Mar 31, 2006

Philtrums - they're everywhere!

Ever been embroiled in one of those silly looks-like-life-or-death-but-isn't-really discussions on Usenet or online forums? You know, the ones that end up spewing lava, often over something that was simply a misinterpretation, or that could have been quickly cleared up using politeness, but took forever to recover itself due to sarcasm and nastiness. Well, I got myself into one of those, inadvertantly (also typical), and it was about philtrums.

Now, normally, the backlashes from such discussions, though raising blood pressure temporarily, manage to quickly fade from my mind. Rather, I'm pretty good at shrugging them off. After all, it's Usenet. But not this time, and simply because this time, I had learned a new word: Philtrum. And now I'm seeing philtrums everywhere, and everywhere I see them, I think "philtrum".

Actually, we all see philtrums all the time. My problem now is that this very specific feature now has a very specific name and it is forever linked to that silly clash of cyber typists. So every time I see one, I am reminded of that word - and of that stupid discussion. I want philtrums out of my head!

Usually, TV can be a welcome distraction, so I turned on "CSI: NY", one of my favorite shows. A new regular for this season happens to be an actress with a striking philtrum: Anna Belknap (best seen when she doesn't smile).

So what's a girl to do? Well, obviously, I don't want to be alone in this little hell, so therefore I shared. If my evil plan has gone well, you now have that stupid word stuck on your brain! And an image of mine to go with it.

You're welcome.

Mar 29, 2006

Eclipse

There's an eclipse today. The broohaha is that the moon will block out the sun for as long as 4 minutes or so, widely seen today at lunch time GMT in a swath of land that includes Turkey. Since we finally got our rain back, we in Bergen, Norway, will not see the eclipse. We probably won't notice the disappearing light, either, because at our latitude the eclipse is partial, with the moon blocking only 30% of the sun, and who can tell with all these clouds, anyway.

But this reminds of the day we did see a brief but total eclipse here in Bergen, Norway. On a hot, clear August day in 1999, I scrounged for something dark enough to see through, and then took the day off work to sit on my grandma's balcony. She had a front row view, directly facing the path of the eclipse, and she and I got ourselves out there, with a pot of coffee by our side, and waited for the nearly invisible moon to climb high enough to meet the sun.

We sat in the heat, toasting and tanning our bare feet, talking about everything and nothing, remembering other eclipses we'd seen, and then the moon started to slide across the sun. It seemed to take forever and for the longest time, we noticed no change in the light, just changes in the sun's shape. Then, at the moment of total eclipse - that brief moment - we were all suddenly in shadow and the air temperature dropped noticably. No birds sang. For a bare minute we watched and felt a midday world with no sunlight, and then the moon started slipping away. The shadows cast from the leaves on the trees were little discs. Life sprang back: Birds started singing again, the temperature rose, we went back to sun-bathing our toes while we watched our sun regain its usual round shape.

Grandma's comment was, "Is that it?" but I was awestruck, since it was my first solar eclipse. I can understand that that "newbie" awe will never return, which probably explains Grandma's reaction, but I'm happy I took the day off and spent it looking up. I probably got some eye damage ("floaters"), but I take that as a happy memento from life on Planet Earth. (I don't recommed eye damage, I'm just saying I had dumb luck after staring at the sun.)

It's pretty amazing that we live on a world where our natural satellite appears to be the exact same size as our star, and where Earth, Moon and Sun will all line up on occassion, causing one or the other body to block each other completely, giving us a spectacle in the sky that draws crowds and apparantly also earthquakes. No wonder many people have believed and still believe eclipses are omens.

Mar 22, 2006

A good start

I started the day watching a little girl be born. She was actually born yesterday evening, but her dad obviously couldn't get the video online just then (he may not have it at the permanent link yet, either; if not, try www.knivo.com/blog/blog.html. Dad is the son of a co-worker, and I appreciate being allowed to share the experience. Now to go to work and call said co-worker Gramps. ;-)

Mar 20, 2006

What is "Religious Science"?

I had some time on my hands, and went a-searching using Blogger's search tool for "Religious Science", the other name that "Science of Mind" goes by, as in Church of Religious Science. And I found some doozies, especially in the misinformed department. Here is what "Religious Science" isn't:

  • It's not to be confused with that other "religious science" that currently has portions of America wanting creationism taught as equal to the theory of evolution.
  • It's not a cult. Seriously. It's just another church and there's no mumbo-jumbo to join, no limits on what books to read, no worshipping the leader, and no brain-washing - unless you count getting a way of ridding yourself of some fears brain-washing.
  • It's not Scientology.
  • It's not Church of Christ, Scientist, either, also known as Christian Science.
  • It's not Christianity, though its founder, Ernest Holmes, used the teachings of Christ as examples and inspiration, and gives a nod to most Americans' Judeo-Christian background.
  • It's not in conflict with Christianity.
  • It's not about being stupid. If you're sick, go see a doctor. Religious Science acknowledges that we understand only what we can accept (and vice-versa), and spontaneous healing can be a hard one to accept or understand.
  • It's not about believing in a punishing God, separate from us. Rather, God is a universal force, a part of everything, including us. Religious = because it involves a god. Science = because it involves your own mind, i.e. the science of psychology, how your thinking influences your experience and vice-versa. There's probably a bit of quantum physics in there, too.
  • It's not stodgy. I never met so many smiling, laughing people in a church as I did with the Science of Mind bunch.

Why do I go on about this? Because back in the day, when I was dark cloud in my own life, I met a woman who told me something surprising (it surprised me, coming from a Lutheran background): God wants me to be rich. My first reaction was "bullshit", but the woman (a friend of my mother's) went on to explain how the world is really set up to be abundant, for every living creature in it. She said a lot more, but that was the idea that made me sit up and take notice, because I was taught that God means for us to struggle. So then I began exploring Religious Science, and I loved it, because for the first time, I found a God who did not make me feel like a loser. Is there sin in Religious Science? Yes. It was once defined for me as not learning from your mistakes. But at least you get to make mistakes!

Mar 18, 2006

I read that already!

Don't you just hate it when you find a new blog to read, and the current 10 posts are great, and so are the archives, and then no new posts for days? For weeks? And weeks even turn into months?

Yeah, I know. I used to pull that crap, too.

And since it has been a few posts without pictures, here's a beauty: A full moon over Øystese by the Hardanger fjord, one February:

Mar 17, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - or is that Friday Fifteen?

From Ultrablog comes a meme that actually requires thinking (oh, gawd, why did I start this?): Make a list of thirteen about something. OK, thirteen things about New Age fairs since I just buzzed the local New Age fair today:

1. Swathing everything and yourself in purple or bright gold crushed velvet doesn't make you more spiritual - or even healthy-looking.

2. Looking bored (or even shy) while between customers won't get you more customers. I've worked the floor at this fair enough years to admire my psychic friend's business brilliance: She knew to get out in front of her booth when she had time on her hands and present herself to the steady stream of people and thus pull in some new customers.

3. Looking too weird has the same effect as looking bored. Except for the cat woman with the yellow contact lenses and paw print tattoos. She actually made sales. But she smiled a lot, too.

4. If the EFT or the crystals or the chimes or the music or the teas or the acupressure or the gongs or the drums or the pendulum are all supposed to be the best tool to help me heal/meet my spirit guides/get a natural high, then why are you offended when I express doubt?

5. The difference between the aloe vera product sold here and the one you can get at your local health food store, is the shape of the jar it comes in.

6. Just about all the tarot card readers have an exotic "stage name", forcing people to ask them if they speak Norwegian. And quite a few of them are apparantly famous. I wouldn't know. I have never heard of them, but they show pictures of themselves being famous. And un-Norwegian.

7. The coffee sucks. Could someone please heal the coffee? PLEASE?

8. Trying to sell me your product by telling me, unsolicited, that I'm dis-eased and need your product, is not going to sell me your product. I'm an adult and it's my money. That's the problem. You are focused on my wallet. Not enough of you are genuinely happy to meet someone who could be the poster child for a successful healing: You could point to me and my good posture, energetic walk, clear eyes, happy expression and ditto state of mind, and state to any potential customers: "This, my dear, is your future once you have stopped living in fear and guilt, and I think I can help remove the fear and guilt." But interestingly, the hawkers of intangible wares have as little use for me as I have for them.

9. Oooh, incense! Which reminds me that I have a ton of the stuff at home to use up. Mmmm, incense.

10. Could you please litter your booth with more hand-made placards and print-outs from your home office color printer? Please? You missed a spot. Actually, I pitied the guy. It was obviously his first time at a fair like this. Classic beginner's mistake, trying to overwhelm your competitors/neighbors (a hard thing to do, anyway). The smarter move is to play it down, offer just a few informative placards or hand-outs, and make your facial expression the most interesting thing in your booth. For that one thing that can capture attention, my psychic friend has a vase with fresh flowers. A real crowd-pleaser, that, because, oddly, the New Age fair isn't big on beauty, in spite of a few stunning posters here and there. It's a little too utilitarian for that.

11. Wow, a whole association and booth dedicated to nothing but crop circles? But, those are fake! (Not that I actually said that to their sweet, young and very sincere faces.) Nice postcards, though. And so many of them!

12. Hey, Jesus is back! Or at least his picture is. His 2006-disciples have set up a booth next to the gem stone booth. And are charging about the same for a healing as the other healers do.

13. The out-of-town lady who's been doing astrology for years (and who once had her own TV show) has been changing her look. When I first saw her, she was primary colors in motion: Full length red dress, and bright green, blue and gold clothes draped over her tables. She also came across as bitchy and snooty. Over the years, she has gradually toned herself down, both in behavior and dress. Today she stuck to dark blue on her tables and kept herself in dark blue and black. She's also far more relaxed and less defensive now than when I first encountered her. Her smiles are genuine now; they include her eyes. I found myself being happy for her.

Mar 16, 2006

Some stuff that could be separate posts but aren't

I just viewed a "promo video" of Mars. I have absolutely no desire to go to Mars. It looks mind-numbingly boring. It looks like the Moon, but I'd go to the Moon. That's because the Moon offers a wonderful view of planet Earth. I'd like to see that for myself. I'd also like to go to one of Jupiter's moons and see a wonderful view of planet Jupiter. Or Saturn's moons and see Saturn and its rings and stuff. Way more interesting than Mars. Yeah, I'm an astronomical snob (is there such a thing?).

Back on planet Earth, I visited our local aquarium again, this time with a guide. And this time, in front of the herring exhibit, with tons of fish all moving in the same direction, over and over and over and over, I didn't feel claustrophobic. I felt peace. Something about watching all that gorgeous silver moving from left to right at a steady pace that calmed me. I even discovered individuals: Some herring with one eye missing, one had disfigured tail, another was so pregnant she could hardly move, and there was a herring defying all scientific claims that all school fish must swim tail to head for not to do so would cause confusion. This one boldy swam against the school, head to head, and did so for several rounds and no-one got confused.

I finished (finally) reading the book "Creating Miracles" by Carolyn Miller. It was a far more spiritual, inspiring and practical book than I expected. In one of the last chapters Miller suggests a way of contacting one's higher self for guidance. I settled myself in, breathed deeply and calmly, and the visualization for my higher self presented itself as a straight, dark blue candle with a brilliant, completely white flame. Nice. I then tried to ask this manifestation a question about next day's shrink session. And promptly fell asleep. Some answer.

I saw the shrink again yesterday. A baffling session. We struggled to keep the conversation going. I also felt frustrated because, having just read "Creating Miracles", my mind was full of desire to experience peace, to stop being aggressive and irritable and just go with the flow. My shrink kept suggesting that it is important to stick up for yourself. I really felt like we were on - well, Mars and the Moon. I did get one little break-through, i.e. further understanding of myself, and I have tried later to communicate with my fear, who presented herself to me as me at age 5 or 6. I'm not done exploring that. I'm also not done with this shrink. I have another session next Thursday and will see how that goes. Oddly, the strained session went fast, time-wise. And I managed to totally enjoy the latte with a dash of chocolate I had afterwards. But I think I need a priest or something, not a shrink. I'm wondering about buddhism.

Mar 12, 2006

Having fun yet

The joke is, during some difficult, messy or otherwise undesirable activity, to ask, "Are we having any fun yet?" The answer currently is, "Yes!"

Friday I saw a shrink for the first time. I've been seeing a therapist at work, but yesterday was the first time I saw one that I paid for and that I expect to talk about really personal stuff with. I found him through an ad in the paper. A gestalt therapist and psychologist. The first session went fast. I spent an hour and a half talking about myself, words tripping over themselves and me even being a bit joking. I was in a very good mood. I go back Thursday. I asked my therapist if there was anything I should do in the meantime. He said to carry on as I had been.

I was a bit disappointed. Then I realized that that was a pretty specific instruction. I had told him about my process that started last fall and let him read the affirmation I used.

Today was fun

It does make a difference in my day, if I start it with an affirmation, with some focus on the spiritual and on my frame of mind. The rest of the day flows so smoothly. Even problems flow smoothly. If they appear, they lead themselves to their solution.

Talking straight for nearly 90 minutes tires the brain, and just a block away from the shrink's office, is one my favorite coffee shops in Bergen. Not that I've tried many others. I like this one because the employees are friendly, the coffees are excellent, there's a fantastic view of Bryggen and up the Fløi mountain, and lots of people to watch. I tried a tiger mocca (with white chocolate). I was, however, too restless to truly enjoy it. I did open my March issue of "Creative Thought" magazine for the first time this month (yes, I've been neglecting myself), and it opened onto a quote by Theodore Geisel1: "Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."

Funny how that works. That line summed up my day and my recent months so well. The article that quote introduced was about having fun. About how God2 wants you to have fun. Did you know that? It's pretty obvious. Whenever I remember my spiritual self, I laugh more, I have more patience, I meet others who are happy and kind, and the whole day is one big chunk of joy. And that, it turns out, is a normal of connectedness with God.

No suffering

My shrink was paging through my PDA, reading my affirmation, and hit a button that brought up my note index. "God is perfect and does not suff...", he read out loud. That was actually the title of a note to myself (undated) during one of my darker moments. My note states that God does not do suffering, because God is perfect, and suffering is neither constructive nor creating, and therefore it is safe to approach God, to pray, because nothing bad will come of it.

There are some ideas in the Christian mindset that state we humans must suffer, that we are destined to suffer unless we embrace Christ, being the pathetic sinners that we are, and if we don't, God punishes us, etc. The way the Christians put it, it feels like a huge weight and impossible to deal with, especially if, like me, faith in Jesus is flawed or even impossible. Buddhism has a similar idea but words it differently: We suffer because we don't know any better. When we know better, i.e. awaken (become buddha), we no longer suffer. One idea involves a faith in a deity, the other involves self-awareness. Marry the two and there is nothing you can't do be it fun, loving, peaceful, empowering, successful, healthy or prosperous.

No faith?

No faith in a deity or your deity sucks? Have faith in the natural state of things which is that everything is lifewards. Even mankind cannot and has not annihilated itself, because to do so goes against the grain, goes against supporting life. Death and decay in the woods leaves that special smell that can conjur up memories of other walks, and provides food and fertilizer for many living beings - animals, plants and bacteria alike. Even the fuzzy, green experiment in your refridgerator that once was a food item, is full of life, not death. It's just not fit to eat. Physicists know this: Energy never goes away; it just changes form (first law of thermal dynamics).

Not awake?

Don't know if you're awake? Start by asking yourself where all your attitudes and beliefs come from and why you have them. What are your attitudes about politics, money, sex, food, other nationalities, morals, intellectuals, whiny kids, and where did you get them from? How did it start? Are there any contradictions in your thinking? Have fun trying to sort them out. It can hurt and even make you grieve to have to give up old beliefs, to find yourself mistaken, and it takes courage, but it's nothing to be afraid of. As your world expands, it grows safer. No, really. It does. That's because awakening spiritually is just like awakening as a kid: In fresh light that chases away shadows so you no longer can imagine monsters under the bed. (The book "A Course in Miracles" has 365 lessons which are all intended to wake you up.)

Bring out the good

So I there I was, vigorously stirring my tiger mocca, musing on my therapist's instructions, trying to read. I managed part of the article about fun, about what really brings a person joy. And as I gazed down the line of Bryggen's colorful, leaning houses basking in the sun, I realized that I wanted to share my process, my discoveries. It's not that I am more perfect or spiritual than anyone else; it's more like I'm one of the locals and if you're a stranger in town, I can tell you a few things. I constantly have challenges in my life, but each time I face them, I seem to do so with more confidence and less fear - and with fewer missteps. And like some born-again Christian, I am so giddy with delight about that, that I have to tell someone. To those who are Christians: If you can awaken while believing in Jesus, you've done exactly what Jesus wanted. All religions point to the same truths: There is one spiritual source ("god") for all humans, we are all connected to this source and to each other (we are one), and if we want to experience pure bliss, the wisest thing we can do is try to act accordingly. For you atheists out there, the same applies: Man is inherently good, and therefore so are you. Bring it out.

Today was fun. Tomorrow is another. I'm downright excited at the prospect.


1) Theodore Geisel is best known to my generation as Dr. Seuss.

2) Substitute "God" for "divine love", "goddess", "higher self", "my source of all things good", whatever floats your boat. I have had my own process with the word "God", and so it works for me now, without negative connotations or an image of a bearded, old man.

I'll bet you wish your commute was like this!

My thoughts watching this (which is why I watched it several times):

  • Ooh, she's bold!
  • Hey, Smash Mouth! Perfect tune for this.
  • Ooh, she's bold! She doesn't know what'll happen next!
  • Boy, is she sweet, even when she sticks out her tongue! (Wish I could look sweet like that.)
  • Look, everybody's smiling, laughing!
  • Told ya so! He got her! *giggle*

Mar 11, 2006

Dances With Balls

To make up for my David Hasselhoff link, here's something truly beautiful and worth watching (and hearing) Chris Bliss' Big Finale. (A tip to those of you with large screens: Choose "original size" to get clarity from drop-down menu at bottom of video screen.)

Mar 8, 2006

Politics, lack of

This has so far been a politics-free blog. Don't worry. It will remain so. What made me think about it, is that three of my friends whose blogs I read (links in the menu on this page), will post about political issues. So here's a little musing about why I don't.

First of all, I have never been a newshound. Although I am a child of both the Cold War and a sort-of victim of it (see below), and there was this thing called Vietnam and another thing called Watergate while I was growing up, I was mainly oblivious to it all. My folks had a rule of not having the evening news on while we ate dinner. I'd usually leave the room or do something else while the grown-ups watched the news, which may have contributed to my sense of safety in an unsafe world. I still don't watch the news much, nor do I eagerly read newspapers, though I grew up with people who did. The news - as in foreign affairs, politics, current events - rarely grabs me. Today's media tend to present celebrity gossip and sports events with the same level of importance as the "hard" news, too, which doesn't increase the appeal for me.

I am the citizen of one country, and live in another. I came to Norway as a little girl, while the Vietnam war was raging, and our little American family met some pretty nasty attitudes from those who thought we supported that war. We didn't. Grandpa was torpedoed during World War II, and Grandma generally didn't like killing - perhaps because her first husband was shot during a riot. Both were peaceful people, and preferred peaceful solutions. I grew up with the survivors of one war in a country that had once been occupied, while another raged on the TV, and the only thing I am certain of is that while nations may stop fighting, the damages of war can go on for generations. I see nothing sensible, necessary or desirable about that.

Nixon left the Whitehouse in disgrace. Did it affect me? No. Do I even remember it? Not really. I was in Norway, working on this thing called puberty, and my American soul remained unscathed. I went through the 60's and 70's more interested in surviving my own childhood and attendant emotional upsets. The rest of the world simply couldn't get my attention. It still doesn't, with very few exceptions.

I admit that I'm not the sort of voter I'd look to for advice. I have no clue what the issues are. I pay no more attention to Norwegian issues than I do American. I vote with my feelings, and cannot produce any facts to back my decision with. I wouldn't want an entire city or country run by people like me.

One thing that strikes me about others who avidly follow the news, keep up with current events, maybe have a pet peeve they write their politicians about, is that they have passion about these things. It truly grabs them and matters in their lives. I have no such passion. There has never been an issue I cared so deeply about that I would write a letter, or march in the streets for it. I have simply not been moved enough, one way or the other. I also have been fortunate enough to live in places and in times where someone else marched for me or ahead of me.

And there's that nailing myself down part. I know I will and can change my mind on an issue; I've done so before, including which party to vote for. And perhaps it is that changability, that vacillation, that keeps me from immersing myself 100% (or even 80%) in something. I have opinions; I know how I feel about things like religion, abortion, women's rights, racism, homosexuals, the environment, the war in Iraq. But I have no interest in putting it in writing, leaving a more or less permanent trail of something that really isn't all that permanent. I also have no interest in being yet another voice stating what she thinks is the right thing to do or think. I wouldn't read it, so why write it? And, like I said, I don't know the issues, anyway. I will indulge in the discussion at lunch, but that is a situation where any changes in opinion usually appear immediately, and so do clarifications.

So, is there an advantage to not watching the news, not keeping abreast of current events? I think so. For example: Recently, some Moslems reacted with violence over cartoons of Muhammed published in Norwegian and Danish newspapers. A poll of Norwegians stated that those watching the news found themselves growing more negative towards Moslems. I haven't seen a single riot. My world is still peaceful and I still trust the people in it. And Plato (I believe it was) said that one must be careful about what one let's into one's soul because it will never leave.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that the only thing to fear is fear itself, and I find that that phrase makes a good mantra and as well as putting things into perspective. Because a lot of the trouble - and the reporting of it - in this world, is caused by someone who is scared. Fear often gets expressed as greed, jealousy, anger, as well as its pure self. I look around at my day to day life and what I see is nothing but good. I see good people helping others in trouble. I feel safe. I trust strangers. I like it that way. That is my conscious, informed choice, and the only issue that truly matters to this voter.

My hidden talent, apparantly

This "test" fascinated me, in all its simplicity, so I'm sharing. By selecting one image, you find out what your hidden talent is.

Your Hidden Talent
Your natural talent is interpersonal relations and dealing with people. You communicate well and are able to bring disparate groups together. Your calming presence helps everything go more smoothly. People crave your praise and complements.

Mar 7, 2006

It's the amazing bizarroboobs!

One surfs. One clicks on links without knowing where one ends up. And today one ended up here: www.shockabsorber.co.uk/bounceometer/shock.html.

Now, this Flash-driven site has a good reason for using Flash, so that's OK. After a lovely and informative intro, I innocently went on to the bounceometer. After settling for size C - and feeling oddly dinky because that was the third smallest size offered - and then choosing an activity level (medium), I got the, uh, bounce metered, and it, well, it defies description.

No, really. Go see for yourself.

Mar 5, 2006

Sunday snowday

I took myself out for a walk today, just to get some pictures of the neighborhood pond in white. We don't often get snow here where I live (seriously, Bergen gets the full brunt of the gulf stream so it's downright balmy at times, for 60 degrees north), but for a week we've had white on the ground and enough freezing temperatures to keep it there. And unlike Oslo and neighboring regions who are suffocating in the stuff, we are not hampered by our paltry couple of inches of snow. We've even had sunshine.

But not today. Today, fluffy white crystals fell out of the sky. But to the north was a break in the cloud cover and a subtle coloring of the sky over distant hills, with a frosted pond in the foreground. Thusly:

(Any little spots you see in the sky in the larger version are actually crows flying.)

Mar 3, 2006

Resurrection. Restoration. And backups.

I got my computer back up and running. I even blogged about it yesterday, only to lose all contact with my computer again after installing an OS-upgrade, so I deleted that entry. A few hours later, once again, I got my computer back up and running.

This time, I'm first getting a good backup routine going, then I'm going to start fiddling around with reinstalling my extra RAM, upgrading the OS, etc. So I need to purchase an external hard drive.

But I have to say, once something had to go wrong, I'm happy that all it took was some information and time to fix. I already own a size 0 star screwdriver.

Tonight I even put my VCR back in place, something I hadn't done since I got it back from the repair shop around Christmas. Plug in, switch on, flashing 00:00, but works like a charm! I'm enjoying my M*A*S*H VCR-collection.

Now, if I could only feel like doing the dishes...