Commitment (repost from 2005)

September 25th, 2009

Maxfield Parrish, The Lute Players 1922

Maiden plucks folk tune on steel strings,
Crickets chant like monks.
I’ve walked into autumnal contentment,
Yet a young boy seeks guidance.

One may be quite far along on the path, but if one meets a beginner who sincerely seeks guidance, then one should help without reservation. If such a beginner were to come to you, what would you say? This is what I said to someone today :

“The time of beginning is one of the most precious times of all. It can be very exciting and full of wonderful growth. The first thing to do is to make up your mind that you are going to go the distance.

“When I first began, I made a lifelong commitment. I determined that I would learn from my teacher for at least seven years. Now, it has been much longer than that, but the essential element is still the same : commitment.

“But commitment needs something else in order to be perpetuated. It needs discipline. This is the perseverance to keep on when things are tough. Adversity is life’s way of testing and perfecting a person. Without that, we would never develop character.

“Rice suffers when it is milled. Jade must suffer when it is polished. But what emerges is something special. If you want to be special too, then you have to be able to stick to things even when they are difficult.”

Commitment and discipline — these are two of the most precious words for those who would seek Tao.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

Know the masculine,
but keep to the feminine:
and become a watershed to the world.
If you embrace the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you become as a little child.

Know the white,
yet keep to the black:
be a model for the world.
If you are a model for the world,
the Tao inside you will strengthen
and you will return whole to your eternal beginning.

Know the honorable,
but do not shun the disgraced:
embracing the world as it is.
If you embrace the world with compassion,
then your virtue will return you to the uncarved block.

The block of wood is carved into utensils
by carving void into the wood.
The Master uses the utensils, yet prefers to keep to the block
because of its limitless possibilities.
Great works do not involve discarding substance.

– Tao Te Ching, 28

“The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day by day. These decisions require courage.” — Rollo May

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

– Margery Williams, “The Velveteen Rabbit”

“Once you are Real, you can’t become unreal again”. The people and things we are most truly committed to are those that are real to us. We make them Real through our love for them and our commitment to them. And they make us Real in return…

Latest Internet Toy

March 11th, 2009

The seal generator… (via Five Acres with a View)




HEMA Stores » Curbly

February 11th, 2009

HEMA is a Dutch department store which first opened in 1926 in Amsterdam. It now has 150 stores all over the Netherlands.

Take a look at HEMA’s product page. You can’t order anything, and it’s in Dutch, but just wait a couple moments and watch what happens. Don’t’ click on any of the products pictured, just wait and see what happens….and be sure to have your sound turned up.

This company has a sense of humor and a great computer programmer.

via HEMA Stores » Curbly | DIY Design Community.

Inauguration in Lego

January 20th, 2009


More photos at The Guardian…

Calling all knitters

January 12th, 2009

Knit Sackboy via Craftzine

Can anyone knit me some sackboys? They are so cute!!

Mandelbrot the Fractal Teddy

January 10th, 2009


Oh, this is just too cute! Why don’t I think of these things? From Buttons for Mouse via Boing Boing

Merry Christ-mess!

December 25th, 2008

Hope Santa was good to you!



My Santa was!

Happy Holidays to all from Darwin and Donna!

Small World

May 18th, 2008

Off to Disneyland with some girl friends for a road trip. Back sometime late tomorrow….

No, I will not go on that ride. Hate it.

My faves are the coasters, which I will happily ride any number of times. My favorite Disneyland trip, we took the boys the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, supposedly one of the least crowded days of the year, and rode Space Mountain six times straight through before there was a line. Awesome day….

Oh, Darwin would love this!

May 8th, 2008

So Cute!!!! Via Boing Boing…. Designer Plush Toys – Twitch (Raccoon) Plush Toy

Our Squash-plush range looks like roadkill. Feels like roadkill. And tastes like roadkill. But they’re not. They’re plush toys. Very macabre plush toys. It’s the way we make them that makes them seem so real.

The blood and guts and gore are made using the latest high-tech stuffing and plush, to give it quite a realistic squidgy effect. The body and head and legs are made from specially sourced plush material, that gives them that tactile quality of mangy fur. The body is partly stuffed with beads, to give it extra dead weight. And unlike real roadkill it’s something you’ll want to take home and arrange on your bed.

We’ve tried to make Twitch and the rest of his Squash-plush chums as life-like as possible. But at the end of the day he’s only a stuffed toy. All the plush materials and stuffing we’ve used are made from 100% polyester fibres, and are fully compliant with British safety laws.

Twitch’s body is stuffed with a mixture of beads and stuffing. The beads give the Squash-plush teddy a bit of extra weight, so he can lie spreadeagled in his blood and gut-pool. The blood and guts and gore are made using the latest, cutting edge stuffing. It’s a special new micro-bead stuffing that gives the guts and organs a more malleable, tactile effect. It makes it more squidgy. More gross-out. You can disembowel Twitch by pulling the blood and innards through the zips that line both sides of the teddy carcass.

Book – Snowman by Tony Palazzo

April 1st, 2008

Since I get a lot of hits here for Snowman, there was a comment on the Snowman post today that this book is available right now on ebay. I don’t usually link to ebay auctions, but this is a very rare and hard to find book.

Book – Snowman by Tony Palazzo – eBay (item 250231854982 end time Apr-05-08 12:24:00 PDT)

The story of SNOWMAN the Cinderella horse!

1962 Edition by Tony Palazzo. Fantastic book about the true story of Snowman a plow horse saved from slaughter by Harry deLeyer. Snowman became a jumping star with Harry in the irons.

This was a library book and has a blue dot taped on the spine. The book is in good condtion. No writing on the pages and the hard cover is a little dirty and the corners frayed a little. Also there is a very faint light pink stain about an inch across on the back cover. Great and hard to find book!

Smile when you say that…

February 22nd, 2008

I always smile just before I slap someone up side the head, myself… in a nice, curving motion, of course…

Children and Youth – Play – Development – Science – New York Times

Social play has its own vocabulary. Dogs have a particular body posture called the ‘‘play bow’’ — forelegs extended, rump in the air — that they use as both invitation and punctuation. A dog will perform a play bow at the beginning of a bout, and he will crouch back into it if he accidentally nips too hard and wants to assure the other dog: ‘‘Don’t worry! Still playing!’’

Other species have play signals, too. Chimps put on a ‘‘play face,’’ an open-mouthed expression that is almost like a face of aggression except that the muscles are relaxed into something like a smile. Baboons bend over and peer between their legs as an invitation to play, beavers roll around, goats gambol in a characteristic ‘‘play gait.’’ In fact, most species have from 10 to 100 distinct play signals that they use to solicit play or to reassure one another during play-fighting that it’s still all just in fun. In humans, the analogue to the chimp’s play face is a child’s smile, an open expression that indicates there is no real anger involved even in gestures that can look like a fight.

The day Brown met me in the park was a cold one, and the kids were bundled up like Michelin Men, adding more than the usual heft and waddle to their frolicking. Even beneath the padding, though, Brown could detect some typical gestures that these 2- and 3-year-olds were using instinctively to let one another know they were playing. ‘‘Play movement is curvilinear,’’ he said. ‘‘If that boy was reaching for something in a nonplay situation, his body would be all straight lines. But using the body language of play, he curves and embraces.’’

For all its variety, however, there is something common to play in all its protean forms: variety itself. The essence of play is that the sequence of actions is fluid and scattered. In the words of Marc Bekoff, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado, play is at its core ‘‘a behavioral kaleidoscope.’’

In fact, it’s this kaleidoscopic quality that led Bekoff and others to think of play as the best way for a young animal to gain a more diverse and responsive behavioral repertory. Thus, the currently fashionable flexibility hypothesis, a revival of an idea Bekoff first proposed in the 1970s. If a single function can be ascribed to every form of play, in every playful species, according to this way of thinking, it is that play contributes to the growth of more supple, more flexible brains.

‘‘I think of play as training for the unexpected,’’ Bekoff says. ‘‘Behavioral flexibility and variability is adaptive; in animals it’s really important to be able to change your behavior in a changing environment.’’ Play, he says, leads to mental suppleness and a broader behavioral vocabulary, which in turn helps the animal achieve success in the ways that matter: group dominance, mate selection, avoiding capture and finding food.


Why would such an enriching activity as play also be a source of so much anarchy and fear? Sutton- Smith found one possible answer by reading Stephen Jay Gould, the author and evolutionary biologist. The most highly adaptive organisms, Gould wrote, are those that embody both the positive and the negative, organisms that ‘‘possess an opposite set of attributes usually devalued in our culture: sloppiness, broad potential, quirkiness, unpredictability and, above all, massive redundancy.’’ Finely tuned specific adaptations can lead to blind alleys and extinction, he wrote; ‘‘the key is flexibility.’’

What Gould called quirkiness, Sutton-Smith called play. ‘‘Animal play has been described by many investigators as fragmentary, disorderly, unpredictable and exaggerated,’’ Sutton-Smith wrote, and ‘‘child play has been said to be improvised, vertiginous and nonsensical.’’ The adaptive advantage to a behavior that is multifaceted, then, is that pursuing it, enjoying it, needing it to get through the day, allows for a wider range in a play-loving person’s behavioral repertory, which is always handy, just in case.

Playing might serve a different evolutionary function too, he suggests: it helps us face our existential dread. The individual most likely to prevail is the one who believes in possibilities — an optimist, a creative thinker, a person who has a sense of power and control. Imaginative play, even when it involves mucking around in the phantasmagoria, creates such a person. ‘‘The adaptive advantage has often gone to those who ventured upon their possibility with cries of exultant commitment,’’ Sutton-Smith wrote. ‘‘What is adaptive about play, therefore, may be not only the skills that are a part of it but also the willful belief in acting out one’s own capacity for the future.’’

Five Things in my Fridge

January 28th, 2008

Tagged by Kathryn with this meme! Arrrgh!

Ok, ok, let’s see…..

Remnants of ham and vegetable soup….

Some seeds getting chilled to plant between our rain storms …

A bottle of Viognier from Imagery

The only apple from my Fuji apple tree this year….

Zombie Devil Duck!

I won’t tag anyone, but play if you like and post a comment if you do…

Lego Invasion!

January 15th, 2008

My 22 year old has decided to relive his childhood this evening and invited his friends over for a Lego building party. Just look at the fond memories in his eyes…..

And his friends….

Do they ever grow up?

Merry Christmas!

December 24th, 2007

Hope Santa leaves you everything you wanted!

The Truth About Wal-Mart and Food Safety

October 16th, 2007 – The Truth About Wal-Mart and Food Safety

Wal-Mart is the #1 importer of Chinese goods. So, after the spree of high-profile recalls and outright bans on dangerous Chinese products, wouldn’t it be logical for Wal-Mart to take the offensive against unsafe imported goods? Shouldn’t Wal-Mart stand up for the safety of American consumers?

Wouldn’t you?

The truth is that Wal-Mart is putting profits over people – again – by blocking laws requiring disclosure of where food comes from. Instead of looking out for consumer safety, Wal-Mart is watching its own bottom line.

Even among nations, Wal-Mart is China’s sixth largest trading partner: it buys more Chinese goods than industrial giants like Germany and Britain. This gives Wal-Mart the power to demand safer products from its Chinese suppliers. Unfortunately, it has demanded nothing more than lower prices, and has tried to cover up the consequences of its race to the bottom.

As consumers, we have the right to know that the products we buy are safe. Don’t let irresponsible corporations like Wal-Mart cut us out of the loop.

Amidst seemingly endless recalls of dangerous products, Wal-Mart has tried to keep American consumers in the dark.

Let’s shine a light.

Somehow this says it all

September 30th, 2007


Pay Attention

September 27th, 2007

This is an old article, but these last few paragraphs intrigued me. My kids have no interest in even trying drugs or alcohol, and when I look back at how they were raised – all the things we exposed them to, how “toy rich” we made their environment, how much we encouraged them to read and use their minds and imagination – I guess it’s no wonder they turned out as well as they have.

Psychology Today: Addiction: Pay Attention

This urge to connect to the world and learn from it is more important than mere pleasure, says Volkow. It’s part of the most basic force in behavior: the will to live. It’s not automatic, she points out. Seriously ill or very depressed people can lose the will to survive. “What is the motivation we all have to be alive, to do things?” she asks. “It’s not pleasure. Our lives would be so much simpler if we were motivated just for the sake of pleasure.”

But dopamine sensitivity and addiction aren’t genetically determined or inevitable. One experiment with monkeys showed that the dopamine system may be influenced by social interactions: Animals that lost social status also lost D2 receptors. Context is also crucial. Obviously, it’s easier to get hooked if drugs are easy to get in your neighborhood, but it’s not just a question of supply and demand. People who grow up in stimulating, engaging surroundings are protected against addiction, Volkow believes, even if they don’t have a naturally responsive dopamine system. If you connect to the world in a meaningful way, and have more chances to get excited about natural stimuli, you’re less likely to need an artificial boost.

“If you don’t get excited by everyday things in life, if things look gray, and the drug makes things look extraordinary, that puts you at risk,” she says. “But if you get great excitement out of a great multiplicity of things, and intensely enjoy these things—seeing a movie, or climbing a mountain—and then you try a drug, you’ll think: What’s the big deal?” For those lucky enough to grow up as Volkow did, surrounded by sharp minds and fascinating history, drugs are just nowhere near as interesting as everyday life.


September 27th, 2007

Via Neatorama
Someone has gone and mounted a birdcage inside a fishtank, do you call it a fishcage or a birdtank?

I’m glad these games my kids play are good for something

August 25th, 2007

Actually the things my kids learn about social cooperation, survival in difficult conditions, and critical thinking that they learn from their game playing are pretty amazing.

And considering that game playing now pays for my own board and keep, I can’t complain much about them. It’s just that in all the years we put into our education, we never imagined the computer games we enjoyed would grow into something that could support us “in real life” — and now, something that has real potential to affect learning to handle something like a global pandemic. Go figure.

How a computer game glitch could help to fight off global pandemic – Times Online

When it comes to the science of surviving a potentially deadly outbreak, there is one question that has always proved particularly tricky for experts.

How do you study the spread of an epidemic, and thus form an emergency plan to ensure the survival of the human race, without putting the population at risk of a real disease?

Researchers have now made an unlikely breakthrough, thanks to a glitch in a fantasy computer game. In an online game called World of Warcraft, an unexpected error in the software has provided a ready-made laboratory for studying the effects of an epidemic.

The 6.5 million players who control characters in the role-playing game supplied the necessary element of unpredictable human reactions without any risk to the real world.

Frogmen vs. Radioactive Octopus

July 6th, 2007

Ooh, must get one of these! A friend just sent me the link.

Via Ectoplasmosis.

Frogmen vs. Radioactive Octopus, Archie McPhee® Toys, Gifts & Novelties

Frogmen vs. Radioactive Octopus
During a routine underwater expedition, these unfortunate frogmen were attacked by a giant radioactive octopus! Will their harpoon guns, daggers and pruning shears be enough to defeat this terror of the deep or will they all be eaten alive? Each set includes twelve, 2-1/2″ hard vinyl frogmen and one, 9″ soft vinyl octopus that glows in the dark!