Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sidewalk Artist Extraordinaire Helps Us to 'Really' See

One of the most convincing demonstrations of the eye's fallibility and the illusions to which 'looking' is liable comes here in the form of these photo's of  Edgar Mueller a master sidewalk street artist who uses chalk as his primary medium. [be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to view "the making of crevasse" clicking on HD recommended]

The world really is not as we see it, as it "appears" to is it? After gazing at these images the answer is absolutely most certainly NOT! Most of the relatively misleading information we receive comes from our most outward directed sense- the eye. The more our attention is directed inwards, the less incorrect information we receive. The unfolding of an eye culture, the constantly intensifying dominance of seeing and the seeable, is quite possibly despiritualizing [is thats a word?] our existence. We have become less aware that our 'inner eyes' are just as important as the 'outer' organs, and that 'looking within' is as crucial as what we see externally.

The word mystic comes from the Greek myein = close the eyes. Ever since ancient times mystics have, however, been viewed as human beings who see more.

Edgar spent five days, working 12 hours a day, to create the 250 square metre image of the crevasse, which, viewed from the correct angle, appears to be 3D. He then persuaded passers-by to complete the illusion by pretending the gaping hole was real. 'I wanted to play with positives and negatives to encourage people to think twice about everything they see,' he said.
'It was a very scary scene, but when people saw it they had great fun playing on it and pretending to fall into the earth. 'I like to think that later, when they returned home, they might reflect more on what a frightening scenario it was and say, "Wow, that was actually pretty scary"

"The human eye cannot see most of the lights in this world. What we percieve of surrounding reality is distorted and weakened by our organ of vision." 
- Lincoln Barnett

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We As a People are Going To Be a lot Healthier+Less Quarrelsome if We Start to Drink More Tea

No luxury is cheaper than tea, says James Norwood Pratt as he waxes poetically on the virtues of the Tea experience. A best selling author on California wines in the early seventies, states "it was the perfect training for writing The Tea Lover's Treasury." He goes on to tell us how both come from the soil, the climate they grow in and then the human factor...what you do with the grape or the tea leaf after you remove it from the plant...I recommend playing it in HQ [the red button on the right bottom of the video]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Too Chai with L o v e

Swami Muktananda (personal) Chai Recipe from the Siddha's

Chai is a rich and complex beverage that has been savored for centuries in many parts of the world, especially India. Traditionally consumed hot and sweet. The sweetness is needed to bring out the full flavors of the spices.

Interestingly enough Chai is simply the word for “tea” in Hindi and several other Asian languages. The spicy, milky variety known in India as masala chai is simply called “chai” in the US.

What makes great chai? What makes it taste so good? Well, for a start, freshly selected and grounded ingredients, blended together and left to settle for several hours or sometimes overnight to 'ripen' add a dash of the l o v e of sharing tea with friends and family and stir, to make the perfectly delicious spicy chai experience many of us have come to love and enjoy over the years.

It is always challenging to write down a recipe which is never 'fixed'. My wife Erin says; best chai comes from 'the Heart'. She started with the recipe given to us by a dear friend (a Siddha who prepared this for Gurumai for many years and it was said to be Baba's favorite) and has evolved it to this (this baba's favorite ;) and now it is offered for you to experiment and as your confidence grows and it finds your own 'touch'. Making chai is fun; relax and enjoy this great eastern tradition. Never make it in a tense or hurried mood; work with love, respect and a light heart, and your 'chai' ( you could read 'life' here), will always be great. May the Chai welcome you too!

*4 Cups water
*handful of black tea (Darjeeling or Assam) or 6 bags
*dried or fresh ginger (i use both) tablespoon dried+shredded fresh ~ this is a good starting point and recommend experiment w/this to discover just how "spicy" you like it.
*1 cinnamon stick (2 if small)
*1 tablespoon black peppercorns (slightly cracked)
*1 1/2 tablespoon Cardamom seeds (slightly ground)
*15 whole Cloves
*2/3 cows milk or goat
*desired amount sugar

*bring water to a boil, with Cinnamon and ginger in pot.
*mix spices together and in a pre-heated sauce pan ~ dry fry the spices for 5-7 seconds stirring the whole time
*add spices to pot of water and let simmer for 20/30 minutes
*Add tea and let sit for 5 minutes, strain.
*Put back into pot and Add Sugar and Milk

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Will Blow Your Mind...

Regenerative Medicine

When a hobby-store owner in Cincinnati sliced off his fingertip in 2005 while showing a customer why the motor on his model plane was dangerous, he went to the emergency room without the missing tip. He couldn't find it anywhere. The doctor bandaged the wound and recommended a skin graft to cover the top of his right-middle stub for cosmetic purposes, since nothing could be done to rebuild the finger.

Months later, he had regrown it, tissue, nerves, skin, fingernail and all.

This particular hobbyist happened to have a brother in the tissue-regeneration business, who told him to forego the skin graft and instead apply a powdered extract taken from pig's bladder to the raw finger tip. The extract, called extracellular matrix, lays the framework that cells use to generate any given body part. It's like a cellular scaffolding, and all animals have it. It holds the signals that direct cells to divide, differentiate and build themselves into a specific form.

Extracellular matrix is a component of body tissue that functions outside of the body's cells (thus the "extracellular" designation). It's made up mostly of collagen, a type of protein. So extracellular matrix extracted from the bladder of a pig does not actually have any of the pig's cells in it.

In human fetuses, the substance works in concert with stem cells to grow and regrow everything from heart aortas to toes. Fetuses can regrow almost anything that gets damaged while in the womb. Scientists have long believed that when a fetus reaches full development, this extracellular matrix stops functioning. But with evidence that applying extracellular matrix from a pig can initiate certain types of regeneration in humans, they're wondering if they can trigger human extracellular matrix to start working again. After all, according to regeneration researcher Dr. Stephen Badylak of the University of Pittsburgh, children up to the age of two have been known to regrow fingertips with no outside help.

Pig-extracted extracellular matrix is already used by veterinarians to help horses repair torn ligaments. In people, it's used to treat ulcers, closing a hole in the tissue that lines the stomach. It employs an entirely different process than the typical mammalian healing mechanism. Let's take the case of a person who loses the tip of a finger. When the finger is severed, the cells die, and their contents seep into the surrounding tissue. This alerts the immune system to a problem. The immune system's response to cell death is inflammation and scar tissue. The formation of scar tissue prevents any future cellular development in the area. That's why scars last -- cells are prevented from doing a repair job on that skin.

But when extracellular matrix is applied to a wound, it doesn't trigger an immune response. Instead, when it begins to break down into surrounding tissue, it causes the cells in that tissue to start repairing the damage the way they would in a developing fetus (or a salamander that loses a limb) -- they divide and rebuild, creating new, normal tissue, not scar tissue.

Combined with developments in stem-cell research, this extracellular matrix may work miracles in the area of regeneration science. As of early 2007, testing of the effects of extracellular matrix is being carried out on a military base in Texas. Scientists are using the powdered pig extract on Iraq War veterans whose hands were damaged in the war. They're opening the wounds and applying the component to finger stubs in an attempt to regrow them. The researchers conducting the study say they don't expect to regrow the entire finger, but are hoping to regrow enough of a finger to allow for some utility. They don't believe it will regenerate bone, but nothing is for sure right now. That man in Cincinnati had only lost his finger tip, at the lower part of the nail; he hadn't lost the entire finger.

Help from pigs aside, many wonder if the extracellular matrix in humans is unable to function or is simply in a latent state, awaiting some sort of trigger. Do humans in fact have the same regenerative capacity as salamanders, which can regrow an entire limb, and researchers just haven't found a way to activate the mechanism? It's not just amphibians that can regrow body parts: Deer regularly regrow lost antlers, composed of bone, tissue, cartilage and skin -- the same things that make up human limbs. Could there possibly be an internal switch that would reactivate the regeneration capacity that humans possess in the womb? Regenerative medicine is actively pursuing answers to these questions. And in the meantime, if applying powdered pig extract to a snipped finger can in fact facilitate regrowth, the possibilities for medicine are startling. Spinal injuries, amputated limbs and damaged organs could all be coaxed back into a complete, healthy state if science finds the right combination of treatments.

A Plant's Eye~view

Michael Pollan is the author of The Botany Of Desire+Omnivore’s Dilemma and his latest In Defense Of food. In all of which he explains how our food not only affects our health but has far-reaching political, economic, and environmental implications. Few writers approach their subjects with such rigor, passion and perspective. Whereas most humans think we are Darwin’s most accomplished species, Pollan convincingly argues that plants — even our own front lawns — have evolved to use us as much as we use them.

A Plant's Eye-View Michael Pollan Speaks at TED 2007