Ithaca by K. Kavafis

Ithaca is a greek island generally identified as the home of Odysseus, whose delayed return to the island is the subject of Homer’s Odyssey.

As you set out for Ithaca
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them:
you’ ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then this is the meaning of Ithaca.

K. Kavafis, (April 29, 1863 – April 29, 1933)

A Thousandth Opinion (by Albert Lim Kok Hoo)

published in Khaleej Times on Nov 11, 2009

I know a man who has seen a thousand doctors. Let us call him Thomas. He is 80 years old but even so, a thousand is a huge number. In a year, he would have seen 12 new doctors on the average. A thousand different doctors means perhaps 20,000 consultations. Sometimes Thomas sees three different doctors in one afternoon.

Some of Thomas’s friends are doctors. Some of his doctors become his friends. His doctors range from the junior to the senior, from those in government hospitals to those in private practice, from generalists to specialists. Men, women, foreigners, graduates from local universities; he has seen them all. Sometimes he sees them just to measure his blood pressure.

Sometimes it is for a more serious matter like an unexplained chest pain. He has spent about $230,000 in his lifetime on doctor visits, blood tests, medications, X-rays, scans and Ҭminor surgeries.

He has no regrets. Others may splurge on flashy cars or the services of a sommelier, but for Thomas it is doctors, doctors and more doctors. Sadly, Thomas was diagnosed with lung cancer recently and was referred to me. I wonder how many more oncologists he has seen or will be seeing.

Thomas came across as a well adjusted gentleman. He did not exhibit any verbal or physical tic. He spoke well. He gave his medical history clearly and answered most of my questions willingly and appropriately. Having gained his trust, I decided to explore his need to see so many doctors. He was forthright about it. He is afraid to die.

So many of us, with or without cancer, are not willing to admit to our fear of death. We couch our fear like this: “Doctor, I am not afraid to die but I fear the process of dying.” Others of a more poetic bent will say, “Oh, death, where is thy sting?” It is a badge of honor we proudly wear on our sleeves.

Thomas was afraid of death, and he was not afraid to admit it. That’s courage. He was going to do his best to postpone it. Of course, seeing a thousand doctors does not help. It may even be harmful. Conflicting opinions lead to confusion and anxiety. Excessive and unnecessary X-rays and CT scans increase the chance of radiation-“¨induced cancer.

Apart from his fear of death, Thomas also disclosed a distrust of doctors. He was seeking as many opinions as possible before deciding on treatment. He had his doubts. Now you know why I gave Thomas his moniker.

Is Thomas suffering from hypochondriasis? The condition is characterised by fears that minor bodily symptoms may indicate a serious illness. The hypochondriac constantly examines himself; self-diagnosis becomes a preoccupation. He expresses doubt and disbelief in the doctor’s diagnosis. Thomas has some traits of a hypochondriac but that is too easy a label to stick on him. Thomas had a CT scan of his chest two years ago that disclosed a shadow in his lung. He was treated for pneumonia. The possibility of cancer was excluded when most of the shadow disappeared with a course of antibiotics. The doctors should have gone the extra mile to exclude cancer with a PET/CT scan and a biopsy.

Some may diagnose Thomas with thanatophobia “” an undue obsession with death (especially one’s own) to the extent that it becomes psychologically crippling. Again, this would be too convenient a label. Thomas is a successful entrepreneur and is socially adept.

I really don’t know. We tend to medicalise every little symptom and discomfort. From an infant’s excessive crying to teenage angst to a wage earner’s blues. There is a pill for everything: insomnia, erectile dysfunction and the sadness of bereavement. Perhaps Thomas has the time and money to see many doctors and he feels good doing this. It is therapeutic for him, if you can forgive my use of the word. It may be no different from some others I know who spend as much as Thomas does on audiovisual systems or eating unmentionable parts of endangered animals.

I shall help Thomas fight his cancer. I will dissuade him from unnecessary blood tests and scans. I will not judge him. Most of all, I will not medicalize his fear of death. It is about being human. There is no pill for it.

Albert Lim Kok Hooi is an oncologist based in Kuala Lumpur

Magic Realism Transformations in Paulo Coelho

Thesis Subject: Magic Realist Transformations in Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello and The Experimental Witch
Thesis Author: Meryem Riza-Ezel
Thesis File: Download

Some questions and answers

Google Alerts is great. Sometimes I found things about myself that I did not expect. Today I found an old interview for an Indian newspaper – and here are some Q&A

Could you recall from your life where you felt the feminine face of God?

It was in 1992, when I was sitting inside of a grotto, in Lourdes. Since then, I try to accept my feminine side. When I write, I am a woman. I got pregnant from life, and I don’t know how the baby looks like. My pregnancy cycle lasts for two years, and I don’t take notes, I don’t make plans. The only thing that I know is that life put inside me a seed that will grow when time comes. Then, when time comes, I sit and write. Every creative act demands a respect for mystery, and I respect the mystery, without trying to understand it.

What do you feel when readers hug you and confess in public how the book had changed their lives?

First and foremost, I am a writer – and a writer is always facing the challenge of a new book. This is, for me, what makes life interesting: there is always a new book to be written, which involves pain, joy, suffering, relief, feelings of a person who is alive. I don’t think why this or that happened, and I became a worldwide celebrity. I think: “Am I honest in which I am doing? Can I still talk to my soul?
The secret of the success of my books, if there is one; it is the absence of secrets.

Did you expect this world wide success?
When I wrote “The Alchemist”, I was trying to understand my own life, and the only way that I could do it was through a metaphor. Then, the book – with no support of the press, because the media normally refuses to publish anything about an unknown writer – made its way to the readers, and the readers start to discover that we share the same questions. Little by little, the book started to travel abroad, and today is one of the best seller books of all times. But this success came slowly, based on a word-of-mouth promotion, and this gives me the sensation, the wonderful sensation that I am not alone.

In an Interview with Juan Arias of El Paí­s you confessed that, “Happiness to me is very abstract, To tell you the truth, I am never happy”.

The fact that I don’t search for happiness, does not mean that unhappiness is the choice. The right choice is “joy”. Challenges, defeats, victories, excitement, never being bored by this peaceful Sunday afternoon “happiness”.

As a best-selling author how far has consumerism affected you. You have to go through a corporate capitalist structure.

As Buddha said, first you have to have, then you can renounce everything. It is easy to make a chastity vow if you are impotent. Easier to make a poverty vow if you are incapable of earning money with your choice, your dream. I could buy a castle, but I bought a watermill, not because I feel guilty – I work hard – but because a watermill is close to my way of seeing life, and easier to maintain. As for my work, no publisher dares to ask me anything – I don’t see the point of “corporate capitalist structure”.

In The Alchemist you have said that you have to pay a price for the perusal of ones dream. What’s the price you paid in the journey with your dream?

A very high one. But I am glad that I paid this price for my dream, instead of paying the price of living someone else’s dreams.

You have been into an asylum twice. People like Michael Foucault have written about the power discourses that create madness. How do you see you days in the asylum?

I cannot summarize that. I wrote a whole book on my experience, “Veronica Decides to Die”. But one thing I can say: it was not a traumatic experience, to begin with. It was in my path, I had to see it as something that I must overcome, not as something I was victimized by.

If you meet a person who has a deep sense of worthlessness, who is broken, and has decided to end her life, what would you tell her?

Dare to be different. You are unique, and you have to accept you as you are, instead of trying to repeat other people’s destinies or patterns. Insanity is to behave like someone that you are not. Normality is the capacity to express your feelings. From the moment that you don’t fear to share your heart, you are a free person.

Most common superstitions in Brasil

A bird in the house is a sign of a death

Never take a broom along when you move. Throw it out and buy a new one.

If the first butterfly you see in the year is white, you will have good luck all year.

If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.

To kill a cat brings seven years of bad luck

It’s bad luck to leave a house through a different door than the one used to come into it.

A horseshoe brings good luck

If a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin (metal), or your friendship will soon be broken.

Walking under a ladder has long been regarded a bad luck

If you broke a mirror, you would break your future.

Many Brazilians dress in white on Fridays

New offices in Barcelona

Para versí£o em portugues, clique aqui

Download high resolution photo here.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who earlier this year published his new novel, Adultery, (in Spain, Editorial Planeta), will be in Barcelona on November 12th for the inauguration of Sant Jordi Asociados’ new offices in the heart of the city.
The literary agency, that handles the writer’s work and rights worldwide from the Catalan capital, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this 2014.

According to Mí´nica Antunes, the author’s exclusive literary agent since the first translations of The Alchemist””currently translated into 80 languages and present over 140 countries -“the new opportunities and the transformation of the publishing market have allowed us to grow into other areas,” referring to the digital leap. In this sense, Antunes is “very confident to further expand its scope of action from the new office.”

The new headquarters of Sant Jordi Asociados is twice the size of the previous one, thanks to the growing presence of Paulo Coelho’s in the world.

For Coelho, who visits Barcelona regularly, being in the city is a great joy. “Barcelona has always been a reference in the publishing industry and very generous and affectionate towards my work,” concludes the Brazilian author.

Such good tuning is also due to the great relationship that both the writer and his agent have with their publishers. According to Carlos Revés, director of the Publishing Area of Planeta Group, Mí´nica Antunes’ presence in Barcelona has always proved to be “an advantage in our communication and closeness with Coelho, who is practically a local author for us”. “We are very pleased – adds Revés – that the author will be here to toast for the success of Adultery, which since its publication in Spain has not left the best-seller lists.”

For further information: +34 93 224 01 07

Karine Martins – Barcelona

Karine Martins Barcelona

How My Father Looked


I think I have a way of finding out what my father looked like. Yes, finally! Excuse my excitement. My father died when I was very young, and to this day, I have never seen a picture of him. My search for his face goes back to when I lived in a refugee camp in eastern Sudan.
It was around 1977 when we arrived at the camp on camel from Eritrea, then under Ethiopian control and fighting for independence. My father had been murdered, but at 2 years old I had no understanding of the circumstances. Sudan promised a new beginning.
For the next two years, we lived in a hut, and my mother did odd jobs, but it wasn’t enough. She finally found work as a servant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and left us with our grandparents in the refugee camp. I was about 4. Each day afterward, her image became more vague and abstract, just like my father’s. It felt as if I had never had parents.
My mother couldn’t read or write, but she used to record tapes and send them to us. She told us about her life in Jeddah. I would stay in our hut and play the tapes over and over again. I tried to focus on visualizing her face. That was when I started trying to create portraits of both my parents. I imagined my father’s features like mine, with pronounced nose and eyes, and I reinvented my mother’s warm smile. Drawing their pictures in my head, I believed, brought me closer to them.
Then one day, three years after she left, my mother finally sent us a photo of herself. We hung the framed photo on the wall, the only bit of color against the pale mud. Oh, my beautiful mother! I missed her madly.

to continue reading (another 2 minutes), please go to New York Times here

Aleph images

Upload your Image! Inclua sua foto! Suba su foto!

2.000.000 friends in Twitter

I will cross 2 million friends on Twitter. I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions on how we should celebrate together.
É possivel que em um dia eu passe 2 milhíµes de amigos no Twitter. Como celebramos?

UPDATE 6:24 PM (Brasilia), 2.000.853 friends
Reading the comments: tomorrow, Jul 19 at 6:00 PM (always your local time) I encourage you to say a prayer.
In my prayer, I will ask:
A] For myself. May God guide me and inspire me for the years to come.
B] For my family and friends on Twitter. May God allow all of them to follow their call, their Personal Legend.
C] For my work. May I always be an instrument of the Light.

As we are in different time zones, I strongly believe that the Planet will be filled with light and prayers during 24 hr.
If you don’t feel comfortable with praying, a random act of kindness during the day will certainly be very helpful to all humankind

Lendo os comentários: amanhí£, 19 de Julho, as 18:00 hr, eu os encorajo a fazer uma oraí§í£o.
Na minha oraí§í£o, pedirei
a] por mim. Que Deus me proteja, me ajude, e me inspire sempre.
b] pela minha famí­lia e pelos meus amigos no Twitter. Que Deus permita a todos seguirem seus sonhos
c] pelo meu trabalho. Que eu possa ser um intrumento da Luz Divina

Se voce ní£o se sente confortável em rezar, uma boa aí§í£o, qualquer que seja, ajudará muito esta nossa sofrida humanidade

Purification by pain

Self-flagellation is reckoned by many here on Earth to be, literally, good for the soul.History is full of examples of ritualization pain in exchange for the purification of our sins.
This self-flagellation exists in many religions, and festivals of sacrifice and repentance.

Pope John Paul II used to beat himself with a belt and sleep on a bare floor to bring himself closer to Christ. “In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption ,” says his letter Salvifici Doloris

New research shows that some form of “mortification of the flesh” — the old-fashioned term for inflicting physical discomfort for spiritual growth — can in fact alleviate feelings of guilt.

“One reason may be that the experience of physical pain alleviates feelings of guilt associated with immoral behavior,” Brock Bastian writes in an article titled “Cleansing the Soul by Hurting the Flesh,”.

In short, Bastian argues, we want to give meaning to pain, to portray it as a comprehensible part of a cosmic balance sheet or a means of achieving justice so that suffering is not pointless; indeed, the Latin word for pain is poena, which means “penalty.”

“Understood this way, pain may be perceived as repayment for sin in three ways,” he writes.

First, pain is the embodiment of atonement. Just as physical cleansing washes away sin…physical pain is experienced as a penalty, and paying that penalty reestablishes moral purity.
Second, subjecting oneself to pain communicates remorse to others (including God) and signals that one has paid for one’s sins, and this removes the threat of external punishment.
Third, tolerating the punishment of pain is a test of one’s virtue, reaffirming one’s positive identity to oneself and others.”

Read more: The Economist The masochism tango
David Gibson: Ash Wednesday Idea: Beat Guilt This Lent — Literally
CNN: Pope John Paul II self-flagellated to get closer to Jesus

НЛО ЗАСЕКЛИ!!! Aliens!!!

SIBERIAN air traffic controllers claim that a female-sounding alien spoke to them in a cat-like language.
They say that a mysterious object – which they believe was a high-speed UFO – appeared on flight monitors over the remote Russian city of Yakutsk, the Daily Mail reported.

It rapidly changed direction in the sky and reached speeds of nearly 1000km/h – surrounding planes were seen to be travelling significantly slower.
The aviation workers tried to make contact with the ship, as evident in a video posted to YouTube.

“I kept hearing some female voice, as if a woman was saying mioaw-mioaw all the time,” one air traffic controller told the pilot of a passing Aeroflot flight.
The UFO was automatically designated as “00000” as it did not have a flight number.

Airport officials have not commented on the footage.

(NOTE: if any of my Russian friends here can translate the conversation, we all appreciate…)

Thank you Roman Makush

The conversation below is going on when UFO flies close to the aircraft on the radar monitor:

CONTROLLER: /delivers info/
PILOT: There is bad connection here. Repeat please.
CONTROLLER: /repeats info/
PILOT: It’s hard to get it. Keep flying on 11100 meters.
CONTROLLER: It’s a connection check out. How do you hear me?
PILOT: Much better. But there was muttering before. It seemed like another channel laid over.
CONTROLLER: Got you. /says info again/
PILOT: Can’t get you, can’t hear.

Then the controller starts checking out connection.

PILOT: Ok, I hear you now. There was this strange meowing female voice interfering with the frequency.
CONTROLLER: When did you hear it? In which time interval?
PILOT: All the time from the very beginning when our communication started.

Fist Coca Cola TV ad in Brasil

TESE – Sayanora Amaral

Download Here

Bad girl receives an envelope

DISCLAIMER: Intel, “sponsors of tomorrow”, does not sponsor this blog. But I love creative ads, and this one of them, using the classic Web platforms.

Natal digital/ Digital Christmas




There is only one thing lacking: a blog!!!

The basics of feng shui

by Priya Sher

When there is harmony in the home there is order in the nation, when there is order in the nation there is peace in the world.’ Chinese Proverb

Feng shui originated over 6000 years ago in China. It focuses on harnessing the energy in a property by optimizing its flow and ensuring the five elements (water, fire, earth, metal and wood) are balanced.
Each part of a property represents a particular family member or area of life, so the theory is that if energy in that space isn’t balanced, it will have an effect on the person or subject concerned.

Literally translated feng shui means ‘wind water’. Its principles maintain that we live in harmony with our environment.
Its aim is to achieve balance in our living space and maximize our potential for success for every area in our life.
Feng shui takes many years of specialized training to practice. By combining the knowledge of both the form and compass orientation of a space, the feng shui analysis can explain how the property in which you are living or working in affects your behavior, mental clarity and health.

The ‘art of placement’ is a very important aspect of feng shui. How a property sits in its environment is crucial. A building should have high ground behind it to hold the energy and support us, a clear view in front to give us an open vision and bright future, and balanced support on its left and right side to offer its occupants a balance of yin/female and yang/male energy resulting in stability.

What is joy? / O que é alegria? / Que es la alegria ?

On 11/23, when I had around 993.000 followers, I asked for a suggestion to celebrate 1.000.000 friends in Twitter. The best suggestion was 3 signed books.
As promised, I will send 3 signed copies by registered mail to the 3 best answers on the question that it is the title of this post
I will wait 24 hr before choosing. The results will be posted here.
The message “your comment is waiting moderation” happens because I will only moderate the comments after reading all the messages, and this may take a while.
I will sign a total of 3 books, not 3 books in each language
No dia 23/11, quando tinha aproximadamente 993.000 seguidores, pedi uma sugestí£o para celebrar 1.000.000 de amigos no Twitter. A melhor sugestí£o foi: enviar 3 livros autografados
Como prometido eu enviarei 3 livros por correio registrado í s 3 melhores respostas í  pergunta que é o tí­tulo do post.
Esperarei 24 horas antes de escolher. E ní£o moderarei os comentários durante este perí­odo
A mensagem “Your comment is waiting moderation” aparece porque só moderarei os comentários amanhí£, depois de ler cada uma
Postarei os resultados aqui.
Autografarei um total de 3 livros, e ní£o tres livros por lingua.
En Noviembre 23, cuando tení­a unos 993.000 seguidores, pedí­ una sugerencia para celebrar 1’000.000 de amigos en Twitter.
La mejor sugerencia fue 3 libros autografiados.
Como prometí­, enviaré 3 libros autografiados por correo certificado a las 3 mejores respuestas a la pregunta que hay en el tí­tulo de este post. (o esta publicación)
Esperaré 24 hr para hacer la elección. Los resultados serán publicados aquí­. Mientras tanto, no haré de moderador de los comentarios.
Como no haré de moderador hasta mañana, recibiras un mensage “Your comment is waiting moderation”
Firmaré 3 libros, y no 3 libros por idioma

Congratulations Poland

The Polish cover of “The Winner stands alone” won one of the top prizes for Graphic Design in Mexico

UN: network of men leaders to combat violence against women

24 November 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today marked the 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by launching a Network of Men Leaders, a major new initiative bringing together current and former politicians, activists, religious and community figures to combat the global pandemic.
“These men will add their voices to the growing global chorus for action,” he said, noting that 70 per cent of women experience in their lifetime some form of physical or sexual violence from men, the majority from husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.

Resources for the Fund, which gives grants to support innovative regional, local and national initiatives, fall drastically short for meeting a vast demand, with grant requests totalling $857 million received just for 2009. To address this gap, the target of raising an annual $100 million for the Fund by 2015 has been set by the Secretary-General as an objective of his UNiTE campaign.

By 2015, the UNiTE campaign aims to achieve the following five goals worldwide: adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls; adopt and implement multi-sectoral national action plans; strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls; increase public awareness and social mobilization; and address sexual violence in conflict.

Members of the new Network include: Juan Carlos Areán, Programme Director of the Family Violence Prevention Fund; Gary Barker, International Centre for Research on Women; Ted Bunch, Co-founder of the National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence against Women; Brazilian novelist and UN Messenger of Peace Paulo Coelho; and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Fattini.

Others are: former Colombian President and Secretary General of the Organization of American States Cesar Gaviria Trujillo; former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos; Andrew Levack, Co-chair of MenEngageAlliance; Todd Minerson, Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign; Emmanuel Ochora of Gulu Youth for Action in Uganda; Dean Peacock, founder of Building Partnerships to End Men’s Violence; Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodrí­guez Zapatero; Norwegian Justice and Police Minister Knut Storberget; and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.