28 February 2009

Writing from the Heart

I have been writing this past week.
Not sure if I should share all of it with you as I'm not sure why you read this blog and if it is appropriate. I guess the best thing to do is to post it, in portions, and you can read it or not. Please know that I have waited 6 months to write some of my thoughts.

I did not want to be melodramatic or inappropriate or . . .

What I have written is from my perspective. It is not balanced by other people's input, does not include layers of conversations, is, well, totally biased.

So, all of this to prepare you for what is to come.

I'll try to provide alternatives each day too, but this is a conversation that might be somewhat one dimensional and not as uplifting as a how to leave helpful notes in the margins of the book you're reading.

27 February 2009

Inadequacy: Better Than We Think

"We are all inadequate; that is simply part of the human condition and it's a major temptation to dwell on that rather than accepting and understanding that we do the best we can and that is all that God expects of us. Sometimes the best we can is far better than we think it is."
(Madeline L'Engle in a personal correspondence)

26 February 2009

Penguins and Golden Calves by Madeline L'Engle

On artists:
"Artists of all disciplines must be willing to go into the dark, let go control, be surprised." p 133

On book discussion groups:
"I love the small group of women with whom I meet weekly to discuss whatever book we have chosen and what it means in our lives and in our understanding of Christ. We do not try to coerce each other, even when we disagree. We try to listen to each other, and to God. Therefore, this group is for me another icon, and one that helps me to keep my eyes and ears open, and my mind ready to move and grow in understanding." p 36

On Certainty :
"We tend to defend vigorously things that in our deepest hearts we are not quite certain about. If we are certain of something we know, it doesn't need defending!" p 184

On False Expectations:
"We have false expectations of our holy days, of our churches, of each other. We have false expectations of our friends. Jesus did not. He had expectations, but they were not false, and when they were not met, he did not fall apart. He was never taken in by golden calves! Friendship not only takes time, it takes a willingness to drop false expectations, of ourselves, of each other. Friends--or lovers--are not always available to each other. Inner turmoils can cause us to be unhearing when someone needs us, to need to receive understanding when we should be giving understanding." p 36

On Families and Sacrifice:
"There aren't any easy answers to the questions being raised today, and it may be too easy for me to remember Jesus saying, "Greater love has no man than to give up his life for his friend." Or wife, or children. Isn't staying with your family sometimes a real equivalent of giving up your own life? Cannot it sometimes be a blessing, especially if it is given with graciousness, not rigid rectitude? I believe that it can, because I know of families where this is what has happened. Sacrifice is no longer popular, but I think that sometimes it can lead to true joy. Even the simplest of unions does not come free. There is always sacrifice." p 64

On God's Love:
"God says, 'I love you! I love you enough to come and be with you. And because I live forever, you will, too.'" p 35

On the Holy Spirit:
"The Holy Spirit came not only to comfort us, but to show us how to live in Christ, and only as we are in Christ can we begin to understand the mysteries of faith." p 78

On Idols:
"There's the rub; an icon can far too easily become an idol. Idols always bring disaster to the idolater. An icon is an open door to the Creator; when it becomes an idol, the door slams in your face." p 39

On Shadows :
"What is my own shadow? If we all had the ability to recognize our shadows we might not be driven by them." p 134

On the 'Shadow self' :
"A lot of the shadow self is the home of poetry, story, prayer. My deepest understandings are often released from the part of me of which I am least aware most of the time." p 133

On the Wildness of Christianity:
"What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God's love, a love we don't even have to earn." p 31

25 February 2009

Pain, borne alone, cripples.

“The pain that cripples is the pain that is borne alone--never put into words. This is the pain that becomes a pool of tears hidden away inside, keeping us from connecting in any important way with others.” Elizabeth O’Connor

She goes on to note that: “healing is not going to happen in any important way as long as the pain in us and around us goes unacknowledged and unexplored. A wailing wall is never the end of it. It is always the beginning. . . . We discover around these wailing walls that our pain is related to what we are to do in life. Pain gives us a vision of God's new world. Wrapped up in our anguish is a work that will heal us and heal the society.”

24 February 2009

Leave Masterly Marginalia

Levenger's How To's

It can be a polarizing question: Do you write in the books you own? Some people do and some don't. Emotions often run high in both camps as to the usefulness and rectitude of their divergent positions.

For those who are Preservationists and don't write in books, we understand your position and salute you. Because of your abstinence, future readers will enjoy your unadulterated books.

We also understand Footprint Leavers, and it is to you writers in books that this message is aimed.

As a Footprint Leaver, you know how writing in books can aid your understanding and retention as you carry on a dialog with the author. We would like to assist you in that dialog with this online edition of our Helpful Reader's Marks for Masterly Marginalia. And we're hoping you'll add some of your own.

We searched high and low in the mid-90s, and to our surprise found that no such list of reader's marks existed, so we decided to make our own. We borrowed some from proofreaders' marks, such as paragraph ( ¶ ). Others we lifted from Latin abbreviations, such as "that is" (i .e.) and "compare with" (c. f.). Others came from mathematics, such as , the symbol for "therefore". One even comes from Winston Churchill's handwritten letters—his pithy version of "very" as vy.

We put our collection of Reader's Marks in the covers of some of our notebooks and in a bookmark that we included in packages. Since we published this list, we've come across more shorthand invented by creative Footprint Leavers.

Peter Brown, attorney, author and consummate reader, uses an to indicate an anecdote, and to indicate quotation. (He'll underline the passage, too.) Later, he'll go back to reinforce his memory and will employ both in his conversation and writing.

Why marginalia matters

Throughout history, readers have penned notes in the margins. Some of these have been more than just personal observations, valuable as these are to the reader. They became a way of formulating new truths and passing on that knowledge.

As Owen Gingerich details in his ironically titled The Book That Nobody Read (Walker and Company, 2004), other astronomers did, in fact, read Nicolaus Copernicus's sixteenth-century work De revolutionibus, in which he posited that the earth and not the sun was the one making all those revolutions. The astronomers' annotations proved as revolutionary as Copernicus's theory: these notes in the margins actually helped to advance the acceptance of the theory among scientists.

From Levenger

M. L'Engle on Advertising

"Give the public the 'image' of what it thinks it ought to be, or what television commercials or glossy magazine ads have convinced us we ought to be, and we will buy more of the product, become closer to the image, and further from reality."

Madeleine L'Engle in A Circle of Quiet, page 16

23 February 2009


Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

"Do you deserve it?" Seth

By Seth Godin

Do you deserve the luck you've been handed? The place you were born, the education you were given, the job you've got? Do you deserve your tribe, your customer base, your brand?

Not at all. “Deserve” is such a loaded word. Most of us don’t deserve the great opportunities we have, or the lucky breaks that got us here.

The question shouldn’t be, “do you deserve it.” I think it should be, “what are you going to do with it now that you've got it?"

22 February 2009

Saturday Night in.

I had planned to go in to the city tonight to Starlight Symphony. I want to hear Brooke Fraser and then the canons in the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. I like the crowds and the hustle and bustle . . . the progression of darkness as it overtakes the day and the park.

But I’m tired. It’s been a full and busy few weeks. While I’d like to go out, my body seems to be sending another message, “Stay in. Stay down. Go slow.”

Many times in my life I’ve tried to cram too much in to too short of a time. I live life. I don’t spend time, I invest it, I use it, and I enjoy it. Sometimes I’ve overdone because of other people’s expectations. I’ve filled speaking dates, traveled far and said, “yes” when a “no” might have been more prudent.

Other times I’ve just been excited about various things and, not wanting to choose between them, tried to do them all. I think that’s normal for my temperament, but it’s no longer normal for my age!

Even on holidays I’ve tried to do too much and returned home more tired than when I left! What is it about this insatiable curiosity, this unrest, this compulsion to see what’s around the next turn in the road?

So tonight, I sit in the glow of my laptop screen with the twilight filtering in over my shoulder and calm music filling the nooks and crannies of the room and my mind. I’ve just eaten my fill of hummus on garlic pita crisps, cheese and fresh tomatoes from my “pot garden”. I rest. I am. I try to be in the moment without entertainment or distraction. Just be. It’s Saturday night and I’m right where I want to be.

21 February 2009

An Environment for Writing, for Calm

The paraphernalia of writing, of study, draws me in.

I like the feel of a good pen in my hand, of the leather of a well bound book, of the textures of the letters engraved in the cover.

I like the feel of good paper, paper over which a fountain pen can glide smoothly and the ink absorbs into well.

I like the right setting, at a table rather than a desk, in front of a window or under a tree.
I like subtle sounds that fill in without filling up, that enhance without distracting.

I like a nice cup of tea, the breathing in of the aroma and the sipping rather than the drinking.

It's Saturday for me after a full and fruitful week. I'm savouring the things that calm my heart and mind.


I grabbed this out of a conversation this week.

I like the heart behind it.

I hope it says something outside of the context of the conversation.

"Respect is like a transaction, things go out and things come in."

20 February 2009

Where is my plumbline?

Where is my heart?

For what will I work the next 10 years of my life?

What has meaning and adds value for myself and for others?

If I do not decide certain things for myself, others will try to decide for me.

If I do not make a plumbline, upon what will I gauge progress or level?

How do I define success?

WIKIPEDIA: A plumb-bob or a plummet is a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, that is suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line.

The instrument has been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians by bricklayers, masons, and carpenters to ensure that their constructions are "plumb", or perfectly upright.

And from the Bible: Amos 7:7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Amos?"
"A plumb line," I replied.
Then the Lord said, "Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

19 February 2009

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset
Matthew Parris in The Times December 27, 2008

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa, Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.
But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.
At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.
We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.
Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.
This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.
It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.
There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.
I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.
Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.
How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.
To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.
Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosophical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.
Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.
And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.


Matthew Parris joined The Times as parliamentary sketchwriter in 1988, a role he held until 2001. He had formerly worked for the Foreign Office and been a Conservative MP from 1979-86. He has published many books on travel and politics and an autobiography, Chance Witness, for which he won the 2004 Orwell Prize. His diary appears in The Times on Thursdays, and his Opinion column on Saturdays Read more from Matthew Parris

18 February 2009


(Greek: Auto-Nomos - nomos meaning "law" and auto meaning "self": one who gives oneself his/her own law)

autonomiā, from autonomos, self-ruling;
Various uses:
  • In computing, an autonomous peripheral is one that can be used with the computer turned off
  • Within self-determination theory in psychology, autonomy refers to 'autonomy support versus control', "hypothesizing that autonomy-supportive social contexts tend to facilitate self-determined motivation, healthy development, and optimal functioning."
  • In mathematical analysis, an autonomous ordinary differential equation is time-independent.
  • In linguistics, an autonomous language is one which is independent of other languages, for example has a standard, grammar books, dictionaries, literature etc.
  • In robotics "autonomy means independence of control. This characterization implies that autonomy is a property of the relation between two agents, in the case of robotics, of the relations between the designer and the autonomous robot. Self-sufficiency, situatedness, learning or development, and evolution increase an agent’s degree of autonomy.", according to Rolf Pfeifer.
  • In economics, autonomous consumption is consumption expenditure when income levels are zero, making spending autonomous to income.
How is autonomy, or self-rule, good?

In what ways is autonomy not good?

17 February 2009

Friends, birthday & art go well together.

Was whisked off to Waiheke island on Saturday for a rainy day tour of a sculpture walk and then to Te Whau, one of NZ's garden's of distinction. It was not the weather the girls had planned, but hey, there were no crowds!

My dad says zoos are best in rainy weather as the people stay in and the animals come out!

Enjoy the photos.

The best part was that we all decided we were going and that we were going to have fun and we did. The laughter was great and, though sore afterwards, no one got hurt in their slips or falls.

16 February 2009

Feeling Stress at work?

In many cases, the origin of the stress is something that cannot be changed immediately. Therefore, finding ways to help maintain good mental health is essential. There are many ways to be proactive in dealing with stress. In the workplace, you might try some of the following as suggested by the Canadian Mental Health Association:

Laughing is one of the easiest and best ways to reduce stress. Share a joke with a co-worker, watch a funny movie at home with some friends, read the comics, and try to see the humour in the situation.
Learn to relax, take several deep breaths throughout the day, or have regular stretch breaks. Stretching is simple enough to do anywhere and only takes a few seconds.
Take charge of your situation by taking 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to priorize and organize your day. Be honest with your colleagues, but be constructive and make practical suggestions. Be realistic about what you can change. (From: Canadian Mental Health Association, "Sources of Workplace Stress" Richmond, British Columbia) Read more.

Weekday stress busters

Monday: Organise your work habits

  • If mornings are rushed, try getting up five or 10 minutes earlier to add to your time. This can make a big difference to how your day begins.
  • Set your priorities before work gets under way. If you make a list be sure you make it realistic and do-able. A large leftover list will not help your stress levels.
  • If you can, work a little on large or daunting projects each time. This stops procrastination and gives you a sense of accomplishment. You may get so absorbed that the job gets done a lot more quickly than you had imagined.
  • Most of us have times during the day when we feel sluggish - work out what your lower productivity time is and schedule easier tasks during that time.
  • Get into the habit of setting aside time for processing email. If you don't want too many interruptions, switch your phone on to voice mail and make some time for calling people back.
  • Build some time into your daily schedule for unexpected events or interruptions.

Tuesday: Create a harmonious work environment

Stress can result from our physical environment - too much noise, too much mess, a disorganised workspace, too much stimulation, not enough stimulation. Find the cause of the stress and take action. You may not be able to get rid of the problem entirely, but you can do something.

  • Organise your workspace. Make time each day to put your desk in order -clearing the clutter helps to put your thoughts in order too.
  • Have fresh flowers or a plant in your office.
  • Pictures of peaceful scenes, photos of loved ones or a framed print or poster by a favourite artist will give your workspace a feeling of warmth.
  • Check your light source - you may need a desk lamp - or get more natural light by shifting your desk around.
  • Is your computer station set correctly? Do you have a comfortable chair? (Don't forget to take frequent short breaks if you are using a computer constantly). A cushion for your chair may add to your workday comfort.
  • Talk to your supervisor or someone you trust/ organise a meeting to discuss problems that arise from stressful work practices or relationships.

Wednesday: Shrink your worries

Worries have a way of building up and leaving you with a general sense of anxiety and discomfort. Do something with your worries rather than allowing them to intrude on your day-to-day living. Here are some simple suggestions to tackle worries:

  • Question the worry - whose problem is it? Is it really yours?
  • Talk it out - share your problem with someone you trust.
  • Write it down - writing often helps to put things in perspective.
  • Exaggerate it - picture the worst that can happen. How likely is that?
  • Distance it - imagine a few years from now. How much will it matter then?
  • Attack it - take the first step to solving the problem.
  • Breathe it away - inhale deeply, exhale with a sigh a few times. Let your tension go as you breathe out.

Sometimes stress causes us to not see things clearly.

Thursday: Self -talk and stress

We are all in constant dialogue with our brain, commenting on how we feel about things. Self-talk generally helps us to make sense of our world and helps to get our thinking straight.

Some self-talk is negative, reinforcing beliefs and attitudes we may have held for a long time.

These inner conversations are often 'global', eg. 'This always happens to me' rather than particular, eg.
'This isn't too good, but tomorrow things will look different.'

  • Perfectionism is a self-talk 'biggie', as is comparing our performance with others. Be kind to yourself and set realistic goals and standards.
  • If you have a major attack of the 'I should haves', stop, take a deep breath and change the self-talk tape to one that is fair on you.
  • Cultivate the habit of thinking "what's right with the world?" instead of focusing on what's wrong. Remind yourself daily of the people and things in your life that are good.

Friday: Quick and easy stress busters

Handling stress isn't just about dealing with big problems - if you handle small frustrations they won't build up into big hassles. 'All work, all day' is a great formula for stress and doesn't add to productivity.

Here are some things you can do at any time of the day:

  • Monitor your breathing. Most of us don't make good use of our lungs. If you start to feel stressed or anxious take several deep breaths -close your mouth, inflate your lungs and fill your stomach with air (imagine it's a balloon). Breathe out slowly.
  • Breathe in, thinking the word 'peace', pause, then breathe out thinking 'calm'.
  • Take short breaks - go for a walk, listen to music, daydream, take a tea-break, a lunch-time even!
  • Check your posture. Slouching is tiring. Stretch your limbs, take the stairs instead of the lift, and programme some exercise into your day, even if it's only five or 10 minutes. There is growing evidence of the beneficial effects of even mild exercise on mental health.
  • Avoid the temptations of too much caffeine or junk food when you're stressed.
  • Share a laugh with a colleague - laughter is one of nature's best stress busters.

See also: Mental health at work & 10 tips for managers

Original material provided by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. Edited by everybody, June 2005.

15 February 2009

Stress Reduction Strategy

Then take two aspirin and lie down!

Granny, by James Whitcomb Riley

Granny's come to our house,
And ho! my lawzy-daisy!
All the childern round the place
Is ist a-runnin' crazy!
Fetched a cake fer little Jake,
And fetched a pie fer Nanny,
And fetched a pear fer all the pack
That runs to kiss their Granny!

Lucy Ellen's in her lap,
And Wade and Silas Walker
Both's a-ridin' on her foot,
And 'Pollos on the rocker;
And Marthy's twins, from Aunt Marinn's,
And little Orphant Annie,
All's a-eatin' gingerbread
And giggle-un at Granny!

Tells us all the fairy tales
Ever thought er wundered --
And 'bundance o' other stories --
Bet she knows a hunderd! --
Bob's the one fer "Whittington,"
And "Golden Locks" fer Fanny!
Hear 'em laugh and clap their hands,
Listenin' at Granny!

"Jack the Giant-Killer" 's good;
And "Bean-Stalk" 's another! --
So's the one of "Cinderell'"
And her old godmother; --
That-un's best of all the rest --
Bestest one of any, --
Where the mices scampers home
Like we runs to Granny!

Granny's come to our house,
Ho! my lawzy-daisy!
All the childern round the place
Is ist a-runnin' crazy!
Fetched a cake fer little Jake,
And fetched a pie fer Nanny,
And fetched a pear fer all the pack
That runs to kiss their Granny!

14 February 2009

Object Love?

I'm an ardent Mac user and I drink Dr. Pepper whenever possible. I appreciate the design of Bose headphones, Subaru cars and quality bound books. I enjoy the feel of a fountain pen in my hand, good shoes on my feet and a well made backpack.

Saying all of that, I've seen a couple of funny words this week that caught my attention. One on it's own probably would have been passed over, but another reminded me of the first.

I saw a big CT scanning machine that had Emotion written on it. I assume the E stood for electromagnetic in the imaging process and the motion is all around the patient as they lie on a bed and are run through a donut. But to call it emotion?

And then, looking up some info for a Tungsten T I'm resurrecting, I saw that that particular model is labeled Lifecycle: Mature. Hmm. I've liked my Palm devices, as I enjoy the use of other gadgets, but to liken them to a living organism, to label them as mature?

People have named their cars for years. Some people name their computer and use voice commands to control their electronics. We personalise our home pages, themes and the look of our computers or screens. I've not yet seen the recent movie that addresses substituting an object for a person in a relationship, but I've heard there are some valuable and powerful point made in the film.

Sometimes, I must admit, gadgets or cars or things are easier to get along with, to understand, to pass time with than people, but there's gotta be a healthy and an unhealthy line there somewhere.

It's Valentine season. Go spend some time with someone you love and respect. Plan a picnic or game night or something that is not about money, entertainment or stuff, but just about people in meaningful relationship with each other.

Note: The chiShona language of Zimbabwe, has 21 words for soil and only one word for love.
So, you use the same word for your favourite flavour of ice cream as you do for you father or child. Some cultures and languages focus on survival and allow other things to sort themselves out.

Bad examples:

Welcome to Object Love. This blog is a collection of love letters to products that we can't live without. Not merely a chronicle of "good products", here we only document the best, the truly life-changing products.
Not much on it, but just an example that someone would use love in relation to an object.

Richard John Neuhaus

For almost half a century, the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, who died on Jan. 8 at age 72, stood against the conventional view that religion has no place in public life. The son of a Lutheran pastor (as he too was for many years), he became an antiwar and civil rights activist in the '60s and a leading religious conservative in the '70s, jolted into that role by the troubling moral implications he found in Roe v. Wade. In 1990 he converted to Roman Catholicism, though he thought he was beyond easy categorization, describing himself as "religiously orthodox, culturally conservative, politically liberal and economically pragmatic."

And while he was a classic example of the public intellectual who wrote deeply and widely, the Richard Neuhaus I knew was also much more. He was first and foremost a wise and kind man, whose social and political activism was not a "substitute for religion." On the contrary, he always insisted that the true meaning of politics could not be grasped apart from the understanding that there are more important things . That is how he was able to be such a happy warrior, and a generous and loving one at that.

By Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington. In Time Magazine.

13 February 2009

Sabbath, Rest, Calm

Calming Down

Know your limits. You will know how much stress your body can tolerate when life’s challenges and demands are beyond your ability to cope. Your body must return, daily and weekly, to a state of calm. Simplify your life in order to reduce stress to a minimum. Take up relaxing and enjoyable hobbies. Take time to be in nature in order to get sunshine and fresh air. Sleep at least eight and a half hours per night. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and recreational drugs; they disrupt your body’s equilibrium. Do not take yourself too seriously.

How or where do you find calm in the midst of it all?

Photo by Mike Stemberg

Stop it! An Abrupt Approach

12 February 2009

Barack Obama and the Voice of God: Time

In the 1950s and '60s, God was a man named Alexander Scourby. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., of Greek immigrant parents and attended college in West Virginia, but he spoke in a "deep and resonant voice" (as Wikipedia puts it) and — here is the key point — with more than a touch of a British accent. Long after Britain had exhausted its resources in World War II and lost its empire, a British accent conveyed authority, dignity, power.

by Michael Kinsley in Time Magazine

In Hollywood, they sometimes refer to an omniscient but unseen narrator as a VOG, short for voice of God. Scourby was the leading VOG of his day, in documentaries like Victory at Sea and numerous commercials. His was the voice in the first ever recording of the entire Bible, made in the 1940s. At that time, it was as natural to assume that God spoke with a British accent as it was to assume that he had a beard — or, for that matter, that he was a he.

Scourby died in 1985, after at least two complete recordings of the Bible and one of the Koran. Yes, in those days, even the Prophet Muhammad had a British accent. So who is God today? The answer is clear: he is James Earl Jones. Jones' voice is best known for five immortal syllables: "THIS [pause] is CNN." Jones is also the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films. And his recording of the King James Version of the Bible has sold more than 400,000 copies. Jones' voice is even deeper and more resonant than Scourby's, but there is only a trace of a British accent. Jones is African American and sounds it.

The currently best-selling audio Bible, Inspired by ... the Bible Experience, has an all-star cast including Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and Forest Whitaker — all African American. Meanwhile, Jones' only real competition for the role of God — at least until Denzel Washington gets a bit older — is Morgan Freeman. Jones is the Old Testament God, fierce and forbidding. Freeman is the New Testament version, all wise and all knowing, to be sure, but more approachable. He has done it twice in movies, has been the VOG in commercials for Listerine and Visa cards, among other products, and was the inevitable choice as narrator for that excruciatingly adorable movie about penguins. Freeman told an Associated Press reporter a few months ago that he is "tired of playing God." Who can blame him? At least as Freeman plays him, God is a bit hard to take: so full of tough love and wry wisdom that you long to wear a wire and catch him soliciting $8 million bribes to admit you into heaven.

Brits and pseudo-Brits, in sum, have lost this franchise. If you're a casting director looking for a voice whose very timbre communicates authority, dignity, power, you might even go to Queen Latifah before you resort to Jeremy Irons. The reasons aren't hard to speculate about. The roots of this development go back at least to the 1930s and Paul Robeson's singing "Ol' Man River" in Showboat. The therapeutic notion that suffering confers dignity and authority has spread just as the suffering of African Americans over generations has become universally acknowledged. Above all, black American ministers have replaced British politicians, at least in perception, as the world's most eloquent public users of the English language. Our homegrown Martin Luther King Jr. has knocked Winston Churchill off his perch as the ideal.

What's most inspiring about this development is that it can't be faked. There is no element of affirmative action here. Sidney Poitier won't do. The point is not to be black but to sound black. And unlike the integration and near domination of African Americans in professional sports, this is not even a matter of genuine talent breaking down the floodgates. Plenty of white or white-sounding actors could say "THIS [pause] is CNN" as well as Jones. Most people who have heard that phrase a hundred times don't know whose voice it is and — unless the question is raised specifically — they aren't even consciously aware that the person is black. They relate to the voice on a subconscious level, and they associate it with power and authority.

Starting Jan. 20, the most powerful person in the world actually will be a black man. Although President Barack Obama is one of the greatest public speakers now practicing that art, he probably couldn't get hired as the anonymous voice-over spokesman for a brand of cereal because he doesn't sound black enough. Nevertheless, he is a beneficiary of this development. When God turned into an African American, it became less unthinkable that the President might be African American as well.

From Congo to Waitakere

I took some lovely ladies from the Congo to a university near their home today to enroll in English classes. They are sisters. No living siblings. No living parents.

They live together in a simple home at the end of a right of way with nice neighbours on each side of their house. They've learned how to put oil in the lawnmower and to cut their own grass.

One for the sisters goes for regular counseling sessions. They are both beautiful and pleasant, bright and keen to make the most of their new life in New Zealand.

They are refugees. I'm not sure what all they needed to seek refuge from. I'm not sure I want to know. They'll share those bits of their past as they grow more comfortable with me and with that history in a distant land.

I also do not know much about their journey to New Zealand; the route they took and the stops along the way. How many unknowns there must have been!

People choose to move to different countries. Sometimes they choose based on opportunities or on research or possibly with a sense of adventure of something they saw in a film. These ladies may have had no choice at all as to which country they landed in. They may have been in a refugee camp and just all too eager to settle anywhere far away.

So here they are and I'm helping them to settle in. We go to appointments with government services. We'll learn the way by train to their doctor. I'll take over some flowering bushes and some tomato plants for their sunny spots around their house.

They've promised to make ugali for me and we laughed today about what to eat with it. I don't like cooked greens. Never have, even when Granny made them when I was a child. One of the sisters also does not like them, so it's not cultural but personal and I don't have to eat them!

I'll show them how to bake cookies and make salads for potluck dinners with hopes they;ll someday fit in to the point of being included in such events. I'll talk to them too about flossing and the best radio stations for weather reports. We'll travel by bus so as to equip them for independence here.

When I accepted responsibility for them I was told there had been much distrust and some awkward situations. Hmm. From the day I met them we have clicked well and have respected each other. Not sure what the problem was but I don't see anything difficult in these ladies.

We've compared vocabulary as I speak a smattering of a few African languages. We have many verbs and nouns in common and laugh at the differences in grammar. They are fluent in French, Swahili and their mother tongue. Their spoken English is not bad at all and we converse quite well without an interpreter.

From Central Africa to West Auckland. What a journey. In a sense they have not really arrived yet as they are still on the margins. I hope to accompany them as they ease in to the community more and more and chart their own way ahead toward meaningful relationships, employment and enjoyment of all New Zealand can be for them.

11 February 2009

Words & Images

Words are great!
I love words.
I often visualize the words I speak or hear as a sort of teletype.
I'm odd, but YOU came to read this blog. So what does that say about YOU?

But, a word that must be spelt or understood in context to get the right meaning, what of images, pictures, visual cues as to meaning?

Is a picture worth a thousand words?
The quote is sometimes attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, who said "Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours," or "A good sketch is better than a long speech".

Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote (in Fathers and Sons in 1862), "A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound."

So, if an image conveys more than words for some people, how would you illustrate the word potential?

I think of a baby, or a fresh green sprout, new buds on a tree, a paint box, a fresh clean journal or a newly filled fountain pen. How about a globe, a journey, an empty suitcase?

What comes to your mind? Add to the conversation!
When you think potential, what picture comes to mind, what image?

If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words - is a video worth more?

IF you know this song, it says something about your age!

IF, by David Gates

If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you?
The words would never show, the you I've come to know . . .

If a face could launch a thousand ships, then where am I to go?
There's no one home but you, you're all that's left me to . . .

And when my love for life is running dry,
You come and pour yourself on me . . .

If a man could be two places at one time, I'd be with you,
tomorrow and today, beside you all the way . . .

If the world should stop revolving, Spinning slowly down to die,
I'd spend the end with you when the world was through . . .

Then one by one the stars would all go out . . .
Then you and I would simply fly away!

10 February 2009


"We resist liminality, thinking despairingly that it is a meaningless abyss devoid of God's presence..."

(Wilkie Au's new book, The Discerning Heart p.209)
Found this on my friend Cheryl's blog.

Read more about liminality, that space between in and out, that threshold upon which we can stand but not live.
Past Conversations@Intersections post on liminality.


Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person;
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out,
just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.

–George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

09 February 2009

Recent Geocaching Adventures & Travels

This is where I've been and we don't get great wifi coverage out there. Cuts back on my blogging time, but it's good for the soul! I go geocaching for the views, the adventure and the laughter!

08 February 2009

Google Earth Goes Underwater

By Andrew C. Revkin

in IHT Tech
Two and a half years ago, the software engineers behind Google Earth, the searchable online replica of the planet, were poised to fill an enormous data gap, adding the two-thirds of the globe that is covered by water in reality and was blue, and blank, online.

But until then all of the existing features on Google Earth — mountains, valleys, cities, plains, ice sheets — were built through programming from an elevation of zero up.

"We had this arbitrary distinction that if it was below sea level it didn't count," recalled John Hanke, the Internet entrepreneur who co-created the progenitor of Google Earth, called Keyhole, and moved to Google when the company bought his company in 2004.

That oversight had to be fixed before the months and months of new programming and data collection could culminate in the creation of simulated oceans. On Monday, the ocean images will undergo the most significant of several upgrades to Google Earth, with the new version downloadable free at earth.google.com, according to the company.

Another feature, Historical Imagery, provides the ability to scroll back through decades of satellite images and watch the spread of suburbia or erosion of coasts.

Click a function called Touring and you can create narrated, illustrated tours, on land or above and below the sea surface, describing and showing things like a hike or scuba excursion, or even a research cruise on a deep-diving submarine.

The two-year push to fill in the giant blue blanks came through a chance encounter in March 2006. Hanke was poised to receive an award from the Geographical Society of Spain for his pioneering work building Web-based models of the planet.

But he was preceded at the dais by Dr. Sylvia Earle, a former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was there to receive her own award for deep-sea exploration and popularizing ocean science.

She turned to him and said she loved the way Google Earth allowed users to see how one thing relates to another on the planet. But Earle bluntly added: "You've done a great job with the dirt. But what about the water?"

Since that time, Earle and Hanke have been partners in the long effort, as she explained, "to make sure the mountains don't end at the beach."

She assembled an advisory panel including Jane Lubchenco, the Oregon State University marine biologist since chosen by President Barack Obama to head the oceanic and atmospheric agency.

"I've been struggling my whole life to figure out how to reach people and get them to understand they're connected to the ocean," Earle said.

"But I go to the supermarket and still see the United Nations of fish for sale," she said. "Marine sanctuaries are still not really protected. Google Earth gets all this information now and puts it in one place for the littlest kid and the stuffiest grownup to see in a way that hasn't been possible in all preceding history."

By choosing among 20 buttons holding archives of information, called "layers" by Google, a visitor can read logs of oceanographic expeditions, see old film clips from the heyday of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and check daily navy maps of sea temperatures.

The replicated seas have detailed topography reflecting what is known about the abyss and continental shelves — and rougher areas where little is known.

07 February 2009

The Whale Rider

Whale Rider is a 2002 film directed by Niki Caro, based on the 1987 novel The Whale Rider by New Zealand Māori author Witi Ihimaera. The world premiere was on September 9, 2002, at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The movie's plot follows the story of Paikea Apirana ("Pai") at the age of 12 who is the only living child in the line of the tribe's chiefly succession because of the death of her twin brother and mother during childbirth. By tradition, the leader should be the first-born son — a direct patrilineal descendant of Paikea, the Whale Rider — he who rode atop a whale from Hawaiki. However, Pai is female and technically cannot inherit the leadership.

Pai's grandfather Koro Apirana, or Old Paka as his wife Nanny Flowers calls him (an affectionate corruption of "old bugger," per the book), the leader of the tribe, is initially angry at losing his grandson and being left with a "worthless" female. While he later forms an affectionate bond with his granddaughter, carrying her to school every day on his bicycle, he also resents her and blames her for many of the troubles facing the tribe. At one point Pai decides to leave with her father because her grandfather is mistreating her. She finds that she cannot bear to leave the sea and returns home. Pai's father refused to assume traditional leadership; instead he moved to Germany to pursue a career as an artist. Pai herself is interested in the leadership, learning traditional songs and dances, but is given little encouragement from her grandfather. Pai feels that she can become the leader although there's no precedent for a woman to do so, and is determined to succeed.

Koro decides to form a cultural school for the village boys, hoping to find a new leader. He teaches the boys to use a taiaha (fighting stick). This is traditionally reserved for males. So Nanny tells Pai that her second son, Pai's uncle, had won a taiaha tournament in his youth while he was still slim, so Pai secretly learns from him. She also secretly follows Koro's lessons. One of the students, Hemi, is also sympathetic, but Koro is enraged when he finds out, particularly when she wins her fight against Hemi. Koro's relationship with Pai erodes further when none of the boys succeed at the traditional task of recovering his whale tooth from the ocean — the mission that would prove one of them worthy of becoming leader.

Pai, in an attempt to bridge the rift that has formed, invites Koro to a concert of Māori chants that her school is putting on, as her guest of honor. Unknown to all, she had won an inter-school speech contest with a touching dedication to Koro and the traditions. However, Koro was late, and as he was walking to the school, he notices that numerous right whales are beached near Pai's home. The entire village attempts to coax and drag them back into the water, but all efforts prove unsuccessful; even a tractor doesn't help because the rope breaks. Koro sees it as a sign of failure and despairs further. He admonishes Pai against touching the largest whale because "she has done enough damage" with her presumption.

I'll not spoil the rest of the story, but leave it to you to find resolution there can be.

While the plot of the book is basically the same, it pays less attention specifically to Pai/Koro, and mainly focuses from a perspective of narration by Pai's uncle; in the film, Pai herself is the narrator. It clearly expresses the deep resentment felt by her grandfather, and Pai's longing to gain his respect as a rift opens between them. From Wikipedia

06 February 2009

Newspaper: Birth & Death

Excerpts from The day the newspaper died.
by Jill Lepore, January 26, 2009, The New Yorker

Newspapers date to the sixteenth century; they started as newsletters and news books, sometimes printed, sometimes copied by hand, and sent from one place to another, carrying word of trade and politics. The word “newspaper” didn’t enter the English language until the sixteen-sixties. Venetians sold news for a coin called a gazzetta. The Germans read Zeitungen; the French nouvelles; the English intelligencers. The London Gazette began in 1665. Its news was mostly old, foreign, and unreliable. Because early newspapers tended to take aim at people in power, they were sometimes called “paper bullets.” Newspapers have long done battle with the church and the state while courting the market. This game can get dangerous. The first newspaper in the British American colonies, Publick Occurrences, printed in Boston in 1690, was shut down after just one issue for reporting, among other things, that the king of France had cuckolded his own son.

James Franklin’s New-England Courant, launched in 1721, in Boston, marks the real birth of the American newspaper. It was the first unlicensed paper in the colonies—published without authority—and, while it lasted, it was also, by far, the best. The Courant contained political essays, opinion, satire, and some word of goings on. Franklin was the first newspaperman in the world to report the results of a legislative vote count. The Boston News-Letter contained, besides the shipping news, tiresome government pronouncements, letters from Europe, and whatever smattering of local news was bland enough to pass the censor. Franklin had a different editorial policy: “I hereby invite all Men, who have Leisure, Inclination and Ability, to speak their Minds with Freedom, Sense and Moderation, and their Pieces shall be welcome to a Place in my Paper.”

“The newspaper is dead, long live the newspaper!” has lately become the incantation of advocates of e-journalism, who argue that the twenty-first-century death of the newspaper hardly merits a moment’s mourning, since it is no death at all but, rather, a rebirth. Even if that turns out to be true—and you have to hope it is true—the digital newspaper could do with a better slogan. Invoking the hereditary succession of a divine line of kings to celebrate the zippy thrill of reading an RSS feed on your iPhone runs counter to the history of the newspaper. Our rulers do not rule over us for as long as they live and, when they die, their heirs do not inherit their titles.

Waitangi Day Today!

Waitangi Day is the national day of New Zealand. It is a public holiday held each year on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document, on that date in 1840.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, in a marquee erected in the grounds of James Busby's house (now known as the Treaty house) at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Māori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British citizens. There are significant differences between the Māori and English language versions of the Treaty, and virtually since 1840 this has led to debate over exactly what was agreed to at Waitangi. Māori have generally seen the Treaty as a sacred pact, while for many years Pākehā (the Māori word for New Zealanders of predominantly European ancestry) ignored it. By the early twentieth century, however, some Pākehā were beginning to see the Treaty as their nation's founding document and a symbol of British humanitarianism. Unlike Māori, Pākehā have generally not seen the Treaty as a document with binding power over the country and its inhabitants. In 1877 Chief Justice James Prendergast declared it to be a 'legal nullity', and it still has limited standing in New Zealand law.

Early celebrations

The signing of the treaty was not commemorated until 1934. Prior to that date, most celebrations of New Zealand's founding as a colony were marked on 29 January, the date on which William Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands. In 1932, Governor-General Lord Bledisloe and his wife had purchased and presented to the nation the run-down house of James Busby, where the treaty was signed. The Treaty house and grounds were made a public reserve, which was dedicated on 6 February 1934. This event is considered by some to be the first Waitangi Day, although celebrations were not yet held annually. At the time, it was the most representative meeting of Māori ever held. Attendees included the Maori King and thousands of Pakeha. Some Māori may have also been commemorating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, but there is little evidence of this.

In 1940, another major event was held at the grounds, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the treaty signing. This was less well attended, partially because of the outbreak of World War II and partially because the government had recently offended the Māori King. However the event was still a success and helped raise the profile of the treaty.

At Waitangi

Celebrations at Waitangi often commence the previous day, 5 February, at the Ngapuhi Te Tii marae, where political dignitaries are welcomed onto the marae and hear speeches from the local iwi. These speeches often deal with the issues of the day, and vigorous and robust debate occurs.

At dawn on Waitangi Day, the Royal New Zealand Navy raises the New Zealand Flag, Union Flag and White Ensign on the flagstaff in the treaty grounds. The ceremonies during the day generally include a church service and cultural displays such as dance and song. Several waka and a navy ship also re-enact the calling ashore of Governor Hobson to sign the treaty. The day closes with the flags being lowered by the Navy in a traditional ceremony.

TVNZ: In the past Waitangi has become a centre of protest during celebrations for

New Zealand's national day but this February 6 Ngapuhi organisers say it is time to turn the chaos into co-operation.

Ngapuhi organisers say while protest has been an integral part of Waitangi celebrations, it is time to move on and turn years of turmoil into positive outcomes for Maori.

Waitangi Day will be focused more on educating people on what the treaty means to Maori in the sense of true partnership with the Crown. This is how keepers of the Te Tiriti O Waitangi want to work, with discussion and friendship rather than a place for protest "We don't have time for that carry-on anymore," says Raniera Tau, Runanga O Ngapuhi chairman.

"I mean the political parties attend and they attend like anyone else. We have interest in the PM of the country and we want to talk to the ministers but in terms of building a profile we are not interested in that sort of thing in the atmosphere that we are creating."

Adding to the profile of unity is the return of Kingitanga to Waitangi and the first visit by Kingi Tuheitia. Among those welcomed back into the fold is the Governor General, naval personnel, politicians and the media.

Kingi Taurua, from Te Tii Marae - Waitangi's lower marae -said that while there was a place for protest and political debate at Waitangi Day observations, it should not be at the expense of looking forward.

"We want to have a festival rather than everything be serious.

Elsewhere in New Zealand

In recent years, communities throughout New Zealand have been celebrating Waitangi Day in a variety of ways. These often take the form of public concerts and festivals. Some marae use the day as an open day and an educational experience for their local communities, giving them the opportunity to experience Māori culture and protocol. Other marae use the day as an opportunity to explain where they see Māori are and the way forward for Māori in New Zealand. Another popular way of celebrating the day is at concerts held around the country. Since the day is also Bob Marley's birthday, reggae music is especially popular. Wellington has a long running "One Love" festival that celebrates peace and unity. Another such event is "Groove in the Park", held in the Auckland Domain before 2007 and at Western Springs subsequently. Celebrations are largely muted in comparison to those seen on the national days of most countries. There are no mass parades, nor truly widespread celebrations. As the day is a public holiday, and happens during the warmest part of the New Zealand summer, many people take the opportunity to spend the day at the beach - an important part of both the Māori and Pākehā cultures.

Elsewhere in the world

In London, United Kingdom, which has one of the largest New Zealand expatriate populations, a tradition has arisen in recent years to celebrate Waitangi Day. On the closest Saturday to February, Kiwis participate in a pub crawl using the London Underground's Circle Line.

Although the stated aim is to consume one drink at each of the 27 stops, most participants stop at a handful of stations, usually beginning at Paddington and moving anti-clockwise towards Temple. At 4 p.m., a large-scale haka is performed at Parliament Square as Big Ben marks the hour. Participants wear costumes and sing songs such as "God Defend New Zealand", all of which is in stark contrast to the much more subdued observance of the day in New Zealand itself.

In many other countries with a New Zealand expatriate population, Waitangi Day is celebrated privately. The day is officially celebrated by all New Zealand embassies and High Commissions.

See NZ History Online for more info.

I'll be in West Auckland at a Marley festival and then to Manukau for Waitangi events and a Tiki Tane concert. Later we'll watch The Whale Rider on the beach in Takapuna. A full day!

05 February 2009

Symbiosis: relationships

Symbiosis is a close ecological relationship between the individuals of two (or more) different species. Sometimes a symbiotic relationship benefits both species, sometimes one species benefits at the other's expense, and in other cases neither species benefits.

Ecologists use a different term for each type of symbiotic relationship:

-- both species benefit
-- one species benefits, the other is unaffected
-- one species benefits, the other is harmed
-- neither species benefits
-- both species are unaffected

Do you have relationships with other humans or organisations that mirror any of these categories?

04 February 2009

Time & Appetite

A paradox has emerged in this new millennium: people have enhanced quality of life, but at the same time they are adding to their stress levels by taking on more than they have resources to handle. It's as though their eyes were bigger than their stomachs.

—David Allen, in Getting Things Done

A Difficult Birth

God be with the mother. As she carried her child may she carry her soul. As her child was born, may she give birth and life form to her own. higher truth. As she nourished and protected her child, may she nourish and protect her inner life and her independence. For her soul shall be her most painful birth, her most difficult child and the dearest sister to her other children. Amen.

From Michael
Leunig's A Common Prayer.

03 February 2009

Find a Film you Love!

At Clerkdogs, we believe that humans give the best movie recommendations. That’s why we’ve invented an entirely new engine powered by humans—not algorithms. Our unique database is so intuitive and conversational; it’s a lot like interacting with a great clerk in a top quality-video store.

That’s no coincidence—our database is made up of literally hundreds of thousands of individual recommendations from dozens of former video store clerks. Our former clerks, who understand why customers like movies, have analyzed all the characteristics of movies to create a database that is much richer and deeper than the collaborative filtering engines. Our system was
designed to allow customers to interact with our database and to take control of their movie selection experience.

The movie genome project that powers Clerkdogs was started when I opened my first brick-and-mortar video store in 1985, and moved to the web in 1995 when I founded Reel.com. Two years ago I reunited the original writers from Reel.com to create this revolutionary new movie recommendation site. We are located in San Francisco’s Mission District and currently have 10 full-time and 25 part-time employees.

We have designed this innovative search engine for the movie buffs who have seen so many movies that they’re having a hard time finding new ones (or old ones) that they will really love. I hope you find hundreds of great movies!

- Stuart Skorman, Founder, CEO and former video store clerk