Tag Archives: death

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Why Losing a Dog Can Be Harder Than Losing a Relative or Friend | Alternet

Posted by Michele Kearney at 2:01 PM 


You Are Not Your Brain 

By Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Rebecca Gladding

Overactive brain circuits can often lead to bad habits, compulsive actions, and anxieties. In this illuminating read, two neuroscience experts deliver a simple four-step method to overcome these destructive impulses and live a more fulfilling, well-balanced life.



Hymns to the Silence 


“… if you take the 14th verse out of each of John’s 21 chapters and string them together, you end up with a very interesting overview of the entire gospel–an overview that sort of rushes by you like a swift-running brook…..”





A hand-picked list of must-watch cybersecurity videos to help you learn the fundamentals of encryption, how hackers penetrate systems, and strong cyber-defense tactics for business.



This seems to be a particular popular post and so …



A recent writing prompt exercise built on the word “boat”

My legs are not sea legs. Looking back over seven decades from within the experience of hip arthritis, muscular issues that are related to a motor stroke and a weak heart that cause me to walk slowly and awkwardly, I think that sometimes it’s all because of an internal balance mechanism that was damaged by an inner ear infection as a child, or perhaps that time when I was six that I fell face first onto the edge of a concrete step, but my first realization that I was not going to be a boatsman was at camp when I flipped the canoe.  Flipped the canoe and the counselor too.

Luckily it was shallow, summertime, and he had long legs and some experience; I moved on to archery and capture-the-flag.


My second encounter with a boat was in Florida at the age of nine or so after my step-mother, brother and sister and I drove down to see some rich old distant relative about some family business and we got the treat of a sport fishing trip out of Boynton Beach, Florida. We were going to catch a boat load of swordfish and whatnot.

The rig we were on was bigger and heavier than a canoe and much more stable, and under the command of a bonafied cap’n with one name and some other fellow who handled the rods and the bait.  As the youngest, I waited and did what I was told, sat in the seat, buckled the belt, and watched the fellow put something on the hook.  He stuck the rod into a metal pipe that I straddled in my seat and out of the harbor we chugged on a cool sunny morning through the briny breezes out into the Gulf Stream. Big brother and sister were ready too, and Mom, and before you knew it, we were way out beyond the ability to see land, looking for fish.

As a nine-year-old, I had no clue about how to look for fish.  I could barely see over the side of the boat, the stern’s gunwale, and anyway the fish were in the water.

But someone could see the fish and knew where and how to find them and find them we did. Lots of them. Pointy sleek little buggers, not much to them… Not at all like those big spear-tipped things whose pictures you could see back at the dock with the lucky person who caught it, big smiles on both the man and the fish, though I couldn’t understand what the fish had to smile about.


We were catching buckets of bonito.

At least they were.  I had one bite but not much more.

The one-named cap’n and his mate were cheering us on, telling the rest of my family that catching bonito was okay, that they could be sold for money at the dock, and that where there were bonito, there was gonna be a swordfish, or mackerel, or maybe barracuda.

They were capn’s and such, and they knew about these things, so I kept reeling and bobbing and getting a fierce sunburn.  We had four or five white buckets filled with bonito and some were flopping around on the decks wet with seawater and bait.


Then we found ourselves in some waves. I don’t know what or where, but the cap’n was in charge and we drove on, up and down. Soon enough as the boat went up and down, so did my stomach, and breakfast came up when the boat went down, and whatever I had for legs turned into jell-o, and soon enough I was curled into a ball of seasickness and tucked back into a dark corner under an old blanket, to ride with the future catfood back into the harbor.  I was a complete wreck and had to be helped back to the car; they lay me down on the back seat and I woke up somewhere in North Carolina.


The next encounter with a boat was way up north.  We’d driven forever on some highways until, finally, we crested the hill and you could see — way down at the bottom of the hill — a river and a town. Soon enough, we were on the docks and getting on a polished mahogany “heavy cruiser”.  I was the guest of a classmate and his older sister, given the opportunity to spend a few days on an island in the middle of about a thousand other islands, some big, some small, some with glorious houses, this one a sizeable estate of a very wealthy family.


We played stickball on the clay tennis courts in our bare feet and I ripped the toenail off my big toe trying to get to second base.  In the afternoon, we paired off in St. Lawrence skiffs. Everyone in the islands had one, or two, or three of these little boats, and afternoons up there in the summer were devoted to sailing and playing a game of shipboard tag.


The skipper of the boat sat in the back and handled the rudder and the sail; the cap’n’s mate had three and a half tasks.  Being the landlubber with no experience, my responsibility was to pull the centerboard up or down according to the cap’n’s commands, to get out of the way of the boom by ducking under it, and to keep my weight (the ballast) tucked down into the well somewhere close to or ahead of the mast. Moving around to either side on the the cap’n’s commands was a secondary method by which he steered. He steered with several purposes. The first was not to get run over by the big freighters.


Generally this was not a problem. They stayed in their lanes, and we stayed out of them.  But they couldn’t turn easily or stop suddenly, and they were a lot bigger.  In our little wooden boats, we theoretically could turn easily and, if the wind was right and the cap’n knew what he or she was doing, we could scoot to safety.

The second reason to steer was to avoid getting hit by the tennis balls.  All those old tennis balls from tennis and stickball went to use.

Each boat was given two of them, and a pole with a net. At the beginning of the inter-islands pre-teen pick-up regatta, called to order perhaps with a couple of blasts on an air horn by some grown-up in a motor boat at precisely (or approximately) 2 PM, one of the boats was designated “it”.

In this game, unlike tag on land, you want to be “it”, because when you were “it”, either the skipper or the mate inn other boats could stand up and throw one of their tennis balls at your sail. If they succeeded in hitting the sail, they were “it” and everyone would now aim for them.

But throwing a tennis ball with any kind of accuracy while you are standing and trying to maintain balance in a narrow boat is not an easy task.  You missed a lot. And you ran out of balls quickly.

No problem.  All those misses were bobbing in the water in their bright yellowness against the background of blue with white foam, just waiting for you (or perhaps the better, faster boat) to sail over there and scoop it out of the water with the net.

Sometimes if you were very lucky, you could stand up, avoid falling in, and use your net like a lacrosse goalie to fend off approaching yellow bomblets.

Remember, though, I had a balance problem, so I stayed pretty much safely tucked in under the boom, clutching the mast.  The waters were not choppy so there were no problems with nausea and vomiting; I just didn’t want to fall in.

Oh, I could swim, and we all had life-jackets anyway. But the skipper’s job of skipping is much more difficult when the ballast is floating overboard and he has to maneuver around so it can be recovered, losing precious time not spent throwing or retriving bobbing wet yellow rubbery furballs.

Now the object of the game, which was over when the air horn blasted again at precisely (or approximately) 4 PM, was to have collected the most tennis balls. The bottom of the winner’s boat was awash with bright yellowness. And everyone got a good suntan, and a lot of experience handling a sailing boat.  After dinner, everyone crowded into a motor boat and went over to another island to roast marshmallows and watch the Northern Lights.


The last encounter with a boat started back down in Florida. We’d won one of those quick out-and-back cruises because we said we’d sit still long enough to hear the sales pitch for a time-share. Weakly we finally succumbed and bought a week in October on the inner eastern edge of the Everglades; it took us close to two decades to finally dump the sucker, never once having been visited, traded, shared or even given away. It was like detaching a blood-sucking leech, but I digress.

We parked the car and grabbed the bags and smiled at the photographer on the gangplank.  We found the room with a small porthole, dropped the gear, and did the mandatory “abandon ship” drills.  Then we explored the boat.

As you probably know, cruises are mostly about eating, and so we ate and drank our way out to the Bahamas, never getting off or even seeing them in the dark, and then turning back in to the south.

In the morning, we awoke to a half-day onshore in Key West.  I spent a lot of time on deck.  Very stable, and slow… Pulling into port and docking was a trip.  We saw a bunch of islands owned by big-named celebrity types, did the tourist-y thing downtown, and passed the first test of not misssing the boat when it departed, again in a slow and stately fashion.  Then the cap’n picked up the pace and we waved at the Dry Tortugas on the right, Cuba way off to the left, and settled in as we drove deep into the Gulf (pre-Halliburton blowout and Corexit spray).  We had a day on Cozumel which we spent taking the bus down to Tulum and getting the full tour.


We experienced hot, several iguana, and a good dose of Mayan pride. The bus ride to and from was at least 90 minutes. The trip back to the dock in Cozumel to the mainland was aboard a fast catamaran that, despite its double-hulled stability, was a litle choppy. We got an evening to stroll around the tourist shops in Cozumel. The trip back on the cruise ship was a day of sunny delight.  After dinner, we turned in knowing that we’d be docking again in Fort Lauderdale in the morning. The big ship had massive hull stabilizers but we hit that same spot offshore where the bonito swam, and there was a spot of queasiness made worse if I peered out the little porthole.


But we landed without incident, debarked, got our luggage loaded, and headed north in a nice stable wide-stance Pontiac TransAm. I got my backside into a bucket seat with a steering wheel in my hands and all was well. There was no motion sickness at 75 in the passing lane back then.



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Friend of Foe?: A Lovely Illustrated Fable About Making Sense of Otherness

A playful illustrated inquiry into whether mutual attentiveness is enough to dissolve enmity into friendship.



Also from 


“… Beloved Prophet is a gorgeous read in its totality. Complement this particular portion with Virginia Woolf on the epiphany in which she understood what it means to be an artist, then revisit Gibran on the seeming self vs. the authentic self and the difficult balance of intimacy and independence in love…..”


The Awakening

Quantum Mechanics of the Human Brain & Consciousness



Flash Quiz Tomorrow!

need for speed

The Hemmings newsletter on Super Tuesday featured:

a red and yellow 1916 popcorn wagon (restored to use propane fuel)

a 1999 custom coach limousine,  

a ’67 red Mustang

a 1948 Ford Super Deluxe “woodie” wagon and

to warm up my heart, a 1972 Cadillac S&S Kensington ambulance with a 472 cubic inch V-8 with a 4 barrel carburetor. 


I “cut my teeth” as an ambulance attendant-turned-EMT on a white Miller-Meteor equivalent. “Norm” held the record at 48 minutes from Springfield Hospital to Mass. General Hospital, right down the middle of the Mass. Pike at 135 mph. Mass. State Police and Turnpike authority vehicles were notified in advance to track our progress. No police escorts were ever used; they drive up the risk of an accident. Families were advised never to try to follow along.

Jet helicopters still can’t touch that performance because they spend too much time “loading” …; the patient and medical crew because they still have to be driven to the landing pad even though it’s less than a block away.

“Norm” was a very memorable character from within some very memorable years.  He stood at least 6’2”, probably more like 6’4”, and could leverage that height to pick up most anything or anyone. It was very useful when carrying 300-lb. heart attack victims down the stairs in a stair-chair.  He had a knack for picking up waitresses and nurses too that I never learned or employed, though I once questioned him about it. On meeting them, he simply asked if they’d like to go to bed with him.  (This was, after all, the late 60’s.) He got turned down a lot, usually abruptly. I asked him why he used that approach and he said “sooner or later, the odds are that one of them will say yes.”

We worked for a private ambulance company that pioneered advanced training through the National Ambulance Training Institute. I’d already passed the advanced 60-hour course required by the ex-Newark FD battalion chief in Amherst before you could climb into the ambulance at the fire department where I used to get into arguments with him about dispatch protocols. I re-designed his dispatch center for him but I was history after I flunked ladders. I bounced over to the world of private ambulance response where I teamed up with “the pineapple”, Sid, and others. The NATI course was the forerunner of the training program put together by a couple of trauma surgeons from the Vietnam experience and which morphed into the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 81-hour EMT course.  

In the earliest years, I worked the local base in the town noted for one of the Seven Sisters colleges, former mayor Calvin Coolidge, an ox-bow under the twin pillars guarding the river, and more. Our coverage area went well up the valley, up into the Hill Towns, and the Interstate. My very first call involved a teenaged driver whose face was impaled on the bent  “C-pillar” of the quarter vent window. Another included handling the burnt-to-a-crisp body from a house fire. And then there was the six-year-old flattened by a heavy sedan speeding southbound out of town by our office, my pinky holding his jaw open as a makeshift airway.  It was then that I pleaded with the ER docs and the surgeons for political support for paramedic level training that I never took because I was promoted up the ladder too quickly. By the time the course legally recognized, I was in an office writing regulations for first responders, and statewide EMS plans. The days of “swoop and scoop” were history. 

I remember making the “preemie” runs out of Wesson Women’s, picking up the incubator and the specialty nurse and doctor, and then navigating across the back roads (consult a map) to North Adams.  There never was more precious cargo than that. 

I ended up on the dispatch desk in Springfield as a shift supervisor and dispatcher.  It was on July 31st, 1973, just before noon when the phone rang and the voice at the other end of the line said simply “Send everything you’ve got”.

I said “no” .


I’m a doctor. Preparing you for death is as much a part of my job as saving lives.

by Shoshana Ungerleider on February 22, 2016

It wasn’t until just before graduation that we talked about what to do when a patient is dying. A single three-hour seminar with a group of specialists from the palliative care service; at least it was mandatory.

The presenters were young physicians, and they seemed kind and thoughtful. But I wondered why anyone would devote their medical career to end-of-life care. My classmates and I had spent years of medical school sharpening our history-taking skills, learning to recognize heart murmurs, memorizing the drugs used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, even cancer. In the final months of school, I’d worked in the ICU, taking care of critically ill patients who required breathing tubes and life-sustaining machines. I’d learned how to perform intubations and place central lines. I marveled at how much I was able to do to help sick people. Nearly all of us became doctors to keep patients alive, to treat them.

I thought: The ultimate treatment failure is death. I graduated medical school and moved on.

Except for a cadaver in my first-year anatomy lab, I didn’t see a dead body until the second month of my medical internship. When I finally did, it was my first overnight shift; I was the sole intern charged with cross-covering all of the medical patients. The pager never stopped beeping. I handled issues as they arose. I solved problems. But at some point in the night, a nurse called and said I needed to “come pronounce room 556.” My heart sank.

I wasn’t precisely sure what pronouncing a patient dead entailed. When I reached room 556, I entered to find a frail woman lying still on the bed. Mrs. Lee. She was surrounded by family members young and old, and, to my amazement, they were smiling, chatting, even laughing with one another. I mumbled a  greeting, then crossed to the bed, where I proceeded shakily through the pronouncement checklist in my intern handbook.

One of Mrs. Lee’s daughters touched my hand. “This is my mother; she was a wonderful woman but had a long battle with Alzheimer’s, and it was time for her to go,” she

said. “She just wanted to be comfortable in the end.”

The other family members nodded in agreement and went on talking about how much they had loved Grandma Lee’s custard buns and who would be getting her recipes. Mrs. Lee’s family and friends, who had gathered around her to say goodbye, moved me. Mrs. Lee had had the forethought to tell them how she wanted to pass, and they were by her side until the end. I had never before pondered the idea of a “good death,” but that night I walked out of room 556 with a smile on my face, because, somehow, I had just witnessed one.

When I was a newly minted doctor, I found myself back in the ICU, no longer a lowly medical student but with real responsibilities.

The patients in an intensive care unit are very sick; they require the highest level of monitoring and intervention that a hospital can provide. This particular unit was lined with patient care bays featuring sliding glass doors, glaring white walls, blinking monitors, and little natural light. Alarm bells dinged constantly, and the smell of bleach disinfectant made my eyes water. I began my rounds each morning at 5, checking in on my patients and learning about those who had been admitted overnight.

One morning, I came in to a commotion. There were several nurses scurrying around a new patient’s bed, and the night residents were huddled in a corner, concerned looks on their faces. Before I had a chance to ask what was going on, a loud code blue alarm went off overhead, and the team of doctors descended upon the patient. I peered into the room, and underneath the breathing tube and profusion of lines, I saw an elderly man.

he senior resident called out orders. The intern hopped up on a stool next to the bed and began performing rhythmic chest compressions that cracked the man’s ribs. The nurses pushed various medications into his IV and watched the heart monitor intently. I stared at the spectacle in front of me. This was my first time seeing a code situation. For 30 minutes I watched strangers in masks and gloves race around an unconscious old man, trying everything they could to keep him alive. But after the heart rhythm monitor fell into a flat line, the team pronounced him dead, removed their protective garb, and walked out of the room.

I later learned that an ambulance had brought in the old man for decompensated heart failure. His heart could no longer effectively pump blood to his organs, and he had been drowning in fluid that backed up into his lungs. On arrival, he was immediately intubated and rushed to the ICU. His family members were out of town, and he had not come with advance directive paperwork, a document stating his wishes.

This was not his first trip to the hospital. He had been admitted five times in the previous six months. During his first hospitalization, his records showed that he was a “full code” and that family had wanted “everything done” to keep him alive. Despite multiple readmissions, the question was never revisited. I wondered whether they knew what “everything” meant.

I learned that the old man was named Mr. Azarov. He was 88 years old, a widower, originally from Russia, where he had worked as a tailor and musician before coming to the United States. In San Francisco, he’d opened a bakery and had led a simple life. Over the months of his hospitalizations, Mr. Azarov had slowly deteriorated, and each time he became weaker. He battled kidney failure, a stroke, and worsening dementia. Well before he came to us for the last time, he had lost the ability to stand up on his own. His adult children were no longer able to care for him, and several months before he died they’d moved him into a nursing home.

I never knew Mr. Azarov, but I realized then that this man had been dying for a long time. He had a brutal, impersonal end, one he received by default. Who would die that way if they had a choice? Expiring in a hospital room, doctors screaming and scurrying and cracking your ribs, away from your friends and family — I wondered how many opportunities there had been to explain his end-of-life options to him or his family. Did they understand his prognosis? I’ll never know. But as he lay there alone in the hospital bed, curtains drawn, still attached to machines, I felt as if we’d failed him

One day, late in my intern year, while working the emergency room, I met a patient named Mr. Jones. He was a botany professor who lived in an affluent suburb outside San Francisco. He was married, with three grown children, and had the amazing fortune of good health over the whole of a long life. But now he was 72, and he was dying of small cell lung cancer.

Mr. Jones was receiving chemotherapy under the care of a reputable oncologist. He’d come into the ER that night because of severe, worsening shortness of breath that made him unable to walk across the room without collapsing. He told me his family was scared and so was he.

Before coming into the room, I’d reviewed his labs and chest X-ray and found that he had significant bilateral pleural effusions secondary to his lung cancer. This was a bad sign. When I came in, I saw that Mr. Jones had once been fit and brawny, although now he was worn and thin. We talked for a while. I asked the customary questions about his symptoms, and got the sense that he was a kind man. I explained to him that fluid had built up in his lungs due to his cancer, and that while we could admit him and remove the fluid with a needle, it would only make him feel better temporarily. I told him I believed his cancer had progressed.

I felt unusually at ease talking to Mr. Jones. After delivering the news, I decided to venture into unusual territory: I asked him what he understood about his diagnosis and his future. He explained that he had read online how he likely had only months to live, but that his oncologist wanted him to continue chemotherapy for now. Then I asked him what he wanted. To my surprise, he paused. After a moment, he looked up, tears welling in his eyes.

“I’ve had a wonderful life,” he said. “I have an amazing family who loves me, and I want to be at home with them, not here in the hospital.” He started crying. He grabbed my hand. “No one has asked me what I want. Can I please go home? All I want is to be home.”

I was shocked. How could this be? I thought. How had we all failed to take a step back from the diagnoses and treatment options and the lab and imaging results to ask the most important question of all? Mr. Jones did not want to be admitted to the ICU. He didn’t want to be intubated and adorned with the lines we use to sustain the dying. He knew there was no cure for his cancer, and he wanted what all of us hope for in the end: to die comfortably. With the help of the case manager and the social worker, I was able to send Mr. Jones home with hospice care early the next morning. I found out that he died in peace, two days later, surrounded by his beloved family.

I took time to talk to this man, to learn about his life and wishes. Together, we decided on a plan that fit his goals for his remaining days. The news of his passing gave me a sense of fulfillment. I felt relief that I had kept him from suffering. I thought back to the medical school seminar, and for the first time I understood why those doctors chose palliative care.

s doctors, we dedicate most of our time in medical school to learning about the physical body, how things can go wrong and how modern medicine can fix them.

During residency, we acquire methods for analyzing large amounts of data so that we can accurately assess, down to the minute, what is happening with our patients.

But we spend almost no time at all learning about illness in the context of our patients’ lives, or how to heal people when modern medicine provides no cure. We are rarely schooled in how to break bad news compassionately, or how to sit in silence with a grieving family member, or even how to make recommendations for appropriate end-of-life care.

I have become disheartened by the number of patients who received invasive treatment in the final days and hours of life. So many spend their final moments hooked up to tubes and lines in the ICU, alarms beeping in the background, hidden away from the people who care about them. Modern medicine is always poised to offer another procedure or therapy for prolonging life, but it often does so without considering the quality of that life. How much suffering is five more weeks worth? Or five days, or five hours?

Today’s physicians are spread thin. We have more responsibility than ever and are often tethered to a computer screen instead of at our patients’ bedsides. Maybe it’s easier to just give someone more treatment instead of stopping and telling her that she’s dying. These conversations are never easy, no matter how many times you’ve had them. They can be enormously difficult even under the best circumstances, and often the circumstances are more like a patient (or, more often, his family) arguing, denying what’s going on and demanding to see another doctor. Maybe we just don’t want to go through it. Or maybe we hide behind more tests and procedures to make ourselves feel better — like we’re still fighting. Like we haven’t failed yet.

I don’t see it that way. I believe we owe it to our patients to have open, honest conversations about what the future holds. Patients and families need to be informed in order to make decisions that are in line with their values.

My patients have all taught me valuable lessons about what a “good death” might look like. Each one has reminded me that there is more to medicine than placing a line to monitor the heart, or performing an intubation. Just because more tests and procedures exist does not mean that we should perform them all each time. Sometimes the most powerful healing of all comes through the simple act of sitting and listening to our patients with compassion.

We know that 75 percent of Americans would prefer to die at home. Only 20 percent actually do. We also know that 80 to 90 percent of physicians would not want CPR or mechanical ventilation at the end of life. Doctors actively choose to forgo the suffering that takes place in our ICUs, because we’ve seen it and we know better. My goal is to close this gap, to educate my patients about their options based on open, honest communication. I no longer see death as a failure but as a place we are all headed at some point — and if I can help someone live the fullest to the very end, I have practiced the best medicine.

Shoshana Ungerleider, MD, is a hospitalist physician practicing in San Francisco, California. 






If Death Is As Delicious As Sleep


If death is as delicious as sleep, it’ll be fun.

Restful, packed with dreams,

Resolving Old Turmoils, 

Remembering forgotten moments….


If death is as difficult as sleep, it’ll be 

Fat with Tossing and Turning, 

Ambivalence and Agony,

Processing those difficultes

Of Social and Spiritual Life.


If death is as domineering as sleep, it’ll be

Filled with Chances to Apologize to All the People 

who Met an Untimely Death at the Hands of Those 

Whose Evil Power I could Not Manage to Overcome but 

Who Laughed and Invited Me 

to their Bad Karma fundraiser 

(“We’re Stocking Up — Like Stacking Wood for the Long, Harsh Winter — so That in Some Future Lifetime They’ll Be Reduced to Charcoal”)


If death is as refreshing as sleep. it’ll be

Filled with Wish Lists and Wondrousness

About the Possibilities of Next time,

of What Might Be When Dawn Comes Again.




Apparently I communicated during my hospitalization eight years ago with a number of people while I hovered near death.   

As the cardiothoracic surgeon in that TV show “Proof” says, 

“being dead is a kind of grey area.  

Something or someone notified my sponsoring doctor — the one who first made identified the problem via “Skype” —when she was out on the street and who drove immediately to the hospital — the one where she worked — even before they called her to come in  —when I flat-lined in the interventional cardiology lab.  

But maybe that was her act of remote viewing.

I “told” my wife — who was 800 miles away — from inside the OR during the second procedure— , they’d returned me to sew up the leaking artery they’d left during the first procedure —,  that I’d be alright. (I would be, just as soon as I rehabbed from the ischemic motor stroke caused by the dislodged arterial plaque.)

There were other people who claimed to have heard from me while I was in the post-surgical coma, one of them a virtual friend in California.  

It was the same fellow my “pants” called months later when I sat down in such a way so as to trigger the “contacts” page, scroll down to his listing near the bottom of the alphabet, and then navigate the menu three more simple steps. 

I didn’t know I’d called him until he responded to the blank message it had left on his answering machine.  When I checked my own phone for evidence of calls placed, there it was. 

“Hello?  Is there anybody out there?”


“…we are within an energy sea which owes its origin to a divine process. 

Is humanity a happenstance biosuit, a social animal walking on the surface of the planet without meaning, being pulled by a wide variety of conscious and unconscious demands of life? ….”





Three hours of delta wave deep sleep binaural beats and isochronic tones by Brainwave Hub 

Octobrist videos: ISIS slices

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others began almost immediately blocking any further replays of the now-infamous Sotloff beheading video under “policies prohibiting content intended to incite violence”, based on their previous experience with the Foley event and thinking they could take away a propaganda platform from ISIS.

See Occurrencesforeigndomestic.com/2014/09/04/agents of death/ and many other sources in which the allegedly-deceased are identified as agents of governmental intelligence agencies (namely MOSSAD and USAID, a known outlet for the CIA).

Since we’ve already seen — with multiple sources and references, including from leading US figures — that ISIS is a creation aided and abetted by the US and Israel, the elitist Zio-owned-or-controlled social media — designed for propaganda and other purposes of an elitist NWO police state — is really denying itself that platform.

Or is this just “posturing”?

Are we even allowed to use the word kabuki to describe what’s going on?


“Two or more images edited together create a “tertium quid” (third thing) that makes the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts.”

Maybe the CIA/Mossad school of film-making forget the part where they taught Eisenstein’s approach to montage


The Odessa Steps Sequence

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps-v-kZzfec (7:27)

Roger Ebert writes, “That there was, in fact, no czarist massacre on the Odessa Steps scarcely diminishes the power of the scene … It is ironic that [Eisenstein] did it so well that today, the bloodshed on the Odessa steps is often referred to as if it really happened.”[14]


Though Eisenstein studied the use of kanji, the iconographic Japanese characters, in his studies of pictorial development, and he was also exposed to Kabuki, I submit that we might use the word “Octobrist” due to his use as a propagandist in the Bolshevik revolution, after which he moved to Moscow and went to work for an institute of the proletarian artistic culture where he thought he ought to be paid while he engaged in unfettered artistic freedom until Stalin disabused him of his point of view and put him to work directing the film we know as Ten Days That Shook The World.

I remember the earlier blog entry here at BoyDownTheLane in which I explored the ties between film-making, Marxist semiotics, story and plot (except that film school students in Hollywood use the terms “fabula” and “syuzhet”).

“… The most effective kind of propaganda is intellectual montage; one that develops the emotions and thought processes towards the Marxist world-view, using the juxtaposition of images to create a “synthesis of art and science.” …  The major concern of semiotics, however, is not what film says, but how it says it; that is, what system of codes and conventions make shared meaning possible.”




Don’t you find it ironic that Facebook, YouTube and other social media won’t let you see what many are calling an obviously faked (or at least essentially bloodless) beheading yet modern media invite you (and your children ) to watch a film trilogy with violent beatings, a “bloodbath scene”, and ‘unnecessarily graphic’ scenes that also include flogging and a public execution?

That the star is one of the subjects of this week’s ‘hacking’ of nude celebrity photos?

That the book series on which the highly-successful film series is based lived in Newton, CT (home to Sandy Hoax)?

That the film series is produced by the openly-touted-in-Jewish-media Nina Jacobson, the vice president for production at Universal Pictures?


So it is fairly clear why no one will be able to watch any ISIS beheading videos: they don’t pull at the political box office because they poorly-produced, poorly-acted and bloodless.


Back in mid-to-late October 2013 Reuters said that Facebook’s policy was that beheading videos were “permitted on its site so long as the content was posted in a manner intended for its users to “condemn” the acts rather than celebrate them.”

There have been 12 beheading videos released since 2001.  I’m sure that everyone who watches snuff films condemns them. Unless, of course, they’re bringing in hundreds of millions at the box office.

As the social media director for Popular Resistance said in talking about the Foley hoax, “We need to understand who made this video, why it was made the way it was, and question all groups that stamped their approval on the video as “government verified” and didn’t dig any deeper if we are going to make the right decisions in the coming weeks. THIS VIDEO IS NOT A SMOKING GUN that justifies war.”

It’s not even a bloody knife that brings us to the “shared meaning” of a “world-view” in which the death of another (real or faked) is an avenue to riches, control or exceptionalism.



Nominations for the most effective and appropriate piece of Streisand music to be used for the forthcoming “We’re Ready for Hillary” Clinton campaign may be mailed to 120 West 45th Street, Suite 2700, NY NY 10036.

What can we do? (Part Three)

What can we do? (Part Three)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the father of positive psychology, outlined three platforms for happiness in a recent TEDx talk in Chicago. They included pleasure, engagement and meaning. His research has determined that the MOST predictive element of happiness is ENGAGEMENT or the ability to enter into a state of ‘flow’.





“… The Self-aware human being is intelligent because their mind is integrated. In contrast, an ‘intelligent’ individual who is unSelf-aware, because their mind is disintegrated, might engage in activities that are destructive of our species and the planet. I am sure that you can think of many examples. If you wish to join the worldwide movement to end all violence and to create Self-aware individuals, you can sign online ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ http://thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com….”

 Robert J. Burrowes 



“… Each of us has to do this [getting involved and getting engaged]  in his or her own way, when we are ready… again not for the sake of letting go of our awareness and activism, but in harnessing it to better ends with better tools and in learning to live a life in our own way that is contrapuntal and antithetical to “the evilarchy” that has brought us to the cliffside of brutal totalitarianism, economic collapse, and world war. …” http://boydownthelane.com/2014/05/01/alignment-purpose/ 


People talk about Heaven in the temporal proximity of a loved one’s death, and if when they say ‘we’ll all meet up later there’, they can simply build the place if they discover it isn’t there when they arrive.

The down-side of this is expressed in this song;

the upside is expressed in The Gospel According To Thomas (113)


“… What is required to live the truth? First, an individual must realize that truth does not come from outside as an ideology or from other people; it exists within as a realization that comes from experience, reason, and a sense of humanity. Second, freedom rests on a recognition of the inextinguishable dignity of every individual. Third, it requires courage. Each person must stand up and claim their own power even if it is expressed in seemingly small ways. Because there is no such thing as a small step toward freedom. The first step, however small, is the one that matters most.”  – See more at: http://www.dailybell.com/editorials/35441/Wendy-McElroy-The-Power-of-the-Powerless/#sthash.GUhnL8Zz.dpuf

But what are we to do when the “inextinguishable dignity” of individuals manifests itself in the psycho-socio-pathologies of exceptionalism, racism, supremacism, eugenics, hatred and violence??!


Sun Tzu said: “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

P.19 – “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

Ueshiba constructed an international network of people that taught how to position one’s self and move in such a way that the opponent had no choice but to submit.

Perhaps we cannot reach the hateful, the supremacists, the war-mongers? Then teach your children well


  It seems to me that we must improve and enhance our command of the social media, and we must figure out how to penetrate the walls dividing us from the mainstream media. There is no question — especially after the recent performance by Diane Sawyer — that the MSM is owned and operated by the elite oligarchy. But it is not ABC-TV News we should be targeting; it is the local TV news markets, their operations, their anchor desk personnel, and the humans who function at that level, the small guys and gals. Nor do I suggest that we play within the worlds of Twitter, Facebook, and the like, since they too are obviously compromised. We have to invent — aikido style — an approach that circumvents them.

I remember the concept of Lawrence Halprin’s RSVP cycle:

If you can put people into positions in which they share

an experience – experience on a deep level – that in itself

is the most powerful form of common language I can

possibly imagine.

  “The Real Meaning of Communication”, in Communications in the 21st Century, edited by Robert Haigh, George Gerbner and Richard Byrne, John Wiley and Sons, New York 1981.   And I wonder how it is that one can effectively, without risk or harm, induce in one’s self or in someone else (let alone how it could be accomplished en masse) that kind of epiphany that can come through meditation, or an out-of-body experience, or a near-death experience (all of which I have personally had)… you know, the kind of thing that parts the curtain and hits you over the head with a sudden awareness of the quantum/spiritual sense of oneness. One thinks immediately of entheogenic drugs, but lots of people won’t go near them.  I’ve done some of those but argue that that is not the only path. Numerous books have been written about meditation, but reading is not having the experience. Induction of experience brings to mind an encounter group, or at least some other form of experiential learning.  Some people see those kinds as having been created by the very same enlightened crudite that are reigning havoc upon the world and, in some cases, they can prove their case. “… Our world suffers from terminal normality…..” I am a graduate of three tiers of Actualizations and I don’t appear to be worse off than I was, or controlled, or robotic, or supportive of (or indifferent to) the creation of havoc, death and destruction, or in hot pursuit of hedonism and wealth-beyond-measure. It seems to me that our challenge is to harness the tools we have [damn, look at that!… it’s as if we’d engaged in mental telepathy], and creates new ones and new approaches in their use, so that we can bring people to an experiential understanding. But how will that work across cultures and languages, across space and time?  Face-to-face meetings with people not inclined to meet can’t work. Coordinated effort in a world thick with surveillance and COINTELPRO-like infiltration seems doomed. We are homo habilis, now advanced, the kinds of beings who can fashion new tools, who make things, who can and have made enormous strides in our ability and means to communicate.  We are artists who can and have mastered the ability to write, produce and disseminate art, music, plays, movies, videos, blogs, CD’s, DVD’s. Architect For Learning: Utilizing The Internet as an Effective Educational Environment is a book/CD [and here is where you can download a related PowerPoint]. From the Amazon description: “This is a book [published in 2000] about the future of education. If you are an educator who uses the Internet, “Architect for Learning” will remind you of what you already know and suggest how to adapt it to the potential of the network. If you are a New Media professional, this book will outline how design skills and technical knowledge can be used to propel a passion for learning. Principles and practical examples demonstrate how classical philosophy and electronic gaming are allies in developing compelling environments in which each learner can discover purpose and meaning. Beginning with a philosophy of education, then scanning cognitive theories and psychology, “Architect for Learning” points the way to how the network can be a powerful tool for individualizing education. An accompanying multimedia CD-ROM provides a helpful overview and examples of key concepts which are more deeply engaged throughout the book. Whether the educational potential of the network is achieved or not will depend largely on a genesis generation of network based learning architects. This new profession is emerging spontaneously in response to opportunity and demand. This book is a primer on how the lessons of a few millenia of human experience might best be applied to a new millenia of learning. About the authors: Philip J. Palin is a Senior Architect and Chief Executive Officer of Teleologic Learning Company. He has designed network based learning on behalf of Asymetrix Corporation, The Laurasian Institution, the National Foreign Language Center, Corporate Executive Information System, Tricare Management Activity-Information Management, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Bristol-Myers-Squibb Corporation, and others. Mr. Palin is also a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Defense Education and Analysis of the Naval Postgraduate School where he specializes in strategic planning for the design of very large network based learning systems. He is a member of the Board of Directors at Wisdom@Work, Arista Knowledge Systems, Saint John’s Wood Corporation, and the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education. Kari Sandhaas is a Senior Architect with the Teleologic Learning Company and Creative Director for The Laurasian Institution. Ms. Sandhaas utilizes a cross-discipline approach combining conceptual, artistic, and education expertise to develop effective design for today’s web environment. She has been instrumental in the development of basic design principles for network based learning, emphasizing aesthetics, effective communication, and a purposeful use of symbol integrating image, text, and the dynamic environment of the web. She has directed the creative aspects of on-line learning environments and modules on behalf of The Institute for Defense Education and Analysis, The Corporate Executive Information System, Tricare Management Activity-Information Management, The Laurasian Institution, The University of Richmond Internet Based Learning Initiative, and others.   From page 112, as the book comes to a close: Education has its origins in the individual’s search for purpose and meaning. [An extension of the flow theory…!] When this ultimate aim is forgotten, or put aside for the moment, the ultimate aim is forgotten, or put aside for the moment, the educational process will necessarily suffer.… [The learner must remain engaged, and this is the responsibility of both teacher and learner.] The experience of satisfaction or flow or resolution… is a profoundly human desire. As Rollo May wrote, The test and possibility of the human being is to move from his original situation as an unthinking and unfree part of the mass … to ever-widening consciousness of himself and thus ever-widening freedom and responsibility  to higher levels of differentiation in which he progressively integrates himself with others in freely chosen love and creative work. What Whitehead called satisfaction and what Abraham Maslow called self-actualization is what Aristotle might have called eudaimonia…., a profound happiness … achieved by actively fulfilling our distance function (ergon)…. “… Aristotle asks what the ergon (“function,” “task,” “work”) of a human being is, and argues that it consists in activity of the rational part of the soul in accordance with virtue… The good of a human being must have something to do with being human; and what sets humanity off from other species, giving us the potential to live a better life, is our capacity to guide ourselves by using reason. If we use reason well, we live well as human beings; or, to be more precise, using reason well over the course of a full life is what happiness consists in. Doing anything well requires virtue or excellence, and therefore living well consists in activities caused by the rational soul in accordance with virtue or excellence…..” “… In order to apply that general understanding to particular cases, we must acquire, through proper upbringing and habits, the ability to see, on each occasion, which course of action is best supported by reasons. Therefore practical wisdom, as he conceives it, cannot be acquired solely by learning general rules. We must also acquire, through practice, those deliberative, emotional, and social skills that enable us to put our general understanding of well-being into practice in ways that are suitable to each occasion.” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/ When the very act of problem-solving has value in itself, and when our purpose transcends our self, then our aim is fine, noble, beautiful, what Aristotle called kalon.” Later, on page 117 (“Praxis”): “… The architect of learning will conceive and design environments and processes in which the learner is encouraged to develop the practical wisdom that is distinctively human….. The learning must reasonably advance the learner’s achievement of eudaimonia…. Moreover, the learner must facilitate the learners practical application of its lessons, for as Nancy Sherman has written, “eudaimonia is eupraxia — good activity”.  [Read her Wikipedia entry and see http://bigthink.com/users/nancysherman for an interview about her book “The Untold War”.] Now surely some readers are going to raise their eyebrows, having read of Nancy and even the backgrounds of the authors of “Architect of Learning”. [I can hear the muscles moving in your foreheads.] But remember the lessons from aikido no kokoro about disarming an opponent, and that “non-contention means to deflate the aggressive, combative instincts within a person and to channel them into the power of creative love.” Isn’t aikido almost like the whirling of a dervish?

One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace.

Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train. 

— Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace



Music video:

Ascetic Journey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tT4DYnMfPM (9:01)

  **** Here’s a quote which could describe the contemporary multi-seeker going from technique to technique, tradition to tradition, teacher to teacher, experience to experience:

“You are scrabbling about in the sand, attracted by pieces of mica to knit together and make a window, not realizing that the sand itself is capable of being transformed into the purest glass.”

This weekend, as I was finishing this piece, a book  that I’d ordered arrived. It’s available online: http://sufismo.com/DOC/The-Teachers-of-Gurdjieff-P1.pdf Note that the publisher — at that first link — also offers books by Idries Shah, as well as books on early christian history, Sufism, and the topic of ‘brain, mind and consciousness’ (recommended for your browsing).   I am somewhat familiar with Shah’s “The Commanding Self”, though it is heavy sledding, for reasons that are amply described in LeFort’s search for the teachers of Gurdjieff.  This too is not without controversy (check the Wikipedia entry for the book). See also http://www.hermes-press.com/S_shah.htm as well as http://www.whale.to/c/gurdjieffsource.pdf and http://henrymakow.com/2013/08/George-Gurdjieff%20.html. Well, of course the subject of how best to develop one’s own spiritual awareness, soul, cosmic understanding or world-view is going to generate a little friction.  It’s been that way for millennia and will probably continue that way for whatever eternity is left for us even if we are forced to kneel submissively before armed and violent types who have and wield the power of surveillance, torture, crucifixion and worse.   I don’t get up in arms about Gurdjieff except simply by noting that Keith Jarrett has recorded his Sacred Hymns Here’s The Story of the Resurrection of Christ performed by Jarrett.    Here’s Prayer and Despair as performed by Lola Totsiou. You can read or download an academic paper [“Music, Aesthetics and Legitimation: Keith Jarrett and the ‘Fourth Way’] that discusses the influence of Western Esotericist G.I. Gurdjieff on the music of noted jazz and classical pianist Keith Jarrett here. I’m not here to proselytize; I’m hear to wonder, and to learn.  Here are some of the parts that resonated with me:     ‘How does a pupil get accepted into such a course?’   ‘By being in contact with the teaching and, after being approved, by being passed along… or by needing the teaching himself and having the capacity to use it, even unconsciously, for the benefit of the community.’   ‘Why are the pupils required to learn [a variety of skills]?’   ‘It is not that they are learning specific skills in order to master them.  It is usually so that they learn something from each teacher and at the same time a skill which may stand them in good stead if they are sent somewhere to set up an outpost through which the Teaching goes on….’   [snip]   ‘How were the texts studied?’   ‘By constant reading so that the different levels of meaning should be absorbed gradually. They were not read to be “understood” as you understand the term but to be absorbed into the very texture of your conscious being and your inner self…..’   [Pages 52-53]     ‘… I taught Gudjieff to breathe. I say this and you burst into a flood of how’s, why’s and if’s and but’s and can I teach you? The answer is, I can but I will not,’   ‘May I ask, Sheikh, why only breathing?’   ‘Only! Only! Stupid question! More stupid than to have asked why or how.  Do you think that to learn to breath correctly is easy?’…. [Page 58]   “… the deadly serious business of nourishing the inner consciousness flows over your head, bent as it is over physiology, psychology, causative phenomena, theoretic ecstasies. You blind yourself; life does not blind you. You call out in your pitiful arrogance for enlightenment, you claim your right to it as a birthright. [No]. You earn it, my friend, you earn it by dedication, toil and discipline…..’ [Page 59]   “… you want to use what you call the “process of thought or logic” to pick over the whole and eat the parts that you consider nourishing. At best your thought processes are surface reactions, at worst you cannot absorb a reaction or a though before it is fallen upon, diluted, dissected and malformed by the infernal process you call academic reasoning. Reason, you call it! Do you call it reasonable to gulp down great pieces of wisdom and regurgitate them in the form of theory, the speech and drivelings of a raw mind? The Age of Reason in Europe produced less reason, leads real intellectual progress, than one day’s activities by a developed man. You aspire, you dream, but you do not do, Tenacity is replaced by hair-splitting, courage by bluster, and disciplined thought by narrow, pedantic attempts at reason. Bend what little you have left of your intellect to practical activity, realizing your severe shortcomings. Cease your diabolic “examination of self”. Who am I? How many I’s do I have? You have not the capacity at all to understand the concept of true self-examination.  Follow a valid philosophy or condemn yourself to join the the generations who have drowned themselves in the stagnant pools of slime that they call the reservoirs of reason and intellect!….: [Page 60]   “Western scholarship has canonized its own saints, elevated its own self-perpetuating hierarchy of high priests, not having the critical faculty of being able to examine their qualifications. So you are stuck with them. If you overturn them now, you have a pogrom and a burning of the books, with whom will you replace them? Whole schools of thought have been built on one man’s aberration. You may say that this is the way that scholarship operates in the West. You call it theory leading to a basis of understanding…..” [page 62]   ‘… To know how little you know is the first step…. Discipline I know to be a whole-hearted desire and an identification with that with which one has allied oneself….. You can afford to suppress your much-vaunted “critical faculty” when you are receiving instruction from someone who really knows what he is doing and to whom only what he is teaching is important…. thus the director of the activity must be constantly in touch with the main plan of the activity…’ [Page 91]   ‘… You have a place in your family and in society which you cannot escape in order to sit in a cave and meditate. You have responsibilities which you cannot slough off. Meditation, after all, can occupy twenty-five seconds as well as twenty-five years. If your system is so ineffective and inefficient that you have to meditate for twenty-five years, then something is very wrong with you or the system or perhaps both…..’ [page 93]   ‘You are scrabbling about in the sand, attracted by pieces of mica to knit together and make a window, not realizing that the sand itself is capable of being transformed into the purest glass. Do not concern yourself with personalities, or with events that happened in a time sphere not relative to your present situation and not capable of being understood or applied now. Certain literature is based on experience and activities in the past and lives only in the lifetime of the teacher whose duty it was to produce a certain impact upon a limited segment of humanity.   Ask yourself how, then, this information can have any developmental validity when the circumstances, time and people involved are no longer the same. You delude yourself in giving such matters any importance and you delude others by your popularizing of it….’ [Pages 92-93]   “… The West encouraged and popularized the cult of the semi-literate gurus whose sole claim to fame was a seat under a peepul tree and a yen to use the navel as a sort of anatomical crystal ball. Oh yes, the West has ever sought the “wisdom of the East”, but never in the right places. Always the colorful, the faintly erotic, but never the hard reality. Western thought never recovered from the dead hand of the organized church although it had aided and abetted the monopoly of that church by never challenging its right. Any hint that the organized church did not contain the esoteric content one might have hoped for was met with a stake. I am as much a Christina as was Jesus, but I am not the type of Christian you find in the present-day fathers of the established church…..’ [Page 94]   ‘… if you want real progress with disciplined hard work, then get out of your pattern thinking and overseeing pride, and confidence in the breadth of your “intellect”, and experience that which only can be experienced….’ [Page 95]   “Do you not realize that a sophisticated path of development keeps pace with the requirements of the present day? … If you have enough skill you can actually harness the negative forces to serve you… but you must have enough skill.” [pages 100-101]   ‘Man has always claimed ‘intellectual freedom’, meaning the right to defect at any time from anything in hwihc he has a diminishing interest in favor of something more exciting….’ [Page 130]     Music video (watch it!): Dhafer Youssef: Whirling Birds Ceremony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePPncJKUoGo (4:47)

“…. I have a small question about working with books by I. Shah. Can it be said that there are certain keys for perceiving the meaning of any (or most) of the parables? For example, one can consider everything happening in the parable as processes happening inside a person (microcosmic key) or consider the same parable within the scope of the whole Earth, or, say, a School. Some esoteric sources speak about existence of such keys. Could you please clarify this matter?”  http://www.olsufiev.com/4W/E-AHN.htm 

What we can do is to keep learning.  This comes from LeFort’s story about Gurdjieff and elsewhere.  We can learn about consciousness (see Zimmerman, Burrowes and Le Fanu et alia). 

We can gravitate toward truth, at least our truth

We can practice alignment

We can engage in harmony during conflict (see Ueshiba).  We can become better at and practice more frequently the arts and sciences of interaction, enounter, and face-to-face communications (see Keltner).  We can master social media (see the books mentioned above, and others, and Standage).  We can create community (see Corbett).  We can become leaders of our communities, if only through the above steps.  We can teach our truth (see “Architect for Learning”).  We can engage with the dominant mainstream media more effectively, and we can create new media   We can create.  We can touch people.  We can move people. We can love. 

Stop pretending that you don’t want whatever it is that you want, and take action.In every case, the remedy is to take action. 

Get clear about exactly what it is that you need to learn and exactly which you need to do to learn it. 

Getting clear kills fear.

Zen and The Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design, Laurence G. Boldt, Arkana/Penguin Books, 1993.

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Please note that some discussion ensues here: