12.10.08

Three Mile Challenge

Posted in Life in general, Running at 9:00 am by Marion

For the past three days, I’ve tried to run three miles each day. I fell short Monday and Tuesday, but now I’ve at least run several days in a row, no matter how I felt.

And so today I’m launching the Three Mile Challenge.

Other people manage to run every day … I read about them in Runner’s World, Trail Runner … even see them on Oprah. My sister manages to run most every day and she has a 4-year old!!

So I’m going to try. The goal is to run every day … if I swim at the pool, no run required … one day a week I’d like to do a 7-mile run, other days 3 miles.

We’ll see how it goes. Running 3 miles is not hard, physically. The mind, however, cowers in the corner, afraid … and throws up barriers … you’re too tired … it’s too late in the day … too cold … you’re too busy.

Sitting at this computer sucks away my energy and by 3 p.m. I just want to eat a chocolate pie and go to bed. (Writers and eating … that’s another post for another day!!)

The Three Mile Challenge is now on. Off to the races!!

Of course looking out my office window I see it’s gray … raining … probably cold … I have a feature article to finish today … plus writing and editing a Web site … the house is a wreck … clothes need to be washed …

Guess that’s why they call them challenges.

ARTICLE OF INTEREST: No matter what ideas and opinions have prevailed, or what’s considered “mainstream” thinking … or for what reasons … there’s no doubt that a time has come when we are required to take a good, honest look at the authentic and lasting same-sex relationships shared by our friends.

It’s time for human-kind to be brutally honest in its appraisal of marriage … especially for those who condemn it … and those who do so because of their readings of religious scriptures … and accept that those opinions are based on preconceptions and emotional knee-jerking.

Hats off to Newsweek for this examination of the Bible’s depiction of marriage.

12.09.08

H.H. Update

Posted in HH Dalai Lama, Press at 11:48 am by Marion

His smile, his sense of inner goodness, authenticity and yes, personal persuasive power … are disarming … and though he’s good to the core, His Holiness the Dalai Lama also knows how to be seen with the right people …

Slate.com article is here

Tapped in

Posted in Tap dancing, Writers at 9:36 am by Marion

TAP DANCE LESSON UPDATE

After six months of weekly tap dancing lessons … at last I can tap moi-self across a studio!!

It seemed a weekly torture session … mirrors the length of the room … humiliating failure every lesson … brutal confrontation with my own lack of coordination and writerly stiffness … despite those impediments … including way too much self-consciousness and formality … I have managed to tap dance!!

In a most rudimentary way, I must confess.

I have managed a compound step … pretty simple mind you … flap with one foot while doing buffaloes with the other foot … when I did that across the room last night at my lesson, I felt like … well … Ginger Rogers!!

Still working on the rather clumsy execution, however. Need to add arms, develop a style instead of lumbering … what-evs.

Have I learned anything? Find a good teacher. Try to get a few private lessons if possible. My teacher has spent time with me one-on-one to talk me through changes and combinations that aren’t clear in the class environment.

Not that I understand the fundamentals … I have no boundaries … my life-long dream of tap dancing is closer than ever. (Not giving up the day job, though.)

12.08.08

Reindeer Dash for Chris Cash

Posted in Events, Running at 9:31 am by Marion

What a great run yesterday … despite the temps … with wind that felt like 30s … during the 4th annual Reindeer Dash for Cash. It’s held each year in honor of Capt. Chris Cash, who died in Iraq. He lived in the Greenville, N.C. area before he was dispatched to Iraq and was an avid runner, marathoner and exercise physiologist at a local health center.

He obtained degrees from N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees from ECU.

I ran in the 5 K and my goal was an 11-minute mile … done!! Though for some reason (a slight cold?) I was very short of breath, especially in the first half-mile.

A shout-out to my friend Tony P., who ran with me most of the way until he passed me in the last quarter mile (you dog!!) … we had a marvelous conversation for the better part of a half hour, talking about movies, families, everything from Cesar Chavez and migrant workers to Ian Curtis and Joy Division … Dogtown and Z-Boys (great movie) … The World’s Fastest Indian (another film) … of course Steve Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman were discussed.

After the race, this 47-year old felt 20 years younger … it burnt off the slag of laziness and tupor, both physical and intellectual, that had been seeping into my psyche for the past few weeks … revved me up, inside and out, for better habits, running goals (11-minute miles weekly!!) and a new outlook on life.

People wonder why in the world anyone would force themselves to pound out mile after mile, in such a strange and nebulous pursuit as running.

Just do a 5 K, in honor of a great soul, in the freezing cold, with fascinating conversation, finished off with a cup of coffee at the finish line (!!) and a V8 juice and you’ll be hooked, too.

12.05.08

Bad, bad word

Posted in Figuratively Speaking at 10:35 am by Marion

FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING

What could be worse than evil. Just the sound of this word gives a shiver, hits like a punch in the belly, brings darkness.

It’s no accident that a word like evil sounds so, well, evil. Often the sound of a word and its meaning develop hand in hand. As I have mentioned here before, often it’s the Germans who give us words whose meaning and sounds are related.

So with evil.

This word arises from the old English yfel which is of Germanic origin. It’s related to the Dutch euvel and the German Ubel (umlaut on the u).

Evil as an adjective means profoundly immoral and malevolent. It also refers to a force of spirit that embodies the forces of the devil, as well as something harmful or extremely unpleasant.

As a noun, evil means profound immorality, wickendenss and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.

There is a sense with evil that it is outside of us … a force embodied in the concept … almost a super-human being, a powerful ghost, a destructive phantom.

The dictionary also lists these uses… the best-selling phrases you might say:

the evil eye
the Evil One (Satan)
put off the evil day (or hour) (to postpone)
speak evil of (slander)

We also have the adverb evilly and noun evilness, along with evildoer and evil-minded.

You may think evil is somehow related to our words vile and villain — they’re not. Both are words of Latin origin via the French.

12.04.08

Nano-nightmare

Posted in Computers & Technology, Events, Life in general at 9:41 am by Marion

TECH THURSDAY

When it comes to my iPod nano I’d have it implanted into my arm if not for the bulge.

Anything else nano? Keep it as far away as possible.

For some time, nano particles have been some concern. These are the extremely small compounds that manufacturers and developers once touted as the next big thing … read: moneymaker.

Comes an article in today’s New York Times that brings the matter well, under the microscope.

Things created on a “nanoscale” are absorbed in ways we don’t fully understand. So while a human hair is say 50,000 – 100,000 nanometers in diameter, there are sunscreens offered today with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide as small as 15 nanometers.

Some people … including, say, me … believe these particles can penetrate our body’s own barriers … our skin, organ tissue and even our cell walls … to rack up unimaginable changes and harm.

The NYT article quotes our own Dr. Adnan Nasir, a doctor at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, who says,

“The smaller a particle, the further it can travel through tissue, along airways or in blood vessels,” said Nasir, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology. “Especially if the nanoparticles are indestructible and accumulate and are not metabolized, if you accumulate them in the organs, the organs could fail.”

Indeed, some doctors, scientists and consumer advocates are concerned that many industries are adopting nanotechnology ahead of studies that would establish whether regular ingestion, inhalation or dermal penetration of these particles constitute a health or environmental hazard. Personal care products are simply the lowest hanging fruit.

We still haven’t figured out the potential dangers of BHA, lead and phthalates in our personal care products … no one wants to bother testing lipstick for dangers when children are dying from melanin in their milk, and I don’t disagree with that choice.

Let’s face it: Companies want to make money and when they invest in new technology, it’s to do just that. Selling us on “nano particles” … eventually nano body glitters, nano mascara and probably nano fat burners … is not an endeavor intended to better humanity.

Remember, it’s our nefarious beauty industry that relies on the Draize eye test using rabbits … who don’t tear as well as humans … so why would we expect that cold-hearted industry to care too terribly much about nano dangers?

Now there are even some people who believe nano-sized particles become absorbed by the human body, leading to the strange condition known as Morgellans Disease.

It’s often true that I trend toward the old-fashioned, though once on board with new technology I love it … don’t even try to take my Vista 64-bit version away!!

But when we have commerce without morality, as Gandhi described it in his list of Seven Blunders of the World that Lead to Violence, we run great risks of harm, in ways we can’t even see, or imagine.

TOMORROW:
Figuratively Speaking

12.03.08

Last Week

Posted in Events at 8:29 am by Marion

Today, a few words in memorial to the people who died last week in India.

It reminds us that every act of anger has the potential to escalate beyond our control. That ever resentment can boil over into violence. That self-righteousness can swell into the arrogance of brutality.

For those reasons, we must work without cease to dissolve those negative emotions under the power of compassion, love and acceptance. We must remember our connection to every living thing and most especially, to other human beings, who represent the most highly developed life form in our understanding.

We must tolerate differences and generate sympathy with those whose habits and appearance are unlike ours. Most of all, our most important task as human beings is to be agents of good and universality, and to help relieve the world’s suffering.

Here is the message sent by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the prime minister of India on Thanksgiving Day last week.

His Excellency Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of the Republic of India
Prime Minister’s Office
New Delhi

Your Excellency,

I am deeply saddened and shocked by the series of deadly attacks in different parts of Mumbai that has resulted in the loss of many precious lives and injury to many others since last night. I would like to convey my deep condolences to you and through you to the members of the bereaved families as well as to all those affected by these dastard acts.

I have always admired the resilience of the people of India and have no doubt that they will not be deterred by such anti-human activities. I would like to reiterate my solidarity with the Indian people, particularly the people of Mumbai, as you confront the menace of terrorism and violence.

With my prayers,

Yours sincerely

The Dalai Lama

TOMORROW: Tech Thursday returns

12.02.08

Dalai Lama & Vaclav Havel

Posted in Buddhism, Events, HH Dalai Lama at 9:01 am by Marion

DALAI LAMA IN PRAGUE

This week, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is visiting Prague, at the invitation of former president, dissident and poet Vaclav Havel.

dalajlama_havelx.jpg

It’s hard to imagine a greater pair than these two, and they are both personal heroes.

My close encounter with His Holiness in Atlanta came when I left a seat on the gymnasium floor seconds before he walked by, giving out hugs. I imagine that in my next incarnation I’ll get one of those hugs.

My close encounter with Mr. Havel was more premeditated: At the Karlovy Vary film festival, a friend whose Czech was better than mine said, “He’s watching that film by one of his friends right now.”

My experience as a news reporter said, Go. I entered the screening room and started looking for guards. I saw two or three suited gents standing by a door … so I went to the other side of that door. And waited.

Sure enough, the film ended and Mr. Havel came out of the semi-hidden exit, and stood right beside me.

Imagine this: I was speechless.

He stood there with a suited gent or two, and smoked a cigarette. I hovered nearby. I didn’t introduce myself or anything. How do you say: I’m not worthy!!

For the 3,000 or so folks who heard him speak at the Sparta Stadium, I can attest it will be moving.

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