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Dilbert and IBM

Dilbert and IBM - Since I'm now working at IBM (me and about 340,000 others), I found a special affinity for this cartoon, which was passed around by a co-worker. The fact he cc'd our manager with the cartoon tells loads. So from my experience, IBM isn't (always) this way :)

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Tristan and Isolde

Sophia Myles

Watched Tristan and Isolde recently, and have to say I was disappointed. It's such an important and seminal story in literature, I really hoped for a wonderful treatment from producers Ridley and Tony Scott. But with Kevin Reynolds directing, it turned out a bit too much like Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves (another Reynolds film).

Sophia Myles was wonderful, but I wasn't much impressed with the portrayal by James Franco. He was great in the fight scenes, but the rest of his performance seemed rather one dimensionally sullen. In short...

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Michael Berg Responds to Zarqawi's Death

Michael Berg

Michael Berg is the father of Nicholas (Nick) Berg, the young businessman who in May of 2004 was captured by terrorists in Iraq and beheaded. The terrorists videotaped the beheading and distributed the tape via their website. News services reported on the contents of the tape, showing the preamble of statements by Berg (and the terrorists?), but stopping short of broadcasting the actual beheading. However, besides the video, a still image of a terrorist holding up Bergs decapitated head has circulated widely on the Net.

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Predicting the Stars - Sasha Pieterse

Sasha Pieterse

Mark my words, Sasha Pieterse is gonna be a star.

Saw her in a second season episode of Fox's medical drama series House. In the episode, simply called Autopsy, the (then) nine year-old actress played a nine year-old terminal cancer patient, and gave a performance well beyond her years. Second time I've seen it, and again was choked up by her portrayal. Powerful stuff.

South African born Sasha Pieterse's talent totally reminds me of the Sixth Sense phenom, Haley Joel Osment. I wonder if she'll be picked up for any heavy roles as Osment was. Doubt there's much to pick from, but if I were a screenwriter, watching her performance would have inspired me to write something just for her. What a talent.

Sasha Pieterse will be a star.

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Spielberg's Munich

Ayelet Zorer

Recently watched Steven Spielberg's Munich with Eric Bana. It's a long film, about 2 hrs. 45 min. Eric Bana was great, as were all the other actors, but I was particularly mesmerized by the woman who played Bana's wife, though she was in only a few scenes.

Turns out she's a very well respected Israeli actress. I get it. She was perfect, communicating the whole/soul of her character in seconds. Her name...well, she seems to go by a few. The movie credits her as Ayelet Zorer, but I've seen Zurer and variations of Ayelet too. Her middle name seems stable and is "July." Maybe it was because she was one of the few women who appeared in the film, but I found her performance right on, rich and textured. All in probably less than five or ten minutes of screen time.

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Depression Learning Path


This site is quite lengthy, so below are some notes I took while reading through the website pages. Notes are not complete, but a good taste. I really found this website helpful in understanding depression and options for treating the condition/disease.

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Secrets of Stress Management

Photo by Adrian Sampson Received via email. Dunno who to credit.

Stress Management - When explaining stress management to an audience, the lecturer raised a glass of water and asked:

"How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

The lecturer replied:

"The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.

"If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.

In each case, it's the same weight:

The longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.

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Adam and Eve, God and Satan

Arrived via cousin Kelly.

God created the Heavens and the Earth and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then using God's great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Krispy Creme Donuts. And Satan said, "You want chocolate with that?" And Man said, "Yes!" and Woman said, "and as long as you're at it, add some sprinkles." And they gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat, and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14.

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Can You Read This?

Can you read this?

 Fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid, too.
 Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 precnet plepoe can.

 i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd
 waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the
 hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde
 Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the
 ltteres in a wrod are, 
 the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat
 ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a
 taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a
 pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not
 raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a
 wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot
 slpeling was ipmorantt! 

As long as the first and last letter are correct, we can read just about any scramble of letters...

It's become my literary inspiration.

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Why It's Better to Be the Boss

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Yoga Instructor Sara Ivanhoe

Sara Ivanhoe Yoga - Watched an excellent instructional video, Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies with the beautiful and poised Sara Ivanhoe. Very well produced and directed (except for the annoying sound effects used to highlight tips, note, and warnings). Ivanhoe comes across so clear, effective, and genuine. She'd make a wonderful television anchor. Top notch. Further, it looks like the DVDs produced by Anchor Bay share excellent production values and information.

The DVD goes through 12 basic poses, describing each clearly and simply. I never found the format boring or tedious. Useful tips sprinkled throughout kept the presentation interesting, yet you get full yoga session by watching the presentation. Very effective format and structure. Hate to say it, but these Dummies products tend to be pretty good.

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Ocarina: Sweet Potato Hand Flute to Legend of Zelda

Anyone interested in the ocarina must visit the Songbird Ocarina website. The fellow that put the website together sells his handmade ocarinas (and other hand flutes), but he also provides history, videos and audio files on him playing, tips, sheet music, etc. I quickly got the sense that this guy loves what he does, which made paying the price for one of his ocarinas much easier to accept.

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Never Lie to Your Mother

Brian Hester invited his mother over for dinner. During the course of the meal, Brian's mother couldn't help but keep noticing how beautiful Brian's roommate, Stephanie, was.

Mrs. Hester had long been suspicious of a relationship between Brian and Stephanie, and this had only made her the more curious.

Over the course of the evening, while watching the two react, Mrs.Hester started to wonder if there was more between Brian and Stephanie than met the eye.

Reading his mom's thoughts, Brian volunteered, "I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Stephanie and I are just roommates."

About a week later, Stephanie came to Brian saying, "Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don't suppose she took it, do you?"

Brian said, "Well, I doubt it , but I'll send her a e-mail just to be sure."

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Ancient Folk Remedy May Help Control Cholesterol

Guggulsterone from Guggul Tree Sap - This is an older (2002) article on the medicinal and chemical properties of a substance found in the sap or resin of the Asian Indian Guggul tree. The compound, called guggulsterone, blocks the FXR receptor (where?). The FXR receptor controls bile levels (and production) in the liver. By blocking the FXR receptor, the guggulsterone compound prevents the uptake/recycling of cholestrol laiden bile from the small intestine, thus breaking the metabolic cycle for bile. That's my best understanding from the article. May need more research. Sounds like the guggul sap is available in health food stores, particularly in India, where it's been used for the last 40 years to treat heart disease. Another "natural" remedy.

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Missed Tributes at the Oscars - by Ben Stein

In his critique of the Oscars, actor/economist Ben Stein points out...

...there was not one word of tribute, not one breath, to our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan or to their families or their widows or orphans...not one prayer or moment of silence for the dead and maimed.

Whoa. Got my attention.

I think he may be right, though I didn't see the whole awards show (Stein admits he didn't watch it all either). Even so, I had very mixed feelings about his comments. Yes, as he observes...

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Social Worker Finally Snaps

Cited on reddit.com. Original post off of craigslist.org. Very sad statement.

WARNING - The following content is not suitable for children, WILL offend sane people, and may cause nausea. I'm serious! This is horrific, ugly stuff. But it does make a strong statement about the degenerates in our society, which may include this poor social worker...and me for posting this here. The truth hurts.

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The Engineer and the Manager - Classic Modern Parable

I've bumped into variations of this parable in many places. May help us recognize when our energies are not...productive.

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man below says: "Yes. You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees N. latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees W. longitude."

"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist.

"I am" replies the man. "How did you know."

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33 Funny Musings of Steven Wright

Steven Wright

Steven Wright - Here's another emailed bit of humor. It's by Steven Wright, whose biography consists of the following:

I was born. When I was 23 I started telling jokes. Then I started going on television and doing films. That's still what I am doing. The end.

Below is a brief description included with the email. I'm not sure who wrote that part or about the "scientist" part, but Wright sure has a unique way of viewing the world. Enjoy!

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Lord of War

Lord of War - What a bizarre film. Lord of War tells the story of an arms dealer, played by Nicolas Cage, whose business begins modestly with the sale of a single Uzi. Then comes the fortuitous fall of the Soviet Union and his business opportunities quickly expand. The film makers claim the situations depicted in the film were inspired by actual events. Indeed, a follow up documentary included on the DVD contains interviews with think-tank types and NGO administrators that claim as much. But I found this film perplexing.

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The Soul's Code - by James Hillman

I was reading The Soul's Code: In search of Character and Calling by James Hillman. In lieu of a preface, he presents a small collection of quotations. Here are my favorites.

Adolescents sense a secret, unique greatness in themselves that seeks expression. They gesture toward the heart when trying to express any of this, a significant clue to the whole affair.
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce, Evolution's End
I don't develop; I am.
~ Pablo Picasso
One always learns one's mystery at the price of one's innocence.
~ Robertson Davies, Fifth Business
In the final analysis, we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted.
~ C. G. Jung

And this by Nabokov is...beautiful

Neither in environment nor in heredity can I find the exact instrument that fashioned me, the anonymous roller that passed upon my life a certain intricate watermark whose unique design becomes visible when the lamp of art is made to shine through life's foolscap.
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

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Memory and Forgiveness in Humans and Computers

Memory and Forgiveness - I'm reminded of the book The Singularity Is Near, where author Ray Kurzweil forecasts that computers will match the processing power of the human brain by mid-century or 2050.

Kurzweil predicts we will be able to "download" skills, as represented in The Matrix. Think of that. But will it be any better than our current approach? Will we forget the skill as we do now and require multiple "downloads" to keep it up? Or is one download enough? I suppose it depends on the process of forgetting...and our process of storing information...So many questions.

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Hillbilly Vasectomy

Bill and Hillary Way Back When

Received this from a Port-a-gee from Arkansas.

After their 11th child, an Alabama couple decided that was enough as they could not afford a larger bed.

So the husband went to his veterinarian and told him that he and his cousin didn't want to have any more children.

The doctor told him that there was a procedure called a vasectomy that could fix the problem but that it was expensive. "A less costly alternative," said the doctor, "is to go home, get a cherry bomb, (fireworks are legal in Alabama) light it, put it in a beer can, then hold the can up to your ear and count to 10"

The Alabamian said to the doctor, "I may not be the smartest tool in the shed but I don't see how putting a cherry bomb in a beer can next to my ear is going to help me."

"Trust me," said the doctor.

So the man went home, lit a cherry bomb and put it in a beer can. He held the can up to his ear and began to count...

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The Wiki Way - by Leuf and Cunningham

The Wiki Way: Quick Collaboration on the Web by Bo Leuf and Ward Cunningham.

Been looking for this book for quite a while now. As with Hidden Connections, I found it at a used bookstore today.

I first encountered the wiki way on Wikipedia.org, where anyone--even me--can edit and add articles. I started a few stubs, enjoyed watching them evolve, even when my precious writing was updated. Almost always, the evolution of the articles made them better. Of course there comes a point of diminishing returns.

So I played with installing various wikis, including Wikimedia (wikipedia's engine) and PmWiki, the PHP script running this wiki. Wikimedia was a monster. Huge resource hog, database driven. PmWiki was relatively resource light, no database, flat file, which at first I disliked, but as I read the developer's reasons for choosing flat file, I bought into the idea. In fact, I've become very enthusiastic, in large part because updates are a breeze. I have a Drupal blog that is MySQL driven, and version updates are a nightmare--mostly because of the damn database.

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Hidden Connections - by Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra

Hidden Connections - I read The Turning Point and The Tao of Physics by Capra many years ago. And his Uncommon Wisdom which is excellent. But I sort of lost track of him. Then I happened upon this Hidden Connections in a used bookstore. It's not very old (2002). Focuses on sustainability. I guess it's a followup to his The Web of Life, which I haven't read. Plan to read this one. Looks right up my alley. Capra is an interesting writer to me, though his strength is in dialogue, starting and sustaining a conversation (something more than an interview). Uncommon Wisdom was so fascinating in that respect, filled with his dialogues with brilliant minds from a broad spectrum of disciplines.

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Relative's of War

This entry contains a sister's memories of stories her brother told of his experiences during WWII. Someone in the family transcribed her account into an email, and I've posted it here. With the Iraq war, I expect our family will have more such stories. Very sad. The horrors of war. I think I would have made a miserable soldier.

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Rufus the Bull Terrier Wins 2006 Westminster Dog Show

Rufus the Bull Terrier biting the lips off his owner

His name is Rufus and he's a beauty contest winner. Rufus has won the 130th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

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Ice Skater Michelle Kwan Withdraws from 2006 Winter Olympics

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan 2006 Olympics - How sad is this, on so many levels? One, for Emily Hughes, who could have been preparing for her Olympic appearance, but now gets pulled into the games as a last minute replacement for Kwan. And for Kwan, jeez! The girl won't be getting her gold, though, to be honest, her chances were slim. She's had such an impact on skating, but it surely hurts in her marrow that she doesn't have an Olympic Gold medal.

Jim Lampley, the NBC Sports anchor, put it this way:

If her contributions to the sport, her ability to face disappointment with perspective and grace counts for anything, then Michelle Kwan is, and always will be, a champion.

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So You Want To Convert To Buddhism

Buddism Introduction - Here's a nice summary or primer to Buddhism. Very friendly, accessible presentation; not advanced in any way, but I just found it pleasing and informative to read.

BTW, my favorite book introducing Buddism is Walpola Rahula's What the Buddha Taught.

So you want to convert to Buddhism

What the Buddha Taught

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What Use Is Religion? by Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins and Religion - In this thought provoking article, Richard Dawkins, a Darwinian evangelist who wrote the controversial classic The Selfish Gene, offers an unflinching reductionist view on the origins and value of human religion.

I currently believe that we, as humans, need hope, faith, love, mystery, and a belief in God. Is there really a God or not? We cannot know for sure, so in a way, the answer doesn't matter. What matters is: Do you live a better life believing in God? Does it hurt to believe in God?

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Kari Byron of MythBusters Links

MythBuster Kari Byron

Kari Byron - I was shocked at the traffic generated with my blog post MythBusters Lost Experiments. After a little investigation, I was able to determine most visitors arrived at the post via a Google search of "Kari Byron". Since then, I've learned there is a die-hard following of this perky and very smart red-head. So I assembled this list of links related to Kari Byron. Of course, I have no interest in this wonderful lass born in 1974. I do this as a service to my fellow MythBusters fans...

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If GM Built Cars Like Microsoft Builds Software

Yet another fantastically funny email. I wonder if the story behind this has any truth.

For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on. At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated:

"If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued this press release...

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Great Photography Means Going To The Edge

While watching Creative Outdoor Photography (a photography workshop DVD by outdoor photography masters Galen Rowell and Frans Lanting), I was reminded where images for great photography are found.

Galen Rowell only touched on it in the workshop, but I think it was actually a strong part of his life philosophy (Rowell died in a plane crash in August 2002). If you want to create great photographs, you have to go to the edge.

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The Judoka by W.D. Norwood

The Judoka by W.D. Norwood is a very special book in my life. I first read it many years ago, and find myself returning to it often. As a teen, I trained in Judo for a short while, but with the focus on "Judo" as sport. The practices were physical and focused on technique and competition. So I never considered that Judo was a "Way," in the Eastern sense. Reading The Judoka taught me different.

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Norman O. Brown

Norman O. BrownNorman O. Brown was considered by the NY Times as a "playful philosopher."

I found his name while reading The Judoka, by W.D. (William) Norwood. On page 85 he paraphrases a quote from Norman O. Brown:

"Death is an enemy because we have too much unlived life within us."
- W.D. Norwood paraphrase of Norman O. Brown sentiment

From what I've learned, Norman O. Brown was a respected philosopher who lived a long life, though he did have Alzheimer's disease.

I wonder if W.D. Norwood is still alive. The literati / Judoka wrote a wonderful book and shared a bit of wisdom.

Life is accelerating by me. The NY Times quote:

In his Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (Wesleyan University Press, 1959), he said individuals and society were imprisoned by an essentially Freudian ill: repression. He argued that the only escape was to face death head-on and affirm life.

How the hell do you do that?

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Dove Ad Campaign for Real Beauty

Real Women Have Curves

Update: The campaign has gone into second gear. I saw a commercial featuring young girls (pre-teens, early teens) who didn't like something about themselves, their freckles, their hair, etc. Dove calls the campaign Uniquely Me, and the goal is to eliminate low self-esteem (due to appearance?) in girls and, utlimately, women. From their website:

"92% of girls want to change at least one aspect of their appearance. Dove believes all girls deserve to see how beautiful they really are and is committed to raising self-esteem in girls everywhere. That's why we created the Dove Self-Esteem Fund."

Good start. Will the idea catch on? As long as it sells soap, I doubt that they care. How cynical is that?

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Worshiping Salma Hayek's Breasts

I found religion!


(Link outdated. Read cached copy below.)

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Timothy Treadwell Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell & Grizzly Bear

Timothy Treadwell Grizzly Man - I recently watched a commercial-riddled presentation of Grizzly Man on the Discovery Channel. Aside from the fact commercials interrupted the flow of the film every five minutes at times, this documentary about “grizzly man” Timothy Treadwell remained powerful and intimate.

For 13 summers, Timothy Treadwell communed with Alaskan grizzly bears. During his last five summers, he videotaped his experiences, structuring the footage for a documentary. However, he was not able to finish the project because during his last visit he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a grizzly.

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