January 2009

(Last night I went to a birthday party and talked to Sanat Kumar for a while and promised to mention him in my blog so here it is.  )  :-)

Last week I talked about why drinking soda’s is not so good. If someone is trying to give up sodas but still wants a sweet drink, try apple juice.

Apple Juice Can Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2009) — A growing body of evidence demonstrates that we can take steps to delay age-related cognitive decline, including in some cases that which accompanies Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Thomas B. Shea, PhD, of the Center for Cellular Neurobiology; Neurodegeneration Research University of Massachusetts, Lowell and his research team have carried out a number of laboratory studies demonstrating that drinking apple juice helped mice perform better than normal in maze trials, and prevented the decline in performance that was otherwise observed as these mice aged.

In the most recent study Shea and his team demonstrated that mice receiving the human equivalent of 2 glasses of apple juice per day for 1 month produced less of a small protein fragment, called “beta-amyloid” that is responsible for forming the “senile plaques” that are commonly found in brains of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Shea commented that “These findings provide further evidence linking nutritional and genetic risk factors for age-related neurodegeneration and suggest that regular consumption of apple juice can not only help to keep one’s mind functioning at its best, but may also be able to delay key aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and augment therapeutic approaches.”


Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting.

Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket.

We went up to him and said, ‘Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?’

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires.

So my wife called him a **** -head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, we didn’t care. We came into town by bus. We try to have a little fun each day now that we’re retired. It’s important at our age.

This is one of those days I almost wish I had a really good quality camera because it is gorgeous outside, Krishna working as an artist has really done some stunning work.

Of course, one has to rise beyond the bad roads and power outages.  Our power went out after Vidya had heard a report that over 80,000 people were without electricity and they were already saying some won’t have it back until after the Super Bowl which is three days away.  I assumed it might be days but was pleasantly surprised when it came back on after only a few hours.

I went to the temple for lunch yesterday and not long after leaving came to the conclusion I had made a stupid mistake taking to the road on such a day.  Even I, an experienced winter driver, was doing a little slip’n slide if I wasn’t careful which mostly I was, driving as if I had no brakes, tapping them when I did need to use them, which means I drove really slow and made it home safely.

When I went out this morning to take some photos, I saw someone wasn’t so lucky.


Getting past all that though it is beautiful out.


It had snowed the day before, then rained in the morning that was turning to ice as it hit that covered everything with its weight. In the afternoon it snowed which stuck to the ice. Good thing bamboo can bend instead of break under the beautiful burden.


All of this  made it hard for songbirds to find their natural forage so we are having much higher than normal activity at the bird feeder which is another fun thing to watch.


I see as I am posting this the clouds are thinning and the light is better for taking photos but I l will use the ones I have.   If the sun comes out it will be really amazing.

Regular readers will know I am quite  illusioned, ergo I like optical illusions and have a whole category dedicated to them.   Here is one that is quite literally  an “optical illusion”.


Of course the biggest illusion is that the material world is the only reality.  To get beyond that we need to find a teacher so we can…


What do we need to learn?

“By the spell of illusion one tries to be happy by serving his personal sense gratification in different forms which will never make him happy. Instead of satisfying his own personal material senses, he has to satisfy the senses of the Lord.”

Bhagavad Gita Preface

Maya, thinking that the material world is it, is sometimes defined as “This is me, that is mine.”

But as Prabhupada says above, we can never be happy unless we look beyond “Me”…


I’ll go among the dead to see my friend.
The place I leave is beautiful: the sea
Repeats the winds’ far swell in its long sound,
And, there beside it, houses solemnly
Shine with the modest courage of the land,
While swimmers try the verge of what they see.

I cannot go, although I should pretend
Some final self whose phantom eye could see
Him who because he is not cannot change.
And yet the thought of going makes the sea,
The land, the swimmers, and myself seem strange,
Almost as strange as they will someday be.

My wife informs me that yesterday was the Chinese New Year, the beginning of the Year of the Ox.  We both happen to be ox in Chinese astrology so this is supposed to be our year. It seems to be getting off to a good start.

Last night I got a call from Dr Sastri who I met on my trip to New York City last year. He runs a one man cow protection program in Pennsylvania, two hours from the George Washington Bridge near Delaware Gap.  He welcomes visitors and can always use donations.

He called because a woman found him by Googling  and wanted to place a cow in a protection program.  He isn’t able to take on any more cows at this time so he called me and got permission to give my phone number.

She called  and explained her situation. She is an animal lover who made her living boarding and grooming cows, and caring for and breaking horses. She recently had a bad riding accident and lost the use of her right hand so is no longer able to care for a cow she had as a pet.

She bought him at a livestock auction when he was one day old and has been his friend for the last 4 and 1/2 years, hence the affectionate  name Mr. Handsome Moo-cow, or Moo-cow for short. He is a Jersey oxen.

She has been in distress because after calling many places she wasn’t able to find one that would promise not to slaughter him.  Most farms aren’t interested in pet cows.  She can’t keep him but doesn’t want him to be eaten.

Turns out she lives in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, only an hour from New Vrindaban so today she came for a visit. We took a tour of the big barn and talked to Ray for a while  then met with Ranaka.  We explained that we couldn’t accept any donation of  a cow right now unless there was a commitment to pay for his care. We have plenty of barn and pasture space for a lot more cows than we have now but the limiter is money.

We ended up making what amounts to a boarding arrangement, where she will contribute monthly to the maintenance and pay any extra expenses like veterinarian work or whatever.

She seemed very happy with the arrangement as Moo-cow will be close enough so she can visit whenever she wants and if she gets a better arrangement in the future and wants to have him back she can come get him.

This will be quite a change for Moo-cow as he has never been around other cows. His pasture mate has been a miniature donkey.  We decided rather than turn him into the large herd that at first he will be in an area with some Jersey heifers and older cows. That way his first day in the herd won’t be 20 cows coming up to him and demonstrating they are higher on the pecking order.

She is going to make an arrangement to have him hauled here within the next 10 days, weather permitting.

Which makes the Year of the Ox off to a good start.

Put out black sunflower seeds for wild birds near the shrub.


We just had two nice days after a couple of weeks of subfreezing weather. Two sunny days, yesterday it even got to 50 degrees (10 C).  If we had had a couple of more warm days my witch hazel would have bloomed but today it is back to subfreezing and will be there for several more days so I might have to wait until February to catch the scent of those blossoms.

We did get one  nice fragrant experience. Vidya washed some blankets and hung them out on the clothesline. When they were dry and brought in that fresh off the clothesline sun and wind dried scent filled the house.

I have been derailed on the deer fence building for a while so roused myself to action and went out and cut some posts. I only got a couple cut for several reasons. One, when I cut posts, I also cut up the branches and odd parts for fire wood so that adds time.  I did get two 10 foot (3 m) posts out of one locust tree, but part of the top fell into some highbush cranberries so I had to be real careful to get it out without hurting the shrubs.

I also dropped a large dead locust that will yield several regular posts but because I will have to split the tree I won’t be able to use them for bracing.  I need round posts which handle the stress  put on brace posts better.  Split posts actually last longer as line posts than round ones so I will use them for that. A bit of a sidetrack for my current project but one does have to think ahead.

The main reason though was my lack of stamina. I cut for a while then have to sit and recover my breath. It is frustrating for me to be so caged in a weak body. Things I used to do without even thinking about it have become big projects. Emotionally I am still 29 but my body acts like it is 70 or 80.  I am not adjusting well to this premature physical debility. I do real work, physical work, for only a short time and then I have to go lay on the couch. Grrr.

There are supposed to be some snow flurries today and I need to get some firewood hauled into the house but if I have any juice left maybe I can get some more posts cut.

Although I just need them for brace posts so they can be green, this time of year the sap is still in the ground so if one needs to be cutting green  trees, this is the time  to do it. Plus the odd bits will be well cured by fall for next winter’s firewood. Burning cured wood is more efficient than burning green, as energy isn’t wasted turning water into steam that goes up the chimeny. I like to have all my wood for the next winter stacked by the end of April, ideally.

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