July 13th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

What a morning this is!!   Enchantment abounds.   The fog has drifted away, leaving us in the land of fairies.  The sun is shaking everything awake.

I am feeling bliss this morning, and absorbing a new learning.    When I had an acupuncture session this week, she put the needles in, and left the room.  When she came back in, she said my energy had risen, but my pulse felt "irritated."   Well, I was lying there, thinking irritating thoughts, rather than beautiful, healing ones.  What a lesson this is.  We all know our thoughts affect us.   There is nothing new there, but this was immediate feedback as to how true that is.  I just keep thinking of it, as thoughts whirl through, and each time, I start to stumble, I place a statue of serenity in place.

That doesn't mean you are not going to hear about Bush today.  I can only be so "good," but it does mean I am more aware, and when I body bash with Bush, I immediately put fountains of flowers in place.

A beautiful summer day to all, unless you are on the other side of the ball, and, then, a wintery call.  
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Appreciation and Gratitude!!

"Generally, appreciation means some blend of thankfulness, admiration, approval, and gratitude. In the financial world, something that "appreciates" grows in value. With the power tool of appreciation, you get the benefit of both perspectives: as you learn to be consistently thankful and approving, your life will grow in value."

Doc Childre and Howard Martin,
The HeartMath Solution

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Courtesy of Petra!!

Petra sends us the German view of Bush, and his 15 million dollar barbecue.  Actually, that is peanuts compared to what he has cost our country.  Maybe he should stay over there.

The protests have begun, too. At University Square in nearby Rostock, protesters tell Bush where he really belongs.

The World's Most-Expensive BBQ

By Carsten Volkery and Björn Hengst

US President George W. Bush starts a two-day visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday in her parliamentary district near the Baltic Sea. The two leaders will talk foreign policy and hope to bond during an expensive country barbecue.

Trinwillershagen in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will be receiving an illustrious guest Wednesday night.
Trinwillershagen in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will be receiving an illustrious guest Wednesday night.
At first glance, nothing distinguishes the visit by US President Bush to eastern Germany from his earlier trips: Mysterious airplanes land at regional airports, commando divers examine the local pond, a warship lies at anchor on the Baltic Sea coast, garages are cleared out on police orders and even the manholes are being welded shut.

And yet everything is supposed to be different this time. Bush himself is said to have felt the security measures during his last visit -- to Mainz in February 2005 -- were exaggerated. His motorcade drove through deserted streets -- an experience the president apparently doesn't want to make again.

That's why "the population is there too" this visit, as German government officials phrased it yesterday. The Americans expressly desired "being close to German citizens," the government officials said. An audience of a thousand people will attend the welcome speeches on the Hanseatic city Stralsund's Old Market. The members of the audience were selected by the townhalls and district offices of the area. Some citizens also sent in applications. About 50 hand-picked guests have been invited to the barbecue night with Bush and Merkel that will take place in Trinwillershagen, a town 30 kilometers (19 miles) away from Stralsund. According to government officials in Berlin, Harald Ringstorff, the premier of the eastern state Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, "will be there on many occasions as well." The member of Germany's Social Democrat Party (SPD) had criticized the preparations for the presidential visit in his state.


After Bush is welcomed by Ringstorff at Rostock airport tonight, he will drive directly to his hotel in the Baltic Sea resort Heiligendamm. The official agenda for the visit begins tomorrow morning in Stralsund. Bush will fly on to St. Petersburg, Russia for the G-8 summit on Friday morning.

"Deliberately relaxed"

The third visit between Bush and Merkel is said to be devoted mainly to developing the personal side of their relationship. Such a meeting will make it easier to talk on the phone later on, according to officials in Berlin. The barbecue night is therefore the unrivalled highlight of the trip -- the plan is for it to be "deliberately relaxed." Just as it's considered an honor to be invited to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, the country outing in Germany's "wild East" is intended as a gesture of friendship. The greater the rusticality, the greater the sense of mutual trust -- that's the statesman's maxim that Bush and Merkel are following. Dinner will consist of a 30 kilogram (66 lbs.) wild boar, as well as grilled deer and duck.

The idea for Bush to visit what used to be part of East Germany was born when the two leaders met for dinner in Washington in January. Bush asked Merkel about life in the former communist state, and she invited him to visit her parliamentary district in Western Pomerania, which includes the pretty town of Stralsund. Bush is looking forward to visiting the "political home" of the German chancellor, officials in Berlin said yesterday. Trinwillershagen was chosen as the barbecue location because Merkel has pleasant memories of another barbecue that was held there during her election campaign.

Trinwillershagen ought to satisfy Bush's new interest for the former East German state. The communist leadership used to invite official visitors to the area's model Agricultural Collective "Red Banner." Talk to Mayor Klaus-Dieter Tahn and you'll hear him praise the former showcase town of socialism. He likes to use the word "wonderful" -- the wonderful kindergarten, the wonderful footpaths, the wonderful sports club. How many things Trinwillershagen has to offer -- a shopping mall, a bank, a hairdresser, two market gardens, three doctors, seven farms. "I hope I'm not leaving anything out," the politically independent mayor says.

He could probably tell a little story about each of the town's inhabitants. About 770 people live in Trinwillershagen, the town that everyone just calls "Trin." The entire county, which includes three other towns, has a population of 1,400. "It's rural here," Tahn says, who would like to show the US president more of his town. But he doesn't know whether that will be possible. "Right now I don't even know when things will start."

"We don't need Bush"

But other locals aren't so keen. None of the town's inhabitants are jumping for joy over the important visitor. "We don't need Bush," says one female pensioner. Even the innkeeper Olaf Micheel, who will be in charge of the barbecue tomorrow, speaks about the visit in a conspicuously reserved manner. Of course the visit is a "unique opportunity" for the town, which can now present itself to the entire world, he says. But he adds: "I'm receiving the chancellor and her visitor." He speaks about Merkel highly respectfully, calling her "Dr. Merkel." All he says about Bush is that you don't have to agree with all his views in order to receive him as a guest.

It's not surprising that the US president, who is unliked in Germany for the war in Iraq and for the aspects of the Washington's war on terror like the detention camp in Guantánamo, is seen as a controversial visitor. But it seems Merkel could hardly have chosen an area where reservations about Bush are stronger than in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. A coalition between the SPD and the socialist Left Party has governed the state since 1998. Both parties have explicitly criticized Bush's foreign policy in the past. The socialists have been ranting against the visit for weeks. They're supporting a protest campaign whose motto is: "Not welcome, Mr. President." This has now led to a bizarre situation: When Ringstorff welcomes the US president at the airport, his deputy, Environment Minister Harald Methling from the Left Party, will be speaking at an anti-Bush rally.

Even though the demonstration routes have been changed, Bush will hardly be able to ignore the criticism directed against him. For example, the preacher at Stralsund's Nikolai Church plans to explain to the president that the church's altar is an anti-war memorial. And the mayor of Trinwillershagen wants to carefully suggest to his respected visitor that the world's problems can't be solved by war.

Searching for Allies

But Bush will likely tolerate the criticism, just as the inhabitants will tolerate the hassles that come with his visit. He knows how Germans tick by now. This is his longest visit to the country so far. The first time he stayed in Berlin for 19 hours; the second time he stayed in Mainz for only eight-and-half hours. This time he's staying for 36 hours -- and spending two nights on the Baltic Sea coast, in Heiligendamm's luxury hotel.

Bush's new interest in Germany isn't just due to Angela Merkel, with whom he has a more trusting relationship than he did with her predecessor Gerhard Schröder. It's also his lack of political support at home that's motivating him to look for allies abroad.

The dispute over Iran's nuclear weapons program will be at the center of the discussions. Bush is also turning to Merkel in the hope that she will be an ally and an expert advisor at the Group of Eight (G-8) summit scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg this weekend. There's certainly more on the agenda than just a barbecue, government officials emphasized on Tuesday -- Bush and Merkel will be working "very intensely" on their joint international agenda. After all, no one should end up with the impression that millions of euros are being spent just for a nice time next to the barbecue.

The cost issue has been the focus of public attention so far. State premier Ringstorff has personally addressed the question of money. Normally the region of Germany that hosts a visitor covers the costs. But in this case, officials in the state capital Schwerin point out that Merkel invited Bush to her electoral district on her own initiative. The poorest of Germany's regions won't be able to cover the costs of this visit by itself, Ringstorff argues. The issue becomes more controversial as regional elections will be held in two months. The SPD and Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats are accusing each other of abusing the visit for electoral purposes.

The costs were kept "as low as possible," government officials say. What that means in figures is €12 million ($15 million) or more. Government officials say the expense is justified because such visits add "an important accent to our foreign policy."

Ringstorff will probably have to wait a while to see any money. The city of Mainz is still waiting for the financial support it was promised by Germany's federal government. Bush's visit to Mainz cost €145,000 ($185,000); the federal government wanted to cover a third of the costs. The governor of Mainz has just sent the latest reminder to Berlin -- but up till now its only seen €6,000.

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In case you plan to drive in Germany, don't!!


How Not to Die on German Roads

German roads are unique. It seems like an opportunity for serious injury or death or a run-in with the law presents itself around every corner. A German reader sets you straight.

It might look easy, but driving in Germany is anything but.
It might look easy, but driving in Germany is anything but.
Germany is quite different from the rest of the world when driving a car (or even walking). It's a bit of a mix between southern Italy (impatient crazy folks, anything goes) coupled with driving in America (impatient bad drivers). But the major difference is that virtually every move made by drivers on German streets is regulated by the law. If there's not a sign allowing it, assume that it is verboten. Also, make no mistake about it, not everyone is equal on the German road.

To help visitors traveling to Germany this summer, I have put together a list of rules that should be heeded at all times:

  • Don't ever drive on the left lane of the Autobahn unless you really know what you are doing or unless you have a death-wish. People really do drive 200 kph or faster and don't like it when slower moving cars block their test tracks.
  • Don't ever pass a car on the right on the Autobahn. You'll either get a ticket or you'll die.
  • Don't give anyone "the finger." Germans are 100 times more likely to call the police or they will go completely crazy and hunt you down until you start crying.
  • Don't ever mess with BMW or Mercedes drivers. They always have the right of way. You might not get a ticket but you'll incur the wrath of those beautiful people in chic tweed jackets and well-coifed gray hair.
  • Never drive through an almost-red traffic light. You'll likely get a ticket or you'll die.
  • As a pedestrian, never walk when the signal is red. You'll get a ticket or you'll die.
  • Don't forget to use your turn signal, otherwise you'll get a ticket. It's not optional as it is in Italy or America.
  • Don't leave your car running when waiting for someone. You'll either get a ticket or passers-by will kick your car because you're polluting Germany.
  • Don't go too slow (less than 120 kmh) on the Autobahn. You might get a ticket or you'll die.
  • Don't compete with a German native for a parking space. You'll surely lose the battle and your rental car will be scratched for sure!
  • Don't park too close to another car or you might get cursed at.
  • Don't complain when a parking attendant charges you for another hour even if you're only 25 seconds late. Smile and pay!! German punctuality.
  • Don't even think of parking without paying, even if you have to walk 100 yards to the machine that dispenses the tickets. If you don't pay, you will get fined. Guaranteed.
  • Don't ever argue with a meter maid. You'll lose the battle and you might lose your appetite as well.
  • Don't drink and drive! I hear that German jails have even more rules.

My recommendation is to take public transport or taxis anywhere you go. You do want to remember your visit to Germany as a positive experience, right? Germany is a wonderful and friendly country. Just not while driving a car!

Submitted by Werner Wingen, originally of Munich, Germany but now living in Atlanta, Georgia

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The Power of Thought -

There is an article in the New York Times today by Andrew Pollack on a paralyzed man with a small sensor implanted in his brain, who is able to control a computer, television set,  and a robot using only his thoughts. 

Pollack reports:  

"Those results offer hope that in the future, people with spinal cord injuries, Lou Gehrig’s disease or other conditions that impair movement may be able to communicate or better control their world.

"If your brain can do it, we can tap into it,” said John P. Donoghue, a professor of neuroscience at Brown University who has led development of the system and was the senior author of a report on it being published in today’s issue of the journal Nature."

I feel this taps into my comments earlier on how thought affects our body.

I have also been thinking about a game like Warcraft, which is played on-line, with your friends in various locations.  You go on an adventure with your friends, who may be scattered around the world as Jeff's friends are.   I say the game is not  "real," and yet, what is real.   I used to think my thoughts were not "real," but it seems they have valid consequences in my body.  How then is it to play such a game where you bond with your friends and fight "evil"?  Might a game like this prevent war, and release that need to conquer and explore?   I don't have any answers, but I feel us entering the realms of science fiction with this, and I am curious.   There is so much to know and play with.   Last night, I felt my head reaching out trying to know just a little bit more.  The muscles around my occipital ridge were flexing.  It was like an unborn baby kicking at the mother's stomach, announcing, "This is an alert!   Soon I will be entering your world in a whole, new way."  

I want to continue exploring,  but I'm not sure Warcraft is my game.       Peacecraft, anyone?  

In person!   Sharing crumpets and tea, or carrot juice and seeds. 

I would say personal contact works for me, and yet, here I am, and there, you are.   Ah,  I see.    : )

How complex the ignition, and yet, the point is to ignite, unite.   Do that today in whatever form works for you.  The world is rich, and it's wearing a smile from me to you, and back again.  We are held in a smile, and that is the gift!
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Raise the minimum wage!

One wonders how our "leaders" have the gall to raise their own salaries, while ignoring those at the other end.   Ack!

Here is an editorial from the NY Times!

Earning That Congressional Raise

Published: July 13, 2006

Congress has just chopped a week off what already is a notoriously skimpy work calendar so that lawmakers will have extra campaign time at home this fall. The Capitol will recess at the end of September, leaving a world of unfinished business. You’ll be relieved to know, however, that among the House items already seen to was a pay increase — 2 percent over the current base salary of $168,500.

Pay raises are a classic bit of passive-aggressive legislative behavior in Washington: they’re automatic, unless Congress takes a vote to block them. In the past 16 years, the two houses have passively accepted 11 of the cost-of-living raises while actively rejecting five.

Although we have always believed that lawmakers should draw decent salaries, it is hard to have patience with a body that allows its own pay to rise automatically while systematically stonewalling any increase in the national minimum wage. The private-sector workers who need a pay raise the most have been waiting nine years and counting for some kind of increase to offset the rising cost of living. But there has been no sign of mercy yet from the Republican leaders. They warn of raising “the first rung of the economic ladder” beyond a noble striver’s reach — as if that rung is securely anchored at $5.15 an hour.

For a family of three, the minimum wage of $10,700, set in 1997, is now more than $5,000 below the federal definition of poverty. In that same time, a lawmaker’s salary rose $31,600— better than 20 percent — while the purchasing power of a minimum-wage earner deteriorated by 20 percent.

Is it fair to make comparisons between working poor in the private sector and the lawmakers with power over their salaries? Congress would be wise to face that question before voters do. House leaders have thus far ducked it in blocking floor votes on the minimum wage (with no comparable hesitation about a tax break for estates left by the wealthy).

A rise in the minimum wage to $7.25 did get to the Senate floor, but fell short. Democrats vow to fight the Congressional raise unless poor workers finally get a boost. This is a debate well worth having before members of Congress hurry off to brag to voters of the job they’ve done.

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Connecting -

Okay, this is it, for awhile, but this is too tempting to ignore.  Again, though we sit in our own homes, typing at keys, we are connecting and discussing in whole new ways.  This is an other editorial from the NY Times.


Save the Earth and Find a Hair Gel

Published: July 13, 2006

On most days, the online forums for Yahoo! Answers have all the gravity of hair salon chatter. Anyone can post a question about anything and anyone can respond. It’s a sort of democratization of authority, wherein utterly unqualified and generally anonymous poseurs can dole out counsel on questions about everything from losing weight to gaining wealth. So, it is interesting that a few arbitrarily selected thinkers of note have agreed to visit the site — not to answer questions, but to post their own.

It seems unlikely, but perhaps there really is someone out there who has an easy answer — somehow overlooked by experts — to the all-important question from one of those thinkers, Stephen Hawking. Mr. Hawking, the pre-eminent physicist and author of “A Brief History of Time,” asked, “In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race survive the next hundred years?”

Within days, more than 20,000 responses poured in. “Lighten up,” one responder chided Mr. Hawking — interesting advice for a theoretical physicist whose Web site says he works on “the basic laws which govern the universe.” But many others took the question in hand in thoughtful ways. A number of respondents put their faith in prayer. Some simply urged personal sacrifice. Responders even debated the value of saving life on earth.

Others echoed Mr. Hawking’s previous words on the subject back to him, suggesting it might be time to begin preparing a new home, perhaps a colony on the moon, or Mars. In recent years, the physicist has been anticipating the end of humankind’s ride on earth, once warning that a biological episode — a virus or other contagion — could make leaving the planet necessary.

Other celebrities who have contributed to the Yahoo site include Al Gore, who asked about what could be done to reverse the effects of global climate change, a well-received query to the masses that echoed the themes of his book “An Inconvenient Truth” and the movie of the same title.

Bono, the rocker and humanitarian, asked for ways to end world poverty, his project for the last several years. The number of responses to Bono — nearly 30,000 in five days — topped all others.

The celebrity queries may be intended merely to draw more people to Yahoo. And they may serve no other purpose than to get those visitors to use some of their time online to think about more than what movies to see or makeup to buy. That’s not such a bad thing for a medium that is often criticized as a way of wasting time. And it means there are no wrong answers.

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Joy of deserts - desserts are good too!

Charles Darwin:

    The Voyage of the Beagle, 1836

    In calling up images of the past, I find that the plains of Patagonia frequently cross before my eyes; yet these wretched plains are pronounced by all wretched and useless.

    They can be described only by negative characters; without habitations, without water, without trees, without mountains, they merely support a few dwarf plants.  Why then, and the case is not peculiar to myself, have these arid wastes taken so firm a hold on my memory?  Why have not the still more level, the greener and more fertile Pampas, which are serviceable to mankind, produced an equal impression?

    I can scarcely analyze these feelings: but it must be partly owing to the free scope given to the imagination.

    The plains of Patagonia are boundless, for they are scarely passable, and hence unknown: they bear the stamp of having lasted,  as they are now, for ages, and there seems no limit to their duration through future time.  If, as the ancients supposed, the flat earth was surrounded by an impassable breadth of water, or by deserts heated to an intolerable excess, who would not look to these last boundaries to man's knowledge with deep but ill-defined sensations?
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Evening -

I am calm tonight after a full day, a day of connection, observation, immersion, and embrace.

I leave tomorrow for Connecticut, and, because I leave here at 4, I won't get in there until  the wee hours, and then, it is a long ride to their home.  We rise early on Saturday to drive four hours to the ferry that will take us and the car to Nantucket, where we will be for a week.  I am excited!!!

I may not be able to check in until Saturday evening, or maybe even, Sunday morning, though knowing my addiction, I may not make it that long.  We'll see.  This is a big test.  It is my first time away for so long in a year, and it is my first airplane ride in the same amount of time.  Obviously,  I am hoping lymphedema will not be a problem, and I am thinking calm thoughts.

It feels odd to be leaving this cozy, comfy coast for the other one, and, naturally, our weather is perfect.  I saw my neighbor and they are leaving for two weeks.  She said she swore she would not sit here in fog through July and August this year, but there is no fog in the moment.  All is in rest.

There were moments in this where I feared I would not make it to the East Coast ever again.  Imagine my delight that I will, and that I am soon on my way.

Pleasant dreams, both day and night, to All!!