I am still dogless after more than two years (some of you remember Ted) but I have started attending a dog training class with a friend to fill the gap. Of course I can’t just sit there, so I asked permission to bring my camera and zoom lens. I’m no pro at dog portrait photography, but I had fun getting these shots of some good-looking subjects. You can see they are all concentrating very hard.
I asked for permission to share the photographs with you and it was promptly given.
Here they are.
They are lovely photographs and they are a tribute to the dogs and the photographer alike.
Thank you, ‘SW Feral’, for granting me permission to publish them.
They are both breathtakingly wonderful to watch and listen to. So put your feet up for half-an-hour and be swept away by these incredible musicians.
The first features Darren Foreman otherwise known as Beardy Man. His bio is here.
Published on Aug 2, 2013
Frustrated by not being able to sing two notes at the same time, musical inventor Beardy Man built a machine to allow him to create loops and layers from just the sounds he makes with his voice. Given that he can effortlessly conjure the sound of everything from crying babies to buzzing flies, not to mention mimic pretty much any musical instrument imaginable, that’s a lot of different sounds. Sit back and let the wall of sound of this dazzling performance wash over you.
The second features Usman Riaz and Preston Reed and demonstrates the power of this new wired-up world we live in.
Usman Riaz is a 21-year-old whiz at the percussive guitar, a style he learned to play by watching his heroes on YouTube. The TED Fellow plays onstage at TEDGlobal 2012 — followed by a jawdropping solo from the master of percussive guitar, Preston Reed. And watch these two guitarists take on a very spur-of-the-moment improvisation.
Preston Reed has his own website from where I took the following photograph.
George Monbiot is a man of passion about the planet we all live on and securing a sustainable future for us all.
So settle down comfortably for 15 minutes and listen to him. You will understand both his passion and the vital message he offers us.
Published on Sep 9, 2013
Wolves were once native to the US’ Yellowstone National Park — until hunting wiped them out. But when, in 1995, the wolves began to come back (thanks to an aggressive management program), something interesting happened: the rest of the park began to find a new, more healthful balance. In a bold thought experiment, George Monbiot imagines a wilder world in which humans work to restore the complex, lost natural food chains that once surrounded us.
If you would like more of Mr. Monbiot’s writings, then here’s his website.
Who doesn’t get stressed out! Maybe not such an issue?
I have in my bookshelf a book called The Anxiety Epidemic. On the back cover it explains this:
The Pain & Stress Center was founded in 1979, but the dream started long before that. The goal is to help individuals realize their true potential and to support and conduct research in the areas of man’s greatest needs – natural alternatives.
I had seen the book in a second-hand bookshop and paid $1.99 for it!
Clearly I have some interest in the topic and like many others around me know that certain situations cause me stress.
Thus when recently there was a TED talk on the topic of ‘How to make stress your friend’ it seemed like a worthwhile thing to watch. I was not wrong!
Published on Sep 4, 2013
Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.
It was an easy matter to find Kelly McGonigal’s website and discover a mine of advice and other good stuff. For example, this:
In this fun course, I invited my favorite psychology and neuroscience researchers at Stanford to talk about their work and what it means for everyday life and real-world problems. Each class starts with a 45-min lecture by the guest speaker, followed by about 30 minutes of Q&A from myself and course participants. I had a great time grilling these amazing scientists about everything from politics to education, parenting, shopping, and the scientific process. You’ll even hear a few personal stories they’ve never shared in public before!
I’m frequently asked questions about how to get started meditating, what is the best meditation for beginners, what is the best meditation for reducing stress (or training willpower, or cultivating self-compassion, or developing focus, etc.). Below is my favorite meditation for all these intentions.
In the wake of yesterday’s post about the power of meditation, this recent TED Talk seemed a perfect way to end the week.
Published on Jul 16, 2013
You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.
Want to learn a little more about the different types of cloud? Then go here. Want to learn more about the Cloud Appreciation Society? More details here.
And who knows, you may even see your dog in those clouds!
I subscribe to two blogs: Pendantry’s Wibble and Christine’s 350 or bust. But a temporary lack of quiet reading time has meant that recent posts from each of them were initially only briefly skimmed. I made a mental note to read the one from Pendantry, Where oceans meet, because I have always had a love affair with the oceans. When I did read it, I was blown away, to use the modern vernacular. Why? Stay with me.
Where oceans meet opened thus:
I’ve recently been introduced to two things that demonstrate (to my satisfaction, anyway) that the universe is much stranger than I first thought. Mind you, my first thought was quite some time ago, now.
Then after showing a wonderful photograph of where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, (this one below) …
…. Pendantry goes on:
The other one of those ‘strange universe’ things is something that I find even more surprising: after decades of eating meat, an hour watching just one film has persuaded me to reconsider the habits of a lifetime.
That really jumped off the page at me because Jeannie has been a vegetarian for most of her life and I have been flirting with the idea.
That ‘one film’ was Vegucated. Here’s the rest of that Wibble post republished with Pendantry’s kind permission.
A TED talk highlighted yesterday over on 350orbust (well worth watching — thanks, Christine) included a reference to the film Vegucated. Intrigued, was I, so I trundled off to watch it, and returned a changed man. Well, maybe that’s a bit ambitious, but I do now feel motivated to think more about what I eat, why I’m eating it, and to actively seek out vegan alternatives — something that I have never considered before.
Vegucated reinforces the betrayal of a society that has sold us all on the idea of having ‘consumer choice’ — but continues to withhold from us the information necessary to make informed choices. And on that point: don’t just take my word for it that this is a film well worth watching: there are many other reviews and quotes about it.
Our world is changing, and, one way or another, we must change with it. I believe that films like Vegucated are essential to help us to choose to move in the direction of a healthier, happier world.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. “— Paul McCartney.
Naturally I was curious and wandered across to that post. Here are Christine’s own words,
It’s TED Talk Tuesday on 350orbust, and today’s presenter is Zoe Weil who spoke to the young people who gathered at the TEDx Youth symposium held at Cape Elizabeth, Maine, last December. Ms. Weil is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education. Ms. Weil’s inspiring talk is entitled “How To Be A Solutionary.” Enjoy!
I tell you what! That 11 minute presentation by Zoe Weil was not just inspirational, it was one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever heard! That’s EVER!
Take this quote that comes in less than 2 minutes from the start of the speech, “Never before have we had the capacity to cause the breakdown of so many ecological systems that sustain our life.”
Now if that doesn’t have you gagging for the rest of what Zoe talks about, nothing will. So here it is.
Published on Jan 11, 2013
Zoe Weil is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education and is considered a pioneer in the comprehensive humane education movement, which provides people with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to be conscientious choicemakers and engaged changemakers for a better world. Zoe created the first Master of Education and Certificate Program in Humane Education in the U.S. covering the interconnected issues of human rights, environmental preservation, and animal protection. She has also created acclaimed online programs and leads workshops and speaks at universities, conferences, and events across the U.S. and Canada. She has taught tens of thousands students through her innovative school presentations, and has trained several thousand teachers through her workshops and programs. Zoe’s most recent book, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life, won the 2010 Nautilus silver medal in sustainability and green values. She is the author of several other books including Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times for parents; The Power and Promise of Humane Education for educators; and Claude and Medea: The Hellburn Dogs, winner of the Moonbeam gold medal in juvenile fiction, which follows the exploits of two seventh graders who become clandestine activists in New York City, righting wrongs where they find them. Zoe received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania.
So from the meeting of vast oceans to the meeting of minds.
I subscribe to Christine’s blog 350 or bust. As the home page declares, Christine is “a mother, an educator, and a former registered nurse, concerned about climate change.”
Being a follower of Christine’s blog I automatically received an email on Tuesday about her latest post. This is what that email said,
It’s TED Talk Tuesday on 350orbust. Here’s a fascinating TEDx talk by South African trainer and speaker Bruce Muzik whose “passion is having people experience unprecedented freedom and happiness, through being Authentic.“
To be perfectly honest, it didn’t strike me as something that I would watch anytime soon. However, fate decided to intervene!
Because yesterday, Wednesday, I went up to Portland for an interview today to convince the authorities that I was safe to have my US Residency renewed (aka Green Card). So last Tuesday, when I was writing these words, I thought I would just grab something quickly for today’s post. Christine’s TED talk seemed an easy answer.
I started to watch the video and within just a few minutes was overwhelmed with Bruce Muzik’s story. At the 7 minute mark I paused the video and wrote these words. The title of today’s post comes from the video just a moment after the 7 minute point.
While the video is about Bruce confronting his inner fears over his racial prejudices, and is no less moving for doing that, there was another message surfacing in parallel in my consciousness.
As I wrote not so long ago under the title of Going beyond the self, “the human psyche lives in a bubble of delusion.” In the same way that Bruce had to cast aside his delusions and embrace the reality of black people, we have to cast aside our delusions about the way the world is heading. Which is why Christine’s titleHow Our Secrets Steal Our Lives was just perfect.
So without further ado, here is that speech by Bruce Muzik. Twenty minutes of pure, gorgeous inspiration.
Prediction is very difficult, especially if it involves the future. Niels Bohr
I have seen a number of versions of this quotation from Niels Bohr but no matter the inference is clear. My way of putting it is that the future has a habit of observing the law of unintended consequences!
This gentle immersion into today’s muse is on the back of two events. The first was the reading of Guy McPherson’s book, Walking Away from Empire, that I reviewed last week. The second was watching a fascinating presentation about reversing climate change.
Just stay with Guy McPherson for a moment longer. He is of the very firm opinion that we face imminent environmental collapse and the collapse of the industrial economy. His bet is that the environment is already in the grip of ten feedback loops that guarantee making the environment unsustainable for the majority of species on this planet within a couple of decades. If you want more then take a mouse click across the Guy’s blog Nature Bats Last.
So, given that one embraces this prediction, free of the clouds of delusion that it couldn’t possibly come to that, then what? (I’m assuming that you have the basic motivation to get out of bed in the morning!)
(Clifford) Allan Redin Savory (born September 15, 1935) is a Zimbabwean biologist, farmer, soldier, exile, environmentalist, and winner of the 2003 Banksia International Award and the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. He is the originator of holistic management.
Savory had begun working on the ancient problem of land degradation (desertification) in 1955 in Northern Rhodesia, where he served in the Colonial Service as Provincial Game Officer, Northern and Luapula Provinces. He subsequently continued this work in Southern Rhodesia first as a research officer in the Game Department, then as an independent scientist and international consultant. When in exile, Savory worked from the Cayman Islands into the Americas introducing his new discoveries about both the cause of desertification and how to reverse it using increased numbers of livestock.
He subsequently wrote up this work in the book Holistic Management: A New Decision Making Framework, written with his wife Jody Butterfield and published by Island Press (1989; 1999 2nd edition).
In 1992, he co-founded the Africa Center for Holistic Management with his wife Jody Butterfield and, in 2009, the Savory Institute, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, which he currently heads. The Savory Institute works globally with individuals, government agencies, NGOs, and corporations to restore the vast grasslands of the world through the teaching and practice of holistic management and decision making.
The institute’s consulting and training activities are turning deserts into thriving grasslands, restoring biodiversity, bringing streams, rivers, and water sources back to life, combating poverty and hunger, and increasing sustainable food production, all mitigating global climate change through carbon sequestration. In 2010, Savory and the Africa Center for Holistic Management won The Buckminster Fuller Challenge.
In a 2012 address to the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, on the urgent need to bring agriculture and conservation back together, Prince Charles lauded Savory’s nature based approach.
OK, enough from me. Watch Allan Savory’s fascinating and potentially life-saving idea, as presented to the TED2013 conference.
A week ago I published a post called On quietness. It was predominantly comprised of a republication of a much earlier item written by Jon Lavin.
However, in the way that things happen, shortly after that post (last Friday’s one) was published I came across this TED video of Andy Puddicome.
I’ll say no more – enjoy the video. (Beautifully delivered in ten minutes, by the way!)
When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.)
“Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it’s … about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going.” (Andy Puddicombe)
Andy Puddicombe wants you to take a break — not just from work, but from your own mind, which is so full of anxieties about the world and anxieties about its own anxieties. To help you do that, Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, co-founded Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives. Puddicombe also writes prolifically for the Huffington Post and the Guardian, on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living.
So as someone who seems to have real trouble relaxing, I mean real relaxation in the letting go sense, I’m flirting with the idea of committing 10 minutes of meditation each day. Andy offers a charmingly easy way of doing this, as you will discover if you go to his website Headspace. Here’s a quote from the ‘What is Headspace‘ page.
Here at Headspace we’re on a mission to get as many people in the world as possible to take 10 minutes out of their day, to practice a simple and easy-to-learn meditation technique. And if you like the way it makes you feel, then we’d love to show you how to make that a life-long skill.
This is meditation for modern life – simple, scientifically-proven techniques, that you can use every day to experience a healthier and happier mind.
Those articles published by the Guardian as referred to above may be found here: The Guardian, if you want to browse around some more.
Stay tuned as to the outcome of me and meditation; I’ll share with it you via Learning from Dogs. Let’s face it, dogs are very good at chilling out for ten minutes! Oh dear, something else to learn from our doggies!
Carrots in the car park. Radishes on the roundabout. The deliciously eccentric story of the town growing ALL its own veg
Admittedly, it sounds like the most foolhardy of criminal capers, and one of the cheekiest, too.
Outside the police station in the small Victorian mill town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, there are three large raised flower beds.
If you’d visited a few months ago, you’d have found them overflowing with curly kale, carrot plants, lettuces, spring onions — all manner of vegetables and salad leaves.
Today the beds are bare. Why? Because people have been wandering up to the police station forecourt in broad daylight and digging up the vegetables. And what are the cops doing about this brazen theft from right under their noses? Nothing.
From our beginnings with herb gardens, we’ve taken to planting and growing veggies and trees round town we’ve planted several orchards and there are more to come, and we’re working with public bodies round town to use their land – like the fire station and the railway station – or to work with them on their own Incredible ideas – like social landlord Pennine Housing.
We hope to make a difference with major projects. We now have Lottery funding for our food hub at Tod High School and are just waiting for the final planning permission. That bid included the work of a food-inspirer a position now held by Sally.
We have also branched out to greenfield sites, working on donated land in Walsden to create a major resource for growing and learning, and on donated land in Gorpley to develop ideas about hill-top farming. More about them here
What an absolutely fabulous example to the rest of the world!