Thursday, 17 October 2013

Destiny to Change and Be Changed!

Wisdom relayed is that nothing is certain, nothing is fixed, only temporarily stagnant if you believe that anything is immutable. The wise know only that they don't know. Petrified belief is a blockage that will cause trouble unless you release it before the back-flood of energy gets too dangerously big and violently blows through the barrier. "Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed."--Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher of Ephesus.
There is no such thing as a single road as we all have our own path, just as there is no such thing as a final revelation. Possibilities are limitless and cannot be constricted to one truth or reality or one person with all the answers for everybody. Something new always comes along that no one has ever considered, imagined, or discovered before. "Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. (Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.)"--Antonio Machado y Ruiz, Spanish Poet and Playwright.
If you think you know it all, ponder that a fly on the wall may have vastly superior knowledge. More eyes may mean possession of greater awareness, plus they can fly and you cannot. They have been around longer than we human newcomers. They live in cooperation with the environment whereas we, like weeds infesting the planet, are making war and destroying other life forms even to our own detriment.
Consider that the fly on the wall is an angel observing you and even your thoughts! And while here, flies even help purify what we pollute and they'll still be here even after we are extinct through our own ignorance. Bottom line is nature needs flies a lot more than it needs us. So next time you see a fly, bow down and humble yourself before its auspicious presence. Or conversely you can contemplate the fly and try to be the fly in your mind, and gain wisdom from that. It may be the very thing the fly is trying to tell you to do when it disturbs you during your meditation. When we pay attention, we begin to notice deeper, and many times we will find that things are just the opposite of what we thought they were, because there are layer upon layer of realities that are constantly opening, lest we be in bondage to any belief.
"In my village for instance, the tree that we see is not a fixed thing that stays there for several hundred years. The tree is probably the most mobile consciousness that we can tap into. There is no real clear English way of demonstrating a,b,c why...why the tree can be the most mobile thing. But believe it or not, this is the way it is. The Dagara people believe in a certain hierarchy in consciousness. The highest consciousness is the vegetable world, the nature world, trees. The second is the animal world, and the third one is us.:) So we are trailing behind.:)"--Malidoma Patrice Some, West Central African Dagara Tribe Initiated Elder.
There is always room for more wisdom. A glass half-empty is every bit as good as a glass half full. As you change what is in the glass, the container itself morphs to accommodate the contents. New answers bring new questions. Growth is endless renewal. Everything has consciousness and responds in kind to consciousness and thus we have constant change through constant interaction.
"Nothing is more important about the quantum principle than this, that it destroys the concept of the world as 'sitting out there,' with the observer safely separated from it by a 20-centimeter slab of plate glass. Even to observe so minuscule an object as an electron, he must shatter the glass. He must reach in. He must install his chosen measuring equipment....The measurement changes the state of the electron. The universe will never afterward be the same. To describe what has happened, one has to cross out the word 'observer' and put in its place the new word 'participator.' In some strange sense the universe is a participatory universe."--John Archibald Wheeler, Visionary Pioneer Physicist.
Change is the order of the universe, the divine circulation of interaction in a magnetic field of reciprocity. Life is an evolution of cascading circumstances where conscious design meets and melds with the chaos of chance.
Rigidity is crushed to extinction by the torrential flow of evolution. Adapting to life's ebbing and flowing cycles is the way of survival and growth. What does not change will be stunted in the wake of competition and eventually perish.
Development physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is ongoing. We both absorb and contribute in this process. We become changed and we cause changes through demonstration of creative talent and sharing of knowledge, ideas, and experience.
We have all got to live in an environment and an environment cannot cultivate life without the dynamic of give and take. Thus we become one with our environment. Environments can start out small, but predisposition is for growth.
An egg or womb is a sheltered environment in order to ensure its inhabitant reaches a certain stage of maturity before moving on to the bigger environment of the nest or household. That environment in turn nurtures its inhabitant and in the case of humans, both the child and the parents grow in the process.
Our well-being expands from concern for self, to family, to neighborhood, country, and globe. Isolation is necessary at first, but is not meant to last. Today, consciousness is reaching its global scale. We live in a global community. That is our environment. "No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive."--Mahatma Gandhi, Leading Civil Rights Activist.
To get where we are today may not have been pretty. It may have been very vicious and barbarous. In nature, the volatile transitions of transformation can be very messy, but the strides we have made are substantial. Bitterness mellows with age, to make a fine wine that compliments any meal. Acceptance of the past allows us to appreciate the present and look forward to the future. Every disaster contains the seeds of glorious resurrection. Even death is not the penultimate. It does us no good for whatever reason to be stuck in the past, or for that matter to be stuck anywhere. "Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form."--Jalal ad-Din Rumi, Persian Poet and Mystic.
Now is the time to share together the diverse and rich heritages that are no longer in isolation from each other. Now, like all other times, is the time to change, the time to mix, mingle, marry and evolve even further. The world is a garden and the hardiest plants are hybrid. Even the human nature to resist change is changing to embrace change in the cognizance that change is for the better. "We are the change that we seek."--Barack Obama, United States Senator of Illinois.
Girls and boys who used to dislike and tease each other, mature to women and men who desire and love each other. Division turns to unification. Growth is surrender of self and surrender of dissension, leading to expansion of self. The wall of separation is only one of thought. Let go the thought and the wall is naught. "Beauty is unity in variety."--Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English Poet, Critic, and Philosopher.

Is Catherine Zeta-Jones Being Daft Or is Scuba Diving Really Dangerous?

I couldn't help but notice a curious item in the "celebrities talking crap" section of the news this week. Some Hollywood actress named Catherine Zeta-Jones stated emphatically that she refused to follow her husband (some 1970s cop show star) scuba diving. Reason cited was that she was afraid of what might be lurking below in the waters. She said she admired her husband for his bravery in pursuing his pastime.
If it's so dangerous, why would someone let her near and dear one go scuba diving? Unless of course you're happy to have them risk life and limb. Imagine the conversation at the Saturday morning breakfast table "Hey, I think you're so brave for teaching yourself bungee jumping" or "I really admire your gusto in going landmine sweeping with home-made equipment... by the way, have you updated our life insurance policies?"
Seriously though, how "dangerous" is scuba diving?
Of course there are some risks
All activities have some risks. Only a foolish person would think they could strap a tank of compressed air on their back, jump in underwater without the necessary precautions and training be fine. You need to be in good physical and mental health to participate in diving.
According to a 2006 report on diving fatalities by the Divers Alert Network, there are strong contributors to diving-related deaths such as obesity, age and errors in judgment. The initial triggering event that began the sequence leading to death was most often insufficient gas (14 per cent), followed by rough seas and strong current (10 per cent), heart disease (9 per cent), entrapment (9 per cent), and equipment problems (8 per cent). The equipment problems may have been procedural or hardware related. The triggering event could not be established for 20 per cent of the cases.
Scuba diving is as dangerous as you make it
Accidents can almost always be attributed to human error - or to a series of errors. Life is about risk management and in scuba diving, reducing risks require:
* Training - to dive safely, and further/continued training to deal with problems and accidents
* Experience - for improving judgment and increasing confidence
* Good judgment - diving within your ability and comfort level
Diving is equipment intensive
As humans can't breathe underwater, we rely a great deal on the equipment. Divers must:
* Maintain their equipment properly - having it serviced professionally when required
* Be familiar with their equipment. This means knowing how it works and how to best deal with emergencies.
Creatures lurking below?
Yes there are dangerous creatures. The Titan Triggerfish has given me great fright on many occasions but it's the Cleaner Wrasse that has been my nemesis. But ask people who haven't ventured below and they'll say they are petrified of incredible sounding creatures such as the Megalodon Shark and the Giant Octopus.
It's quite baffling to hear people STILL cite Jaws (the film is 35 years old!) as a reason for their fear of entering the water. That fish was one influential rubber shark to have had such an enduring effect on popular culture and the collective psyche of would-be ocean goers. The tragic side of the Jaws hysteria has been the anti-shark sentiment that contributed to the needless destruction of many sharks.
Lets put things in perspective. Very few people are eaten by sharks. A holiday-maker to the warm climates might want to spend more time ensuring their vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis are taken care of. More than a million people die from malaria every year and thousands of tourists are stricken down with a variety of serious illnesses while travelling.
We can conclude that most healthy people with good judgment can dive safely and enjoy themselves. As for the fear of rubber sharks and giant tentacles, some people need excuses and drama.

Beverly Hills High Gets a Subway System Underneath - No Riding The Big Yellow Limo to School

Perhaps, when you were growing up you rode the bus to school, aka; big yellow limo. Well, soon there will be a Subway underneath Beverly Hills high school, with a stop not too far away. People can take the subway to school, to go shopping, or to go to their jobs in Century City. You may not know this or not, and perhaps you do, but underneath Beverly Hills high school there is oil, and there is actually an oil derrick on the property. The locals who live in the neighborhood have mineral rights, and make money from this.
Of course, the people of Beverly Hills hardly want a Subway with traveling riffraff underneath their town, or even their high school for that matter. Because it is primarily a Jewish community, they also probably fear terrorism, and they have every right to. In any case, not many people in the local area want riders getting off at local stops nearby on that subway, or coming from the inner-city. There is enough trouble as it is around the edges of the neighborhood.
Well, it turns out after years of environmental impact reports, threats of lawsuits, and community outrage that there will be a Subway running underneath the school to Century City, as the LA Times reported on May 25, 2012 "Subway Dig OK'd Under Beverly Hills High" by Ari Bloomekatz. Indeed, I suppose this changes the entire dynamic of all the problems with what has been going on under the surface there for the last half century or more.
What is going on underneath that high school you ask? Well, how about; Tainted Water and Oil Drilling for instance? And as the oil is removed, and the oil rig goes dry, they certainly should expect continued oil drilling or use of new fractal technologies there, after all, the verdict is still out whether or not tracking causes small earthquakes, something that Californians are petrified and very fearful of.
Of course, the battle is never over, and the School District still claims that this is a preliminary decision and that there will be state and federal court filings - in other words, it's far from over and the debate may run for another decade or more, who knows. Maybe in the future sports teams will ride the subway, get off at Beverly Hills high school for a local football game in the school Stadium? Another question is what happens if they find something underground there, such as contaminated soil?
Will it become a future Superfund site? Will that high school be closed? Will there be huge lawsuits from the EPA, and environmentalists? The history of that oil drilling at that location is quite interesting, and there's actually a book about it, along with the tainted water issue. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

The Wonderful World Of Butterflies

Butterflies have fascinated us for their beauty, frailty and the mystery surrounding its life. For time immortal, the beauty of butterflies had not only inspired poetic and artistic imagination, but also has captured the curiosity of even of the small children.
It is clear that even our ancestors were moved by their behavior. When they noticed thousands of butterflies migrating towards "Sripada" (the sacred mountain which the Buddhists believe the Buddha's foot print was stamped) during the pilgrim season, they believed that the butterflies were migrating to pay homage to the Buddha. Thus they went to the extent of naming the most sacred mountain of Sri Lanka, the Sripada, as "Samanala kanda".
At present, though this migration still takes place in some areas of Sri Lanka, it could not been seen in most of the areas, due to human intervention on the environment. Thus it is sad to note that most of the present younger generation, has not seen this nature's fascinating spectacle. Still there is hope, as environmentalist and others who have taken interest in this subject, has learned that by providing the necessary environment, we could still recreate this vanishing butterfly migration.
Researchers have found through fossil evidence, the butterflies have been in this earth for over 30million years. When classifying butterflies, some scientists have earlier described the butterflies being belonging only, to eleven (11) families, then subsequently it changed into two (2) super families and five (5) families. At present most scientists have classified butterflies belonging to three (3) super families and five (5) families. They are:
1 True Butterflies-(Super family, Papilionoidea)
2. Skippers-( Super family, Hesperioidea)
3. Moth Butterflies-( Super family, Hedyloidea)
And within these super families, the 05 butterfly families, are listed as follows
(1)Papilionidae-Described as Swallow tails, Apollo and Bird wing butterflies
(2)Pieridae-Mostly White and Yellow butterflies
(3)Lycaenidae-Described as, Gossamer-winged, Blues, Coppers, Hairstreaks and Harvesters(eat harmful insects)
(4)Riodinidae-With metallic spots in wings. They are also called 'metal marks'
(5)Nymphalidae---Brush -footed butterflies.
It has to be noted that butterflies, are listed under the sub order Rhopalocera(club-antenna) and Moths, under sub order Heterocera(varied antenna). Both these suborders fall within the order Lepidoptera.
It is estimated there are about 12000-24000 Butterfly species and about 120,000-150,000 moth species living in this world.
As per the 2007, Red List of IUCN, there are 243 species of butterflies in Srilanka, out of which 20 species are endemic.
Differences between Butterflies and Moths
When studying butterflies, it is important to know clearly, the difference between butterflies and the moths, as there are large numbers of moths as compared to butterflies thus, there could be confusion in identification. The main differences between a butterfly and a moth are as follows:
Butterflies
1. The end of the antenna is a lump. However the skipper butterflies have a formation of a hockey stick at the end of its antennas
2. Normally keeps the wings together when resting
3. Have long thin bodies
4. Normally active in day time, evening and early morning
5. The caterpillar has few spines or hairs. They are not poisonous.
Moths
1. Some antennas are long and are pointed at the end; most antennas have hairs, like in a bird feather.
2. Normally keeps the wings stretched when resting.
3. Have flat or rounded bodies
4. Normally active in night time (Get attracted to light)
5. The caterpillar has many spines or hair. They are poisonous
The life cycle of the butterfly commences with the laying of an egg or several eggs on a Host Plant, it changes to a Caterpillar then to a Pupa and finally emerge as an adult butterfly. Then it flies in search of Nectar Plants with flowers, sip its nectar and get fully ready for re-production.
Now, a question arises, what are Host Plants and Nectar Plants.
Host plants
It is the plant that is needed for the continuity of its species. It is the plant that gives it the first food. Generally every butterfly species have its own host plant or several plants. However if we destroy host plants selected by the butterflies the particular butterfly species get eliminated from the face of the earth.
Nectar plants
These are plants where the butterflies go for their nectar intake. However it has to be noted that all species of butterflies do not depend for nectar for their survival. Their food is juices from fallen fruits, sap of the trees or juices extracted from beans of trees, juices from dead animals and petrified meat, and juices from logs of dead trees.
Also it is interesting to note that though butterflies have specific host plants where the female identifies by its smell, when going in search of nectar, they would go for any plant having flowers with nectar. The only difficulty is that those butterflies having a short proboscis, cannot take nectar from large flowers and they will have to be satisfied with small flowers having nectar.
Butterflies Relationships with other animals
As mentioned above, though the butterflies depend on the host plants for survival, there is one species of butterfly in Sri lanka, namely the Ape Fly, which is an exception. In this species, the female butterfly lays its eggs on plants having white spider mites(Coccidae) since she knows that her offspring's food is the spider mite.
However the most fascinating relationship the butterflies have is with ants, especially with red and green ants. Normally such butterfly species who relates with ants, lay their eggs on a branch or stem where there are red ants. The red ants will never attack or eat the butterfly egg. They allow it to thrive and consume the soft leaves of the host plant. Once the caterpillar grows in size, from its body a juice like honey emanates, and the ants drink it with pleasure. In Lieu of, this food supply, ants do not harm the butterfly and protect it from enemies as well. When the caterpillar is ready for transformation as a Pupa and then as an adult butterfly, the ants takes the butterfly caterpillar to its nest, and protect it. When the adult butterfly emerges from pupa, the ants again take or direct the adult butterfly from the nest and release it, to continue its life.
Most of such butterflies belong to the Lycaenidae family. It is reported that in Srilanka the following species have a relationship with ants: The Lesser Grass Blue, The Centaur Oakblue, The Lime Blue, The Gram Blue, The Grass Jewel, The Common Cerulian, The Large Oak Blue, The Common Acacia Blue, Yam fly, The Long-banded Silverline and the Slate Flash
It is also reported that out of the 135 species of the Lycaenidae family,in Australia, half of them have relationship with green ants as mentioned above. However a species called Moth Butterfly,also living in Australia, whose caterpillar is like a Military tank, enters the ants nest,consume the ant larva and escape unscratched, after it get trans formed as a Butterfly in the ants nest.
Behavior to overcome attacks from predators
Like any other animal butterflies too have enemies. Generally, adult butterflies and their caterpillars fall victim to their enemies. They are the Birds, Wasps, Lizards, Serpents, Frogs, Dragonflies, Praying Mantis, Spiders and small animals'. Also action of man as well as fungus and lichens also affect the Butterfly lives. It has been estimated that 95% of butterfly species get destroyed by enemies, before they become adults.
Hence caterpillars and adult butterflies, adopt various ruses to overcome their preditors. Some of them as are follows:
(1)Having poisonous bodies - The Tiger butterflies who's host plant is the 'Wara' tree (Milk Weed), are avoided by Birds. The reason being, the caterpillar which consumes the leaves of this poisonous plant, as well as the butterfly which emerges from the pupa are poisonous. By mistake if a bird consumes such a caterpillar or a butterfly, it has been observed that the bird fall sick and vomits the food.
(2) Camouflage - The caterpillar of the Lime Butterfly species, adopt the pattern of a bird dropping, and this ruse helps it to avoid the attack from birds, and thereby escape death.
The endemic Blue Oakleaf butterfly is world famous due to its camouflage. The top of the fore wings are Blue, White and Black colored. Undersides of the wings are completely brown with different marks. The wings when folded appear like a dried leaf. When it is pursuit by a bird, it flies and perch on a branch or a trunk of tree, upside down. Then, it flutters its body, as if a leaf of the tree is moving due to the wind, completely making the bird perplexed, and the bird, fly's away unable to locate it.
(3)Display of False Eyes - Some species like the Blue Mormon, Common Mormon and Red Helen, have caterpillars with marks on their bodies like large eyes. This helps them, to scare away enemies.
(4)Hide - Most of the caterpillars hide under leaves, or on stems during day time to avoid being captured by predators.
(5)Injecting a poisonous Gas - Some butterflies like Common Blue Bottle, Common Jay and Tailed Jay have caterpillars, with appendages on their heads known as Osmaterium. It has been observed that when they are attacked, they inject vaporous bad smelling gases, which keep their enemies at bay.
(6)Mimicry - Scientist have observed that butterflies which are avoided by birds have a similar body formation and also a similarity in flight. This phenomenon was noted by Fritz Miller and given the name Millerian Mimicry in his honor. Example of such butterflies is Blue Tiger, Glass Blue Tiger and Glossy Tiger. However some butterfly species realizing that if they take the form of such butterflies which escape death from enemies, take the former butterfly species form. The poisonous butterfly is treated as the Model and the non poisonous butterfly is treated as the Mimic. This type of Mimicry is known as Batecian Mimicry, so named in honor of H. W Bates who discovered this Phenomena. A good example of, such a mimicry is that of the non poisonous Common Mormon. The female of this species mimic Crimson Rose and Common Rose butterflies which are poisonous. Also The Common Mime, is also a famous butterfly that mimics poisonous butterflies.
(7)Speed - Some butterflies use speed of flight to escape from enemies. Some examples are Great Orange Tip, Pioneer and Painted Lady who flies at a great speed to avoid predators.
Special Behavior of Butterflies
(1) Enhancing strength. To ensure laying of more eggs, as well as to compete with other butterflies to get a female partner, they need added strength. It has been now established, that Butterflies congregate at mud puddles not only to quench their thirst, but to obtain minerals and other chemicals to strengthen their bodies. Species which indulge in such action are Roses, Emigrants, Tigers, Crows, Rajahs, Oak Blues, Line Blues, and Hedge Blues etc. We should not forget g that they get their strength from flower nectar as well. Butterflies that prefer other means of minerals from rotten fruit, juices of dead animals etc such as Black Rajah, Twany Rajah, Baron, Gaudy Brown, Baronet, Southern Duffer and Blue Oakleaf use these minerals to enhance their strengths.
(2) Territorial Behavior. We know that birds sing from top of a branch or a building in the mornings and evenings, mainly to demarcate their territories as well as to find a mate. Scientists maintain, that the practice of butterflies Perching and Patrolling, are acts of demarcating territories, as well as mate locating flights. Sometimes this type of activity is called Hill topping, since some species await for females, perching at a higher elevation, as on top of a boulder. Such butterflies species are Bird wings and Roses.
(3) Spraying of Perfume. It is fascinating to know, to attract a partner male butterflies spray perfumes known as Pheromones on female butterflies. It has been recorded when the male butterfly identifies a suitable female, it flies behind her and spray on her body from a brush like appendage, at the end of her body having about 400 hairs, sticky perfumed pheromone. The female get attracted to the male and court together for about 04 hrs. The Common Jay, and Dark Blue Tiger are some of the species identified as indulging in such practices.
How to establish a butterfly garden
To protect the beautiful butterflies, observe their interesting behavior, and to ensure that they will live for future generations to appreciate, it is the duty of knowledgeable Sri lankens to establish butterfly gardens in their home gardens, as well as any land they have authority.
The Wildlife and Nature Protection Society with the help of IUCN, as a pioneering move, established, 100 Butterfly Gardens in schools in 10 Districts of our country. Colombo' s Lady Ridgeway Hospital has a beautiful Butterfly Garden Due to dedicated Doctors. Some Government Departments are also, now establishing Butterfly gardens in available spaces.
To establish butterfly gardens you should have few Host plants, Nectar plants and land space. At the inception, it is recommended to plant 'Adana Hiriya' 'Wara' 'Aththora' 'Akkapana'',Kiri Aguna wel', as Host plants and 'Balunakuta', Shoe flower, Trdex, Zeeniyas, Ixora as Nectar Plants. A used earthen curd milk pot with mud, sunk to floor level and a container to hold some ripe fruits will be sufficient for a small garden. To establish a large garden expert advice is needed.

Staying on the Funny Side - Of Sparky the Cat

The vet said Sparky died of natural causes. Aunt Fern said it was probably something he ate. Mildred said that cat had been electrocuted, caught on fire, painted pink, and dressed up as a camel for the Buncam Baptist Christmas pageant- that if that didn't add up to nine lives, nothing did. Personally, I think Sparky had finally had enough of this crazy family, got a hold of some pills, and took his own life. He just picked the wrong week to do it.
It was Great Uncle Edsel's 90th birthday and a great cause for celebration since he wasn't supposed to live this long, having been diagnosed with some rare disease that none of us could pronounce. The doctors had given him a month, two at the most. We had accepted it, and so had Edsel, who had chosen to spend the remainder of his time intoxicated. That was ten years ago and the man had soaked up so much alcohol we couldn't let him blow out the candles on his cake for fear he'd blow us all up. So nobody noticed Sparky's suicide note or discovered his contorted body until the party was in full swing and the kids decided to play hide 'n seek.
It was Sammy Junior who crawled under the bed to hide, and came eye to eye and cheek to cheek with the dearly departed Sparky whose face had frozen in a wide-eyed snarl. It's safe to say that both of them were equally petrified. Sammy's scream circled the block as relatives ran in to face a situation far more interesting than hearing Uncle Bert's new country song which had fourteen verses and ended up sounding like Hank Williams with a speech impediment. They all took turns peering under the bed and saying, "Yep, it's a dead cat all right." It was obvious that the next step was to remove Sparky from under the bed, and equally obvious that nobody wanted that job.
"You get it," someone whispered.
"I ain't touching it. You touch it!"
"I'm not touching it! You touch it!"
And the phrase was passed from one to another until they finally elected Big Ed, who was a cop. How different could this be from the time Old Man Foster passed out in the congealed salad at the little league picnic? Big Ed, with an image to protect, yelled for a broom, hitched up his pants, and bent down to survey the situation. Minutes later, with sweat-laced brow, he swept Sparky and a family of dust bunnies out from under the bed while we hovered behind him with held breath, staring at the cat who lay frozen on his back with all four paws up in the air, just like Aunt Ethel when she fainted during her solo at church. Somebody sneezed and Big Ed's arm jerked the broom and Sparky skidded across the floor, landing with a thud against Mildred's walker creating instant hysteria as people literally climbed over each other to get out. It was a tragic moment that secured the job of every therapist within a thirty-mile radius. Mildred hyperventilated. Skeeter swallowed his snuff. And Aunt Bitsy says that was the trauma that caused her to start eating carbs again. Once they got Uncle Edsel's heart started back up, they decided that they had no choice but to either bury Sparky or prop him up in a wing chair until the party was over. Loretta set off to find a box, because everybody knows the wing chair's reserved for Granny Jean once her medication kicks in.
We tried getting Sparky into several boxes, but his tail kept popping out, causing shrieks of horror every time Ed tried to stuff it back in. Finally we settled on little Emily's Barbie Camper with the side awning that made a great place for his tail. It was appropriate, as Sparky had always loved riding shotgun in Skeeter's mobile party camper with the flashing Budweiser light. The only place we could find dirt soft enough to dig was in the front yard. So you can imagine the dismal scene we presented to the latecomers who were now driving up to the party carting cases of beer - only to find us standing around a hole with Big Ed digging knee-deep in dirt. We all paused, looked up, and Ed announced solemnly, "You're too late. He's already gone." The tardy relatives dropped to their knees, faces washed in grief (except for Vyrnetta who showed no emotion at all, not from womanly grit, but the botox injections she had received earlier that day.) We found their reaction to be somewhat overdramatic until we realized they thought the hole was for Great Uncle Edsel.
We cleared up the confusion, showed them that Great Uncle Edsel was still alive, and let them get one last peek at Sparky. And except for that moment when Sparky's burial robe (a silver sequined super hero cape with an "S" on the back) got caught on Erma's oxygen tank, the rest of the funeral went without a hitch. And that was the day dear old Sparky left this world. Great Uncle Edsel lived another ten years before deciding he'd had enough of this family too. We found him under the dining room table. At least he was dressed this time.

The ONE Thing

I slipped on my comfortable navy blue Crocks and walked extremely fast to our neighbor's home to pick up my son. Even though it was a bit after 5:30PM, darkness had completely fallen across the area. I brought a special treat for my son, a piece of candied ginger. His face lit up like a beacon when he saw this spicy treasure. When I asked Ian what he wanted to do for dinner he said, "Go with Daddy to get some sushi." This nascent father and son ritual started a few weeks ago when Ian had asked me what I did that particular day. I told him, "Daddy had a speaking job and then got some sushi for lunch." He immediately said, "I want to get some sushi," the 'ssses' in both some and sushi commingling into a single three-year old word.
I pointed out a new Japanese restaurant last night and he said, "not that one." He wanted to go to the restaurant where we went the first time. I said, "It's nice to try different restaurants and besides this one has fish in a tank (not men in a bank)." My explanation sounding like the first page of a "Dr. Seuss" book. Ian said, "Let's go and see the fish in the tank!" The fish were a good distraction while we were waiting for our order. I have to give Ian credit; he ate two pieces of California Roll (cooked crab and avocado). As I was eating a piece of sushi, Ian used his child-friendly chopsticks and picked up what he said was a piece of avocado. He put a small dollop of wasabi into his mouth instead of avocado and immediately got this petrified look on his face. His lower jaw dropped open while his lips snapped tightly shut; his whole body shook while his eyes watered for a few seconds. I wore the mixed emotions of horror and humor, not quite sure what to do. Ian then grabbed his plastic water cup and literally sucked down the entire contents through the straw. He looked up at me, paused for a moment, and said, "Spicy."
When I told my wife about our experience, she was laughing out loud. She asked Ian if he wanted to go with Daddy again to get sushi sometime and he said, "Uh ha!" My wife commented that this is becoming our one thing or as I said earlier, our ritual. Having one main thing on which to focus when we eat will help my three-year old to remember key moments of his childhood. We also have a one-workout thing when we exercise. I strap him into the copilot seat on the back of my mountain bike and zoom down the Capital Crescent Trail to Georgetown while Ian yells, "Faster Daddy, Faster." According to Masaru Emoto, the author of "The True Power of Water," everything has a unique vibration or that one thing that resonates with somebody else. He said, "Our mind and body are affected by this depending on what intrinsic vibration we resonate with. In human relations, we often say we are or we are not on the same wavelength with someone."
When I work with executives to improve their communication power, my challenge is to find that one thing that resonates with them. Why do I want to pick one thing? I can and do give executives a small shopping list of major and minor items that they do well and others that need improvement through multiple speaking rehearsals. However, I say that they ought to start with this one thing first. Giving too many solutions at one time will paralyze progress. Recently I worked with six different executives and gave them each of them one thing upon which they could improve such as, relax, appearance, presence, personal stories, pause for power and weave key messages.
Relax - work out before you speak, practice deep breathing or even get a massage. Relaxing will slow down the pace of your presentation and allow you to work in more of a quality message.
Appearance - when your match your outward appearance (keeping in mind the theme) with how you feel inside, you are more congruent and will have more communication power.
Presence - having more presence through the proper use of body language might mean being conscious of where you are standing. Being closer to the audience communicates more passion. It is being aware of what you are doing and its meaning.
Personal Stories - signature stories that characterize a speaker will get you remembered. Try coming up with 2-3 signature stories, which take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. For added power, tie your personal stories to the key messages.
Pause for Power - using the um's and other 'filler' words takes away from communication effectiveness. Replace the filler words with silence. When you pause for power, you will be perceived as more confident and subsequently more effective.
Weave Key Messages - take your key themes and weave them through your presentation and then through each section. Remember take your theme, tie it to a story or a point and then tell the audience why it is important to them.
Picking one item from above and really showing improvement will help to increase your communication power. It's going to be much easier to pick one than to try all six at the same time. Plus you will see results in one area more quickly and this will give you the necessary motivation to continue to improve on your speaking. Warning, you will need to try different sushi restaurants to determine their degree of spiciness.

Driving the United States is Better When You Are Paid For It!

Driveaway has become a booming business because of online auctions and online classifieds! Because of this, you can travel the states, driving the nicest cars, and get paid to do it!
I have driven Corvette, Miata, Mercedes, Lincoln, Cadillac, SUVs, Light Trucks and Motor Homes! I've driven in all 48 lower United States, into Alaska and into Canada, all while delivering vehicles for people that have purchased them online!
I've seen the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, many parts of the Atlantic coast, many parts of the Pacific coast, the Gulf of Mexico, all five Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, Erie Canal, Hudson River, Mount Rushmore, the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, ND...and still seeing more every trip!!
I've seen the vastness of the plains, the stillness of the deserts, the majesty of the mountains, rolling hills, ocean beaches, mountain lakes, awesome sunsets and awesome sunrises, and the most beautiful moonlit nights...so many beautiful sights in the most beautiful places of our nation!!
Driveaway is a business, but it can be a great opportunity to travel, also! One doesn't have to go into the driveaway business full time! Want to go to Orlando? Join a "free membership" site, as a service provider, find a vehicle going that way and start bidding!
Winning a bid will create cash for your trip, at least one-way or part-way, and save some of your air flight or fuel costs that would be incurred by driving! Just deliver the car, enjoy your vacation and make arrangements to get home! In fact, you could bid on a second vehicle, in the area of your vacation spot, and make money on the trip home, also! Arranging deliveries, both ways, is what makes my business profitable, and there is no reason that it can't be done in this situation!
There are, also, "driveaway companies" that hire, on a contract basis, the delivery of vehicles by individuals. Some of these will require a cash deposit that is refunded when the vehicle is delivered safely. Most will have a 21 year old or a 23 year old minimum requirement for their drivers. These companies provide the first tank of fuel, usually.
However, I prefer the free membership site, as it allows you to bid only on the vehicles that you want to drive, allowing you to choose the vehicle and the destination with no pressure to bid on anything else! Also, there is no minimum or maximum of jobs that you accept! The type of vehicle and the destination is all posted for you to see!
In these sites, you will include your pay, your expenses and the fuel in the bid, and when a bid is accepted the shipper pays you for all of these expenses as pre-arranged by you and the shipper during the bidding process! Want to be paid before the trip? Detail it in your bid and you will be when the bid is accepted! You put no money up front and have no monthly membership fees! Drive when you want and no more!