Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!


I hope you had a nice Christmas... or a nice Holiday Season!
My apologies go to all who expected a Christmas card from me - I was away from home and not able to send cards this year, but in the Christmas eve, after the party lights went down, in the silence of a warm starry night I thought of all of you and wished you well!

I found this picture of Lake Oulujärvi (by Timo Rossi), to be an appropriate way to say good bye to 2007! The tiny silhouette on the horizon is the island of Uupunu. It means exhausted in English. Why this picture?
Between the beginning of the year in Paris and celebrating Christmas in Madrid, I had an interesting, but so intense year that on the 365th day of it I am a bit exhausted and ready to exhale. There were good times and bad times, a lot was learned through new, amazing and unexpected experiences, made some new friends, strengtened the bonds with some of you, some old ties broke for better or worse, spent some sleepless nights at work in hope for Eureka! , witnessed a lot of airplane exhaust over the Atlantic...life on the go!
But as long as I am in peace with myself, capable of loving unconditionally, and have my friends...everything will be ok. So my New Year resolution is simple - I am asking for peace and...Love!

I didn't have the time to write a 2007 Roundup letter, but I may post soon details on some of my travel - the passion of my life! At least, you will get a chance to see another few hundreds of photos :)

Until then, have an enjoyable New Year's eve and a splendid
HAPPY NEW 2008!!!
Cheers!

Friday, November 30, 2007

11 minutes


Paulo Coelho gained popularity with a number of books in the recent years, but one book has a special place in my heart - 11 minutes.
Somehow it feels it is the right time to offer his story of why he wrote this book.
Relax, you don't have to read it...just take 11 minutes or less and read the story.
Hope you enjoy it!
* * *
Ever since literature began, writers around the world have written about sex; from Egypt to Greece to Japan, sex remains one of our main preoccupations. Yet despite the thousands of books published on the subject, we still understand nothing about it, and I'm not sure that Eleven Minutes will necessarily make much difference either, because when it comes to sexuality, the only real victory would be to drive out the lie that inhabits our imagination, and this will only happen once we find the courage to try, and possibly fail, to tell the truth about what we feel. We men lack the courage to say to a woman: teach me about your body. And women, likewise, never say to us: learn about me and my body. We are stuck with the primitive survival instinct of the species, with the fake freedom of being able to speak openly about the subject at any restaurant table, only to discover, within the four walls of a room, that we are frightened, insecure, fragile animals. What should be a magic moment becomes an act of self-blame, a sense that we have fallen short of the other person's expectations. We forget that this is one of the few situations in our lives from which the word 'expectation' should be banned.

During my own lifetime, I have experienced sex in many different and contradictory ways. I was born into a conservative age, when virginity was the defining characteristic of any decent young woman. I witnessed the emergence of the contraceptive pill and of antibiotics, both indispensable for the sexual revolution that would follow. I plunged enthusiastically into the hippy era, when we went to the other extreme, with free love being practised at rock concerts. I now find myself in an age which is half-conservative, half-liberal, an age haunted by a new disease resistant to all antibiotics, a time when no one knows quite where they are going.

We live in a world of standardised behaviour: there are standards for beauty, for quality, for intelligence and efficiency. We believe there is a model for everything and that, by following this model, we will be safe, which is why there is a sexual standard too, one made up, in fact, of a series of lies: vaginal orgasm, virility above all else, that it's better to pretend than to disappoint, etc. As a direct consequence of this attitude, thousands of people have been left feeling frustrated, unhappy and guilty.


It is part of a writer's role to reflect on his or her own life, and writing a book about sexuality came to be a priority with me. At first, I thought I could deal directly with it by describing an ideal relationship between two people; I tried various approaches, but all failed. It was only when I met the prostitute who would provide the connecting thread for this novel that I realised why I couldn't write the story: in order to write about sublime sex, I had to start where we all start - with the fear that everything will go wrong.

Eleven Minutes does not set out to be a manual or a treatise about a man and a woman confronted by the unknown world of sexual relationships. It is an analysis of my own trajectory, although without, in any way, passing judgement on my own experiences. It took me a long time to learn that the coming together of two bodies is more than just a response to certain physical stimuli or to the survival instinct of the species. The truth is that it carries within it all the cultural baggage of mankind and humanity.

Sex is one of the areas of our lives in which it is considered normal to lie. We lie in order to give pleasure to the other person, not realising that this lie can - and will - infect all the other important things in life. We forget that sex is a manifestation of a spiritual energy called love.

It is very difficult to put this realisation into practice, but we must try. The first thing to understand is that during the sexual act there are two opposing states working alongside each other: relaxation and tension.

How can we reconcile these two states? Very simple - stop being afraid of making mistakes. If we embark on the search for pleasure wholeheartedly, sincerely, we gradually feel the body becoming tense as the string of an archer's bow, while the mind relaxes like the arrow preparing itself to be released. The brain is no longer in control of the process, which is guided instead by the heart. And the heart uses all five senses to reveal itself to the other person: touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste are all involved, just as they are in experiences of religious ecstasy. It is strange that, in most sexual encounters, people use only touch and sight, and by doing so diminish that sense of plenitude.

If you give yourself entirely, you will break through any mental block your partner may have, however impenetrable, because the act of giving yourself means: 'I trust you.' At that moment, real sexual energy comes into play, and that energy exists not only in those areas we term the erogenous zones. It spreads throughout the whole body, into every hair and every pore. Every millimetre is now emanating a different light, one that is recognised and absorbed by the other body.

When this happens, we are drawn into a kind of ancient ritual that offers us the opportunity to be transformed. Any ritual, of whatever sort, requires from the participant a readiness to be led towards a new perception of the world. And it is this willingness that gives the ritual meaning.

This may all seem overly complex, but it is far less so than treating sex as it is treated today, as a mere mechanical act, which creates tension during sex and a feeling of emptiness afterwards. We must become aware that, when two bodies meet, they are walking together into unknown territory. To make this into an utterly banal experience is to lose all the wonder of the adventure.

But none of this can be learned from a book, which can only share with the reader the author's own experiences or views. Sex means, above all, having the courage to experience your own paradoxes, your own individuality, your willingness to surrender yourself. That is why I wrote Eleven Minutes, in order to find out if, at this stage of my life, at 55 years of age, I had the courage to learn everything that life has tried to teach me on the subject.

*Copyright 2003 by Paulo Coelho
All Rights Reserved

* * *

Beautiful Karlsruhe


Beautiful Karlsruhe ... if only I had a chance to see it! :)
AMMA was a great conference, but when the bus picks you up every day at 7:30am and drops you at the hotel between 8pm and 1am...sorry for the sarcasm :)
My feeling is that the city is nice, but will have to confirm and get back to you on that one. For sure it has a couple of nice breweries, a few decent bars and a live Chrismat market in Decemnber :) Oh, and don't forget the zoo, which for some reason takes a central place in the city layout.
But again, truth to be said, Karlsruhe has its charm!
Tonight was the first and only night to get to glipmse at the city, and to have my second gluehwein for the season. Prost!
Lesson of the night: the more one sips from the cup, the more handsome the men seem, the easier German language gets, the warmer the weather becomes ...from the inside out :)
Well, Karlsruhe offered a few more memorabilia events, but ... what happens at AMMA stays within AMMA, so... ;)
Viva La Ciencia!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Beaware of the data ports



In the nowadays high-tech society, comunication via the internet is 'the usual'.
E-mails, Instant Messages, Text Messages...I was in fact pleasanty surprised that pen-pal societies (meaning paper letters) still exist.
Today though I want to share the experience of how the high-tech and the good'o' tet-a-tet chit-chat could work out well together. As I was surfing the net during the conference coffee break a colleague asked to share the power outlet I used and also the wireless data port 'juicing up' our browsers.
One thing led to another and before you know it I made a friend.
A friend full of zest for life, energy, charming smile, wit, sincerety beyound limits and awesome sense of hummor. What more!
'Count your blessings!' he said to me and I think I'll count him as one.
Have a safe ride home!

"What is a friend? I will tell you...it is someone with whom
you dare to be yourself." - Frank Crane

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tis the Weihnachtsmarkt season


Arriving in Germany on November 25th is a briliant idea!
This is the day when the Christmas markets are all set up and ready to open the next day and welcome the crowds of local and tourists that have patiently waited a year to come again and have a cup (or more) Glühwein, mingle with people, enjoy a conversation and revive the Chrismas spirit! I love it! So I do it...already a second year in a row :)
First stop again is Frankfurt. Sauli and I agreed that the Glühwein taste is an accumulative function proportional to the number of wine sips one has, i.e.
the more you drink, the better it tastes. Prost!
Soon to be hit... Karlsrhue, Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Koln, Strasburg, Saarbruken...and Madrid. Wait, that is not in Germany...well, yes, so? :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pictures, pictures....TONS of pictures :)


In a week I am heading to Europe again...
And before the year is over, I think it is only fare to let you see the photos from the last 12 or so months. I am using a new host now - Shutterfly
http://IGBG.Shutterfly.com

Albums do not appear in crohonological order, but once I figure out all the features Shutterfly has to offer, I'll set some order...or may be not :)

Appologies for the tons of pictures, but I hope each of you find something to enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A sunset in flamingo colors...


...and one day, your sunsert is colored in flamingo colors.
Yes!
The pink flamingos are lesurely trading the watter and the sky is the same gentle color. The world around you is as fragile as a hand blown glass, and you think that what you want is a stretch away...literary...but it's not! It's painfully close and so far away...outside of reach...but yet so tempting and so making you feel the butterflies...In times like that the Flowers and the Litz do help...they totally distract you from reallity...and that's ok , we are in Amsterdam...vodka speaks lowder than anythingh...and the sky is in flanmingo colors...ostrige soft plums are wrapping my naked body and I am in a bliss with the sky....and the rest seems surreal...50 years old dream is in front of my eyes...and I don't even get jelous...the night is quite, but tension of unknown kind is tearing the skies in lightnings....
I'm destined to my life, just as is...no pause, no break, no credit...Flamingos are pretty....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Purple story

This story is about the color purple...
Remember? A few blogs ago I announced purple to be the color of this Spring.
Seems like I made the right choice...
My South African friend Nadia wears at least one piece of clothes in that color at any given time,
makes her olive green eyes even more poetic.
One night Nadia was sitting comfortably in her armchair, legs crossed into lotus, knitting a sweater in yet another shade of purple. I had to ask...why purple?...
There was once a math teacher in a school - a small tiny man, a gay, a drama queen, blow drying his hair every day into a perfect bob. He would intimidate the poor students about the color of the paper they have used to cover their textbooks with. And when it was time for purple... he would proudly, with that memorable flick of his eyebrow state that...purple is the color of sexual frustration!

About a year ago, I spent a night with a guy who owned a purple shower bag. I believe he was not sexually frustrated. But the oddest question popped in my head then. If I fall madly in love with a man, and the price to be with him would be to live in a place without any other colors but shades of purple, would I choose to be with this man, or would I surrender to the colors which I love - blue, green, brown...

And as life has its strange ways of conveying a message ... my life is becoming purple. I will be enjoying a Deep Purple show in May...and until then, you got it right... sexual frustration rules...;-)

No matter what ...

April 11, 2007
Madison, Wisconsin
I dedicate this post to Jason Klimowicz, who is always the first one to blame me for the weather...

No Matter What (adaptation of Boyzone's hit)

No matter what the season
No matter what the month
Again it’s real winter
In our lovely town

I can't deny what I observe
I can't be what I'm not
I know cold’s not forever
I know no matter what

If only tears were laughter
If only night was day
If only prayers were answered
Spring would be back today…

Cheers,
Iliana

Friday, March 30, 2007

Dream poetry

Bright morning,
Sunshine through the window
Pours in, fills up my hearth with joy
Endless cycle going
Silent wisdom passing by...
Grab it and enjoy!

January 18, 2002

Dove philosophical messages

Laugh uncontrollably... it clears the mind.

Be mischievous. It feels good.

Temptation is fun...giving in is even better.

Flirting is mandatory.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Spring? ...LOL...It's -25°C in Madison!!!


It ain't over until it's over! :)
I was granted a new life experience ... -25°C !!!
Leslie, Jerome and I went for a walk on the frozen lake - Mendota.
After no longer than 15 minutes of bravery I ran to the car, because as one learn quickly...
stretchy jeans don't really keep you warm, and one is about to get frost bite!
Good bye my dream of going to the South Pole...
Good bye my dream of dancing with the Penguins...
Good bye my dream of being at the bottom of the world...
LOL... :)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Spring is in the air

I love all seasons. For different reasons. I love spring for the hope it brings. The hope that we will wake up one more time for life. The hope that beauty will return. The hope that colors will prevail. This spring's color is purple. Like the crocuses that poke through the snow, like the candle holder a dear friend gifted me, like the lavender smell that reminds me of the comfort of my parent's home ... I wish web-pages were able to carry scents as well...
Spring is in the air... I spring for all I hope for!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stonehenge



According to Wikipedia...

Stonehenge is a Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monument located near Amesbury, about 8 miles north of Salisbury. It is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones and is one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. Archeologist think that the standing stones were erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC although the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Stonehenge itself is owned and managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.


According to a satellite meteorology scientist (a.k.a myself)...

Stonehenge is at 51°10'44''N , 1°49'35''W


And according to my friend Jason's children...

...what Stonehendge???
:)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sahara dust discusssion - A NON-SCIENCE BLOG


The year started well!

An interesting discussion took pace over the work e-mail network. My Boss sent out to everybody the photo above - it is from the cockpit of an AF plane flying through a Saharan dust storm. We study the effect of Saharan dust on hurricane genesis.

The photo triggered an "interesting social experiment". Almost everyone that got back to my Boss had the same response: this has to be touched up, or "Photoshop!", etc. Below is part of the e-mail tread that followed.

Boss:
"Are we getting to the point (or have we already passed it) that nothing out of the ordinary is for real anymore? Or believable? The wonderful Internet and media communications of today brings us more and more "things" to see and absorb, but technology has also brought us more ways to "manipulate" those things to the point we are not sure if these are real. Given this trend, are we doomed to a future of virtual reality, where the real and the manipulated world we see are blurred, in many cases intentionally? Will "seeing is believing" be a phrase of the past? Seems at least on the Internet, it already is. "

Coworker1:
"I can't speak to this specific case (I haven't even viewed it yet!), but I do know that EVERY time a friend or relative has forwarded a "cool" or "amazing" photo "that a co-worker personally took", I was ALWAYS able to find a reference online (e.g., on snopes.com) to that exact image either being a hoax or else being egregiously mislabeled (e.g., a supercell in Australia being labeled "Hurricane Rita as it makes landfall"). As a result, I automatically assume that any cool images forwarded to me (no matter by whom) are hoaxes unless proven otherwise. Alas, proving a negative often takes more effort that I'm willing to invest. "



Boss:
"...this is exactly my point. It has become "guilty" until proven "innocent". In my opinion, a sad turn for our younger generations attempting to discover their world, and for communication in general"


Coworker2:

"On the other hand, I believe an important part of education is learning how to be a skeptic..."



My personal insight:
It's easy to be a sceptic in 2007! What's much harder is to be a believer!
I consider myself lucky to be working for my Boss!
Because despite the occasional disagreement on the color scheme of a poster,
we seem to agree on the bigger picture...and that's what actually matters!!!