What if money was no object?

That is a question every single one of us should ask ourselves, as early as possible in life, ideally when we’re still in school. It’s not too late for you now if you’re out of school. It’s just that it’s so important, you should do it as soon as possible. Asking it makes you aware of yourself; it raises you out of the dull routine of supposed life and supposed work that you thought you ought to be doing and opens your eyes to the possibilities that are out there. You’d be surprised how much of what we consider reality is just supposition — a matter of perception.

So, what if money was no object? What if income became irrelevant? What would you do with your life? Would you be willing to sacrifice a life of supposed luxury to pursue what you really love to do? It doesn’t have to be a permanent sacrifice, you know… It need only be for a while, until you get so good at what you do that the income will come automatically.

You only have one life to live, remember that, and for most people, it’s not that long. What would you do? Don’t you want your life to be fantastic? Don’t you want it to be amazing? I do. I want my life and Ligia’s life to be fantastic and amazing and spectacular and I hope that others want the same thing for themselves. We sacrificed a lot to be where we are today and yes, the effort was and is worth it, because we’re doing what we love.

As I was thinking about this tonight, a video appeared in my news reader, a video which talks about this very thing. Coincidence? I think not; we make our own fortunes.

Watch it and then take at least a few minutes (a few hours is better) to think about your life. What do you or did you want to do with your life? Are you doing it? Why not?

If you’re a parent, think about the life of your children. What are you pushing your children to do? Is it really worth it to impose yourself on them, only to have them blame you and avoid you later in life, when they discover they’ve been pushed down a path they didn’t really want? Do you want them to accuse you of manipulating them? There’s a thin line between guidance and dictatorial control when you’re a parent, and so many parents cross it…

The video is courtesy of the TragedyandHope channel on YouTube and it came to me via Likecool.

Mel Blanc: the man of a thousand voices

I found and watched a documentary about Mel Blanc today, entitled “Mel Blanc, Man of a Thousand Voices“, and I wanted to share it with you as well. This one man has given me and countless other people so much joy over the years, that I can’t thank him enough. He’s gone, but knowing the kind of person he was, I’m sure he would have appreciated my thanks and would have been glad to say hi to me, if we’d have met, just as he did with all his fans.

Photos used courtesy of Mel Blanc and Warner Brothers. 

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D

Tony Darnell at Deep Astronomy has put together this wonderful video showing the Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D. It’s an amazing view of an incomprehensibly large universe, which helps put us in perspective. We are so insignificant, toiling away on this puny little planet we call Earth, a lot of us involved in nefarious or corrupt activities, trying to accumulate needless wealth at the expense of others, all while our impossibly short lives run out much too quickly.

Here’s my advice. Watch the video, then go outside and take a walk in nature. Enjoy its beauty. Think about family and dear friends. Then go through your house and clean all the stuff you don’t really need. Let’s all of us (the ones who are touched by this big picture) try to live our lives in a simpler, healthier way.

Cheers!

Arnold’s 6 Rules for Success

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who remains one of my heroes in spite of his (old and recent) shortcomings, once gave this speech, where he outlined his six rules for success.

  1. Trust yourself
  2. Break some rules
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail
  4. Ignore the naysayers
  5. Work very hard
  6. Give something back

Right on, Arnold!

Cat goes missing in Colorado, found five years later in New York City

Photo of Willow courtesy of Popular Science

Amazing Cat Goes Missing in Colorado, Found Five Years Later in New York City, Alive and Well | Popular Science

The Pop Sci blog has published a story on Willow, a very lucky calico kitty who went missing in Colorado and was found, five years later, on the streets of Manhattan. When taken to a shelter, she was ID’d thanks to an embedded microchip and reunited with her owners. If only Willow could talk, what a yarn that would be!

This gives me hope that our own missing tomcat, our beloved Felix, will come back home someday. He disappeared in November of last year, during one of his mating trips. We were accustomed to his going MIA from time to time, but he always came back. We keep hoping against hope that he hasn’t died. The chances are slim, but Willow’s case is encouraging.


The dancing Fountains of Bellagio at night

Most people will likely tell you the Fountains of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino are easily the coolest thing in Las Vegas. I agree. They are spectacular. I have never seen excess put to better use — and let me tell you, a huge lake that shoots water hundreds of feet in the air, in the middle of the Nevada desert, where any water demands a high premium, is excessive. These fountains left me breathless, awestruck, every time I saw them, and we made sure to catch several shows while we were there.

This is one of those shows, filmed by me at night, from the Northeast corner of the lake, at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd and Flamingo Rd. The fountains danced to a famous tune crooned by Frank Sinatra, called “Luck Be A Lady”. Enjoy!

Watch video on YouTube | blip.tv

Wow. That is one word that really says it all when it comes to this.

These modern times

We live in some interesting times, don’t we?

We’re more than happy to share private information with all kinds of strangers online, but we can’t be bothered to share our private thoughts with our spouses. Too busy for that… It’s no wonder the divorce rate keeps increasing.

We talk (a lot) but we don’t listen.

We know how to eat right, but we still eat crap.

We know how to exercise, but we’re getting flabbier and fatter.

We have access to more information than ever before, yet individually, we know less than ever. Our ability to condense the avalanche of information into knowledge is decreasing, because we’re more focused on quantity than quality. We read tons of articles every day, but we’ve lost the art of enjoying a single good article and thinking about what we’ve read.

We know exactly what we’re doing that’s hurting the environment, and instead of changing, we move our factories to developing countries, where no one cares (yet).

We can be entertained in more ways than ever thought possible. We can have incredible amounts of fun, yet most of us will admit to having little fun in their lives. Everything seems empty to some.

We know how to de-stress, but we don’t do it.

We know how to de-clutter, but we continue to accumulate more stuff.

We know how to be more efficient, but we continue to waste.

We have the manual, but we don’t RT*M.

We know when we need to grow up, but we continue to be immature just the same.

We know what meaningful work means, and we’ve heard of focusing on the task at hand, but we prefer to whittle away the hours on meaningless tasks that could be postponed or avoided.

We know we have innate abilities that make each of us special, but we don’t pursue the development of those hidden talents. Instead, we dream about what would happen if we did.

Our lives could be so much richer, individually and collectively, if we only did what we already know to be right and true.

Still working at 100

At 100 years old, Dr. W. G. Watson is the world’s oldest practicing physician. He’s been working as an OB/GYN doctor since 1947, and everyone in his town knows him. He says he doesn’t go anywhere without seeing one of his patients, some of which he’s followed for over 50 years. And he still makes house calls!

Watch video on YouTube

Vasile Stoica: around the world by wheelchair

Vasile Stoica is the first Romanian to have traveled around the world on a wheelchair.

Born paralyzed from the waist down, he spent the first thirteen years of his life mostly in hospitals, enduring numerous operations which were supposed to enable him to walk, too poor for a wheelchair, forced to drag himself along the floor. When he got into his first chair, it felt like flying to him. Since then, he’s set ever higher goals for himself. He started making trips through Europe, then prepared for his trip around the world.

He completed his first round-the-world journey in 1998, and that’s also when he entered the record books as the person who traveled the longest distance by wheelchair. Since then, he plans different routes and travels with his special Kuschall wheelchair each year, hungry for new places and new challenges.

Here he is after he completed a grueling 5,250 km trek across Europe, in 2006, at Finisterre, Spain.

The man who traveled the world by wheelchair doesn’t get any respect in his own country, along with the other disabled people who live there. In a short video that he and his friends put together, he demonstrates how hard, or even impossible, it is for him to get around on his wheelchair in Romania, because of the lack of disabled access to public buildings, such as ramps or elevators — this in spite of laws that have been on the books for years.

Photos used courtesy of Vasile Stoica.

The first people to have traveled the world by wheelchair were Patrick and Anne Simpson, who published their account of the journey in 1997, in a book entitled simply “Wheelchair Around the World“.

The Ferrari FXX

Today was the first time I saw and heard the Ferrari FXX. While I’m not wild about its looks, the sound of its engine is amazing. It floored me. It’s pure adrenaline. I’ve heard the sound of plenty of sports cars in my time, but I don’t know, there’s something that sets the FXX apart for me. Perhaps it’s just the way the sound was mastered for the videos, who knows, but it blows me away.

Here it is in a video where Michael Schumacher drives it around a race track with French football star Zinedine Zidane in the passenger seat.

And here it is being driven by Ferrari test driver Dario Benuzzi for a Top Gear show.

Only 30 of these monsters were made by Ferrari from 2005-2007, and it’s essentially a souped-up Ferrari Enzo with an 800 bhp engine. Here are the detailed specs:

  • Engine: Longitudinal, rear-mounted, 75 degree, naturally-aspirated aluminium V12
  • Valvetrain: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder with continuously variable timing
  • Fuel system: Bosch Motronic ME7 Sequential Electronic Injection
  • Horsepower Max: 800 hp (597 kW) at 8500 RPM
  • Specific Output: 127.75 PS (93.96 kW; 126.00 hp) per litre
  • Drive system: RWD w/TCS
  • Construction: Carbon fibre body over carbon fibre tub with rear alloy subframe
  • Front brakes: Brembo CCM (carbon-ceramic) discs w/6-piston calipers, power assist ABS
  • Rear brakes: Brembo CCM (carbon-ceramic) discs w/4-piston calipers, power assist ABS
  • Front wheels: 483 mm (19.0 in) x 229 mm (9.0 in)
  • Rear wheels: 483 mm (19.0 in) x 330 mm (13 in)
  • Steering: Rack and pinion with power assistance
  • Suspension: triple wishbones with push-rod actuated coil-shock units, adaptive dampers, electronic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
  • Wheelbase: 2,650 mm (104 in)
  • Front track: 1,660 mm (65 in)
  • Rear track: 1,650 mm (65 in)
  • Rear view is provided by a roof mounted video camera displayed on a small inboard screen.
  • Top Speed: 217 mph (349 km/h)

There’s more info about it on Wikipedia or on the Ferrari website.

Turning trash into usable products

Ann Wizer from XSProject Foundation (as in “excess”) is making custom-designed bags and other products from non-recyclable plastic waste found in Indonesia and the Philippines. She buys the raw materials from trash pickers, whom she pays at above-market rates, and, using trained artisans, creates beautiful products from trash that would be clogging landfills, streets and waterways in those countries.

Through its work, the Foundation is protecting the environment, reducing poverty, and teaching locals how to sustain themselves through the work of their own hands. The end results are beautiful, as you can from the photos and the embedded video below. The cause is noble, the work is noble, the means are innovative, sustainable and ennobling, and so I think Ms. Wizer and her XSProject Foundation deserve our applause for the wonderful work they’re doing.

Embedded video from CNN
Turning trash into usable products (CNN)

xsproject-bag-1

xsproject-bag-2

xsproject-bag-3

* I would have linked to their online catalog of products, but at the time of writing this, it seems to be down.

Images used courtesy of XSProject Foundation.

Vivaldi's Four Seasons on the accordeon

A teen plays a segment of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons so masterfully on his accordeon, that his video, uploaded to YouTube, is bound to go viral. Unfortunately no credit is given to him in the video or in the video’s description. Does anyone know who he is? He plays incredibly well for his age.

And now, for something completely random and very weird