was the main factor that contributed to the breakdown of both of my marriages. Realizing and facing yourself in the mirror might be hard, but this realization has me elated.

I can organize homes, offices, books and set goals, teach, -but to actually write a book...I suck at it. I would read, proofread and edit, but to write I would get so involved in the actual writing just to dismiss it all in the end. And this is where my friend observes the magic in written words. He sees and observes the value, the magical, the imagination the subconscious at its best in every situation, every experience and he does not even have to believe in the myth of Ernest Hemingway that you need to be drunk in order to write a piece that will seize the reader's attention. Some writers seem to forget, that you do not need to grab the full attention of a given audience right now, but that with the right subject, you can grab the attention of audiences later (contingent on the personal growth levels of the various readers).

When readers feel the need to grow, whether it is a spiritual, mental, physical, emotional or auricle level...they will eventually find your book and/or articles. That is what the council revealed to me, I have unlimited vision, but I have to hand over my visions of dreams to the true author that will bring it to life. From my formal training, I have learned there are different types of dreams; often depending on what time you had the dream during the night. More importantly, there is a dream that I refer to as a time-travel. Time travel can happen even while you are wide-awake. It is a kind of hypnosis. A heightened awareness. It is not intuition - it is a psychic awareness... I did not choose this path; it was a part of my life, a gift even at age 5. That was the first time when I came aware of it. I will not go into details, but it saved my life and that of my mother's. Probably has something to do with why she became so hostile towards me afterward. Her attitude towards me does not bother me as much now. I have forgiven her, because I know she does not understand my gift of second sight. She does not need to understand it and nor do I need to explain it. Accepting her and accepting her understanding is no longer an issue for me. I feel relieved that I don’t have to explain myself constantly after so many years.

I love her and respect her. She brought me into this world. I also recognize that this world does not accept dreamers, although in ancient times such visionaries were highly respected. Back then, as still in some indigenous cultures still today, the place of the dreamer was similar to a prophet or healer. These people traveled into the past to bring forward the good into the present. They saw bad addictive behavioral patterns and helped patients overcome seemingly impossible odds, using essences of clear vision and clarity.

This is much different from standard Western Psychology beliefs that addictions are only related to trauma from childhood experiences and genetics. There is more to the story of addictions; it does not matter the genetics and family experiences: I personally believe that a patient or client can be completely healed without a lot a how-to’s, or years of “let's try this or that.” Addicts already know what is best for them. As a Hypnotherapist, I assist patients to be honest within their selves. I do not need to know their answer, they will know instinctively and intuitively how to share the information with me -if they so wish. Until then, I am there for them without judgment and criticism and with unconditional love, because that is something they have seldom experienced. They do not need authoritarian remarks of 'being the best', "are losers" or "will amount to less than what is expected." Such disparaging remarks breed anger and madness within. Sensitive souls will suppress their anger. Suppression can lead to substance abuse and physical destruction.

And coming barefoot from Africa, to standing here in the snow, beneath the behemoth misty mountains, I constantly search for ingenious ways to keep things at the right temperature.

[i] Editor’s note: I did find it particularly interesting to learn that on the same summer solstice day, when I ended my long newspaper career, Catharina was experiencing some seemingly electromagnetic interference in her African hospital room, while trying to send a package of information to her mentor in Greece, which ended up frying two of her computers.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pink Rabbits and Flying Dreams

Last night, I had a fanciful dream that I was back at my old Virginia house. I haven’t lived there for decades, but recently went on Google Maps and flew around the woodsy neighborhood a bit. Something, I’ve admired about my father, is that whenever he bought a house, it was always adjacent to some woods, giving us young rapscallions a healthy place to run around to release our energy.

In the dream, I awoke on Saturday daybreak and went outside, barefoot in my pajamas to collect a Washington Post from our snowy driveway. In reality, we lived on a sleepy dead end, but in the dream, cars could now connect into the forest. In fact, it was a bustling thoroughfare now; some elaborate racecars were speeding into the woods, as one or two old jalopies were pulling out and returning to civilization. Even though it was snowy, I was excited to be back, and thought I would take an encompassing walk around the backyard, while waiting for the newspaper. Still barefoot, I walked to the side yard, to see several children shouting with squeals of glee, preparing to sled down our hill. It was a magnificent morning for sledding, and I thought I would trudge up the hill a way, to be closer to the enjoyment. Halfway to the pinnacle, the children easily maneuvered around me on their toy-sleds. While I reached the top, I saw there were several more houses. The furthest yard was filled with dozens of other children, enjoying some festive event. The first few modern houses were quiet and dim, but the ancient house was where the action was. As I approached, I saw a great cauldron of stew boiling over a fire in the front yard, as the happy children continued to dart about, every which-way. It was a four-story grey house, and I tried to picture it from my past. I remembered it being an old house, even back when I was young. Then in the hub of activity, I spied the property owner. She was somebody, I knew from decades ago, but she hadn’t aged much. She had some wild grey curly hair around the fringes of her head, and everyone there respected her with high regard. Trying to be polite, I asked in a curious voice, above the merry din, “How old is this house?” She was elusive with her answer, but smiled, and then kindly but sternly, grabbed me around the forearms, saying, “I remember your kind; I had to straighten you and your brother out a few times, from some of the trouble you caused out here in the woods.” I thought that this wasn’t necessarily true, but perhaps there was a small element to what she spoke. We briefly conversed some more, then I asked what her name was. She spoke a name so peculiar that I knew instantly that I would be incapable of remembering it. It was as if she had cast a spell upon her obscure name, rendering it impossible to recollect, although, I do remember her long singular name had four “i’s” in it. She released me and I trotted a little further down the wet Virginia clay trail. As the snow melted in the late morning forest sun, I came to two more houses that I remembered from childhood: the last one an old blue Victorian, facing Rabbit Run creek. I vaguely recalled some sort of strange happenings there too, but couldn’t penetrate the decades-old memories to put my finger on it yet.

Suddenly, as I spun around in the wet mud, I realized that I was able to fly again. I was flying feet-first with my bare feet sticking out straight ahead of me. Remarkably, the fact that I was able to fly felt quite natural, as it usually does with such flying dreams. This incubated a thought that I would like to turn my body around and fly like Superman to show the Virginians what their prodigal son had learned, while living twenty years in Idaho woods. They will love this! -I thought in a powerful inner celebration, and they will talk about it for decades! My plan was to fly slow motion past the children’s clamor and their holiday cauldron, giving them the broadest smile I could possibly manage. However, when I tried to spin about, to fly face-first like Superman, there was something off with my inner gyroscope. It led me to a higher altitude, and suddenly I was soaring fast, directly behind four space pilots and four astronauts. Those high-flyers were all relying on spacesuits and other backup technologies, so I laughed at them, as I was flying on mind-power alone. It all felt quite fearless, but for some reason, I was unable to switch my inner gears back down to earth, no matter how hard I tried.

Awakening to present day reality, I lay there motionless for several minutes, lightly buzzing about the powerful flying dream. Then, as the dream partially melted away, it occurred to me that those uncanny houses in the woods were never actually there, but rather had been places imagn’d in my childhood dreams. Vivid places I occasionally revisited over the decades, where many events had taken shape and form – enough to record a small history deep in my subconscious. This made me wonder if this all was merely in my mind, or are our minds potentially much more powerful than what my instructors taught, in our Virginia school of thought? Do we somehow mysteriously connect to otherworldly dimensions, where ongoing ethereal events persist in parallel fashions?

Then I realized that I had been sleeping on a sofa brought home recently as a gift from a friend. The sofa is emblazoned with some cute animals, the most notable of which are some pink rabbits dancing on the pillow, which had been pressing against my dreamy head…

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Setting Boundaries

Great advice from many parameters.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monday September 14, 2009 - A Day To Remember
On the evening of September 13th Doro received a phone call from Darcy Harcourt, a veterinarian technician, who joined Silent Voices a couple of months ago from the Twin Falls area.
Darcy exposed a cruelty case going on in Jerome. Five abandoned starving horses, six caged starving dogs, and one goat whose collar tore into her flesh. Aside from two old bales of hay on the premises, no other food or water were present.
Doro met Darcy at the blinking light on Hwy. 75 in the early morning. Arriving at the abandoned site, they took pictures and videos of the caged animals and the horrid unsanitary conditions these animals were enduring.
Apparently after being in Hawaii for a week, the young couple who owned these animals, decided they were going to stay in Hawaii for six months longer. So they apparently contracted someone to feed the animals but never followed up. They also had two other horses shipped to Hawaii, one was temporarily detained by customs in California due to its emaciated condition. The couple were due back in Idaho the middle of October.
Doro contacted Veterinarian Misty Rhett from Twin Falls who agreed to meet with her on the premises that afternoon. Doro then visited with Sheriff Doug McFall and Deputy Sheriff Jack Johnson who had been informed about the situation the previous Thursday and had inspected the site. She introduced herself and SILENT VOICES to four sheriffs and handed out her cards. They all agreed to meet with Dr. Misty Rhett at the site, but felt they would need to call the State Agricultural Department. Doro handed them the phone number for Inspector John Klimes, who is the State inspector for Jerome County.
At the site it was agreed that the horses needed to be seized. Doro had arranged emergency homes for all five horses. Sheriff Jack Johnson contacted the owners in Hawaii who said they would return as soon as possible. The identity of the person hired to care for the animals remains unknown so far.
Sheriff Johnson informed them that the horses were being taken to a Veterinary Hospital at the owners expense until their return. Inspector John Klimes recommended that these people needed to be prosecuted for violating the Idaho State Statutes. Four dogs were taken to temporary foster care and are looking for new homes. The two older ones are temporarily staying with the neighbors who also agreed to care for the goat until the owners are back.
SILENT VOICES RESCUE effectively cooperated and assisted in this cruelty case. Our goal is to SAVE and PROTECT the animals FIRST while the investigation is in progress. The reason why this was so effective is that all parties were present at the same time, everyone's first interest was the animal's welfare and there was no indifference.

It was not only a day to remember but hopefully a day to duplicate in the future when we all have COME TOGETHER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

We accomplished what we have set out to accomplish:

To EXPOSE and change the indifference about cruelty to horses and animals.
To ENSURE and ASSIST in upholding the administration and enforcement of Idaho Codes.
To IMPLEMENT a system of immediate care for abused and starving horses.
To EMPOWER, through example, all communities who choose not to tolerate horse cruelty.
Julie Lawson

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The illuminating crown of thorns

Not long after this letter ran, I dreamt that I was in the basement of my old newspaper haunt, briefly hanging out with some former colleagues. Suddenly several of us had inkling to rush out to the back ‘smoking’ lot, where we found an enormous pin oak illuminated by a brilliant golden light, coming from within the tree. The oak had about sixty branches shooting out to the sides, roughly in an equilateral circle. Thirty of these were large branches, too large to encompass with your arms. These were intertwined with thirty smaller branches. Another strange thing about this tree is that somebody had recently lopped the trunk off from its base, which caused the branches to fall out in their great circle. This was also causing the tree to levitate three feet off the ground, as the branches held together like a large crown of thorns.

Well the newspaper couldn’t have a levitating crown of thorns like that, just blocking their loading dock, so the cartoonist figured he could cure this problem by slowing plucking away some of the smaller branches, which might in turn loosen some of the larger ones. After some serious yanking, he pulled out several smaller branches, which did indeed loosen some of the larger ones. Meanwhile, passerbies brushing right alongside the edge of the branches were oblivious to the danger, causing me to act as sort of a flagman.

Then I awoke to a slightly less miraculous world. Or was it a slightly more miraculous world?

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Idling thoughts

Someone approached me recently with a concern of cars idling in Ketchum. Her distress was this:

“Hi there, came across your email on the SVO blog. I am not a blogger, but did join the site. Am new to Wood River Valley. since you seem big into blogging, has anyone blogged about how bizarre and disturbing it is that so many people leave their cars running at the curb while they go about their business in Ketchum. I wrote a LTE in the Express about this... but wonder if it can / ought to be blogged about. Thoughts?
And on that subject, why do so many people drive in Ketchum? It’s so unnecessary! - KT”

I replied, “Welcome to the valley. I think that’s an interesting subject you bring up, and could work well for a SVO discussion.”

A few random thoughts:

In recent years, local authorities have posted several dozen no-idling signs in well-thought out places around the valley. Hailey has a lot of these, as do most schools. I wonder though, how local law enforcement works with this. Has anybody been ticketed or warned for idling their vehicle in one of these zones? What about Prius owners? Maybe the accepted wisdom is that the signs, along with a healthy dose of passerby’s scornful-looks, should be enough to do the trick. (Sometimes finger-pointers utilize Miscellany 2 in the Express classifieds in similar technique)

It sounds like you’re focusing on cases, where people actually leave their cars running, unattended. That’s definitely worse and I have heard of somebody ticketed for this. Frequent naïve attitudes about how crime is practically non-existent here don’t help either. A few years ago, somebody stole a Ketchum man’s car on April Fools Day. Although he had left his keys in the car, he presumed that his friends had played a practical joke, until that afternoon, when he realized it really was stolen.

It would be interesting to get a mechanic’s opinion on idling cars and at what point you should turn your engine off for brief stops. When I used to operate a cab, the company liked us to keep the engines running in wintertime. I’ve seen the same thing with the City of Ketchum, snow removal machinery – sometimes they run the engines for an hour or two, without actually operating the machinery, but to keep them warm and at ready stand-by. Probably a wise choice, when we’re facing harsh single-digit weather conditions.

As far as parking goes, some people allow themselves to become spoiled here. I’m not immune to this either. Where I grew up in a larger city, if I discovered a parking spot within ten blocks of the movie theatre, I felt like I had scored big. Here when you have to walk five blocks it seems like a long slog, until I remember…

Perhaps we could design a poll to complement the blogpost.

Something like:

Q: What’s your favorite idling car excuse?

1. I didn’t want to lose the spot at where my music was playing.
2. I couldn’t find a palm tree to park under and my baby was in the back, so I needed to keep the air-conditioner running.
3. Need to keep beer cool.
4. Practicing Heyoka methodology.
5. High altitudes amplify my natural stupidity.
6. Etc.

I wonder how people would feel about idling, if cars ran off solar / water and emitted no pollution. Some idle observers might not even be interested in the subject anymore, as they tend to focus more on arguing than truly seeking solutions. Some would probably argue don’t forget about the noise they create; but personally, I would like to welcome the sound of idling cars operating effectively off small amounts of water as something to harmonize with; something good enough to whet the environmental curiosity of even the saltiest of Ketchum’s rough-idling dogs.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Congratulations to Tony!

Participants in the Idaho Conversation League writing workshops will be pleased to hear that Tony Evans has won two more Idaho Press Club, Excellence in Journalism awards:

A First Place for the informative and refreshing outdoor feature “Out on the ice”:


And a third-place for “Home Building 101” in the Education reporting category.


Way to go Tony!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Emmylou Harris 'Wrecking Ball'

Fiery Hypnologic Anthem

I was floating on a red white and blue noctilucent cloud that I had surfed on some years before. I didn’t realize that this cloud could ever be there again. I had seen it before too, in a cartoon, where Ben Franklin trounced Jimi Hendrix in a tight game of air hockey. This got me thinking about Whiskey Jacques air hockey game and the infernal fire it must have endured next to pool table ball teardrops and melting graffiti.

What did the clean-up workers talk about as they excavated this mess? I hope the demolition boys utilized their imagination, while multitasking Neil Young’s Romantic jukebox song, Under the Wrecking Ball: “Wear something pretty and white, and meet me under the wrecking ball tonight”

But first, I’ll have to cash in some sauce-cash at the ATM, as long as it doesn’t cut my finger again, bleeding through wads of sacred infernal Federal Reserve bills.

This reminds me, surfing freely on noctilucent clouds without a wallet or belt always seemed easier, even though it is floating in a most peculiar way.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

My friend

You come for me often; and sometimes you are welcomed. Sometimes I embrace you like a dear old friend. Sometimes we go for walks together through a forested park. Holding hands like lovers on the verge of a life together. Sometimes we just stay in, and share the night together.

There are other times, old friend, when you are not welcome on my doorstep. Sometimes, you need to just leave well enough alone and go your own way. Go back to the dark cave from which you came and wallow in your own misery.

Those are the brighter days for me. Those are the days the clouds clear to blue skies; the sun somehow seems warmer on my skin and the days that the mountains seem so much stronger and wise thrusting themselves from the earth. The days I shout to you; I am not alone dear loneliness. I am not alone!

The days you are away, I become stronger and more alive. Though, I do miss you, and will welcome your embrace again soon. But I also realize that too much time together with you is a depressing and sorrowful place. We need each other. This I know and accept. We've spent too much time together to have it any other way. But, I need our distance from each other, and the more I am away from you, the more I realize this.

I think it best you no longer show up unannounced. If you want me in your life, please let it be me that sends the invitation. Let it be me that sets the table for two, who lights the candles, and pours the wine. You'll be my guest for now on. When I ask you to leave, just go. Don't talk back. Just go. I am not alone dear loneliness. And I live by my rules now. I am not alone.

-Steve O'Donnell

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Saturday, March 21, 2009



My teenage niece has Facebook friends in her hometown to whom she has never spoken a live word. For some mysterious reason, she would never even acknowledge these people if she were to see them at the grocery store. Did she inherit my unfortunate lack of social skills, or has the popularity contest of life taken on a whole new dimension? I suppose flesh and bones interactions these days might break the spell of who everyone is trying to be in cyberspace.

My own friend-scape is an organic and evolving thing, based on common interests, shifting loyalties and a great deal of happenstance. There is no real rhyme or reason to how we all know one another, but lately I have been wondering what my life would be like if I had been more socially adept and focused all these years. Maybe I would be famous, or rich.

Awkwardness didn't play very well in college where the most popular guys in the room always spoke the loudest, usually about sports. It took forever to find out who I wanted to hang out with, and even longer to know if they wanted to hang out with me. By then I was cut loose on the sea of possibilities known as adulthood.

Still the whole idea of "networking" when it comes to making friends has always seemed a bit creepy and elitist to me. Doesn't it eventually lead to stepping over the homeless person on a sidewalk, rather than picking them up, because we have some pressing social engagement?

The father of one of my old girlfriends once told her, "You marry who you meet. It's as easy to fall in love with a rich guy as it is to fall in love with a poor guy." I had to dump her and her father for their lack of faith in romantic destiny. I like to think we meet whom we meet and love whom we love based on deeper mysteries than the size of our bank accounts, that our personal lives should never be circumscribed like gated communities. Relationships of all kinds help to make us who we are as people, and lasting friendships can emerge from unlikely places. "Don't talk to strangers" is about the silliest piece of advice I ever got as a kid.

Facebook allows us to be selective when finding friends, searching out those with common interests, but when everyone is thinking the same, is anybody really thinking?

Thankfully, Facebook is more than just a handy vehicle for an old girlfriend tour. It's an opportunity to present myself as the heroic protagonist in the epic story of my life. (My profile photo has me at the helm of a sailboat, but it's just a rental.) Facebook can also work like a kind of glass elevator for social climbing. (With careful networking, and some public chit-chat, I could become well known in the Facebook group: Helps Homeless People Up From Sidewalks.)

But to start with, you have zero friends on Facebook, which tweaks your deepest social anxiety, the you-may-have-to-spend-the-night-away-from-the-fire-and-out-of-the-cave anxiety. Two primary impulses ensue: (1) to swing the doors open wide to all and sundry like some kind of Facebook slut or (2) to be selective and Machiavellian, stealing friends from those loud guys I once knew in college (or, in my case, from my sister).

Somewhere between those two extremes I find myself balancing two basic needs: the need for friends and the need for privacy. Facebooking often begins with conversations that ended, and perhaps should have ended, long ago. But it also brings you to old friends who accepted you for who you were, on the street. Maybe you drifted together for mysterious reasons, and then drifted apart for no other reason than that your parents stopped paying your college tuition. Maybe you made a break to some wild blue yonder of the future.

In any case, running the gauntlet with my old crowd on the true landscape of my life reminds me that I had to go then and there before I got to the here and now. There are no shortcuts to growing up, and lasting friendships will always be more than a click away.

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How Does a Beatle Live? John Lennon Lives Like This


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

World-shaking Shakespearian Synchronicities

Over the last moon, I’ve spent considerable time reflecting back on clocks and this Synchronicity post. Recently, a friend pointed out that I would have a ‘magic birthday’ coming up relatively soon, and this would be 12-12-12, when I would turn 53.

While thinking about this, for some reason, I felt compelled to look back at some William Shakespeare. Throughout most of school, I felt as if his work was high over my head, although perhaps I didn’t invest my time wise, trying to understand the great bard. While reading countless intriguing references to Shakespeare since school, I felt like I was missing something and should at least shortcut through Wikipedia to gain a rudimentary Shakespearian appreciation.

One of the first fitting things I discovered is that “Am I a weakish speller?" is a perfect anagram for William Shakespeare. The second thing that caught my attention was that Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, his 53rd birthday. This started to hit home even more, when I read somewhere that my magic birthday (when I, too, should turn 53) is also a day predicted by many to be the end of the world, as we know it. However, I soon discovered this information was partly backwards, because whenever I Googled “12-12-12” the search engine automatically redirected me to 12-21-12 – the celebrated end of the Mayan calendar. Determined to investigate more about obscure meanings regarding twelve-twelve, I continued on; finally discovering a problem-solving book regarding 12-12-12. Among his many innovative suggestions, the author says,

I direct clockwork radios with inbuilt torches be distributed to
as many poor tribes
as possible so that they can be
informed of the truth and can follow the 12-12-12 initiative wherever
they may live. It is more efficient than dropping leaflets to illiterate people
and there are no batteries to ‘borrow.’”

Therefore, with many 12-21-12 seers predicting doomsday, while the 12-12-12 book mirrors vast solutions for humanity, perhaps when the clock does strikes a final twelve knell, it will also be signaling a powerful new beginning.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Idaho's trail of tears


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Greg Stahl: The time is right to find a way to help fish and the economy


Reader's Opinion from Saturday's Idaho Statesman:

A new day is dawning for salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest. In the span of two weeks last November, the complex chessboard that comprises salmon recovery in Idaho began to look more optimistic for the first time in eight years.

The November elections, pending court verdicts and the recent settlement to remove four lethal dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, paint a brighter future for species that have been teetering on the brink of extinction for decades.

However, focusing solely on studies like the one touted in a Reader View published in the Dec. 12 Idaho Statesman is misleading. While the study cited is an important piece of the puzzle, it is only a fragment of a complex issue.

Common sense, to use author Terry Flores' words, suggests that residents of the Pacific Northwest might begin looking forward to a more free-flowing, optimistic era that includes more jobs, restored fisheries, a modernized energy infrastructure that isn't lethal for salmon and a refitted transportation system. Common sense also suggests that many juvenile Idaho salmon that have to survive four dams and reservoirs on the lower Snake River, and then four more on the Columbia River, will die in the process.

While the study's underlying premise that ocean conditions are a major factor in salmon mortality makes sense, a sweeping conclusion that dams make no difference in survival rates is not supported by its authors and is at odds with a long history of independent, peer-reviewed science that says exactly the opposite.

The study, published in October in the open access journal PloS Biology, compares salmon migration and survival in the Fraser and Columbia-Snake river systems. Bert Bowler, a 30-year fisheries biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, maintains the study lacks scientific rigor for drawing such conclusions from two completely different river systems. The tagging mythology used in the study to make the survival comparisons between river systems is precarious at best, Bowler said.

One of the studies' authors also does not negate dams as a major factor.

"Despite the obvious comparison, it would be overly simplistic to say that dams have no impact on smolt survival, because we know they do," said Carl Schreck, a professor of fisheries and wildlife at Oregon State University and the U.S. Geological Survey and an author of the study. "There also may be some additional delayed mortality of Columbia River smolts caused by the stress of passage through the hydrosystem that is not manifested until the fish reach the ocean."

The Fraser/Columbia study has been used in the media and by Flores to argue that a focus on Snake-Columbia dams is misplaced. However, previous studies have established beyond doubt that Columbia-Snake salmon suffer delayed mortality due to dam-related stresses that the fish experience as they pass as many as eight dams on their way to the ocean.

While it is unclear what kind of ocean-related projects could benefit salmon survival rates, it is clear that improving the migration corridor in fresh water will give salmon runs the boost they need most.

With lower Snake dam removal, the critical issues become clear. The key issues are economic, engineering and political. At Idaho Rivers United, we believe that people can find a solution that benefits fish while also helping wheat growers, electricity users and communities. A win-win solution is possible if the new administration and the Northwest's members of Congress seize the new opportunity to create a process in which all stakeholders can sit down to find common ground.

We need all stakeholders involved, including those whose jobs, towns, families and values depend on restored salmon runs.

Greg Stahl is the assistant policy director for Idaho Rivers United.

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Down economy hits local recycling


Recycled stories like in the above link, often remind me of this article from the Misanthrope's Corner - facetious examination of the politically correct recycling movement:


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