The Blind Spot

Each workday I travel a busy highway system to and from work. If you are a driver, you already know that there are blind spots that prevent you from seeing and knowing all that is happening around you. It seems that, like magic, cars on the side of us materialize out of thin air. I usually turn my head and check behind me when I am changing lanes, but even then, things might be happen in front of me while I am checking.

Another type of blind spot are the things that keep us distracted. Some of us are engrossed with entertainment media, others with hobbies and activities. There is nothing wrong with escaping the daily grind and enjoying distractions, but there are times we need to check our blind spots and pay attention to what is going on around us.

I am concerned about what is going on in our world. I am very concerned with the success of ISIS. I am also concerned with the growing debts, not only of individuals, but of countries around the world. Greece is just the first example of the debt problems that will soon face other countries. Puerto Rico, our protectorate, is finding it difficult to pay its growing debt. These events should warn us to what might happen with the USA debt that is growing out of control and eventually will have to be dealt with. Austerity, whether voluntary or enforced out of necessity is the only solution to debt. How will our citizens handle the evaporation of government handouts? I believe they will handle it as well as the Greek people, with riots, protests, bank closures, and account seizures.

I believe there are lots of warning signs as to what may lie ahead. We are seeing more and more terror inspired attacks all around the world. It could easily become much worse here. If you are a bible believer, you may have noticed signs such as the blood moon tetrad, the Bethlehem Star, the end of the Shemitah year and the beginning of a Jubilee year, which all points to a fulfillment of prophecy. I also understand that there is a red heifer that can qualify as a proper sacrifice in a yet to be constructed new temple.

I will say that, even though ISIS and other threats, such as Iran, North Korea, and others are popular in the news, as well as horrible events that happen here at home, the vast majority of people are good. I wish that each night the news would highlight and celebrate the contributions of the many people that make our community better. They could highlight an ambulance driver, a soup kitchen volunteer, an afterschool activities director, a police officer, a nurse, a social worker, and so many others. It would remind us that there are great people in our world. That our world is not just full of murderers and terrorists. Of course, I doubt if the media would ever move from its “if it bleeds, it leads” but I definitely hope they will.

So when we are distracted by life, let’s remember to stop and check our blind spots, because we just may never know what we might find there.

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New Paint

We have decided to place our home on the market, for the third time. In preparation, I am scraping down the old paint on the porch so that I can add a layer of adhesive primer and then some fresh paint. My son and I did something similar a couple of years ago to the same porch but without the adhesive primer. It looked great for a while, but after some time and weathering, the wood did not truly accept the paint and it began to lift off.

This reminded me of the process that we go through to become better people. Sometimes, we brush off the old habits, attitudes and thought processes so that we can take on new ones. A lot of the times, we find that without a proper foundation, the new habits, attitudes and thought processes just don’t stick like we thought they would. We find ourselves falling back into our old patterns. It certainly is easy enough to do.

I think that is why we need a life changing event, an ‘aha’ moment, a strong source of motivation to act as the adhesive primer to create the proper foundation for our newness. We need something that makes the new habits stick. My sister had complimented me on my will-power to avoid gluten containing foods, but I attributed that not to will-power, but a motivation to avoid the arthritis and pain that the inflammation gives me as a result from eating gluten and high sugar containing foods. That experience of overall pain and lack of mobility helps me want to avoid the same in the future.

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne Williamson, American spiritual teacher, author and lecturer.

To have a different attitude or develop a different habit, we need to change the way we think. We must make a conscience effort to change and be better. It is like putting on a new coat of paint. To make sure the paint sticks, we need a good foundation, which is why this time, I am using an adhesive primer on the porch. I don’t want the porch to look good temporarily, but for it to look good for the new owners for many years. I don’t want to change myself for the better just to fall back to where I was. I want to change myself for the better so that I can create a firm foundation to continue getting better. I know that I will never be perfect, but that doesn’t matter, as long as I try daily to be better than I was the day before.

I hope to have the porch painted by the end of the week. It is a good exercise in reminding me that, like the porch getting new paint, that I must continually strive to improve myself as well. Take this time to be thankful for all that you have, all that you are and ask for guidance to be all that you are meant to be. Take care and be well.

Convergence

I have been very interested and fascinated by the convergence of end times signs. People have believed they were living in the end times for nearly 2000 years. Some signs are rather vague, like wars, famine, natural disasters and pestilence, which we have seen throughout history time and time again. These are still occurring and in greater frequency, or at least better reported. It is definitely worth noting the signs of the times, and the season of the end times.

But there are a lot of interesting events that occur this September. I am not predicting the end of the world, but the convergence of the signs are hard to ignore. Many end time prophesies did not even make sense a hundred years ago, but they seem easier to satisfy now, especially since Israel has restored.

September of 2015 will host the end of the shemita year ( the last year of a 7 year cycle in Jewish tradition). Shemita years are years of rest, blessings and the withdrawal of blessings. The last two shemita years saw the attack of 9/11/2001 and subsequent stock market drawdown, and the next shemita year, 2008, saw another stock market drop.

September of 2015 will also host the final blood moon of the current tetrad. The blood moons of this tetrad occur on Jewish holy days or feast days. It also hosts the start of a Jubilee year, which happens after the seventh shemita of the seventh shemita cycle, the year after 49 years. The last Jubilee saw the liberation of Jerusalem. This could be the 70th Jubilee but I have read different calculations and math that may or may not offer support for this.

A red heifer was discovered in the US, which seems to meet the very high standards required. It is only the 10th red heifer suitable for sacrificial cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem, if it were there and rebuilt. I think this will spur the efforts already underway to rebuild the temple. The Temple Mount Institute is already fashioning the furnishings and implements that would be used in a newly built temple.

We see frequent famine, earthquakes, epidemics, lawlessness, increased violence, and threats of wars; and now with the Islamic State on the march, a severe increase in the violence towards believers.

The Abrahamic religions (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) all have end times prophesies that intertwine with each other, with some similarities. Regardless, it makes the convergence a most interesting study, which scares some. There are so many different ideas, interpretations and expectations, but there is no doubt that a convergence is occurring, there are too many things happening to just be a coincidence.

Something big is coming in September 2015. I am not sure what it is. It might be a financial collapse, a natural disaster, news that effects the world, or something else. I would rather prepare and not need it than to need it and not be prepared. It certainly is something to think about. There are numerous proposed timelines concerning end times. I am sure each one is made by a sincere person but I prefer to study as many viewpoints as possible. Not matter the timeline, the decision in the end is still ours.

Take care and stay well.

Your World Community

I was thinking about the vast array of connections that we have in our everyday objects. We don’t normally consider the tens, hundreds or even thousands of people, often in diverse places, that are involved in procuring, designing, producing, transporting and retailing the products and services in your life. I am amazed at the ingenuity and design that go into the products that we use every day. For instance, the car you may drive has so many different materials and technologies. It is quite possible that several hundreds of people were involved in producing it. As much as those people put their touch into your car, you affected them with your purchase. No matter what your job is, your efforts and your consumption adds to the community. So even if you are a loner, hiding from the world, the efforts of the world are still around you.

Think about how people you will probably never meet have made your life better. This isn’t necessarily the things you own, but the roads you use, the sidewalks, the buildings, everything you see and do have been made possible by community. Think about the community that supported you – not just your parents, but other relatives, friends, teachers, bosses, co-workers, etc. All of these people and many more have touched your life. More importantly, in ways you may never realize, you have touched many lives as well, not only personally, but through you work and consumption. You need the community and the community needs you.

USDA Approves GMO Apples

The USDA has approved two varieties of Artic Apples, trademarked by the Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. Due to genetic engineering, these apples do not turn brown when cut, as the gene responsible for the browning has been turned off.

I for one am very and truly disappointed for the introduction of the first GMO apples into the apple marketplace. Apples have been one trustworthy food for non-GMO consumers. Apples are highly nutritious and delicious. I do not know of any health hazard accompanying this new GMO product, but my question is, was this really necessary? Is there such an outcry for non-browning apples? Maybe there is, but I for one will not purchase these.

The varieties approved for sale in the US are Artic Golden Delicious and Artic Granny Smith. I doubt that they will be on the markets soon, as Okanagan will have to convince growers to grow their apples and it will take some time for those trees to bear salable fruit.

With more than 70% of our food supply coming from potential GMO sources, the rise of food allergies, digestive problems and autism, it seems to be the wrong path to go happily skipping down. Biotech foods might not be the source of these problems but one has to wonder why the explosion of these problems, can it truly be just processed sugars and salts. I have no idea, but I do know that it is getting harder and harder to put ‘natural’ foods in our diets and into our bodies.

Still Much Good

We are constantly bombarded by news from everywhere about every bad and evil thing that is being done. I am sure that if aliens are tuning into our news to see what life is like on earth, they would be convinced that we are one of the most vicious, violent and barbaric creatures in the universe. The news almost celebrates the gruesome because it generates the best ratings, following the ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ mentality.

There are truly horrific acts performed every day. This, I do not deny. But of the billions of people that live on earth, the acts of these few in the big scheme of things is not a large percentage of the population.

Every day, people go about their routine lives, dealing with a traffic jam or two, or maybe a rude cashier, but generally not dealing with the incredible violence that the media would predict for us. There are some terrible atrocities going on in the world right now. There are brutal acts that must be stopped. I do not understand the lack of fervor to curtail these acts. How many thousands of innocent people must die before the world takes real action? I don’t know, but apparently more than the thousands that have already died.

Even so, there are many good people in the world. Some go through life quietly lending a hand here and there, smiling and welcoming. There are volunteers, charity workers, teachers, peace-keeping soldiers and other do-gooders working hard each day to make the world a better place. There are government and organization workers who try their best to care for those in need, supplying food, clothing, medicine and shelter. They find purpose and meaning in helping others, even if it’s just one person, or one family, or one small part of a community.

There is still much good in the world amongst the horror stories. There is good news out there, but one has to look for it. The media occasionally tells a story of bravery, of goodness, but not nearly as much as they should. They should emphasize that even though there is evil and cruelty in the world, there is still much good being done, even in the smallest of ways.

My thanks goes out to all of those that try to make the world a better place for all in a most respectful and humane way, regardless of their religion, faith or lack thereof. I thank those who fill each day trying to show the passion they have for the well-being of others. I thank you because you teach us quietly, that there is still much good.

The bear in me

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to sleep through the winter. When the air turns cold and the snow falls, I want to curl up and sleep until spring. I have also noticed that I have a craving for carbs during the cold. I think that, like a bear, my body wants to store up fat for the long sleep or at least insulate me from the surrounding cold. I am not sure, but it might be the decrease in serotonin that happens naturally in the winter months. Carbohydrate rich foods can increase serotonin production temporarily. But I am sticking with the bear analogy.

I am continually amazed at the separate intelligence that our body has. It’s incredible that our bodies regulate temperature, balance salt and water levels, and create cravings in an effort to get what it needs. Even when I sleep, my body continues its thousands, perhaps millions of functions. I don’t have to think about it, yet my brain is constantly busy. I wonder if bears dream. I hope so, sleeping all winter gives you lots of time.

I’ve been trying to combat my cravings for carbs with more protein. It’s working until the afternoon, then the compulsion for something sweet really kicks in. I will admit that I do sometimes succumb to the prodding. Now, how to I set my alarm for early spring?

Holiday Season

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is often called the Holiday Season. My favorite part of this time of the year is the time spent with family. Most families make a special effort to be together. Hopefully, it is a joyful time that reinforces the connections that bind us, whether it be through blood or mutual caring.

It is a time that we send and receive cards and letters, emails and texts to one another, establishing even the briefest of connections. It is a chance to let those you care about know that you are there. And it is a chance to reminisce, even painfully, those that are no longer with us.

It is a time that we are reminded to wish well our fellow man, to seek goodness in others and demonstrate love and generosity to those around us. It really is a mission that should be the goal of every day.

Now that we have entered a new year, we may or may not make resolutions, but each day in this new year is another chance to make our path and lives better by choosing wisely, loving deeply and learning from life’s lessons. It is a time that we are reminded of new opportunities in moments not yet realized.

I hope you experienced a wonderful holiday season. I hope you take this and every opportunity to look around you, realize the world is full of wonder and awe, and to be thankful for all that you have.

Paying Attention to your Surroundings

May we marvel at the beauty and splendor around us.

May we marvel at the beauty and splendor around us.

My wife is writing a beautiful book about the 10 moons of Native American legend. I found it interesting when I received a calendar book from a charity for the Lakota (Sioux) and read that the months were named after the change that occurred month to month. For instance, February is called Moon of the Popping Trees because the frost, ice and snow caused the tree limbs to pop. I have heard the same thing here in upstate NY when we have our occasional ice storms and you can hear the limbs break as the shatter from the freezing and the weight of ice and snow. June is called Moon of Good Berries. The Lakota people were hunters and gatherers. The months were sometimes related to the food and conditions that were prevalent that month. They observed the changes of the season and what those seasons offered them.

I have always respected Native American culture. They were connected to nature and its marvelous mysteries and splendor. They studied the movements and changes of the seasons and the effects on their food supply. They paid attention to their surroundings, not only because they needed to do that to survive, but also to understand the wisdom of nature.

I suppose I admire those who are aware, because, honestly, I am not always aware of my surroundings. I get caught up in my thoughts. I have been accused at work of “zoning out” when I am trying to problem solve because I am busy visualizing how the problem was created so that I can pinpoint a solution.

I do think it is important to stop and look around. I try to be aware of the little issues that may be getting in the way of keeping people happy. Sometimes the smallest of changes can have a big effect. Someone may be looking at a larger goal that seems almost impossible but may miss the small step that might get them towards the goal. I once was listening to a radio host who had always dreamed of working as a radio host, but could not seem to land the opportunity. Even though it was not his goal, he took a job as a library person at a radio station, pulling tapes and keeping track of their audio inventory. At least he was in radio, if not on the air. One day, the regular radio host could not make the show for one reason or another. The owner of the station asked the librarian to step in. It was an emergency and the station owner needed a voice on the air. This librarian, who had always wanted to be a radio host, finally had a chance to be on the air. He did so well, that he scored his own show.

Even though he was not meeting his dream at first, he paid attention to what he wanted, paid attention to the tasks behind the scenes which gave him a better understanding of how the radio host was supported. He finally reached his goal of becoming a radio host.

Things are changing where I work. Our procedures are changing. We are still working out how our work is going to be done. By paying attention to our workflow and what needs to be done, we will find efficient ways to get them done.

Just as we are often forced to look around to fix problems. But we should remember to look around and see all the things that are good. We can count our blessings and be glad to have what we do. It is so hard to find happiness if we don’t appreciate what we already have. We should pay attention to the good things that can lead to better things as well as the not-so-good things that have to be changed.

It is wise to stop and smell the roses, but I think it is just as wise to stop and look at the garden. It is a chance to think globally as well as locally. You can change your world and you get to decide how big that world is. I hope that you look around and find that your blessings are many.

No Left Turn

On the road where I work, there is a bridge over a main interstate artery for our city. The area around the bridge has been under construction for almost two years. There are two traffic lights on the bridge to allow left turns from both sides to access the artery below. The traffic on the bridge was always congested. On my way home each evening, I would wait in line to turn left. It was not unusual to wait two to four cycles of the traffic light to execute the turn. Yesterday, they finished building the new ramps to allow both lanes to turn right to go either north or south. No more left turns! Traffic today moved much smoother and much faster. This will make my commute home each night much easier.

Speaking of new traffic patterns, I survived yet another layoff from my work. The department I worked in was outsourced to a third party contractor. I am in the process of learning what my new duties and responsibilities are in the new reality of my job. I am exploring the paths that define my new work. It is an interesting adventure. On top of the new duties, our overall processes have changed because of the off-site processing. This is giving me the opportunity to learn the new system and develop efficiencies around them, trying to avoid the left turns that create difficulties. I am enjoying the challenge. I see both the road work and work changes as positive. Both are efforts to improve and enhance their respective purposes.

I am saddened that some of my co-workers are losing their positions because of the changes. They were good at what they did and they worked earnestly and honestly. Of course this leaves fewer people to do the work, but the new procedures places many of the stresses on the contractor and away from the employees.