Archive for November, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain

November 30, 2008

Today is Mark Twain’s birthday.  Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri.

His first published work was “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” in 1867. That was just the beginning.  American author William Faulkner called Twain “the father of American literature.”

Twain became a very popular figure.  He was often quoted.  In honor of his birthday, here are a few of those quotes

Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.

It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Perspective

November 29, 2008

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.  On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, ‘How was the trip?’

‘It was great, Dad.’

‘Did you see how poor people live?’ the father asked.

‘Oh yeah,’ said the son.

‘So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?’ asked the father.

The son answered:

‘I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool  that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.’

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added,  ‘Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.’

Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have.

Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!

Post Thanksgiving Shopping Gone Bad

November 28, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — A Wal-Mart worker at its Long Island store has died after being trampled by a throng of unruly shoppers looking for Black Friday bargains, according to media reports Friday. At least three other people were injured in the incident, the reports said. The exact cause of death was not known yet. Black Friday takes its name from the profits retailers hope to rack up at the start of the holiday shopping season.

For the first time in our married life, we didn’t go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  The post-Thanksgiving shopping trip tradition used to be fun.  We would get up early enough to arrive at the mall by 7:00 AM and get some good deals and be done by lunch–just in time to go out to lunch. At 7:00 AM, we would have most of the parking lot to ourselves and the mall was pretty much empty.

Now, it is getting crazy.  Stores opening at midnight or 4:00 AM.  And, I guess, the Wal-Mart shoppers were way too enthusiastic about their post Thanksgiving shopping.

Giving Thanks

November 27, 2008

By tradition, we American celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.  The American tradition goes back to the early 1600’s when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation gave thanks.

I think Thanksgiving is a holiday with special spiritual meaning.  It is a time to give thanks for what we have and who were are.

And to whom do we give thanks?  The Founding Fathers had a clear understanding of who we should acknowledge as the source of our blessings.  The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777:

“FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:”

President George Washington, proclaiming the first Thanksgiving designated by the federal government declared,

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Abraham LIncoln proclaimed, “It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Today is a day to remember and to put our blessings in the proper perspective.  Everything we have and everything we are is the result of blessings from our Heavenly Father.  Some people understand that; most don’t.

Today is a special day to give thanks to God and to show our gratitude for the all our blessings.

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Some quotes for Thanksgiving and gratitude

Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves. Henry Ward Beecher

Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed and how workable the Christian system is. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation to God and to one another. John Clayton

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. Henri Frederic Amiel

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.  Denis Waitley

If you think Independence Day is America’s defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down.  Tony Snow

Fibonacci Day

November 24, 2008

I’m not sure how I missed it, but yesterday was Fibonacci Day.  It is on November 23 because the first numbers of the Fibonacci Series are 1, 1, 2, 3.  The Fibonacci sequence adds the previous 2 numbers to get the third.

Leonardo of Pisa, sometimes known as Leonardo Fibonacci or just Fibonacci, was an Italian mathematician.  He didn’t invent or discover the Fibonacci sequence, but he used it as an example in his book, Liber Abaci.

Tiling squares whose sides are consecutive Fibonacci numbers and then drawing a arc connecting opposite corners creates a Fibonacci spiral which approximates the Golden spiral.

Do a little discovering of your own on Fibonacci numbers.  They are fascinating.

The First On Her Block

November 23, 2008

I usually put my mom’s Christmas light put for her after Thanksgiving.  However, the long-range weather forecast has rain predicted for next week.  So a change of plans.

After a morning of geocaching in Camarillo while Wendy was taken a sewing class, we took the long way to Los Angeles–through the Santa Monica Mountains to the ocean.  The day was a little hazy, but it was an enjoyable drive.  The ocean was about as flat as it gets–completely different than the Santa Ana wind blown white caps of last weekend.

The Christmas lights got put up in record time because I had helpers–Wendy and Mom.  It also helped that the weather was nice.

So we jumped the “wait until Thanksgiving” rule of Christmas decorating.  But that’s OK because my mom really enjoys having Christmas lights.

Take a Hike Day

November 17, 2008
I'm the second in line--with a green backpack

I'm the second one in line--with the green backpack.

Is there a connection between taking a hike and getting lost?  If you tell someone to take a hike, is it like telling someone to get lost?  In the spirit of my last post on the importance of being kind, I’m going to assume that Take a Hike Day refers to putting one foot in front of another for an extended period of time.

I jumped the gun on Take a Hike Day by going on a very nice hike Saturday.  It was a 13-mile plus day, with a 1000′ climb the first 1.5 miles of the day.  I blogged about the hike here. Saturday’s hike was in the Santa Monica Mountains with 7 geocaching friends.  It took longer than I had expected, but I enjoyed the entire trip.

Hiking has been one of my favorite past times for a long, long time.  I’m glad someone thought of giving hiking its own day on the calendar.

Me--taking some photos.

Me--taking some photos.

So, Go Take A Hike.  And I mean that in the good sense of the phrase.  And don’t Get Lost!

Kindness

November 13, 2008
I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced that they are about to change the world. I am more awed by…those who…struggle to make one small difference after another. Ellen Goodman

Today is World Kindness Day.    The world is a much too big a place for me to be concerned about the entire place today.  I think that will try to take care of things just one person at a time.  Let’s be kind to everyone we meet today.  I’m sure we all could use it.

Some quotes:

  • Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-70)  “Life is mostly froth and bubble; Two things stand like stone: – Kindness in another’s trouble, Courage in your own.”
  • Benjamin Franklin  “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
  • Danny Thomas  “All of us are born for a reason, but all of us don’t discover why. Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”
  • Harold Kushner  “There are no unimportant jobs, no unimportant people, no unimportant acts of kindness.”
  • I Guess It’s Not Over Until It’s Really Over

    November 6, 2008

    Proposition 8 was passed by the citizens of California Tuesday by 52.5% to 47.5%.  The margin of victory was more than one-half million votes.  Yet, I’m afraid, the battle isn’t over.

    Last night, there was a large demonstration in the streets of West Hollywood and Hollywood by the No on 8 people.  The LAPD called a tactical alert.  Attorneys are filing suits to keep Prop 8 from going into effect.  There are calls for a recount–even with the 500,000 vote margin.

    The strong rhetoric continues to focus on losing rights and on Prop 8 discriminating against gays.  Some of the quotes from last night’s demonstration in the streets include, “You can’t legislate away peoples’ civil rights,” “It’s about civil resistance in the streets to communicate, to open up a dialogue, and to recognize that this is unconstitutional,” and “Gay, Straight, Black or White, marriage is a civil right.”  At least  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposed Prop 8, said, “It’s the will of the people… Now we have to move on and respect what the people wish.”

    Will we be able to move on and respect the results of the election?  From what happened yesterday, I doubt it.  Unfortunately, respect has been largely missing from the No on 8 groups.  The campaign has been marked by stolen and destroyed Yes on 8 signs, charges of bigotry and hatred, and other actions way outside of the realm of respect.

    As I wrote here the day before the election, this issue has never been about eliminating anyone’s rights.  Marriage is not a right; it is a legal privilege.  A legal privilege that is regulated by the state.  No rights have been lost with the passage of Prop 8.  Gay couples who register their union with the state are guaranteed all the rights that married couples enjoy in California.  Prop 8 didn’t change that.

    From Equality California, we get this news flash:  “The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a writ petition before the California Supreme Court today urging the court to invalidate Proposition 8 if it passes. The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.”

    When will it really be over?  In the short run, certainly not until there are rulings on the suits brought to block Prop 8’s implementation.  In the long run, it will probably never be over.  I’m guessing that we will continue to be vigilant and will need to work to maintain traditional marriage.  Whenever there is a vote, the people have always sided with traditional marriage.   The proponents of same-sex marriage have only found success in the courts.  Hopefully, this time, the will of the people will prevail.

    Election Day

    November 4, 2008

    Today is Election Day.

    Exercise your right to vote.