Friday, July 29, 2011

Child of the North - Part 2

I'm going to be adding to a 'short' biography to my new book, and I thought it would be fun to share it with you as it unfolds. I'll be adding to the previous days work, so you'll see each post get slightly longer - that's in case any of you missed the first bits; you can't start a story in the middle, can you?

In a raging predawn Canadian blizzard, a policeman struggled to drag my pregnant mother through six foot snow drifts to get her into the hospital. By this time she was well into labor. It was a Thursday - Thor`s day. That`s how I came into the world.

I suppose it`s no surprise then that I've been fascinated by our Northern Culture my entire life. I’m proud of the tenacity and resourcefulness my ancestors embodied which brought me into this world.

For thousands of years our Northern forefathers endured biting cold, limited resources and invading empires. Despite this, their culture flourished and their legacy endured; my passion is this legacy and its echoes into our modern world.


Early Years

One of my earliest memories was from Kindergarten when I was five. The teacher was asking children in the room what the wanted to be when they grew up. Of course you had the kids who wanted to be doctors, firemen, policemen, maybe even a lawyer. Then the teacher got to me.

    “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

    “An Eagle,” I replied.

The teacher just shook her head in irritation and moved on to the next kid.

And so began the theme of my life, a theme influenced by others, but crafted by me. I was never comfortable accepting the societal norm; I tried.

I was fortunate to be born with good genes – I was a strong young man, handsome and popular, even if I did defy convention.

On Writing

I first started writing for the oldest and noblest of reasons – love; more accurately, teenage infatuation. Some pretty girl had batted her eyes at me, and I suddenly wanted to be Shakespeare, although the possibility of creating my own reality was also incredibly engaging. My poetry gave birth to the perfect world where I said exactly the right things to the girl of my dreams. What possibilities! My interest soon expanded to prose, where I could explore the same worlds in more detail, if not slightly less lyrically, and I wrote a few short stories.

Unfortunately, as is too often the case, I was told I would never make a living as a writer and I should focus on school or work for my father’s business. My parent’s generation were perhaps more pragmatic than ours; their parents knew the hardships of both The Great Depression, and the Second World War. It was with that influence that their youth was forged, while my own was cultivated in the more liberal 70’s, and I saw possibilities that perhaps they did not.
Despite my dreams, I got married, went to work and started a family.


Our ancestors believed strongly in luck. In fact they believed that luck could be passed on in a family. Men sought out the leadership of luckier men - better to be on the side of the lucky leader in battle than the unlucky one.

I feel that luck is nothing more than preparation meeting opportunity. The ‘Lucky’ are on the lookout for opportunities, and have cultivated the skills and the will to take action. They often pass those drives and habits on to their children, leading to the notion of familial luck passed down by blood.

Whatever the case is, I indeed have had my share of luck. My most lucky moment was when I met and married my wife. We were young and impulsive, and had only been dating a few months when we ran off to elope. I was twenty three, and she was just nineteen, and attending university. As I write this, we have been happily married for nearly twenty years. Certainly there were trying times. There were times with no money, times with lots of money, times of great pain and family strife, but mostly warmth, and happiness.

‘Luckily’ our impulsive decision resulted in a wonderful life together.


Being married, and having my son born two years later, shaped my life considerably. I became not a family man, but simply, a man. This was my call to action to grow up, now being concerned for two lives in addition to my own.

My son and I on the Blue Ridge looking over the Shenandoah Valley
Being a father has shifted my view of the world so dramatically, it has quite literally made me a different person. I can’t imagine what kind of person I would be otherwise; I don’t think I'd want anything to do with that person. If there's one thing in life I am most proud of, it's that my son and I have a wonderful and loving relationship, and I believe, I've been there for him as a father.

When asked who my heroes or inspirational figures are, without fail I’ll say that they are the fathers who show up for the job every day, the fathers who try, and treat their role seriously. I have an uncle and a cousin who are such men, with families to be proud of.
Those are my heroes.

Stay Tuned for more of my 'short' biography.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Child of the North

A little blurb from my new book that I thought would be appropriate to share today -

"In a raging predawn Canadian blizzard, a policeman struggled to drag my pregnant mother through six foot snow drifts to get her into the hospital. By this time she was well into labor. It was a Thursday - Thor`s day. That`s how I came into the world.

I suppose it`s no surprise then that I've been fascinated by our Northern Culture my entire life. I’m proud of the tenacity and resourcefulness my ancestors embodied which brought me into this world.

For thousands of years our Northern forefathers endured biting cold, limited resources and invading empires. Despite this, their culture flourished and their legacy endured; my passion is this legacy and its echoes into our modern world."

- Eoghan Odinsson

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Access to Documents Wherever You Are

I know most of my readers and are pretty tech-savvy these days, but I thought I would introduce you to Google Docs in case you haven't tried it.

Here's the description from the Google website:

"Google Docs enables multiple people in different locations to collaborate simultaneously on the same doc from any computer with Internet access. For example, Alice and Meredith are working on a project together, and they need to write a document, keep track of their work in a spreadsheet, and create a presentation and a drawing to share with other people involved in the project. Alice lives in New York, and Meredith, in Los Angeles.

When Alice makes changes to the document, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing, Meredith can see them in real time and respond to them immediately. Both of them work on the same docs, so there's no need to go back and forth, comparing and consolidating individual files."

This is an incredible tool for me as a writer; I often have little flashes of insight, or an idea that I want to incorporate into something I'm working on, and Google Docs is an excellent platform to enable me to take advantages of these little creative bursts. Anywhere I go these days I have either my iPhone or my iPad, and often both, with me. As Google Docs is an application hosted in the Cloud, I can access it from many devices, even a friends PC.

Google Docs is more than just an online Word processor, it's a suite of tools that that allow you to create:
  • Documents
  • Presentations
  • Spreadsheets
  • Forms
  • Drawings
  • Collections - of Pictures and Videos
I decided to use Google Docs for the Manuscript of my next book so that I could take advantage of the document portability. Another useful feature is that your work is saved very frequently, every 3-4 minutes with a Document, and every time you change a cell in a Spreadsheet. When you're writing a large book, this is a lifesaver!

I encourage you to check it out - it's packed with useful stuff, and it's free!

In case you want a little more help...check out these books:

Sunday, July 17, 2011


In researching Northern Plant Lore, I came across an insightful article by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart that explores the dangers of the FDA's regulation on medicines.

A Matter of Life and Death

Have you lost a loved one to breast cancer recently? If so, you probably wished with all your heart that your sister, mother, or wife had detected it   earlier. Perhaps they would have - if the device that clinicians are calling "one of the most effective weapons against breast cancer" hadn't been banned
from the US market by the FDA.

The Sensor Pad, developed in Decatur, Illinois, is simply two sealed plastic sheets with lubricant in between. When a woman or her doctor places the pad over her breast, friction is reduced, making lump detection easier. The FDA has refused to approve this simple medical device for over a decade, even though the product is sold in Japan, Singapore, Korea, and most West European countries. The reason? The FDA wants this $7 device to go through the same testing procedures that it demands for expensive pharmaceuticals. After such testing, the FDA will take up to six years to decide whether or not the device should be approved. Because drug manufacturers are required to spend much more time and money getting US approvals than offshore ones, Americans get new, life-saving drugs and devices years later than citizens of other countries - if they get them at all.

Sometimes this delay protects us from side effects not readily detected in animal studies. The sedative thalidomide, for example, was marketed in Europe for several years while awaiting FDA approval. In the early 1960's, the sensitivity of an unborn child to the deforming effects of drugs was not widely appreciated, so doctors began prescribing thalidomide to pregnant women. Consequently, approximately 12,000 European children were born with deformed limbs. Few American babies were affected because only a few test samples had been distributed in this country. The FDA physician who had delayed its approval was given a Presidential Award.

Paying With Our Lives

Encouraged by this feedback, the FDA began to require even more studies. Testing and approval took even longer, especially when compared with countries like Great Britain where there were no immediate changes in the way new drugs were processed. While the British continued to enjoy many new drugs to treat their illnesses, only half of these were available to Americans, and only after many more years of waiting. One of these new drugs denied to Americans was propranolol, the first Beta-blocker to be used extensively to treat angina and hypertension.

Approximately 10,000 Americans died needlessly every year for the three years it was against the law for their doctors to treat them with propranolol. Propranolol was finally approved in the US for minor uses in 1968, but was only approved in 1973 and 1976 for angina and hyper-tension respectively. The regulatory delay of this single drug may have been responsible for the death of more Americans than all other deaths from drugs in this century. Even so, the FDA came under severe criticism by Congress for "premature" approval of this valuable drug! Former FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt noted that ". . . rarely, if ever, has Congress held a hearing to look into the failure of FDA to approve a new entity; but it has held hundreds of hearings alleging that the FDA. has done something wrong by approving a drug . . . ." The "drug lag," he claimed, could only "be remedied by Congressional and public recognition that the failure to approve an important new drug can be as detrimental to the public health as the approval of a potentially bad drug."

The "Drug Lag"

Just how detrimental is the drug lag to public health? Conservative estimates of needless deaths to the "drug lag" are tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans every year. Many more people die from the FDA's delay than are saved by waiting to see if people from other countries experience side effects from new drugs.

Perhaps a loved one you've lost is among them.

While any harm from drugs is undesirable, we must recognize that no drug is safe for everyone. People die every year from drug allergies or idiosyncratic reactions which cannot be predicted with state-of-the-art expertise. Whenever we take drugs, we must weigh the risks and the potential benefits, just as we weigh the substantial risks and benefits of driving an automobile. By demanding that the FDA protect us from drugs that have any side effects, we deprive ourselves of drugs that save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Ironically, FDA regulations sometimes force people to choose between legal, but toxic, drugs and safer ones from the black market. One San Francisco physician actually encouraged his patients to take the unapproved AIDS therapy DDI, instead of the FDA-approved DDC. The less toxic DDI was developed to replace DDC, but the delays caused by FDA regulations made it unavailable for many years. In desperation, AIDS patients began purchasing the safer substance from illegal buyers' clubs, which provide unapproved medications for the terminally ill. Many people are still forced to get their medicine on the black market because of the drug lag caused by the FDA.

In 1988, AIDS patients convinced FDA commissioner Frank Young to let them import drugs marketed overseas for their own personal use. Theoretically, any US citizen can now order personal supplies this way. However, current FDA administrators are attempting to close this life-saving loophole.
At least cancer and AIDS victims can purchase new medicines somewhere. Diseases that affect only a few are seldom researched, since the staggering development costs imposed by FDA regulations can never be recovered.

Censoring Health Claims

Claims for unpatentable products, such as vitamins and mineral regimens, are likewise too expensive to recover the cost of FDA approval. For example, Vitamin C manufacturers still cannot tell the public about the published scientific papers attesting to its cardio-protective effects. Furthermore, the FDA prosecutes companies that try to share information on new uses of marketed products without going through another time-consuming and expensive approval process. For almost a decade after a definitive scientific study, the FDA forbade aspirin manufacturers to tell the public that their product could reduce heart attacks by over 40%. Since heart disease is the #1 killer in the US, many thousands of Americans each year are needlessly sentenced to death by regulation.

If aspirin had to undergo the rigorous testing that today's FDA demands, it would never be marketed. Thankfully, aspirin's benefits were well-established before the FDA had the power to suppress it.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching victims of the FDA's refusal to permit truthful claims for unpatentable products are children born with spina bifida. Because vitamin companies are not allowed to advertise how folic acid supplementation reduces the risk of birth defects, approximately 2500 children are born each year with spina bifida and many more are aborted. Since the benefits of folic acid have been known for well over a decade, this single regulatory decision has harmed more children than thalidomide, the greatest drug tragedy of the 20th Century. How would you feel if your child was needlessly handicapped by such over-zealous regulation?

Not satisfied with its usual "gag order" on information distribution, the FDA actually ordered one US company to destroy all its cookbooks and literature about stevia, an herb used as a sweetener. Certainly something is seriously wrong with the FDA when it resorts to "book burnings" reminiscent of fascist dictatorships.

Between 1989 and 1990, two private organizations, the American Heart Association and the HeartCorps Magazine, provided consumers with "heart-smart" guidelines for food. The American College of Nutrition gave its endorsement to certain brands of vegetable oils, and a calcium-supplemented orange juice was endorsed by the American Medical Women's Association. The FDA took legal action against these organizations to keep its monopoly on health claims - even health claims made for foods!

If these tactics sound as if they abridge your rights to free speech, you're right - and the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agrees! In January 1999, they found the FDA in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Will this court ruling reform the FDA and save us from death by regulation? Unfortunately, this ruling is only a first step. Donald Kennedy, former head of the FDA, notes that "the pattern of intervention into science from a combination of local, state, and federal sources has moved from reason-able control to something close to chaotic strangulation." Clearly, our entire regulatory system needs major reform.

For reforms to be effective, we must understand what caused our regulatory problems in the first place. We took choice away from the consumer, the person who actually experiences the impact of that choice. We gave the choice to bureaucrats, who are rarely held accountable. For example, in spite of First Amendment violations, no one in the FDA will be prosecuted or punished. With no real down-side, the FDA has no motivation to change!

The Easy Way Out

What do we do when even those affiliated with the FDA can see that drug regulation flunks its own criteria of being safe and effective? How do we stop our tax dollars from being spent on killing both ourselves and our loved ones? How do we insure that Americans get all the safe and effective drugs possible?

Patients and their physicians legally should be able to buy whatever drugs they wish, regardless of the stage of testing. Each person needs to decide for him or herself, in consultation with their physician or other specialists, which risks they are willing to take. Those who wish to wait for FDA approval or a "Seal of Approval" from a medical organization or a consumers groups should have that option. Indeed, the American Medical Association and Consumers' Research both evaluated drugs in the days before the FDA.

The terminally ill, who can't wait a decade or two for a new drug to be tested and approved, should be able to buy whatever pharmaceuticals give them a chance. It is their life, and should be their choice. If you or your loved ones were dying, wouldn't you want access to every possible cure?

We've Done It Before

In the early 1900's, Americans could decide for themselves which drugs to take. Before the FDA came into being, American drug manufacturers usually gave their customers the best drugs that the state-of-the-art would allow. After all, killing the customer is bad business. Deaths due to inadequate testing were much less frequent than the deaths produced by today's "drug lag."

The FDA is a cure worse than the disease. If the FDA can't meet its own criteria of being safe and effective, we are better off without it.

Isn't it time we stopped denying ourselves and our loved ones life-saving drugs?

Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D., a member of ISIL's Board of Directors, spent over 25 years in pharmaceutical research. Cited in many prestigious biographical works, she has authored over 100 scientific publications. Dr. Ruwart is the author of the libertarian primer, Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle and Short Answers to the Tough Questions (both available from ISIL). Her web column can be found at

This pamphlet was originally published in 1990 and revised October 1999. It is part of ISIL's educational pamphlet series. Click here for the full index of pamphlets online.
Here's a link to the original article and website:

If you agree with the sentiment expressed by Dr. Ruwart I challenge you to take action. Ask yourself, "What can I do to change this"?

Book by Dr Ruwart:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kekich's Credos for Mindful Living

An old friend just sent this list to me by e-mail and I really wanted to share it. Amazing stuff! You may have read them before, if so, read them again!

Kekich's Credo

July 7, 1978 started as just another day for Dave Kekich. He was working out in the gym… without a care in the world. The next day, he found himself staring at a hospital room ceiling, connected to machines, unable to move anything below his arms.

In the twinkling of an eye, this long distance running, weight lifting, exercise fanatic became a spinal cord injured cripple. He spent the next 15 months on a round the World odyssey, looking for a cure that didn’t exist—and finally came back home to Pennsylvania. He spent the next 19 years raising money for paralysis research, with one main goal: to walk again.

You can learn a lot from Dave Kekich. And here's your chance...Dave's 100 Credos in their entirety:

1. People will do almost anything to stay in their comfort zones. If you want to accomplish anything, get out of your comfort zone. Strive to increase order and discipline in your life. Discipline usually means doing the opposite of what you feel like doing. The easy roads to discipline are 1) setting deadlines, 2) discovering and doing what you do best and what's important and enjoyable to you and 3) focusing on habits by replacing your bad habits and thought patterns, one-by-one, over time, with good habits and thought patterns.

2. Cherish time, your most valuable resource. You can never make up the time you lose. It's the most important value for any productive happy individual and is the only limitation to all accomplishment. To waste time is to waste your life. The most important choices you'll ever make are how you use your time.

3. Think carefully before making any offers, commitments or promises, no matter how seemingly trivial. These are all contracts and must be honored. These also include self-resolutions.

4. Real regrets only come from not doing your best. All else is out of your control. You're measured by results only. Trade excuses and "trying" for results, and expect half-hearted results from half-hearted efforts. Do more than is expected of you. Life's easy when you live it the hard way... and hard if you try to live it the easy way.

5. Always show gratitude when earned, monetarily when possible.

6. Produce for wealth creation and accumulation. Invest profits for wealth preservation and growth. Produce more than you consume and save a minimum of 20% of all earnings. Pay yourself first.

7. You're successful when you like who and what you are. Success includes achievement… while choosing and directing your own activities. It means enjoying intimate relationships and loving what you do in life.

8. Learn from the giants.

9. A little caution avoids great regrets. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Keep fully insured physically and materially and keep hedged emotionally. Insurance is not for sale when you need it.

10. Learn the other side's needs, offer as little information as possible, never underestimate your opposition, and never show weakness when negotiating.

11. Never enter into nor invest in a business without a solid, well-researched and well thought-out written plan. Execute the plan with passion and precision. Plan and manage your life the same way.

12. Success comes quickly to those whom develop great powers of intense sustained concentration. The first rule is to get involved by asking focused questions.

13. Protect your downside. The upside will take care of itself. Cut your losses short - and let your profits run. This takes tremendous discipline.

14. The primary purpose of business is to create and keep customers. Marketing and innovation produce results. All other business functions are costs. Prospecting and increasing the average value and frequency of sales are the bedrock of marketing and business.

15. If it's not proprietary, it won't work. Pay only on performance. Proprietary interest is one of the most powerful forces ever known. Whatever you reinforce or reward, you get more of.

16. Competence starts with guaranteeing your work.

17. Life operates in reverse action to entropy. Therefore the universe is hostile to life. Progress is a continued effort to swim against the stream.

18. Find out what works, and then do more of it. Focus first on doing the right things, and then on doing things right by mastering details. A few basic moves produce most results and income.

19. Use leverage with ideas (the ability to generalize is the key to intellectual leverage), work, money, time and people. To maximize profits, replicate yourself. Earning potentials become geometric rather than linear.

20. Rationalizations are generally convenient evasions of reality and are used as excuses for dishonest behavior, mistakes and/or laziness.
21. Always have lofty explicit goals and visualize them intensely. Assume the attitude that if you don't reach your goals, you will literally die! This type of gun-to-your-head forced focus... survival pressure mindset, no matter how briefly used, stimulates your mind, forces you to use your time effectively... and illuminates new ways of getting things done.

22. The value of any service you have to offer diminishes rapidly once it's provided. Protect your compensation before performing.

23. Incalculable effort and hardship over countless generations evolved into the life, values and happiness we take for granted today. Every day should be a celebration of existence. You are a masterpiece of life and should feel and appreciate this all the way down to your bones. Aspire to create, achieve and build onto the great value momentum taking place all around you.

24. Enthusiasm covers many deficiencies - and will make others want to associate with you.

25. Working for someone else gives you little chance to make a fortune. By owning your own business, you only have to be good to become wealthy.

26. Religiously nourish your body with proper nutrition, exercise, recreation, sleep and relaxation techniques.

27. The choice to exert integrated effort or to default to camouflaged laziness is the key choice that determines your character, competence and future. That critical choice must be made continually - throughout life. The most meaningful thing to live for is reaching your full potential.

28. Keep an active mind, and continue to grow intellectually. You either grow or regress. Nothing stands still.

29. Most accomplishment (and problem avoidance) is built on clear persuasive communication. That includes knowing each other's definitions, careful listening, thinking before talking, focused questioning and observing your feedback. Become a communications expert.

30. Power comes from stripping away appearances and seeing things as they really are. Socialism appeals to psychological and intellectual weaklings. Identify and replace all external authorities with internal strength and competence. Take full control of, and responsibility for, your conscious mind and every aspect of your life. Being incompetent or dependent in any part of your life or business opens you up to sloppiness, manipulation and irrationality.

31. If there is not a conscious struggle to be honest in difficult situations, you are probably being dishonest. Characters aren't really tested until things aren't going well or until the stakes are high.

32. Do not compromise if you are right. Hold your ground, show no fear, ask for what you want, and the opposition will usually agree.

33. If the situation is not right in the long term, walk away from it. Maintain a long term outlook in all endeavors. Live like you don't have much time left... but plan as if you'll live for centuries.

34. Invest only after strict and complete due diligence. Don't allow yourself to be rushed. Make
important decisions carefully, consider your gut feelings... then pull the trigger.

35. Stress kills. No matter how painful in the short-term, remove all chronically stressful situations, environments and people from your life.

36. Keep your overhead to a minimum. Rely more on brains, wit and talent... and less on money.

37. Business is the highest evolution of consciousness and morality. The essences of business are: honesty, effort, responsibility, integration, creativity, objectivity, long-range planning, intensity, effectiveness, discipline, thought and control. Business is life on all levels at all times.

38. That which is most satisfying is that which is earned. Anything received free of charge is seldom valued. You can't get something for (from) nothing. The price is too high.

39. By adhering to a strong honest philosophy, you will remain guiltless, blameless, independent and maintain control over your life. Without a sound philosophy, your life will eventually crumble.

40. No dream is too big. It takes almost the same amount of time and energy to manage tiny projects or businesses as it does to manage massive ones... and the massive ones carry with them - proportional rewards.

41. There is no such thing as "just a little theft" or "just a little dishonesty".

42. Lead by example.

43. Take full responsibility for your actions or lack of action. He who errs must pay. This is an easy concept to grasp from the recipient's end.

44. An hour of effective, precise, hard, disciplined - and integrated thinking can be worth a month of hard work. Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in business and in life. Empire builders spend hour-after-hour on mental work... while others party. If you're not consciously aware of putting forth the effort to exert self-guided integrated thinking... if you don't act beyond your feelings and instead take the path of least resistance, then you give in to laziness, make bad decisions and no longer control your life. The most powerful way to do this is to insulate yourself from all distractions. Then write a problem or goal on a sheet of paper and force yourself to come up with at least 20 ways to solve your problem or reach your goal. The last solutions are the toughest and are usually the most life changing. Make this exercise a life-long habit.
45. Out-think, out-innovate and out-hustle the competition, and vividly visualize yourself as winning before entering into every deal or competitive situation. Maintain a blood-smelling, fighter pilot life-or-death attitude when any deal gets near to a close.

46. First impressions are lasting impressions. Put your best foot forward. People treat you like you teach them to treat you. A success key is positioning yourself at the top of their agenda.

47. The right thing is usually not the easy thing to do. You may sacrifice popularity for rightness, but you'll lose self-esteem for wrongness. Don't be afraid to say "no".

48. If someone lies to you once, he'll lie to you a thousand times. Lying is for thieves and cowards.

49. Have strict and total respect for other people's property.

50. Producing results is more important than proving you're right. To get things done, try to understand others' frames of references, points of view, needs and wants. Then determine what is honest, fair, effective and rational... and act accordingly.

51. Long term success is built on credibility and on establishing enduring loving relationships with quality people based on mutually earned trust. Cut all ties with dishonest, negative or lazy people, and associate with people who share your values. You become whom you associate with.

52. Outside of yourself, you control nothing… but you can manage anything. Don't be preoccupied with things over which you have no control, and don't take things personally.

53. Spend more time working "on" your business than "in" your business.

54. Don't enter into a business relationship with anyone unknown to you without being furnished with references dating back at least 10 years. If he doesn't have good enduring relationships, stay away. Check all representations on which you will rely made by everyone.

55. Enjoy life. Treat it as an adventure. Care passionately about the outcome, but keep it in perspective. Things are seldom as bleak as they seem when they are going wrong - or as good as they seem when they are going well. Lighten up. You'll live longer.

56. Identify exactly what it is you want. This takes a lot of thought. Then don't let anything stand in your way of getting it.

57. You can get any job done through the sheer force of will when combined with uncompromising integrity and competence. Strong leadership is the key.

58. You are responsible for exactly who, what and where you are in life. That will be just as true this time next year. Situations aren't important. How you react to them is. You have to play it where it lies.

59. The foundation of achievement is intense desire. The world's highest achievers have the highest levels of dissatisfaction. Those with the lowest levels are the failures. The best way to build desire is to make resolute choices for the future.

60. Integrate every aspect of your life (body, mind, spirit, relationships, business) and each within itself. Integrating means understanding and digesting a process... and seeing relationships among seemingly unrelated phenomena. It's a sign of innovative genius.

61. Never be deceptive when trying to achieve a personal gain. Shortchanging others results in loss of self-esteem.

62. If your purpose of life is security, you will be a failure. Security is the lowest form of happiness.

63. Never enter into a contract unless all parties benefit. But no partnership is ever 50/50. There will always be inequities.

64. Review the basics of your profession at least once per year.

65. Bitterness, jealousy and anger empower your enemies and enslave you. Negative thinking results in the destruction of property. It is anti-property, therefore anti-capitalistic and anti-life. It also erodes your health. Forgive, learn your lessons, and get on with your life.

66. Most people spend 90% of their time on what they're not best at and what they don't like doing - and only 10% of their time on their best and most enjoyable ability. Geniuses delegate the 90%... and spend all their time on their "unique ability".

67. High self-esteem can only come from moral productivity and achievement.

68. There are an infinite number of new opportunities. Actively seek them out, and position yourself to recognize and take advantage of them.
69. The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas. But there is no such thing as a good idea unless it is developed and utilized. Ditto for prospects.

70. For maximum profits, identify and market universal needs, wants and trends. Creating desire, satisfying needs and wants and replacing problems with creative innovations are the essence of profit generation.

71. To maximize opportunities, seek and master the complicated. The major solutions you find will be surprisingly simple, and the competition is minimal.

72. Always have options. Options are a primary source of power. Power also comes from stripping away appearances and seeing things as they really are.

73. Nothing wins more often than superior preparation. Genius is usually preparation.

74. Patience is profitable. Achievement comes from the sum of consistent small efforts, repeated daily.

75. Persistence is a sure path to success with quality activities. Never, ever, ever give up.

76. "I will do this" is the only attitude that works. "I'll try" or "I think" doesn't work.

77. Always work on increasing the size of the pie, rather than just your portion.

78. Rewards are rare without risks, but take only carefully calculated risks. Make sure the odds are on your side.

79. The "how" you get it (with integrity) is more important than the "what".

80. Be explicit and semantically precise in all communications, agreements and dealings. Summarize and write down important discussions... and make sure all sides agree. Putting agreements in writing avoids misunderstandings. Memories are fallible, and death is inevitable (so far).

81. The best way to get started is to get started. Life rewards action... not reaction. Wait for nothing. Attack life. Don't plan to death or ask for permission... but act now... and apologize later.

82. Question everything. Don't believe it's true or right just because it's conventional. Strip all limits from your imagination on every deal and look for an unconventional creative opportunity in every mistake, crisis or problem. Be flexible, and be willing to turn on a dime when advantageous.

83. Have fun. The single key to a successful happy life is finding a vocation you enjoy - one that excites you the most.

84. Nobody gets old by surprise.

85. When it's a matter of producing or starving, people don't starve.

86. You get what you expect, not what you want. Fill your life with positive expectations. Demand the best. Attitude and desire contribute to 90% of your achievement. Anyone can learn the physical mechanics.

87. The surest way to accomplish your business goals is making service to others your primary goal. The key to success is adding value to others' lives.

88. The source of lasting happiness can never come from outside yourself through consuming values - but only from within yourself by creating values. Producing more than you consume is the only justification for existence.

89. Unattended problems will not go away, but will usually get worse. Anticipate and avoid problems - or meet them head on at the outset. Overcome fear by attacking it.

90. Find an excuse to laugh every chance you get, especially when you least feel like it.

91. When someone makes a big issue about his honesty or achievements, he is probably dishonest or a failure.

92. Put the magic power of compound interest to work with every available dollar.

93. The best investment you will ever make is your steady increase of knowledge. Invest in yourself. Thirty minutes of study per day eventually makes you an expert in any subject - but only if you apply that knowledge. Study alone is no substitute for experience. Education is always painfully slow.

94. For each important action you take, ask yourself if you would be embarrassed if it were published. It takes a lifetime of effort to build a good reputation but only a moment of stupidity to destroy it.

95. You are exactly what you believe and think about all day long. Constantly monitor your thoughts.

96. Skepticism is a key to rational thinking. Be especially skeptical of your own cherished beliefs. You might be wrong... and things change.
97. Anxiety is usually caused by lack of control, organization, preparation and action.

98. The first rule of sharpening your mind is to be an alert and sensitive observer. Assume nothing. If it can't be observed, it's not true. Never act on blind faith. Whenever something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Refuse to be swayed by emotion when it conflicts with reason. Observation is the genesis of all knowledge and progress... and is the first and last step of every thinking man's tool - The Scientific Method. All science and most progress is built on the Scientific Method (most non-scientists use it by accident). The steps are:

1) OBSERVATION. Gathering and rationally organizing facts. This is where most people fail.
2) INDUCTIVE REASONING. Forming a hypothesis - or a generalization of facts held to be true.
3) EXTRAPOLATION. Making a projection or prediction based on the hypothesis in areas you didn't yet observe.
4) OBSERVATION. A test for the hypothesis to see if it works.

99. Experience is not what happens to you. It's what you do with what happens to you. It takes a wise man to learn from his own mistakes... and a genius to learn and profit from the mistakes and experiences of others.

100. The purpose of life is to delay, avoid and eventually reverse death.

The Gods and Gardening

One of the blessings and curses of working from home as I do, is that you   have lots of time to think; too often I’m distracted with thoughts of my next  deadline, but every once in awhile something manifests that catches my attention and holds it – an idea worth exploring, and sharing.

One sunny spring day I was outside taking a break from work, and began to  wonder why the Gods and Goddesses would have any interest in our lives. Why bother with us? We’re a quarrelsome motley bunch, self-centered and competing to survive; one tribe forever warring with another, over this space or that commodity.

And then I had a Shakespearean epiphany: (from his 29’Th Sonnet)
“Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate”
I looked over at my wife’s garden, my spirit and mood instantly lifted as it occurred to me that our Gods and Goddesses must be gardeners!

Why do we garden? I happen to know that my wife loves the vast array of colors, textures and aromas of the different plants she cultivates. She tends to them with love and affection, protecting them from invasive weeds, and helping to cull competing species so her favorites may thrive.

Her garden becomes a work of art, perhaps a painting, the plants being the colors and textures in her palette. As the plants each pursue their selfish desires, and wage war with their neighbours for the brightest ray of sunshine, she hovers above and appreciates the whole. She sees the garden, the artwork she has helped bring into being.

Perhaps the Gods look down on us and marvel at their garden; weeding a little here, watering a little there.

Hail the Gardeners!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chrissy Sparks - Heathen Artist

Chrissy Sparks - Self Portrait
I'd like to introduce a talented young Heathen artist from Colorado - Chrissy Sparks. I've become a fan of her work, and wanted a chance to introduce fans of my work to this amazing young woman. Her husband Tim, and his brother, are also talented filmmakers.

You can find her art for sale on ETSY.

Below is her bio, and to the left is a self-portrait she did.

 "Chrissy Sparks was born in California, in 1985 and currently lives with her family in Colorado.  She is a self-taught artist who has had her work shown in local exhibits, including the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Exhibit (2010).  After being accepted, she decided to put her first painting up for sale which sold right away. Since then, she has opened up an online shop and is selling her work internationally. Chrissy specializes in Heathen art, but also loves to paint surrealism. Her most popular works are her Heathen paintings, including her "Hugin & Munin" design. Chrissy is a member of The Pikes Peak Kindred located in Colorado Springs, CO. "

Here are a few examples of the type of work she does:

Odinn on Sleipnir

Huginn & Muninn


Friday, July 1, 2011

Use of the Elder Futhark Vs. Younger Futhorc?

In Chapter 2 of Northern Lore I explored Runes and the variants of the runic staves. In my exploration of the use of runes for divination, I work with the Elder Futhark. Some may wonder why I chose the Elder rather than the Younger, which has a more recent history and more numerous extant inscriptions etc. There are a few reasons for my preference, and that’s all it is, simply a preference. People around the world work successfully with all the families of runes, but the Elder Futhark seems to resonate with me.

In the book I describe how the runes are divided into groups called aetir – literally eights. The Elder Futhark are divided into three groups of eight runes; other families are organized into three groups, but not necessarily of eight runes. To me this seems an inconsistency with the Elder Futhark. If our ancestors divided them into groups of eight, and we still use the term aetir, then why the change?

When contrasting the Elder versus Younger runic rows, I also noticed a significant difference in the scope of their interpretations that seemed to signify to me, a shift in the world view, or attitudes of our ancestors. For example the rune Kenaz in the Elder Futhark means Torch, and can symbolize light, learning and inspiration. It can also signify the energy of fire, in both negative and positive aspects. This description feels balanced to me. If we now look at the equivalent rune in the Younger Futhorc, Kaun, we see a marked difference in its meaning – Cancer, Ulcer. It seems to me to be a very negative rune; It’s lost its balance in my view.

Other changes include the removal of Gebo, the rune for Gift, and of Wunjo, the rune for Joy. I’m speculating that perhaps due to the changes in conditions that drove our ancestors to go a-viking in the first place, they also began to have a more negative, and less balanced view of the world. In my own search for meaning, I’m looking for balance. To me, the Elder Futhark feels right. Let me add that I recognize that systems evolve, as the elder futhark did into the younger and others; perhaps for me choosing the elder runes, this is simply closing the loop on that evolution – coming full circle if you will.

Please don’t let my preference dissuade you from using any of the different runic rows in your own work, I simply want to highlight my own rationale for choosing one over the other.

I'd be very interested to get your feedback on this, and hear what may have made the decision for you - or perhaps you work with all of them?

Best wishes,

Eoghan Odinsson

Other Excellent books on the runes: