Friday, July 31, 2009An Extraordinary Story
I am always fascinated by people who live outwardly very simple lives and yet die with extraordinary amounts of money. Of course some of them are just plain crazy, but other seem to have transcended the need for materiality. This, via NPR and DailyGood.org is one such story:
July 27, 2009
Every day on NPR, listeners hear funding credits ó or, in other words, very short, simple commercials.
A few weeks ago, a new one made it to air:
"Support for NPR comes from the estate of Richard Leroy Walters, whose life was enriched by NPR, and whose bequest seeks to encourage others to discover public radio."
NPR's Robert Siegel wondered who Walters was. So Siegel Googled him.
An article in the online newsletter of a Catholic mission in Phoenix revealed that Walters died two years ago at the age of 76. He left an estate worth about $4 million. Along with the money he left for NPR, Walters also left money for the mission.
But something distinguished Walters from any number of solvent, well-to-do Americans with seven-figure estates: He was homeless.
Walters was a retired engineer from AlliedSignal Corp.; an honors graduate of Purdue with a master's degree; and a Marine. Walters never married, didn't have children and was estranged from his brother. But he wasn't friendless.
Rita Belle, a registered nurse, met Walters at a senior center 13 years ago.
"He always came in with a little backpack on and a cap on," Belle tells Siegel. "And always kind of looked at me, but [was] very reserved. And I'm very outgoing and outspoken. So I said to him, 'Hey, you got a minute can we sit down to visit?' And we'd have coffee there at the senior center."
Belle and Walters became friends. Belle stayed with Walters when he was ill. She became his nurse and ultimately the executor of his estate ó as well as one of the beneficiaries ó despite fundamental differences between them.
"He was an atheist and I'm a very profound practicing Catholic, and I'd never met an atheist," Belle says. "And that just blew my mind that somebody could not believe in the Lord."
Belle volunteers at the mission in Phoenix, which like NPR and several other nonprofits got about $400,000 from Walters.
Belle knew him as a very well-informed man who could fix her air conditioning ó someone she just assumed had a place to live. Then he told her that he had no home. She heard that he slept on the grounds of the senior center. He told her he ate at the hospital and used a telephone there or at the center.
"And I'm sure that's when he was making his trades and so on," Belle says. "He was involved in investing; we talked investments a lot." Belle says Walters even did his own income taxes.
When Walters retired, he evidently retired from the world of material comforts. He didn't have a car.
"He just gave up all of the material things that we think we have to have," Belle says. "You know, I don't know how we gauge happiness. What's happy for you might not be happy for me. I never heard him complain."
Evidently, among his few possessions was a radio. Hence those announcements listeners hear now and again on NPR stations.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009Echolocation
I had heard of dolphins using echolocation but I was truly blown away when I first heard of echolocation being used by blind people to negotiate their way through life. This fascinating article explains the process. Truly a miracle--one of life's wonders.
I am 6 years old and it's my first day at school. The bell rings for recess and all my classmates run gleefully away. But unlike them I cannot see. At least, not with my eyes. Instead, I click my tongue, listening for echoes from the wall to my left. I walk with my hands slightly outstretched to keep me from running into chairs that may have been left askew. I hear kids laughing and shouting through the open door, and by clicking I also hear the presence of the sides of the doorway in front of me. I go through it to the playground for the first time.
Echoes can be used to perceive three characteristics of objects: where they are, their general size and shape and, to some extent, what they are like - solid versus sparse, sound-reflective versus sound-absorbent. This allows the brain to create an image of the environment.
For example, I perceive a parked car as a large object that starts out low at one end, rises in the middle and drops off again. The difference in the height and slope pitch at either end helps me identify the front from the back end; typically, the front will be lower, with a more gradual slope up to the roof.
Distinguishing between types of vehicles is also possible. A pickup truck, for instance, is usually taller, with a hollow sound reflecting from its bed. An SUV is usually taller and sounds blockier.
A tree has narrow and solid characteristics at the bottom - the trunk - broadening and becoming more sparse towards the top. More specific characteristics, such as the size, leafiness or height of the branches, can also be determined.
Passive sonar that relies on incidental noises such as footsteps produces relatively vague images. Active sonar, in which a noise such as a tongue click is produced specifically to generate echoes, is much more precise. My colleagues and I use the term FlashSonar for active sonar, because for us each click is similar to the brief glimpse of the surroundings sighted people get when a camera flash goes off in the dark.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009Bits and Pieces
Human character is revealed in how we live our lives. It is revealed by what we devote our lives to and how much love we put into what we do.
Quote of the Day:
Now I am not a professionally trained economist or banker, merely a historian of the reasons why Great Powers seem to have risen over time, and then steadily collapsed some generations later. Yet it appears to my non-scientific mind that if a particular national government decides on the one hand to issue more and more Treasury debt, and on the other hand to have its national bank purchase large amounts of the same, it runs a serious risk of scaring investors about its long-term credit- worthiness.
Interesting fact from Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters:
It takes a fertility-rate of 1.5 in order for a nation to maintain a stable population. No nation in Europe has a fertility rate as high as 1.5. Japan is drying up; it's become a nation of geriatrics.
The nation with the lowest fertility rates are Poland, Ukraine, South Korea, Belarus, Hong Kong, Macau.
The highest fertility rates are in Mali, Niger, Uganda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Burundi.
For those of you following my Middle Game series of posts (under Getting Ready on the right hand side), this article may be of interest under The Battle for Influence. Excerpt:
Beijing has bolstered its presence without bombast, perhaps out of an awareness that its relationship with the United States is still of paramount importance. But this deference may not last.
ďThis is China playing the long game,Ē said Gregory Chin, a political scientist at York University in Toronto. ďIf this ultimately translates into political influence, then that is how the game is played.Ē
And finally, this is a lesson in how abundance comes in many guises. (it's become so popular they didn't allow me to embed the actual video so here is the link):
Tuesday, April 14, 2009Abundance Mentality
From: A LIFE THAT COUNTS by Dr. John C. Maxwell
Ben Franklin once wrote, "I would rather have it said 'he lived usefully' than 'he died rich.'" More than just words, it was the way Franklin lived his life. One example of his useful nature was the invention of the Franklin stove. Instead of patenting it and keeping it to himself, Ben Franklin decided to share his invention with the world.
According to Dr. John C. Van Horne, Library Company of Philadelphia: "Franklin's philanthropy was of a collective nature. His sense of benevolence came by aiding his fellow human beings and by doing good to society. In fact, in one sense, Franklin's philanthropy, his sense of benevolence, was his religion. Doing good to mankind was, in his understanding, divine.Ē Even his position as a printer fit this philosophical bent. He did not hoard his ideas, but shared them, and everyone benefited. He had an "abundance mentality."
Instead of seeing the world in terms of how much money he could make, Franklin saw the world in terms of how many people he could help. To Benjamin Franklin, being useful was its own reward.
As I age, I gain perspective on the illusion of wealth and status as forms of fulfillment. I don't want my life to be measured by dollars and cents, or the number of books I've authored. Rather, I want to be remembered by the lives that I've touched.
Here is an interesting take on the American Dream. I believe we will be seeing more of this in the coming years. Excerpt:
The American dream I believe in now is a shared one. It's not so much about what I can get for myself; it's about how we can all get by together.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009It's In Your Hands
If I could really get you to understand that you are the source individually of all things around you, you would have the knowledge necessary for your life to come abundantly to you. When you go out there in the world to 'get' things, you are operating from lack. You are saying, 'I don't have this within me, so I have to find someone to give it to me.' If you could know that you are the source, you would not operate from lack. You would be manifesting your natural abundance, and the presence of Spirit would be with you.
Dr. John-Roger DSS
Tuesday, February 10, 2009The Essence of Abundance
You donít possess your breath, nor do you possess the air around you as a form. Yes, you do need it, yet when you take a breath in, there is no longer a need because it is present within you. When you find the essence of love within you and then seek a form for it, in a person, a marriage, or a family, you are taking your mental identification, putting your energy on it, pushing it out into the world, and seeking the form that will somehow match the essence you have experienced inside of yourself. It will never match. You may get the form, but youíll never get the essence by searching for it in the form. And thatís why the form will never satisfy. It can never, ever, be enough. But the essence is perfectly plentiful.
To precipitate goodness (Godness) in your life, move always to the essence. Successful manifestation is moving the goodness from the Soul, through the intuition, and into the consciousness. Intuitive knowing is a process of Soul. It is a process of moving beyond form to the essence behind it and knowing the essence.
The essence of the Soul is abundance. Spirit is naturally abundant because it is the substance from which all things are created. There is nothing that is not Spirit. To be abundant from the Soul level does not mean having access to many things; it means having access to the essence of all things and being in communion with the one essence. When you are in that divine communion, you never feel lack. So if you want to experience true abundance, practice divine communion.
(From The Rest of Your Life by John-Roger, DSS with Paul Kaye)
Financial Quote-of-the-day 1:
From James Surowiecki on the Treasury Secretaryís bailout plan speech today after which he stock market tanked:
I understand, as Tim Geithner mentioned, that acting sooner rather than later is the right thing to do in financial crises. But saying that youíre going to act isnít the same thing as acting. We needed the latter, and instead we got the former.
Financial Quote-of-the-day 2:
From Paul Kedrosky on Congress suddenly becoming experts on financial matters:
Iím as upset at the Fed, Treasury, and Wall Street as the next semi-sane person, but Congress pisses me off too. Just try to watch todayís hearings with too many House and Senate members getting basic terminology wrong (ďdefault credit swapsĒ?); implying that people without money in a brokerage account arenít dependent on financial markets; confusing income statements and balance sheets; babbling in a fact-free way about a return to the gold standard; and so on.
Itís so, so, so discouraging that these politicians are on the signing side of centi-billion dollar checks flowing into the financial system. We need emergency remedial financial training for all these elected lawyers before they make the current mess much, much worse.
Financial Quote-of-the-day 3:
This Report by JETROS (Japan External Trade Organization) makes an interesting point that I have been meaning to post about for a few weeks. Itís about the influence that baby-boomers have had on past spending patterns, and the much reduced influence they will have in the future:
Public works projects are likely to rise in importance as actions by the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department may not prove sufficient to stimulate demand as aging US baby-boomers and other households focus on paying down debt rather than the consumer spending that has driven growth in the past.
As Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg states in a recent report titled "The Frugal Future", "The median (US) boomer is moving into his 50s. After a buying boom over the past 20 years that has seen the level of non-housing durable goods assets on the consumer balance sheet almost triple to nearly $40,000 per household, it looks as though the boomers are done. For the first time in four decades, we cannot expect to see the demographic cushion to consumer spending that helped ease the blow in each of the recessions dating back to the 1970s."
Wednesday, January 28, 2009Abundance is Right Here
We can be successful in the material world but become a prisoner to having our needs met. So we continually have to manifest something to meet our needs and, in the process, the inner life is ignored. We may have lots of money, but we lack true abundance.
Itís a spiritual axiom that we attract what we dwell upon, so if we dwell upon lack, thatís what weíll get. To lose the feeling of lack, we come back to the Soul, the true self, and dwell upon the abundance that is immediately present and all around us. This is the abundance that God is giving us right now. It may be as simple as the next breath we breathe or a piece of fruit we bite into and feel grateful to have.
Many people see abundance in terms of having what they want when they want it. But thatís the false selfís approach. When I refer to Godís abundance, Iím talking about taking time to look around you with joy and gratitude, taking in this moment in its fullness, knowing that God is present right now, and appreciating the blessing of being alive.
(From: What's It Like Being You by John-Roger, DSS and Paul Kaye)
Sunday, January 25, 2009Walking Free
To have abundance in Soul does not mean having lots of things; it means having access to, and communion with, the essence of all things.
Once you are in touch with that, you have all things inside you. You donít feel any lack. You have fullness and gratitude, and you walk free, knowing that whatever you need will come to you.
(From What's It Like Being You by John-Roger, DSS with Paul Kaye)
One thing is clear, and please be clear about it, too, no one really knows what is going to help the economy. We are in unchartered territory. I have heard this from several well respected sources. Here is one of them, Warren Buffett:
The answer is nobody knows. The economists donít know. All you know is you throw everything at it and whether itís more effective if youíre fighting a fire to be concentrating the water flow on this part or that part. Youíre going to use every weapon you have in fighting it. And people, they do not know exactly what the effects are. Economists like to talk about it, but in the end theyíve been very, very wrong and most of them in recent years on this. We donít know the perfect answers on it. What we do know is to stand by and do nothing is a terrible mistake or to follow Hoover-like policies would be a mistake. And we donít know how effective this will be and how quickly things will right themselves. We do know over time the American machine works wonderfully and it will work wonderfully again.
So don't be complacent. Continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and hopefully we'll shoot right down the middle.
You may find these practical tips on the use of coffee filters helpful. Take a look it is very creative.