Saturday, June 12, 2004

Saturday's poem

Sun shines in a cloudless sky
Gentle breezes ripple bumblebee strewn clover
While I sip too hot China Green Tips tea from Starbucks
Sitting crosslegged on a wall behind a shopping center
Smelling the dumpster
Watching white butterflies flutter
And wondering if the guy driving by in the silver stationwagon thinks I'm weird
To want some sun, some bees, some green clover on this beautiful morning
And want it enough to ignore the garbage odor and freeway noise
I sip my tea and smile

Butterflies vs. Moths

While I was writing this poem, I was uncertain whether to use the word butterfly or moth. The poet in me said that butterfly sounded better. The scientist in me was troubled. Are there white butterflies? Are those insects fluttering there moths or butterflies? What is the difference between a moth and butterfly? The poet consoled the scientist by promising to add a bit about the difference between the two in a blog entry.

Here you are:

From The Butterfly Website FAQ

How can I tell a moth from a butterfly?

Butterflies and moths both belong to a group of insects called "lepidoptera", meaning that they have wings covered with scales. They are related in many ways. Butterflies are generally brightly-colored while moths are generally drab, though they are many dramatic exceptions to this. Almost all butterflies are active during the day, and most (but by no means all) moths are active at night. A good way to tell the difference is by their antennae. Butterfly antennae are shaped somewhat like a golf club, with a long shaft. Most moths have either simple filaments tapering to a point, or complicated affairs with many cross-filaments.

Well, I didn't see the antennae.

I searched the internet and I think the were Cabbage Whites(Pieris rapae). So they were butterflies after all.

Friday, June 11, 2004


We watched Lumumba last night. We chose it because of a recent review on Cahiers Du Cinema. It is an emotional movie about Congo's fight for independence from Belgium's colonial rule. Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister for two months, was the leader of the MNC party and fought tirelessly for independence and self rule. The movie portrays him as a revolutionary and a man of high ideals and integrity. He is betrayed, his position taken away and finally he is brutally beaten and shot.

The film tells the story in a non-linear way the is very effective. The acting and cinematography are very good and give a strong realism to the picture. The film is in French with English subtitles. I was tired last night so sometimes it was hard to keep up with the subtitles. There is an English-dubbed version but I hate dubbing. I really enjoyed the soundtrack also. Overall, an excellent film. I recommend it highly.

After the film was over, we wanted to learn more about the history of Congo and Lumumba.
Wikipedia is a great site for information (it is a community generated open-content, open source encyclopedia with entries in several languages)

Patrice Lumumba

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lumumba was also a poet.

Here is an excerpt from one of his poems that shows his love for his people and his fervent desire for their freedom from oppression:

You sang the chants that gave voice to your blues.
And sometimes to your joys, when sap rose in the trees
And you danced wildly in the damp of evening.
And out of this sprang forth, magnificent,
Alive and virile, like a bell of brass
Sounding your sorrow, that powerful music,
Jazz, now loved, admired throughout the world,
Compelling the white man to respect,
Announcing in clear loud tones from this time on
This country no longer belongs to him.
And thus you made the brothers of your race
Lift up their heads to see clear, straight ahead
The happy future bearing deliverance.
The banks of a great river in flower with hope
Are yours from this time onward.
The earth and all its riches
Are yours from this time onward.

--excerpted from "WEEP, BELOVED BLACK BROTHER" by Patrice Lumumba, translated from the French original by Lillian Lowenfels and Nan Apotheker.

Reading the history of Congo after Lumumba's death makes me sad. I hope his vision will be realized someday.



Thursday, June 10, 2004

All people are significant

D. told me a story of what happened to him at work. He asked the secretary for some insight on how to organize part of the user interface he is making. He told her that she had the best organizing skills in the department, better than professors and programmers and system administrators. She was so pleased that someone recognized her and her skills. I am sure her week was made. It reminded me how much we can make a difference in the lives of those arounds us, just by being kind and respectful to them.

It made me think of a related story I got in an email....

During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely, this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'."

"I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Anonymous comments turned on

I didn't realize that this blog was set to only allow blogger users to comment. I have now set it to allow anonymous comments. Welcome everyone! Speak freely now if you like!

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Refuge from negative thoughts

In honor of a wonderful post at Kat's Paws I added another CD to my listening list. Refuge is a beautiful CD - a combination of Roth's rhythms and Tibetan chants by Russian singer/song writer, Boris Grebenshikov. This CD is not like most of Gabrielle Roth's others, it does not have a very fast tempo and I don't think it would work well for dancing the 5 rhythms. But for walking, giving a massage, working around the house or writing your blog it is great! And when I listen to it my negative thoughts slowly float away leaving me feeling peaceful and uplifted. I like the other CD's by Roth that I have, Bones, Trance, Zone Unknown, Tongues, and Ritual but Refuge is extra special.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Reiki, flaky?

I was reading the April 2004 issue of Self magazine in the gym today. I read an article about Spa treatments. The author was mostly making fun of strange, 'trendy' treatments, for example she described one in which hot oil is poured on your third eye (Shirodhara) to balance your prana. However, her description of Reiki was very positive. She describe two experiences, both which left her feeling more calm, relaxed and optimistic. Even though she said that Reiki sounds like flaky woo woo which I guess meant mystical and unscientific, she recommended it. Reading this made me aware of how much I miss going to the Healing Circles and sharing treatments with others. It just hasn't fit into my schedule since my stepson started to live with us full time. However, nothing stops me from practicing at home, giving myself treatments, or doing the exercises and meditations I was taught. Perhaps one reason is that Reiki seems to conflict with my rational, scientific profession. It is a dichotomy in me. I can't explain it but like the author of the article, Reiki has been nothing but positive for me. The calming, centering energy that flows through me when I am giving a treatment is wonderful. I can't explain it and most of my colleagues would say that it cannot work. And yet, it gives people something. I have not seen a miraculous healing. But I know that it has a positive effect. I tend to think that one human offering focused unconditional love to another for 60 minutes can't be anything but positive. I will make an effort to include Reiki in my life more often.


I gave myself a treatment last night after writing this entry. I didn't even get halfway through when I fell into a deep sleep and awoke refreshed and ready to start the day. I have been having a little trouble sleeping (which for me, a good sleeper, means waking up several times during the night) the last few nights and feeling tired during the day. Not last night, and I feel great this morning.

Monday, June 7, 2004


Compassion by Mary Heebner

Practicing compassion

This practice was offered by the Dalai Lama and he suggested doing this every morning. He shared this practice with a group and told them that it will increase loving and compassion in the world, and asked everyone attending to go home and share it with as many people as possible.

The Practice of Compassion:

1. Spend 5 mintues at the beginning of each day remembering we all want the same thing (to be happy and loved) and we are all connected.

2. Spend 5 minutes cherishing ourself and others. Let go of judgments. Breathe in cherishing yourself, and breathe out cherishing others. If the faces of the people you are having difficulty with appear, cherish them as well.

3. During the day extend that attitude to everyone you meet - we are all the same and I cherish myself and you (do it with the grocery store clerk, the client, your family, cowoerkers, etc.)

4. Stay in practice, no matter what happens.

Sunday, June 6, 2004

A first kiss...

I attended an all day sesshin at the Zen center today, beginning at 7 AM and finishing at 4 PM. There were about six 25 minute zazen (sitting meditation) sessions, interspersed with chanting, walking meditation, dharma discussion, and a formal meal. Although the sesshins are uncomfortable for me, especially the last couple zazens, I really love attending them. It is difficult to put into words but I feel like I make a lot of progress during these extended meditations. One insight I had today was an understanding of how it is possible to hold two ideas of one person in your mind at one time. I tend to think of things in black and white. This person is good and he does good things or this person is bad and he does bad things, although my designation of someone can change back and forth depending on their behavior. For a short time today I could really think about a person as good and really see the goodness, and at the same time know that the person was doing something not good. I could separate what the person was doing from what he is. At that moment I could relate to the true nature of the person, independent from his actions. As I was doing this, I realized that I had never really understood this before. I had read about it, spoken with others about it, and thought about it and even agreed that it was the correct way to think and believe. BUT I NEVER UNDERSTOOD IT IN MY HEART BEFORE TODAY! I also had a different perspective on walking meditation today. Usually I am watching the person in front of me, making sure I am in step with him. Today, I let my awareness expand a little and I was able to relax and be in step without watching. It is hard to explain and putting it into words makes it either sound trivial or magical but it is neither. I was able to be a bit more than just myself, I was able to also be a line of people walking in step. My teacher, Genshin, talked about the difference between talking about Buddha and Zen and practicing Zen -- sitting. He compared it to talking about kissing. You can describe kissing with words in great detail, you may even be able to list 100 different kinds of kissing and study each one, memorize the differences and similarities, compare and contrast. You could do this for years and become a great expert in kissing but you would know less than a young girl who has just experienced her first kiss. I have spent most of my life in the intellectual arena, learning about things from books on the mental plane. It is refreshing to walk in the experiential landscape, it has a deeper reality. I have always been troubled by the thought that I don't really know anything. I suppose I have been waiting to experience life, waiting for my first kiss.