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My Valentine

Yvan in Panjim

To my beautiful and loving wife, Sarah:

I miss you so much, and think about you all day, every day. I would say I wish you were here, but that would be a selfish sentiment. I know you'd melt. As to whether you'd rather be home in -25C temperatures, I don't think either of us could say for sure..

Thank you for being independent enough to let me leave you for a month, but not so much that you won't want me back.

Soon we will be back in each other's arms, and we'll both have so many stories to share.

Baby, you're the greatest.

Xmas List


We miss you so much, Maggie.

We never expected to lose you so soon.

You are sweet and gentle and kind; quiet, but ready to give a non-intrusive tap on the shoulder when you need a pat or fell left out.

I know you often felt stressed out, but I hope you enjoyed spending the last eight years with us.

Orient the bed to the North, of course.

My father was nothing short of a brilliant man. He was an engineer. He spoke 7 or 8 languages, 4 of them fluently. He was well travelled, well read, and well spoken.

He was also vehemently skeptical of the occult, astrology, and all things flaky. 

Every once in a while he would spew the odd wisdom, that I simply assumed was the truth, and usually it was.

Not long ago I found myself explaining to my wife Sarah that the bed should be oriented such that your head points North. I have always done so. When asked why, I didn't have an answer. It's just what Papa said.

Today something made me think of this again, and I thought I'd look it up on the internets. Apparently, the hot topic of nocturnal directionality has been around for eons.

Some say that sleeping with your head oriented to the North results in horrible dreams and exhaustion. That is pretty close to home.

In Hinduism it is said that you should not sleep with your head pointing North or West. Vishnu Purana says: "It is beneficial to lie down with the head placed eastward or southward. The man who lies down with his head placed in contrary directions becomes diseased."

Yet others following Hinduism suggest that the opposite is true. Proponents of sattvik living suggest that there are frequencies present everywhere, and that sleeping toward the North avoids alignment with the negative Patal and tiryak frequencies.

Feng Shui proposes the same sentiment, though prefers Easterly orientation.

I have also seen reference to a tradition that people in the Northern hemisphere should orient to the North, and the opposite for the Southern hemisphere. My father grew up 15 degrees North of the equator.

There may be some science behind all of this. It is theorized that humans like many other species have an internal magnetic compass, our heads being the North pole and our feet at the South. In birds and fish it is thought that this compass aids in navigation.

When two magnets are oriented such that their like poles are aligned, a repulsive force is created by the magnetic fields. Is it possible that sleeping with our heads pointing North results in a constant experience of a repulsive force at the cellular level that could affect our health?

Studies have suggested that humans who sleep in an East-West position have far shorter R.E.M. sleep cycles, in which dreams occur, compared with North-South sleepers who got more REM sleep.

I have found no shortage of testimonials of people who after reorienting to sleep South-facing experience more energy and focus and decreased stress. The same seems to be true about each direction.

One uncited source reports that babies, left to their own devices, will orient themselves toward the North.

Now I feel even less certain.


This is my cat and best friend Igor who died of cancer.


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