May 02, 2014
Doctors slash patients' lab-test costs

doc_lab1.jpg"It's like using to buy your lab tests." ~Dr. Doug Lefton

Day after demoralizing day, Dr. Doug Lefton watched uninsured patients leave his office needing laboratory tests but unlikely to have them done because of the cost. So the Fairlawn, Ohio, family physician decided to do something about it. Working with other doctors and an online marketer, Lefton devised a way to slash the cost of lab tests not only for his patients but for almost anyone, anywhere.

Working with the Summit County Medical Society, Lefton struck a deal with Walk-In, connected to LabCorp, one of the largest testing companies in the country. The arrangement allows patients to get lab tests done for a small fraction of the normal cost, simply by ordering them through their website. People who would ordinarily not be able to afford lab work are paying almost identical the amount the government pays for Medicaid.

"The prices are spectacularly low for something you can get on the market yourself," says Tom Patton, CEO of Walk-In For example, a lipid panel (cholesterol test) can cost as much as $148 for an uninsured person. The same test is available for less than $18 through the site."

Here's how it works: Patients needing lab work can go to the Walk-In website. From there they choose the tests their doctor says they need, give the doctor's fax number, pay with a credit card and print out the order. They then take the order to any LabCorp location in 47 states and have the work done. Results are sent securely to the patient and the doctor, often within 24 hours.

Vinessa • 12:34 PM
October 11, 2012
2012 isn't the end of the world, Mayans insist

MEXICO CITY – Apolinario Chile Pixtun is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly "running out" on Dec. 21, 2012. After all, it's not the end of the world.

Or is it?

Definitely not, the Mayan Indian elder insists. "I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff."

It can only get worse for him. Next month Hollywood's "2012" opens in cinemas, featuring earthquakes, meteor showers and a tsunami dumping an aircraft carrier on the White House.

At Cornell University, Ann Martin, who runs the "Curious? Ask an Astronomer" Web site, says people are scared.

"It's too bad that we're getting e-mails from fourth-graders who are saying that they're too young to die," Martin said. "We had a mother of two young children who was afraid she wouldn't live to see them grow up."

Chile Pixtun, a Guatemalan, says the doomsday theories spring from Western, not Mayan ideas.

Vinessa • 07:03 PM
May 27, 2010
All Hail, Lord Uranus!!

ALL HAIL, Lord Uranus!! Welcome to the house of the First Sign! We honor your creativity and genius! And pray that you will guide and encourage us to envision new enterprises, to launch new initiatives, and to be fully present in our hearts and minds, ready to respond to changing circumstances in support of our collective visions and dreams. All hail Lord Uranus's entry into the First Sign!!

The cycle of Uranus is 84 years. So unless a person is 84 or older, this is the first time in our lives that Uranus is entering the First sign of the zodiac. It is entering Aries today at 12:04pm PDT, 3:04pm EDT, and 8:04pm GMT, and will remain in Aries until mid-August when it returns to Pisces for several months, then re-enters Aries again next March, in 2011.

The entire astrological community is abuzz with the shift, expectant, excited. But how might regular people approach the energy shift consciously?

Here is one very good idea for the next 2-1/2 months. Meditate on how you, yes you, might become a *sudden pioneer*. Are you ready? Do you have something to offer? Can you respond quickly? What is unique about YOUR offering? And can you be attuned to timing, ...not push, not direct, but be ready at a moment's notice to step into position, should the call come?

For every one of us the answers to these questions will be different, and that's how it should be. After all, astrology is much more about the questions than it is the answers. People have sought answers for millennia, to marginal success. But when we dance with the questions we will always be right.

Remember that Uranus is tilted on is side, so its "revolution" is a little different. Unlike all the other planets, it rolls rather than spins. It's unique in the solar system, just like every one of us. All our unique revolutions are important, essential.

Expect the unexpected! Shout out YOUR revolution. Be a pioneer of YOU!! We need everyone.

When Uranus returns to Aries next March it will remain there until 2018.

Vinessa • 12:04 PM
November 20, 2009
A Message from Saturn, through Mars in Pisces

If you know me, you know that I don't mean this with a heavy heart. I'm not negative for negativity's sake, merely pragmatic and realistic, which we then roll up our sleeves and get into. We are going to be plunging into poverty soon. It's actually an opportunity, but it will be disruptive and hurt many. The thing to do is hold hands.

I personally have been noticing people squeezing in, making room for each other in ways that are new to many of us. On Craigslist I've noticed people subletting PORTIONS of their living rooms, curtained off. Maybe two in there or three people share the space, like a dorm. You don't see that very often, but it is a way to survive.

The thing to do is be militaristic about it, disciplined. Lay out every possible framework you can, because it *is* stressful to live in close quarters.

Better yet would be to share a principle.

It can be done, and when we admire the Europeans (not make them into Gods, just admire them), it's because they went through this kind of experience, and it did draw them closer.

The hardest journey will be for the people who can't (or won't?) adapt, or use the change as an opportunity to problem-solve and create.

Nobody said living in the military was easy.

Let me tell you a story. It's just my story, there are others.

I stayed in a TINY studio apartment once with a friend of mine who was a struggling actress. A very good actress mind you, with a powerful persona and voice, and commitment, dedication. I was visiting down from art school in Maine.

The room was TINY (I already said that), so camp on the floor, sure. But my friend just felt natural and comfortable suggesting European style, and so we slept in her (double I think) bed together. My reticence wasn't impenetrable obviously, and being an Aquarian I ended up being game, but being lunar also I did hold back at first, wondered about this strange idea. I had never actually slept with anyone before, well, except for boyfriends, but this was a girlfriend, a sister, and I had never even slept with my actual sister!

Anyway, it was fine. And I remember sleeping with another friend another time also, it was simply convenient and cheap.

So! Please don't take this as advocacy of any particular "way" of living, only a story of how when we are pressed, or need to adapt, we can, and the "stress" of it might be optional, depending on how we approach it.

I hope we all get through. I hope flowers grow from this dormant, dark and cold yet fertile time. We simply MUST be warriors, who wear honor on our chests and sleeves, and whose lives are orderly. Laura E. recently committed to decluttering her life and simplifying, it's a fantastic thing to do. Pare down. Help each other, in ALL ways. And if possible, craft a statement about what you're about. Craft a statement of principles. If we find the light again (because you never know), or when we do, it will serve as a ducat, a pressed piece of gold, forged under heat and darkness, to be a treasure.

Blessings be, until we hail yet.

Vinessa • 10:08 PM
October 15, 2009
The Butterfly Circus

click the image to see a beautiful film

Vinessa • 09:29 PM
October 03, 2009
Capitalism Hits the Fan

Vinessa • 03:05 PM
October 02, 2009
My Review of "Capitalism: A Love Story"

Michael Moore's movie, "Capitalism" A Love Story" was a slow starter, but rose to moments where spontaneous hoots and tears flowed in the audience. It's not a blockbuster, but it's a good film, with takeaway moments that are rich for reflection.

The many previews preceding the film were typically commercial, so I wondered how "Capitalism" would begin. Would it visually and energetically flow, and fit within its context? Or would it have a strange and jarring start, like a dose of cold water? I was pleased that it was the former. It flowed and has a hip, artistic beginning.

And yet initially, the story felt slow and unsupported. Moore starts with intimate and personal stories of people who are being foreclosed on -- heartwrenching stories to be sure -- but he doesn't give the background on those stories, like how the people got into debt to begin with. It's a little fuzzy, and without the background, the people come off as mainly whiney. Of course they hurt, but I wanted to know *why* their particular story was an injustice.

At about the 45 minute mark however, the film starts to warm up and get going, specifically with the story of privatized juvenile detention centers which paid a county and local judiciary per headcount of juveniles incarcerated. The heat starts to rise when you hear the stories of the young people jailed for up to a year for, for example, throwing a piece of cooked meat, or arguing in public (no fisticuffs) -- a YEAR! -- without any review or oversight because somebody was profiting from their presence in the for-profit facility. The trauma of one young man who, now free, prefers being alone where he can avoid anyone controlling him, is palpable.

The film moves from there to show corporations which secretly take out insurance policies on workers, and highlights the families of two who died, and who struggled financially after the deaths while the corporations raked in up to $5 million (!) each on the deceased. The question is clear -- if higher payouts occur when someone is healthy and young yet dies, maybe the corporations prefer people to die young rather than live. And should someone be able to purchase a policy on you without your consent?

Next Moore covers airline pilots and it's appalling to discover that commercial pilots, who are responsible for the safety of hundreds of people daily, TYPICALLY make only $17K per year, while carrying a burden of up to $100K in student loans, plus trying to cover regular living expenses. It's not surprising to learn that many pilots have second jobs, and as a result are dangerously tired and overstressed because of their finances. One pilot interviewed says it's common for pilots to qualify for, and use, food stamps. The airlines simply ask them not to make purchases with food stamps while wearing their uniforms.

Moore then rolls through the stock market crash of last year and highlights how everyone in the Treasury Department was (or is) connected with Goldman Sachs, which conveniently was the only big bank still standing after the bloodbath. He nails Reagan and GW Bush, and Clinton somewhat, for basically swallowing, re-packaging, and re-presenting the slick likes sold them by the financial "experts" who had a direct interest in deconstructing our existing, legal, financial protections, for profit -- like Phil Gramm, Donald Regan and Bernie Madoff.

He also completely obliterates the Christian Right's claim that capitalism is God's chosen form of social and economic exchange. One weakness however is that his personal viewpoint is Catholic, which isn't so bad, but he doesn't cover any other spiritual or religious traditions, so I doubt it will effectively break through the Christian Right's fundamentalist wall.

The movie picks up strength when he runs through some history, for example the fact that in the 1940s and 1950s wealthy people were taxed at a 90% tax rate (indeed!), but they still managed to live very comfortable lives, while the healthy pool of common tax receipts (then) was used to build highways and schools, as well as pay watchdogs and inspectors, to keep E Pluribus Unum safe. Jobs were plentiful, homes were affordable, families could afford one parent staying home to care for children, and people had health coverage and paid vacations.

More could have been made of the leaked Citibank letter, addressed to its elite top investors, boasting about how increasing deregulation had put them on a nearly guaranteed "gravy train", with the only real risk being the people waking up and using their votes (which they gloated was unlikely to happen...). He shows the letter, and it's a smoking gun, but rather than pursue the sick thinking behind it, Moore simply uses it as a subtle theme, as he builds his case for the power to change things being inside *us* (because we vote).

The most powerful, moving moments in the film are related to collective action -- like the very successful, worker-owned businesses he highlights, a robotic invention company and Alvarado Street Bakery -- which show that greed-based corporate models are #1, not the only way to do business, and #2, are not even necessarily the most profitable or healthy.

Tears, hoots and hollers erupted in the audience (in me too) during scenes showing workers getting together and staging a sit-in to force corporate owners to pay them their correct severance amounts, and most movingly, when an organized group of neighbors takes over several abandoned homes and puts people in them, rather than having hundreds of unoccupied, foreclosed homes, and also hundreds of homeless families living out of their cars, together turning their neighborhood into a wasteland. They fight the sheriff and win -- it's quite a moment.

Special mention goes to Marcy Kaptur, Representative of Ohio, for being a true watchdog for the people -- she completely RAKES the criminals in government over the coals. And for the sheriff of Wayne County Michigan who, after a certain point, recognizing that increasingly empty neighborhoods were only increasing crime and blight, refused to continue evicting people.

The conceptual heart of the film is probably the reflection on Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine, who had a comfortable enough life, didn't need more, and so gave away his vaccine for free -- no rapacious pharmaceutical corporation patents or profits needed. And the question of how we could be sold the lie, and swallow it, that everybody who tries really hard... can attain an elite life, in mansions with private jets, like the top 0.5% of the population (a small minority). You wonder how "everybody" (or at least the majority) could EVER swallow the lie that they can fit into the top 0.5%.... It may be more proof that we have become hopelessly stupid, because obviously a majority ("everybody") can NEVER become a minority (top 0.5%).

But while we buy the lie, and remain in a trance, we will be milked. It behooves us to wake up. In Moore's vision that means learning to be satisfied with enough, stop indulging in excess and greed, participating in your community, standing up collectively for what's right and best for all, and voting.

Cinemagraphically, as a film, it could be tighter. But Capitalism is still a fine documentary and Moore raises good questions, illuminates viewpoints not normally discussed, and plants the seeds of hope, that real people, not oligarchs or plutocrats, can say "no" to the many lies the pusher pushes and choose a better way. It's not about left or right, it's about regular folks at the ground level vs. the injustices that rain down from greedy powermongers at the top. We *can* overcome.

Vinessa • 06:57 PM
September 20, 2009
V838 Monocerotis

Vinessa • 09:53 AM
September 04, 2009
Who lives in the eleventh dimension? - Parallel Universes - BBC science

Vinessa • 10:14 AM
June 24, 2009
Moon Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 79, releases rap video

Fun!! Who knew? Buzz Aldrin, 79, says he only has two passions, space exploration and hip-hop. From USA Today:

He's walked on the moon and shot down Russian fighter jets over Korea. And now, to make his career complete, astronaut Buzz Aldrin has become.... a rapper. The Apollo 11 space hero, the second man to set foot on the moon 40 years ago, has recorded a hip-hop video called "Rocket Experience" produced by rap superstars Snoop Dogg and Talib Kweli, and featuring Snoop Dogg, Soulja Boy and Quincy Jones.

"I'm not too good at carrying a tune, but I do have rhythm," says Aldrin, who got the idea from a family member who felt the genre would have a broad reach. Aldrin's ShareSpace Foundation, which promotes science and exploration, is one of three beneficiaries of the song's iTunes sales. "I want kids interested in space. It's their future."

The track takes listeners back to the first lunar landing 40 years ago in July. Aldrin's autobiography (with Ken Abraham) is also being released today and is called Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon (Harmony, $27. The book plumbs Aldrin's alcoholism battles after following in Neil Armstrong's big bootsteps.

Buzz Aldrin's birthchart (click to enlarge)

Vinessa • 01:37 PM
May 26, 2009
Galactic Center rising

This is a time-lapse video of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy rising over Texas from 9:20 PM to 6:43 AM on April 21-22, 2009, during a star party. Pretty awesome...

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party.

Vinessa • 02:50 AM
May 10, 2009
Now also on Facebook
Vinessa • 06:51 PM
May 09, 2009
Meditation on Taurus

This video provides good insight into Taurus I think.

Vinessa • 11:16 PM
April 13, 2009
To Cheery Up Your Day

Vinessa • 12:38 PM
April 11, 2009
O Fool

This is my card for today. O Fool. A beautiful tarot card, I forgot from which deck, if anyone knows let me know. I thought I would send a shoutout. Hello all! How is Easter, or Oestre, doing in your part of the world?

It's glorious here today, amazing how each day can be so, what it is. I don't know how to say it, each day is different, but wow, today, Spring this season, is so beautiful. It could be wetter for my taste ;), but I like when it's moody, brilliant, with elephantous, ambling, saturated clouds blowing light warm, cool, up over, along and through the mountaintops, brushing them, empillowing them, leaving their drench combed off by the trees, to gush down in narrow peat cracks and continue down to bay forests...

Wow is all I can say.

The sun still rises, things will rise and fall, and we will get pulled into our angsts again, but hopefully less so as we move along.

Let me know how you're doing out there, I'd like to hear from you. If you like the comment idea, I can open them on this post, let me know.

Do I write too little, too much?

May this beautiful Fool inspire you today.


Vinessa • 10:00 AM
March 21, 2009
Why Money Messes With Your Mind

This week in New Scientist:

Why Money Messes With Your Mind

Dough, wonga, greenbacks, cash. Just words, you might say, but they carry an eerie psychological force. Chew them over for a few moments, and you will become a different person. Simply thinking about words associated with money seems to makes us more self-reliant and less inclined to help others. And it gets weirder: just handling cash can take the sting out of social rejection and even diminish physical pain.

Our relationship with money has many facets. Some people seem addicted to accumulating it, while others can't help maxing out their credit cards and find it impossible to save for a rainy day. As we come to understand more about money's effect on us, it is emerging that some people's brains can react to it as they would to a drug, while to others it is like a friend.

[read more at New]

Vinessa • 06:41 PM
March 16, 2009
'Consciousness signature' found spanning the brain

Anil Ananthaswamy writes today in the New Scientist, "the process has been a challenge, as non-invasive techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging and EEG give either spatial or temporal information but not both."

Read more of the science at:
'Consciousness signature' found spanning the brain

Vinessa • 08:35 PM
March 10, 2009
Pluto in Cap takes down the lie, yay!

It's an "affront" to lie to us!

Vinessa • 07:09 PM
March 06, 2009
Evangelical breakdown

I've been talking for years about how the entrenched Christian Right wasn't as monolithic as it seemed. There have been many signals of a growing backlash waiting to happen, within the ranks of Christians themselves. Below is a great clip, from a notable evangelical who has "serendipitously" (Pluto in Cap) broken through and is now speaking out, loud and clear. Have a look, feel the Truth. Man, gets my blood going...

Vinessa • 06:50 PM
February 04, 2009
Flight of the Conchords

These guys are totally wacked, hilarious, from New Zealand, and the music is good. Men especially, take note... ;) Enjoy!

Vinessa • 06:22 PM
January 28, 2009
Cosmological meditations

click to enlarge
The unique planetary nebula NGC 2818 is nested inside the open star cluster NGC 2818A. Both the cluster and the nebula reside over 10,000 light-years away, in the southern constellation Pyxis (the Compass).

The New Scientist has a beginner's guide to cosmology called Instant Expert: Cosmology, have a look! It gives a thumbnail view of it all, from the Big Bang to the space-time curve, dark matter, dark energy, etc.

If you want a real trip, a real mind bender, read their article called Our world may be a giant hologram.

Our world is a hologram


Vinessa • 08:01 PM
January 19, 2009
Hope takes Office

Here's the chart of Barack Obama's inauguration. The 20th amendment of the Constitution sets the TIME of inauguration to be 12:00 noon on January 20th. So here's a chart for our new president's administration. Notice that Venus rules the chart, but the Moon is Void. We might not see the actual "change" we dream of for awhile yet.

[click image to enlarge]

Vinessa • 07:55 PM
January 17, 2009
Pavarotti & James Brown

Believe it. A stupendous duet!

Vinessa • 06:17 PM
January 11, 2009
Women's Brains Recognize, Encode Smell Of Male Sweat

The Journal of Neuroscience finally confirms it!

See also:
- Perception
- Neuroscience News
- Functional neuroimaging
- Limbic system

A new Rice University study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that socioemotional meanings, including sexual ones, are conveyed in human sweat.

Denise Chen, assistant professor of psychology at Rice, looked at how the brains of female volunteers processed and encoded the smell of sexual sweat from men. ... [read more]

Haven't I been saying this for years? :)

It all stems from the University of Pennsylvania study in 2003 which showed that male sweat helps reduce women's tension and regulate their menstrual periods. To read THAT study click here.

Tra la!

Vinessa • 12:16 PM
January 02, 2009
Welcome 2009: A message from Persephone

D sent me a book for Christmas, called The Soloist, about a homeless man named Nathaniel who had once been an elite music student at Juilliard, but who had had a schizophrenic break and was living rough, like many of the homeless, out of a shopping cart, and sleeping in parks with occasional meals and showers at shelters. The book was written by a Los Angeles Times journalist named Steve Lopez who got to know Nathaniel, tried to help him and ended up doing so, but not as much as he wanted or in the way he wanted. In the process Lopez's life is also transformed.

It's a good book with many layers, not the least of which is the impact of a personal view into the world of homelessness, Skid Row, and the walking wounded, the mentally ill -- a world most people deny. The description of reality among the homeless is particularly humbling. Set in LA, it's shocking to really consider that Skid Row is only a short distance from Beverly Hills and Bel Air. For all the wealth so close, the squalor and conditions the homeless live in are outrageous.

So this book has been part of my entry into 2009. And today, who knows why, I had an unusual encounter myself.

I was walking down the main street of my town at about 5:00 pm, returning to my apartment from the Post Office. In front of the Christian bookstore a woman stopped me and asked for help. She had a fairly nice jacket on, and a handbag, but it was clear she was cold. She was very sweet and respectful; in fact, she was very clear-minded and articulate. But she asked me about food and shelter. She said she was down to her last $11. She had stayed in a nearby motel for $53 the night before and didn't have a car. She had lost her place about two weeks ago and had been staying at various motels and taking buses around to different agencies, trying to find shelter. No one had been able to help. The regular shelters are all full or overflowing, and programs like St. Vincent de Paul had been unable to help because she didn't fit into a program category -- she wasn't a veteran, disabled, battered, mentally ill, and she didn't have a family. She had been working as a purchasing agent for a Federally funded Jobs Corps program, but cutbacks had left her unemployed. I didn't get too many more details -- the critical thing was that it was Friday evening, cold and getting dark, and the places she could get help from were all closing for the weekend. She was at the Christian bookstore hoping they would know something about churches which might shelter people -- but they couldn't help. (good Christians!) So there she was, and she reached out to me. Her name was Cora.

I had made a deal with myself awhile back that if anyone asked I would give something (ask and ye shall receive). But obviously just giving her a dollar or two and moving on wasn't right. While she was talking I kept thinking about how outrageous it is that more public help isn't available for the growing number of people who have become homeless due to the bad economic times. Plus the fact that she's a woman, and I am extremely sensitive to the fact that women are vulnerable to being raped out on the street, without a safe, warm place to sleep.

I didn't immediately offer anything tangible -- she hadn't actually asked for anything specific, just "help." My first thought was to bring her home with me, but I also knew I needed to keep a boundary on that. I am often too easy and open with people, I didn't really know her, and once you've taken someone into your space it's too difficult to get them to leave. I need my safe place also.

So I listened and tried to think up other options, other places for her to go and try, or places to simply be for the night. She told me how she also used to facilitate a CoDA group (for codependents) and talked of God, saying she had to have faith, but also asking for guidance -- Tell me what to do, Lord, where am I supposed to go?

Since she was a 12-stepper, I knew I could be honest. I told her to come back to my apartment building with me, that I could give her some bus tokens and some money, but that I wasn't comfortable with her coming into my apartment. She confirmed that she had no intention of coming into my space, but was just happy to get some help.

I have a bowlful of bus tokens, which I got with pre-tax commuter deductions before I started riding my bike. And I knew they would be useful for her because she could then get around without spending money. And the flexibility of movement would increase her options. So I went upstairs while she waited on the little bench in front of my building to get them.

I emptied nearly the whole bowl of tokens into a little pouch (there were a lot of them, maybe 50?), and added all the cash I had on me -- $46. Then I thought about food. My fridge is kinda empty at the moment, I wished I'd had some cheese, hard boiled eggs, or something dense with a lot of protein and calories. But what I was able to throw into a bag were two little soymilks and eight trailmix bars. At least they would keep her fed for a little while.

When I went downstairs, I gave her my offerings, a hug, and found myself crying. She was so grateful, but I wish I could have done more. I wish the circumstance didn't exist. And truthfully, there but for the grace of God go I.

I don't know how she'll spend my $46. Maybe she'll add it to her $11 and pay for another night in a motel, hoping to find new answers tomorrow. Or maybe she'll get a meal, then ride the bus to various 24-hour hangouts like Safeway or Denny's. But I wished her safekeeping and watched her go. She called me an angel, with the light of God on me, and said she would pray for me also.

Twelve step guidelines will tell you that this online confession is against the program. We are encouraged to do something good every day but tell no one, keeping it between God and ourselves so as not to get an ego boost from it. But this was a little bit bigger than what I am used to, and I don't feel better about myself at all. In fact I feel like shit because I couldn't do more. I'm also angry at this crazy modern life we lead, myself included, inside our various bubbles, concerned about the masses, but unconcerned about individuals up close and personal.

Usually my ability to take care of myself is a source of self-esteem. I live a simple life and am not interested in big houses, fine cars, a showy wardrobe, etc. I live modestly, pay my bills, save a little, and manage my affairs. Even so, it's not always easy. I don't floss enough, I don't exercise enough, I usually forget to take iron and calcium (I'm supposed to), and I sometimes also forget to take my medication for high blood pressure. I actually also don't take blood pressure readings as often as I'm supposed to, I tend to let my annual gyn exams and mammograms slide, I don't get haircuts until my hair is extremely raggedy, I don't take the time to cut my nails until it's an emergency, and my poor dry skin almost never gets moisturized. There are expired jars of dead sauces in my fridge, I rarely mop my floors, dust accumulates faster than I can bother to clear it away, and my plants often wilt and cry out for water (I don't kill them, I just make them beg...).

Self care isn't easy, but other than these items I like to think I do okay. Still I'm looking around at my little 600 square foot apartment now and so much seems frivolous. What about these antiques, and these two computers with wireless router, network storage, scanner, etc? What about these 4 bookcases with 800 books, and these drums? What about this yoga ball, this guitar, this air conditioner? Two bikes? A massage table? Nice dishes, nice glasses, a rice cooker?

The mood will pass I know. But Cora also brought with her a message. The shelters are overloaded already, and the people who work in them are reporting a continually increasing number of people asking for help. The need is expected to continue to rise dramatically and not go down anytime soon. So what to do?

Firstly, what am I going to do if I get laid off and can no longer afford rent? What's my plan?

And if I'm blessed enough to keep my job, how are we all going to cope with more and more people on the street, asking for help?

I am going to start inquiring about resources and how I can help or contribute next week, when 2009 really gets underway. I hope you will join me in making a plan for yourself -- and also a plan for how to deal with more and more needy people everywhere around.

Please say a prayer for Cora, an articulate, clear-minded ex-purchasing agent, cold on the streets this evening. By the way, I looked up the name Cora, it's a variant of Kore, daughter of Demeter, otherwise known as Persephone.

Hear the voice of Mama Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
. . .
Vinessa • 08:34 PM
December 20, 2008
Scientists Hack Cellphone to Analyze Blood, Detect Disease, Help Developing Nations

Interesting Aquarian news today.

By Dave Bullock

LOS ANGELES — A new MacGyver-esque cellphone hack could bring cheap, on-the-spot disease detection to even the most remote villages on the planet. Using only an LED, plastic light filter and some wires, scientists at UCLA have modded a cellphone into a portable blood tester capable of detecting HIV, malaria and other illnesses. <read more about microscope cellphone ...>

Vinessa • 06:09 PM
December 09, 2008
Scorpios Get More Asthma, but Astrology Isn’t to Blame
New York Times
December 8, 2008
By Tara Parker-Pope

How, when and where a child is born may all play a role in lifetime asthma risk, new studies suggest.

Asthma occurs when airways in the lungs spasm and swell, restricting the supply of oxygen. The incidence of asthma in the United States has risen steadily for more than two decades, and about 6 percent of children now have asthma, up from less than 4 percent in 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reasons for the increase are not entirely clear. Genetics probably plays a role in the risk for asthma, but an array of environmental factors — pollen, dust, animal dander, mold, cockroach feces, cigarettes, air pollution, viruses and cold air — have all been implicated in its development.

This month, The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine is reporting that children born in the fall have a 30 percent higher risk for asthma than those born in other seasons. The finding is based on a review of birth and medical records of over 95,000 children in Tennessee.

A possible explanation is that autumn babies tend to be about 4 months old at the peak of cold and flu season. By that age, many babies are in day care and regularly exposed to the outside world.

And while their lungs are still developing, they have yet to develop strong immune systems. As a result, fall babies are at particular risk to contract a severe winter virus, which may in turn increase their risk for asthma.

The lead researcher, Dr. Tina V. Hartert, director of the Center for Asthma Research and Environmental Health at Vanderbilt University, says some parents with a high familial risk for asthma may want to consider timing conception to avoid a fall birth.

But since that is impractical for many people, Dr. Hartert says, all parents should take precautions to reduce a baby’s risk of a respiratory infection.

“It’s premature to say you should time conception so children aren’t born in the fall,? she said. “But it’s good sense to use typical hygienic measures to try and prevent illness.?

As for how a baby is born, Swiss researchers are reporting in the journal Thorax this month that a Caesarean delivery is linked to a much higher risk for asthma compared with babies born vaginally.

In a study of nearly 3,000 children, the researchers found that 12 percent had been given a diagnosis of asthma by age 8. In that group, those born by C-section were nearly 80 percent more likely than the others to develop asthma. The explanation may be that a vaginal birth “primes? a baby’s immune system by exposing it to bacteria as it moves through the birth canal.

Finally, researchers at Tufts reported last month in The Journal of Asthma that a baby’s place of birth also influences asthma risk. In a study of black families in Dorchester, Mass., they found that babies born in the United States were more likely to have asthma than black children born outside the country.

The reason for the disparity is not clear, but the sterile conditions under which American babies are born may be a factor. Babies in developing countries encounter more infections, so they may be better equipped to withstand less serious assaults associated with asthma, like mold and dust mites.

Vinessa • 06:48 PM
December 07, 2008
Sexism? Or just plain fun?

Vinessa • 11:46 PM
December 01, 2008
My Personal Rainbow

I'm thinking this is not much of a surprise....

Your rainbow is shaded indigo.


What is says about you: You are a proud person. You appreciate cities, technology, and other great things people have created. Friends count on you for being honest and insightful.

Find the colors of your rainbow at
Vinessa • 06:49 PM
November 22, 2008
Film Handiwork: 1001 Nights Dream

I stumbled on this amazingly beautiful piece of film handiwork today, from the 60s, like a dream. Enjoy!

Vinessa • 12:01 PM
November 04, 2008
Obama Wins, Grant Park, Chicago

I'm here, in a spontaneous gathering of a million people streaming into the streets and into Grant and Millennium Parks to celebrate Barack Obama's presidential victory. It's an awesome thing. They have about a hundred giant screen televisions set up all around the park for people to gather around. This is the group around just one, and the people, and other screens, are solid into the distance, as far as you can see. It is one of the most amazing outpourings I have ever seen. I feel blessed to have been here for this.

Vinessa • 10:18 PM
A Day Like Any Other (but not really)

Can you feel it? The excitement, the expectancy. Here is a pic of satellite trucks lining up in downtown Chicago near Millennium and Grant Parks in advance of the broadcasts.

Vinessa • 07:49 AM
Clips of America Voting Early

These are some wonderful clips of early voting all around America. Some places have had lines as long as 5 hours, but seldom do we see our country's genuine collective action, where we come together as one. It's very uplifting to see the unglossed reality of our people, from all corners. See Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Florida, and Los Angeles below, filmed by regular folks not the media, as people line up to vote. Everyone's dedication makes me cry.

Vinessa • 01:20 AM
November 03, 2008
On Location, Video-ing the Vote

Hi everybody -- I'm out here in Chicago at the moment, volunteering to help Video the Vote. It's a collaboration between Google/YouTube and PBS, where thousands of regular citizens with videocameras will be out there on election day, recording conditions at polling places -- if there are long lines, broken machines, anybody being discouraged or turned away, etc. I had a Southwest coupon and a couple of vacation days so I asked to help wherever they needed it. My location tomorrow will be Gary/Hammond, Indiana. Indiana is one of the swing states and Gary/Hammond, part of the greater Chicago metropolitan area, is a Democratic district in a Republican state, and has historically experienced confusion and problems while voting.

Watch the video above to learn more. In the past, the media also overlooked many problems. But this time the citizens will be watching.

To see live uploads from all around the country tomorrow, check out Video the

Vinessa • 03:24 PM
October 31, 2008
Go Ahead, Blame Me

Vinessa • 01:06 PM
October 26, 2008
A Voice Risen Against Violence

I don't watch television, but I heard on the news today that Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother were shot and killed last night, and her 7-year old nephew is missing. I discovered that Jennifer Hudson is a young, Academy Award winning actress and singer who came into public awareness via American Idol. I wanted to know a little more, so I did an image search and arrived at this YouTube video, which is a fantastic anti-domestic-violence song, and which, unbeknownst to me has also been at the top of the R&B charts for awhile.

Jennifer is a voluptuous (read not skinny) and powerful singer, and I am so inspired to discover that songs and messages like this are spreading in the mainstream. I love the first words of this video: "He's too possessive and too controlling, I can't be myself around him..." Right on! Love is respect, not manipulation or control.

Nothing can take away the shock and pain that has caused Jennifer's life to change forever. But I pray when she rises again from her grief, that the gifts her mother and brother gave her will continue to live on in her powerful voice and in more songs against objectification, dehumanization, and violence.

Vinessa • 10:22 AM
October 21, 2008
Think Again

click on image to visit a very creative project

Vinessa • 12:44 AM
October 20, 2008
The Wisdom Project

Steve reminds us that when we approach a Saturnian or Capricornian season, we are faced with two choices about aging -- to become graceful, integrated, vivacious elders, with Wisdom that either benefits or delights others -- or to become bitter, complaining, and negative old sourpusses.

Andrew Zuckerman, 30, has just released the Wisdom project, where he filmed a collection of 51 of the world's most respected seniors speaking about wisdom. He envisioned it as an opportunity for Global Elders to communicate to the Global Village. It's a snapshot, but also an aesthetic view, and a wonderful elevation of elderhood in the modern collective.

Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can pass to another is the wisdom it has gained from experience, the Wisdom project, produced with cooperation from Archibishop Desmond Tutu, seeks to create a record of a multicultural group of people who have all made their mark on the world. The comprehensive portrayal of such a profound and global group is an index of extraordinary perspectives.

How It Was Made (below) has more of the motivations and interactions with the esteemed elders in the project.

I hope you find this interesting and enjoyable.

Vinessa • 06:30 PM
October 17, 2008
Video The Vote: A Preface

Video The Vote is a grassroots project where normal, everyday people are being asked to get out there on Election Day (and before) and film the voting process. From their website:

Video The Vote is a growing network of Americans working together to monitor and improve our election systems. We are concerned citizens, amateur videographers, voting rights activists, and filmmakers united by a commitment to strengthening democracy through citizen oversight.

Volunteer videographers will be the independent eyes and ears all around the country, providing a view of America voting, documenting the real situation at polling places. For more information, see Video The Vote, and if you would like to volunteer to help by filming or in other ways, see their volunteer page and also read Guidelines for Election Day Conduct.

Power to the People!

Vinessa • 01:14 PM
October 14, 2008
A Little Comic Relief

The media is calling this guy "unhinged," but he's wildly popular, funny, and pointed in a new way. Uranus opp Saturn during its inauguration as the new host of Pluto?

Reminds me of when I lived in Berkeley and would stay up late to watch Firing Line, with William F. Buckley, then Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, one after the other, stoned, which was a perfect way to watch them.


Vinessa • 11:48 AM
October 10, 2008
No Going Back

Vinessa • 03:24 PM
October 05, 2008
Love Is Respect

It's National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and here's a great piece of news, as Pluto gets ready to square the Plutos of the Pluto in Libra generation.

As the result of recent teen deaths by dating partners, BY LAW Texas, and as of today now Rhode Island, are required to teach domestic and dating violence awareness in all public middle and high schools, and other states may be following suit. This is great news!

Oct 5, 2008 - NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — Ann Burke saw signs of trouble with her daughter's boyfriend.

He'd incessantly call her at night, keep her from her family, and, ultimately, physically abuse her during a tumultuous relationship that ended with her death three years ago.

Burke's 23-year-old daughter, Lindsay, may not have understood the dynamics of an abusive relationship, but her death is helping to ensure that other young people do.

A new law in Rhode Island called the Lindsay Ann Burke Act requires all public middle and high schools to teach students about dating violence in their health classes.

The initiative was spearheaded by Burke and her husband, Chris, who say schools should be obligated to teach teens the warning signs of abusive relationships and broach the subject head-on so victims feel empowered to get help and leave violent partners.

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, who shepherded the proposal through the legislature last year, said domestic violence is a disturbingly common crime, yet education about it is scarce and haphazard.

"You teach sex ed, you teach `don't do drugs,' you teach `don't drink,' you should also be teaching `don't be a victim of domestic violence,'" said Lynch, whose office receives about 5,000 cases a year.

The education focuses as much on nurturing good relationships as avoiding abusive ones.

In a recent sophomore health class at South Kingstown High School, teacher Karen Murphy reviewed communication skills for friendships and romantic relationships, including waiting until you're calm before confronting someone with a problem and openly expressing your feelings.

"You've just found out that somebody spread a rumor about you and you approach them at their locker," Murphy told the class. "Are you going to want to start talking to her when you're extremely angry after you've just found out about it?"

"No," the class replied in unison.

Alex Butler, a 15-year-old sophomore, said he didn't think dating violence was a problem at his school but that the education has helped him identify stages of abusive relationships.

"It's nice 'cause then you can warn other people even if you don't know them," he said.

Even if the lessons seem obvious, teachers hope students will recognize that some behaviors they may tolerate in their relationships — obsessive text messaging, for instance, or physical control — are unacceptable and possible precursors to violence.

[read full article here]

An outgrowth of this movement are some powerful and cool resources now available for young people (or anyone).

Love is Respect is a new website, run by the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline and staffed by teens who are working to help young people understand the dynamics and how to recognize the early warning signals of abusive relationships. They have a 24-hour helpline as well as chat services, in addition to various resources including a Teen Dating Bill of Rights.

Another snazzy site is Know The Red Flags, developed Texas Council on Family Violence, with funding provided by the Office of the Texas Attorney General. The site provides quizzes, video clips and tools to help young people recognize controlling behavior, and to know what to do if they think they or a friend might be affected.

Things like controlling behavior, jealousy and insults almost always get worse rather than better over time, and can lead to physical violence. Everyone deserves to feel safe, respected and equal in their relationships.

Below was the impetus for the project in Texas:

In March 2006, Liz Claiborne Inc. commissioned a survey to delve deeper into the issue of teen dating abuse, gauging the degree to which teens have been involved in abusive/controlling relationships and to understand youth perceptions regarding what is and is not acceptable behavior in a relationship.

The findings were astounding. The results show that alarming numbers of teens experience and accept abusive behavior in dating relationships. Many teens also feel physically and sexually threatened.

1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.

1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they've been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.

1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship say their boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.

1 in 3 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age if they're in a relationship; half of teen girls who have experienced sexual pressure report they are afraid the relationship would break up if they did not give in.

Nearly 1 in 4 girls who have been in a relationship (23%) reported going further sexually than they wanted as a result of pressure.

Statewide surveys of 16 to 24-year-old Texans also show:

75 percent either have personally experienced dating violence or know someone who has.

50 percent have personally experienced dating violence.

60 percent of females, and 40 percent of males, have personally experienced dating violence, either as victims or abusers.

49 percent of females, and 33 percent of males, have experienced verbal abuse.

33 percent of females, and 22 percent of males, have experienced physical violence.

33 percent of females, and 6 percent of males, have experienced sexual violence.

This is what I call a very good use of the law, to help build love and relationship skills that will genuinely and functionally sustain life. (Capricorn to Libra)

Power on, people!

Vinessa • 11:53 PM
October 04, 2008
A shocking, must-see report

This is an important, must-see report.

Very educational as well. I was struck most by the huge recycling opportunity outrageously not taken, the bizarre lawn-painting (what the f*?), and the city inspector’s work, unexpected but thankfully in our public interest (who knew?). The heart-rending situation is obvious. Take care of yourself after watching this. Get together with your friends. And I’m thinking the more aboriginal of us could maybe plan a trip with trucks and at least help this guy? Shamans and Grandmothers among us, tell us what to do. Are second-hand outlets so overloaded that so much valuable stuff has to end up in the landfills? There must be a way to stop this insane dumping. Can’t Wal-Mart at least pick the stuff back up? Don’t the people in Texas and Louisiana still need replacement things? We need ideas here, gang. On this posting I am going to open up comments, which I don’t usually do, so post a comment if you want. Other people will see it and you can see theirs.

Breathe, then please pass this on and get others on board.

Blessings all, good fruit *will* come out of this.

Vinessa • 07:02 PMcomment (1)view »
September 30, 2008
FDR's 1933 Inaugural Address

Three and a half years after the stock market crash in 1929, in January 1933, FDR gave his first inaugural address. It's a powerful look back at the experience early in the Depression, and eerily analogous to today. Here it is from Mother Jones.

"The Rulers of the Exchange of Mankind's Goods Have Failed..."
from Mother Jones

Early 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his first inaugural address, was one of the most terrifying times in United States history. More than 10,000 banks had failed, credit had dried up, businesses had gone bankrupt, and the jobless rate was 25 percent, with another 25 percent underemployed and underpaid.

After telling Americans that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," FDR went on to describe the causes of the devastating financial crisis, in terms that sound all too familiar today:

"Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

"Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts.... Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

"True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

"The money-changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit...."

Read the full speech here.

Among FDR's first responses to the crisis were the Securities Act of 1933, which instituted comprehensive regulation of the securities industry, followed by the creation of the FDIC and the Glass-Steagall Act—whose undoing is now helping history repeat itself.

Up next, highlights of some of the cultural flowerings that came out of the Depression.

Vinessa • 10:25 PM
Broadsheet tool

This has become a most useful tool for me, a broadsheet of my own, customized with the news I want to see at a glance. It's under my Google account and shows whenever I am logged into Google (@gmail address). It's a great overview. My 3 columns are (roughly) US news overview on the left, progressive/geek/sustainability news in the middle, and international on the right. This lovely artist's theme was buried waaaaaay back in the thousands of themes available on Google but I like its look. Thank you Google for this offering.

(click picture to enlarge)

If you want one like this, go to Google, get an email account, then go to and set yourself up. In the art banner at the top of the page, at the bottom of the banner, note the tabs on the left, and the links on the right. With the tabs you can set up several sheets to show different things -- for example, this is my "News" tab. On the right are the links that take you into the themes.

I find this is an excellent way of staying informed.


Vinessa • 09:41 PM
September 28, 2008
Politically Adorable

You do have to laugh.

There's a lot to get riled about but remember to smile.

Vinessa • 02:19 PM
September 24, 2008
Every Voter Has a Story - What's Yours?

NPR's Get My Vote is an online space where people explain their core political beliefs. It starts with one question: What will it take for a candidate to get your vote? You can see short videos from other people, or post your own.

Vinessa • 07:39 PM
September 22, 2008
Gas Prices Nationwide

This is a cool map, showing gas prices around the country. You can drag the map around inside the window, and zoom in to see places you're interested in. And it's is pretty interesting, especially if you think about politics. Note that gas is cheapest around Phoenix, where McCain is senator, and in Obama's territory of Illinois gas is more expensive.

Click here to add this map to your website.

Vinessa • 10:24 PM
September 20, 2008
AP Calistoga: March 2009 Retreat

Apprenticeship Retreat
Calistoga, March 7-11, 2009
The Intentional Experience of Transits and Progressions

Join master astrologer Steven Forrest for an evolutionary astrology intensive.

Choices and Wisdom - consciousness in other words - become the wild cards in every transit, progression or solar arc. In this meeting of the apprenticeship program (AP), come prepared with curiosity, and perhaps even some anxiety, about an upcoming astrological event in your own chart. We will focus on how to prepare for it with clear understanding and positive, disciplined evolutionary intentions, the soul of practical magic!

This four day residential program will be held at Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga, in the Wine Country of California.

Vinessa • 06:09 PM
September 02, 2008
2008 Election: Composites to US chart

We've been talking about Obama and McCain, so I thought I would put up two bi-wheels. The center of both bi-wheels is the United States birthchart (Sibley). The outer ring is, in chart #1, the composite of Obama & Biden. In chart #2, it's the composite of McCain & Palin. The idea is to look at how each "pair" of candidates together affects, or is seen by, the collective US. Click below to see either chart.

For reference, the birthdata used is as follows:
-- US Sibley chart: 4 Jul 1776, 5:10 pm, Philadelphia, PA
-- Barack Obama: 4 Aug 1961, 7:24 pm, Honolulu, HI
-- Joe Biden: 20 Nov 1942, 8:30 am, Scranton, PA
-- John McCain: 29 Aug 1936, 11:00 am, Cocosolo, Panama
-- Sarah Palin: 11 Feb 1964, 4:40 pm, Sandpoint, ID

Vinessa • 11:35 PM
September 01, 2008
New Look at

A little birdie told me today that Steve's website has a new look. Yay!! It's beautiful! Have a look when you get a chance -- click on the image above to go there.


Vinessa • 12:41 PM
August 26, 2008
Spiritual Ethics

I've been consolidating files onto a new terabyte drive recently, and I ran across this ethics manifesto that I wrote about 10 years ago. I thought I would post it, for thoughts and comments. I pretty much still believe all this, nothing has changed. I'd be curious to know what you think. Thanks!


Spiritual power or personal power, can be misused. The feeling of power and influence over another is delicious, so we need ethics. We need to ask permission before sending someone healing energy, because who are we to claim to know what kind of vibration or energy another person needs? Can we simply trust the Divine’s plan for that person? And perhaps it is also a test for us, a test to know whether we can be respectful of boundaries, or have proper manners. We need to look inside and ask ourselves honestly, what is it exactly that is "pushing" this need to help another person?


1. We operate from a basis of respect and etiquette towards others.

2. We do not do healing work or send healing energy *to* someone without their permission.

3. We are constantly aware of the pitfall of how helping others makes us feel powerful, filled with authority, and in control.

4. We remember that we are only a channel for a higher power, and that the higher power is also testing us to see if we can use the power humbly, with respect, and for the highest good of all.

5. We remember that healing energy does not have a "pushing" quality. If we are anxious to help someone, that anxiety comes from *us*. Healing energy only flows.

6. We are continually conscious of our ethics, and how the choices we make affect everything around us.

7. We do not tell others what they should do. Spirit does not tell people what to do. Spirit only lights a path.

8. We honor everyone's right to make their own choice, without our commentary or criticism.

9. As healers, we offer our hands, remembering that it is only an offer. There is no obligation for the other person to accept.

10. We remember that everything, including that which we see as negative or unnecessary, has a purpose and in every moment should be honored for the opportunity it brings to transcend.

11. We keep a constant eye on what drives our own need for control and influence. We continue to do our own personal work, as deeply as we can, so that we can be genuine healers channeling true spirit.

12. We keep a constant eye on how we delude ourselves into believing that our motives are only pure, only altruistic, when a desire to "push" healing or enlightenment comes up

Vinessa • 09:28 PM
August 22, 2008
A Comparative Psychohistory of McCain and Obama

I've just finished a fascinating (if lengthy) article called A
Comparative Psychohistory of McCain and Obama
. It's very readable,
doesn't use academic language, and since Evolutionary Astrologers are
interested in psyches, I thought I would share it. From the beginning
of the article:

Major sections of this article will be devoted to comparing and discussing the family backgrounds, childhoods, coping mechanisms, expressions of emotion, narratives, and travels of John McCain and Barack Obama. The McCain military tradition, including his imprisionment, and his reputation as a maverick senator will be discussed, as will the issue of race in the context of Obama's search for racial identity and his political career as a black intellectual.

The article is 23 pages long, but the last three pages are all notes
and footnotes. It took me a few days to read it but it was totally
worth it. It would be interesting now to compare the reflections of
these psychohistorians to the candidates' birthcharts.

Click here to read the article. You can also right-click the link then "Save Target As" to your hard drive.

Vinessa • 12:59 PM
August 14, 2008
Ecology & Spirituality Retreat

This is a slideshow of pictures from Loyola House in Guelph, Ontario, Canada -- where I went last week on an 8-day, semi-silent retreat themed on ecology and spirituality called Mysticism of the Earth. The property is a 600-acre sustainable working farm, with wetlands and woods in addition to fields and gardens. More info on my personal blog.

Vinessa • 09:16 PM
August 12, 2008
The Omnivore's Next Dilemma

This is a mind-blowingly enlightening (and funny) talk by agricultural writer Michael Pollan. It will really stretch your mind. Enjoy!

Vinessa • 06:00 PM
July 13, 2008
Childen See, Children Do

The following may also disturb you, but it explains a lot. It's from The Emotional Life of Nations, by Lloyd deMause - Chapter 8: Evolution of Childrearing.

Since children of the upper classes were sent out to wetnurse and then to school, many adults could agree with Talleyrand when he stated that he "had never slept under the same roof with his father and mother."49 Fathers were so distant that most could agree with Vandermonde, who said, "One blushes to think of loving one's children." When their children died, most fathers, like William Byrd, revealed no signs of grief, writing in their diaries the night of the death only that they had "good thoughts and good humor." Should a father try to play with his child, they were unable to summon the empathy needed to understand its capacities, as seen in the following typical interaction:
A gentleman was playing with his child of a year old, who began to cry. He ordered silence; the child did not obey; the father then began to whip it, but this terrified the child and increased its cries...The father thought the child would be ruined unless it was made to yield, and renewed his chastisement with increased severity.... On undressing it, a pin was discovered sticking into its back.
By the nineteenth century, some fathers began to relate to their children with some empathy, yet even they were seen as rare, as when Grigorii Belynskii was described as "the only father in the city who understood that in raising children it is not necessary to treat them like cattle."

It goes on, and is it any wonder that our world is dysfunctional, considering the emotional roots above and also below:

The problem with having only women raising children is that parenting is an emotionally demanding task, requiring considerable maturity, and throughout history girls have grown up universally despised. When a girl was born, said the Hebrews, "the walls wept." Japanese lullabies sang, "If it's a girl, stamp on her." In medieval Muslim cultures "a grave used to be prepared, even before delivery, beside the woman's resting place [and] if the new-born was a female she was immediately thrown by her mother into the grave." "Blessed is the door out of which goes a dead daughter" was a popular Italian proverb that was meant quite literally. Girls from birth have everywhere been considered full of dangerous pollution-the projected hatred of adults-and were therefore more often killed, exposed, abandoned, malnourished, raped and neglected than boys. Girls in traditional societies spent most of their growing up years trying to avoid being raped by their neighbors or employers and thereby being forced into a lives of prostitution. To expect horribly abused girls to magically become mature, loving caretakers when as teenagers they go to live as virtual slaves in a strange family simply goes against the conclusions of every clinical study we have showing the disastrous effects of trauma upon the ability to mother.

If you are interested, I urge you to read more of The Emotional Life of Nations, by Lloyd deMause, and also dedicate your life to breaking this chain.

Vinessa • 05:42 PM
June 28, 2008
Movie: No End in Sight

You must see this movie: No End in Sight: Iraq's Descent Into Chaos. Some very powerful people in our government are no longer holding their peace and are telling an astounding story which makes shocking sense, and which we have not heard, smoke and mirrors having prevailed until now. We must do something about this very, very soon.

Free on Google Video, or via Netflix instant online viewing (better quality but you need to be a subscriber).

Roger Ebert says:

Remember the scene in A Clockwork Orange where Alex has his eyes clamped open and is forced to watch a movie? I imagine a similar experience for the architects of our catastrophe in Iraq. I would like them to see No End in Sight.

I urge you to do what you can.

Vinessa • 05:10 PM
June 27, 2008
Teachings In Metaphysical Astrology: A Review

I am the (so far) happy owner of a new laptop and, being new, with Microsoft Vista SP1, it also needed new software. So I just installed Solar Fire Gold v7, and with it comes online tutorials written by Hank Friedman. Hank has been practicing astrology for 30 years. Below are some excerpts from the tutorials called, Teachings in Metaphysical Astrology, and my comments on some of his more interesting paragraphs.

From: Why Chart Readings Fail

3. Environmental and Genetic Effects

My first real understanding of the effects of environment and genetics upon the expression of one's birth chart came when I was asked by a therapist to do some readings for his psychotic clients.

These schizophrenic clients, it turned out, were severely compartmentalized and could only relate to one or two of the planets in their charts. (I've since then found that the more healthy and developed a person is, the more they can relate to everything in their chart.)

My next pronounced experience confirming the effects of environment was when a woman came to me who had a predominance of fire sign planets and a stellium of them in Sagittarius. I would never have guessed that she had any fire in her chart at all, she was so timid, introverted, and inhibited.

I found out from her that her father had beaten her whenever she spoke up, and so she learned to repress all of her fire.

Severe physical or psychological impacts upon a person can greatly alter the expression of their chart in their lives.

This is so true. Then,

The GateKeeper -- Revisited

In an earlier article I introduced the idea that the Ascendant was the gatekeeper, the place in ourselves that we not only present to the world, but that also controls what comes into us and out of us.

I'd like to also point out that a person usually tends to identify with their rising sign, and it often reflects their degree of embodiment. People at first glance tend to see your rising sign before anything else.

When you identify with your rising sign and it is not supported by other planets, e.g. the rising sign is in Earth and no planets are in Earth signs, then you tend to expect yourself to have more of the qualities of the rising sign than you actually do. In Earth, you may sign up for more responsibilities and work than is healthy for you. In Air, you might interact more than you wish to. In Water, you may retreat or keep more inside than is healthy. And in Fire, you may push yourself to express more than is appropriate, and may leap in where most of you fears to tread.

The degree of embodiment is best illustrated by an example: Two close friends of mine were born two days apart (the same year). Both are (Tropical) Pisces with only one planet in Earth in their charts. While the person with Leo rising is quite often unembodied, ungrounded, and distractible, the one with Taurus rising is incredibly embodied and grounded and physical in nature. Specifically, if a person has an Earth sign rising, they are likely to be much more embodied (all other chart factors being equal) than other elements rising.

An example of people treating you as if you are your rising sign: one client had Fire rising but all planets in Water and Earth sign. So he'd go to a party, present his Fire rising, and those looking for a firey man would gravitate to him. But when they grew to know him better, they found that he wasn't really firey at all.

Ah but the evolutionary astrologer says, but why does this Water and Earthy person have Fire rising? What is the purpose, the design, the plan?

During the twenty five years that I've practiced astrology, I've learned a lot about the use and misuse of astrology. Most astrologers forget how strongly and harmfully negative predictions and absolute statements can impact people, and that they -- the astrologer -- are effectively in the role of playing God.

One well-known astrologer told a client of mine, "because you have Saturn in your 7th house, relationships will never work for you, so don't even try." This is absolutely horrible astrology, and cruel advice.

And it was even astrologically incompetent, both because Saturn in the 7th can mean a serious relationship, or a delayed marriage, or a disparity between the ages of partners and the person, or any number of things, and in addition, in my client's chart, the Saturn was very well aspected and ensured actual success in relationship.

Astrologers also act as if the chart were "written in stone". As if the person can't grow, change, or learn how to navigate the waters of their charts successfully. In fact, just the opposite is true. As people mature, they do handle themselves, and their predispositions, much more effectively. One of my friends has Sun squared Pluto, exact, and in early years got into clashes of will, but as she grew older and wiser, these completely stopped and she never had problems again with issues like these.

One doesn't "transcend one's chart" but instead learns how to be the best person one can be. Period. And that requires facing oneself and one's patterns and working to improve. And all efforts do pay off.

Any astrologer who looks at a chart and shakes their head needs to look in the mirror and question what effect they are having on others. Whether we like it or not, every astrologer is a therapist, minister, teacher, and authority figure, and needs to take full responsibility for their impact on their clients and readers.

The wise astrologer leaves each client more awakened, in touch with themselves, more in love with who they are, and hopeful about and empowered to pursue their unfoldment.

God bless you, Hank Friedman. Thank you for saying this so well.

Vinessa • 08:43 PM
June 15, 2008
Bend Your Brain

Around this idea. Why does product packaging always have to match?

For more info see Terracycle.

Vinessa • 11:53 AM
May 30, 2008
Who Are We? A Stroke of Insight

An amazing video on consciousness and brain functioning. Click to play.

Vinessa • 05:56 PM
May 24, 2008
Codes of Ethics

Forgive me for Saturn conj my north node, but I thought this was really interesting. The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) at the Illinois Institute of Technology is collecting codes of ethics from industries as varied as dieticians, funeral workers, yacht architects, and organists, into a central repository. They say:

The library of CSEP began collecting codes of ethics over 20 years ago. As our collection grew, more people became aware of its existence and began asking for access. At that time, the best the library could do for individuals was to photocopy the requested code and mail it to the requestor. With the advent of the Internet, it seemed clear that digitizing the codes and making them accessible over the World-Wide Web would benefit researchers, students, and professionals alike.

Codes of ethics are controversial documents. Some writers have suggested that codes of professional ethics are pointless and unnecessary. Many others believe that codes are useful and important, but disagree about why. IIT's Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions is committed to the importance of codes of ethics, and we have undertaken the Online Ethics Codes Project in order to enhance access to a very wide variety of codes.

Check out the following codes, which are pertinent to counseling and the healing professions related to astrology:

American Counseling Association
American Association of Pastoral Counselors
Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides
Covenant of the Goddess
American Psychological Association
American Psychoanalytical Association
American Society of Clinical Hypnosis

There is also this interesting page called How to Write a Code of Ethics, for anyone considering writing their own.

Last but not least, here is the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which I believe is a useful beginning point or baseline for everyone.


Vinessa • 11:00 PM
May 22, 2008
Paris in Jail

I just thought this was fun.

Vinessa • 02:33 PM
May 16, 2008
A story about Leo

(click to enlarge and read)


Vinessa • 08:27 PM
May 10, 2008
Digital Resources Project status report

Here (or by clicking picture above) is a current report of the project of digitizing the Aquarius Moon/Napa AP materials. I recently compiled the inventory and will be updating this report as I go along.

I hope this whets your appetite.... The old timers have often also talked about assembing "vintage Steve" so that we can also see how he has changed, wouldn't that be cool?

Suggestions are welcome!

Vinessa • 12:41 PM
April 30, 2008
Uncle Albert dies at age 102

Associated Press

GENEVA - Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of the mind-altering drug LSD has died. He was 102.

Hofmann died Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at his home in Burg im Leimental, said Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk in the village near Basel where Hofmann moved following his retirement in 1971.

Hofmann's hallucinogen inspired - and arguably corrupted - millions in the 1960s hippie generation. For decades after LSD was banned in the late 1960s, Hofmann defended his invention.

"I produced the substance as a medicine... It's not my fault if people abused it," he once said.

The Swiss chemist first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide-25 on November 16, 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel.

Five years later, on April 16, 1943, he became the first human guinea pig of the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped onto his finger during a repeat of the laboratory experiment.

"I had to leave work for home because I was suddenly hit by a sudden feeling of unease and mild dizziness," he subsequently wrote in a memo to company bosses.

Hofmann sat down and began experiencing what he called "wonderful visions."

"What I was thinking appeared in colors and in pictures," he told Swiss television network SF DRS for a program marking his 100th birthday two years ago. "It lasted for a couple of hours and then it disappeared."

Three days later, Hofmann experimented with a larger dose. The result was a horror trip.

"Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror," he wrote, describing his bicycle ride home. "I had the impression I was rooted to the spot. But my assistant told me we were actually going very fast."

"The substance which I wanted to experiment with took over me. I was filled with an overwhelming fear that I would go crazy. I was transported to a different world, a different time," he wrote.

Limited edition signed blotter, click to enlarge

Hofmann and his scientific colleagues hoped that LSD would make an important contribution to psychiatric research. The drug exaggerated inner problems and conflicts and thus it was hoped that it might be used to recognize and treat mental illness like schizophrenia.

For a time, Sandoz sold LSD 25 under the name Delysid, encouraging doctors to try it themselves. It was one of the strongest drugs in medicine - with just one gram enough to drug an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people for 12 hours.

Hofmann discovered the drug had a similar chemical structure to psychedelic mushrooms and herbs used in religious ceremonies by Mexican Indians.

LSD was elevated to international fame in the late 1950s and 1960s thanks to Harvard professor Timothy Leary who embraced the drug under the slogan "turn on, tune in, drop out." The film star Cary Grant and numerous rock musicians extolled its virtues in achieving true self-discovery and enlightenment.

Timothy Leary

But away from the psychedelic trips and flower children, horror stories emerged about people going on murder sprees or jumping out of windows while hallucinating. Heavy users suffered permanent psychological damage.

The U.S. government banned LSD in 1966 and other countries followed suit. Hofmann maintained this was unfair, arguing that the drug was not addictive. He repeatedly called for the ban to be lifted to allow LSD to be used in medical research.

Peter Oehen, a psychiatrist in the Swiss town of Biberist, says substances such as LSD and MDMA (also known as ecstasy) can produce results where conventional psychotherapies fail.

"They help overcome the wall of denial that some patients build up," said Oehen, who met Hofmann and has studied his work.

Hofmann welcomed a decision by Swiss authorities last December to allow LSD to be used in a psychotherapy research project.

"For me, this is a very big wish come true. I always wanted to see LSD get its proper place in medicine," he told Swiss TV at the time.

Hofmann himself took the drug - purportedly on an occasional basis and out of scientific interest - for several decades.

"LSD can help open your eyes," he once said. "But there are other ways - meditation, dance, music, fasting."

Even so, the self-described "father" of LSD readily agreed that the drug was dangerous if in the wrong hands. This was reflected by the title of his 1979 book: LSD: My Problem Child.

In it he wrote that, "The history of LSD to date amply demonstrates the catastrophic consequences that can ensue when its profound effect is misjudged and the substance is mistaken for a pleasure drug."

Ruby slippers blotter, click to enlarge

Hofmann retired from Sandoz in 1971. He devoted his time to travel, writing and lectures - which often reflected his growing interest with philosophy and religious questions.

Dieter A. Hagenbach, a friend of 40 years, told The Associated Press that he last spoke to Hofmann on Saturday.

"He was in good spirits and enjoying the springtime," Hagenbach said, adding that Hofmann continued to go for walks in the small picturesque village where he lived in the Swiss Jura mountains, a stone's throw from the French border.

Hofmann's last public appearance was at a Basel ceremony honoring him on his 100th birthday.

"This is really a high point in my advanced age," Hofmann said. "You could say it is a consciousness-raising experience without LSD."

Hofmann is survived by a son and daughter. He was pre-deceased by his wife Anita and two of their four children.

Vinessa • 10:07 AM
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