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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eleven Wishes for the New Year


Today I wish you good health. Time has taught me that if you have this… everything else will follow.

I also wish you love. Open your heart to the possibilities. To need and be needed is at the very core of our frail and human existence.

And, may you know spiritual wealth whatever your belief, and may you draw strength and comfort from a presence that is greater, yet part of us all.

Another wish to you is for material abundance so that you may always have nourishing food at your table; a home to protect and surround you filled with treasures that delight your heart, and may you always be able to share these blessings with others.

I also wish for you knowledge and inspiration every day of the year that propels you to seek out and learn something new as you write the passages of your life. And, like a good book may your novel be hard to put down and the end long in coming.

I wish you laughter, as it is easier to smile than it is to frown. Always cherish the joyful child that resides in you.

A wish for beauty - may you find it from the breath of a rose; the sparkle of sunlight on water; the song of a bird or the pink cheek of a child – it is truly in the beholder.

A wish for “forgiveness” so that you never go to bed at night angry at someone… for something. Forgive and move on.

Today I also wish you “time” – whether you beg it, borrow it, or steal it – remember to use it, not abuse it. May you have all that your heart desires to accomplish your fondest dreams. Fill the seconds between the minutes, and the minutes between the hours with your life well lived.

A wish for “grace”: May a measure of compassion, charity and charm be yours for the asking and this be the footprint you leave for others to follow.

And last but not least WISHES FOR WORLD PEACE: None of us have known this… may it truly become a reality in our lifetime.

Imagine… the possibilities.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing each of you a joyous holiday season


One of the finest choral groups in the world is the famous Choir of King’s College in Cambridge, England.

Considered the most accomplished representation of the British choral tradition, the choir was established by King Henry VI, founder of King’s College, Cambridge in 1441.

The choir, composed of some of the most outstanding young scholars in England, sings daily in the college’s chapel and over the years has toured and established a wonderful repertoire and an extensive discography of recordings.

Each year, the choir’s “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” is broadcast around the globe on Christmas Eve.

For your holiday enjoyment, the following video, which is comprised of all 16 members of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge provides an exquisite representation of their talent as they sing Gustav Holst’s, “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

May you and yours enjoy a most beautiful and peaceful holiday.

One Night of Peace on Earth


On December 24, 1914, a miracle of sorts took place on a field in Belgium. It happened just five months after the outbreak of World War I , and on that bitter cold night, men who were foes in battle became gentlemen who refused to fight.

Perhaps this legacy might be repeated and become long lasting in our lifetimes.

This is the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914. It is something to think about during these long, dark nights of winter.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus and NORAD is tracking his every move


For more than 50 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its predecessor, Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve flight, providing Santa, his reindeer, and sleigh, safe and unimpeded air space over North America and Canada, while sharing information with children, on Santa’s minute-by-minute progress around the globe.

NORAD is staffed by the good folks who keep our skies safe, 24 hours a day, seven days week with radar and intercept aircraft, and this time of year, they also invite you to their NORAD Tracks Santa web site where you can keep an eye on Santa’s Christmas flight right along with them in real time.

At the NORAD site, children, parents and caregivers will see a brief video of television personality, Kelly Ripa, as she explains the Santa tracking project, and on Christmas Eve day, you’ll come back to this same page and see images from the “Santa Cams” that have been pre-positioned around the world to catch glimpses of Santa, the reindeer and his sleigh.

You’ll also track Santa by downloading a free application of Google Earth, available from the NORAD web site, as well as following Santa's progress on NORAD’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

If you prefer, on December 24, you can send an email to a NORAD staff member at noradtrackssanta@gmail.com, and they will give you Santa’s last known location in a return email.


Plus, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center phone lines will be fully operational beginning at 4:00 a.m. MST on December 24, and you can call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to talk directly to a NORAD staff member who will tell you Santa’s exact location!

While you’re waiting for the big day, NORAD provides some fun and games during the countdown at "Santa’s Village," where you click on any shop in the village, and find an interesting activity that is inside each of the different buildings.

There are also special pages where you’ll see and hear Santa read the Night Before Christmas in a pre-recorded video, and learn lots of interesting facts about the big guy in red, everything from his sleigh’s technical data to how he gets down a chimney.

For Santa skeptics there is even a page where you can listen to the reading of a real letter, which was written to a newspaper in 1897 by eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, questioning the existence of Santa, and hear the newspaper editor’s touching and thoughtful reply.

There is also information about appropriate “Santa Snacks” to leave out for the main man, and pages about NORAD – "why" they track Santa and details on how the tracking is actually done.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website is a non-profit organization funded solely through corporate donations, and is fully staffed by an all-volunteer crew who love children, Christmas, and honor the memory of Colonel Harry Shoup, (Retired) USAF, who by serendipity in 1955, became NORAD’s very first Santa Tracker.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Changing the way we look at things


An interesting psychology experiment was performed by researchers from Harvard University covering what is termed as, “change blindness.”

Basically speaking it’s “information selection” – we see what we want to see, or better yet, what we (our brain) deems as important.

So much for cognitive correctness, I think you will find this brief video a fascinating mirror held up to the human condition. (No wonder eyewitnesses are oftentimes diametrically opposed in a courtroom, particularly if there is an eyewitness for the defense and one for the prosecution!)

It reminds me a bit of that old childhood game, “Telephone” – where you tell one person a secret and it goes around the room to everyone, and by the time it reaches the last person the original statement is often altered beyond recognition. (I would venture to say that would be called, “change hearing?”)

I doubt if young Robert Burns, the beloved Scottish poet (1759-1796) had change blindness in mind when he wrote: “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”

But, then again, maybe he did. You be the judge.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hubble Space Telescope images provide out of this world holiday cards


Your children can say, “Season’s Greetings” this year by printing out their very own free holiday cards while getting a bird’s eye view of the universe, and a fabulous science lesson at the same time from the good folks at Hubblesite.

Hubblesite is the home for all things about the Hubble Space Telescope, the world’s first space-based optical telescope named by NASA to honor American astronomer, Edwin P. Hubble (1889-1953), the man whose decade-long observations of our ever-expanding universe provided “Hubble’s Law,” the foundation for the “Big Bang” model of creation.

In addition to the free and unique holiday cards, children can further explore the Hubble web site and download magnificent wallpapers, tour the Hubble gallery seeing all the planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies that Hubble has captured with its lenses, get their own Hubble photos in three easy steps through the Hubble Print Shop, and even stop by Hubble’s Movie Theater where they can view a series of short videos that provide glimpses into Hubble's activities, discoveries and science, plus lots more fun-filled activities to spark the inquisitiveness of any junior astronomer.

Probably one of the best scientific exploration investments ever made, the Hubble was launched from the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990 at a cost of $1.5 billion, and was targeted for a 20-year visual discovery mission, orbiting the Earth at a low altitude of 380 statute miles every 97 minutes, and at a speed of 17,500 mph.

Faster than you can say “crab nebula,” children can also see snapshots of the Hubble Space Telescope in flight, and learn about Hubble’s “ground crew” - the people who make it all happen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wrapping up the holidays


Every year when the holidays come around, I like to unwrap gifts very slowly and carefully, thereby being able to save a considerable amount of beautiful wrapping paper, tissue, bows, and bags, which to my delight are recycled for the following year and sometimes even, two, three, or four. - In these eco-conscious times, that has been my small contribution to saving trees and the environment.

The other day, I came across an even better idea, the Japanese practice of “furoshiki.” It’s a traditional method of gift-wrapping, which in itself is almost an art form, but instead of using paper, one utilizes cloth cut in a large square.

This type of gift wrap can be brought into service year-after-year or fashioned into something else – what a deal! Trees are going to love you!

The video below provides a very simple step-by-step guide on how to wrap everything from books to bottles. Have fun – I know I will!