An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
Archive of past entries

6 March 2005

Eight-point program to counter depression

1- Aerobic exercise daily.
2- Cold shower or swim once daily.
3- Don't eat alone.
4- Sleep regular hours and arise early.
5- Clean up your office.
6- Sing out loud or shout into a pillow for five minutes a day.
7- Contact old friends from whom youíve been separated.
8- Work with a mantra or counseling "direction" or affirmation.

5 March 2005

"The greatest good you can do for another is not to share your riches but reveal to him his own."

-Benjamin Disraeli

4 March 2005

Radio telescopes look at radio waves that come from far-away heavenly objects, just the way visual telescopes look at the ordinary light that comes from the sky. In 1967, Jocelyn Bell was an astronomy grad student at Cambridge, operating a radio telescope. She noticed that intermittently there was fleeting noise in the signal, and was curious enough and industrious enough to investigate what could be producing it.

Within a few months she had nailed down the source: a radio signal that bleeped very accurately every 3.7 seconds and came from a single point in the sky. No one had any idea what could be producing the signals. Stars are much too big to do anything that fast. Bell guessed the signals might be radio beams from an extraterrestrial civilization, and she whimsically dubbed the source LGM, for "little green men." More formally, it became known as a pulsar.

Within a year, theorists had figured out what the source was. All stars collapse violently when they run out of nuclear fuel. The collapse can create a neutron star. The entire mass of a star gets shrunk down so itís just a few miles across. All matter we know of is made of atoms, which are mostly empty space. Neutron stars are made of neutrons, with all the empty space squeezed out. A teaspoonful of neutron star stuff weighs a billion tons. Because neutron stars are so small, they can spin very fast and still not violate Einsteinís dictum, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. The neutron star that Bell discovered is spinning around every 3.7 seconds, and produces a radio beacon that sweeps by us once in each revolution.

(Baade and Zwicky actually had predicted the existence of neutron stars as early as 1934, but their idea was considered so far out that no one took them seriously enough to actually look for them in the sky.)

Since 1967, many thousands of pulsars have been discovered, studied and catalogued. But last week, came the report of a new kind of pulsing radio object. It is located near the center of our galaxy and turns on for 10 minutes out of every 77. It is too powerful to be a pulsar. What is it? Are there more of them?

3 March 2005

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

- William Butler Yeats

2 March 2005

In Listening for God, Howard Lesnick cites a variety of spiritual teachers who have spoken to him, despite the fact that he is not a "believer" in any traditional sense.  His own eloquent accounts of his experience are frequently as inspiring as the teachers he cites.

From his introduction: "My goal is to invite you to try on the spectacles with which I see the world and ask yourself to what extent they fit you, rather than seek to prove to you that you cannot responsibly refuse them."

"Much of what I want to write about can be more accurately evoked than fully described, evoked through images and, indeed, through silence. Discernment can be aided by silence, and can too easily be overwhelmed by a tidal wave of discourse."

A citation from Abraham Heschel, on infusing everyday life with a sense of wonder: "There is no worship, no music, no love, if we take for granted the blessings or defeats of living.  No routine of the social, physical, or physiological order must dull our sense of surprise at the fact that there is a social, physical, or physiological order.  [Our goal is] to experience commonplace deeds as spiritual adventures, to feel the bidden love and wisdom in all things."

I didn't realize that my receptiveness to Rabbi Heschel's message was veiled by a hint of pomposity in its deliverance until I read  Vanessa Ochs expressing a parallel sentiment more directly from her experience: "I knew what the sanctified life was not.  Not a life filled with more rituals, more scrupulously observed.  Not more praying.  Not becoming a better person, being more charitable, more concerned with everyone else's pains.  Sanctifying had something to do with a sense of constant wonder Ė feeling gratitude and finding significance everywhere, in every action, relationship and object."

1 March 2005

Jane Brody writes on personal resilience in her Personal Health column:

Resilience. Call it what you will - the ability to weather stresses large and small, to bounce back from trauma and get on with life, to learn from negative experiences and translate them into positive ones, to muster the strength and confidence to change directions when a chosen path becomes blocked or nonproductive....

Being resilient does not mean a life without risks or adverse conditions but rather learning how to deal effectively with the inevitable stresses of life....

Children need to learn that they are capable of finding their way on their own. Parents who are too quick to take over a task when children cry "I can't do this"...are less likely to end up with children who can stand on their own two feet...and cope effectively with unavoidable stresses...

It is possible to learn to be more resilient at any age: ... Take a chance on change if jobs, habits or activities you've long pursued are no longer satisfying or efficient. Change is frightening to people who lack resilience, but those who try it usually find that they land on their feet, and that fosters resilience. And if a new path does not seem to be working out well, change again....

Seek out activities that elevate your spiritual life and nurture your inner strength: for example, art, music, literature, religion, meditation, the great outdoors.

28 February 2005

i mean that the blond absence of any program
except last and always and first to live
makes unimportant what i and you believe;
not for philosophy does this rose give a damn

-e e cummings