Friday, December 21, 2018

Why we must stand in integrity

"Relationships are like jigsaw puzzles. You're one piece of a puzzle, and your close associates are the pieces who connect with your piece. If your shape changes, all the people connected to you must do one of two things: either change to match your integrity, or else allow distance and pressure that hasn't existed before. This is challenging, to be sure. But the alternative—staying in a contorted shape so you fit in the space others want you to fill—is a violation of your truth." Martha Beck

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Car maintenance intervals

This pic is quite old but this was by far my favorite car: a manual transmission
'85 Honda Accord. I still miss it! I bought that car with 100k miles on it
and then drove it for the next 13 years with no major issues.

We interrupt this regular broadcast of my favorite quotes & photos with a handy car maintenance list. I compiled this from several sources when I had trouble finding one complete source that covered ALL of the kinds of car repair maintenance I'd done on my car.

Because I wished this resource had been out there so I could keep track more easily, I typed it up for anyone else who wants to keep track! This also helps when getting oil changes and they ask if you'd like a coolant flush or brake flush -- if you keep track of what you've done and when, you'll know whether or not the car is due. Enjoy!

Please let me know if I should add anything else: comment here or email Thanks!

Car PartCar Maintenance interval
Oil filter5,500 miles
Rotate tires6k
Fuel filter10k
Crankcase vent filter12k
Air filter12k
Cabin filter12k
Power steering flush24k
Vapor canister filter24k
Transmission fluid filter & flush24k
Brake pads and rotors30-40k
Serpentine belt / v belt30-40k
PCV valve30K
Spark plugs / ignition wires30k
Coolant flush30k
Differential service30-60k
Shocks / struts35-40k
Battery 40-50k
Drive belts40-60k
Radiator hose40-60k
Battery 48k
Valve cover gasket50-100K
02 sensor50-60k
Muffler / pipes50-80k
Tires50k, ~5 years or whenever tread is low (should not be able to see Lincoln's head on a penny). This also applies to the spare tire too.
Timing belt60-100k
Window motors60-90k
Brake calipers / shoes70-90k
Control arm / ball joint70-90k
CV / universal joint70-90k
Fuel pump70-90k
Water pump70-90k
washer pump70-90k
Tie rods70-90k
Heater core70-90k
Front axle70-90k
Voltage regulator80-100
engine computer80-100
Alternator & belt80-100k
A/C compressor80-100k
Power steering pump80-100k
Fuel injectors100k
Catalytic converter100k
ignition module100k
Radiator 100k
Tensioner pulley100k

Monday, October 29, 2018

We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused (by Margaret Wheatley)

"We can't be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion, cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for the new. Of course it is scary to give up what we know, but the abyss is where the newness lives. Great ideas and inventions miraculously appear in the space of not knowing. If we can move through the fear and enter the abyss, we are rewarded greatly. We rediscover we are creative."

Margaret Wheatley

Saturday, October 20, 2018

“Finding yourself” is not really how it works.

"Finding Yourself" is not really how it works. 
You aren't a ten-dollar bill 
in last winter's coat pocket. 
You are also not lost.
Your true self is right there, buried
under cultural conditioning, other
people's opinions, and inaccurate 
conclusions you drew as a kid that 
became your beliefs about who you are.
"Finding yourself" is actually
Returning to yourself.
An unlearning, an excavation,
a remembering who you were
before the world got its hands on you.

Emily McDowell

Sunday, September 16, 2018


"Sleeplessness is the inevitable symptom of an era in which we are encouraged to be both unceasing consumers and unceasing creators."

--Jonathan Crary

(Sent from my phone)

Monday, September 10, 2018

Tiny Desk Gardens

Lately I've been creating tiny desk gardens. It's been a blast! Ever since I was a kid, I've loved plants. I used to splint the bent stalks of a beloved spider plant with tissue and tape, carefully crafting a support for the leaves to mend. It took about a week (!! Can you believe that short?) and then I could (carefully) cut off the little tissue casts.

These little desk gardens are made specifically for no-light, no-care environments. While everyone may love plants, not everyone who could benefit from greenery can have them. Some may be fighting allergies or an illness, or have pets who eat plants. Or maybe they have a desk where they spend 8+ hours a day staring at a screen, unable to get outside. A plant would die without the right light and while it's possible to get artificial lighting for the plant, that in itself creates a harsh environment for human eyes already straining at a computer.

So I created these tiny desk gardens to fill this niche and fill empty and barren spots with color and signs of life but no maintenance. Enjoy!

One batch is done!

These are the smallest ones.
They fit in the palm.
I use air-dry terra-cotta clay for the tiny pots.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

At some point, you have to actually take the plunge.

"At some point you have to actually take the plunge into the pool. Trying to analyze how water moves and how you can swim effectively by staring at the ripples in the water as you sit on the sidelines will have its limits. The time is rapidly approaching to simply jump in. Once in the water, you will know instinctively where you want to swim to next. You may think you do while you are on the bench, but hypothetical thinking is not reality. Sometimes you simply can't know for sure until you are in the situation. We learn about life by experiencing life, not by analyzing life on the periphery." ~Cary Tennis

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Great art has dreadful manners.

"Great art has dreadful manners. The hushed reverence of the gallery can fool you into believing masterpieces are polite things, visions that soothe, charm and beguile, but actually they are thugs. Merciless and wily, the greatest paintings grab you in a headlock, rough up your composure and then proceed in short order to re-arrange your sense of reality..."-- Simon Schama

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

You want to be tough?

You want to be tough
You want to be rebellious
You want to be a badass

Then show your heart to everyone...


Friday, June 8, 2018

I AM WILLING by Elizabeth Gilbert


Dear Ones:

This picture of me and Rayya was taken one year ago today.

This picture was taken on the morning of our commitment ceremony — a day on which we bound our hearts to each other forever, in front of a small circle of friends.

What does "forever" mean, when one of the lovers has terminal cancer?

That's simple: It means FOREVER.

Six months ago this week, Rayya died.

People keep asking me how I'm doing, and I'm not always sure how to answer that. It depends on the day. It depends on the minute. Right this moment, I'm OK. Yesterday, not so good. Tomorrow, we'll see.

Here is what I have learned about Grief, though.

I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love.

The only way that I can "handle" Grief, then, is the same way that I "handle" Love — by not "handling" it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility.

When Grief comes to visit me, it's like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, "Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW," and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. It's a full-body experience. To resist it is to be brutalized by it. You just bow down — that's all you CAN do — and you let this thing roll through your heart and body and mind, in all its vehemence.

How do you survive the tsunami of Grief?

By being willing to experience it, without resistance. By being willing to feel everything. By being willing to accept the unacceptable.

The conversation of Grief, then, is one of prayer-and-response.

Grief says to me: "You will never love anyone the way you loved Rayya."

And I reply: "I am willing for that to be true."

Grief says: "She's gone, and she's never coming back."

I reply: "I am willing for that to be true."

Grief says: "You will never see her walk in the door again."

I say: "I am willing."

Grief says: "You will never have access to her wisdom again."

I say: "I am willing."

Grief says: "You will never hear that laugh again."

I say: "I am willing."

Grief says, "You will never smell her skin again."

I get down on the floor on my fucking knees, and — and through my sheets of tears — I say, "I AM WILLING."

I am beginning to understand that Grief is not the same thing as Depression. Depression is unwilling. Grief is a MOVEMENT — catastrophic and mighty — that you ALLOW to rock you and spin you. Depression is refusal to feel. Depression is a refusal to move, or to be moved. Depression is resistance, and resistance is futile.

I am not depressed, in the wake of Rayya's death. I am DESTROYED, but I am not depressed — but that's only because I am willing to be destroyed.

I will live on, because I am WILLING. I am willing to take this life on God's terms, not mine.

Love's terms, not mine.

Grief's terms, not mine.

I am willing to surrender to the reality that I will never understand any of this. I am even willing to accept that I may not ever fully heal from the loss of Rayya.

Grief says: "You may never recover from this"

And I say: "I am willing."

This is the job of the living — to be willing to bow down before EVERYTHING that is bigger than you. And nearly everything in this world is bigger than you. Let your willingness be the only big thing about you.

My friend Martha Beck officiated the commitment ceremony last year for me and Rayya. I will never forget what she said on that day: "True love always liberates the beloved."

Six months ago, I had to let Rayya go. It wasn't up to me. It was brutal, and I was willing. I bowed down and wept. God's will, not mine. But Rayya belonged to God before she belonged to me. She NEVER belonged to me, actually; I just loved her. And true love always liberates the beloved.

I am willing.

Two days ago — on the six month anniversary of Rayya's death — Martha wrote me a letter. She said, "The spark of absolutely unique, inimitable energy that showed up as Rayya is no longer in form. I can't wrap my head around it. What is she doing now? What is she BEING now? Death is every bit as common as life, and both utterly baffle me."

Me, too. I am completely fucking baffled. I don't understand Life any more than I understand Love or Death or Grief.

But I am willing to be here for the duration of the mystery. I am willing to be rocked by every last tsunami.

I don't know what Rayya is doing or being now. That is not for me to know. I only know that I will love her forever. And I know what I am doing and what I am being:

I am willing.


Thursday, April 12, 2018


"Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind." - Amit Ray (Photo by Rich Morey)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

When you need a list, and when you don't

"If you really deeply care about something, you will do it. You will do it without needing a list or a system or a reminder. No, your brain will not feel cluttered by the burden of having to remember it. If it happens to be a complex task with many steps, you'll make a list, without thinking "oh look I'm doing GTD."

"So what do you need a system for? You need it for chores. The stuff you don't want to do, but you need to. The stuff which is easy put off but will hurt in due time. Stuff like paying bills and calling customer service."

Vivek Haldar

Monday, April 2, 2018

Bernie Sanders on spirituality

"Every great religion in the world — Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism — essentially comes down to: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' And what I have believed in my whole life — I believed it when I was a 22-year-old kid getting arrested in Chicago fighting segregation — I've believed it in my whole life.

"That we are in this together — not just, not words. The truth is at some level when you hurt, when your children hurt, I hurt. I hurt. And when my kids hurt, you hurt. And it's very easy to turn our backs on kids who are hungry, or veterans who are sleeping out on the street, and we can develop a psyche, a psychology which is 'I don't have to worry about them; all I'm gonna worry about is myself; I need to make another 5 billion dollars.' But I believe that what human nature is about is that everybody in this room impacts everybody else in all kinds of ways that we can't even understand. It's beyond intellect. It's a spiritual, emotional thing. So I believe that when we do the right thing, when we try to treat people with respect and dignity, when we say that that child who is hungry is my child … I think we are more human when we do that, than when we say 'hey, this whole world , I need more and more, I don't care about anyone else.' That's my religion. That's what I believe in. And I think most people around the world, whatever their religion, their color — share that belief. That we are in it together as human beings. And it becomes more and more practical. If we destroy the planet because we don't deal with climate change … Trust me, we are all in it together, and … That is my spirituality." Bernie Sanders

Friday, March 9, 2018

It’s about trying, not the outcome

"My dad, growing up, used to encourage my brother and me at the dinner table at night. He'd say "What did you guys fail at this week?" And if we didn't have something to tell him, he would actually say "oh, that's too bad." So it trained me; I'd come home and go "Dad, I tried out for this and I was HORRIBLE" and he'd go "that's GREAT!" and high-five me. So my definition of failure then became not trying, not the outcome."

Sara Blakely

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Caring for Alzheimer's patients: what you must know

Photo by Marjan Lavarevski

This advice for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients comes from my good friend Michele Macomber. She gave me permission to post this in the hopes it reaches those who need it.
. . .
I was hunting for a good basic dementia information site to share – they are legion; pick one - and I was struck by this meme from The Alzheimers Reading Room:
Around one half of respondents agreed:
As soon as someone is diagnosed with dementia,
they are no longer treated like a thinking human being.
Since my dad died almost four years ago, our attention has turned to caring for my mom, and this statement has proven heartbreakingly true.

I have been lucky enough to have a family member who is trained in teaching children, families and professional caregivers about the social needs of dementia patients to clue me in. She has been able to explain what's going on with our mother's mind, and what she can and can not do with it. Details have been quite specific about what kind of support my mother needs from her caregivers, family and community.

While these needs and how to meet them seem obvious once explained, I notice again and again how even the most dedicated and compassionate doctors, caregivers and friends are unaware of how to be with, and support or assist patients and loved ones living with dementia.

This dismaying gap in public awareness of how to accommodate what is essentially a common disability – one in six women and one in ten men over the age of 55 will get it – needs to be closed.

Over the last three decades, as our society developed an awareness that Americans with disabilities have a right to be accommodated, we moved to install ramps, handrails, wider doorways, and beeping crosswalk signals, provide telephone and on-line services for vision- and hearing-impaired individuals, and pass laws guaranteeing access to public places for service animals.

We have also figured out that when we see our fellows who once were kept hidden from society - persons with developmental delays or intellectual disabilities - that we see them as people, treat them with respect, make the allowances they require and value them for their contributions and membership in our society.

Over the last three years I have taken my mother to many doctor's appointments, sat with her during three emergency room intakes and two hospital stays, and seen her in the care of countless “memory care” caregivers. (Quotes because in the UK “memory care” refers to a pretty complex understanding of how to effectively engage with someone with dementia, whereas in the US it more often refers to a locked-down facility for Alzheimers patients, with at best only a passing nod to dementia-appropriate activities.)

It took us a couple of years to figure this out, unfortunately. What often happens is a doctor or nurse walks in, talking fast, firing questions or telling us what they are about to do. Sometimes they address my mom, sometimes they don't, assuming it's pointless.

Either way she is confused by what is going on and she can not understand what they are saying.

It's disrespectful to her, and frightening for her.

I break in at this point and tactfully offer them a one minute crash course in communicating with dementia patients.

I explain, while demonstrating, that if you take my mother's hands in yours, look her in the eye, and speak clearly and distinctly, that she can actually understand everything.

She usually proves my point at this moment by responding with a reasonable and intelligent reply. The looks of surprise (It speaks!) are gratifying. The neurological ward nurses were delighted with this trick. Despite having hundreds of elderly patients with dementia in their care, this one little essential thing had never been included in any of their training.

One's identity is what makes a person herself.

Think about what makes you yourself for a moment: your memories, your community, the creative work you do, being needed and useful, your home, what music you love, your faith.

Caring about someone who has dementia is heartbreaking and infuriating as the stuff you like doing together and your usual ways of relating to them stop working well.

Your friend has become a different person.

But for your friend, they have not ceased to be themselves inside.

For them, these changes are terrifying and profoundly depressing as bits of identity blink on and off and eventually don't blink back on again.

They have a disability that makes it hard for them to go where they want, do what they want, organize, make phone calls, use electronics, remember names or words, separate past from present, ask for help, hear, see.

Their essential self is still in there, but they can no longer make the first move.

What they need most is help staying connected to their identity; they can no longer reach out, so we must reach in and help them.

This is when they need their community to stand by them and show them they are still wanted, needed, useful, interesting, loved, a valued member.

This is what needs to enter the public awareness. 

If you have had someone close to you with dementia, you already know.

If you realize that you have a friend who is getting dementia, help them stay connected to their community and to themselves because their increasing difficulty doing this for themselves is a disability that needs its own kind of access ramp.

We need to spread the word.

My mother's mind is still in there, it's just ensnared in the plaques and tangles.

If she seems muddled and I miss my mom, I only have to tell her my troubles and there she is, offering sympathy and comfort. If she is confused in the modern world, I read her James Herriot stories, full of 1930s English farms and countryside, and she becomes oriented within a world that makes sense. If she complains that the caregivers are being beastly to her, I ask her if she means the nuns at St. Audrie's, and she says, “Yes!”, as though I wasn't keeping up and have asked a silly question.

Please help spread the word so we can increase awareness and compassion. No one is ever too far gone to be treated with grace and humanity.

Michele Macomber 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New year’s wishes, from Neil Gaiman

"I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind." ―Neil Gaiman

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