Saturday, March 27, 2004

Spring scenes at the Cambridge Fresh Pond Reservation

These photos were taken last Saturday afternoon under overcasted skies on the first day of Spring. They still resemble winter due to a storm that drop a significant amount of snow earlier that week. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy them. For comparison, take a look at the Winter Scenes taken three months earlier.

Several pointers if they are not obvious. Clicking on the main photo will display the next photo in the sequence. You can also use the navigational links above the photo to move back and forth. Alternatively, you can view the photos as a slide show by changing the number of second between pictures to anything other than zero. Click start to begin and stop to well, stop. However, due to caching, that might take a while the first time you do this. Lastly, you can scroll to and click on the thumbnail of the photo you want to see in the frame on the left. You can remove the thumbnail display if you choose. Of course, if your browser doesn't support frames, you won't have this option.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Unable to step into their shoes?

In yesterday's newspaper article Some victims' kin grateful for apology:

Former White House terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke's apology before a federal panel yesterday for the government's failure -- as well as his own -- to prevent the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has made him a hero to some relatives of those killed, the cofounder of a group that represents victims' families said.
...
"No, I don't blame the government. I blame the terrorists. I blame people who have such hatred for what our country stands for -- democracy and freedom and all the wonderful values that the United States stands for, what the Western world stands for," said Puopolo, who has moved to Miami since her mother's death. "I believe in God. So this event happened for a reason. If it happened to make us more aware and just wake up, then let all the people who were killed in 9/11 not die in vain," she said.
Is she that naive? If not for the actions of our government in the past, the attack wouldn't have happened. Do you see our neighbor Canada having these problems? Are they less democratic or free?

And what of terror? Terrorism is the weapon of the weak against the strong.. I'm sure if they could, they would rather launch WMD at us instead.

Oh, as for the question "How did the collapse of the buildings occur?", we know how, explained convincingly on Why the Towers Fell?

As for God, some survivors in Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero seriously asked what kind of God lets these things happen?

On the night of that fateful day, the previously scheduled broadcast of The Peacemaker:
Two trains crash somewhere in Russia, one carrying a nuclear payload. A nuclear explosion follows the crash and the world is on alert... However, White House nuclear expert Dr. Julia Kelly (Nicole Kidman) doesn't think it was an accident... Special Forces Intelligence Officer Colonel Thomas Devoe (George Clooney) doesn't think so either... Together they must unravel a conspiracy that goes from Europe to New York, to stop a terrorist who has no demands...
was pulled. Surely, the terrorist theme couldn't have been the reason. The movie had a happy ending. I think it wasn't shown due to the sympathic portrayal of the antagonist, something the network or government doesn't want the public to see.

If we had stepped into their shoes and see things from their point of view, we would have understood why they hate us and why they did it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Get it straight...

A famous labor arbitrator
recalls the seminarian who
went to his superior
and asked,“Father, may
I smoke while I pray?”
“No, my son, you may not.”
A brother priest said “Fool,
you put it the wrong way.
Watch this.” He went to the
superior and asked,“May
I pray while I smoke?”
“Of course, my son” was the
answer.

Two lovers once were
more poetic than precise:
“Meet me at the rise
of the moon” said the girl.
But in vain did she wait.
For she lived on a plain
where the moon rises soon
and he in the hills
where the moon rises late.
Result: no date.

Of the 600,000 words
available to you, take time
to choose them carefully
and string them with
precision. They can win you
more than smoking
privileges or romance.
They can help you to
achieve man’s most elusive
goal: turning a “no”
into a “yes.”

Newsweek
Published with the hope thst
this message will encourage just one
reader to speak as clearly as he
thinks. For reprints write: Director.
Responsibility Series, Newsweek.
444 Madison Avenue,N.Y..N.Y.10022.

Ching Ming (Clear and Bright)

In Chinese, 'ching ming' literally means clear and bright, and it is a day when a family, as one unit, pays their respects to their ancestors. The Ching Ming Festival, falls on the third lunar month of the Chinese calendar, is the day people visit cemeteries to honor their ancestors and beautify their graves. For that reason, it is sometimes called the grave sweeping day.

Ching Ming is a Confucianism tradition of ancestral worship based on the moral duty of "filial piety" and concept of "family", dated thousands of years ago. It is still observed in awe by most Chinese, especially the older generation, around the world.

Besides bringing all family members to the cemetery, they also bring along with them fresh flowers, steamed whole chicken, rice wine, fruits and steamed sponge cakes, as offerings to their ancestors.

At the cemetery, families will first of all, clean up the graves and then lay the offerings before their ancestors' tablets. Other rituals include the cleaning of the headstone and the lighting of joss sticks or incense and burning of paper money. Some however, will go the extra mile by burning replicas of cars, bungalows, cameras or any modern convenience you can think of as part of the offering! This is believed to make the soul happy and also to respect the ancestors, ensuring that they have enough to eat, have money to use and are comfortable in the after life.

Each member of the family will bow three times in front of the headstone with their hands clasped, the right fist cupped in the left hand. Some people wanted their body to be cremated when they died. Their ashes will be put into a jar and stored in temples located near the cemetery. In this case, relatives will visit these temples during this festival. All ritual offerings will be done in the temple.

In order to bring good luck to the family, they will sometimes have a picnic, at the grave site, after the rituals were over.
For our family, that was last Sunday morning at the Forest Hill Cemetery. It is a week earlier than usual due to my sister's departure to visit China next week. Snow was still on the ground, but we made the best of it.

As we were about to leave, Andrew noticed small stones placed on top of nearby tombstones and asked me why they were there. I told him I don't but will try to find out. It wasn't until the following day that I found an explanation on the Google Newsgroup soc.genealogy.jewish:
When a family member or close friend visits a grave, a rock is often placed on top of the tombstone to note that the grave was visited. This is a symbolic act of honoring the deceased by helping in their burial. It serves a similar purpose to the flowers or wreaths seen in non-Jewish cemeteries. If you see rocks on top of tombstones, please do not disturb them.
Well, that was odd. The rocks were on top of Chinese tombstones. So, unless this is a Chinese custom as well, they may have been left there by Jewish friends. Maybe, the graves actually belong to Chinese Jews. Chinese Jews have got to be a very small minority, especially here in the United States. And what are the chances that there are so many buried here in this particular lot?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Ultraprevention

I don't even remember when I requested this book but it arrived at my local library a couple of weeks ago. At the time, I wasn't up to reading about the subject. However, feeling a sense of obligation, I decided to do a quick read, and found it interesting enough to finish it over the weekend.

The main reason that I stayed with this book is the personal medical history of the authors Mark Hyman and Mark Liponis. Their stories, as revealed were compelling. It made what they have to say credible.

I've alway like books that explain how things work in a way that informs other aspects of my life. A great example of this is Issac Asmov's The Human Body, perhaps the subject of another post. The authors here provides a similar service in the area of health.

Here's an abridged Table of Contents:
Part I. The Myths of Modern Medicine
The Modern Myths Quiz
Myth 1: Your Doctor Knows Best
Myth 2: If You Have a Diagnosis, You Know What's Wrong with You
Myth 3: Drugs Cure Disease
Myth 4: Your Genes Determine Your Fate
Myth 5: Getting Older Means Aging
Myth 6: Fat Is a Four-Letter Word
Myth 7: You Can Get All the Vitamins You Need from Food

Part II. Ultraprevention: Controlling the Five Forces of Illness
Ultraprevention and the Five Forces of Illness
Force 1: Malnutrition, or Sludge
Force 2: Impaired Metabolism, or Burnout
Force 3: Inflammation, or Heat
Force 4: Impaired Detoxification, or Waste
Force 5: Oxidative Stress, or Rust
Testing the Five Forces of Illness

Part III. The Six-Week Ultraprevention Plan
The Six-Week Plan: Remove, Repair, Recharge
Step One: Remove -- The First Two Weeks
Step Two: Repair -- The Second Two Weeks
Step Three: Recharge -- The Third Two Weeks
Incidentally, one of the recommendations in "Step Three: Recharge ..." is to keep a journal. Kind of apropos, don't you think?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver

I found this over the weekend among some papers I have in storage. It is one of a series of ads from Newsweek years ago. The message is more of a personal reminder than it is an admonition for others:
Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver
“I’ll have
your parts
in two weeks.”
Four weeks later
the parts arrive.
“I’ll put it
in your hand the
minute you walk
in the door.”
But all you get
when you walk in
is a handshake.
“Dinner will be
at 6:00.”
But as you dip
your spoon in the soup,
the clock
strikes 7:45.
“The doctor
will see you
in five minutes.”
35 minutes later
you’re greeted cheerfully:
“And how are we today?”
Avoid a lot of grief and
inconvenience for the
people you deal with.
Think before you
announce how long
something will take—
and then
deliver what you
promised.
On time.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Madonna: Like a Prayer

I recognized the title song Like a Prayer. Except for that one, I didn't care for the rest on the album. That's probably because, I didn't even get past the sensuous plane. Left on my own, if I had listened to this album first, I wouldn't have gotten to enjoy Ray of Light. So far, one thumbs up, one down. What will it be for Madonna?