New Year’s Day

2004 ends on a sad note, with an incredibly huge “natural disaster”:http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/31/asia.quake/index.html (please “help”:http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/28/tsunami.aidsites/) and a smaller but tragic still “man-made disaster.”:http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/americas/12/31/argentina.fire.ap/index.html Tomorrow might just be another day, but it begins another year, and we can choose to renew our hope and promise for a better life next year.

As for me, well since the birth of my daughter I don’t stay up any more, much less ring in the new year with champagne. (I did spend one new year about 10 years ago reading _Queen of the Damned_ and listing to _Optical Race_.) However, I do end this year on a heavily contemplative note. I’m not yet sure what, but some things are going to change in 2005.

I wish you a happy new year.

A wonderful thing about yoga

While this is not the primary reason to practice yoga, it’s certainly a nice side benefit. I’ve had one of the most stressful days in a long time, and when I was done with my yoga practice tonight I felt so much lighter.

I’ll take my grilled cheese virgin

Make your own grilled cheese sandwiches “emblazened with the visage of the Virgin Mary.”:http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5545611462 Get ’em while they’re hot! But only if you have money to burn.

Friday, April 13, 2029 will probably not be judgement day

Scientists had predicted a “possible impact with another asteroid.”:http://www.wral.com/news/4031503/detail.html However, revisions to the trajectory have ruled out this possibility. Apparently there is a 10-point scale of probability of impact (one point=0.1 probability?). This asteroid had a 2 before the revision, higher than any other asteroid since the scale was invented.

Another FDA smackdown (probably old news by now)

The FDA “smacks down AstraZeneca for misleading ads.”:http://www.fda.gov/cder/warn/2004/12779.pdf (Note: PDF format) I gotta say, this was sheer marketing genius at Astra. A little paperwork is the only punishment for this “hit-and-run tactic.”:http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7161888&src=rss/topNews

Well, that’s not true. If they pull this stunt too often the FDA is going to deep-six their subsequent NDA submissions for as long as possible.

Sick over the holidays

Is there some research that says that people tend to get sick over the holidays? I hear that a possible cause is that people are suppressing response to illness while at work, and when the holidays come the body says that it’s time to kick in the inflammation/immune/fever response.

Whatever it is, it sucks.

However, it’s the only part of the holidays that’s been bad. I was nervous about serving two sets of family, but we fed them adequately (and even a little richly). My parents stayed the night, which is the first time they’ve ever stayed the night at _my_ place since I moved out for good. The house isn’t too trashed after entertaining many guests, we didn’t get hit by the massive snow that struck for a second time about 50 miles east of here, and my wife and I got to go ice skating despite trying and failing for about three years!

So, this illness is only a small blip on an otherwise great holiday.

Friday yoga blogging: citta-vrtti

With Christmas a day a way, things have been pressing on my mind. I’m entertaining both sets of family at the same time, and there’s a lot of preparation. Do we have enough food? Where’s everyone going to sleep? Is our cat-infested house going to be hypo-allergenic enough for sensitive sinuses? Will we have enough coffee and ice cream to survive?

My mind (_citta_) seems especially difficult to calm, because, as I’ve found out recently, it _likes_ to churn over things (_vrtti_). Or, should I say, is _addicted_ to churning over things. Having things though out gives a sense of security, even though my experience tells me that it’s a false sense of security. And, it goes beyond that even. Gauss said that in mathematics, it’s not finding the answer that counts, for the mathematician inevitably chases down the solution to another problem. Rather, it’s in the journey. It’s more than accomplishment, it’s the sense of _accomplishing_ that seems to be what my mind wants.

All this is fine and good for a while, but the perils of addiction soon show themselves. I have been chasing and accomplishing to the detriment of my bodily and mental health. Fortunately, I have taken steps to correct the bodily health in the last two or three years, though I can do more. It’s the letting go of the _citta-vrtti_ that I need to do. The short term effects of the focus achieved after stilling the mind are extremely powerful, as I’ve experienced in the brief random moments of stillness. Some of those brief random moments still ripple through the decades. Patanjali wrote about some of these extraordinary powers in his “_Yoga-sutra_,”:http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext01/patan10.txt but just imagine the last time you were so wrapped up in what you were immediately doing that you did not notice the time passing. Think about how efficiently you worked, and how much you got done in such a short period of time. Then you will begin to understand the type of power I’m talking about.

The long term effect, and a major milestone, of stilling the mind is enlightenment, or the recognition of our true nature. And I have a very long, rocky, rutty road to travel before I reach it.