Brain Food

“Change your thoughts, and you change your world.”

- Norman Vincent Peale -

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” - C.S. Lewis -

"To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes
Perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity
Of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness."

 - Confucius –

"I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three 
meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the 
minds and dignity,equality and freedom for their spirits."

- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile. - Zig Ziglar -

“The smallest act of kindness is worth
More than the grandest intention.”

- Oscar Wilde -

Video from KarmaTube

Update 10/30/12

I thought you would enjoy this read: Until next time, I thank you for your time.


Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don't want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone. --Miller Williams

The Science of Compassion
--by James R. Doty, MD, Original Story, Oct 23, 2012
Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world's resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, "It's the economy, stupid," Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, "It's the lack compassion, stupid."
I recently attended the Templeton Prize ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral in London and have been reflecting on the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Arianna Huffington: "If we say, oh, the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen. If we say, warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health, then people pay attention." As director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University (one of the two organizations recognized in the Templeton Prize press release), I would agree with the Dalai Lama.
What exactly is compassion? Compassion is the recognition of another's suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering. Often brushed off as a hippy dippy religious term irrelevant in modern society, rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions: compassion is good.
Our poverty in the West is not that of the wallet but rather that of social connectedness. In this modern world where oftentimes both parents work, we are spending less time as a family. People are living farther away from extended families and perhaps more disconnected than ever before as suggested by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone. Putman observes that we thrive under conditions of social connection but that trust and levels of community engagement are on the decline. Loneliness is on the rise and is one of the leading reasons people seek counseling.
One particularly telling survey showed that 25% of Americans have no one that they feel close enough with to share a problem. That means that one in four people that you meet has no one to talk to and it is affecting their health. Steve Cole from UCLA, a social neuro-genetics scientist, has shown that loneliness leads to a less healthy immune stress profile at the level of the gene -- their gene expression makes them more vulnerable to inflammatory processes which have been shown to have negative effects on health. Research by expert well-being psychologists Ed Diener and Martin Seligman indicates that social connectedness is a predictor of longer life, faster recovery from disease, higher levels of happiness and well-being, and a greater sense of purpose and meaning. One large-scale study showed that lack of social connectedness predicts vulnerability to disease and death above and beyond traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, obesity and lack of physical activity.
While many pay attention to their diet and go to the gym regularly to improve their health, they don't think of social connectedness this way. Just like physical fitness, compassion can be cultivated and maintained. Chuck Raison and colleagues at Emory University have demonstrated that a regular compassion meditation practice reduces negative neuroendocrine, inflammatory and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Exercising compassion not only strengthens one's compassion but brings countless benefits to oneself and others. In fact, Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia and others have shown that, not only are we the recipient of compassion's benefits but others are inspired when they see compassionate actions and in turn become more likely to help others in a positive feedback loop.
As human beings, we will inevitably encounter suffering at some point in our lives. However, we also have evolved very specific social mechanisms to relieve that pain: altruism and compassion. It is not just receiving compassion that relieves our pain. Stephanie Brown, professor at SUNY Stony Brook University and the University of Michigan, has shown that the act of experiencing compassion and helping others actually leads to tremendous mental and physical well-being for us as well. While survival of the fittest may lead to short-term gain, research clearly shows it is survival of the kindest that leads to the long-term survival of a species. It is our ability to stand together as a group, to support each other, to help each other, to communicate for mutual understanding, and to cooperate, that has taken our species this far. Compassion is an instinct. Recent research shows that even animals such as rats and monkeys will go through tremendous effort and cost to help out another of its species who is suffering. We human beings are even more instinctually compassionate; our brains are wired for compassion.
At Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), in collaboration with colleagues in psychology and the neurosciences worldwide, we aim to further research on compassion and altruism. I'm happy to report that in July, CCARE sponsored the largest gathering of experts ever brought together on this topic in a conference entitled, Science of Compassion: Origins, Measures and Interventions. Many of the pioneering researchers of compassion, including several mentioned in this article, presented their latest research findings there. For more information, please click here.

Reprinted with permission. James R. Doty, M.D. is Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and Founder and Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. This center, of which His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the founding benefactor, aims to support rigorous research on compassion.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Only those who risk going too far Will ever know how far they can go. - T.S. Eliot -

The young man knows the rules,
But the old man knows the exceptions.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr -

Update 09/25/12

You may have seen this before, but considering my recent health situation, I found it to be just what I needed to read.
I hope it blesses you, as it did me.

A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet.

She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect.. No chance here for mistakes.

Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention, but he was too busy at this moment.

Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!

'And what do you want?' the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages,' he said without waiting for a reply to his question..

'Well, I want to talk to you about my brother,' Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. 'He's really; really sick....and I want to buy a miracle.'
'I beg your pardon?' said the pharmacist.

'His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?'

'We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you,' the pharmacist said, softening a little.

'Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs.'

The pharmacist's brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, 'What kind of a miracle does your brother need?'
'I don't know, 'Tess replied with her eyes welling up I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money..'

'How much do you have?' asked the man from Chicago.

'One dollar and eleven cents,’ Tess answered barely audible.

'And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.'

'Well, what a coincidence,' smiled the man. 'A dollar and eleven cents-the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.'

He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said 'Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you need.'

That well-dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery.

The operation was completed free of charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well.

Mom and Dad were happily talking about he chain of events that had led them to this place.

'That surgery,' her Mom whispered. 'Was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost.'

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle dollar and eleven the faith of a little child.

In our lives, we never know how many miracles we will need. A miracle is not the suspension of natural law, but the operation of a higher law.

As always, I thank you for your time.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.” - Bryant H. McGill -

“The human spirit is stronger 

 Than anything that could happen to it.” 

 - C. C. Scott –

Update 07/03/12

I received these beautiful words from my friend and neighbor, June Rodrick of Inglewood.  Please read and understand the deep meaning. Consider it “another” the Ten Commandments to follow in life all the time:

1. Prayer is not a "spare wheel" that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a "steering wheel" that directs the right path throughout.

2. A Car's WINDSHIELD is so large & the Rear view Mirror is so small. Why? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. So, Look Ahead and Move on.

3. Friendship is like a BOOK. It takes few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.

4. All things in life are temporary. If thing are going well, enjoy it, they will not last forever. If things are going wrong, don't worry, they can't last long either.

5. Old Friends are Gold! New Friends are Diamond! If you get a Diamond, don't forget the Gold! Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a Base of Gold!

6. Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, GOD smiles from above and says, "Relax, sweetheart, it's just a bend, not the end!

7. When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when GOD doesn't solve your problems HE has faith in your abilities.

8. A blind person asked St. Anthony: "Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?" He replied: "Yes, losing your vision!"

9. When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them, and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.

10. WORRYING does not take away tomorrow's TROUBLES; it takes away today's PEACE.

Please pass to others, it MAY brighten someone's day..............
Adhere to it and it WILL……….

Stay Blessed!

And, thanks for your time.


PS: Watch my bonus video below in honor of the Forth of July, Independence Day. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” - Matsuo Basho -

Talk happiness; talk faith; talk health.
Say you are well, and all is well with you, and
God shall hear your words and make them true."

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Most Astounding Fact from Max Schlickenmeyer.

Update for 06/19/2012

Those of you who are on my personal email distribution list have seen this. It doesn’t matter, as this is always a good read, and is so true. There is also new material in this edition and you can find it yourself as I do not want to distract you from reading what follows. It is really something to think about.


Something to think about...

Carrots, Eggs & Coffee

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again..

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.

She was tired of fighting and struggling...

It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

Soon the pots came to boil.

In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.

She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in
a bowl.... Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.

The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked;

'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.

However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile.

Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after
sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with
pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?

Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a
financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and
tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.

When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest
do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything;

They just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past;

You can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling
and everyone around you is crying.

You might want to send this message to those people who mean something to you (I JUST DID); to those who have touched your life in one way or another;

To those who make you smile when you really need it; to those
who make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down;

To those whose friendship you appreciate; to those who are so
meaningful in your life.

If you don't send it, you will just miss out on the opportunity to
brighten someone's day with this message!

May we all be COFFEE!!!!!! !

Until next week, I thank you for your time.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Living in the present moment creates the experience of eternity. - Deepak Chopra -

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
- Albert Einstein -

Update for 02/28/2012

This week’s update is a bit different. The first year anniversary of Diane Murray’s passing was this past Wednesday. She was as the saying goes “My Significant Other” for the past fifteen years. I’m still sad, but I’m better, and I understand the process of grief is forever. Many of you know I work with ROZE ROOM HOSPICE as a volunteer.

Diane Murray
1958 - 2011

I’ve found working with the dying helps me to live better. On that note, I ran across an article written by another palliative care worker – Top Five Regrets of Dying.

Everyone who is reading this will one day have to leave this realm, and I for one, do not want to have many regrets when it’s time to depart. I think this article can help one make directional changes so any regrets are few and minimal.

To quote the author:

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, and choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

Again, until next week, I thank you for your time.


PS: The Final Post Honoring Black History Month.

A White Reflection on Black History Month

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." -Dalai Lama

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop

Video from KarmaTube

Update for 02/07/2012

We continue with our Black History Month celebration. Thanks to my cousin, Sameera “Ramsey” Thurmond, our family historian, several members of our ancestors’ served with the famed “Red Tails” during WWII. Here is one story:

J.C. Ramsey


Jim was born May 24, 1884 in Columbia County, Georgia. His family called him “little Bud”. When striking out on his own, he lived at the YMCA.  At 24 years of age, he secured a job shoeing horses with the L.M. Hutto Company and was residing at the St. Clair in the Summerville section of Augusta (per 1908 R. & L. Polk Augusta City Directory).  He was a hard worker, fiercely independent and frugal with his money. He had no extensive social life but at 35 years of age he finally settled down and married the striking Carrie Chapplear.  

Carrie, born 1892, was the daughter of William and Jennie Chapplear who were from Alliance Hall (Columbia County), Georgia.  Her sisters were Lizzie Chapplear-Hall, Janie Chapplear-Dixon and Frank Chapplear.

The R. & L. Polk Augusta City Directory for 1912 listed his blacksmithing partnership, Ramsey and Thurmond, with Jonas Thurmond as being at 732 Ellis Street and for a while they share living quarters with Jim’s grandmother and step-grandfather at 1005 Gwinnett Avenue.  Jonas’ brother Robert was married to Jim’s sister Henrietta.  Jonas himself was a skilled blacksmith but he wasn’t as settled and didn’t quite have the business acumen that Jim had.  This partnership lasted at least until 1914. When Jonas embezzled some of the money, he and Jonas’ partnership ended. In 1925 Jim worked as a blacksmith and resided at 2056 Central Avenue (per 1930 Richmond County Census, Vol. 96, E.D. 123).

Around 1937 he purchased a large house on Windsor Springs Road in Augusta from his brother-in-law Leon Wright.  He and his daughter Frances remained here until he built another house on Heard Avenue in Augusta where he lived until his death.

In addition to blacksmithing, Jim trained horses and acquired some his own race horses.  For approximately fifty years, he trained horses for wealthy people who raced them at the famous Belmont Racetracks in Nassau County, NY and Hialeah in Florida.   He kept his personal horses domiciled in Aiken, South Carolina.   When he retired, he purchased a home on Wrightsboro Road in Augusta and embarked on farming.  Jim was plagued with severe asthma but the onset of his death was due to coronary thrombosis, a blockage of arteries leading to his heart.  He died October 10, 1866 [State of Georgia Death Certificate #35014].  He and Carrie had two children.

A.        James Chapplear Ramsey, called “J.C.” by his family, was born April 1, 1922 in Augusta, Georgia.  He was pleasantly disposed and well liked by those who knew him.  His father had strong expectations regarding hard work and academic study and while J.C. followed his father’s will, he longed for a more promising life rather than one of farming.  The discipline imposed upon him at home, however, served him well thereafter.

He attended Payne College (Augusta) and Dillard University from where he was graduated March 11, 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences.

In 1939 President Roosevelt spearheaded the creation of a civilian pilot training program for Blacks under the direction of the U.S. Army Air Corps.  Tuskegee Institute (Alabama) was one of six African-American colleges selected as a site for such instruction. 

J.C. enrolled in the pre-flight training program at the Tuskegee Institute.  As an aviation cadet he learned subjects as navigation, meteorology and mathematics.  When finished, he entered Primary Flight training, which was located at Tuskegee’s Moton Air Field.  In basic flying instruction, cadets were using PT-17s (bi-planes) with open canopies.  After accomplishing this stage of basics, he and his colleagues moved on to the Tuskegee Army Airfield, about ten miles from the institute.

Regular Army personnel provided instruction at Tuskegee’s Army Airfield.  This program was advanced basic flight training.  The planes used were more advanced than those used in Primary Flight training. He was graduated from Tuskegee’s air training school May 23, 1944, Class 44-E as a commissioned offer.  The class of 44-E was unique because all the trainees were fighter pilots and trained using the single-engine fighter planes, P-40s.   

The graduates then went to Walterboro, South Carolina where they learned fighter-training techniques such as formation flying and gunnery using P-47s known as “Razorbacks”.  These planes were larger one-seaters.  Combat flying techniques involved acrobatics-type (or aerobatics in military lingo) maneuvering. 

Fighter planes were smaller than the B-17s and B-24s bomber planes. Fighters’ responsibilities were more diverse than that of bombers. Bombers were tasked with direct-hit bombing of sitting planes, buildings or trains of enemy airfields but fighter planes were designed for maneuverability and were tasked with protecting the bombers and might have to either give chase with enemy planes or, when necessary, elude them. There was only one pilot in a fighter plane whereas the bombers had from six to ten crew members aboard: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, gunners, bombardier and radio operator.  The Germans used trains a lot in Italy to move war items.  If the Germans anticipated an allied air strike, they might position anti-aircraft weaponry in the trains. 

In the same year of graduation, J.C., his best friend and another 44-E graduate, Earl B. Highbaugh, and other pilots sailed to North Africa.  They remained there until sometime in November 1944 then were assigned to an airfield in Ramitelli, Italy as replacement pilots.  Ramitelli was in the southeastern part of Italy on the Adriatic Sea.  J.C., Earl, James Maghee, George Iles and Ralph Orduna were some of the 44-E class members assigned to the 302nd Squadron.  There were four squadrons altogether: 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd.  These four squadrons were later consolidated to comprise the 332nd Fighter Group.  Colonel Benjamin O. Davis (who would later become the U.S.’ first Black general) was the commander of the 99th Squadron in North Africa.  When the 332nd Fighter Group was established, he was called back to the states to command it.  The single-engine P-51s, an upgrade of the P-40s, were introduced. 

On December 9, 1944 both Highbaugh and J.C. were on a training mission in Foggia, Italy to familiarize themselves with the P-51.  The P-51s were the infamous red-tailed planes that the Tuskegee Airmen notorious for flying.  The two engaged in a combative practice called "dog fighting" in which aerial stunts as rolling, looping and tailing are performed. It was in this session that J.C. and Earl Highbaugh were killed in a mid-air collision. His remains were eventually returned to Augusta Georgia for re-burial.  He was 22 years of age.  His obituary was noted in the Augusta Herald on December 21, 1944.

Earl Highbaugh’s brother, Richard, remembered J.C. as being good- natured and always smiling.  George Iles remembered J.C. as being well spoken and studious.

The 332nd Fighter Group was the largest fighter group to serve in European combat.  The skill and size of the group's all-Black squadrons helped to significantly reduce the losses of bombers.

At minimum, J.C. Ramsey would have been eligible for the WWII Victory, U.S. Commemorative and the Combat Service Commemorative Medals.  In the City of Augusta, a Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) post was named after him.  He never married, thus had no direct heirs.

B.        Frances Nanette Ramsey, born September 1927.  She attended Talladega College (Alabama) from which she received a liberal arts degree in 1948.  While serving at Talladega, she was a member of the Talladega chorus and the Little Theatre Guild and traveled with both groups extensively throughout the Midwest.  She was more outgoing than her dad had been in his youth and was involved in several social sororities.  At her passing she had been working for the State Department of Education.  As her cousin Rowena Wright-Garner said, “She loved to party!”  Frances inherited Little Bud’s severe asthma which ultimately incurred a serious heart condition bringing about her untimely death.

Sources :( 1) Interview with Richard Highbaugh, Chicago, IL, August 29, 1988 via
Interview with Ralph Orduna, December 1999 via telephone
Interview with George Iles, Sacramento CA, February 17, 2001 via telephone
Interview with William F. Holton, Columbia, MD, February 24, 2001 via telephone

Now, after that great read you must click on this link. It is, you know, Black History Month, and not all black faces are your brother. We have so-called “Black Conservatives” who for a chicken wing and a bowl of grits will sell their soul.

And finally, you MUST watch, "Slavery by Another Name," on Monday, Feb 13, 2012 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (Check your local listing)

Until next week,