Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Archive for December, 2007

Dec 30, 2007

I have started using Google Analytics

Sooner or later you have to get to know what’s available in order to track the activity on your self-hosted blog.
Yesterday I spent about two hours reading info on this subject and finally I decided to bite the bullet and give a try to Google Analytics.

The process of setting up the account was easy.
You have to have a Google email address first.The you go to www.google.com/analytics/ and fill out the rest of the steps.
Once finished you are given a code to insert into your website, at the end of each post.
At this point I thought that I am going to screw it up big time, but it went as easy as a breeze.
All I had to do was to add the code while in ‘code’ not ‘visual’ tab.
Now I have to wait 24 hours for my first report.
I am already nervous thinking that probably I would be disappointed, but hey, I don’t fancy the ‘ignorance is bliss’ truism.

If at some distant point in time I would decide to get serious about monetizing this blog, I need to know as much as I can about what’s happening.

When you are on a WordPress platform (your blog is hosted by wordpress.com), it’s ridiculously easy to get the needed information. WordPress offers blogstats by default.
Splendid feature.
But on your self-hosted one you have to use different sources. Google Analytics or some plugins made available by the other branch of wordpress: wordpress.org.

Dec 27, 2007

Too much water could kill you

No, I am not talking about drowning, I am talking about the water we drink.
Everybody is familiar with the 8-glasses-of-water-a-day advice, right?
Actually it’s not an advice, it’s a dangerous medical myth.
A myth is a myth until it’s debunked; at that point it becomes a corollary of human stupidity.

One of my colleagues drinks about seven liters of water every day. That’s about 6 liters more than I do.
And he is totally convinced that it’s not only healthy, it also helps achieving his weight loss target by burning carbohydrates.

I have a feeling that this ‘water-burning-carbohydrates’ it’s just another myth, waiting to be debunked.

Now, let’s see what are the water functions in the body:

– Regulates body temperature
– Moisten tissues (mouth, eyes, nose)
– Protects body organs
– Lubricate joints
– Helps prevent constipation
– Flushes out waste products
– Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
– Helps dissolve minerals and nutrients

Water makes about 60% of our weight. We are truly weird beings, made of 60 per cent water and 90 per cent bacteria.

We lose water every day through breath, perspiration, urine and feces. Therefore it makes sense to replenish the water supply by consuming foods and beverages that contain water.
If you exercise, you may need to drink more fluids, depending on how much you sweat. And by fluids, I mean sport drinks that contain sodium, to replace the sodium lost through sweating, and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening.
It makes sense that under various conditions (humid, hot environment, breast-feeding, some health conditions like vomiting and diarrhea) you should drink more water than you normally would do.
But there are no scientific studies to prove that drinking 8 glasses of water a day has any added benefits vs. drinking only 4, for example.
Even more, I found a very interesting data on daily fluid intake by American adults before and after the ‘8 x 8’ revolution.
It shows that after the adoption of 8-glasses-of-water-daily, the intake of soft drinks, alcohol and juices doubled!
No wonder the rate of obesity.

It’s better to listen to your body and your common sense.
When I tried to increase my water intake to meet the minimum 8 glasses a day, I felt sick and vomited. Probably it was my body response to too much water.

Conclusions:
– Fluids come from various sources: soups, fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, beer, wine, water
– Drink water when you feel thirsty
– Stop drinking water if you feel nauseous, it’s a sign you had too much


Dec 26, 2007

A Spiritual Journey through Tibet

I was watching a documentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. At some point you could see the interior of a room, where a few Tibetan monks started the ritual following the death of a young Tibetan. The room did not have windows, only openings in the stoned wall. But the openings were covered by very small curtains.

As always, I was overwhelmed by the austerity of the Tibetan life, and again I promised myself that one day I will go there. Maybe I am not spiritual enough for this type of journey but I am pretty sure that I would have a life transforming experience.

What do you feel watching this picture?
tibet-young-and-old.jpg
Photo courtesy of Konstantin

First glimpse brought me a huge emotional pain; my soul hurt. I could almost hear the eerie sound of the wind. The wind that burnt the faces of the old and young Tibetans for centuries.

The most popular image people would refer to while thinking of Tibet, beside the Chomolangma naturally, it’s the artifact found on top of Jokhang (The House of Lord) Temple.
Deers are a direct reference to the Buddha’s first teaching in the Deer Park, Sarnath, also called Dharmachakra Parivartan. The suggestion is that his presence was so peaceful that even the animals came to listen.
In the Tibetan tradition, a monastery which holds the Kangyur and Tengyur collections of texts would have this symbol of deers on both sides of the Dharma-wheel on the roof.
tibet-roof-jokhang-temple-500.jpg

The Jokhang Temple is the most celebrated temple in Tibet. Because the temple is not controlled by any sect of the Tibetan Buddhism, it attracts followers of all the sects, along with the followers of Bon Po, Tibet’s indigenous religion.
The Temple houses the most sacred artifact of the Buddhism: the statue of Jowo Sakyamuni or Gautama Buddha, the founder of the Buddhism.
tn_tibet-jawobuddha.jpg
The statue is 1.5 meters tall, cast from precious metals and decorated with jewels and it represents Sakyamuni when he was twelve-year old.

The Tibetans continue to be violently repressed by the Chinese. Hundreds of Tibetan monks are still imprisoned, vast areas of the country, which are off limits to foreign visitors or journalists, are stripped of natural resources and most monasteries in desperate need of reconstruction are left without any financial support by the Chinese government.
Some monasteries, part of the tourist circuit, have been more or less given reconstruction assistance.
Not Tashilhunpo.
But Tibetan pilgrims still visit this ancient holy site to access the spiritual presence and to pray for the spirit- health of the monastery, spirit to be said to return only after the departure of the Chinese.
The ritual asks to follow clockwise the sacred path, outside the walls.
pilgrimcircuit.jpg
Photo courtesy of Konstantin

Tashilhunpo remains one of the poorer monasteries, but one that is still trying to look after the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of all the monks, throughout their lives.

I found this very interesting site, that promises a meaningful trip to Tibet.


Dec 23, 2007

Abulafia and Umberto Eco

I was watching the other day a documentary about Kabbalah and at some point the name Abulafia came up.
Suddenly I remember where I’ve read it before: in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum.
Interesting how things are connected in life.

In Foucault’s Pendulum Abulafia was the nickname of Belbo’s computer used by him and two other friend-editors to decipher the hidden coded manuscript alleged to contain the information on how the Templar Knights planned to take over the world.
When I’ve read the book, I was intrigued by the name, but that was all. I was too much preoccupied on trying to navigate the intrigue to give a second thought to this name. The book it’s not an easy reading but the journey through the labyrinth it’s quite interesting.

Who was Abulafia?
Abraham Abulafia (1240-1294) is the most important figure in the prophetic Kabbalah.
As opposed to the most known Kabbalist who lived a normal conventional family life, Abulafia was the wandering mystic and teacher, moving from town to town, spreading his teachings.
Abulafia teaches that, by using his methods of letter permutation, meditation, and free association, you can receive prophecy today. Naturally, the Thorah scholars are not quite happy with the mystical point of interpreting divine words.

Before my son was born, I tried to find a meaningful name for him. I came across a Kabbalarian analysis of names and it took me a few days to find one that seemed to work well with the last name and I liked as well. Nowadays everybody knows about artists embrassing Kabbalah, but without converting to Judaism, which is a point various rabbies are complaining about. Probably Abulafia opened Pandora’s box with his teachings.

Finally, what is Foucault’s Pendulum?
The Pendulum is made of a support, a wire and an iron ball that swings back and forth in a plane that is fix relative to the distant stars. Because of the Earth rotation, it will appear that the pendulum rotates anti-clockwise describing a full circle within 24 hours period.


Dec 19, 2007

This is my dilemma

I like to write. Sometimes it’s therapeutic, or so they say.
Instead of dwelling into your rambling thoughts, it’s best to vent them, so yes, it can be therapeutic.

It has always puzzled me how some people can write 5 times a day without saying anything basically.
I mean, no real value information. Useless thoughts thrown in the cyberspace.
Yeah, yeah, my thoughts are yadda-yadda as well, but hey, I don’t make money writing stupid things. I write them for free, right?

So, this is my dilemma: I understood that in order to get accepted by programs that pay you to blog, you have to show originality.
But it’s not quite clear what ‘originality’ means.
So, to shed some light I started browsing blogs that are making money.
After skimming through two of them I lost my hope that I would be able to prostitute myself like that.
I mean, to say that I found them ridiculous it’s an understatement.
Some gal had an entry almost every other hour and I could not find absolutely anything interesting or remotely useful.
To have an audience you have to have some exposure, meaning that you have to use the appropriate wording to be found by the spiders.
What are these magic words?
‘Car insurance’ could be some? Like am I going to start yapping about how wonderful it is to have car insurance, or how necessary is it, or something along this line, just making sure I use the magic words as often as necessary to be found.
Or maybe ‘plastic surgery’, because I guess a plastic surgeon would have the money to pay for advertising.
But wait! I forgot that I don’t have AdSense and I am not yet accepted by PayPerPost, I don’t even have ContentLink. I don’t even think I could be accepted by Kontera (ContentLink) having like 100 visitors per month. I have seen numbers like 500,000 as the minimum requirement. 500,000???!!!! Not in this lifetime.

Maybe I should start an experiment… well, duh, I work in research, this is something I know.
So the project might be ‘how many things I am not interested in could be the subject of posting just because they are well paid’
Because let’s face it, nobody can convince me that the gal who writes about ski equipment while living in San Antonio is really interested in this stuff.


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