Monday, May 28, 2012

Going green, living healthy

Disclaimer:  I'm no expert on this subject, and for all you know, I may have it all wrong.  Nevertheless, I will write about what I have learned over the years.  If you come across this post and find that I'm totally off, I'd appreciate any insights you may have.

"Going green", eco-conscious living, sustainable living, etc. are terms that are used somewhat interchangeably to express living in harmony with nature.  To some it means the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle), to others it may mean using products made of sustainable materials (for example, things that don't require destruction of ancient forests), some may think of this in terms of "fair trade" and the ethics of the organizations that create the product, and there are some who think of this in terms of being "all natural" and chemical-free living perhaps for health reasons.  Most of the time, living in a way that is kind to nature is also beneficial to ourselves. 

My personal view is that it encompasses all of the above.  We should try and get educated about where everything that we consume comes from and where it ends up after we are done with it (cradle-to-the-grave).   For example, when thinking about this in the context of food I often wonder how many hands a grain of rice has passed through before it ends up in my mouth.  And I have my own set of loose "rules" for all other products.  Sometimes it gets frustrating trying to follow these rules, and sometimes I just have to compromise and get on with life.  But at least I feel that I'm making baby steps in the right direction.  And I try to reason with myself that as I make changes at the micro level, things at the macro level will take care of themselves.

No Impact Man

As I thought about writing this post, a movie that I saw a long time ago -- No Impact Man -- came to mind.  The movie is a documentary about about a man (along with his family) who decides to take sustainable living to the extreme while living in New York City.  While I can't say that I endorse everything they did (many of the things they did would be too difficult for me, or almost anyone living a "regular" life), I did find it very educational and it's definitely worth watching.

Future posts

I'll cover what I've learned over the years in multiple posts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Learning to walk

In a previous post, A story about ego, I retold a story I had heard from a guest speaker at a Wednesday evening meditation session in Santa Clara hosted by Charity Focus (now ServiceSpace) founder Nipun Mehta.  Even though I don't spend much time in the Bay Area anymore, I have remained on their mailing list and receive a weekly note of inspiration.  That note of inspiration is typically the topic of discussion following the meditation session.

Today, I received an email providing an update on some of things happening at ServiceSpace.  Buried in that email was a little piece about Nipun's speech at UPenn's recent graduation.  I was intrigued -- someone I had personally met was the Baccalaureate speaker at the University of Pennsylvania.  I had to check it out.

Here's how the editors of DailyGood prefaced the transcript of his talk:
To address their newly-minted graduates, aspiring to dazzling careers, they picked a man who has never in his adult life, applied for a job. A man who hasn't worked for pay in nearly a decade, and whose self-stated mission is simply "to bring smiles to the world and stillness to my heart".
The talk describes some of the lessons learned from a pilgrimage of walking over a 1000 kilometers through villages in India, sharing in the lives of strangers and depending on their kindness.  Here are some excerpts.
Soon after we ended the pilgrimage, my uncle casually popped the million dollar question at the dinner table: "So, Nipun, what did you learn from this walk?" I didn't know where to begin. But quite spontaneously, an acronym --W-A-L-K -- came to mind...
The W in WALK stands for Witness. 
The A in WALK stands for Accept. 
The L in WALK stands for Love. 
And lastly, the K in WALK stands for Know Thyself.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dance Performance at the Yoga Farm: Anuradha Prabhashankar

This past Saturday at the Yoga Farm, following the evening meditation and daily chants, there was a Bharatnatyam dance performance by Anuradha Prabhashankar.  I've seen her performances many times since she performs at the Yoga Farm several times a year.

A Bharatnatyam dance typically tells a story of devotion to God, often a conversation or a complaint, and is considered a form of Bhakti Yoga.  I find her performances very educational because, before each dance, she explains the story that will be told by that dance along with an explanation of each of the gestures (of arms, hands, face, etc.) that will be used during the dance.

Because one of the dances was about a story that involved the mention of child marriage, she shared an interesting bit of trivia about the origins of child marriage in India -- During medieval times, Hindu families started marrying their daughters off as soon as possible after birth to protect them from abuse by foreign invaders.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adjusting the mirrors in your car for optimum visibility

Many years ago, I came across a posting in one of the automobile newsgroups that I found very useful.  I have since always used this to adjust the mirrors in a car when I first get into it.  It's somewhat counter to what one would be inclined to do, since it requires adjusting the side view mirrors to see just beyond the sides of the vehicle.  I don't recall the original source or I would have credited it.  Here's the piece.
It's all done with mirrors. An important part of safe driving is knowing what is around you at all times. However, if your side-view mirrors are not set correctly, you might experience blind spots. Here are three suggestions for a clear view: 
Step 1: Adjust your inside rear-view mirror to reflect the entire rear window. At night, if you don't have an auto-dimming mirror, use the mirror angle switch to eliminate headlight glare. 
Step 2: While resting your head on the left window, adjust the left side-view mirror so you can see just beyond the car's left side. 
Step 3: Align your head under the rear-view mirror, then adjust the right side-view mirror so you can see just beyond your car's right side. 
Follow these simple instructions to see your way clear in all types of traffic, night and day!
Once the mirrors have been set in this way, a car approaching from behind will first appear in the rear-view mirror, and before it disappears from the rear-view mirror it will appear in the side-view mirror, and before it disappears from the side-view mirror it will be in the driver's peripheral vision.

Here is a video explaining this procedure and demonstrating how it works.  And here is a picture from Car and Driver showing how it works.

Aspherical mirrors

I have tried adjusting the driver's side mirror in several Mercedes Benz cars and have found that it is impossible to adjust the driver's side mirror according to these instructions.  One possible solution to that would be buy and install aspherical mirrors.  As of this writing, aspherical mirrors are not available in the US, but they can be purchased from European dealers.