My spectrum of thoughts

Posts tagged ‘Stuff I loved reading’

Yes we can!

My friend, Santosh Pardeshi, just mailed me this and I thought its worth a read to everyone!

Sir Roger BannisterHave you heard of Roger Bannister? He was the first athlete to run the mile in less than four minutes.

In doing so, he not only broke the four-minute barrier, but also taught us all a valuable lesson.

Back in the 1950’s, the world record – 4 minutes 1.4 seconds – was held by Sweden’s Ginder Haegg. The record stood for several years since it was set in 1945. Athletes, experts and the world were convinced that it was impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes. Some even argued that the human body was biologically incapable of running the mile in less than four minutes!

And then, on 6th May, 1954, Roger Bannister did the impossible. He broke the four minute barrier, finishing the race in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.

Charles LandyHis rival – Charles Landy – had thrice run the mile in less than 4 minutes 2 seconds without breaching the 4 minute mark. The four minute barrier was “like a wall”, Landy had said. But guess what? Just 56 days after Bannister’s feat, Landy ran the mile in 3 minutes 57.9 seconds. And by 1957, 16 athletes around the world ran the mile in under 4 minutes. The 4 minute mental barrier was truly shattered!

What really happened? Did coaches get smarter and teach the athletes new techniques? Did running shoes get more sophisticated? Did bodies suddenly get stronger? No. The 4 minute barrier it turned out was not a physiological one – just a mental one! As Roger Bannister explained later, it seemed illogical that you could run a mile in 4 minutes and a bit, but not break 4 minutes. His mind refused to accept that barrier. That made all the difference.

Once that mental barrier was broken by Bannister, everyone believed it could be done! And once the belief changed, the rest was easy.

Henry FordIt’s important to understand that our achievements in life are limited not by what we can do, but by what we think we can do. More than ability, it’s our attitude that makes the difference. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you are right”.

You will probably find your mind constantly grappling with two competing thoughts: ‘I can’t!’ and ‘I can!’ How do you ensure the ‘I can’ wins? How can we break our mental barrier of ‘I can’t’?

There was a man in Alaska who had a black dog and a white dog. His dog fights attracted large crowds. Every week people would bet on which dog would win. Sometimes the black dog won, and sometimes the white one. One lady noticed that no matter which dog won, the owner always bet on the right dog, and won each week. When the man retired the two dogs, the lady asked him the secret.

“Simple,” said the man. “I always bet on the dog I had been feeding all week.”

So whether ‘I can’t’ wins in your mind or ‘I can’, depends on which thought you are feeding!

Feed the ‘I can’ dog in your mind. The thought you feed, grows! Focus on your strengths, and they will grow. Or keep thinking of your weaknesses and your fears. And unfortunately they’ll grow too.

You won’t always find a Bannister to break your mental barrier. You need to do it yourself. Once you start feeding the ‘I can’ thought, you will achieve more than you ever thought was possible!

Herd of Donkeys…

I came across this story a few days back when I was searching for something else, I wanted to share this story with all my readers (‘my’ readers wow!)… And had to obtain permission from the author for it. I loved the story, hope you do too!

On the refrigerator in our kitchen is a collection of magnets. Most represent places we have visited but there are a few donkeys.
Why donkeys?

Each one represents a present given to us by our extended family. They also have magnets of donkeys in their houses. Each one represents a donation to a charity that works in the poorer parts of the world and is an acknowledgement of a sum of money equivalent to a donkey.

To a poor family in a rural area a donkey is a capital investment that produces income. The donkey can help with the ploughing and farm work, can carry produce to market and essential purchases back to the owner’s home, can carry the baby, the grandparent, anything reasonable.

There are also some magnets for hand tools, spades, hoes, rakes etc. In my garden shed I have a collection of such tools that would be incredible riches in some parts of the world. They couldn’t use the power tools in my garage because they have no electricity but the various hand saws and drills, the hammers, the wrenches, perhaps the screwdrivers and certainly the plastic sheeting would be very useful.

We take for granted so many things that others might envy. We have ready access to clean water, to sanitation that prevents disease, to food, shelter, fuel for cooking and heating — we’ve got all of these and so much more. We have hot and cold water just by turning one of several taps in the house. If we want heat we just switch on the heating. If we want to cook, there is the oven, the hob, the microwave, the lean grill, the slo-cooker, the pots and pans, plates, cutlery, jugs, bowls, bottles and even the wine cellar.

On the first Christmas there was no room at the inn but the family were given shelter in the stable. What hotelkeeper would do that now? If you can’t afford a bed or if the hotel is full, you will be turned away. You might get directions to another hotel but without money would you get any shelter?

Our donkey magnets are a constant reminder that there are many people far worse off than the poorest people in our country. At Christmas we spend money on presents for friends and relations. Sometimes we spend too much money, more than we should or more than our bank manager thinks reasonable, and perhaps buy presents that will be neglected after Christmas Day. Yet the family’s donkeys will last far longer than the latest toy or gadget. They won’t last forever but they might last long enough to start one family on the way from desperation to self sufficiency and even a small surplus.

I don’t know or care whether the family that gets one of our donkeys is Christian, Muslim, of any religion or none. I don’t know or care what language they speak, what country they live in, what their politics are if they are allowed democracy, and certainly not what colour their skin is. I just hope that a donkey will help them.

I also know that our donkey might be a metaphorical donkey. It maybe that the charity decides that tools, or a well for clean water, or a school, a road, a clinic, a nurse is a better way for the particular community of spending the money we’ve given to buy a donkey. I don’t care. The charity has a good record of getting money to where it is needed, with low administration costs, and of letting the local people decide how the money should best be spent to help as many people as possible.

One of my friends has a much more direct way of helping poor people, in his case in a particular region of Africa. From September to June he is available to be the quizmaster of Wine and Wisdom evenings. He charges a small fee for each evening and that money is banked for his next visit to Africa. The Wine and Wisdom evenings raise money for charities, a whole range of charities, but they pay him his small fee as part of the expenses. Sometimes he makes an appeal for his own African community. His fees might make a few hundred pounds in a year. His friends, his acquaintances and his appeals make that few hundred pounds into tens of thousands of pounds.

He works through the local Bishop in Africa, not because he is a practising Christian, but because the Bishop is an honest man who will see that the money isn’t misused. My friend’s first project was to build a Church. The Church is a school during the day, a health clinic in the evenings, and the schoolgirls’ dormitory at night. It isn’t an architectural masterpiece. In our country we’d pass it by thinking it was a small factory or storeroom but it is the centre of a large community in Africa.

Outside the Church is a temporary shelter with a leaf roof and woven plant stalk half-walls. It is the school’s dining kitchen and dining room and the schoolboys’ dormitory at night. Beyond the shelter is the water pump that produces all the drinking water for the school children and the local village. The villages for a ten-mile radius around the church also have water pumps paid for by my friend’s fund-raising. He wanted to install more water pumps but although he can raise the money those locals who have the skills to sink a well are always busy.

Last year he persuaded some of his friends to drive to this remote part of Africa in an old Land Rover equipped with a drill. In three weeks his friends built ten wells. They trained some of the locals on the use of the Land Rover before flying back home.

We take water for granted. We wouldn’t want a donkey. Yet a donkey can represent far more than an expensive present that might not be appreciated.

This Christmas our herd of donkeys will be slightly larger. Will yours?

Silence is not acceptance. Silence is perpetuating violence.

Yunhi unki duniya se door hote gaye,
Apne hi haathon majboor hote gaye,
Chale the unke sapno ka noor banne,
Humare hi haathon unke sapne choor hote gaye…

>Convincingly False!!


Oxygen is a very toxic gas and an extreme fire hazard. It is fatal in concentrations of as little as 0.000001 p.p.m. Humans exposed to the oxygen concentrations die within a few minutes. Symptoms resemble very much those of cyanide poisoning (blue face, etc.). In higher concentrations, e.g. 20%, the toxic effect is somewhat delayed and it takes about 2.5 billion inhalations before death takes place. The reason for the delay is the difference in the mechanism of the toxic effect of oxygen in 20% concentration. It apparently contributes to a complex process called aging, of which very little is known, except that it is always fatal.

However, the main disadvantage of the 20% oxygen concentration is in the fact it is habit forming. The first inhalation (occurring at birth) is sufficient to make oxygen addiction permanent. After that, any considerable decrease in the daily oxygen doses results in death with symptoms resembling those of cyanide poisoning.

Oxygen is an extreme fire hazard. All of the fires that were reported in the continental U.S. for the period of the past 25 years were found to be due to the presence of this gas in the atmosphere surrounding the buildings in question.

Oxygen is especially dangerous because it is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so that its presence can not be readily detected until it is too late.
— Chemical & Engineering News February 6, 1956

Something for all those whom I loved at KC…

It started out as a feeling,
which then grew into a hope.
which then turned to a quiet thought
which then turned into a quiet word.
And then that word grew louder and louder, till it was a Battle Cry
I’ll come back, when you call me. No need to say goodbye.
Just because everything’s changing
dosent mean its never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
as you head off to the war.
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the line
You’ll come back, when its over
No need to say goodbye
you’ll come back, when its over
no need to say goodbye
Now we’re back to the begining
Its just a feeling and no one knows yet
but just because they cant feel it too dosent mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger and stronger,
till they’re before your eyes.
You’ll come back when they call you
no need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when they call you
no need to say goodbye.

~Regina Spektor

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