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Family valued - 12.07.05 

The Buddha machine

A remarkably clever gadget that has been causing a tiny sensation worldwide, The Buddha Machine, a small soundbox made in China, is magic in your pocket. It comes with a tiny integrated speaker, a volume control, a mini 1/8-inch jack output (for headphone or big-shot musician options), and a switch to choose among the nine rough-sounding, low-bit-rate, and droney loops stored on a chip and played by the mini sound system. It's an anti-Pod, if you will.

Buddha Machine co-creator Christiaan Virant explains, "The original box was used at Buddhist temples to chant or play prayers, and there are a number of different explanations of why they invented this box in China. Some people say it's because modern people are too lazy to go to the temples to say the chants to the Buddha like they used to, so they invented this small machine to do it for them."

Virant continues, "Other people say it's because there are fewer and fewer Buddhist monks out there. In the old days, the number of Buddhist monks was much higher, because that was considered a very high-class profession, and now more and more people are going into business or whatnot, so there are less monks to do the chanting for the Buddha. So they made a small box to do it in the place of a human."

I can see this beautiful little piece of genius helping to smooth out hip and cranky little babes in need of sleep. Even better, maybe it will cause family members with soap opera haircuts to immediately start yanking out hair.

--- Dave Cross


This week for families

Cinderella Fri-Sun, Dec 9-11. School of the Arts, 45 Prince St. Fri 7 p.m., Sat 2 and 7 p.m.; Sun 5 p.m. $9. 324-3535

Old Jake's Skirts Sat-Sun, Dec 10-11. Big Theatre for Little People, Geva Theatre Center, 75 Woodbury Blvd. Sat 11 a.m., 2 p.m.; Sun 1 p.m., 4 p.m. $9-$12. 232-GEVA, www.gevatheatre.org

A Year with Frog and Toad Sat-Sun, Dec 10-11, 17-18. Rochester Children's Theatre, NazarethCollegeArtsCenter, 4245 East Ave. 2 p.m. $12. 389-2170, www.rochesterchildrenstheatre.org


Fear monster

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. --- John 14:27

When I was a child, I marveled at the prospect of someday being big --- courageous, strong, and free of all fear, like Mom and Dad. The dark depths under the bed, the eerie silence behind the closet door, even the twisted shadows reaching through the window held no power over them. Life without fear held such promise!

At age 42, I'm still hoping to someday be bigger than my fears. Like most of us, I merely traded my childhood fears for mortgage monsters and wellbeing ghouls that sometimes overwhelm, robbing me of sleep far more aggressively than did any imagined threat of my youth. I haven't learned my lesson: It is not a monster I fear; my fear IS the monster.

Fear is the opponent of peace. It constricts the flow of blood to our brains and narrows our thinking. It is the basis of all anger, crime, and conflict.

Peace as the world gives --- usually defined as the mere absence of war --- is fearfully inadequate. Instead, let us with our children embrace a higher personal standard: peace as the absence of fear. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not let them be afraid. Examine and understand. Cast enlightenment on your darkest fears. May our world sleep well tonight.

--- Rev. Corey Keyes

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