Tuesday, October 25, 2016

what's up doc

One night, when I was ten or so, I woke up to the sheep crying outside. We owned several sheep and goats, as well as a few cats and dogs. Our home was a mini farm of sorts. That night was early spring, or as I knew it, lambing season. So at 3 am, hearing the sheep making that much noise, I figured that one of them was giving birth. Needless to say I jumped out of bed and ran to check on them. I rarely ever wore shoes at home and that night was no different. Unfortunately for me, that night one of our cats had decided to gift us with a dead bird. So when I ran outside I stepped on the bird and when I lifted my foot the bird came with. One of the birds bones had stuck into my foot! I broke the bird off, leaving a piece in my foot, and promptly informed my mom of what had happened. That morning she took me to the doctor and we were told the chunk of bone would work its way out. It did not... though it did eventually dissolve.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Coursera Creative Writing: Plot assignment one Escalator

Jonah had just finished building a castle out of blocks and playdoh when his mother walked in carrying a box that was bigger than he was. Excited, Jonah reached towards the box and made the sign for "please" but she took one look at his filthy hands and sent him to the bathroom to clean up. Jonah ran to the bathroom and climbed the steps to the sink. He turned on the water but there was no soap so he pretended there had been and scrubbed anyway. Back in the kitchen Jonah spotted the box on top of the table but his mother was no where to be seen. Jonah was sure his mom wouldn't mind if he took one peek inside so he pushed the dog cage closer and crawled on top to get a better look. The box was covered in jungle print paper complete with Jonahs favorite animal, a tiger. Jonah reached for the box just as strong hands with gold rings picked him up and set him back on the floor. "Wait, it's a surprise" his mother signed. She pulled out a tray of veggies, complete with carrots, and told him to have a snack while he waited. Jonah wasn't hungry but he ate anyway and wondered what was in the giant box. He imagined he was a pirate and the box was a treasure chest aboard his ship but he didn't have a ladder to climb the side. He was just about to send his crow, (parrots talked too much and Jonah being deaf couldn't hear them anyway) to retrieve the box when his grandpa tapped him on the shoulder. His Grandpa smiled and said some things but Jonah wasn't very good at reading lips and just looked at him confused. Grandpa pointed at the box and signed "for you". Jonah jumped up and down as Grandpa opened the box and peered inside. Jonah thought he might explode with excitement. His eyes went wide and his mouth gaped as Grandpa pulled out a giant stuffed tiger and handed it to Jonah. Best birthday ever!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Herbalism 07.25.14

So about a week ago I ordered some Nettle, Violet, Sage, Rosemary and Astragalus Root from Mountain Rose Herbs in order to try a few infusions and decoctions. So far I have made two different infusions, one from the Nettle and one from the Violet. I like the taste of the nettle a little better but the violet isn't bad.

Nourishing Infusions are made by pouring boiling water over one ounce of the plant material and letting it steep for at least 4 hours.

I've also learned that Nettle has been used effectively for arthritis, lowering blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, helping with dandruff, and curbing allergies among other things. In addition it's packed with calcium and vitamin C.

I've only read a little on violet but from what I've read it seems to be famous for breaking up cysts.

In the pictures I took the violet is on the left and the nettle is on the right. The knife in the background was used to help distribute the heat from the boiling water so that the glass wouldn't crack.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wiccan/Mindfulness Education 07.20.14

I wanted to make a comment on how daily meditation is affecting me. I've heard many people say it makes them feel calmer or more at peace but it seems to have a different affect on me. I feel more focused and alert, I get things done faster and recognize problems quicker. I've noticed this at work where my job seems easier and I'm more "in touch" with what's going on, it's like an increase in awareness. I'm getting my work done faster and more efficiently. At home I notice that I want to do more, I have more focus on what is going on and find myself more alert.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wiccan/Herbalism/Mindfulness Education 07.16.14

In my quest to learn for the sake of learning and to figure out what I want out of life I came across Wicca. Now I'm not big into the whole "there's a higher being out there watching over us" thing though I do pray for my children on a daily basis. I've always thought that the "higher power" was more of an energy or force like in Star Wars. Not good, not bad, just there. So at any rate I've looked through several different religions and never really found my place though the closest I've come so far was Buddhism. Now I'm giving Wicca a try and I'm going to journal what I've learned so far, what I've done, what I think about it and how I feel about it.

Contrary to some claims, Wicca is not an old religion and really started with Gerald Gardner. From there it branched off to many different sects with different rituals and beliefs. At the core of each is the Wiccan Rede, which states "An it harm none, do as you will". This in particular struck a cord with me as I have seen it in many other religions in different forms "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" though this is more freeing as it allows all conduct that does not harm others.

Wiccans believe in many gods and goddesses though some choose to follow just one or two. Their belief system is different than Christianity and other "Religions of the book" as they do not require worship. I'm still wrapping my head around that as it runs contrary to how I was brought up.

I should make a note that I have so far based my studies primarily off of Witchschool.com and MagickaSchool.com. Witch School was founded on the Correlian Nativist tradition of Wicca and I am taking Correlian Wicca First Degree, Living the Wiccan Life, Basic Meditations and Basic Herbs. I am also doing some study of Herbalism as it fascinates me.

So far I have learned some history of Wicca as well as a few spells (which I liken more to concentrated meditation). I took a Tai-Chi class with my dad and learned a meditation to cleanse the body and store Chi that involves visualizing my body filled with water and draining out through my palms and feet. There's more to it than that but that's the basic idea. I found the same concept in the Wicca referred to as grounding. It appears that Gerald Gardner spent some time in Asia learning about eastern thought and religion and integrated that into Wicca. So magic, in Wiccan thought, is similar to chi or energy in eastern thought, also Wiccans subscribe to the concept of Karma though they call it the law of three. That which you do will come back to you three fold, most don't take this as a literal equation but rather as the classical version of Karma but in this lifetime rather than the next.

I also learned a shielding spell which is a meditation concerned with strengthening ones aura. The other one I learned but have not tried is the cleansing spell involving Rosemary, Sage, Salt, Oil and a warm bath. Prior to attempting this I looked up the medical uses of Rosemary and Sage. I found that Rosemary has been used effectively to treat baldness, and some skin conditions while Sage has been used for cold sores as well as a treatment for Alzheimer's. I believe that the medical properties of the plants themselves along with the words/ritual/meditation (creating somewhat of a Placebo effect) is what causes the persons "spell" to work. I'm personally fascinated by the mix of herbalism and meditation for healing purposes and this seems to be a lot of what Wicca is about.

So far I've spent the last three days doing the aura strengthening exercise and the grounding exercise. I can say that immediately after I feel a sense of calm that I usually experience after meditation. For the time being that's the only benefit I've experienced. I've also made a conscious effort to try and view everything as being aware though that has been a little bit more difficult for me. I have sat in my kitchen, bathroom, and computer room and asked the room what it wanted and needed from me. That was a strange experience though I believe what I got out of it was more what I envisioned the room to be rather than the room actually responding to me. I have also contemplated the eternal cycle of water in that the same water (in a sense) was around in ancient times just the way it is today.

One other thought I had was that in a way, we are depriving ourselves of healing opportunities by stepping away from belief when it comes to medicine. When we perform prayers, rituals and other such actions in tandem with whatever medicine we are taking I believe it increases the effect. Simply by believing it will work people have seen results from placebos, be it sugar pills or prayer, and combining that with medicine or herbs I believe would have an added effect. While I consider my self fairly grounded in science and reality I can see from that standpoint why religions and rituals come about.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Book Reviews

Just wanted to leave a quick note to let you all know that the book reviews have moved to my new blog http://little-book-worms.blogspot.com/

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Introduction to Computer Science 11.29.13 23:26

I restarted the class on computer science from Udacity this past week. So far this course discussed the difference between a toaster and a computer in that a toaster is designed to do one thing while a computer can do anything we program it to do. A program is a code that tells the computer what to do in a given situation. I also got to do a little bit of programming in Python which is the language they use for the course. We started out with arithmetic, typing in print 1 + 1 and running it in the interpreter produces the result 2 . The print function is a way to see what the code we built is doing. Then it moved on to assignment statements. Typing in any word (name for example) an equals symbol and an expression assigns that expression to that word so if we write name = 5 * 3  and then print name it will evaluate to 15.

So lets say we wanted to print out more than just numbers, this is where we need to use strings. To create a string we could just use print 'This is a test' and the output would be This is a test. To create a string it needs to have quotes or double quotes on each side so 'the', "isn't" and '"simple" she said.' would all be valid strings. As long as the string starts and ends with the same type of quote it will work. Simple enough, but what if we have a really long string and we don't want to type it out each time? Then we could assign the string to a name and just print the name. For example: einstein_quote = '"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." Albert Einstein' we can then run print einstein_quote and the string "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." Albert Einstein will be the result.  

This brings us to another question, what if we have an entire page as a string and we want to find where a specific word or link first appears? We can use the find function, so starting with the string we just used we could then write einstein_quote.find('one') and the output would be the location of the first instance of the word one in our string. Of course we would have to print that piece of code to actually see the location as a number. I'm going to explain this using a shorter string,  'one' for example, if I typed in print 'one'.find(n) I would get 1 as the result because the location is initialized by numbers starting at zero and n is the second letter in the word one. We could type print 'one'[1:] and this would result in ne, because it would print starting from position one through the rest of the string. If we typed print 'one'[1:2] we would get n because the end point (2 in this case) prints up to but not including that position. We could also write print 'one'[:2] and get on, because it would display from the start of the string up to position 2.

So why and how would we use this? Well, for lesson one the goal is to be able to extract a link from a webpage. Let's go back to our einstein_quote string and say we wanted to print just the part one has forgotten what one has learned in school. we could write some code to do this as follows.

first_one = einstein_quote.find('one')
end_point = einstein_quote.find('.') + 1
print einstein_quote[first_one:end_point]

This should produce the result we are looking for. The reason the second step includes a + 1 is because the end point of an index (the [:] used to show parts of a string  ) prints up to that position and we want to include that position.