Connecting

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Imagine you’re a radio transmitter and receiver. Go out and look to the sky and transmit your thoughts, feelings, vibes to the sky and imagine beyond. Place no distance restraint on how far you will send; just hurl them into space. Then wait. You might get a response! Or try the opposite – go out, look up, and be  a receiver. You might be amazed if you can just let yourself go.

Personal Peace

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One way of moving towards a personal sense of peace is to stop judging others. By judging others, you are putting yourself in a position that inflames your thinking and feeling, such that it causes ill health, physical or emotional. The next time you feel yourself judging someone, try seeing their life through their lens, not yours. It’s OK to disagree, but we must allow others to be who they have to be.

Moon and Jupiter conjunction

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It was behind a tree, so I caught a little of a branch across the moon. I used my Pentax K100 with a Sigma 70-300 zoom and IMGP1406macro.

 

Confidence in yourself

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In today’s Daily Dharma from the Tricycle: Buddhist Review:

People who are attached to sutras and a scriptural teaching of words can lack faith in the living, mysterious experience of meditation that leads to a sudden insight. They are . . . attached to the stubborn habit of distinguishing between “true” and “not true.” Believing only what is written in holy texts, they are conceptually mesmerized by the treasures of others, instead of digging inside to discover the priceless gems of their own, lying deep within. —So Sahn

http://www.tricycle.com/insights/zen-confidence

This applies to many experiences and beliefs, across many areas of human endeavor. Confidence is the key word here,  as many people lack personal confidence to basically think for themselves. We’ve been beaten down over the centuries to blindly accept religious beliefs, medical “facts,” health issues, politics, economics, etc, so as to take away our ability to think for ourselves. It’s not easy, but it is achievable. Mindfulness training, guided meditation, and basically taking the time to realize your beliefs and from whence they stem.

Clarity

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The State of Pure Awakening

Dismiss all the thoughts which bother your mind. Train yourself during many days, many months, many years, to retain this pure mind. One day, when your empty mind has become crystallized, suddenly it will be illumined by its own intrinsic wisdom. At that instant you will realize the state of pure awakening. 

– Sokei-an, “Return to Your Original State!

An important realization

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“Nobody is going to save you from your own mind. Nobody can get into the heart of your experience and fix anything for you. If you want to make your own internal experience more hospitable, only you can do that work. Others can always support and guide you and spark insights, but ultimately you are your own boss and the agent of understanding your mind and opening your heart.”

– Ethan Nichtern, “Awake with Others”

The smell of rain – petrichor

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It is clearly one of those most distinct smells. From Earthsky.org

What is the smell of rain?

The word for it is “petrichor.” It’s the name of an oil that’s released from Earth into the air before rain begins to fall.

You can tell when rain is coming just by the smell. ‘Rain is Coming’ by Taylor Dingess via weather-forecast.com

By Howard Poynton, CSIRO

Australia’s national science agency – the CSIRO – has come up with some pretty amazing inventions over the past 86 years of research, from polymer banknotes to insect repellent and the world-changing Wi-Fi. But we can also lay claim to something a little more esoteric – we actually invented a whole new word. And no, we’re not talking about one of these new-fangled internet words like “YOLO”, “selfie” or “totes”.

The word is “petrichor,” and it’s used to describe the distinct scent of rain in the air. Or, to be more precise, it’s the name of an oil that’s released from the Earth into the air before rain begins to fall.

This heady smell of oncoming wet weather is something most people are familiar with – in fact, some scientists now suggest that humans inherited an affection for the smell from ancestors who relied on rainy weather for their survival.

Origins

Even the word itself has ancient origins. It’s derived from the Greek “petra” (stone) and “ichor” which, in Greek mythology, is the ethereal blood of the gods.

But the story behind its scientific discovery is a lesser known tale. So, how is it that we came to find this heavenly blood in the stone?

Nature of Argillaceous Odour might be a mouthful, but this was the name of the paper published in the Nature journal of March 7, 1964, by CSIRO scientists Isabel (Joy) Bear and Richard Thomas, that first described petrichor.

Thomas had for years been trying to identify the cause for what was a long-known and widespread phenomena. As the paper opened:

That many natural dry clays and soils evolve a peculiar and characteristic odor when breathed on, or moistened with water, is recognized by all the earlier text books of mineralogy.

The odor was particularly prevalent in arid regions and was widely recognised and associated with the first rains after a period of drought. The paper went on to say:

There is some evidence that drought-stricken cattle respond in a restless matter to this “smell of rain.”

The smell had actually been described already by a small perfumery industry operating out of India, which had successfully captured and absorbed the scent in sandalwood oil. They called it “matti ka attar” or “Earth perfume”. But its source was still unknown to science.

Joy and Richard, working at what was then our Division of Mineral Chemistry in Melbourne, were determined to identify and describe its origin.

By steam distilling rocks that had been exposed to warm, dry conditions in the open, they discovered a yellowish oil – trapped in rocks and soil but released by moisture – that was responsible for the smell.

The diverse nature of the host materials has led us to propose the name “petrichor” for this apparently unique odor which can be regarded as an “ichor” or “tenuous essence” derived from rock or stone.

The oil itself was thus named petrichor – the blood of the stone.

Bring on the humidity

The smell itself comes about when increased humidity – a pre-cursor to rain – fills the pores of stones (rocks, soil, etc) with tiny amounts of water.

While it’s only a minuscule amount, it is enough to flush the oil from the stone and release petrichor into the air. This is further accelerated when actual rain arrives and makes contact with the Earth, spreading the scent into the wind.

According to the Nature Paper:

In general, materials in which silica or various metallic silicates predominated were outstanding in their capacity to yield the odor. It was also noted that the odor could be obtained from freshly ignited materials rich in iron oxide, with or without silica.

It’s a beautiful sequence of events, but one that may be hard to visualise.

Thankfully, in a testament to the ongoing scientific fascination with this finding, a team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just this year released a super slow motion video of the petrichor process in motion.

Using high-speed cameras, the researchers observed that when a raindrop hits a porous surface, it traps tiny air bubbles at the point of contact. As in a glass of champagne, the bubbles then shoot upward, ultimately bursting from the drop in a fizz of aerosols.

The team was also able to predict the amount of aerosols released, based on the velocity of the raindrop and the permeability of the contact surface which may explain how certain soil-based diseases spread.

Lasting legacy

There’s a small body of research and literature on petrichor that’s fascinating in its own right, including Thomas and Bear’s subsequent paper Petrichor and Plant Growth a year after they first named the smell.

So what happened to Joy Bear and Richard Thomas?

Richard had actually retired from CSIRO in 1961 when he was First Chief of the Division of Minerals Chemistry. He died in 1974, aged 73.

Joy, aged 88, a true innovator and pioneer in her field, retired from CSIRO only in January this year, after a career spanning more than 70 years.

The joint discovery of petrichor was just part of a truly remarkable and inspiring career which culminated in 1986, with Joy’s appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to science.

We are thankful to both for the lasting legacy on giving a name to the smell of rain and to Joy for the role model she has been to so many women in science.

 

Venus and Mars are all right tonight… along with the moon.

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Venus and Mars and the waxing moon near the sunrise. Amazing sight. Tried to catch it with my Pentax and a 300mm zoom. Needed a bit of a time exposure, thus the trails in second one. And ambient neighborhood light didn’t help either. IMGP1303 IMGP1301

Driving

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Some people either fantasize about or actually do those kind of trips where they will visit all the baseball parks, ride the largest roller coasters, etc. If that’s a sort of bucket list, then the one that would be at the top of my list would be drive on all of the craziest roads in the world. crazyroad1 crazyroad2

Bad Luck? Knocking On Wood Can Undo Perceived Jinx, Study Suggests

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I love that someone is working on this type of thing in order to get a mainstream level buy in that we actually do create and manipulate our own reality – through many means.

Oct. 1, 2013 — Knocking on wood is the most common superstition in Western culture used to reverse bad fortune or undo a “jinx.” Other cultures maintain similar practices, like spitting or throwing salt, after someone has tempted fate. Even people who aren’t particularly superstitious often participate in these practices.

A new study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business finds that these superstitions actually do “reverse” perceived bad fortune.

“Our findings suggest that not all actions to undo a jinx are equally effective. Instead, we find that avoidant actions that exert force away from one’s representation of self are especially effective for reducing the anticipated negative consequences following a jinx” says Jane Risen, associate professor of behavioral science at Chicago Booth. Risen conducts research in the areas of judgment and decision-making, intuitive belief formation, magical thinking, stereotyping and managing emotion.

The entire article is here