Category: Art

Affairs of the heart.

Warning: Emotional post coming up!

This is the second time I have used Affairs of the Heart as a title to a post. The previous time was January 20th, 2012 (and I’m republishing that post tomorrow). How time flies!

Indeed, in a little over two week’s time, on July 15th, all you dear, dear readers and I will be celebrating me writing this blog for seven years! Indeed, how time flies!

Yesterday, John Zande from down in Brazil, another great friend of this place, posted a comment that included a most powerful video. His comment was, “Not sure if this link will work, but this is a lovely story of an adoption that saved a life.

Sue Dreamwalker watched the video and responded:

John that was one amazing video, still wiping away tears.. Thank you.. Through our choices we CAN make Changes in our lives..:-)❤

I then followed Sue with this comment, written at 05:45 local time (PDT) yesterday:

John, Jean awoke just a few moments ago and I have just played your video in front of us both. It is so beautiful and important that I want some time to fully compose my response. Plus Jean and I need some time to stop weeping!

Just had this idea to feature your video and my reply as tomorrow’s post.

Thank you, John, for sharing this. Thank you so much.

Even if you watched this video yesterday do watch it again before continuing. Same applies to those that haven’t yet watched it. Do that now!🙂

So now we head for my emotional response to that video.

Change is inevitable. Another word for change would be time. Time is the most fundamental principle of the Universe. Call it the Arrow of Time. It flows only in one direction. From order to disorder.
Or to put it in the words of physics (my emboldening in 2.2):
en·tro·py
ˈentrəpē/
noun
noun: entropy; plural noun: entropies; symbol: S
  1. 1.
    Physics
    a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
  2. 2.
    lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.
    “a marketplace where entropy reigns supreme”
    synonyms: deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, collapse; More

Entropy – “the gradual decline into disorder.

It has to be that way. For evolution is a product of the decline of one variant of life (plant, animal, insect, higher order ‘animals’, etc. ) and a new aspect of that life emerging (or not). That’s how it has to be for the beauty of life, the beauty of life in all its forms (even including politicians!😉 ). Life is a function of a “gradual decline into disorder“.

I’m not a religious person, nor is Jean, and do not believe in any form of afterlife. When I die that’s it.

I was born in 1944. I am ageing. I have suffered some brain atrophy that means that my recall is terrible. I know that the ageing process is going to continue. It scares me. At least it motivates me to keep as physically and mentally fit as I can.

I have tried hard most of my life to stay fit, physically and mentally. I’m only now aware of the reward of such an attitude.

But I haven’t been emotionally fit. In the sense of not truly knowing who I am and what my values are. That darkness was illuminated for me in the Summer of 2007, thanks to Jon.

That very moving video of Eric and Peety speaks of Eric being saved by Peety. I so deeply understand Eric.

For in December, 2007, just a few months after Jon (as in being the best we can be) made me fully aware of my distorted view of myself I travelled out to Mexico and met Jean and all her dogs.

Jean has saved me. Directly from the love, companionship and  intimate friendship that she offers me. But Jean has also saved me indirectly. By that I mean from me living my daily life these last nearly ten years surrounded by the most beautiful dogs that one could imagine. Those dogs, each one of them in their own special way, also offering me love, companionship and intimate friendship.

Prior to December, 2007 I didn’t know how to feel my true emotions and, in consequence, didn’t know how to express them. Jean and the dogs have enabled me to feel my true emotions, and to express them.  Dozens of things pain me and it’s rare day when I don’t have the odd weep or two. However, dozens of things please me each day and now bring out a laugh, or a giggle. Even better, dozens of times each day I am loved by our dogs and the gift that goes with that love is me feeling so beautifully accepted; accepted in an utterly unconditional manner.

The love given to me from our dogs and the love from my beautiful Jean make it so easy for me to be good to myself. That love, from Jeannie and the dogs, has been a gift to me beyond my imagination.

I have hanging on my office wall a framed print of a poem by Roy Croft. I gave it to Jeannie on the first anniversary of our marriage. I want to share Roy Croft’s words with you. For they so beautifully describe the gift of love I receive from Jean. But in a way that I suspect Mr. Croft didn’t imagine when he first penned his poem, his words also so beautifully describe the gift of love I receive from our dogs.

ooOOoo

“Love” by Roy Croft

I love you,

Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

oo

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

oo

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

oo

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

ooOOoo

If you have read my post through to the end, thank you!

Solace.

The stranger the times the more we need to ‘ground’ ourselves.

Without doubt these are incredibly strange and unsettling times. For the United Kingdom, for the USA, for the British Commonwealth, for Scotland, for Gibraltar; and for many other places.

When we are faced with unsettling periods then it is essential to ‘ground’ ourselves, and there are many effective ways of doing this.

One way that always works for me is to gaze into a clear, night sky. The night sky over one’s head is captivating beyond words. Perhaps I should have written that it is captivating beyond my words.

Not so for Sue Dreamwalker. Just read this most beautiful poem that Sue published a little over two weeks ago. Republished here with Sue’s kind permission.

(And to demonstrate how your’s truly is becoming a forgetful old fart when I read this out to Jeannie last night she reminded me that I had already published it! It’s worthy of another showing!)

ooOOoo

Mother Gaia ~ The Blue Dot.

11 Jun 2016

Three Sisters Glen Coe Scotland
Three Sisters Glen Coe Scotland

How many times have you gazed at the stars?

To ask the question of whom we are

This Blue Dot in the vastness of space

Have you questioned the existence of the Human Race?

~~

Did we really evolve from Neanderthal Man?

From Ape to Human imagine if you can

Woolly Mammoths along with Sabre Tooth Tigers

Ice Ages and Floods, Volcanoes and Fires

~~

Mountains crashing, rising from ocean floors

Fossils created into stony forms

Petrified wood in glaciers saved

While Crystals grow beneath deep dark cave

~~

How many times have you asked ‘Who am I?’

As you gaze longingly at the starlit sky

So many treasures now upon this Blue Dot

So sad that we’ve evolved, but we also forgot

~~

That we Humans just like the Dinosaur race

Could soon disappear without a trace

As our superior brains seemed to have lost the plot

Of our coexistence within this amazing Blue Dot

~~

As we pollute our Mother who brings such life

While we rage in greed creating more strife

We poison our land modifying crops

Caring less and less until the last Bee drops

~~

Long after we’re gone as the planets realign

A new dawn will break over the memory of mankind

His legacy I’m sure one day will be discovered

As some future traveller his fossils will uncover.

~~

But it’s never too late to alter our future

When we live in harmony and learn to nurture

Holding onto LOVE and Letting go of Hate

We can all help our Blue Planet Regenerate.

Copyright Sue Dreamwalker 2016.

ooOOoo

Just meditate on those thoughts for a while without doing anything else.

Sonic Journeys

Innovation – Pure and Simple.

Note: Let me declare immediately that I have a personal interest in this post. Namely that my daughter, Maija Handover, is a partner of the charitable company SOUND UK. Their most recent sound adventure is extremely interesting.

It is called Sonic Journeys and, as the home page of the website explains:

Sonic Journeys are soundtracks to specific journeys. Each commissioned piece is available as a free download for limited periods, enabling listeners to experience the music travelling through the landscape that inspired it. Or wherever they choose.

There are a number of Commissioned Journeys but one is also able to create personal sound journeys.

Let me allow Sonic Journeys to explain in their words what it is about:

Sonic Journeys is a series of soundtracks to specific journeys. The series commissions artists to create new works in response to journeys that inspire them. These works are recorded and available for free download for a limited period, enabling listeners to experience the music travelling through the landscape that inspired it. Previous commissions include Adrian Utley from Portishead (2012, a walk through ancient trees at National Trust’s Croft Castle & Parkland), Mica Levi (2011, a walk at Barbican Centre), Shackleton & Vengeance Tenfold (2011, two train journeys in Devon), Will Gregory from Goldfrapp (2009, a walk in Malvern Hills for Big Chill festival).

For those that would like to create and share their own Sonic Journey, we are inviting online submissions of music, or music and video, to journeys the public find personally inspiring here. Previous Your Sonic Journeys have included music to journeys in Kew Gardens in London, Bregenz in Austria, South Western Transylvania and more.

Here’s an example of one of those commissioned journeys, from my old home county of Devon. It is called Shackleton + Vengeance Tenfold – South Devon, stopping train from Starcross → Teignmouth and the Field Notes explain:

Unique British bass producer Shackleton collaborated with his original musical partner, spoken word artist Vengeance Tenfold, to present his own distinctive vision of a journey through some very special parts of Devon; the main railway line between Exeter and Totnes, and part of the Tarka railway line between Exeter and Barnstaple.

Travelling from Exeter to Newton Abbot, in South Devon the artists respond to the iconic stretch of railway as the stopping train travels through the Exe estuary from Starcross station and journeys along the sea and wonderfully dramatic scenery.

Earl Fontainelle a.k.a. Vengeance Tenfold lives on Dartmoor in Devon. He plays in the Amsterdam-based Cajun deathcountry band Earl Fontainelle and the Pearl of Great Price and has worked in many other musical and lyrical projects, including a long-term collaborative relationship with Shackleton with whom he worked together on a live performance alongside the Tom Dale Dance Company involving spoken word, live electronic music, a Siberian Jew’s harp, and a lantern.

This link will allow you to listen to the Sonic Journey. To give those unfamiliar with this part of Devon, South-West England here’s a video of that train journey.

Published on Sep 17, 2013

Here I have some footage of a famous scenic coastal main line railway route that runs from Teignmouth via Dawlish to Starcross in South Devon. It is used by both long distance and local train services currently operated by First Great Western and Cross Country that runs from Cornwall and Plymouth to all points north and east.

I know I’m biased but it still strikes me as one incredibly innovative idea! Well done, the team!

Treasures Within and Without.

We must never let go of admiring beauty.

It’s Sunday lunchtime and I have come in from outside to check my emails and to put together the post for today. For reasons I can’t exactly put my finger on I’m feeling a little distracted. I sense a yearning for being transported away from the ‘outside world’ and turning inwards: Even giving blogging a rest for a couple of weeks (but I won’t).

So thank goodness for the blogging contacts we make all around the world. Just last Saturday Sue, of Sue Dreamwalker’s blog, published an exquisitely beautiful poem. Sue very promptly gave me permission to republish it in full. Sue’s poem speaks to me just now; speaks to me in this rather introspective place. I hope her wonderful words speak to you as well.

Here it is.

ooOOoo

Mother Gaia ~ The Blue Dot.

11 Jun 2016 .

dsc02478
Three Sisters Glen Coe Scotland.

How many times have you gazed at the stars?

To ask the question of whom we are

This Blue Dot in the vastness of space

Have you questioned the existence of the Human Race?

~~

Did we really evolve from Neanderthal Man?

From Ape to Human imagine if you can

Woolly Mammoths along with Sabre Tooth Tigers

Ice Ages and Floods, Volcanoes and Fires

~~

Mountains crashing, rising from ocean floors

Fossils created into stony forms

Petrified wood in glaciers saved

While Crystals grow beneath deep dark cave

~~

How many times have you asked ‘Who am I?’

As you gaze longingly at the starlit sky

So many treasures now upon this Blue Dot

So sad that we’ve evolved, but we also forgot

~~

That we Humans just like the Dinosaur race

Could soon disappear without a trace

As our superior brains seemed to have lost the plot

Of our coexistence within this amazing Blue Dot

~~

As we pollute our Mother who brings such life

While we rage in greed creating more strife

We poison our land modifying crops

Caring less and less until the last Bee drops

~~

Long after we’re gone as the planets realign

A new dawn will break over the memory of mankind

His legacy I’m sure one day will be discovered

As some future traveller his fossils will uncover.

~~

But it’s never too late to alter our future

When we live in harmony and learn to nurture

Holding onto LOVE and Letting go of Hate

We can all help our Blue Planet Regenerate.

Copyright Sue Dreamwalker 2016.

show
This is just one of the beautiful slides from Sue’s slide show. As she writes, “The above slide show are the photo’s I took that inspired the poem above. They were taken in Scotland where I visited a crystal and mineral centre near Fort William. It was a delightful find holding a wealth of Treasures of The Earth which can be found here. “

ooOOoo

 (Please view the full slide show here.)

Sue then completes her beautiful post; as follows:

There is so much more that lays hidden beneath our Earth Mother, as well as within ourselves.

If only we dig deep enough to find the Treasures Within.  

Love and Blessings

~Sue~

I am still digging Deep How about You?

Life is an endless dig to find treasures within.

Beautiful, Sue!

Into the Future.

These are deeply interesting times.

Among the many impressive qualities of the dog is one that we humans must envy so much at times.

I’m not speaking of a dog’s ability to seek out food or, at the other end of things, the dog’s way of keeping it’s backside clean!😉 No, I’m referring to the way a dog lives in the present. Presumably unworried as to what the future might mean.

We humans, however, as hard as we try to be rooted in the ‘here and now’ also depend on assessing the future and determining the best way to respond to that uncertainty. I’m sure that assessing and managing risk is one of the ways that have made us such a successful species.

In terms of voicing these uncertain times I really was drawn to a comment from ‘John D’ over on Richard Murphy’s Tax Research UK blogsite. I’m going to republish that comment in full before moving on to the central theme of today’s post: Into the Future.

John D says:
June 10 2016 at 4:58 pm
Paul, I share your apprehension. I believe ‘the world’ has entered a cycle of almost unprecedented uncertainty. So many issues. So few solutions being articulated in the mainstream. However, shift happens and Richard is right to say that there is always opportunity for change. Gramsci, an underrated theorist, summed it up in his ‘Prison Notebooks'(1929-35) writing: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

The stranglehold Neo-liberalism has exercised on orthodox economics for the past 40 years is difficult to understand but, given that its major protoganists have held all the aces, it’s not really surprising. Under Reagan there was a major ‘re-education’ programme in the Universities where any heterodox economic teaching was eliminated from the ‘Economics 101’ curriculum. Acording to Richard Wolff an entire generation of students graduated from the major universities without ever having studied Marx in any context.

(For anyone interested here’s a succinct history of Neo-liberalism – http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/a_short_history_of_neoliberalism_and_how_we_can_fix_it).

The good news is nothing lasts forever. The seeds of change have already been sown and will eventually blossom, possibly in unexpected locations. Sadly, as Ivan says, there has been irretrievable damage to lives and livelihoods in the US, UK and many EU countries. Michael Hudson recently spelled out its negative effects – http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/07/the-wages-of-neoliberalism-poverty-exile-and-early-death.

Like many, I don’t think radical change will come about until enough people are hurting enough. Maybe a real property crash will be a wake-up call. However, in or out of the EU isn’t going to trigger a change in the economic agenda any time soon. Personally I believe that a vote for Brexit (ominously a possibilty) will set-back any fundamental reforms, especially in the UK. But I don’t want to open up that can of worms again here!

The perennial question is ‘what to do?’. And the answer is always the same: ‘do something, anything, to nurture the seeds into saplings’. Every little helps! It’s going to be a rough ride, not without some collateral damage in terms of still more unnecessary deaths. Usually I’m not as optimistic as Richard but because it’s Friday afternoon and the sun is shining I feel the beginning of the end is within our grasp. I so hope so. Back to Gramsci – the immediate worry is what will fill the intervening vacuum. Happy weekend!

The seeds of change have already been sown and will eventually blossom, possibly in unexpected locations.

The perfect introduction to an email that Dan Gomez sent me on Thursday.

ooOOoo

Below  is a summary by Udo Gollub of the findings at a recent futurist conference in Germany. This’s  – they predict – is how the world will operate in 10 to 20 years time.

For those of us who are about to amble into the sunset on our Zimmer frames, this is simply interesting. We inhabited a world where people used cosy concepts like pension, nest egg, job security, promotion in the work place and other reassuring socio economic terms.

For those who are in mid career or are only entering the world of (non) work now, this makes for scary/exciting reading – depending on how ready you are to change in mid air  — if it is at all possible.

And for the generation still in their nappies … well, it is a matter of how parents prepare them for an unimaginable world when they enter the world of ‘work’ in 20 years time.

GERT CLAASSEN
Hermanus
Into the future
By Udo Gollub at Messe Berlin, Germany

I just went to the Singularity University summit. Here are the key points I gathered.

Rise and Fall. In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they were bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?

Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became superior and mainstream in only a few short years. This will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, self-driving and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.
Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Welcome to the Exponential Age. Software and operating platforms will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.

Uber is just a software tool. They don’t own any cars, but they are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice, (so far for more or less basic stuff), within seconds. With 90% accuracy, compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you are studying law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer generalist lawyers in the future; only specialists will be needed. ‘Watson’ already helps nurses diagnose cancer, four times more accurately than doctors. Facebook now has pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. By 2030, computers will have become ‘more intelligent’ than humans.

Cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will be offered to the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car on your phone; it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and you can be productive whilst driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s licence and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for our future needs. We can transform former parking spaces into parks. At present,1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 kms. With autonomous driving, that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Electric cars will become mainstream around and after 2020. Cities will be cleaner and much less noisy because all cars will run on electricity, which will become much cheaper.

Most traditional car companies may become bankrupt by tacking the evolutionary approach and just building better cars; while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will take the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi. They are terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble, because without accidents, the insurance will become 100 times cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.

Real estate values based on proximities to work-places, schools, etc. will change, because if you can work effectively from anywhere or be productive while you commute, people will move out of cities to live in a more rural surroundings.

Solar energy production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but only now is having a big impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that almost all coal mining companies will be out of business by 2025.

Water for all: With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places; we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if everyone can have as much clean water as they want, for virtually no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year – a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and your breath. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any diseases. It will be cheap, so in a few years, everyone on this planet will have access to world class, low cost, medicine.
3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from 18,000$ to 400$ within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started printing 3D shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D-printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to need in the past.
At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they have already 3D-printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D-printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to enter, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” And if the answer is yes, then work on how you can make that happen sooner. If it doesn’t work via your phone, forget the idea. And any idea that was designed for success in the 20th century is probably doomed to fail in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear that there will be enough new jobs in such a short time.

Agriculture: There will be a 100$ agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their fields instead of working in them all day. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first veal produced in a petri dish is now available. It will be cheaper than cow-produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces are used for rearing cattle. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several start-ups which will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labelled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

Apps: There is already an app called “moodies” which can tell the mood you are in. By 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where we know whether the participants are telling the truth and when not!

Currencies: Many currencies will be abandoned. Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the future default reserve currency.

Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span was 79 years, now it is 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than a one-year increase per year. So we all might live for a long, long time, probably way beyond 100.

Education: The cheapest smartphones already sell at 10$ in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone. That means everyone will have much the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan Academy for everything he needs to learn at schools in First World countries. Further afield, the software has been launched in Indonesia and will be released in Arabic, Swahili and Chinese this summer. The English app will be offered free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half-a-year.

ooOOoo

Interesting times, indeed!

You all have a very good weekend!

Playlists of our lives.

If you had to make a playlist of your life, what would be on it?

That intriguing sub-title comes from a video that Jean and I watched a couple of weeks ago.

But first I want to return to the matter of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) that was written about in a post dated the 24th February Personal Journeys. I wrote, in part,

Sue, and everyone else, we returned from seeing Dr. Lee, the neurologist, a little under two hours ago. Dr. Lee’s prognosis is that Jean is showing the very early signs of Parkinson’s disease, and Jean is comfortable with me mentioning this.

Everyone’s love and affection has meant more than you can imagine. I will write more about this next week once we have given the situation a few ‘coatings of thought’.

Jean sends her love to you all!

In recent weeks Jean has been experiencing increasing feelings of apathy, lack of motivation, lack of energy, all of which she summed up as a feeling of isolation. Plus the tremor in her hand has been slowly worsening.

Last week we decided that rather than waiting until August for the next planned appointment with Dr. Eric Lee, the neurologist, we should appraise Dr. Lee of the decline in Jean’s overall mood. That has now been done and Dr. Lee’s response is that Jean should start a trial course of the drug Sinamet® that a quick web search (see link on trade name) explains is:

SINEMET® (carbidopa-levodopa) is a combination of carbidopa and levodopa for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and syndrome.

As before, Jean is happy for me to share this with you.

So back to the theme of playlists of our lives.

The Australian Broadcast Commission, ABC, have a YouTube channel ABCTVCatalyst that is full of great science programmes. As that website explains:

At Catalyst we know that science is a dynamic force for change. Each week Catalyst brings you stories from Australia and around the world. Our passion to meet scientists at the forefront of discovery is matched by our fascination with science breakthroughs however big or small. Science changes all our lives. For better or worse, we are committed to showing you what our future holds.

That is how Jean and I came across the following incredibly interesting talk about the role of music in our past lives assisting those with fading cognitive skills, as in my case, and including those with PD. It is just twenty-nine minutes long and something we should all watch, irrespective of our present age.

Published on Mar 8, 2016
If you had to make a playlist of your life, what would be on it? And if, toward the end of your life, your mind and memories were fading away, would this soundtrack help bring them back?

My final observation is that as a direct result of watching this programme I blew the dust off my iPod that I hadn’t used in many months. It was remarkable that despite me struggling at times to recall something I did just a few hours ago, I can hum along with tunes that are on my iPod that go back ten or twenty years.

The playlists of our lives!

We all need rescuing from time to time!

This rescued lovebird has found a friend for life in Jackson the dog — and unlimited free rides!

Yesterday was a rather stressful day what with worrying about Hazel and arranging for her ultra-sonic scan, and one or two other goings on.

So this short little video seemed the perfect offering for all of you good people.

First seen over on the Care2 site.

You can’t beat a good book!

Advance notice of a book event this coming Saturday.

Oregon Books & Games, our local independent bookstore in Grants Pass, are having a book event this Saturday. In their own words:

tl_imgSaturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
A day to celebrate the independent bookstores that continue to improve communities around the nation, and our day to celebrate YOU, our wonderful customers. In the same strain as last year, we will be inviting dozens of local authors to sign books and meet with their fans, raffling off TONS of prizes, barbecuing, and having a lot of FUN!

 

I’m sure that the vast majority of you dear readers that read the title to today’s post would have nodded in agreement with the statement: You can’t beat a good book!

But how many of you were equally cogniscent of the importance of buying from an independent book store, such as Oregon Books & Games? I would be the first to put my hand up in admitting that I had no idea of the damage that online booksellers, such as Amazon, were causing these same independent stores.

Here are some eye-opening statements kindly supplied by Oregon Books but that originally came from the organisation IndieBound.

What is IndieBound?
A product of ongoing collaborations between the independent bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association, IndieBound is all about independent bookstores and the power of “local first” shopping. Locally owned independent businesses pump money back into the their communities by way of taxes, payrolls and purchases. That means more money for sound schools, green parks, strong police and fire departments, and smooth roads, all in your neighborhood.

Independent bookstores have always occupied a special place in communities. Through IndieBound—and the Indie Next List flyers and Indie Bestseller Lists—readers find trusted bookseller curated reading options, newly discovered writers, and a real choice for buying.

IndieBound allows indie booksellers to communicate this vital role they play in their local economies and communities. It allows authors to show their dedication to indies nationwide, easily done through linking to thousands of indie bookstores through IndieBound.org. And it allows consumers to feel that their actions are a part of a larger picture—to know that their choices make a difference and that others are working toward the same goals.

Here’s the effect of buying from your local independent book store.

Here’s What You Just Did

  1. You kept dollars in our economy. For every $100 you spend at one of our local businesses, $52 will stay in the community.
  2. You embraced what makes us unique. You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?
  3. You created local jobs. Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  4. You helped the environment. Buying from local business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation, less packaging, and products that you know are safe and well made, because we stand behind them.
  5. You nurtured community. We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains and online retailers.
  6. You conserved your tax dollars. Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify our community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong—right here in your community!
  7. You created more choice. We pick the items we sell based on what we know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because we buy for our own individual market.
  8. You took advantage of our expertise. You are our friends and neighbors, and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We’re passionate about what we do. Why not take advantage of it?
  9. You invested in entrepreneurship. Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.
  10. You made us a destination. The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone!

And turning to Amazon?

Here’s What Amazon Just Did

  1. In 2014, Amazon avoided paying $625 million in much-needed local and state tax revenue in 23 states and Washington, D.C., all while selling $44.1 billion worth of retail goods nationwide.
  2. In 2014, Amazon’s retail sales displaced the equivalent of more than 30,000 storefronts and 107 million square feet of commercial space, estimated to be worth $420 million in property taxes for local and state governments.
  3. In 2014, by avoiding sales tax, and quashing the viability of local bricks-and-mortar retail, Amazon deprived thousands of communities of tax revenue necessary for schools, roads, and police and fire safety, as well as of vibrant downtowns and main streets.
  4. In 2014, Amazon operated 65 million square feet of distribution space, employing both full-time workers and part-time and seasonal workers, yet still, Amazon’s dominance produced a net loss of 135,973 retail jobs nationwide.
  5. In 2014, Amazon’s sales and operations accounted for a loss of more than $1 billion in revenue to state and local governments.
  6. Amazon received the benefits of local grants, tax breaks, road improvements, and other government considerations to build its distribution centers, notwithstanding the net loss in jobs, property taxes, and downtown vitality.
  7. Amazon achieved dominance over the book industry equivalent to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market just before it was broken up in 1911.*
  8. Amazon has cheapened the value of both printed and electronic publishing, and dampened opportunities for new authors and diverse ideas, by discounting books to lower than wholesale price and bullying publishers and its marketplace sellers.
  9. In our state, Amazon accounts for a sale tax gap of $3.1 million and the displacement 1,200,000 square feet, which is the equivalent of 348 retail storefronts, and 3,029 jobs.
  10. In 2015, Amazon’s total sales and operations revenue increased by 20%, meaning the above 2014 figures are likely to be grossly understated.

So back to the event.
If you are within reach of Grants Pass this coming Saturday then do come along and meet many local authors, including yours truly, and help support the wonderful job that our independents are doing for authors.

Saturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
Oregon Books & Games
150 N.E. E St., Corner of 7th and E St.
Grants Pass, OR  97526

Support local authors!

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