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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
(Now that the book Da Vinci Code, has already subsided a little bit, I can now dwell and give some important info about Master Leonardo Da Vinci.)



Leonardo was born April 15,1452 and died on May 2, 1519 --he has been the subject of wave after wave of scholarly attention and popular facination. Sometimes the speculation, mystery and controversy that continue to surround his life and legend cause those waves to crest. But in the last ten years the waves have been swept into a veritable tsunami of excitement. Here are just a few of the peaks:

1994: Bill Gates pays US$30.8 million for eighteen pages of Leonardo's notebooks.

1995 - 1996: Ten Volume comic book: Chiaroscuro: The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci, publihed in the Vertigo line of DC Comics.

1996: Shawn Colvin album: A Few Small Repairs released: includes a song entitled: "You and the Mona Lisa".

1997: On a Star Trek: Voyager episode, John Rhys-Davies gueststars as a holographic Leonardo, helping Captain Janeway overcome several nasty obstacles.

1998: How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci is released and appears on several best seller lists.

1999: Spectacular restoration of Leonardo's Last Supper completed after twenty two yeas of meticulous labor.

1999: Twenty-four-foot-tall bronze Leonardo Horse, evisioned by Charles Dent and executed by Nina Akamu, is unveiled in Milan (exactly five hundred years to the day that the original clay model was destroyed by invading French troops).Its twin is dedicated at the Frederk Meijer Gardens and Sculpture in Grnad Rapids, Michigan, as a tribute to Leonardo spirit.

Artist Vebjorn Sand's exquisite Leonardo bridge linking Norway and Sweden is dedicated by Queen Sonja of Norway. Sand proposes a plan to build a Leonardo bridge on every continent as a symbol of our love of beauty and our links to one another.

Italian one-euro coin appears with the figure from Leonardo's Vitruvian Man on the back.

2002 - 2003: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City sponsors unprecedented and wildly popular exhibition of Leonardo's drawings.

2003: Mary Zimmerman's paly The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci packs the house at New Yorks' Second Stage theatre.

2003: Leonardo goes Hollywood again: How to Think Like Leoanrdo Da Vinci is featured in the opening scene of The Italian Job.

2003: Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code debuts and proceeds to smash all sales records for a novel.

2004: Oxford Unviersity Press release Professor Martin Kemp's superb Leonardo: A Very Short Introduction.

2005: The Da Vinci Center of Science and Technology opens in Allentown, Pensylvania.

2006: "The Universal Leonardo", a simultaneous global exhibition celebrating Leonardo's genius, coordinated by Professor Martin Kemp, begins.


Leonardo's sexuality may offer a clue to his extraordinary ability to express the feminine principle in his work. The Da Vinci Code, although a work of fiction, manages even in its contradictions to convey some of the mystery surrounding this aspect of Leonardo's life. In one place it refers to him as a "Flambouyant Homosexual".

We know he never married, and no one has yet claimed to have found an heir or a bloodline going back to the Masetro. Was he, as many have supposed, a homosexual? When Leonardo was twenty-four, a charge of sodomy was brought against him and a few of his friends by an anonymous accuser.But it was probably an attempt at slander aimed at one of the friends, and since it was unsupported by any evidence, all were acquitted.

It's also true that later in life Leonardo was often surrounded by beautiful young men, but the writings of those young men suggest that he was more of a father figure than anything else. As his closest disciple, Francesco Melzi (to whome Leonardo left his estate), comments: "To me he was like the best of fathers".

But maybe he was a bisexual? Or perhaps he was celibate and, as Freud suggested, "transmuted his passion into inquisitiveness." Did he, as some suggested, have a love affair with the female monarch of Mantua, Isabella d'Este? Her writings suggests that she with love with him.

Like many of his subjects, Leonardo possessed a mysterious blend of male and female characteristics. Many contend that the Mona Lisa is, among its manifold meanings, a disguised Leonardo self-portrait.

Leonardo does'nt fit neatly into our contemporary categories of gay or straight, masculine or feminine. INstead, he challenges us to seek a new way of thinking about the male and female principles and how to achieve balance between them. He puts me in mind of tantric yoga, in which masculine and feminine unite to become something divine that transcends gender.


* In his "Codex on the Flight of the Birds", he recorded minutiae about the movements of featehrs and wings in flight that could not be confirmed or fully appreciated until the development of slow-motion moving pictures over four centuries later.

* Mnay of Leonardo's anatomical drawings are uncannly accurate and rival modern X-rays. He was the first to accuraretly portray the child in the womb, the first to make casts of the brain and the ventricles of the heart, and a pioneer of comparative anatomy. He also noted that arrteriosclerosis cause premature death and could be prevented by moderate exercise and improved diet.

* He designed and may have built a telescope. (His notebook jotting read: "make glasses to see the moon enlarged")

* His aerial perspective maps of Imola and other cities are works of incredible scope and perspection.

* His art changed the way we see the world. His Mona Lisa is humanity's most familiar and most imitated work of art, and his Last Supper may be the greatest painting ever created.

* Forty years before Copernicus he noted (in capital letters, for emphasis)"IL SOLE NO SI MUOVE" (The sun never move).

* He was the first to describe the phenomenom of soil erosion and the first to describe the system of leaf arrangement in plants.

* He was the first to descrine, in terms that are still used today in the physics classroom, that the angle of incidence is always equal to the angle of relfection.

* He designed a photometer to measure the intensity of light, which prefigured by three hudnred years the one invented by Benjamin Rumford.

* He created designs for the prarachute, extended ladder, ball bearing, diving bell, snorkel, gearshift, olive oil press, scissors, adjustable monkey wrench, automated loom, hydraulic jack, canal lock, and many more amazing inventions.


Leonardo's actual achievements are without parallel. But, because of his seemingly superhuman abilities and what Professor Kemp refers to as the "compelling power of absent evidence", he is sometimes credited with achievements for which there is very little actual basis. Most prominent among these are the following:

* The creation of the Shroud of Turin (an intriguing idea, but highly speculative).

* The design of the Stradivarius violin (Leonardo did design and build a number of wonderful instruments, but this probably was'nt one of them).

* The invention of the bicycle (the drawing in his notebook is a forgery).

* The design of the helicopter (Leonardo's helical screw hints at the principle that allows a helicopter to fly, but unlike his parachute or glider, it does'nt accurately prefigure the real invention)

(Source:from the book: DA VINCI DECODED by: Michael J. Gelb)
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:20 AM   0 comments
Multiplying Your Angle of Vision

"If you look from a different angle.... you will find that the act which has made you angry has also given you certain opportunites, something which otherwise would not have been possible .... So with effort you'll be able to see many different angles to a single event. This will help."


"If you understand spiritual practice in its true sense, then you can use all twenty-four hours of your day to practice. True spirituality is a mental attitude that you can practice at any time."


"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive"


(Source: Abstracted from some of the writing of the Dalai Lama)
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:11 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A message by the Dalai Lama for 2005


** 1). Take into account the great love and great achievements involve great risks.

** 2). When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

** 3). Follow the Three R's:
--- Respect for self,
--- Respect for others,
--- Responsibility for all your actions.

** 4). Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful sroke of luck.

** 5). Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

** 6). Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.

** 7). When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

** 8). Spend sometime alone everyday.

** 9). Open arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

**10). Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

**11). Live a good, honorable life, then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

**12). A loving atmospehre in your home is the foundation for your life.

**13). In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

**14). Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

**15). Be gentle with the earth.

**16). Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

**17). Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

**18). Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

**19). Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

(Source: A Mantra sent by a friend from the Dalai Lama)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:07 AM   0 comments
Sunday, November 27, 2005
To review, inspect, and beat on our picks for the 10m best cars of 2006, we headed to Michigan INternational Speedway.

Amazing performance, sleek design, zero cheese.

ENGINE: 7.0 Liter, 505 bhp V-8
0-60: 3.7 seconds
TOP SPEED: 198 mph

Developed in conjunction with Chevy's Le Mans - winning C6.R racer, the LS7 engine's block is bored out to seven liters and sports FT goodies like titanium connecting rods and valves, dry sump lubrication (to keep the engine oiled under extreme G-forces), and a forged steel crnakshaft.Despite its bigger wheels, badder brakes, and added performance accessories, an aluminum chasis with magnesium engine cradle and carbon fiber composite body parts helps the ZO6 weigh in at an anorexic 3,132 pounds -- about 50 pound less than the base model. Although dropping the hammer on this beast is what its' all about.It's also practical daily driver. This rod offers hatchback hauling abilities and a comfy interior with supportive racing seats. Its bimodal mufflers keep things guiet at sane speeds, but under full throttle, open vacuum actuated outlated valves boost power and burp out the earth rattling snarl of that monster mill.

DRAWBACK: The interior is more plastic, less fantastic. But at these prices, who cares?

Its bold, beautiful, and badass.

PRICE: US$19,995
ENGINE: 2.4 LITER, 177 bhp inline-4 0-60:7.2 seconds
TOP SPEED: 123 mph

We think Pontiac's found the magic formula with this hot two seater. Solstice's curvaceous, windcheating bodywork hides as aluminum engine and cutting edge hydroformed steel frame that's stronger and ligher than a traditional chassis. Engineering flourishes like these keep curb weight to a waifish 2,860 pounds and front/rear weight distributuin to a near perfect 50/50 balance. Independent suspecnsion, disc brakers, and grabby 18"x8" rubber at all four corners give Solstice serious track cred. Mated to a close ratio five speed gearbox with race inspired short throw shifters, GM's peppy Ecotec engine delviers decent grunt, but a bolt on turbocharger would make this rear drive readster really sing. Power aside, though, Solstice's smooth mill, hydraulic engine mounts, and advanced sound absorptionpackage make this one of the most refined ragtops.

Windshields frame blocks forward vision for anyone over six feet.

No entourage is complete without one.

PRICE: US$106,850
ENGINE: 4.2 liter, 400 bhp, V-8 0-62: 5.2 seconds.
TOP SPEED: 171 mph.

Maserati's new gran turismo combines supercar driving dynamics with room for five aristocrats. Beneath its seductive, Pininfarina styled bodywork, QP's eager V-8 mounts behind the front axle to achieve the same front/reac weight distribution (47/53) as Ferrari's 612 Scaglietti. The result? This balde slices the curves with nimble sports car handling we thought impossible in a 16.5 foot, 4,250 pound limousine. It's also a great highway cruiser, thanks both to its extended (120.6 inch) wheelbase and an F1-derived "robotic manual" six speed that herds those 400 Italian thoroughbred ponies down to the 18 inch Pirellis. Inside, pampered passengers enjoy a sensual symphony of engine shrieks, exhaust growls and assorted mechanical music. And since the finer things never come off the rack, QP's sumptuouinterior can be cutomized in its owner's choice of leather, wood and stitching options.

"The paddle shift is super cool-- that's formula 1 technology. And it's a smooth, quiet ride...even at 120 mph."

Don't chew terbacky? This could be the truck for you.

PRICE: US$28,215
ENGINE: 3.5 liter, 265 bhp, V-6 0-60: 7.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 110 mph

Never thought you'd own a truck? With it's carlike ride and handling, SUV size interior, and versatile cargo bed. Honda's first ever pickup has the goods to change yourmind. Next to Ridgeline, whose cab and bed are integrated as a single unit, other half ton trucks suddenly seem outdated. That avant garde design carries through to the mechanicals, including the truck industry's first four wheel, fully independent suspension, full time all wheel drive, anda unibody chassis that's stiffer and stronger that any competitors' Equally impresive is the spacious five passenger interior, especially the rear bench with underseat storage. On the job site the Ridgeline's 5,000 pound towing capacity and 1,549 pound payload prove. It's no poseur. Althoguh the Hinda's five foot cargo bed is about a foot shorter than many other compact's; its dual action fold down tallgate sinplifies loading and unloading which comes in handy. Constructed of though as-nails composite plastic, which eliminates the need for a bedliner, the Ridgeline's cargo box includes a unique 8.5 cubic foot in bed trunk.

"Drives smooth for a pickup and has a lot of really cool features."

A hot, fast American Asian. What's not to like?

PRICE: US$23,699
ENGINE: 3.8 liters, 263 bhp V-6 0-60: 5.8 seconds.
TOP SPEED: 148 mph

First it was a tuner favorite, then a chick car. Now its fourth generation, the Eclipse has evolved into a full fledged grand touring coupe, it's interior distinguised by racing style buckets, front seat room aplenty, ergonomically arranged controls and a motor cycle style instrument duster whose large, round gauges are illumiated with ice ble ELDs for at a glance legibility. Sleek hatchback styling is practical, too, serving up nearly 16 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats flipped down. At some 3,500 pounds, Eclipse is no lightweight, but Mitsui's latest MIVE V-6 and state of the art six speed gearbox scorched the track and kept 0-60 sprints in the the sub six second range. Although front wheel drive and a cast iron engine block put 60 percent of the GT's weight up front, the carrarely felt nose heavy, especially at highway and track speeds. Still, with a generous dose of torque steer you'ss need to keep your hands white knuckled on the wheel -- so nodevil horns when blasting the optional 650 watt Rockford Fosgate sound system.Eclipse is one of the best buy in the market.

It's good looking car and a very stble drive. It's got cool gauges, a nice dash and theat stereo system is a killer.

Think of it as an investment.

PRICE: US$17,900
ENGINE: 2.5 liter, 150 bhp inline 5 0-60: 9.1 sec.
TOP SPEED: 130 mph

Remeber when compact cars were small, slow and boring? One lap in the all new Jetta and vision of cramped ecpnoboxes shrunk in our rearview. Entering its 25th eyar, the Jetta has grown up: wider, taller and a stretchy seven inches longer than last year's ride. The roomy new cabin gives passengers especially rear seaters a comfier place to hang. A redesigned dashboard with high visibility gauges and intuitively placed controls means you can speed, drink coffe, and yap on the cell with relative ease, while its trunk with split folding rear and a fold flat front passenger seat enable the Jetta to take any load. Below the sheet metal, a state fo the art electronic steering system and sophisticated multilink suspension make the most of a five cylinder engine that pumps out 30 percent more power than the old four banger. We can't figure out how VW delviers so much for so little, but it probably has something to do with the fact that they own Lamborghini.

The auto robs power and performance. Consider the hard charging GLI.

So good it feels like cheating.

PRICE: US$62,276
ENGINE: 5.5 liter,355 bhp V-8 0-60: 4.0 seconds
TOP SPEED: 165 mph

Somehow AMG, MB's supertuner division, manage to shoehorn a nasty V-8 into a tiny engine compartment, turning their nice little SLK roadstar into a Porsche killer. Of ocurse, we expected over the top power from AMG, but what really stroked our pistons were themiracles they workd with the restof the package. A unique suspension, short (95.7 inches) wheelbase, and asphalt hungry 18-inch wheels helped this pint size panzer grip the track like an Indy car. And thisis the first AMG to get Mercedes silky new seven speed automatic. With two extra gears to keep engine revs in their performance sweet spot, the Teutonic tranny squeezes every drop of power from the 55's handbuilt engine. Stopm the pedal at any speed, and programmed downshifts of up to four gears kick out acceleration on demand. And since this is a Mercedes, you get techno toys, like scratch resistant paint and "airscarf" neck heaters that'll keep you warm with the top down... or naked.

Though there's more trunk space than last year, it all but disappears when the retractable hardtop is down.

*BMW 330i*
You'll quit before it does.

PRICE: US$37,295
ENGINE: 3-0 liter, 255 bhp inline-6 0-60: 6.1 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155 mph.

It's the first rule of business. Don't screw with success. For more than 20 years, 3-series has been BMW's biggest seller. So when it came time to debut that model's fifth generation, it had to be a winner. In our book the Bimmer hits its bull's eye by achieving a series of seemingly contradictory goals. Bigger and heavier than '05 car, with more passenger and trunk space, the 2006 3,30i somehow gets better fuel economy. Credit thenew magnesium/aluminum block and patented Valvetronic variable valve lift technology, whcih coaxes 30 more ponies from a one inch shorter 22 pound lighter package. Nearly as effortless as an automatic and loads more fun, BMW's six speed manual is further improved for surer, shorter shifts. Twitch the wheel and the new double pivor front and five line rear suspecsion flattens curves with the confidence inspiring solidity of a bank vault on wheels. And since BMW included bigger brakes linked to its latest, gyroscopically governed stability control system, the 330i fulfills the promise of high performance driving without the high risk.

None that we can find. Unless, you order the somewhat convoluted iDrive system.

It dances with cheetahs.

PRICE: US$69,750
ENGINE: 4.2 liter, 390 bhp V-8 0-60: 7.2 seconds
TOP SPEED: 130 mph

Seems someone at Land Rover or its new corporate parent, Ford, must've noticed all those Porsche Cayennes and B
If Land Rover put htis 5,670 pounder on a diet, we bet it would really fly.

Kill nature, but with less guilt.

PRICE: US$29,500
ENGINE: 3.5 liter, 220 bhp inline -5 0-60: 10-2 seconds.
TOP SPEED: 98 mph.

LIke all guys, we lvoe Humemrs. But lately those visits to the gas station hae made us sore. Borrowing its beefed ip platform from GM's midsize Chevy Colorado, the H3 offers compact car maneuverability -- its 37 foot turning circle is less than two feet wider than the Solstice's and improved fuel economy (up to 20mpg). Thankfully the H3's interior does away with the plastic trim designed for the H2, substituting a thick, leather-wrapped steering whell and shifter, convenient controls and easy reading gauges. Best of all, however, is what hasn't changed. You'll ride high in this Hummer, with a feeling of invincibility that comes from knowing you could ford two-foot-deep streams and climb 16-inch verticl steps. For even more monstrous off road capability, get road capability, get the five speed manual transmission, a first for Hummer. A smarter, slimmer sequel to the bloated H2, the new H3 is everything we like about Hummers, only thriftier.

Like the H2, tiny windows, with high sills scrifice driver's outward visibility for style. And what happens when you try to pull nearly 5,000 pounds with 220 horspower? Not much!. The H3 accelerates like, a big heavy truck.

(Source: MAXIMMAG/by Jamie McMurray)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:59 AM   0 comments
Friday, November 25, 2005
Is it really possible to stay slim by doing....practically nothing?
Yes! Experts now believe that simply getting enough sleep can help prevnet weight gain.

"Emerging research suggests that not sleeping enough can increase appetitie and lead to obesity," says Meir Kryger, MD, a professor medicine at the University of Manitoba in Winniper, Canada, and the author of A Woman's Guide to Sleep Disorders.

A recent study from Stanford University in California found that the less sleep people get, the heavier they were.
Why? Shorter sleep duration alters levels of the appetite-controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin, making you want to eat more. "Your body goes through a number of hormonal and metabolic changes during sleep, and when you don't get enough, you disrupt that process." says Dr. Kryger.

posted by infraternam meam @ 3:28 AM   0 comments
The best way to prevent a hangover? Don't Drink. The second best way? Memorize these step by step rules from David Clayton, MD, and internist and the author of The Healthy Guide to Unhealthy Living.

Before you go out.....
Drink two glasses of water.
One of the main hangover symptoms is dehydration,
so load up on liquids in advance.

Have a burger.
"A fatty preparty meal will stay in your stomach longer than
lean protein and slow absorption of alcohol." says Dr. Calyton.

While you're drinking.....

Stick to clear alcohol.
Dark liquors (think brandy or whiskey)
have more of the toxins that cause next day nausea and headaches.
Avoid caffeinated mixers like Red Bull.
Caffeine can make dehydration worse.

On your way home.....

Grab a snack.
Eating a meal with lots of comple carbs --
a slice of veggie pizza or a bean burrito --
will help stave off a dip in blood sugar that can aggravate
hangover symptoms.

(Source: Abstracted from: GLAMOURMAG)

*1). Why does drinking hit women harder than men?
"Women have less of the enzymes that digest alcohol than men do." says addiction expert Nassima Ait-Daoud,MD., of the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville.

*2). Why do some people get hangovers while others don't?
Some women (and men) produce less of the chemicals that break down alcohol's toxins, so they're the people who suffer most the morning after.

*3). Do hangovers really ge worse as you get older?
Possible, says Dr. Ait-Daoud. "There's natural, gradual slowing of our body functions, including the alcohol-filtering systems in the kidneys and liver.

(By:Kimberly Tranell)

(From GLAMOUR MAG/Health and BodyBook)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:09 AM   0 comments
Thursday, November 24, 2005
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:03 AM   0 comments
How Healthy are you Really?
Six sure signs you're doing right by your body --
and six clues you'reprobably not.


** 1). You can easily dash up two flights of stairs.
"Most women can do one flight without getting winded," says Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore."the kicker is two - that's when someone who's not as fit will start to labor a bit".

** 2). You can't stand the smell of cigarettes.
It's a good sign you're not around them much, and that's smart; Recent studies have found that second had smoke is linked to increased risk of cervical and breast cancer, not to mention heart disease.

** 3). It takes you a week to finsih a bottle of wine.
A drink a day reduces your risk of heart disease -- but more can boost your risk of tyoe 2 duabetes and breast cancer.

** 4). You keep fast food meals to two a week.
Moderation is key: People who ate fast food more than twice weekly gained 10 more pounds over 15 years and had a higher risk of diabetes, a study at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis found.

** 5). You laugh often.
Research has found that laughter can do everything from fight stress hormones to ease asthma, boost your immune system and help your body better process blood sugar.

** 6). You know when your period's going to start.
For non-Pill users, a predictable cycle is a reassuring sign that you're not suffering from conditionslike thyroid disease, poycystic ovarian syndrome or fibroids, says Jill Maura Rabin, MD, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.


** 1). Your waist is bigger than a yardstick.
Wrap a piece of string around your belly; if that string measures 35 inches ormore, you're at increased rish for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

** 2). You can't remember when you last bought sunscreen.
That's a clue you're not using enough! Experts recommend you apply it everyday -- at least to your face.

** 3). You spit pink after brushing your teeth.
"Bleeding gums are an indication of gum disease, which is not only bad for your teeth, but has been linked to inflammation of the arteries and heart disease too," says internist Michael F. Roizen,MD, author of You: The Onwner's Manual.

** 4). Your lips are constantly chapped.
Chronically dry lips are a sign of dehydration, which causes fatigue and headaches, says Marie Savard, MD, a trustee at the Unversity of Pennsyvania in Philadelphia. Aim for six to eight glasses of water (depending on your activity level) a day.

** 5). You park yourself in front of the TV for hours.
For every two hours of television you watch a day, you risk of obesity rises 23 percent, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

** 6). You've been on more than five diets.
Women who've lost and gained weight (10 or more pounds) more than five times have weaker immune systems than women whose weight has remained steady, according to a recent study. If you're a yo-yo dieter, choose a healthy eating plan you can stick with.

(Abstracted from GLAMOURMAG by; Karen Asp)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:40 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The Killer Talent.
Hollywood glamour actress.

The Come Back.
First black woman who wom the Wimbledon.

The News Source.
CNN's Chief International correspondent.

The Bravest Woman in the World.
Gang raped by four men in Pakistan -- but showed her village what honor is.

Wildlife and Fisheries officer.
SARA FAULKNER - U.S. Coast Guard Private

** ANNE SWEENEY- Business Genuis.
ABC President.

** PETRA NEMCOVA -The Survivor.
Super Model who survived the Tsunami.

** MELISSA ETHERIDGE - The Accidental Activist.
Singer Performer who survived cancer.

** THELMA GOLDEN- The Fresh Eye Director Director.
Director of New York City's Studio Museum in Harlem.

** GOLDIE HAWN - The Laugh Legend Actress.
Proved woman could be beautiful and be funny.

** MARY ROBINSON - The Leader.
Senator from Ireland.

(Source: Abstracted from GLAMOURMAG)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:03 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
STONING,PRESSING, DRAWING, QUARTERING, BURNING, HANGING, CRUCIFIXION, GAS CHAMBER AND ELECTRIC CHAIR. These are the tried-and-true, black and blue punishments devised by man (and exclusively by the male species) to end the life of his fellow human beings. These modes of capital punishment were devised specifically to make death sheer torture for the victims, stunning spectacle for onlookers.

Only man kills protractedly, and the public staging of an excution is not done only as a deterrent to crime: For centuries it has also had what we call today "entertainment value". A contemporary text on criminology makes it clear, "It is only within the last hundred years that the least attempt has been made to make capital punishment swift and humane".

Capital Punishment: Pre-1500 B.C., Egypt
In ancient and medieval times,death was meted out for many more offences, some trivial by modern standards. In India, you could have been sentenced to death for spreading alsehoods, killing a cow, or stealing a royal elephant. In Egypt, during the peak of feline idolatry, death was the punishment fo injuring a cat ( even if it recovered). Judeans imposed the death peanlty for curing. The Babylonias for selling beer. The Assyrians for giving a bad haircut, since stylish coiffeurs wee cachets of class.

In parts of the Middle East, a perjurer in a trial was himself executed, intravenoulsy embalmed while alive. The embalming solution, replacing blood, quickly caused cardiac arrest, and in that regad the mode of execution was a forerunner of the modern lethal injection.

The oldest extant death sentence is contained in the Amherst papyri, dating to 1500 B.C., which list state trials in Egypt. The criminl was a teenage male, his crime was recorded simply as "magic", the mode o death was left to his choosing (poisoning or stabbing), and the executioner was to be himself.

His corpse was to be turned oved to his family for burial. This is quite a sophisticated sentence when contrsted to the first recrd of capital punishment in Europe. England, anyone convicted of a crime was tossed into a quagmire; an inextricable poison that dispensed with the cost of the burial.

In Rome during the 5th Century B.C. a citizen could be executed for many serious offenses, but also for trivial matters, as detailed in the legal Twelve Tables: for "Publishing Libels", "for singing", "for insulting songs" about high ranking officials, for "cheating by a patron of a client" and for "making disturbances in the city at night" --.

From the earliest times, cruelly and publicly ending a criminal's life was viewed as a deterrent to crime. A torturous death was the ultimate meands of instilling terror among people for whom the harsh struggle for daily existence was acute. Wrote the 5th century Roman rhetorician Quintillian: " When criminals are executed, the most public places are chosen, where there will be the greatest number of spectators, and so the most fear of punishments will work upon them". In the same period, Seneca, the Roman philosopher and statesmanm, argued that, "The more public the punishments are, the greater the effect they wull produce upon the reformation of others."

Unfortunately, history has repeatedly shown that public executions never decreased the incidence of crime. In England, gallows became a scene of merrymaking, drunkenness, and weekly family entertainment -- while pickpockets worked the revelers.

Unlike today, in ancient times a punishment had to fit the crime, often a bizarre parallel. In Babylon, if a poorly erected home collapsed on the owner, the architect was executed. If the home fell in on the owner's son, the architect's son was put to death. If the homewoner's wife or daugthers were killed, the architect was only fined. In ancient India, a man who damaged a dam, causing a serious leak, was drwoned near the site of the the damage.Theft of military sword or lance was punishable by death witht he stolen weapon. A condemned man of high social standing was often allowed to select his ending either by choosing his executioner or by drinking poison in the presence of family and friends, as did Socrates.

For more than a thousand years, hanging was considered a lowly way to pay for one's crime. On the other hand, beheading was the most honorable way a felon could make atonement. Thus, the sentence of how a person was to die, became more significant to sicety that the death itself. Not surprisingly, haning has been the most frequently meted out form of execution in history. During the reign of England's Henry VIII, moret than sixty five thousand hangings were staged, all public spectacles and private humiliations.

posted by infraternam meam @ 1:50 PM   0 comments
Monday, November 21, 2005
WHAT YOU CANNOT TAKE WITH YOU, you leave behind. But to whom? And under what conditions? For waht reasons? To be remembered lovingly? To get even posthumously?

WILLS facinate because they are our last wishes; in effect, they are requests from the grave. They can and often do reveal emotions concealed in life; of love and gratitude, of spite and hate. People have used their requests to redress wrongs committed by them in life, to gain revenge, and, most manipulative, to control events after they're gone but not forgotten: Charles Atlas bequeathed part of his bodybuilding fortune to his son with the stipulation he be baptized a Roman Catholic.

On the other hand, people accomplish in a Will a goal elusive in life.

Wills can be terse. To date, the shortest valid will in the world is the plea of Karl Tausch of Germany, dated January 19, 1967: "ALL TO WIFE".

Wills can be breathlessly long winded. The record in the verbiage category is still held by a charry American housewife, Mrs. Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook, written Noven 2,1925. Mrs. Cook was not a material girl, having few possessions, but her voluble good-byes, admonitions, best wishes, and incriminations -- to family, and foe -- filled four volumes, running on for 95,940 words, the length of a James Michener novel. The will was not read at probate.

For largess of spirit, the Will of a New York woman, Mrs. Rober Hayes, scores high marks. Deeply concerned for the security and happiness of her to-be-widowed husband and to-be-motherless stepdaughter from a previous marriage, she requested that the two marry within a week of her funeral. Mrs. Hayes was buried on a Wednesday, and the following Monday the grieving Robert Hayes, age 35, married his 21 year old nonconsanguineous stepdaughter, Anna Mae -- who, conveniently, did not have to change her surname.

Wills can be bizarre. Singer Dorothy Dandridge scribbled: "In case of death, don't remove anything I have on - scarf, gowns or anything. Cremate right away!". And a bequest can be rebuffed: Actress Vivien Leigh willed her azure eyes to an organ bank only to have them rejected because she suffered from tuberculosis.

Pets as Beneficiaries.
It will perhaps come as no surprise that the largest group of Will makers who leave unusual bequests are pet lovers. Dogs and cats are the most frequent legatees, but estates have been left to guppies, cockatoos, marmosets, ferrets and pythons. Research has turned up nothing of a lion's share.

The largest canine bequest on record was that of Eleanor Ritchey, heiress to the Quaker State Refining Corp. She died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1968, Willing her entire fortune of US$4.5 million to her her 150 beloved dogs. The family contested. A court raged for 5 years, the dogs represented by a prestigious Southern law firm. By the time an agreement was reached in September 1973, Eleanor Ritchey's escrow estate had mushroomed to US$14 million and 77 of the dogs had died (natural deaths). This meant the surviving dogs were even richer. As were their lawyers.

In the final settlement, the dogs were awarded US$9 million, each receiving US$123,287.67, to go to food, grooming, and housing. Two million dollars was divided among Eleanor Ritchey's brothers and sisters. The rest of the estate went as fees to the dogs lawyers. But this was not the end of the issue. The Florida court under Circuit Judge Leroy Moe, posed a thorny issue: What if two of the dogs mated and sired a pup? Upon the parents deaths, was the pup entitled to the balance of their canine estate?

The legal answer: yes. To avoid dog trials in perpetuity, it was decided that the animals be tattooed to prove indelibly their identity as inheritors, then segregated by sex to pevent parenting. From theior inheritances, the dogs "contributed" seven thousand dollars each year for their food and housing and another twelve thousand dollars annually for weekly grooming and periodic medical checkups. Upon a dog's death, its estate passed on to the Auburn University in Alabama for research into canine diseases.

Last Lark.
Canadian attorney Charles Millaer died in 1928 at the sge of 73, leaving a testament that is a parade of practical jokes, ones revealing how far the living will go for the dead's money. To a judge and a preacher, fiery foes of gambling, Millar bequeathed lucrative shares in a racetrack, which would make the men, if they accepted the gift, automatic members of a horse racing club. They accepted.

To an outspoken gourp of ministers opposed to drinking, Millar left more than fifty thousand dollars worth of shares in a brewery. All but one of the teetotalers took the gift. To three acquaintances whose abiding dislike for one another kept them associating under the same roof, Millar willed his vacation home in Jamaica, which they were to share. And did, with acrimony.

But the most highly publicized aspect of Charles Millar's Will, and the part most bitterly contested, was billed by the press as the "Baby Derby". The wealthy attorney bequesthed a fortune to the Toronto woman who "has given birth to the greatest number of children at the expiration of ten years from my death"

With the courts upholding the document, the derby was one. Within nine months, Toronto hospital maternity wards were filled to capacity and the city's newspapers ran box scores of the women in the lead, highlighting mothers fortunate enough to bear twins and triplets, Milars' relatives -- and Toronto's religious community -- were outraged, claiming that the Will "encouraged immorality" and degraded the "sanctity of birth". But Chalres Millar an attorney as he was a prankster, and the courts repeatedly upheld the document.

Exactly 10 years after Charles Millar's death, on May 30,1938, Judge MacDonell of Toronto's Surrogate Court awarded the cash estate, worth US$568,106. One mother of 10 offspriong was disqualified because not all of her children were fathered by same man; so was another mothr who had 5 of 9 children stillborn. For their efforts, though each woman received a "consolation prize" of US$12,500. The bulk of the money was split equally among 4 fertile mothers, each with 9 children born during the allotted period. On accepting the money, each woman vowed to practice birth control. Charles Millar, a straitlaced, stolid man in life, turned out in death to be one devlish joker.


Plato: d. 348 B.C., Athens
Last Wish: That he would die without a debt.

Aristotle: d. 322 B.C., Chalcis, Greece
Last Wish: That his wife remarry -- though not below her social station.

Virgil: d. 10 B.C., Brindisi, Italy
Last Wish: Burn the Aeneid

William Shakespeare: d. 1616 Stratford-on-Avon
Most Controversial Bequest: That his wife receive his "second best bed".

Henry VIII: d. 1547, London
Last Wish: To be interred beside Jane Seymour, one wife who retained her head.

John Donne: d. 1631, London
Last Act: Draped in a death shroud, he posted for his tombs' effigy.

Peter I, Czar of Russia: d. 1725, Leningrad
Last Wish: That Russia would "fertile the impoverished lands of Europe".

Charles Dickens: d. 1870, Kent, England
Last Wish: That moruners " who attend my funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hatband or other such revolting absurdity".

George Bernard Shaw: d. 1950, Hartfordshire, England
Last Wish: He ordered no religious service and that his tombstone not "take the form of a cross or any other instrument of torture or symbol of blood sacrifice."

Benjamin Franklin: d. 1790, Philadelphia
Last Wish: That in a democracy his daughter not engage in "the expensive, vain and useless pastime of wearing jewels."

Napoleon: d. 1821, St. HelenaSouth Atlantic
Last Wish: That his body be cremated after his head was shaved and his hair divided among friends.

Alfred Nobel: d. 1896, San Remo, Italy (the Philantropist of the Nobel Peace Prize)
Last Wish:The capital shall be invested ... the itnerest shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.

Harry Houdini: d. 1926, Detroit
Last Wish: To be buried beside his dead mother, with her letters to him beneath his head.

Adolf Hitler: d. 1945, Berlin
Last Wish: "The establioshment of a picture gallery in my home town in Linz".

Kahlil Gibran: d. 1931, New York City
Last Wish: That his book royalties go to charities in his home country of Lebanon.

John B. Kelly: d. 1960, Philadelphia (father of Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco)
Last Wish: That the clothing bills of his caugher, Princess Grace, not bankrupt the principality of Monaco.

(Source: Abstrcted from the book: Panati's Extraordinary endings of Practically Everything and Everybody)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:17 PM   0 comments
Sunday, November 20, 2005
More accurately, THANATOGRAPHY is a writing of death (Thanatos) in all its aspects -- a "Thanatography".

Thanatographies approximate what Joyce Carol Oates has defined as a "Pathography", "dysfunction and breakdowns and outrageous conduct". This is because the ending of a life does not always occur compactly in a final few hours before death. Rahter, the end is often signaled years or decades in advance by just such misfortunes is not merely to highlight for its own sake. Howefer, the goal of a Thanatogaphy is not merely to highlight for its own sake life's pathos or suffering, but to show how such hardships hasten a life to its end.

Here are some Thanatographies of many history's most colorful figures:

The BUddha Gautama: d 483 B.C., age 80
Cause of Death: Intestinal hemorrhaging from acute indigestion following a large, spicy meal.
Mode of Burial: Cremation
Last words: "Never forget it: decay is inherent in all things".

For Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the buddha, his last supper was a fateful as Jesus Christ's. Each died follwing a banquet, the buddha, from the last food.

Diet was a problem from the start. To achieve enlightenment, or Bodhi, the buddha ate only mosses, roots, grains and an occasional wild fruit. Growing emaciated, he permanently damaged his health.

Enlgihtenment did not come with starvation, he learned. Returning to the traditional Indian diet, he put on weight, a gut that would become a hallmark, and experiences intense stomach and intestinal burning -- most likely from ulcers. He ate the food that is thought to have caused his death in 483 B.C. after preaching a sermon in a mango grove at the village of Pava.

Socrates: d. 399, B.C., age 70
Cause of Death: Hemlock Poisoning
Place of Rest: Grave site unknown
Last Words: As paralysis crpt throughout his body, he requested of a friend: "I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you repay him?"

Socrate's ending was likely given a latter-day Hollywood-like treamtnet by is chronicler Plato. For death by coniine, a poisonour alkaloid of the hemlocj plant, is marked not only by ascending motor paralysis, as Plato recorded, but also by intense nausea, vomiting, and limb-flailing convulsion -- unplesantries that are found nowhere in Platos' noble end to the life of the friend and teacher,"the wisest and the justest and best".

Archimedes: d. 212 B.C., age 75
Cause of death: Homicide
Place of Rest: Syracuse, Sicily, near the Agrigentine Gate
Last Words: Absorbed in a geometrical compulsion, he admonished his assailant:"Stand away, fellow, from my diagram".

Archimedes, born around 287 B.C. in the Greek city state of Syracuse, Sicily, literally died a practicing scientist, slain while making a mathematical computation. In accordance with his last wish, his tombstone was etched with a diagram familiar to centuries of later geometry students; a sphere inscribed in a cylinder. It symbolizes his discovery of the relationship between the volumes of the two objects (the former being two-thirds that of the latter), and it was the achievement Archimedes was proudest of.though he had many impressive accomplishments.

Cleopatra: d. 30 B.C., age 39
Cause of Death: Suicide by poison
Place of Rest: Beside her lover, Mark Anthony, in atomb beneath the modern city of Alexandria.
Last Words: As a venomous asp was brought to her: "So here it is!".

Cleopatra's suicide, to avoid the humiliation of being paraded thorugh the streets of Rome as a captive, marked two endings: the ending of her life and the end of the Macedonian dynasty that ruled Egypt from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., until Egypt's annexation by Rome in 31, B.C.

William the Conqueror: d. 1087, age 59
Cause of Death: Festering internal abscess from being injured on his horse.
Place of Rest: St. Stephens' Church, Caen; grave later desecrated, bones scattered.

On his way to a reducing spa, the obese king of England was injured on his horse. He acquired an internal absecess that festered, killed him, and at his funeral cause him to explode, the stench of rotted innards driving worshippers from church in haste.

Joan of Arc: d. 1431, age 19
Cause of Death: Burning at the stake
Place of Rest: Remains thrown into the Seine
Last Words: As flames ignited her robe:" I have great fear you are going to suffer by my death ....Jesus! Jesus!"

Jeanne D'Arc, Jeannette to her family, was the youngest of the five children, born of well-to-do peasant parents at Domremy in te French duchy of Bar. She received no formal education, coulkd neither read nor write, and worked as a housemaid and a shepherdess. Intensely pious and patriotic, she was disturbed by the ongoing Hundred Years War between her homeland and England.

At the age of 13, something miraculous -- or at least medically significant -- happened to the religious teenager. She heard voices and saw visions of St. Michael dressed as a knight, attended by St. Margaret and St. Catherine. For three years the numina whispered in her ear. In 1428, when Joan was 16, the voices bade her to go to the dauphin, Charles VII, and reveal she had a divine mission: to drive the English and Burgundians from his country, to dedicate the cleansed kingdom to the service of God and see the dauphin's coronation (which has occured 11 years earlier)finally consecrated. The dauphin liked what he heard. He entrusted the fervent teenager with his troops.

Christopher Columbus: d. 1506, age 55
Cause of Death: Rheumatic heart disease
Place of Rest: Columbus monument, Cathedral of Santo Domingo
Last Words: "Into Thy Hands, O Lord, I Commend My Spirit".

Pain, gout, poor vision, arthritis, delusion and delirium plagued Christopher Columbus at the end of hsi life. In a sense, they were broguht on or aggravated by his ardous voyage to a new land that would ultimately be named not for him but for another explorer. When he landed in Spain at the end of his last ocean crossing, he could barely walk unaided. Each trip had brought the tall, freckled, red-haired discoverer of the New World one step closer to death.

His first health complaint was minor. Gone from Europe for 225 days, he recorded in his journal only "sore eyes" or "opthalmia" as an early biographer called it. The conditiin, today known as trachoma, is brought on by long exposure to the glare of the bright sunoight, and Columbus is knonw to have spent caountless hours gazing toward western horizn. Minor though it was, the ailment plauged hims for the rest of his life.

Giovanni Casanova: d. 1798, age 73
Cause of Death: Kidney infection caused by acute prostatitis and toxic venereal disease treatment
Place of Rest: St. Barbara Chapel Cemetery, Duchcov, Czechoslovakia
Last Words: On receiving exteme unction: "Bear witness that I have lived as a philosopher and die as a Christian."

It is perhaps fitting that history's best known seducer-- who said "A woman is like a book which, be it good or bad, must begin to please with its title page "-- met his end through venereal disease infections and their accompanying toxic treatments. Before the age of 40, Casanova was treated for now fewer than eleven bouts of syphilis and gonorrhea in time his kidneys failed and his prostate became acutely inflamed. The last 13 years of his life were chaste, his only pleasure eating, of which a biographer noted: "Since he could no longer he god in the gardens, he became a wolf at the table".

Francisco de Goya: d. 1828, age 82
Cause of Death: Stroke, after suffering a bizarre viral disorder, or severe load poisoning.
Place of Rest: Interred in a singel coffin along with the remains of a friend, though only one head is present,; Church of San Antonio de la Florida, Madrid.

His paintings had been skilled, charming, some cloyingly picturesque. But the Goya who emerged from the illness, deaf and partially blind, was a tormented soul with a new perspective. His works were now filled nightmarisly with despair, vice and cruelty -- all depicted with originality and genius. Yhe illness, who nature has confounded biographers, marked the end of the conventional paitner and the emergence of a revolutionary one. Syphillis acquired in youth might account for some of he symptoms, but not his almost miraculous recovery.

Lord Byron: d. 1824, age 36
Cause of Death: Complication from Malaria
Place of Death: The family's ancestral vault, Hucknall Torkard Church, Nottiongham,England
Last Words: "The damned doctors have drenched me so that I can sacarcely stand. I want to sleep now."

A fortune teller told Byron's mother that her inant son would die at age thirty-seven, a prediction off by only one year. The augury made no mention that the death would be surrounded by such sensational sexual scandal that Byron's body would be denied burial in Westminster Abbey.

The incarnate symbol of romanticsism, George Gordon Noel Byron create through his poetry the "Byronic hero": typically a mysterious, gifted, lonely, youg man, defiantly hiding some unspeakable sin. Byron had no shortage of unspeakbale offenses including a penchant for pubescent boys (the thought of sex with adult males repelled him),the procuring of female prostitutes (two hundred by his own count), and transgressing the ultimate sexual taboo, incest, by seducing his married half-sister, Agusuta Leigh, fathering a daughter, Medora. To mention a few.

Ludwig Van Beethoven: d. 1827. age 57
Cause of Death: Cirrhosis of the liver, with chronic pancreatititis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Place of Rest: Central Cemetery, Vienna.
Last Words: When wine be requested was slow in coming: "Pity pity-- too late!".

The first great ending in theline of Ludwig van Beethoven was his tragic loss of hearing, perhaps the worst fate that can befall a composer. His deafness, along with the liver failure that killed him, was long attributed to syphillis. But a modern evaluation of medical evidence reveals another cause for the impairment that sunk one of the world's greatest composers into maddening silence.

Born in 1770 into a musical family of Flemish descent. Beethoven became the first important composer to make a living from his music, the first to receive a salary with no strings, enbaling him to compose whatever he liked.

Beethoven beagn composing -- with full and acute hearing -- at age eleven, the pupile of Mozart and Hadyn. The first reference to his deafness is contained in a letter dated June 29, 1801, when the composer was thirty-one : "For two years now I avoid all society for I cannot say to people 'I am deag'." He was only hard of hearing, for he confess, "At the theatre I must sit quite near the orchestra in order to follow the actors."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: d. 1861, age 55
Robert Browning: d. 1889, age 77

Cause of her Death: Acute bronchitis and lund absecess
Cause of his Death: Heart Attack
Her Place of Rest: The Protestant Cemetery, Florence
His Place of Rest: Westminster Abbey, London
Her Last Words: Quoting from a poem: "Knowldege by suffering entereth, And life is perfected by death".
His Last Words: Informed of a favorable review of a poetry collection: " How gratifying".

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life closed twice before her death. After fallin of her pet pony, the young Elizabeth was a partial invalid from the age of 15; she was complete invalid from the age of 32 to forty. Then in, 1846, Robert Browning persuaded her to elope with him. Her health dramatically improved, and the couple, residing mainly in Florence, enjoyed 15 years of happiness, despite the fact that from taking prescribed medication she was a morphine addict.

In her lifetime, her poetry was more esteemed that her husband's, today the situation is reversed.

Robert Browning, survived his wife by 28 years. He had written for the stage, though with no success, and his early, emotion-laden poetry received harsh criticism: John Stuart Mill condemned the poet's exposure of raw emotion and the exploitation of his own inner feelings as "intense and morbid self-consciousness".

Though Robert Browning enjoyed excellent health, in November of 1889, walking in a light drizzle on the Lido in Venice, he caught a cold that developed quickly into bronchitis.He was nursed by his son, nicknamed Pen, but the 77 year old poet, who still painfully missed his wife, grew weaker.

He had completed a collection of verse, Asolando, and on November of 1889, a telegram arrived from London announcing the bood had garnered favorable reviews. His heart had been failing steadily, and he responded to the telegram, "How gratifying".He smiled, then drifted into sleep. A few hours later, without walking, he suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Walt Whitman: d. 1892, age 73
Cause of Death: Cerebral hemorrhage, also present, advanced tuberculosis.
Place of Rest: Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, New Jersey
Last Words: Voluble throughout life, he boasted on his deathbead, "Garrulous to the very last".

Born Walter Whitman, on May 31,1819, at West Hills, Long Island, the author of Leaves of Grass reamained a bachelor all his life. He preferred the company of men, addressed men in a florid terms of endearment, and, in what has been called "the nudity of his verse" flamed the suspicion he was gay, though latent lifelong. Never was he humble: "I will be your poet, I will be more to you than to any of the rest".

Today it is an accepted belief that Walt Whitman was a homosexual. But the evidence marshaled after his death to support the claim says much of the times, and how they've changed. Turn-of-the-century biographes pointed out that Whitman "bathed in eau-de-cologne" that he was "fond of cooking" that he possessed an"infantile configuration" (read, boyish),"delicate skin" (read, feminine),that there was "something womanly in him"(red, sissy), and that he harbored an "attitude and behavior toward sex that could not be considered 'normal'. (read, perverted). One physician asked, with great delicacy, "Could he have been eunuchoid?"

Guy de Maupassant: d. 1893, age 43
Cause of Death: Advanced syphillis
Place of Rest: Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris
Most Memorable Words: "I dont' want to survive myself!"

The celebrated French writer with a prodigous sexual appetite -- once called " a foul mouthed, offensive individual, totally destitute of a sense of decency"-- met a tragic end though syphillis. His extended farewell to life encompassed a 16 year slide from health launched by a disease he might have picked up from his teenage exploits with prostitutes or that he might innocently have inheritied.

Maupassant was scarred by two events in his life. The first was theseparation of his parents when he was 11 years old. Raised by his strong, neurotic mother,(whome he adored), Maupassant hated his father, despised all husbands, and remained a bachelor.

The other traumatic event, syphillis, he first discovered as a young man of 24. Already sexually promiscous, he was treated for the disease's skin lessions and mistakenly believed he was cured. Even when the alarming truth became known, he continued to seduce women, hundreds by his recoking, boasting of his sexual stamina: "I'm as tired after two to three times as I am after twenty. After two or three times you exhausted your stock of semen so you can go on afterward without firther loss."

Edgar Allan Poe: d. 1849, age 40
Cause of Death: After suffering from diabetes and alcoholism, he died of cerebral edema following a drinking binge.
Place of Rest: Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, Baltimore, Marykland
Last Words: "Lord, help my poor soul".

Master of the macabre tales and originator of modern American detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, fought a long battle with the alcoholism that would finally end his life. Biohistorians have recently argued, however, that Poe actually suffered a great intolerance for alcohol, such that a single drink could produce violent, discriptive behavior.

What lead Poe to drink? Fear is one popular hypothesis, though not the macabre dreads that poe used so effectively to terrify his readers. Rather, hear of sex. Chaste himself, hemarried late, at age 27, and the bride was his 13 years old virginal cousin, Virginia Clemm. Their relationship is thoguht tohave been entirely platonic. She was a frail, sickly, innogent girl, and friends of the couple claimed that his role was really that of a foster father. Poe professed great devotion for his wife, and her slow and torturous death from tuberculosis did not help his drinking problem. Of how her illness affected him he wrote:" I became insance, with long intervals of horrible sanity... I drnak; God knows how often or how much."

Charles Darwin: d. 1882, age 73
Cause of Death: Heat attack following the plagued of chronic illness
Place of Death: Westminster Abbey, London
Last Words:"I am not the least afraid to die."

Today we know that stress, by undermining the body's immune system, can precipitate real and serious illness. Among scientists, Charles Darwin is probably the classic example of a man made sicj by the originality and unorthodoxy of his own discoveries. For fofty of Darwin's sevetny-three years, the pioneering British biologist live with heart palpitation, vmonitng, lassitude, migraines, eczema, boils, chills, tics,trembling, painful flatulence, and hellish insomnia. He suffered from what might be called "the shock of the new" evolution and natural selection of species, which were then balsphemy.

After Darwin's deathe in 1882, many physicians and biographers suggested causes for his protracted illnesses. The spectrum was broad; parasitic Chagas disease (South American trypanosomiasis), which weakens the heart; arsenic poisoning; allergic reaction to his beloved peigeons; "simple hypochondria" emotional distress -- the latter for decades regarded as the least likely possibility. But that has changed given the current evidence of the stress health conection.

Florence Nightingale: d. 1910, age 90
Cause of Death: Heart failure after fifty four years as an invalid
Place of Rest: East Wellow Church Cemetery, Hampshire, England
Near the End: "I am becoming quite a tame beast".

Most people are familiar with the story of Florence Nightingale; the high-born lady who carried the lamp of hospital reform; the nurse whose selfless devotion brougth comfort, and often lie, to thousands of sick and wounded British soldiers in the Crimean War; the tireless woman who single handedly transformed nursing from a lowly thankless chore to a skilled and respected profession. That is the stuff of upbeat biography.

After returning to England from heroic service in the 1854-56 Crimean War, the 36 year old dean of Nursing was never quite the ame woamn. For reasons seamingly mysterious. Nightingale became an invalid. She was at war for 632 days and came home with an extraordinary reputation that would last her all her life, yet she chose to spend that lfie -- all 54 years of it -- in bed. From her bed, she issued a steady stream of orders that were carried out by devoted followers.

Rudolph Valentino: d. 1926, age 31
Cause of Death: Perforated gastric ulcer and peritinitis from a ruptured appendix
Place of Rest: Hollywood Cemetery, California
Last Words: "Don't pull down the blinds! I want the sun to greet me".

The screen idol and great lover of the 1920s was struck down at all the height of his career. His final farewell and funeral were every bit as dramatic, flambouyant, and exaggerated as his brief life had been.

The events that would take his life began on Saturday, August 14, 1926, when the screen idol was resting in his suite at New York's Hotel Ambassador. Valentino flet a sharp and sudden pain in his lower abdomen. Grippin his stomach, he fell to the floor in agony. He refused to go to a hospital, passing the night feverish and fitful. When his temperature soared the next day, he was rushed to Polyclinic Hospital and Valentino's appendix had ruptured and infection was spreading rapidly throughout his peritoneum.

Word that Valentino was hospitalized caused nationwide concern. Later word that he was on the critical list and might not recover produced mass hysteria. Women -- teenagers and adults -- wept openly; hundreds promsied to kil themselves if Valentino died. For eight days suspense built as the public fed on a stream of medical bulletings alternating between hope and gloom. For sheer melodrama, press sotries outdid any of the scripts Hollywood had tailored for the silent screen star.

"The pastor of St. Malachi's Church ... was called to the bedside of Valentino" and the "public sinner" confessed all. Thus the church claimed that it was privy to the screen star's actual last words, which it would keep as secret as the Virgin's Fatima message. "Since Valentino died a Catholic", the edictorial reasoned, "he was entitled to a Catholic burial. The Church gave him what she gives all her children, simply this and nothing more".

Thomas Edison: d. 1931, age 84
Cause of Death: Urenic poisoning
Place of Rest: Glenmont, West Orange, New Jersey
Last Words: Coming out of a coma: "It is very beautiful over there".

Edison's death emphasized the importance of his greatest inventions, the light buln and the power plant, in a waay that would surely have delighted him. Suggestions were made that on the day of his funeral, October 20,1931, electric power across the U.S. be tuirned off for a few solemn minutes. But Congress determined that the loss of electricity on so large a scale, even briefly, could precipitate a national disaster and pose a security risk. Thomas Edison, in a little more that foru decades, had made a nation, indeed a world, totally dependent on one of his brightest ideas.

There was a great irony in Edisons' life. Whereas it is well known that history's greatest composer, Beethoven, was deaf, few people realize that the man hwo invented the phonogrpah andmade practical the telephone -- ushering in the audio age -- was himself increasingly deaf after the age of seven. In fact, as a boy, Edison was expelled from school for being retarded, when his real problem was a growing inability to head his teachers.

Edison liked to blame his partial deafness on a physical injury incurred at the age of 12 when an adult, in a reprimand, boxed his ears: "I felt something snap inside my head, and the deafness started from that time and has progressed ever since". But there is ample evidence that Edison was already deaf at the age of seven. More likely his deafness was the resylt of a juvenile bout of scarlet fever that left him with recurrent middle ear infections. His impaired hearing disposed him to enjoy solitutde, which, in turn, provided an ideal environment for his creativity to flourish. "I'm long on ideas but shore on time". he said in midlife, "I only expect to live to be about one hundred". He almost made the century mark.

Sigmund Freud: d. 1939, age 83
Cause of Death: Cancer of the jaw, palate, throat, and tongue
Place of Rest: Follwoing cremation, his ashes were placed in his favortie Grecian urn.
Last Words: To his doctor on his planned euthanasia: "You promised me you would help me when I could no loner carry on". Then to his daugther: " Tell Anna about our talk".

The Fatehr of Psychoanalysis, who establoshed new directins for understanding and treating mentall illness, died a long and agonizing death. Sigmund Freud's final years -- sixteen of them -- were a nightmare: of sperading disease, of brutal surgery (under local anesthesia), and of suffering excruciating pain, for which the stoical patient consented to take - but only in his last months - aspirin.

Freud's views on sexuality can be summend succintly: Whereas other psychiatrists observed that the penis is attached to the man, Freud observed that the man is attached to the penis. His terms "penis envy", "Oedpius complex", "libido", "death wish", "repression", "neurosis" and others entered everyday speech and sus[icion. He justified the tobacco habit that would kill him with the romantic observation that "smoking is indispensabe if one has nothing to kiss"

The perhaps in a subconscious reference to his own possible bisexuality, declared that cigars were a substitute for masturbation.

posted by infraternam meam @ 12:42 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Until recently, Governors had the best jobs in America. In the 1990's they cut taxes and built schools with capital gains from the booming economy. When congress floundered, Governors led - from welfare reform to health care. They claimes credit for falling crime rates. And they set up rainy-day funds with leftowver tax revenue, if you can imagine such a thing. In 1997, Iowa's Governor said his biggest problem was finding skilled people to fill all the open jobs.

But in the century the Governor's mansion is a cold and lonely place. Reeling from the biggest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, Governors, unlike Presidents, must show discipline. By law, they have to balance their budgets in all but one state (Vermont). And they face soaring Medicaid obligations. No Child Left Behind mandates and new homeland-security costs.

Today what makes Governors great is not the loft of their dreams but the depths of their pragmatism.

When it comes to raw talent, there's no Bill Clinton in this group. But these are the rainy days. And charisma does'nt keep you dry. A roof does.

Meet the hardest-working carpenters.

A Cell-Phone Kings' Fine Recption.

A Mountaineer on the Political Rise

A Gambling Governor Makes a Smart Bet

The Thin Man Expands Coverage for Kids

A Nickel-and-Dimer Solves Debt Bit by Bit





(Source: TIMEMAG/as reported by diff. reporters from diff newspapers carried by TIMEMAG November issue)
posted by infraternam meam @ 10:30 PM   0 comments
** The U.S. Centers for Disease Control tracked 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in 2004, including 2.8 million cases of Chlamydia.

** Americans spend more than $206 million on home pregnancy tests each year.

** Greenpeace is gathering 10,000 hair samples and testing them for mercury in a project to raise awareness about the risk of fetal development of high mercury levels in women.

** Rheumatoid relief: Can it be Cannabis?
Sativex, a drug that contains marijuana -- or cannabis -- extracts, not only lessens the pain of rheumatoid arthritis but also seems to suppress the disease, according to a five week study of 56 patients in Rheumatology. It was the first controlled trial of the ancient analgesic on that condition.

** Sperm shortfall in Britain.
British students who donated sperm for beer money suddenly got shy when they learned that laws protecting their anonymity were about to change. The number of applicants at Newcastle Fertility Center -- a leading collection point -- fell from 175 in 1994 to 25 in 2003.

** 622,000
Lives expected to be lost to diabetes in the U.S. each year by 2025 -- nearly triple the number in 2000 -- according to the Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine.

** Wake Up! Snoring and Strokes.
Obstructive sleep apnea, a narrowing of the airways, causes raucous snoring and shortness of breath in millions of Americans (and keeps millions of spouse awake at night). Apnea has been linked to heart disease, but a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that it also significantly raises the risk of strokes.

** The Thin Blue Line.
HIV testing has come a long way since the mid-1900s, when patients had to wait as long as two weeks to learn whether they were HIV-positive and wee given the news - which could be adeath sentence -by a doctor, a nurse or a trained counselor. Now AIDS can be effectively treated with anti-retrovial drugs, and FDA approval seems imminent for the first over-the-counter HIV test for use in the home: the OraQuick Advance. With a swab of saliva taken from the gums, the kit (currently sold to doctors and clinics for about $15.00) delivers a result -- positive or negative -- in 20 minutes. The FDA approved an at home HIV test in 1996, but users had to mail a blood sample to a lab, and although they could get the results by telephone hotline, many never bothered to call back. With the new test, will be no excuse. (by Coco Masters)

** Gender Bias in the ER.
Women undergo fewer diagnostic tests and are one-third less likely than men to receive invasive treatments, such as angioplasty, for acute coronary syndromes, according to a study of more than 12,000 patients in 28 countries.

posted by infraternam meam @ 10:09 PM   0 comments
"It is important for Iraqis to see their dictator facing justice." an analysts says of Saddam in Baghdad in July '04.

After months in solitary, the former Iraqi dictator will soon emerge to face his first charge -- for Genocide.

In the 22 months since U.S. soldiers captured him, Saddam Hussein has killed time, mostly in solitary confinement, in a makeshift jail near Baghdad airport, watched over by U.S. guards. Though International Committee of the Red Cross officials have visited nine times, he is allowed few other visitors besides those assigned to interrogate him about his 24-year rule. Lawyers and human rights activists have complained about not having access to Saddam to check on his condition. "The president has not been able to see a lawyer of his own choosing," says Curtis Doebbler, an American attorney working with Saddams's family. This June a croup of National Guardmen assigned to monitor Saddam, 68, revealed that their prisoner spent much of his time reading the Koran, writing peotery and his memoirs on yellow legal pads, snacking on Doritos by the bag-- and, for breakfast, eating Raisin Bran Crcnch.(He has expressed a distaste for Fruit Loops) He also joked around with guards and dispensed dating advice. On Oct 19 Saddam is due to emerge for his long awaited trial in an Iraqi court. To protect the trial venue from ptoential insurgent attacks, its location has not been revealed.

Saddam's notorious sons Uday and Qusay were killed by American forces during a Juky 22,2003, raid in the city of Mosul. Two daugthers, Raghad and Rana, fled for Jordan before the U.S. invasion. His wife Sajidah and another daugher, Hala, are believed to be somewhere in the Persian Gulf states. Saddam's youngest son, Ali - born to his second wife, Samira Shahbandar -- is reportedly in Lebanon.

The ex-dictator and seven other members of his regime are charged with crimes against humanity in connection with the massacre of Shiite Muslems in Dujail -- a town north of Baghdad -- that left 143 dead after a failed 1982 assasination attempt on Saddam.

Although Saddam is linked to thousands of deaths during his rule, Iraqie prosecutors felt that Dujail incident would be the easiest to connect him. "That we all know that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy is not enough for a court striving to establish proof beyond doubt," says Tom Malinowski, Washington,D.C. director of Human Rights Watch. "You have to establish a connection between a body in a mass grave and the president of a country."

The special tribunal hearing the case includes five judges -- all Iraqi -- who are actively involved in investigating the facts of the case. The lead investivative judge is Raid Juhi, 39, a judge who served under Saddam and who has atr least 18 investigators working on his behalf. "There was a bit of debate about whether this should be an Iraqi-only tribunal or an international tribunal like the kind prosecuting (Serbian dictator) Slobodan Milosevic," says Malinoski. "The Iraqis decided to with a national tribunal. The United States was involved in the decision, but the Iraqis are runniogn this."

Although a number of foreignb attorneys have offered their services to Saddam, his defense team is led by Iraqi lawyer Khalil Dulaimi. He is likelu to argue that the tribunal has no authority and that under Iraqi law during Saddams' regime, the head of state had immunity from prosecution. He may also challenge the evidence, caliming there is no proof directly linking Saddam tot he killings. Says attorney Badee's Aref'lzet, who represents Saddams' codefendant and former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz: "Saddams lawyer will come to the trial and saay that it is totally illegitimate".

Iraq recently reinstated capital punishment, and has executed several criminals. At least some defense lawyers prefer his odds under the U.S. occupation. "If it was not for the Americans being there, the Iraqis would have killed Saddam already --before the trial." says Izet.

Even if Saddam is cleared in the Dujail case, he won't stroll out of prison. He faces trial on several more charges . Any appeal from Saddam would go to a nine-mem,ner appellate panel. "THis first case is a litmus test for the whole new Iraqi justice system". says Malinowski. "The whole world is going to be watching."


Instead of trying Saddam for all of his alleged crimes at once, the tribunal may hold as many as 14 separate trials, each focused on a different alleged atrocity. Some of the crimes:

** A 1987-88 military campaign in which hundreds of thousands of Kurds were killed or expelled from Iraq.

** The killing of 5,000 in a 1988 chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja.

** Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

** The massacre of 8,000 members of the Kurdish Barzani tribe.

** The tortue of hundreds of religious and political leaders.

posted by infraternam meam @ 2:26 PM   0 comments
FORT MYERS, Fla.- A woman has been arrested for padding her bra -- with a stolen rare parrot.

Jill Knispel, 35, hid the Greenwing parrot in her bra after taking it from her employer, Baby Exotic Birds of Englewood, police said.

When Knispel went to trace the bird for a vintage car, she told the car's owner how she got the animal, according to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Turns out the car's owner is friends with the man who owns the $2,000 bird.

DNA tests confirmed the birds identity and Knispel was charged with grand theft.

"The circumstances of the case are the most bizarre I've ever encountered," said veteran wildlife investigator Lenny Barshinger.

(Source: Associated Press/CHICSUNTIMES)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:20 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Burdened by the complexities of moren life? An ancient philosophical tradition --- Based on FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS === may hold the answers you seek.

Part of the appeal of Eastern philosophies in general, and the Four Noble Truths in particular, is that they provide an integrative, inclusinve, and time-proven alternative to the overwhelming array of disjointed self-help plans currently being offered for everything from relationships and money to body and business. The Four Noble Truths offer an elegant approach that can be applied to any daily circumstance.

*** Theory and Practice.
The Four Noble Truths aren't meant to be a dogma or a creed to believe in. Rather, this Buddhist philosphpy is a tool designed to help people move more gracefully, concieously and deliberately through their lives. The concepts, taken together, produce a perspective that can help us with virtually any situation -- from a self-image-busting bike accident to the demise of a relationship or the loss of a loved one. These same truths also offer a pragmatic practice for responding to, say, stress at work or a derailed excercise goal.

Based on the ancient diagnostic model of Ayurvedic medicine,hte Four Noble Truths are rooted in a four-setp process; diagnosis, etiology, prognosis and prescription.

First, we have to realize that we've got a problem or an illness, In teh case of the Four Noble Truths, this called Dukkha, meaning "wrong space" Dukkha is most often translated as "suffering", but it includes discomfort, dissatisfaction and stress. Reconginzing that you are in a place of suffering is the first step toward shifting your experience.

Next, we figure out the case of our stress. This is essential, because if we donot understand the roots of the illness, we have little clue about how -- and even if -- the problem can be treated.

Once we've recognized our problem and figured out what caused it, we can determine whether (or to waht extent) our suffering can be ended.

FInally, we offered the therapeutic means to end our stress. This treatment is known as the Noble Eightfold Path. Following it leads to freedomg from suffering.

"We have to realte the Four Noble Truths to our own experience as individual human beings." says one of the Buddhism's most respected teachers, the Dalai Lama, in a Simple Path (Thorsons Publishers, 2003). "It is a fact -- a natural fact of life -- that each one of us has an innage desire to seek happiness and to overcome suffering ....So, if this aspiration to achieve happiness and overcome suffering is our natural state of being, and our natural quest, the question is how we shoul go about fulfilling that aspiration."

The Four Noble Truths, in effect, provide a clear, consistent and realatively simple, framework for the pursuit of happiness -- a quest that, at one point or another, most of us find elusive, even maddening, and bewilderingly complex.


Bad stuff happens. That's the First Noble Truth, which is more fomally explained asthepresence of Dukkha, or suffering. According to Buddhist teachings, it's better to accept that bad things happen rather than to deny our discomfort. Unpleasant circumstacnes aren't fated, and they aren't a punishment. But we're ofgen tempted to believe that we somehow deserve the bad stuff that life dishes up. That way of thinking is, itself a major cause of suffering.

What is Sufering? It could be a mild bellyache or a pianful tooh. Suffering is feeling cold on a long winter night; it's also enduring the ravages of cancer or heart disease. Mental imbalances such as depression, anger, loneliness, anxiety or the many ways we feel psychological and emotinal distress -- they're all suffering.

So is the disappointment we feel at not getting something we desperately wanted, getting something we did'nt want or losing something we value. And suffering can eb the more subtle existential sense of boredom, alienation, angst, humiliation,m or the plain ld dissatisfaction that seems to arise whenever we're not busy with our daily distractions.

The practice of the First Noble Truth is to clearly see suffering as suffering. If we deny our unease, not only can we not do anything about it, but this denial itslef also contributes to still greater feelings of discomfort and unrest.

We tend to distance ourselves from life's ills through all sorts of coping mechanism, from indulgence in food, alcohol and sex to too much exercise, work and other forms of distraction. Our first challenge in working with suffering is to acknowledge that we are wuffering and to make the acknowledgement with kidnness and compassion -- not by judging or feeling shame about it.

Suffering is part of life as we live it. The noble aspect of this tyruth comes from learning to face that suffering with courage. From there, we have the chance to break free from the suffering. Ironically, when we attempt to turn away from it, we also turn away from the path that can bring an end to the unease.

The pragmatic practice of the First Noble Truth is to learn to recognize your own suffering. Ask yourself:
* In what areas of my life an I dissatisfied?
* When do I tense up? What causes that?
* What circumstances cause me to become judgmental and harsh?
* When am I resistant to ned ideas, people and suggestions?


Once we've figured out that we are in themiddle of a bad situation, we need to find out why we're there. What causes us to suffer? According to the Second Nbole Truth, four things, called nutriments, can cause and perpetrate our suffeing: food, senses, intent and mindset.

FOOD. We all know that certain foods are simply not good for us. But our relationship with food may also cause us to suffer -- to feel ashamed, self-recriminating or out of control. Who among us has'nt indulged in emotional eating, unrestrained gluttony or obsessive dieting at some point? Food keeps us alive, but our physical sustenance -- and the relationship we have with it -- can also be the source of a great deal of suffering. And in the worst cases, our relationship with food can get so out of whack that it can result in a life threatening eating disorder. It's for these reasons that conscoiousness about food is such an essential component of mindfulness in general.

SENSES. What we take in through our senses is, in essence, food for our consciousness. So this relationshp can be just a challenging as the one we have with the food we eat. Buddhists ask us to examine what we see, ehar and do that might cause us suffering. For instance, we might take a more critical look at advertising, which typically trades on the notion that we are inherently lacking,and if we only had the "new and improved" things, we'd finally be happy. Similarly, movies and video games with violent images, some researchers have found, take a toll on our emotional state. And music that brings us down or degrades us is no healthier that that bag of trans-fat-laden potato chips.

INTENT. The motivations behind our actions can also be a cause of our suffering. Why do we do the things that we do? Having harmful intentions, of course, rarely leads to positive outcomes. But even well-meaning, wholesome activities, like yoga, exercise and reading, can be fueled by less-than-empowering intents or assumptions ( a compulsive need to prove something to others, for exampke, or a desperate desire to make oneself "ok"). If you push yourself to attain some idealized fitness or career goal, for instance, at the expense of your good relationships or your present health, then even your best intentions could become the seed of suffering. At the very least, wrong intent might nourish overweeining pride, egoism and arrogance -- all of which can lead to suffering.

MINDSET. Consciousness itself can be a soruce of suffering. Our mindset develops fom all our past actions and thoughts. A collection of aphoristic teachings of the Buddha compiled in teh book Dhammapada (Shambala 2005) states : "All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a peaceful mind, and happiness follows like a never departing shadow". So, too, does suffering folow a mind that is not at peace.

Until we pay attentuon daily to the nutriments we choose, we tend to blindly cling to what we think will give happiness and satisfaction. We resist that which is painful, or appears to be painful. And we ignore everything else in between. The Second Noble Truth suggests that we pay attention to our choices. As you begin this practice, ask yourself:

* What thoughts, habits,a ctions and intents contribute to my negativity?
* Am I suffering because I am attached to certain ideas, objects or people?
* How am I fanning the flames of my own suffering?


The good news in the Four Noble Truths is that we have the option to be happy, and we can exercise that option -- right now. According to the Third Nboble Truth, we can break our bad habits, and we can build up our good ones. We can cultivate a deeper and more stable snese of well being. The Key? Seeing and believing that by simply noticing the things in our lives that bring us joy or give us feeling or peace, we can actively emphasize and expand them. By fully enjoying even the simplest moments -- sitting peacefully, breathign deeply -- you can pwerfully enhance yoru sense of well-being and satisfaction.

Washing the dishes, for instance, may create a sense of order in your kitchen that brings more peaceful feeling to the place. Or you might discover, while walking through yoru neighborhood or a nearby park, that lush trees and plants give you a sense of joy by connecting you to nature.

To begin to cultivate well-being, examine your life choices and attitudes, and imagine how they might be different. For your practice:

* Ask yourself what the consequences of making different choices might be.
* Cultivate joy and well-being by looking into what brings you joy and by paying more focused attention to those things.
* At the end of every day, make a list of 10 things that broguht you joy that day.
* Take time to notice and appreaicte the simple delights we often overlook: the smile on a baby's face, the first sip of te in the morning, the star-filled night sky.


The Fourth Noble Truth is the daily practice of easing our suffering. The path of practice, known as the Noble Eightfold Path, is the course of action suggested by Buddhist teachings. Rather than reacting automatically from old habits, and patterned behaviours, we can choose to respond differently to our situations, thus transforming our lives. The eight aspects of this path include understanding, ethical life choices and meditative practices:

1). SKILLFUL VIEW is the understanding of suffering, it's causes and how it ended. It is the practice of seeing things as they are and letting go of our notions of how it's all "supposed" to be.

2). SKILLFUL THINKING is the practicse of examination -- of our motives, our thoughts and our habits -- and the resolve to move in the direction of greater happiness. Our unhappiness often comes from misconceptions. Next time you find yourself assuming the worst about a colleague, ask yourwelf, "Am I sure about this?" The practice of periodically stopping to ask, "What am I doing"? can also bring us back to present moment, so that we can pay attention to what is real rather than mere thoughts.

3). SKILLFUL SPEECH invovles speaking honestly, clearly and constructively, while avoiding lying, slandering, gossiping or indulging in any form of abusive speech (including that negative running commentary in your head).

4). SKILLFUL ACTION includes all action that lessens suffering and cultivates happiness, not just for us, but for toehr people.

5). SKILLFUL LIVELIHOOD is lving in such a way (whether at work or at play) that we don't harm others or ourselves.

6). SKILLFUL EFFORT involves consciously cultivating a wholesome, focused direction of mental and physical energy while refraining from nourishing any unwholesome thoughts or endeavors.

7). SKILLFUL MINDFULNESS means paying attention to how we engage the people and circumstances around us from moment to moment. It includes how we respond to our various states of mind. It is also noticing how we feel in our bodies, whether those feelings are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

8). SKILLFUL CONCEPTION is a deepening of mindfulness so that we are calm, focused and relaxed in our daily life, no matter what comes our way.

Next time you find yourself caught in mental anguish -- try some of the pragmatic approaches to dealing with your stress: Focus on your breath, stay aware of your boduly sensations, and notice your thoguhts and feelings, but don't get caught up in them. From this space of renewed clarity, give yourself a chance to practice another way of thinking, speaking or acting.

The philosphy of the Four Noble Truths takes into account that we are sometimes fragile and sometimes vulnerable. It gives us a guide for getting beyond both of our suffering and life's inevitable humiliations - our falls, our heartbreaks, our illnesses, our bodies eventual demise.

In our culture, we tend to automatically, think of suffering as something shameful. But the elegant philosophy of the Four Noble Truths helps us see things differently: We all fall, ache and ail; that's as much as part of being human as breathing. By facing our challenges and choosing to respond more compassionate and joyful.

(SOURCE: Frank Jude Boccio /Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body and Mind. EXPERIENCE MAG/ websites: www.accesstoinsight.com - www.dharma.org)
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:56 AM   0 comments
About Me

Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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