Monday, September 30, 2013

Clamato juice

Fred, my talking cat, just announced that Monsanto is allegedly  working on a project to put clam genes into tomato plants to make the production of clamato juice cheaper.  But so far Monsanto has reportedly been frustrated,
Apparently,  the shells that form around the tomatoes only open during high tide.
It is said that Monsanto's  biggest problem was the circadian rhythm of the clam genes causing Monsanto's migrant workers to have to wait until past midnight for the clam shells to open before they could harvest the tomatoes inside.


Fred: Yeah man, you better believe it! Photo by Ariel Murphy

Posted with Aloha from Albany, Oregon
- Ariel Murphy

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A lesson from honeybees

My friend, Jim,  emailed me a fascinating short video about honey bees and a predatory hornet.

 In the video (shown below), a lone hornet that was scouting for food marked the location of the bees’ hive so that fellow hornets can find it.

But before the hornet could call the rest of the gang, the bees summoned other nearby bees, trapped the hornet and eliminated it not by stinging or cannibalizing it but by flapping their wings and vibrating. 
The vibration produced heat which the hornet could not tolerate. It died before it could give away the location of the bees’ hive to its fellow hornets.

Jim asked: “Do you think the bees knew that the hornet could not possibly survive the heat?”

“I don’t know but it could have been something instinctive. Certainly, an entomologist would  know the answer,” I wrote in my reply to Jim.
I took a break from my computer and stepped out into the patio of the house of friends I have been visiting in Oregon.

As I took in the cold night air, I was attracted by a single moving light in the sky. I realized that the light was from an airplane.

I thought of Jim’s question. I thought of the problems facing our world. I thought of the many concerns in national and geo-politics, security and economics that we argue and fight about. I thought of another friend who only lately blogged about the possible recurrence of another Hiroshima-like holocaust. The world, as he saw it, has become increasingly terrifying.

“What if someone dares push the button again,” my friend asked.

To paraphrase the guru J. Krishnamurti, we have the tendency not to see things that are right under our nose.

The bees -- nature, which we like to admire, photograph, write about -- offer a solution to the morass we have created.

We expand our consciousness. We think not just about food on our table or what we put on and into our bodies. We see ourselves not as the deprived 90% or as liberals, democrats or republicans or even as Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists. We transcend our parochial interests. We step out of our boxes and bring down the walls that separate us from one another.

No, we do not push the button again. Instead, like the honeybees that overcame a predator larger in size than they are, we raise our vibration.


Posted with Aloha from Oregon
- Ariel Murphy

Saturday, September 28, 2013


While winds blew and the clouds alternately sulked and wept  in an unusually premature winter storm outside my friend's house in Oregon, I watched a very well-made documentary about mermaids.

The  documentary, the latest of a series which appeared on the Animal Planet TV channel,  blew my mind. It linked  mermaids to the evolution of man and presented evidences of those creatures' existence.

Mermaids are said to be half-man and half-fish. They've been the tale of many a seafarer since time immemorial.  Homer, in his "Odyssey," called them sirens -- beautiful creatures of the sea  who lured, seduced, and tricked  unwitting sailors to their doom.  

 In certain parts of Asia  they are believed to be the wives of powerful sea dragons.  Australian aborigines call them " "yawkyawks." In the Philippines , male mermaids are called "shokoy" and the females, "sirena."

Not to be overlooked, Disneyland has "Ariel," the little mermaid and every little girl's fantasy.

Animal Planet's latest Mermaid episode was so interesting -- down to where it said that the US government allegedly suppresses findings about mermaids  just as it supposedly  withholds information about  extra-terrestials  -- that I immediately switched on  my computer  to do some research.

My research turned up three things:  1)  that  the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  had branded Animal Planet's documentary as a hoax; 2)  I found a Youtube video  of the documentary's previous episodes that I am actually share with you (please see below); and 3) be it a hoax or not, the documentary serves at least two purposes.

Animal Planet's "Mermaids" turns our attention to the symbiotic relationship between man and the creatures of the ocean. Man and fish, whales, dolphins and even sharks have  helped each other since time immemorial and continue to help each other even now. There have been times, for example,  when whales and dolphins have saved men from danger and vice versa.  Earth, we are one!

Although it may be  fully or partially faux, Animal Planet's "Mermaids"  takes us out of our boxes and mental sets. It tickles and prods our imagination to bring us  to  where no man has ever gone before, to paraphrase Star Trek's Captain Kirk.

For that alone,  "Mermaids"  is very well worth watching.  and thinking about.

And oh, unicorns don't exist either. 

Here is the video of the  first two episodes of the documentary courtesy of

photo from

Posted with Aloha from Albany, Oregon
- Ariel Murphy

Friday, September 27, 2013

The deepest lake in the USA

The other day, friends I've been visiting in Oregon took me to Crater Lake. the deepest lake in the US and the 9th deepest in the world.  At it's deepest point, the lake is 1,943 feet deep. It is the  next deepest lake in the world after Canada's Great Slave Lake, which is 2,015 feet deep.

According to the National Park Service of the US' Department of Interior, a  massive volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago created a deep basin in the place where there was once a mountain peak. Eventually, centuries of rain and show filled the basin, forming a deep blue lake whose waters are of unmatched color and clarity.

Below are pictures of Crater Lake.



Photo by Ariel Murphy 

Posted with Aloha from Albany, Oregon
- Ariel Murphy

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Flowers for 36 years!

I was at the cashier's counter at Albertson's Supermarket in Medford, Oregon the other day checking out  my purchases  when the guy behind me called my attention.
"Is this the right one?" the guy asked while pointing to a bottle of Thai sweet chilli sauce. He probably did not hesitate asking seeing that I'm Asian.
"Well," I said, "it depends on what you will use it for."
The long and short of it was that the sauce was good for practically anything and I quickly assured him that he got the right bottle.
And then I couldn't help but notice the bouquet of roses among his purchases and told him how lucky the recipient is.
The guy said: "My wife and I have been married for 36 years now. She deserves flowers even if only once in a while."
I wanted to give him a big hug.
He said his name was Mike Loritano and took pains to let me know that he is Italian-American.  He and his wife Gayle have three (3) children, seven (7) grandchildren,  one (1) great grandchild, and a lot of flower-deserving love!

Posted with Aloha from Albany, Oregon
- Ariel Murphy

Monday, September 23, 2013

Feline fascination

As a child I had Whitey, a cat who slept at the foot of my bed. Whitey was my first pet. I  loved him with a child's devotion. One day as my dad was backing out of the driveway, he inadvertently hit Whitey.  Although seriously hurt, Whitey managed to crawl and lay on my lap for the last time before he drew his last breath.

For some reason I was never attracted to another cat after Whitey died until many years later when, as an adult,  I met Splash in Montana.  Weighing at least 20 lbs., Splash somehow developed a liking for me so much so that he would climb on the bed and have  no qualms whatsoever sleeping on top of my stomach.  No doubt, Splash had charmed me.

Yesterday, I met  Blakely, another cat owned by a friend whom I am currently visiting in Oregon.  Blakely was born in Hawaii and relocated to Oregon last year.

Whereas Splash tended to be skittish whenever I tried to take his picture, Blakely seemed to like cameras and was wonderfully cooperative during almost every shot I took of her.

Below are some pictures of Blakely. I love the different expressions on her eyes.

Posted with Aloha!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back to the rivers of belief

Beliefs are said to be mere illusions that keep us from being in the here-and-now and from  knowing that there is no reality but love.
Though illusions, beliefs help me deal with realities that I cannot make sense of or find hard to accept. Until such time when I can fully reconcile with the truth that my ego stands in the way of my greater good, I need my beliefs.  They shield my heart from the dagger.
Below is a video of Enigma's Back to the Rivers of Belief, one of my favorite Enigma songs.

Posted with Aloha!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The rock

There was once a boy who started to collect rocks. It all began with his late grandmother's rock collection, which he always examined on his daily visits to the old lady. He liked to hold them in his hand and feel their texture. The colors and shapes just fascinated him.
One day, when she could no longer get out of her bed,  his grandmother called him and, showing him  one rock, said: "take my whole collection with you when you go; but first,  tell me what you see in this one."  
 The joy the boy had on his face quickly turned into a mute questioning gaze at the old lady with the soft eyes.
Even in his old age, the boy never forgot that moment when his grandmother gave him a treasure in more ways than one.
His grandmother smiled at him fondly and said: "Look at it closely; even a rock aspires to be a cathedral."     

Posted with Aloha!
-- Ariel Murphy

Friday, September 13, 2013

People in our lives

We are in each other's life for a reason, whether for a lifetime or merely a season.

Please click on this link if the video above does not load:

Thank you for being in my life.
Photo from
Posted with aloha!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A tiny idea part 2 - A guest blog by Mark Shapiro

Preface: The following is a continuation of Part   1 of Mark Shapiro's "A Tiny Idea,"  which I had previously featured on this blogsite. Here's the link to it:

Here is Part 2:

What is love? By the way, thank you for your comments to Part 1, which seemed to point to this query. But rather than trying to answer this rather thick question right off the bat, I’d like to define its cousin, romance.

Romance is the belief that someone or some thing outside of myself has the power to change how I feel. The key word in this is “belief”. Beliefs are investments in the future.  I have a romance with my car because I believe that my car will bring me feelings of security, love, and power; therefore, I have a relationship with it. My expectations are full of hope that I will get what I want. The reason I got so upset when the Rambler broke down was not because the car wouldn’t run, but because my hopes and expectations were eroding. The vehicle that I depended on let me down.

The meaning of my relationship was brought into question and I didn’t want to look at it. The source of virtually all psychological pain is the excruciating effort it takes to hide. And what is so important that we balance on the brink of insanity (and often go over the edge) just so we don’t have to confront some truth?

What is it that’s so upsetting when we break up with someone? It can be so painful, that sometimes we jump to the next romance in a seamless transition, in an attempt to avoid the inevitable “why”. Too often there is finger pointing; “you did this to me” or “I sacrificed so much for you”. These types of statements may be an attempt to escape the pain, but all they do is prolong it. As long as ideas like  “you make me happy”, or “you make me sad” are thrown about; romance is verified and the system continues.

Only when I get honest and look at my dirty secrets, will the pain start to leave, because it’s that huge amount of effort it takes to keep me in the dark that hurts. Breakups are one of the most powerful learning tools we have, if we’re willing to look into the mirror.

Romance offers salvation--

I have given you the job to save me from myself, and you gladly took it on. When we discover that we have failed, the blame game ensues. And it gets uglier than that. Not only have you failed to save me, but you have also caused me untold misery.

What these haphazard paragraphs are pointing to is the cause of romance. We humans have two basic desires: to join and to separate. Obviously, the two are mutually exclusive. We either do one or the other at any given moment. Romance promises to accomplish the impossible by joining while remaining separate. All it asks for in exchange is blindness. Anthropologists tell us that we need these because it’s part of the DNA sequencing for preservation of the species. Without it, they tell us, we’d lose our individuality and with it the creative drive. We’d become the Borg. “Resistance is futile.”

Anthropologists also recognize the desire to join. We are told that we are a social species that require group cultures with activities that aid in physical protection and psychological well-being. Since joining and separating cannot co-exist at the same time, all cultures have devices to weave a fabric that seems to bring these two contrary ideas close enough together to allow us to believe that the impossible is true. One tiny but untrue idea is all it takes: Separation while joined is not only possible, but real. Herein lies the definition of romance.

If romance is a belief, then what is love?

What most people call love, is a form of directed love/romance towards one object/person. It is based on feelings of need and want. What’s wanted varies from each individual. When the person becomes too frustrated from not getting what is wanted, the love turns to hate. Thus, love and hate of this variety are two sides of the same coin. 

This kind of love/hate is based on specialness. I love or hate this person, but not that person. It is a very exclusive club–­not everyone is invited. Those considered for membership are divided into two groups: those who might go into the hate bin, and those who might go into the love basket. The chooser has the right to remove or switch each selection. I may love my 90 Corolla now, but if it should betray me at some point, I might throw it away or put it into the hate bin so I can curse it for ruining my life.

We all know that my Rambler didn’t ruin my life, I was dependent on it, and the bargain I struck up with it was my own, not the car’s. If I had no expectations of this motorized vehicle, I wouldn’t be upset. It’s the same for people.

It is clear to me that the number one problem with love relationships is the holding of secret hopes, expectations, and agendas. These are often so secret that we have no idea they exist. Sometimes they are briefly exposed when special love turns into special hate. These windows can be hurtful because a backlog of anger and frustration are released in a relatively short span of time. Once the venting process has concluded, the person of interest will either be thrown away or put back into one of the compartments.

So why did the young woman in Part 1 want to return to her abusive husband? Simply put, the cost (being beaten up) was worth what she felt she was getting (the belief that she loved someone who loved her). Without going into the psychological issues of spousal abuse, I would like to remain on topic of what is love. For this woman, the belief (cause) was more important to uphold than the pain and suffering that came as the effect. And why is this belief so important?
Why is any belief so important? 

Beliefs plant us into the future and prevent us from being present. Many people say that this is important because it gives us humans the ability to plan ahead and make our lives better. But isn’t that a belief as well?

The future is nothing but projection; the past is but memories, and they are not real; but Love is Now, and there is nothing else.

Ariel's notes:  Mark Shapiro is retired and lives on the Big Island of Hawaii.  He currently drives a 1990 Toyota Corolla Wagon with a 5-speed transmission. It’s the best car he has ever owned.

Posted with Aloha!

Friday, September 6, 2013

A group hug

Outward expressions of affection are said to reduce stress and even heal and alleviate pain and suffering. This weekend do yourself and the world a favor by hugging as many as you can.  Love and enjoy!  Cya next week!
Source: Facebook
(On the effects of affection)
(On the power of touch)
Posted with Aloha!

Thursday, September 5, 2013



Please click on this link if the video above doesn't load:

Posted with Aloha!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

At the Zoo

I visited the local zoo the other day. I had wanted to see a newly born white monkey and an albino zebra but failed to see them. I however enjoyed my visit so much it felt like I was with family. And I was able to take photos too although many of them didn't turn out well. Here are the ones that were not spoilt.

Jose, the Llama, is sometimes brought to the petting section of the zoo.

People tried to extricate a zoo visitor's red cap from this bird who swiped the cap with its  beak.

This bird likes to swipe caps/hats

Don't you just love this bird's eyes?

I couldn't take a photo of this golden pheasant without the wire fence

This is Kuhina, a Nene Bird that is native to Hawaii and an endangered specie.  Kuhina rushed to the call of a friend, who was once a volunteer at the zoo. It was amazing to see how Kuhina remembered my friend and made cooing sounds as it was being petted.

Kuhina, the Nene bird, without the wire fence

A wild red "guayvie" fruit found in Hawaii is on the claws of the green Macaw who will later share the fruit with the red bird. Even birds know how to share!

A Monarch butterfly caterpillar. Can you imagine this later turning out as a majestic beauty?

Two lovable donkeys who were very eager to make friends

Donkey and Ariel kissing.  His smell wasn't so bad. And nope, he didn't feel like anyone I've ever kissed before.

Posted with Aloha!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

La Luna Llena

"La Luna Llena," Spanish for " the full moon," is a favorite.  I dedicate this song  to a friend whose birthday is today.  Please enjoy!

Please click on the link below  if the video above does not load:

Posted with Aloha!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Another Way of Seeing

"But that is so unlike you!", Fred said.

Fred is my cat. Yes, my cat. He talks. He has much wisdom. Or so he thinks. As far as I'm concerned, he just has a lot of guts. 

"Unlike what?", I replied as a look of exasperation started to form on my face. Heck, you can't imagine how Fred is an expert at carrying on conversations.

"It is so unlike you not to make barbed comments on those political, economic and ridiculous Miley Cyrus-like stories you see on the net," Fred  said.

"Well, I try hard to stay positive and prevent  those stories from stealing my peace, although I couldn't help it in some cases when I get really upset," I replied after looking at Fred with new eyes. The cat sure is observant. Now if only he sees mice as closely as he sees me.

"I like to keep my comments positive and less critical. And if I have to criticize I try to do it in a kind way. Although it is difficult for me to be kind and loving whenever I see injustice, inequality, bigotry, oppression, greed, etc., I try not to post insulting comments.  The fewer angry people there are,  the better our world will be. Besides, hate only begets hate like violence only begets violence, and fear begets more fear. It is a subtle but vicious cycle of war where the fight is over gaining control of one's spirit. I refuse to allow gunk to clog my heart,"  I explained passionately while both my hands went up and down with each key word, like the emotional Italians tend to do.
Strangely, relief came to me after answering Fred. The sound of my own words felt like an exceptionally good pee.

But Fred was no longer listening. Apparently, he had seen a mouse and lost no time going after it.

I just love Fred!

One of Fred's many poses. Photo by Mitchell Hegman

 Posted with Aloha!