Saturday, March 31, 2007


You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it
unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind
unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies
your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden
the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king
whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing,
but to free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then shall you truly dance.

- Kahlil Gibran

Words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventures of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you tell is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul, if you can be faithless and therefore be trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "YES!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty hours.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder

(Originally found at KoziWolf)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Retired Mats

Mats made from recycled tires

I just love these things - I remember my parents having them when I was growing up, and when I ran into the guy who makes these in our area at the flea market I was very happy to buy one. They last forever, they work better than any other mat out there, and they recycle an otherwise dangerous waste product - old tires.

Postscript: After seeing mine, mom ending up buying one from him at the flea market.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I just heard thunder!

Way cool - first of the season - sounds great when you haven't heard it in probably 9 months. :) It's raining - ooo, more thunder! Cool! Now it is hailing - aside from the damage/injury factor, hail is really neat - it bounces on the ground when it hits and looks like snow sometimes after it is all over. Ahh, there go the warning sirens - but the weather has already moved on - no tornadoes here.

Grand Canyon Lava Flows

The above link is to a neat image that shows the lava flows that used to cascade down the sides of the Grand Canyon and dam the Colorado River. Can you envision that? It must've been quite a sight! Click on the high resolution image after the description - it looks much better.

I often think about geologic processes and time. I have this little fantasy of being able to see all the changes that have happened on Earth, see where people have been and what they did, and see all the animals that ever lived, etc.

For example, yesterday I was watching some NOVA reruns (one of the best TV shows ever, folks) and one of them was about a place up north called the Scablands. It turns out that during the past glaciation period, glaciers came down into Montana and blocked a river creating a lake called Lake Missoula - it was a huge lake, like one of the Great Lakes of today, and modern day Missoula would've been nearly 2000 feet under water at that time. Well, water gets into the cracks of the ice and eventually causes the ice dam to break, like what happened in Iceland in '96. When this happened, it created a massive, fast and powerful flood-draining of the lake all the way into Washington and to sea. The water flow of the draining created potholes in the scablands tens of feet wide and deep - features that exist nowhere else on Earth. What's more, it happened over and over again perhaps hundreds of times. It is possible people might have witnessed it or even been victim to it - who knows?

And then I was watching a Deep Sea Detectives rerun and they were investigating cenotes in the Yucatan and Cozumel Island. These are pools of water that Mayans held as sacred entrances to the underworld and would drop sacrificial items (and apparently people) into them. In this episode, the divers were diving in from an entrance at the coast into the caves for more than a mile to get to a deposit of offerings that had been discovered with no apparent above-ground entrance that they could've been deposited from. First thing that was awesome was seeing the halocline - the boundary between the salt water and sea water - that they passed through. Then, seeing these caves that are now underwater but were completely formed above water. Caves take a long time to form and they form on land, not in sea, but now they are covered. So I wonder, how long ago were they above the water? My guess is that it was during the last Ice Age, because sea levels were lower then. Did anyone ever see them above ground? Similarly, there are people who think the Bimini Road is manmade. I don't know that it is, but there is increasing evidence of a lot of archaeology to be done underwater - evidence of human habitation in places now underwater. It is all fascinating to me!


Scientific American: Beyond IQ: Youngsters Who Can Focus on the Task at Hand Do Better in Math
Attention span and reasoning may get higher marks than intelligence, especially in math

I have often noted, as a high school math teacher, a direct correlation between a student's ability to focus and persevere through a lesson and/or problem and what they ended up learning, retaining, and what grades they earn. Attention span and follow-through seem to be real issues affecting students' learning, and not just for those with diagnosed ADD or ADHD.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Recurring Dream Addition

I had previously posted about recurring dreams and recurring places in dreams that I have noted in my life. (You can find the post by going to the labels in the sidebar and choosing dreams).

Well, last night I had a dream that I came to realize involved a recurring place.

Where I work, all the math teachers have a math office in which there is are two long lines of work desks facing each other where we all sit and work. In my dreams, a variation of these desks exist, but they are in a huge warehouse-type building that is kind of dark. In my dream last night, these desks were under a quarter-circle glass window that went from the floor and arced up to the ceiling. We were noting that it was raining really hard outside. As soon as we said that, it stopped raining, and a few seconds later, it was snowing a dry windy blizzard snow and was snowing so much that it was instantly accumulating on the glass panes. Then I woke up.

But I remembered dreaming of this place before. In previous dreams, the rest of the warehouse was also dark and had many cubicles and partial walls. I can remember sneaking around the warehouse trying to get computer parts and software for something we needed to do but didn't have the right stuff for. I also remember the landscape outside of this building being a lot like the surroundings of my junior high when I had went there years before, except that there was a practice baseball diamond in my dream in a wrong place.

And on the subject of dreams, something interesting happened last week. It was the middle of the night and I was asleep and I dreamt that something like a small animal jumped on my bed or someone hit my bed. Then, it happened for real, being strong enough to wake me up. I have no idea what actually made the bed move because I don't have any animals that move about the house and no one else was there. But it felt like someone punched the bed down near my feet, or something like that. I was not startled and didn't feel afraid, I just went back to sleep. But when I thought about it later, I thought it was pretty strange - nothing like that ever happened before that I can think of.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Interspecies Relationships

Cat Nuzzles up to Deer Herd

I see parts of this particular herd often on my way to work as I drive up Mesa Road near Garden of the Gods. It is a mini-thrill on the mornings when they stop traffic to cross the road.

I just think it is interesting and cool to see different species interact in sometimes surprising ways. I have read many stories of moms taking babies of other species as their own, for example. I think it makes people wonder about and expand upon their ideas of how they see the world and how they think animals see it, too.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Trace Bundy Video - a few from YouTube, more are there

The Love Song

Pachelbel's Canon

Carol of the Bells

excerpt from his song "Patanga", probably my personal favorite of his.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Imam Sajjad (as)'s Dua for Sickness

Imam Sajjad (as), great-grandson of the Prophet (saw), wrote some of the most beautiful duas. This is one for reciting at a time of illness.

O God, to Thee belongs praise
for the good health of my body
which lets me move about,
and to Thee belongs praise,
for the ailments
which Thou causest to arise in my flesh!

For I know not, my God,
which of the two states deserves more my thanking Thee
and which of the two times is more worthy for my praise of Thee:
the time of health,
within which Thou makest me delight
in the agreeable things of Thy provision,
through which Thou givest me the joy to seek
the means to Thy good pleasure and bounty,
and by which Thou strengthenest me
for the acts of obedience
which Thou hast given me success to accomplish;
or the time of illness
through which Thou puttest me to the test
and bestowest upon me favors:
lightening of the offenses
that weigh down my back,
purification of the evil deeds
into which I have plunged,
incitement to reach
for repentance,
reminder of the erasure of misdeeds
through ancient favor;

and, through all that, what the two writers write for me:
blameless acts,
which no heart had thought,
no tongue had uttered,
and no limb had undertaken,
rather, as Thy bestowal of bounty upon me
and the beneficence of Thy benefaction toward me

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
make me love
what Thou hast approved for me,
make easy for me
what Thou hast sent down upon me,
purify me of the defilement
of what I have sent ahead,
erase the evil
of what I have done beforehand,
let me find the sweetness
of well-being,
let me taste the coolness
of safety,
and appoint for me
a way out from my illness to Thy pardon,
transformation of my infirmity into Thy forbearance,
escape from my distress to Thy refreshment,
and safety from this hardship in Thy relief!

Thou art gratuitously bountiful in beneficence,
ever gracious in kindness,
the Generous, the Giver,
Possessor of majesty and munificence!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck?

Picture Caption by Team Snowfoot: The geese were of no help...
We knew they knew where the cache was but they weren't talking.

This is from a log entry of a geocache I placed with my nieces and nephew in December. It is so far turning out to be a good difficult cache that challenges some of the experienced cachers and yet remains accessible to all.

Here's the Cache's Webpage.

And here's another BEAUTIFUL picture of the lunar eclipse from last week.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A few of my favorite links for the week

Free American Sign Language Lessons

I've always been interested in languages, and I've always been interested in sign language - I used to constantly do finger lettering as a child until I learned to type and then I was constantly "typing" with my fingers - a sort of fidget. I've long thought it would be great to learn sign language.

Find Out What Maintenance You Should Be Getting For Your Car

Today I was listening to the auto tech teacher at our school. He was saying that cars are designed to last between 400,000-500,000 miles but the main reason they do not is that owners do not keep up on maintenance. I know I don't really do any "maintenance" aside from oil changes, etc., so I found a site that tells you what your scheduled maintenance for your particular vehicle should be.

Colorado Springs Police Blotter

I like to read what is going on in the town. I think every police department should publish a blotter and every citizen of that locale should read it.

Read and Search Journal Articles for Research

This came in VERY handy when I was doing my master's degree. I'd love to get another degree and take more classes whenever I can afford it, insha'allah.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Statistics in Religious Archaeology

Scientific American: Special Report: Has James Cameron Found Jesus's Tomb or Is It Just a Statistical Error?

Tomorrow night on the Discovery Channel there is scheduled to be aired a special about an ossuary in Jerusalem that some are claiming could belong to the family of Jesus (as). Some, of course, would then go so far to suggest that Jesus's (as) bones are there as well - although that is a much more wild claim. An interesting aspect of the names in that ossuary is that they may include the name of Mary Magdalene.

The article above is about a hypothesis test calculated around the probability of the names mentioned in the ossuary existing in that particular combination. Based on certain assumptions and research about naming in Jerusalem at the time, a statistician calculated 600 to 1 odds that that particular set of names belonged to the family of Jesus (as) and not another family with similar names.

This is actually the kind of stuff we're studying in my AP Statistics class right now. The kids are learning to conduct hypothesis tests, so maybe we will discuss this article next week and see if the students can determine what his assumptions were, what his null hypothesis was, etc.

As for other stuff going on recently in the land of Otowi:

1. I am going back to work at Sylvan Learning Center on Saturdays. So, I will once again be officially in the realm of the two jobs. I worked at Sylvan several years ago and did their SAT prep course off and on for a while after that and the couple that owns the Center asked me to come back. I tend to say yes to requests from people I know and like, and I could use the money in my ongoing quest to try to keep a balanced budget. The vast majority of my paycheck is gone on the second of the month - the day I pay bills - mortgage, utilities, school loans, old debts, etc. As we all know, debt sucks, and I have an ongoing goal to pay it down and not increase it.

2. The past week was Luau week at Coronado. It is a school tradition to have a luau dance once a year - a dance and opening of the pool combined. So every day was a different dress up day - crazy shades (sunglasses) day, class colors day, pirate day, lifeguard/scuba day, and beach day. We had snow this week and that may have been a factor in that kids did not seem to be dressing up in high proportion. I dressed up for class colors day and beach day and managed a very vaguely pirate-ish hijab for pirate day. But for beach day I ended up wearing my Islamic swim suit, aqua socks and favorite hibiscus beach towel. Several students enjoyed that.

3. My mom's birthday is Monday. Brother and I are taking her out to dinner tonight (along with brother's family, of course). I hope dad will go, too - he often decides not to participate in things. I did get her a present, but she knows she will have to wait for it, because it isn't released for a few weeks yet. Mom really liked Casino Royale, so I ordered it for her on DVD, and I will give her tickets to Trace Bundy, although those aren't really a gift. Trace Bundy is the most incredible acoustic guitarist I've ever seen or heard. My student mentoree who runs the guitar club at Coronado has a connection with Trace Bundy and did all the work to bring him out for a show. I believe his music falls within what is permitted Islamically on the basis of the rulings of Ayatollah Seestani and several others who have the same ruling. If The Police tickets weren't so outlandishly expensive, that is another concert I would've been tempted to attend even with my misgivings about where the music would fall in the context of rulings. The Police has always been a favorite of my mine. Synchronicity was worn out on my cassette player when I was a kid.

4. Blake, another teacher in the math department, is a fan of Terry Brooks. We were talking about The Silmarillion as I had been reading it because he had started it and never finished it, so then we started talking about The Sword of Shannara trilogy by Brooks. He just started re-reading it, so I got a copy for 1 cent off Amazon and started reading it, too. So far it isn't impressive (two chapters in) but not bad either. Clearly it isn't a Tolkien, but that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable. I am often not impressed by books in the first few chapters and they still can turn out to be good. Now Harry Potter books are usually good from the get-go (children's books are often better at that), but that's another story - literally.

5. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is coming to print! I just had to pre-order it....

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Scientific American: Fact or Fiction?: Living People Outnumber the Dead
Booming population growth among the living, according to one rumor, outpaces the dead