Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Michel!

Today is the birthday of a very special friend.

We met 30 years ago. I was looking for a karate dojo. Tying to find one that suited my views on this martial art. The way he welcomed me was not too pleasant. I asked for a trial course, and he answered: "No trial course here". Then, I requested to at least watch the training. Answer: "Its NOT a show" I was baffled and turned my back to leave. He called me back and asked me if I had my karate-gi (kimono). I said I did so he told me to come over, but that I would suffer.

I suffered. A lot. And it was only the first time! But very soon, we became very good friends. I learned a lot with him. We were training 4 times a week, 2 hours sessions. As we were a very small group at the time, we would go very far. Training until total exhaustion. But what a fantastic personal, physical, and spiritual experience!.
In summer, we would go to special sessions with the most famous Japanese Senseis  Karate, Like Taiji Kase, Enoeda and Shirai.  I trained with Michel for 15 years. We lost touch for a few years and then reconnected a few years ago, when I became his English teacher.

Michel is a wonderful human being, intelligent, human, kind, and always eager to learn more about many subject and a very good father. Finally, he is also one of my best friend, who never let me down when times were hard. Thank you for being my friend!

Happy Birthday Michel
and may life gives you what you deserve!

The picture below is a private joke!

From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us

Friday, November 22, 2013

A quote by JFK

I want you to stay sober, or the story of an abstinent alcoholic

Alcoholism is a plague, a terrible disease. And it can and does affect many people. Some people can drink moderately, even get a bit drunk from times to times, and not become alcoholics. Some other just can't, and I'm one of them. i started drinking years ago. For the taste, the pleasure, the feeling. Never I imagined where it would lead me. The bottom of the pit. Hell indeed.

Little by little, I began to drink more, and more. I couldn't spend a day without at least one drink. Then two. After a while, every evening, I would indulge in my bottle of wine. Then two. Plus  beers, or  cocktails, and whwisky during the day. And it escalated. I hated my life, and I hated my job. So I started to drink in the morning, One bottle of wine before leaving. At lunch, I would always eat alone, to hide my drinking from others.

Silently, I had become physically dependant. Hooked on the booze. I was drunk all day. Nobody could tell though. I was behaving normally, (apparently).  Physical depndance is something I would not whis to my worst enemy. After work, and before getting my dose, I would shake violently, even unable to hold a glass in my hand, so using a straw. I was feling so bad that I tried to kill myself twice, with pills.

 Conscious I had a big problem,  I decided to seek help and  turned myself in at a psychiatric hospital in Paris for rehab. After 3 weeks, I was set free from this place were all the doors are locked and the windows barred, telling myself never again. I relapsed 3 more times. The last one was the hardest. I started drinking again, and  began to wake up  in the middle of the night with  terrible withdrawal symptoms. Luckily, if if may say,  I always had a bottle at hand, so I would  silently go into the living room to get my wine. In the morning, I would wait, shaking, for the supermarket to open. I was drinking at least 4 litres a day.

One night, I decided I had enough. Packed a suitcase, and, the morning after, went again to the psych ward. I waited many hours to have a bed, and was in a semi coma when I finally got some anti withdrawal drugs. I slept 19 hours for a week
My doctor there had little hope for me.  I was badly anaemic, and not willing to live any more.

But this time, it did the trick. On the 14th December 2012, I left the hospital with some medicines, including baclofene. I had lost everything. My job, all my money, and my self respect. I slowly began to rebuilt myself, with the help of my doctors, a very good online support group, and the little number of friends I still have.

Nearly one year later, I'm finally happy. Totally sober. Not a drop. I have plans; this blog is one of theses.

I wanted to write this story. I needed to. But I would like also to convey a message. If you have a drinking problem, get treated. As soon as possible. Once you realize it, do not wait. Get help. Being sober again, and rebuilding yourself  may not be easy, but it is a definite path to a more balance life and happiness.

There are many groups that can help, and some new drugs like baclofene to curb your cravings.

There is hope 

les centres d'aide

Help to quit drinking

helplines USA

Food banks, poverty and other musings

This week, I did something that I never thought of doing. Going to register at a food bank. Hardships of life, illness, unemployment and over debts led me to a situation where, without help, my mum and myself would not have enough to eat.

I went to the social services at first, but thy told me bluntly that we could not have any food package. I was pretty desperate.
Then, luckily, I found a charity called the Restos du Coeur. It was founded by a comic actor called Coluche who realized one day, that there was a lot of people who hadn't enough to eat. In a year, it became one of the largest food bank in France, giving tons of foods to people in need.

Believe me, It was not easy for me going there, but they welcomed me in such a kind and human way that it was fantastic.

After filling some papers to prove our financial status, I was given a card that entitles me to get some food weekly for two. Until March. So we are safe this winter. Thanks to this marvellous charity.

Below is a very nice experiment done for TV. It will show you that people have a good heart.

It will cheer you up !

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I love Maths

Writing I love Maths is something I would not have though possible 40 years ago. I always was a bug failure at Maths. My grades averaged something like 4/20, and usually close to 0/20. I duscovered the pure beauty of maths much later in life. When I understood WHY and not HOW.

Let me give you an example: PI: 3.14156. Did you ever wonder why is pi is equal  to 3.14156? I did, and asked my math teacher when I was 12. Well he was not a very good teacher and decided that it was NOT a question to ask. He threatened to  punish me if I asked again. I discovered the truths years later. 3.14156 was the ration between the  perimeter and the diameter; Simple. Luminous! Clear!

But the mind of many maths teacher does not function like that. They don't want you to know WHY. They  just want you to apply a formula and shut up. It works with some, but not with me. I would probably have been much better at maths if I had been taught the WHY and not only the HOW. And I'm not the only one!

Below is a fascinating 6mn talk about Fibonacci numbers.  Don't be frightened. The mathematician is entertaining. And wait for the end. It may be an epiphany if you are interested in the Golden Number.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Why I’m an agnostic

For years, I have been a believer. Christian, Reformed Protestant. Going to church regularly, praying, and reading the Bible. I also studied seriously many sacred books from different religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and a few others. And then around 50, I became an agnostic.

I lost faith. Not because of hardships in life, even if I had my share, to say the least, but because I realised that I was illogical.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for the people who have faith in a god, or, for atheists, who, in my opining have a faith themselves. (the faith that there is no god). Whatever they believe, it is their choice and who would I be to criticize them. But for me, it does not work like that. It is totally personal, and I don’t look upon on people who do not share the same idea.

First of all what is agnosticism

agnosticism, (from Greek agnĊstos, “unknowable”), strictly speaking, the doctrine that humans cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of their experience. The term has come to be equated in popular parlance with scepticism about religious questions in general and in particular with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought.

This is the accepted definition of agnosticism. Personally, I differ quite a lot from this definition, as I do not know if the existence or non-existence of god(s) is unknowable. We may, in the future, come with an answer to this question, even if I find it doubtful.

Why I became an agnostic

The reason why I became an agnostic is about intellectual honesty. I cannot assure that there is or there isn’t a god. It is all about belief, and I cannot hold a belief as a certainty.
I did in the past, relying on my heart, on my beliefs, and probably on my education. But now, it is just impossible. This is why I lost my faith. Not because I’m disgruntle or bitter about god, or because I believe « He » does not exist. Just because I realised that I would be unreasonable in asserting the fact of the existence of a higher power.
I am even going further questioning reality. It’s a fascinating idea that, luckily does not stopped me from sleeping at night or living a normal life.

This is not a comfortable position. That’s for sure. It would be definitely easier for me to get comfort in the belief that a god exists, or doe not. Why am I calling atheism a faith? that’s simple, the atheists believe there is no god, as the theists believe there is one. This is not pertaining to reason but to beliefs. Bring me one theist or one atheist who can prove me they are right and I might change my mind. I am still waiting to meet one.

Of course, Christians, for example, will tell you they have the Bible to prove it, but the Muslims will say the same thing with the Koran,and the Hindus with the Baghavad Gita and so on, and the atheists will claim that these books are man made and not divinely inspired. So who is right? Nobody.! They all have their belief, and their beliefs do not pertain to reason. I’m not saying they are wrong to think as they do. It’s their life and their problem I just say it does not works for me any more.

Now let’s be clear. The sacred books have a definite interest. Historical, philosophical, sociological. The messages of the Torah, Christ, Mahomet, Krishna, Buddha etc., convey some very good ideas. Mainly about peace and respect of others - when it is not distorted by religious people to prove they are the chosen ones and that the unbelievers have to live by their laws - but according to reason, it remains books, written by human beings, some of them wise, some of them fools, and some of them acting for political reasons. Are they divinely inspired? Maybe.  If there is a god of course! We come back to the same question

Agnosticism in the life of the city

The regimes in theocratic or atheist governments, or wannabe , have always become more or less dictatorial and antidemocratic. This is one reason I think that agnosticism is what should be a standard in governing a state. It does not negate religion, everyone is entitled to his own beliefs, but these beliefs should not be enforced on the community. Live and let live as long as it dos not infer on the freedom of others.

This is not easy. We have seen that in France with the debate on the Muslim veil in schools. I am not sure what to think of it. Should teenagers be allowed to wear a veil at school, as long as it does not infer with their education or the freedom of others? I think so. But we again come back to a matter of reason and balance between the secular and the religious.

Science versus religion
Contrary to religion, science is, or should be, an attempt to demonstrate truths about the universe by a logical process. Theory, experimentation, and return to theory. I say an attempt for obvious reasons. Man is not and has never been completely able to be always right as his knowledge is in perpetual evolution, and I’m not talking about scientists motivated by politics, theism or atheism. Lysenko and Kepler are perfect example. I’m not comparing them of course. On the contrary religion, theist or atheist tends to adapt scientific facts to their beliefs often twisting the truths to fit in. Evolution vs creationism for instance. Stricts atheist will say that evolution proves the inexistence of god, and Christian theists that creationism is right because it is in the Bible. In fact, evolution theory, (that seems to be scientifically established but has to be perfected) does not demonstrate the inexistence of an intelligent design. What I believe about this subject is irrelevant to this discussion. In fact I just don’t know if there is a creator or not

Taking agnosticism even further. What is real?

this takes us back to the subject of agnosticism. Always challenge facts that you can’t demonstrate scientifically or logically. This can leads to the extreme. Challenging everything. For instance, what is reality? Obviously, what I see, hear, smell, touch or taste is not the same that someone else will experience. It can go even further. Time for instance is different for everyone. The notion of time itself can be, and is by some scientists, considered as irrelevant. (hours, minutes, seconds, etc is totally subjective. Man made to suit our needs).

And to conclude let’s ponder a moment on these ideas:

Could we not be the dream of someone else who wakes up when we die? Inside the Matrix? Or the experiment of a mad scientist?

This, my friends, has no answer yet!

Bad parenting

Seriously, I just can't stand these parents who, hooked on their cell phone, window shopping, or just not caring, don't watch their kid in the street. And of course, they yell at the child if he takes risks or misbehave.

Everything is fine for the moment

But it won't last

Funny pictures

See the pictures on Yahoo France


This has been my major flaw ever; I do believe that I should have been born a day earlier, if it had not been for procrastination. On the other hand, it has it's good sides, some people are still alive because I delayed their murder indefinitely. (you know who you are)

Douglas Adams
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reactivation of this blog

Finally, I decided to reactivate this sleeping blog. I hope to update it regularly with pictures, article, good links and videos.

 For today a fantastic site called Upworthy. It is one of the best inspirational site of the web. It will make you think, smile or cry. This is one of the videos I found there