Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rattlesnake Canyon

We hiked up to these cool pools and were serenaded by frogs.


It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission.
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Rattlesnake Canyon


It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission.
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It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission.
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It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission.
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Joshua Tree

Serenity was up a boulder as soon as we arrived :-)


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dribble Coffee Pots

Why is it that every coffee maker I have purchased in the last 20 years has a carafe with a spout scientifically designed to dribble coffee all over the counter no matter what angle you tilt it over your cup?  How hard can it be to test a design and make sure it actually sends the coffee into the cup and not onto the counter?  Old fashioned percolators didn't do this!  I've had Mr. Coffee = dribble dribble.  Cuisinart = dribble dribble. Black and Decker = dribble dribble.  Braun = dribble dribble.  I really hate crappy designs in things.  If anyone knows of a coffee maker that comes with a carafe that doesn't dribble, let me know!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Feeling angry? Say a prayer and the wrath fades away, study suggests

ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2011) — Saying a prayer may help many people feel less angry and behave less aggressively after someone has left them fuming, new research suggests.

A series of studies showed that people who were provoked by insulting comments from a stranger showed less anger and aggression soon afterwards if they prayed for another person in the meantime.

The benefits of prayer identified in this study don't rely on divine intervention: they probably occur because the act of praying changed the way people think about a negative situation, said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

"People often turn to prayer when they're feeling negative emotions, including anger," he said.

"We found that prayer really can help people cope with their anger, probably by helping them change how they view the events that angered them and helping them take it less personally."

The power of prayer also didn't rely on people being particularly religious, or attending church regularly, Bushman emphasized. Results showed prayer helped calm people regardless of their religious affiliation, or how often they attended church services or prayed in daily life.

Bushman noted that the studies didn't examine whether prayer had any effect on the people who were prayed for. The research focused entirely on those who do the praying.

Bushman said these are the first experimental studies to examine the effects of prayer on anger and aggression. He conducted the research with Ryan Bremner of the University of Michigan and Sander Koole of VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It appears online in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and will be published in a future print edition.

The project involved three separate studies.

In the first study, 53 U.S. college students were told they would be participating in a series of experiments. First, they completed a questionnaire that measured their levels of anger, fatigue, depression, vigor, and tension.

They then wrote an essay about an event that made them feel very angry. Afterwards, they were told the essay would be given to a partner, whom they would never meet, for evaluation.

But, in reality, there was no partner and all the participants received the same negative, anger-inducing evaluation that included the statement: "This is one of the worst essays I have ever read!"

After angering the participants, the researchers had the students participate in another "study" in which they read a newspaper story about a student named Maureen with a rare form of cancer. Participants were asked to imagine how Maureen feels about what happened and how it affected her life.

Then, the participants were randomly assigned to either pray for Maureen for five minutes, or to simply think about her.

Afterwards, the researchers again measured the students' levels of anger, fatigue, depression, vigor and tension. As expected, self-reported levels of anger were higher among the participants after they were provoked. But those who prayed for Maureen reported being significantly less angry than those who simply thought about her.

Prayer had no effect on the other emotions measured in the study.

Bushman said that in this study, and in the second one, there was no prior requirement that the participants be Christian or even religious. However, nearly all the participants said they were Christian. Only one participant refused to pray and he was not included in the study.

The researchers didn't ask participants about the content of their prayers or thoughts because they didn't want them to become suspicious about what the study was about, which might have contaminated the findings, Bushman said.

But the researchers did run several similar pilot studies in which they did ask participants about what they prayed or thought about. In those pilot studies, participants who prayed tended to plead for the target's well-being. Those who were asked to think about the target of prayers tended to express empathetic thoughts, saying they felt sad about the situation and felt compassion for those who were suffering.

The second study had a similar setup to the first. All the students wrote an essay, but half wrote about a topic that angered them and then received anger-inducing negative feedback, supposedly from their partner. The other half wrote about a neutral subject and received positive feedback, which they thought was from their partner.

Participants were then asked to either pray or think about their partner for five minutes. (They were told this was for a study about how people form impressions about others, and that praying for or thinking about their partner would help them organize the information that they had already received about their partner in order to form a more valid impression.)

Finally, the participants completed a reaction-time task in which they competed with their unseen "partner."

Afterwards, if participants won, they could blast their partner with noise through headphones, choosing how long and loud the blast would be.

Results showed that students who were provoked acted more aggressively than those who were not provoked -- but only if they had been asked to simply think about their partner. Students who prayed for their partner did not act more aggressively than others, even after they had been provoked.

The third study took advantage of previous research that found that angry people tend to attribute events in their lives to the actions of other people, while those who aren't angry more often attribute events to situations out of their control.

This study was done at a Dutch university, and all participants were required to be Christian. The Netherlands has a large proportion of atheists.

Half the participants were angered (similar to the methods in the first two studies), while the other half were not.

They then spent five minutes praying for or thinking about a person they personally knew who could use some extra help or support.

Finally, they were asked to judge the likelihood of each of 10 life events. Half the events were described as caused by a person (You miss an important flight because of a careless cab driver). Angry people would be expected to think these kinds of events would be more likely.

The other events were described as the result of situational factors (You miss an important flight because of a flat tire).

Results showed that those who simply thought of another person were more likely to hold the anger-related appraisals of situations if they were provoked, compared to those who were not provoked.

But those who prayed were not more likely to hold the anger-related views, regardless of whether they were provoked or not.

"Praying undid the effects of provocation on how people viewed the likelihood of these situations," Koole said.

While the three studies approached the issue in different ways, they all pointed to the personal benefits of prayer, Bushman said.

"The effects we found in these experiments were quite large, which suggests that prayer may really be an effective way to calm anger and aggression," he said.

These results would only apply to the typical benevolent prayers that are advocated by most religions, Bushman said. Vengeful or hateful prayers, rather than changing how people view a negative situation, may actually fuel anger and aggression.

"When people are confronting their own anger, they may want to consider the old advice of praying for one's enemies," Bremner said.

"It may not benefit their enemies, but it may help them deal with the negative emotions."

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Ohio State University.

Journal Reference:

  1. R. H. Bremner, S. L. Koole, B. J. Bushman. "Pray for Those Who Mistreat You": Effects of Prayer on Anger and Aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0146167211402215

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Very interesting studies. This would fit with both a theistic world view, "Prayer Works" and an atheistic evolutionary world view, Prayer is wide spread in cultures because it reduces anger levels in the society and this would tend to be a good thing, increasing cooperation and reducing conflict. Cool either way I think.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

The lack of words here

You may have noticed that I have not been blogging much of late.  I don't know why that is, it wasn't a conscious decision of mine to stop writing actually.  I did make an effort over the last few weeks to reduce the amount of time I spend browsing the web and reading the news, this seems to result in fewer posts here.  I also had my camera die a while back and I decided not to fix it because I've found that when I'm taking pictures I'm not really in the moment, I'm in the future imagining what the shots will look like instead of just being IN the shot and in the moment.  I've been enjoying things more this way to tell the truth, I see more with my eyes than I do through the lens.  Frequently I see things in photos I didn't notice at the time that I am sure I would have seen if I wasn't peering through the camera.  :-)


Last Thursday, the last day of nice weather before the current spate of nasty weather hit us, I went hiking in the Morgan Territory above the valley in the hills north of Mt. Diablo.  I saw two coyotes from about 50 yards away and enjoyed the cool sunshine and thousands of birds as I slogged through the muddy trails.

Yesterday was Serenity's 10th birthday, we went to "Boomers" in Livermore for the party and the kids, and Lora and JD, had a good time.  Me, after the cake and pizza, I went home for a nice Sunday afternoon nap :-)

This coming Sunday Serenity and I will be heading south to the Mojave Desert to camp out with a bunch of other homeschoolers in Joshua Tree National Park.  I'm really looking forward to that :-)

There, I'm all updated now :-)

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami warning closes local beaches, Great Highway in San Francisco


Great, the tsunami and I are both scheduled to arrive in San Francisco at the same time this morning :-) It's forecast to be quite small and only impact the ocean beaches and not downtown inside the bay...still I'm going to dash upstairs when I get to work and do some "important concierge tasks."

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

[AgnusDay] Lent 1

It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission.
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Begin forwarded message:

From: Agnus Day - the lectionary comic strip <2sheep@agnusday.org>
Date: March 9, 2011 6:37:59 AM PST
To: agnusday@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [AgnusDay] Lent 1

Numbers 11:4-6 – Comment on this comic

Agnus Day

  Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.  The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."  But he answered, "It is written,  

'One does not live by bread alone, 

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" 

 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,  saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,  
'He will command his angels concerning you,'
and 'On their hands they will bear you up, 
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" 
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor;  and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."  Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written,  
'Worship the Lord your God, 
and serve only him.'"
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.  
Matthew 4:1-11

Peace and Joy,
James Wetzstein, creator Agnus Day

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lora slapping the bag

IMG_0051.MOV Watch on Posterous

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Diana's Innermost House


This house is very close to what I am aiming for... no electricity, 12x12, out in the woods. Check it out.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

NYTimes: Maliki’s Broadened Powers Seen as a Threat in Iraq

Another corrupt American imposed Arab state. We need to let these people find their own way, don't worry they will still sell us oil. From The New York Times:

Maliki’s Broadened Powers Seen as a Threat in Iraq

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken far more power than the Constitution intended, undermining Iraq’s fragile democracy, experts say.


Get The New York Times on your iPhone for free by visiting http://itunes.com/apps/nytimes

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hail Bob Gates!

While speaking of the immense military budget of the American Empire Justin sez:

"This is unsustainable, along with all the other equally profligate institutions of the Welfare-Warfare State. Cuts in the military budget are opposed by Republicans, while Democrats are up in arms now that the pensions of Wisconsin prison guards and teachers (or do I repeat myself?) are no longer considered untouchable. The United States is headed for its own “Days of Rage,” as the spoiled brats who inherited the Republic established by the Founders wake up from their orgy of self-gratification and self-deception to find their inheritance is gone."

I especially like the "or do I repeat myself" :-)

Check out the whole thing here.  http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/03/03/hail-bob-gates/

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This really sucks.

I hope I see these creeps at a funeral some day. While I'm not usually violent think rocks could find their way into my hands and then land upside some stupid fundy skulls!

1st Amendment protects military funeral protesters


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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fasting from fasting

Pastor McCain has a good post on fasting, applicable to Lent this year for me I guess :-)


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