Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Face Of The Week...

Young Tarahumara mother and child - Guapalina, Mexico

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back soon...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How many other things are we missing....


MusicianSomething to think about….

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

The questions raised:

*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*Do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.

How many other things are we missing?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men - Mike and Son...

I wrote the below post, (called Dependable)... the comment below it was posted by a reader. These are people who know what is truly valuable.



I went to my local upholsterer, Mike, today to see about some slip covers. Mike is 83 years old. His wife died two years ago at 80 of undiagnosed cirrhosis of the liver. They were married 60 years.

Mike was a soldier in WW II and had 5 days of R & R in Nice, France. On his first day there he saw her walking on the street and he said the one phrase he knew in French and she stopped to talk with him in her broken English. They saw each other over the next four days (a movie, dinners) before he shipped out. When he returned to the States a year later he wrote to her, sent her an engagement ring and she came to the US. They were married shortly after she arrived. She worked as a hair dresser and Mike worked at the local Anaconda copper mill in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and when they closed the factory he went to school to learn the upholstery business. He works by himself and has now been in the same small shop (his second) for 18 years. It's across the street from the empty Wonderbread warehouse on route 9A. He is listed in the yellow pages as "Dependable Upholstery".

Mike has two kids, four grandchildren, one great grandchild and a second on the way.

I showed Mike the material we chose for our slip covers from one of the sample books he gave me. On my way home my cell phone rang, "Steve, it's Mike. Hey I am sorry but they do not carry that material any more. I am really sorry buddy but what can I do? I hate these suppliers - they lie".

I told him not to worry about it - I'd come in next week and choose another material. I am looking forward to it.


mrjunction said...
Mike (the Upholsterer) is my dad, and he is an amazing person. He has more energy in one finger than I do in my entire body. At 83 years of age he still gets up for work, cooks, cleans the house, drives his grandchildren around...all with a smile on his face. He is rarely, and I mean, rarely in a bad mood...even though he has had a tough life.
He grew up poor, and his mom passed away when he was two. His dad, who immigrated from Italy spent the majority of my dad's youth in jail, so he was raised by his maternal grandparents. He grew up with his aunts and uncles who were of a similar age. At 18 he went into the Army to fight the war (WW II). While he was overseas, his older brother (by a couple of years) was killed in action in the Philippines. But even with all of this heartache and turmoil, there is not one ounce of depression in his body...never feels "Why Me?"...never acts like the world owes him something.
My dad never considered himself a success, and at one point in my life I told him that this was unacceptable! He couldn't be more of a success as a M-A-N. My wish is to be more like my father (Mike). The world would be a much better place if everybody was.
My dad, Mike, is my hero.....sounds like a success to me!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Evening Star and What Should I do...

"There’s plenty I don’t understand about myself, but nothing nags. Paradoxically, the deeper I got into neuropsychology the less interested I became in the details of my own inner workings. I’m not sure why. It certainly is not because I arrived at any great insight or understanding. I still experience the almost visceral sense of puzzlement over matters of brain, mind and selfhood that first drew me to the field. What happened, I think, was a shift – let’s imagine a neural switch somewhere in the frontolimbic circuitry - from one preoccupying question, What am I? to another, What should I do? It left me less inclined to bother about self-understanding than to consider the value of things, moral and aesthetic. How best to live? But here’s a nagging thought: might those two preoccupying questions turn out to be one and the same, like the evening star and the morning star?"

Dr Paul Broks is a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Plymouth and a popular science writer. "On Emotion", the first of a planned trilogy of plays by Broks and Mick Gordon, about emotion and magical thinking, was shown in the West End last December.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Fund Raiser...

The fund raiser at 88th and 5th Avenue was ten times more interesting than I had expected. First of all the setting... the upper east side - you get there and experience pre-deja vu - you know beforehand what the lobby is like, the rich wood paneled elevator, the doorman, the walk into the apartment directly from the elevator, the spacious apartment that feels not quite fully lived in (but maybe all houses feel like that when Company is coming over), the caterer, the blond hostess (black cocktail dress, pearls) and the host (dark suit with orange Hermes tie), their 8 and 10 year old spitting image kids, girl (in black dress) boy (tie and blue blazer), the art work on the walls, the furniture.
(There was a medical latex glove on display as part of the event (medical related project) and the girl, to Pop's chagrin, blew up the glove (like a balloon) during one of the speeches. It was impressive.
What was unexpected was how diverse and interesting the guests were. The Executive Director of the charity who spoke eloquently and with tears in her eyes about the agony of witnessing a mother and child die during delivery - and how preventable such deaths are with a blanket, some common medicine, a syringe... The Scottish former investment banker who retired to travel around the world and follow his favorite rugby team. The real estate agent who just sold an apartment for $12,250,000 (his largest sale ever). The former mountain climber who speaks Spanish and has a masters in public health and is going to Mexico in January to run a maternal health care clinic the organization is starting there (based on their clinic in Tibet); the documentary filmmaker who is also going to Mexico in January to make a documentary film about the project; and the a CNN producer who showed her short film about the project that was broadcast last year. There were different sets of good friends there - it was an intimate vibe mixed with new business development.
The Executive Director spoke for a few minutes introducing herself and the CNN film was shown and then going in a circle around the room everyone introduced themselves and said why they were there. Then the former Chairman gave an inspired speech about having been to Tibet with the project and he saw Tibetan children cry and those children would have died if not for this organization and each of those tears is a soul and once you have cried a soul's tears you are changed forever - - the speech was borderline nuts but awesome - the guy was channeling Baba Ram Dass. It was quite a beautiful speech actually.
The guests were all given a red string (the Buddhist / Cabala /Madonna type) and had the person next to them tie it around their wrists.
It is a worthy cause.

It was chilly walking down Fifth Avenue and then over to my car. Lexington Avenue was not very crowded. Winter is coming.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Teen girls and drinking...

I thought this was a smart article: it may be true that modern connectivity takes a particular toll on girls...

By Elizabeth Scott

When I was doing research for my young adult novel, Love You Hate You Miss You, I read a lot about teens and drinking, or, more specifically, teen girls and drinking.

Now, here’s the thing: teens, including teen girls, have been drinking since my parents were teenagers (which was in the Dark Ages). Certainly in the very rural area where I grew up, there were few things to do on the weekends but drink.

So teenage girls drinking isn’t anything new, but what does seem to be fairly new is *how* teenage girls drink.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all teenage girls–for every girl who drinks, you’ll find one or more who doesn’t. But for now, I’m going to talk about teen girls who do drink.

What’s happened over the past several years has been an upswing in the amount that teenage girls drink when they are drinking. There are many theories as to why, but I think a lot of it comes down to how much pressure girls face today. Not only are they expected to be beautiful and thin, they must also be smart, athletic, have an active social life, and participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible. And, of course, it never hurts to be popular.

And while girls juggle all this, they also have to deal with the intricacies of high school life, which is not for the faint- hearted. It used to be that you’d go to school and maybe talk to your friends after school or on the phone at night (how I used to envy people with their own phone line!) but now, if you have a cell, you can talk to anyone any time and anywhere. And while being able to keep in touch is great, it also adds another layer of things to do to a teen girl’s already busy day.

Juggling the jungle that is high school, along with planning for your future–at a time when you’re usually faced with a curfew and other parental restrictions, plus whatever rules the school feels like throwing your way–is overwhelming.

Teen girls are expected to be powerhouses–to know what they want, to know how to get it, and to be and do everything they possibly can to be their best, or, better yet, be even better than everyone else. (Although, if that should happen, you must never ever brag about it– being humble is also part of being a teenage girl.)

So is it any wonder that when teen girls do drink now, they drink a lot–and quickly? Drinking is a central nervous system depressant, but it also lowers inhibitions, and gives girls an outlet–as strange as it may sound–to relax. When you’re drunk–and if you’re really drunk–you don’t think about everything you’re facing, if only because you simply can’t.

The first thing many people want to do is stop teenage girls from drinking. I don’t think that’s a realistic goal, if only because some teenagers are more than likely to drink no matter what, but I do think that seeing a downturn in the number of girls who drink enormous amounts of alcohol would most definitely be a good thing.

However, more than that, what needs to be addressed is the underlying problem that leads to this increased drinking–and that is, quite simply, it’s virtually impossible to be a teenage girl today.

You may remember your teenage years with fondness or bitterness, and although a lot of things about being a teenager haven’t changed, one of the things that has is how much pressure girls face to do and be everything–and to keep in touch with everything that’s going on and everyone they know. And while teenage girls should certainly be encouraged to realize that they are smart and special and amazing–it should also be stressed that they don’t have to do everything and be everything in order to matter.

You don’t have to be perfect, and that is what frightens me the most–that so many teenage girls believe that they do, and chasing perfection–well, that’s what you’ll do. You’ll keep chasing it, because no one is perfect. And when you want to be perfect, or worse, are expected to be, it creates a lot of problems– and as some teen girls have discovered, one way to escape those problems is to drink as much as you can as fast as you can.

I don’t feel it’s my job to tell anyone what to think or do, but I will say this: remember when you were 15, 16, 17? Remember how intense everything was, and how your whole life was just waiting for the next day, the next thing, everything? Now add in about 1000X more pressure, and you’ll see what today’s teen girls are dealing with.

Could you handle that?

I know I couldn’t.

Elizabeth Scott grew up in a town so small it didn’t even have a post office, though it did boast an impressive cattle population. Now she lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband, firmly believes you can never own too many books, and would love it if you visited her website, located at


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