June 2012

When I was in North Dakota I went on the “crop tour” with my brother. Once a week he drives around and looks at all of his crops. He plants in about 6 different locations so in a week he may be working at some locations but not others so he makes sure to see everything at least once.

He plants 200 (80 ha) acres of pinto beans, 600 (240 ha) acres of soybeans, and 1200 (480 ha) acres of wheat.  As we drove around he gave me the background on what is going on in contemporary agriculture and how it has changed since I moved from North Dakota.

One farm he cultivates is next to a farm once owned by Sinclair Lewis. Sinclair Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel prize in literature. He also won a Pulitser prize, though he refused it.

My grandfather immigrated to ND from Norway as a young man. He got into construction to make money until he made enough to buy some land and got into farming.

Sinclair Lewis hired him to build a house for the caretaker of the land he owned and after  my grandfather died and they were cleaning his stuff out of his house, my brother found all the correspondence and receipts related to the project and gave it to the current owner of the house, who was quite pleased to get it.



We just picked our first ripe tomato.  As it was only one, we had to cut it in half so quantitatively not so significant but qualitatively a major milestone in a gardening season.

It wasn’t even from the short season  tomato plants we started early before the others and sheltered under cloches  to jump start the season.   Those still seem to be on track to start by the Fourth of July, which I always shoot for.   They will still probably come in before that even  as the first ones are starting to show color and they ripen quickly after that.

This was the Sungold, a cherry tomato that was given normal treatment. Being a cherry it was a wee bit of a bite, but most of the pleasure was in the concept of having a ripe tomato, so the amount was lesser.  Looks like another one will ripen by tomorrow.

It does bring up the question for next year should I just start the Sungold as the early tomato?  I will probably hedge my bets and do it in addition to the early one instead of replacing it in case this was an anomaly, but if it holds true to being early next year, then for 2014 it will become the early tomato, which will simplify my varietal range.

I guess I should have taken a photo of the first tomato but eating it was more of a priority and won out.

by Radhanath Swami

We are our choices. And our choices are bound by constant laws that do not change according to our opinions or demands. Consider  Issac Newton’s Third Law of Motion which basically sates – “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This law, which applies in its respective scientific area, has even greater application in relation to thoughts, speech and action.

Our thoughts, speech and actions have a great affect on the world around us. Because of our capacity to convert our thoughts into speech and action we have the power to determine the direction of our lives rather than simply act according to the dictations of the nature and impulses of our bodies. We can identify people in history who have brought about good fortune or terrible destruction, depending upon whether they used the power of choice with responsibility.

The difference between a parent and a child is power – physical power, intellectual power and discriminatory power. Because the parent has greater power, it is their responsibility to protect, care for and guide the child. Similarly, as human beings we have the power of free will, and with that power comes the responsibility for the speech and actions we choose.

Sometimes we will come across situations where we will be at ease. At other times there will be difficult situations where things will be beyond our control. In either case we have to accept the situation and make choices which will bring us closer to God.

Sometimes we will be honored and sometimes we will be criticized. It is said that for one who has been honored, dishonor is more painful than death. But for one who sees a divine reason behind it, dishonor can be more blissful than honor, because life is not about whether we are being honored or dishonored, life is about how we respond to each of those situations. There will be two paths always, and one will be easy – for its only reward is that it is easy.

We have many choices. We can choose forgiveness over revenge, joy over despair, or action over apathy. You can choose to curse God or thank God. Which is your choice? Every choice will have an end result. It is the summation of these choices that will determine the quality of your life.

So at every moment we have a choice; an opportunity to spend that moment wisely in the service of the Lord. Such God conscious moments are an eternal investment in our lives.

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy today announced the selections for three consortia that will make up the $125 million U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC). These consortia – led in the U.S. by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Florida, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Energy Laboratory (NREL), will bring together experts from national laboratories, universities, and industry in both the U.S. and India.

Consortia researchers will leverage their expertise and resources in solar technology, advanced biofuels, and building efficiency to unlock the huge potential of clean energy technologies that can reduce energy use, cut dependence on foreign oil, and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy sources.

“This innovative research program will help promote clean energy, create jobs, and open export opportunities for U.S. business,” said David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs. “By bringing some of our best scientific and technical minds together, we can strengthen both our great nations.”

The three lead U.S. institutions have partnered with three lead Indian institutions – the Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology-Hyderabad, and CEPT University-Ahmedabad.

As part of a planned five-year initiative, the Energy Department will make $5 million available in fiscal year 2012. The Department plans to make additional requests to Congress for up to $20 million over the next four years, subject to available appropriations, that will be used to support work conducted by U.S. institutions and individuals. The Indian Government also committed to funding $25 million over five years that will be used to support work by Indian institutions and individuals.

In addition, U.S. and Indian consortia members have pledged over $75 million in matching funds, for a combined funding total of more than $125 million for joint research and development in solar energy, advanced biofuels, and building energy efficiency.

The Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center is part of the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy. As two of the world’s largest economies, the United States and India have a special role to play in addressing global energy and environmental sustainability challenges. …

Read whole article here.

The night before the wedding we went to the Groom’s Dinner with about 60 people. After eating there was a series of activities, including one where everyone introduced themselves, relationship to the couple, where they were from and a story or thought.

My sons Madhu, Marken and Tulasi were also there. Madhu brought his 12 year old daughter. She got bored.

The tables were decorated with some loose little foil hearts scattered where your plate would eventually be. There was individually wrapped packets of butter in a bowl. Dessert was cake pops — looked like tootsie roll pops but made out of frosted cake.

Using what was at hand (pulling the sticks out of the cake pops) she made the following art piece:

When I saw what she was doing I gave her my hearts as well, as did her uncles.  I was so proud of her I had to bring other guests over to show them once the formal part of the evening ended.

She gets that creativity from my wife who is a gourd crafter and artist.  My side of the family does have some rhythm and can be musicians and dancers but not a lot of artists.

Tell me the way to the wedding
Tell me the way to the war,
Tell me the needle you’re threading
I won’t raise my voice anymore.

And tell me what axe you are grinding
Where the boy on the bivouac believes,
What reel you are unwinding
For the girl in her bed who grieves.

While behind a derrick’s girder
He watches the sinking sun,
He asks what he’ll do for murder
And what he will do for fun.

Will you read him the ways of war
His Miranda rights in sin,
Will you tell him what to ignore
When he studies your discipline?

He dozes off—but he shakes
In a dream that he is the one
Death finds abed and wakes
Just as the night is done.

Tell me what boats go ashore
Riding the oil-dimmed tide,
Red streamers and black in store
For the boy with a pain in his side.

And tell me where they are heading
Tonight; now tell me the score.
Tell me the way to their wedding
I won’t raise my own voice anymore.

A group of junior-level executives were participating in a management training program. The seminar leader pounded home his point about the need to make decisions and take action on these decisions.

“For instance,” he said, “if you had five frogs on a log and three of them decided to jump, how many frogs would you have left on the log?”

The answers from the group were unanimous: “Two.”

“Wrong,” replied the speaker, “there would still be five because there is a difference between deciding to jump and jumping.”

On the leg of my flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago I ended up sitting next to a young Marine. He is finished with his first stages of training and preparing to go to his MOS school to be a radioman. He was returning to his training from a family funeral.

That evening after arriving in Fargo my sister drove me out  to visit my aunt and uncle. He lives in an assisted living facility and she visits him daily. They have been married for 62 years.  He also was a Marine, albeit in World War 2.

It was the like seeing  the samsara diorama  in real life, one at the beginning of his life as a Marine, the other at the end.

One point my uncle was stressing was that as a way to live a life, treat people well and develop good relationships, that was the most important thing in life that makes it worthwhile. Which is  a conclusion that supports the practice of bhakti yoga which is the yoga of love, the yoga of relationships, understanding that we are all part and parcel of Krishna.

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