Thursday, February 28, 2013

Love Month Series #15: GRACE

Learning  is one advantage I get from blogging.

While thinking of a blog to post I got engaged in chatting with a friend about music. He was listening  to the trio Al de Meola, Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin playing a piece called  Passion,  Grace and Fire.

I confided to him that I was having a case of writer's block and had not written a blog.  He suggested that I write a grand finale for my Love Month Series.

"Write about passion, grace and love," he said.

I toyed with the idea and decided I'd zero-in on Grace, which I thought the least exploited  concept in relation to love.

Grace is  nebulous and has many meanings. I found  the definition of Grace that best suits me  from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary : "a disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency."

I twirled the idea and realized that unconsciously I've been practicing grace all along.  

A friend chatters continuously, repetitively and regardless of whether I'm busy or not.  She drives me insane but I understand. She needs clarity and admiration. I really think she's hilarious.

Another, who is usually sweet, cheerful and funny, turns sour and brusque during bad-hair days. I fall back on what he joyfully announces every morning: "Something wonderful is going to happen to me today!"

Another constantly whines about not having money for her mortgage payment despite my continuous advice to prioritize her expenses. She would   travel to Vegas or abroad knowing fully well that she was putting her house at risk of being foreclosed on.  Her confusion exasperates me until I remember all that she went through in having to pull the plug on her brain-dead  20 year old son's life-support system and, after that,  in battling  breast cancer. Life has become too short.

Grace kept me from slapping a friend who drunkenly  not just came on to me; she dared touch my breasts.  She hates being alone. I understand the underlying issues behind her behavior.

Another talks to me only to pick my brain and does not even ask how I am.  I must look like a vending machine.  I'm still calling for more grace to help me with that one.

Grace finds the exceptional in otherwise unremarkable romance or in a relationship gone awry.

Grace  barrels through vulnerability to annoyance, disappointment and hurt. It is freedom from the  ego, vanity, pride, indifference and expectations. There can be no patience, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance without grace.

There's a saying that wisdom comes with age.   I've learned that grace comes with wisdom.
Grace and wisdom make love.

- Ariel Murphy

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Artistic Elephants

Yesterday at my Rotary Club meeting, Glenn, one of the club members, held a briefing about his recent trip to Thailand.

The highlight of Glenn's presentation, which gripped my imagination, was not so much the industrial water filter donation that a Rotary Club in California gave to a corresponding Rotary Club in Thailand or the English language classes Glenn conducted for eager school children.

Glenn showed paintings made by elephants. That's right -- elephants!

I  was astounded.  The paintings looked like they were made by man; not an animal.

And then I found out that an elephant's trainer has to provide a lot of motivation before the pachyderm-artist will agree to take on the brush.

First, the elephant is fed all the peanuts and bananas it can eat. Then the trainer and his ward play Hopscotch or sometimes Hide-and-Seek. The elephant wins, of course.  More peanuts and bananas for the animal.

Naturally after all that food, the elephant has to have its private moment. The trainer is an expert at being able to tell by the low and long saxophone-like sound the animal emits accompanied by such an overwhelming odor the trainer has gotten so used to he no longer has to pull his shirt up to cover his nose.

The trainer, after the animal has relieved itself, proceeds to shove  a paintbrush at the elephant's trunk.  Unfortunately the elephant has bad-hair days and is not always cooperative. When that happens, the trainer tells the elephant:  "You better be nice or I'll send you to Washington DC and you'll be sequestered."

Hearing that, the elephant  quickly grabs the brush and starts painting.

Photo by Liugi Burks

Here are links to elephants painting in Thailand:

- Ariel Murphy

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sequestration - Cutting Our Nose to Spite Our Face

If sequestration, the latest buzzword in politics, sounds like a mouthful, do not be intimidated.  It could really mean "mouthless" -- belt tightening measures that would literally and figuratively put less in our mouths. Now you have cause for alarm.

"Unless Congress acts by March 1st, a series of automatic cuts—called the sequester—will take effect that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform," according to the White House's National Economic Council.

Hawaii, for example, will lose approximately $4.7 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 60 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 9,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 20 fewer schools would receive funding.

Some $1.3 million will be lost in  environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Hawaii could lose another $359,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Approximately 20,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $134.1 million in total. Army base operation funding would be cut by about $106 million and that for Air Force operations, by about $15 million.

There are more cuts that would affect  children, the elderly and those with disabilities.

Our confused and confusing senators and representatives in Congress want the deficit reduced. But instead of plugging loopholes in taxes for the rich and  thereby raise more revenues, they instead want to reduce expenditures for services that we should be getting. 

We're barely out of recession. Many in business are still reeling from the economic crunch. Would-be investors that will provide employment and stimulate economic growth  have been burnt from the effects of the recent mortgage debacle and are not doing business until they are sure that the economy will stay strong. Public spending must fill in where private investment is weak.

We've been there before.

The economic situation was worse during the term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). Many saw suffering during The Great Depression. The economy turned around due to FDR's spending policy, as called for by his New Deal.

"The New Deal increased U.S. GDP and resulted in a substantial decrease in U.S. unemployment, both during its initial phase (1933-37) and after FDR turned back 1937-38 Republican pressure to balance the budget (1939-41). The fiscal stimulus provided by the New Deal worked," according to Joseph  Lazzaro, financial editor of Daily Finance.

Deficit spending is a double-edged sword that is uncalled for during times of boom and boon and dangerous during times lean and mean. such as that we're now in.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt must be turning in his grave as our representatives in Congress cuts our nose to spite our face. The least our esteemed politicians can do is to plug those loopholes for the rich.

 God help America!
The 113th Congress - Source:
- Ariel Murphy

Monday, February 25, 2013

At the Oscar's

A friend had a small Oscar Awards Night party at her house last night. Wine  flowed and hor d'oeuvres were plenty. I noticed while watching the Oscar ceremonies that most male winners who took the mike thanked their respective wives by name. 
When the nominees for best actress were called, a footage of the movie The Silver Linings Playbook was shown. In the film segment,  winner Jennifer Lawrence displayed her thespian abilities as Tiffany, the main female character of the movie. 
Just as Tiffany was vehemently spewing out.... "You know what? Forget I offered to help you. Forget the entire fucking idea. Because that must have been fucking crazy, because I'm so much crazier than you! I'm just the crazy slut with a dead husband...," the rather extremely inebriated hostess of the party who was laying on the couch suddenly grabbed me towards her.  Before I even realized what was going on, I felt her quickly put her hands up under my shirt and started fondling my front. 
Startled, I  gently extricated myself from the hostess' tight grip just in time to see Best Picture Director Ben Affleck making his acceptance speech and thanking  his wife for working on their marriage.
Popcorn anyone?
Jennifer Lawrence in The Silver Linings Playbook. Source:
- Ariel Murphy

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Love Month Series#14: The Dance (Guest Blog by Jan Hotchkiss)

The Universe trembles as the music begins
The Ying & Yang circles within
Divine Masculine & Feminine comes in play
Something new is happening this day

Around and around and closer they drew
Keeping time to the music for little they knew
that a brush of a hand and a look in the eye
would magically make fireworks fly    

                                         Moving in spirals the first lovers tease
while dancing together with infinite ease
soon to become a lover's embrace
full of wonder, awe, passion and grace

They come to behold a strong sense of desire
as music undulates softly and sets their hearts a fire.
then the music pulsates, creating ripples through time
for the lovers to linger in the undulating rhyme
and, in turn, creating all space and time
Wonder, oh wonder... oh wonder that be
that this joining of opposites  now is free
to be in a magic moment of sweet ecstasy
caught in the rapture of the lover's embrace
and an opening to an orgasmic place

Holding each other and feeling as one
they linger, not knowing what had began
The music and dance moves into forever
Holding each moments of their Love together

                                                 The magic of this wondrous union
lives in the hearts of each man and each woman
to share the sacred dance with each other
And honoring the divinity in one another

Painting by Marc Chagall. Source:

- Jan Hotchkiss

Ariel's Note:  Born and raised in California, G+Jan Hotchkiss now lives in Hilo, Hawaii where she does therapeutic massage. Her passions include photography, swing dancing, music, spirituality, and interior design.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Guest Photo Blog by Alan Lakritz

Moon over Mauna Kea



Waterfalls at Waipio Valley

- Alan Lakritz


Ariel's Note:  G+Alan Lakritz lives on the Big Island of Hawaii and is the current president of the Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset.  His photos are available for purchase at

Friday, February 22, 2013

Love Month Series #13: Making Love

An explosion of blinding white light
  Yet a bottomless darkness of the unknown
A gazillion meteors crazily racing across the universe
 Yet a dappled doe statue-like listening and waiting
Time gone haywire spiraling back to its beginning
 Yet the here-and-now
A grove of bamboo gracefully yielding to the breeze
Yet the Ohia tree, deeply rooted and hardy
The sweet sonata from  a lone violin
Yet the relentless thunder of a Taiko drum
Raging fire yet searing ice
A tear drop amidst a soft shower of rose petals 
 as incense wafts fragrant offerings 
on the altar of both the human and the divine

Making love is not  just a fusion of sex  organs; but  a precious conversation going on between each other's pulses. It is a  sweet nameless harmony of surrender and acceptance -- a flash of brilliant lightning in experiencing the other's totality and in offering your own.

The eyes see.  The tongue tastes. The skin feels. And the spirit senses. In lust and in love, sexual intercourse is a wonderful celebration of oneness with both seen and unseen.

- Ariel Murphy 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Photo Blog by Mitchell Hegman

- Mitchell Hegman

Ariel's Note: Mitchell Hegman lives in Montana and is the vice president of Third Element Contractors, which seeks to promote energy efficiency and education related to electrical systems and their installation. Mitchell was a former director of the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) for the state of Montana.  He maintains his own blogsite ( which contains his writings and photography.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Loony Bin : In Surreal and Deviant Mode

One night I dreamt
I was in a place
Where all the people smiled.
They came bearing gifts
And then took me for a ride.

We went to a banquet.
I ate the food offered,  plate after plate.
I  drank the wine before me.
I danced to  brisk music. 

Then I found too late
The food had worms, wriggling
The wine was spiked with hemlock. 

All the people had shadows
Each wielding knives
Wildly prancing to the music
Screeching eerily off-key.

All  were watching
With glacier eyes
And no longer hiding
Their sinister smiles.

I thought it a strange nightmare
Until I saw on the floor
Dark blood oozing
A plucked eyeball staring widely
And my heart
Stabbed then butchered still quivering. 

I woke up dying
In every possible way I can
My mouth wide open in a silent scream
Then with relief I realized
I was in the loony bin.

- Ariel Murphy

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Love Month Series #12: Being Completed by Romance (Guest Blog by David Teachout)

In contemplating the nature of love and the many forms the word is associated with, I’m reminded of the movie Matrix: Revolutions in which Neo confronts a computer program who declares his ability to love another program who he calls his daughter. When asked by Neo how a program can love the gentleman and father notes the word has no inherent meaning, rather only referencing the felt connection that exists by virtue of declaring it so.

While the love noted by the movie character is that associated with the love of a father for his daughter, it is the “connection” piece that I want to focus on, primarily as it is associated with romantic love (other forms or love in general can wait for another entry). I think it can be noted without too much in the way of protest that if there were no people to express a romantic love, then such would not exist, at least in so far as we understand the term. It is, like all emotions and their physiological instantiation, something that at least at some level must take into consideration the referential point of the creature expressing it. This is not to indicate that love of all kinds is completely encapsulated by referencing only the person(s) expressing it, creating as it were some love-flatland, but without this reference there is a distinct loss in contemplating its nature. Therefore, to understand romantic love it is best to figure out what this connection is usually exemplified within.

Romantic love seems to come in two stages: the first and easiest is that associated with the intense and often immediate infatuation or interest between two (or more) people, its grand energy derived from the newness of the situation allowing the explosive projection of hopes, dreams and fantasies; the second stage is close to this as it is often felt during periods of intense emotional energy and the creation of some event, often a trip or special experience. The first stage in polyamorous circles is that often described as New Relationship Energy (NRE) and is the stuff of rueful amusement and joy, but also wariness because of its tendency to drive people towards bad decisions.

The second stage is usually found in established relationship connections both positively in those special shared moments or negatively where the parties involved want to "rekindle the fire" or in some situations create an experience so as not to look at the bad lying around at their feet.

The connection, particularly in stage one, is almost entirely one of projected intent, where each person is hoping the other fulfills their poetically impressive desires to be “fulfilled” or “made whole.” The metaphorical language here is illuminating. When someone operates under the notion that they are trying to be “made whole” it infers the notion that they are not currently of one piece or are lacking in some vital aspect, leaving themselves not quite fully alive. The usage of fire as a metaphor for the passions can easily here be connected to the fires underlying creativity or creation and therefore of building a "new life together" (notably in romance novels where this seems the only legitimate form of love the author feels their readers need or want).

Quite often, however, the piece found does not in fact “complete” anything or even fit properly, except of course during the first stage of romantic love when, let's face, the frontal lobes have been dumped like a broken transmission in a car. That this is the stage where the intent is focused less on the other party involved and more on the projection of a need being met is no doubt why being “made whole” is so often replaced later on with “falling to pieces.”

To live a life of romance where "wholeness" is already experienced from each one of our existential places can keep us from later "falling to pieces." We are not trying to fill a lack but find new ways of expressing the human ability to love in many forms and in an ever-expanding way.

- David Teachout

Ariel's Notes: G+David Teachout publishes his blogs on  the following blogsite: 
David's self-description is as follows: "I grew up and lived the first 22 years of my life within the fundamentalist conviction of Protestant Christianity, accepting Jesus as personal savior at a young age and dedicating many years to the study of theology and religious philosophy. I attended Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids, MI, where I received a bachelor’s degree and which provided the space, friendships and life opportunities provided to question all that I had held dear. I went on to achieve a master's degree in forensic psychology from Walden University. During that time and before and continuing into the future, I have and continue to study philosophy and psychology extensively, though the education never ends there, often branching into history, sociology and religious ideology. I am of the mindset that truth will know truth no matter how deeply or how far you look. I now dwell in the philosophic spirit of scientific uncertainty and seek always to broaden my understanding of the unknown, finding that life is more honest and full of serenity, love and joy within science, humanistic principles and the open religious structure of Science of Mind or New Thought.

My defining quote from Bertrand Russell: "Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life; the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Could George Washington be Turning in His Grave?

George Washington, in whose honor today is declared a public holiday in the US,  was a stickler for honesty, a trait that has unfortunately become a rare commodity in the political arenas of Washington DC.  Although the popular story of the cherry tree and George Washington was said to have never happened, another story, this time fact, illustrates Washington's sterling honesty.

As an adventurous and a curious young boy, Washington nevertheless rode his father's  prized colt  and his mother's favorite despite his parents' warning not to go near the animal.  The colt was spirited and hated Washington on its back. As it bucked and reared, determined to eject Washington from its back, the horse burst a blood vessel and died. Later, Washington admitted to his parents that he killed the horse.  Though furious Washinton's mother said: " It is well; but while I regret the loss of my favorite, I rejoice in my son who always speaks the truth."

Aside from his honesty, George Washington was known for detesting partisanship and,  instead, upholding unity. In his farewell address to the Union, Washington said:

"The unity of a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness.... discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts."

Looking at our current fractious political situation, I am inclined to think that George Washington's legacies must have fallen by the wayside.  In fact, the cynics among us have been convinced that politics and dishonesty go hand-in-hand.  Nevermind if we still wince at politicians' propensity to mislead. What's scary is the possibility that many of us have become immune, or even callous,  to political lies, in its varying forms and shades.

A case of political misleading happened at the height of the US presidential election campaign last year. A presidential candidate bombarded the media with a statement about the relocation of car-manufacturing jobs to China, which was allegedly a decision reached with the participation of the candidate's rival. The consequent press release issued by the car manufacturer countering the falsehood of the candidate's claim must have been the death knell on the candidate's bid for the presidency. The ploy  only boomeranged on the candidate's face as many realized the attempt at manipulation to garner votes. Sometimes, even in Washington DC, truth ultimately reveals itself.

But truth could take time and only after a huge cost.  Many have lost their lives and billions of dollars have been spent by the time findings showed that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction -- the supposedly overt reason for  US military incursion into that country.

"House of Cards," a current television mini-series about wheeling-and-dealing in Washington DC, may seem like an exaggerated parody of the murky depths politicians will sink to in the name of  personal ambition . Nevertheless, the show offers a glimpse of horse trading in Congress and how self- and vested- interests tend to dominate over the collective good.

In an episode, of the mini-series, Congressman and Majority Party Whip Frank Underwood said as a comment to vested interest's attempt to bribe him: "Choosing money over power is a mistake almost everyone makes. Money is the big mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after ten years. Power is that old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who does not see the difference."

A choice between power or money? Whatever happened to unity and honesty? George Washington must be turning in his grave.

Painting of George Washington in Christchurch, Virginia. Source:

- Ariel Murphy

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Landscapes (A Guest Photo Blog by Hanspi Schar)

- Hanspi Schar

Ariel's Note: G+Hanspi Schar lives in the Emmental region of Switzerland. Hanspi has a passion for photography and for collecting stones which he turns into jewelry and sculpture.  For more of his photos please click on this link to his website:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Bagpiper's Story (Guest Blog by Tim Jones)

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Kentucky back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. Played like I've never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played 'Amazing Grace,' the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept. We all wept together. When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

- Tim Jones


Ariel's Note: G+Tim Jones is a television spokesperson and lives in Rome, GA, USA

Friday, February 15, 2013

Of Dualities and Priorities in the Land of Aloha

Dualities exist everywhere and in most anything. Masculine vs feminine, good vs bad, light vs darkness, yin vs yang, intuition vs logic are a few examples of the paradoxical dualities of life.

Sir Isaac Newton succinctly translated a case of duality into scientific form. One of his Three Laws of Motion says: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Even Hawaii has not been immune to dualities. In fact Hawaii is wracked to its very core by the duality of either, on one hand, pursuing "growth" or, on the other hand, maintaining "paradise."

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to be certain that Hawaii's development plans address both the State's development needs as well as those that preserve the very qualities that make paradise of Hawaii.

Hawaii's duality problem rears its ugly head when initiatives to meet economic needs collide head-on with the need to preserve Hawaii's rich cultural heritage. Which of the two is priority?

There was a tight fight some years ago between proponents of an interisland ferry and its environmentalist oppositionists. The ferry would have been a relatively inexpensive alternative to costly plane travel. The delivery of products and services from one island to another in the Hawaiian chain would have been enhanced.

Environmentalists on the other hand contended that the ferry would be dangerous to the whales from Alaska that annually pilgrimage to the warm waters of Hawaii, where they breach, frolic and most likely even mate. Afterall, Hawaii is not called the honeymoon capital of the world for nothing.

An oceanfront resort proposed to be built on the south side of the Big further illustrates the duality confronting Hawaii. The project was aborted after protesters, claiming the project dangerous to the ecosystem, won out. Resort proponents projected the resort bringing multiple economic opportunities in an area that supposedly has the highest unemployment, teen pregnancy, and domestic violence rates in the whole State.

Only a few days ago, a showdown ensued between protesters and sponsors of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) to be built over a ten-year period near the summit of Mauna Kea.

Measured from its ocean-depth base, Mauna Kea rises 13,769 feet, double the base-to-peak height of Mt. Everest and is considered as the world's tallest mountain and only tropical Alpine desert.

Since 1964 when the first access road to the mountain was built, 13 telescopes funded by 11 countries have been constructed at Mauna Kea's 4,200 meter summit. Hawaii is not only a rest-and-recreation paradise; its observatory atop Mauna Kea is the largest in the world for optical. infra-red and submillimeter astronomy and consequently a Mecca to everyone interested in heavenly bodies (not the two- legged kind).

Lynne T. Waters, an official of the University of Hawaii, claimed that the economic impact of the TNT project could only increase the estimated $140 million in annual revenues generated by current astronomy-related activities on Mauna Kea.

Project opponents, however, refuse to be dazzled by the mighty dollar. They anticipate danger to the preservation of Mauna Kea's delicate ecology and  its cultural significance. For them, the summit is more than just for peeking into the universe or creating livelihood opportunities. Mauna Kea is sacred and spiritual. There are centuries-old trails, quarries, burial sites on the mountain as well as a complex of stone shrines attributed to the worship of various Hawaiian deities. There are also  areas from where ancient Hawaiians watched the sun, moon and the stars, ironically much like the observatories do now.

 Mauna Kea is not only a volcano and the tallest mountain in Hawaii's landscape. With the controversy surrounding the use of its summit, Mauna Kea is a symbol of what is perhaps the most crucial duality confronting Hawaii's psyche today. If left unaddressed through policy, the duality will continue to erupt either into bitter conflicts or self-defeating inertia. Nothing gets done. Definitely a no-win situation.

When faced with a fork on the road  between "progress and growth" on one hand, and "paradise" on the other, Hawaii has only one choice: I say take the Aloha Way.

Aloha is not only "hello,"  "welcome," and "goodbye." From ancient Hawaiian teachings:  

"Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain - it is my pain. When there is joy - it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect. This is Hawaiian - this is Aloha!"

Mauna Kea Moonrise from  APOD. NASA. GOV
Mauna Kea Observatories from

- Ariel Murphy

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Month Series #11: Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! 

May your heart be well!

- Ariel Murphy