September 15, 2013

September 8, 2013

April 21, 2013

  • My Kitchen Garden

    I have a garden in my kitchen. Here are some pictures:

    A brand new leaf on the left, my turtle on the right.


    Above, we have an overall view of the kitchen garden.

    It is under a skylight so it gets decent light.


March 27, 2013

  • Comprehensive US Policy for Foreign Affairs

    America has a huge military presence in the world for a single, practical, reason: we’ve found that when we leave the rest of the world to themselves, they start wars that get us involved. It’s easier to prevent wars then to win them.

    America is powerful. It’s tempting to believe we can use the power for good, to make peace in the world, a Pax Americana. The Romans created an era of peace militarily by crushing all opposition.  Should America do the same?

    Can America do the same? Can we impose democracy on Syria, as we did Iraq? Can we pacify Eastern Africa, keep them from fighting? Can we spread ourselves that thin? Can we free Latin America from the grasp of lying dictators, who wear the facade of democracy while stealing from the people? if America imposes freedom on a people, is it still freedom?

     What ideals does America stand for? We stand for democracy, equal representation, freedom, the pursuit of happiness. We stand for truth, justice, and the right to speak.  All of these are weakened when we impose them on other people. It is not a choice to say, “you must choose your government, and if you choose the wrong leader we will invade you.” That is not freedom.  When America leads by force, she is weakened. When she leads with ideas, she is strengthened. Every country should find ideas they can contribute to the world.

     Our military is for defense. Pax Americana, as far as it’s come, was not imposed by military force. In the 200 years since the founding of the country, democracy has become the most common form of government in the world, not because it was forced on people. The ideal of democracy is so powerful that  now even many of the remaining dictators are forced to have show elections. The pen is mightier than the sword. If we are to change the world, it will be through ideas, not through force.

    How can this work in practice? Here are some examples.

    North Korea:
       We must let them know we will never attack them first. A lot of their strange behavior comes from fear that we will attack them; it’s the noise of a little dog.
       We want North Korea to stop being a threat and integrate with the world economy, and it is in their interest to do so, once they realize they don’t need to fight off the US threat.
       We can continue to add sanctions, so the leadership feels the pain of the people, but there must be clear actions North Korea can take to lift the sanctions.
       We must push them to have freedom of speech. Their people need to know what the world is like.
       Americans feel sad that China is a dictatorship, but the majority of Chinese people support the dictatorship, so we should let them choose for themselves.
       The bad part is China doesn’t have freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is more important for a democracy than elections; if you can’t let people know why the government is bad, then they can’t make a real decision.
       At a minimum our leaders should vocally deplore the oppression of minority groups in Tibet and Western China.
       In many ways China is still an old, imperialistic system. They lack the rule of law, they don’t have freedom of speech, they are trying to expand and conquer other countries. It would be nice if we had a president who could discuss why these are problems, because the Chinese are brothers and sisters under God, and we want to help them have better lives if we can.

       We’ve done horribly on the Palestine issue. Palestinians have a goal they can never reach: the destruction of Israel. We absolutely need to make clear their true choice, that they will continue to suffer until they agree to peace with Israel. No negotiation will ever succeed until they realize this. There’s a lot of information the Palestinians lack to make good decisions.

    The world is a dangerous place. We may need bases in Japan, to support and defend our friends on the Eastern front. It may be necessary to keep bases in Europe, so we can help our allies in the Middle East; but we should look forward to the day when our soldiers can come home, and go to war no more.

    In America, there is only one reason to go to war: to defend our lives, our liberty, our families, and our friends. We don’t kill for economic reasons. We don’t kill for peace.

May 28, 2012

  • Gold-Leafing my Lamp

    Before, it’s ugly. Shape is nice, only needs gold.


    Tools, gold,silver, copper leaf, knife, brushes, sizing (or glue) and pad. Don’t get composition gold leaf, ‘composition’ means ‘fake.’


    I experimented with several different techniques. I thought it would take me a weekend, but it ended up taking two months. Gold-leafing is actually harder than you’d expect.


    Put the glue (and clay) down, pick the gold up with a brush, and stick it on. The gold is so delicate, if you pick it up with your hand, it will fall apart and you will lose $2 just like that.


    I silver-leafed other parts. Use the knife to cut the gold into pieces that are more manageable.


    Final product. I don’t know why the picture is sideways. Surprisingly, washing the glass helped a lot to make it look better, too.


    After this, I gold-leafed my cell phone. Great! I have a cheap phone, but it’s gold! You have to be careful, because the leafing will wear off after a while if it gets rubbed. Secondly, it’s really hard to leaf small little things with cracks, because you need to put the sizing (glue) on evenly, and it tends to get pooled up in the cracks.

October 31, 2011

  • How to Meditate in a way that will Improve your Ability to Focus



    This is a form of Vipassana meditation. This is not easy, but it will improve your focus. The method is to focus on nothing but your breathing. This is level one. Don’t fall asleep.


    * Find a quiet spot, free from distraction or interruption. This might be the hardest part.

    * Sit in a comfortable, alert posture, with a straight back. Let your body hang off your spine like a rag doll. Take a moment to become aware of any tension that you might be holding in your body and let it go. This might be the hardest part.

    * Close your eyes, and focus your awareness on your breath–that small point where the air enters your body and where it exits. This might be the hardest part.

    * Be aware of the rhythm of your breath, the length and qualities of the inhale, the brief pause at the top of the cycle, the qualities of the exhale, and the brief pause at the bottom. Don’t try to change it; just be aware of it. This might be the hardest part.

    * Keep your mind focused on the breath. Do not use words. Do not verbalize the breath or any thoughts you have. Do not begine a conversation with yourself. This might be the hardest part.

    * You may find yourself thinking about some topic or carrying on a conversation with yourself. Whenever your attention wanders off, just let those thoughts go and gently bring your focus back to the breath. This might be the hardest part.

    * Even if your mind is wandering often, the exercise of noticing that you have wandered and bringing yourself back each time is helpful. This might be the hardest part.

    * Do not judge. Let your breaths be breaths. Let your thoughts be thoughts. This might be the hardest part.

    * Take it easy. Start out doing it for three minutes a day. Then increase the time. You will quickly notice an improvement in your ability to focus. This might be the hardest part.

    Embrace the boredom, do not fear it!

October 21, 2011

  • Circle of Influence




    A computer in England was poorly programmed, and labeled the smart kids ‘dumb’ and the dumb kids ‘bright.’ Typical mixup.


    When the administration finally discovered the mistake five months later, they decided to test the kids again without telling anyone what had happened. And the results were amazing. The “bright” kids had gone down significantly in IQ test points. The “bright” kids had gone down significantly in IQ test points. They had been seen and treated as mentally limited, uncooperative, and difficult to teach. The teachers’ paradigms had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


    But scores in the supposedly “dumb” group had gone up. The teachers had treated them as though they were bright, and their energy, their hope, their optimism, their excitement had reflected high individual expectations and worth for those kids.


    These teachers were asked what it was like during the first few weeks of the term. “For some reason, our methods weren’t working,” they replied. “So we had to change our methods.” The information showed that the kids were bright. If things weren’t working well, they figured it had to be the teaching methods. So they worked on methods. They were proactive; they worked in their Circle of Influence. Apparent learner disability was nothing more or less than teacher inflexibility.

October 18, 2011

October 13, 2011

  • “Love Her”







    One time, a motivational speaker was speaking at a conference. Afterwards, someone came up and said,

    “I like what you are saying, but my situation is so different. Look at my marriage. I’m really worried. My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”

    “The feeling isn’t there anymore?” He asked.

    “That’s right,” the questioner reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re realy concered about. What do you suggest?”

    “Love her,” the speaker replied.

    “I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”

    “Love her.”

    “You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”

    “Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”

    “But how do you love when you don’t love?”

    “My friend, love is a verb. Love–the feeling–is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?

    “In the great literature of all progressive societies, love is a verb. Reactive people make it a feeling. They’re driven by feelings. Hollywood has generally scripted us to believe that we are not responsible, that we are a product of our feelings. But the Hollywood script does not describe the reality. If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.”

September 8, 2011

  • Fashion Advice (quote)




    This quote is aimed at women, but I think it goes for men too:


    “The current Hollywood standard of beauty is tragic. Hollywoodized women — whether they are in London, LA, or New York, who all look exactly the same are like Barbies. Real women shouldn’t look at any of it or think about any of it.


    Instead, women should ask themselves, What colors do I like? What was my favorite period of makeup? What am I comfortable in? What time in my life did I think I looked my most amazing? What was I wearing?”


    This is what I think of when I see Miss America pageants, and the like, where many girls are tanned too much and have bleached blonde hair. If you have light skin, embrace your inner whiteness! White is beautiful, too. No need to tan it to something unnatural.