Showing posts from 2011

Rocking beats for peace on an Israeli tank

At the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, heres a little reminder for peace. AT SUNDOWN today Rosh Hashanah begins. In Jewish liturgy its described as the day of judgment and the day of remembrance. During services there is a phrase repeated several times: On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed. I remember as a kid listening along and having the image of God basically searching through each persons deeds for the year as if written in a ledger. It seemed fucking terrifying.

Probably my clearest Rosh Hashanah memory though was of one year where our congregation seemingly forgetting we were in the sanctuary and not at an Atlanta Hawks game or something started vigorously applauding a particularly long blast on the Shofar. The look on the rabbis face, the way he shook his head to indicate total disgust at our congregational faux pas: it was powerful.
Anyway, Im not trying to make fun of Rosh Hashanah here. Its just that Ive always felt a lot of confus…

How meditation relates to happiness

Meditation leads to mindfulness Studies point out how valuable meditating can be to overall well-being. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN meditating for thousands of years, but it seems only recently that its gaining credibility by the scientific community. The shame is that many wont even give things a second thought unless some researcher or scientist proves its benefits, choosing to ignore the wisdom of experience. An article at Forbes discusses research done that correlates meditation and happiness.
First, a Harvard University study has shown that wandering minds are an attribute of unhappy people. 2250 volunteers (ages 18-88, from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and occupations) were used in the study they were contacted at random intervals by the researchers and asked what they were currently doing and what they were actually thinking about.
almost half of the time (46.9%) people were thinking about something else. They were then asked whether what they were thinking about was pleas…

Notes on transition

The leaves on the trees here are still green. The mountains are still green. But they wont be for much longer. I ARRIVED IN Nelson almost one year ago. It was early October, and when I flew here from Vancouver I crossed over a sea of reds, oranges, and yellows in the mountains. These same colours surrounded the town on all sides, fallen leaves scattered the sidewalks and streets. It was one of the most beautiful things Id ever seen.

MONET, Claude: "Veduta di Argenteuil con la neve", 1874 - Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, USA

I returned Sunday from what could have been the last camping trip of the season. The evenings were chilly. Beanies, long johns, and jackets were required around the campfire. Warm sleeping bags and cuddling bodies in the tent necessary to resist the cold air. Then the heavy rains came last night. Windows were shut, fans turned off, sweatpants worn to bed. The seasons are changing.
I often feel like that lone person in those time-lapse videos i…

Frankfurt: Back by Popular Demand: More Time-lapse and Tilt-shift Video on the Tarmac

We traveled to the city of Frankfurt (Germany) Frankfurt, apart from being the city of banks and money is a very beautiful city.

My family, it comes from there so I have the privilege to go from time to time. The people are very friendly and helpful. The only bad thing about this country is the weather. In winter you can see temperatures up to 25 ° with heavy frost and snow, but in summer it is fine weather although they are accustomed to reach a maximum of 20 °, so when we see the "guiris" coming from Germany try to take the most time Enjoying the good temperatures we have. The food is not as good as the one we have in Spain. Most of the food is pre-cooked, the meat is not as good as here, but the novelty is you can find! Coke of different flavors! Like cherry and vanilla. It has a lot of nature and has large fields. It is a good destination to travel!

Ray Kurzweil: The human-machine civilization is our destiny

Ray Kurzweil An interview with director Barry Ptolemy on his intimate portrait of futurist Ray Kurzweil and the coming Singularity. IN THE FUTURE, humans will live forever. This is the promise of the coming Singularity, as predicted by futurist Ray Kurzweil. The charismatic and prolific inventor has dedicated his life to accelerating intelligence. Called the rightful heir to Thomas Edison, he is also:the principal developer of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.After reading his most recent book, The Singularity is Near, filmmaker Barry Ptolemy approached Ray to shoot a documentary on his life and the future of humanity. The result: Transcendent Man, a film spanning 2 years and…

When people ask about my Israel trip

IDF soldier in Tel Aviv. Photo by Or Hiltch When I say, I went to reconnect with family I mean, Im not joining your crusade. WHEN PEOPLE ASK about my Israel trip, I have to choose my words carefully. I walked around deserted streets on Shabbat evenings, befriended stray cats, stared at huge jellyfish washed up on the shore. An Apache helicopter flew over a miniature Coca Cola factory. A 17 year old boy in a daishiki who slept on the beach because his father brought home nightly mistresses bluffed his way through an earnest cover of Hallelujah. The usual travel vocabulary of micro-snapshots feels vapid and inadequate. The word Israel resonates with more political weight than I am comfortable with. It sends my anarchist friend on a rant about oppression and the injustice of settlements in Palestinian territories. It causes my aunt to swallow her civil dinner tone along with another gulp of wine and rail against about Obamas lack of support, or double standards in journalism. On both…

Whats going on in this Cuban church?

Photo: Francisco Collazo There are conflicting news reports and not much information about whats actually happening in Havana. ON SEPTEMBER 11, MatadorU lead faculty, Julie Schwietert, sent an email to the team. It contained the above photo, taken in Havana by her stepson. About it, she said:From what I understand, the photo is a procession of people who are carrying the Caridad de Cobre statue (Cubas patron saint), praying for the people inside.She also included an article from the Havana Times. It was reporting that a group of over 60 people were holed up in a Pentecostal church with their pastor, Braulio Herrera Tito, who was dismissed from his post in May 2010. It was speculated by BBC Mundo that dozens of Cuban believers are held upwaiting for a tsunami that according to their minister will cause mass destruction in these coming days. Police have barricaded access to the area and traffic has been diverted.The next day, in a report by CBS News, a top Cuban church official (no name w…

Notes on a shrike

Photo: dobak Mary Sojourner cant leave the dead bird there to get flattened. I WALK NORTH in the Mojave. I listen to my friend on the cell phone. She tells me of her recent work with a healing process called EMDR. Im about to cross the two-lane highway. Something lies on the edge of the asphalt. I look. It is a dead bird gray and black and white. I pick it up. There is no mark on it, no blood or broken bone. I cant bear to think of it being flattened.The feathers are exquisitely soft against the palm of my right hand. I am walking to the Joshua Buddha and I know to carry the bird to the dead tree that looks like a gray seated Buddha.My friend begins to tell me the details of the second EMDR sessions. I realize I am not listening because I need to concentrate solely on carrying the bird to the Joshua Tree. I tell her I will call her back.At the tree, I tuck the bird in the broken space between the stump and a dead branch. He for I know somehow it is a he is just below what would be th…

At the edge of death at Burning Man [VID]

A love letter to the most sacred space from Burning Man: Rites of Passage. The Temple of Transition I DECIDED THE NIGHT before she was meant to burn. I would meet her at sunrise, camera in hand, and would attempt to capture a small essence of her beauty. When others ask me how was the burn? I tell them I was in love. With her soaring spires, arching walkways, and haunting orchestra that played as if emanating from the walls this is what it feels like, I thought, to be at the edge of death. To be awaiting the true rite of passage. From form to non-form. On the night of the Temple burn, I knelt as a perimeter guardian. I had sacrificed my chance to watch her for the duty of watching the crowd. In the eyes of my fellow burners, as the spectrum of emotions washed over their faces, I realized what my lady meant to them. Here is my love letter to her.

Why dont you visit Africa?

Photo by residentevil_stars2001 It sucks to be the unpopular kid THE UN WORLD TOURISM BAROMETER says that Africa came stone last as a popular destination for foreign visitors last year. Putting this into perspective, Europe gets something like ten times as many visitors in a year to a geographic area around the size of both the Sudans and Algeria glued together. That leaves 52 (depending on your politics) countries worth of African space that adventurous travelers could explore. Yet, for the most part, very few do.Sure, a fair number of visitors come to South Africa, Morocco and Egypt (yes, you are actually a part of the continent), but comparatively few in global terms go anywhere else. Like Zanzibar. Or Madagascar. Or the Bazaruto archipelago and Timbuktu. So why is that?The continent is frequently criticized for corrupt and undemocratic governments, yet places like China, Laos and Cambodia remain darlings of backpackers year after year. Is it because it is seen as an unsafe destinati…

Finding the sacred at ground zero

A poignant clip from the film Scared Sacred shot in the days just after 9/11 IN THE DAYS after September 11, 2001, filmmaker Velcrow Ripper was on his own journey to the ground zeros of the world. Hiroshima, Cambodia, Bhopal and suddenly New York City. The sad irony was not lost on him. Velcrow was able to capture the darkness of the moment, as well as the light, ultimately culminating in his feature doc Scared Sacred.In honour of the 10 year anniversary, heres a look back at the scene.10 years later, the director is back in New York, and released this video message reflecting on the zeitgeist of our times.What do you think weve learned, if anything, in the 10 years since 9/11?

Why vegetarianism will not save the world

Cave painting by the San people depicting an elephant hunt taken in South Africa A controversial interview with author and ex-vegan Lierre Keith on how a vegetarian diet is not the answer to save our ailing planet.

ON THE ONE HAND, a locally grown steak, from a cow raised on grass and without hormones. On the other hand, a highly-processed soy burger that was grown somewhere far away, with many ingredients I cannot pronounce. Up until a few weeks ago, the choice would have been easy. As a vegetarian, the soy burger is the moral choice relying on the least amount of animal suffering, the least amount of carbon/water use, and the best way for me to sleep at night. After reading Lierre Keiths stunning and personal book The Vegetarian Myth now Im not so sure. I consider myself I fairly well-informed eater. Ive read the works of food activists Michael Pollan and Jonathan Safran Foer. Ive seen Food Inc. and watched Gary Yourofskys blistering attack on eating meat.And yet, in her concise …

What tree do you want to be when you die?

Photo via Martin Azua A new type of urn helps complete the cycle of life. IVE TALKED ABOUT hugging trees before. How about taking that to another level and becoming a tree? I came across this post at Big Think profiling a new product called Bios Urn, created by Spanish designer Martin Azua. The urn is made from biodegradable materials only: coconut shells, compacted peat, and cellulose. Depending on where you live and what your choice of plant youd like to grow into, the seed that goes inside can vary. From the website:The Bios Urn project reintroduces the human being to the natural circle of life. It is the profane ritual of regeneration and the return to nature.The cycle of life fascinates me, and is why I also posted a photo essay about mushrooms. Rather than being put into a box from trees that have been cut down, how about turning yourself into one of those trees? Sounds good to me.